Revelation 6: The Wrath of the Lamb
December 9, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
We come now to parts of the book of Revelation that can cause the most head scratching among Christians as they read them. There are great commentaries on these texts that can help; of particular note is G.K. Beale’s commentary on Revelation. It is a massive work – and not everyone will agree with all of his conclusions (inevitably when commenting on a book like Revelation) – and it is brilliant and insightful in so many ways. My purpose is to draw out the main theme of this chapter and then apply it.
In context, Revelation 6 (obviously enough) comes after Revelation 5. What we are reading here is the revelation of Christ’s rule (as declared in chapter 5) as it extends even over the suffering and trauma of his people. The passage has echoes in Old Testament descriptions.
For verses 1-11, particularly:
- Ezekiel 14:12-13
- Zechariah 6:5-8
And for verses 12-17, particularly:
- Isaiah 34:4
- Hosea 10:8
What we are reading about is how forces of chaos are unleashed on the earth after Christ’s triumphant victory at the cross, and how Christ nonetheless rules over those traumas and trials and troubles, how he purifies and judges, and how his final victory is given at the day of judgment. It is a vision of cosmic scope over the battles of this time, how the gospel is still triumphant even in the midst of the sufferings of God’s people, and how the judgment of God will come on those who refuse to repent and follow God.
The seals lead to political unrest, then poverty, then famine, and then death. But despite this awful chaos, it is still true that, described in terms of imagery in verse 11, and then described in terms of the final judgment in verses 12-17, Christ’s people will be protected and preserved and there will be a final victory at the final judgment day.
This is a terrible day for those who will not submit to the Lordship of Christ.
“They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’”
Such a vision of suffering, chaos, persecution for God’s people – and yet final judgment for those who reject God – is filled with enough emotional and spiritual force to cause us to worship the Lamb even in the midst of trials. It is intended to assure God’s suffering people that they are not forgotten, that what is going on in the world with climate disaster and social chaos is not beyond his control, that he will use it to purify his people and in the end to bring judgment on the evil and wicked who use their power to dominate and abuse.
Evil dictator: tremble at the day of the wrath of the Lamb.
And child of God: be patient. You are not forgotten, and your Lord is in charge.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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