55. And nothing prevents men from believing, while the guidance has come to them, and from asking forgiveness of their Lord, except that the ways of the ancients be repeated with them, or the torment be brought to them face to face. 56. And We send not the Messengers except as bearers of good news and warners. But those who disbelieve, argue with falsehood, in order to refute the truth thereby. And they take My Ayat and that which they are warned for jest!
Allah tells us about the rebellion of the disbelievers in ancient times and in more recent times, and how they rejected the obvious truth even when they witnessed clear signs and proofs. Nothing stopped them from following the truth except their demand to witness with their own eyes the punishment which they were being warned about. As some of them said to their Prophet:
(So cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us, if you are of the truthful!) ﴿26:187﴾, Others said:
(Bring Allah's torment upon us if you are one of the truthful.) ﴿29:29﴾ The Quraysh said:
(O Allah! If this is indeed the truth from You, then rain down stones on us from the sky or bring upon us a painful torment.) ﴿8:32﴾
(And they say: "O you to whom the Reminder has been sent down! Verily, you are a mad man! Why do you not bring angels to us if you are of the truthful'') ﴿15:6-7﴾. There are other Ayat refering to the same thing. Then Allah says:
(except that the ways of the ancients be repeated with them,) meaning, their overwhelming punishment, destroying every last one of them.
(or the torment be brought to them face to face.) they see it with their own eyes, being directly confronted with it. Then Allah says:
(And We send not the Messengers except as bearers of good news and warners.) before the punishment they give good news to those who believe in them and follow them, and warnings to those who reject them and oppose them. Then Allah tells us about the disbelievers who argue:
(with falsehood, in order to refute the truth thereby.) they try to weaken the truth that the Messengers brought, but they cannot achieve that.
(And they take My Ayat and that which they are warned for jest!) they take the proof, evidence and miracles sent with the Messengers to warn them, and make them fear the punishment;
(as a jest and mockery) and they make fun of them, which is the worst type of disbelief.