Saturday, 17 December 2016 19:45

44. Opening the sixth seal, Part 2: The great day of His wrath * Revelation 6:12-17

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12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts its unripe figs, when it is shaken by a mighty wind.

14 And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the generals , and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

17 For the great day of his wrath has come; and who shall be able to stand?

 

PART 2 - Revelation 6:15-17

 

*** People hiding ***: Verse 15 in this chapter of Revelation describes who actually will want to run away and hide from the presence of the Lord. Basically, the verse mentions people in leadership positions in the world, people with no rights whatsoever, and everything in between. The wrath of the Lamb will fall on anyone who rejects the Messiah, regardless of their social position. The anguish of those people will be feeling will be so great, that they will wish for the rocks to fall on them (see also Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30). In his description of The Day of the Lord, Isaiah 2:19-21 describes this exact scenario, of people trying to hide themselves in the clefts if the rocks because of "the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake mightily the earth". We see in Revelation 6:16 that after hiding in the caves and the rocks, people will try to do the impossible. They will try to hide from the face of God. This is the exact opposite thing that Moses wished to do when he was receiving the 10 Commandments from God, on Mount Sinai. He wanted to see God's face. And God answered: “'You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.' And the Lord said, 'Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.'" (Exodus 33:20-23). Note that God was the one who hid Moses in the cleft of the rock. Moses did not attempt to hide himself, by his own efforts. God was in charge of the protection. And because He is a merciful God, He did not show Moses the full strength of His Glory. Otherwise, Moses would have been consumed.

*** Wrath of the Lamb ***: throughout the Bible, we see the wrath of God mentioned several times, both in the Old and New Testaments. In this passage of Revelation, we read that the wicked will want to hide from wrath of the Lamb. If we think about it in human terms, it will be impossible to understand divine wrath, and we will be very confused, trying to compare it with unstable feelings and irrational actions. We must look at what the Bible says about it, and set aside our preconception of what human emotions we may associate with the word 'wrath'.

The first question we must ask the Bible, is if the wrath of the Lamb and the wrath of God are the same thing. The answer comes in Revelation 19:15, where it says that Christ "Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God". The source of wrath seems to be the same for both Father and Son.

The book of Revelation tells us that the wrath of God will start being poured on the wicked with the plagues of the seven bowls (Revelation 16), and will have its final strike when those whose names were not found in the book of life are thrown in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Revelation 14:9-10 says that whoever worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark, will drink from the wrath of God. Symbolically, the wrath of God seems to be contained in a cup or bowl (revelation 14:10; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 16:1; Revelation 16:19; Romans 9:22-23).

The wrath of God is part of God's character, just as His grace, and mercy are. Romans 1:18 tells us: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness". The wrath of God consumes those who do not walk in His truth, or as Ephesians 5:5-7 calls them, "the sons of disobedience". But those of us who have "been justified by [Jesus'] blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." (Romans 5:8-9).

Throughout the Old Testament, we see clear manifestations of the wrath of God. This side of God’s character was made known from the beginning of the world: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17). Perhaps the simplest description of His wrath is found in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. The moment Adam and Even sinned, they experienced separation from God, and suffering started immediately. They tried to cover themselves with makeshift clothing, and “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord” (Genesis 3:8). Blood was then shed in order to make them more lasting garments, and they were driven out of the Garden.

God instituted the sacrificial ritual, where He would send fire from Heaven and consume the animal (1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1; 1 Kings 18:38). The Bible says that “God is a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). He also sent fire from Heaven that consumed people (Leviticus 10:1-2; 2 Kings 1:10,12), and entire cities (Genesis 19:24). In the case of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-7), they had introduced strange, unauthorized fire into their censers, and offered it to God, in direct disobedience to God’s commands. God’s wrath consumed them right where they stood, and their bodies were carried outside the Tabernacle and outside the camp. In the New Testament, we also see a similar event, described in Acts 5:1-11. Although Ananias and Sapphire were not consumed by fire when they lied to the Holy Spirit, they dropped dead where they stood, and their bodies were also carried outside.

Those who do not accept the sacrifice of Jesus, and receive the mark of the beast, will drink the full strength, undiluted version of the wrath of God in the presence of the Lamb (Revelation 14:9-10). When the Lamb reveals His wrath, the wicked will experience separation from God. Their decision to present themselves before God without the coverings given by the Savior, will cause them to pay for their sin with their own wages. Christ has made provisions to pay for the sins of every single person in this World, but only those who wish to have their debt paid by Jesus will be saved from destruction.

Jesus’ sacrifice did not start with the torture He went through in the hands of the Roman soldiers. His suffering started in the Gethsemane. His distress was so great, that Jesus started to sweat blood (Luke 22:44). For two times, He prayed to the Father to pass from Him the cup of His wrath, if possible (Matthew 26:39,42). But His Father had given Him this cup to drink, and Jesus had all the willingness and intention to obey His Father. When Peter tried to free Jesus from the Romans, “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up your sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). Jesus was taken out of the city, where He offered His life as a sacrifice (John 19:16-17). Jesus not only died our death for us, but He also drank the cup of God’s wrath in our place.

*** Who is able to stand? ***: If Christ is coming, and is about to reveal all His Glory, and if no sinful person has lived after experiencing His wrath, the question of "who is able to stand" God's wrath and survive, is actually a very good one. We see this question asked in the Old Testament: "Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him." (Nahum 1:6-7). Those who can endure His refiner's fire (Malechi 3:2) are the ones who are like the pure gold. The type of Gold bought from Christ, as we read in the a letter to the last church, the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:18). The gold will be made purer, but all impurities will be burned away. And just like the faithful young men in Babylon, who refused to worship a man made statue (Daniel 3:15-18), the faithful remnant will be able to withstand the furnace of God's full glory, and will be saved from His wrath. Revelation 7 is the detailed answer to this question.

***Overview ***: Jesus experienced separation from God the Father because He was carrying the sins of the world in His shoulders. Even though, from Jesus' perspective, it felt like God had abandoned Him (Matthew 27:46), God was there, revealing His Glory and the full measure of His wrath. There was no other way to save humanity. Jesus had to pay the full price for us, because Jesus and His Father "so loved the world" (John 3:16). The wrath of God in its full strength is like the brightest light that is turned on in a dark room: darkness is completely eliminated. Sin simply cannot exist when God shines His glory at it. There is no way that we can hide ourselves from God's face. Only God has the power to calibrate and focus the strength of his wrath. If He is not the One hiding us from it, we cannot hide ourselves. The beautiful thing about God's consuming fire is that it is the side of His character that executes His justice. It purifies and avenges the overcomer. Those who fear God and, like Jesus, seek to do the will of the Father, will be rewarded with the gift of Eternal Life. And because His wrath is everlasting, sin and affliction will never again rise up (Nahum 1:9). When we trust and obay God, we have no reason to be afraid, and we will be able to stand tall and look directly at the face of the Lamb, on the day of His wrath. And that will be a glorious day indeed!

   
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