Sixth Seal: Cataclysmic Disturbances: Part 3 of 4 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
The completeness of the panic is described for us by the Apostle. It affects every class of society from the poorest laborer to the greatest king. Men lose all hope and can find no place to hide from the anarchy which grips the globe. We know about kings and rich men, chief captains (military leaders) and mighty men, bondmen and free men; but who are the “great men”— they probably are the statesman and high public officials. By listing the kings, tycoons, generals, the rich, and the powerful as well as the slaves, John was emphasizing that those who had escaped previously would not escape this. Those who thought they were safe and secure would find that they had no place to hide from God.
Forces of anarchy already are active in the world. Lawlessness is evident in every country on earth, in the mighty nations which controlled international affairs and in the newly emerging nations which are just a step removed from the jungle. Lawlessness will be an important factor in making possible the eventual power play of the beast. He is called “the lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, NASB. He profits from lawlessness and uses it for his own advancement. The hundreds of radical groups, dedicated to the overthrow of society as it is now constituted, preaching the death of the establishment are, at present, divinely restrained. One day the seal of restraint will be broken and, as during the days of the French and Russian revolutions, the old order will be swept away. A new society will emerge, with its constitution drawn up in hell.
The practical effect of the judgment was fear in unbelievers from all walks of life. Dread and fear would seize on all sorts of men. Neither grandeur, riches, valor, nor strength, can support men at that time. They would be glad to never be seen again—to no longer exist. Though Christ is a Lamb, he can be angry, and the wrath of the Lamb is exceedingly dreadful; for if the Redeemer himself who appeases the wrath of God, be our enemy, where shall we find a friend to plead for us?
“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:11). There is a Rock to which we can still come for refuge. That Rock is a Person, the Rock of Ages, our Lord Jesus Christ. There is both salvation and security in the cleft of that Rock.
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
They (unbelievers) called on “the mountains and the rocks” to “fall on” them and to hide them from God’s “wrath.” Their fear was so great they would rather be killed by a falling mountain than to face “the wrath of the Lamb” (“Their wrath,” referring to the anger of the Triune God.) Again this is not a picture of ordinary trouble but the period of the greatest distress in world history.
“The wrath of the lamb” is a paradoxical phrase. The Bible is filled with paradoxes, and I am sure that you have discovered that. A paradox is a proposition which is contrary to received opinion; that is, it is that which is seemingly contradictory. On the surface the assertion seems contradictory but closer examination reveals it is factual. Here we have the greatest paradox of all; “The wrath of the lamb”— lambs are gentle animals—but this Lamb was bringing great wrath upon a world that had refused His sacrifice, mocked His name, and persecuted His people (see Luke 12:49).
The wrath of God is the Day of the Lord, that day that is spoken of all the way through the Old Testament prophets, a day that is coming upon the earth and is yet future. It is called here “the wrath of the Lamb”—that is a strange statement. “Wrath of the lion” would be more consistent. We are so accustomed to emphasizing the meekness and gentleness of Christ (Matthew 11:28-30) that we forget His holiness and justice. The same Christ who welcomed the children also drove the merchants from the temple. God’s wrath is not like a child’s temper tantrum or punishment meted out by and impatient parent. God’s wrath is the evidence of His holy love for all that is right and His holy hatred for all that is evil. Only a soft and sentimental person would want to worship a God who did not deal justly with evil in the world.
Here we have “the wrath of the Lamb.” The lamb is a familiar figure of Christ. Suppose a little lamb, which is noted for gentleness and meekness, did get angry? What then? It is like a tempest in a teapot. From the days of Abel to those of John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus is depicted as a lamb. The apostle John calls Him “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). In other words, God did not choose the lamb because it possessed characteristics of Christ, neither did He choose it for the sacrificial aspect. God created such an animal to represent Christ. Christ is “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world,” before any lamb was ever created.
The Lord Jesus Christ has the qualities of a lamb. He was meek— “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). He was gentle— “. . . Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). He was harmless—You never see a sign saying, “Beware of the lamb.” You see the “Beware of the dog,” but not of the lamb. He was humble—Christ washed the feet of His disciples.
But what about “the wrath?” Wrath is strange and foreign even to the person of God, is it not? God loves the good. God hates the evil. He does not hate as you and I hate. He is not vindictive. God is righteous, God is holy, and He hates that which is contrary to Himself. He is strong and mighty. He is mighty in battle. The gospel reveals the wrath of God. Paul said, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Look at this world we are in, my friend. It already reveals the wrath of God, the judgment of God, and the hopelessness the situation. It is clear that no person has control of his or her own fate. Furthermore, the people mentioned here are impenitent. They refuse to submit to God’s will. They would rather hide from God in fear (remember Adam and Eve?) than run to Him in faith. They are proof that judgment by itself does not change the human heart. Not only will men seek to hide from God, but they will blasphemy Him as well (Revelation 16:9, 11, 21).
It is like mixing fire and water to bring wrath and the Lamb together, but all the fury of the wrath of God is revealed in the Lamb. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He made a scourge of small cords, and He drove the moneychangers out of the temple. Was He bluffing? He was not. He called the religious rulers a generation of vipers, whited sepulchers. He cursed the fig tree. He said “Woe unto thee, Chorazin and Bethsaida” (see Matthew 11:21). Christ rejected Jerusalem, but He had tears in His eyes when He did so. He still controls the forces of nature, and He uses them in judgment. God has declared war against sin. I say, Blessed be His name. He will not compromise with that which has brought such havoc to the human family! There is a day coming when the wrath of the Lamb will be revealed. Someone says, “I thought He was gentle and would not punish sin.” My friend, God said, “Be wise now therefore, O ye Kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:10-12).
We will see more of “the wrath of God” as we progress through Revelation (Revelation 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15). We will also encounter the wrath of Satan (Revelation 12:17) and the wrath of the nations as they oppose God (Revelation 11:18). If men and women will not yield to the love of God, and be changed by the grace of God, then there is no way for them to escape the wrath of God.