THEOLOGY IN PICTURES
A PICTURE OF HISTORY
And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, "Come." (Revelation 6:1).
Have you ever been to a scary movie? The kind where the suspense builds up and then something terrible jumps out at you from the shadows? A lot of people read this passage and they are frightened. I can’t really blame them. There are some frightening things in this passage. We are going to see four horsemen bringing war and famine and disease and depression and death. We are going to see images of souls under an altar and the wrath of God. It would be enough to frighten any sane man. And yet, this passage is not written to frighten us. It is written to comfort us.
In the previous two chapters, John was given a magnificent vision. He was carried up into heaven. There he saw a throne and living creatures and elders. He also saw a book with seven seals. John wept when he thought that the seals might not be opened. He wept because he realized that these are God’s seals and that they offer comfort to believers.
We are going to see some things in this chapter that may seem frightening. We will see four horsemen and the events that accompany them. And if we are not discriminating in our reading, we will be frightened. We need to remember that the four horsemen are sent by God. They are like the cavalry coming to the rescue. They are a sign to believers that God’s redemption is at hand.
THE RIDER OF THE WHITE HORSE
And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, "Come."
And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1-2).
John has been given a vision of heaven. There he has seen the throne of God and the four living ones and the 24 elders around the throne. He saw God holding the sealed scroll and he watched the call go out for one who was worthy to open the scroll. He wept when nobody could be found and then he rejoiced with the rest of heaven when the Lamb of God stepped forward to open the scroll. Now, as the first seal is broken, John and the living ones and the elders all crowd around to read the page that has been revealed. However, this is no ordinary page. It is a living, breathing volume which leaps full-blown from the pages and thunders before John s vision. I have heard a great deal of teaching on these four horsemen and what they represented. What most people seem to ignore is this is not the first time the Bible has described them. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah had a similar vision.
I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red hose, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel, and white horses behind him.
Then I said, "My lord, what are these?" And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, "I will show you what these are."
And the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered and said, "These are those whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth."
So they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, "We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet." (Zechariah 1:8-11).
Zechariah describes four horsemen. They have been sent by God. They are servants of God. They have been sent to the earth. Their mission is to "patrol the earth." Apparently they are some sort of divine policemen, at work at keeping God’s order upon the earth.
Later on in Zechariah we see them once again, only this time there is a difference in the way they are described.
Now I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming forth from between the two mountains; and the mountains were bronze mountains.
With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, 3 with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot strong dappled horses.
Then I spoke and said to the angel who was speaking with me, "What are these, my lord?"
And the angel answered and said to me, "These are the four spirits of heaven, going forth after standing before the Lord of all the earth." (Zechariah 6:1-5).
Instead of describing four horsemen, Zechariah describes four chariots. Once again, their mission is described as "patrolling the earth." This time the color of the horses drawing these four chariots correspond more exactly to the four horses that John sees.
The four horsemen in Zechariah reported that "all the earth is peaceful and quiet" (Zechariah 1:11). But the four horsemen that John sees make no such proclamation. With their coming we see anything but peace and quiet.
1. The Description of the White Rider: And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him (6:2).
Who is the rider on the white horse? Bible scholars have argued over his identity for centuries. Some have thought that he represented this conqueror or that conqueror. Others have looked for a future conqueror — an Antichrist who is to come.
On the other hand, we have not been left in doubt about these horsemen. They are not the forces of Satan. They are the forces of God. It is for this reason that some have thought it to be Jesus Christ Himself. By the end of this book, we shall see Jesus riding on a white horse and wearing a crown and coming forth to conquer.
And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. (Revelation 19:11-12).
The similarities between these two horsemen are striking.
• Each rides a white horse.
• Each wears a crown.
• Each goes off to conquer.
It is for this reason that some have suggested that the rider of the white horse represents Jesus and His armies — the conquering King and His victorious church. There are two different words for “crown” used in these two passages. In Revelation 19:12 we see the rider with many “diadems” (diadh,mata) while here in Revelation 6:2 we see this rider with a “crown” (ste,fanoj). On the other hand, Revelation 14:14 describes one like a son of man, having a golden crown (ste,fanon) on His head, a picture that nearly everyone agrees is a reference to Jesus.
Is this Jesus? I used to think it was, but I am not so sure anymore. The biggest problem is that this rider is one of four riders that go forth from the throne of God. He is not distinguished in any way above the other riders. That is not the way in which John presents Jesus within this book. When we see Jesus, there will be no doubt as to his identity. We will not possibly mistake Him for anyone else.
2. The Weapon of the White Rider: And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow (6:2).
The rider of the white horse is given a bow. The bow was a sign of strength. This is reminiscent of the weapon mentioned by the Lord Himself following the Flood of Noah’s day when He said that He would set His bow in the clouds (Genesis 9:13). The bow was used in that setting to describe the great strength of the Lord. It is used the same way here. This rider has a bow and he goes out to conquer.
3. The Actions of the White Rider: And he went out conquering, and to conquer (6:2).
We are not told of the nature of this conquest. Is it a physical conquest or is it spiritual in nature? The description of the bow suggests the former is primarily in view. Even when the Lord spoke in Genesis of placing His bow in the heavens, this was given in the context of the physical destruction of the flood.
On the other hand, we saw in Revelation 2-3 a total of seven different references to the one who “overcomes.” What is not so obvious from our English translation is that the Greek word translated “overcome” in those chapters is nikao (nikaw) and is the same word that is rendered here as “conquer.”
This serves to remind us that we are involved in a great battle. It is a spiritual battle. The armies of the King of Light are pitted against the forces of the prince of darkness. Notice that we are not fighting a defensive war. We are not hiding behind the barred doors of the church, holding on by our fingernails against the siege of the enemy. We are on the offensive. We are attacking. We are the ones who are surrounding the enemy and battering against his defenses. This is what Jesus said to Peter.
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18).
The picture is not of the church defending itself against the forces of hell, barely holding on in the face of repeated attacks. The picture is of the church smashing a great battering ram against the gates of hell and that those gates are weakening and they are about to spring asunder.
• When you are confronted with sin and turn away and do what is right, you have counter punched the forces of hell.
• When you take a little child and teach her the ways of truth, you are weakening the devil’s tottering fortifications.
• When you share the gospel with your next door neighbor and he comes to believe in Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord, you have just delivered another crushing blow to the enemy.
This is the message of Revelation. We are in a battle and Jesus is winning! Even when we see great conquests taking place on the political scene, even when nation rises against nation and kingdom rises against kingdom, the Lord is in control. In the midst of the smoke and heat of conflict, we cannot always tell from our perspective how the battle goes. It is easy to become disheartened as we hear the battle cries of the enemy. But we can take courage. We are winning the battle!
is a great source of comfort to John. He
has been banished to the
You can also take encouragement. Perhaps you have fallen upon hard times. Maybe you feel as though you have been defeated. It could be that circumstances have overwhelmed you. But there is good news. Jesus is going to win. And His people are going to win, too.
THE RIDER OF THE RED HORSE
And when He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come."
And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. (Revelation 6:3-4).
The clattering hoofbeats of the first horse have no sooner faded away when the second seal is broken and a second horse gallops into view. Just as the first horse had a mission, this horse is also given a mission. Its mission is “to take peace from the earth.” John lived in the day of “Pax Romana.” It was a day when many believed that warfare had been banished from the civilized world. But John is now made to realize that this is a false dream. As long as men rule the earth, there will be no peace. Indeed, peace has been described as that fleeting moment when everyone stops to reload.
From John’s day to today, there has not been peace upon the earth. And there will not be peace upon the earth until the Prince of Peace comes and rules over all men. Do you see the implications of this? It means that God is in control of war. He was not baffled by the armies of Napoleon. He did not start biting His nails with the advent of Hitler’s Nazi Party.
During the American War Between the States, the Union General Joseph Hooker prepared to meet the Confederate forces at Chancellorville. His forces vastly outnumbered that of the enemy and he held a superior position. On the morning of the battle, he called his generals to him and, at the end of the briefing, he proclaimed, "Not even God can take this victory from me." Whereupon he went out and suffered the most devastating defeat the Union Army was to experience.
The lesson is clear. It is that God is in control of history. We never need fear armies or powers or governments or men. The God of the universe is stronger than all powers on earth. And, if earthly have been allowed to rattle their sabers for a time, it is merely the sound of God’s heavenly hoofbeats that you are hearing.
THE RIDER OF THE BLACK HORSE
And when He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." And I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
And I heard as it were a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and wine." (Revelation 6:5-6).
The third horse is a black horse. Just as the first two horses represented conditions upon the earth, so he also represents conditions upon the earth.
1. A Symbol of Economy: He who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand (6:5).
Scales were to the ancient world what a cash register is to the modern world. Therefore, this third horseman is going to deal with the economic condition of the world.
2. A Symbol of Financial Difficulties: "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius" (6:6).
A denarius was considered to be a fair day’s wage for a Roman soldier. In the parable that Jesus told of the landowner who hired the workers, he paid them a denarius for their day of work (Matthew 20:2).
A quart of wheat was considered to be food enough to last a man for that one day. In other words, this is describing a condition in which a man must work for an entire day just to feed himself. Such a man would not be able to adequately feed his family. However, the same voice declares that three quarts of barley can be had for a denarius. Barley was not as good as wheat. It was edible, but it was not as nutritious.
This third horse describes a conditions of economic hardship created by inflationary prices. Now, maybe you are thinking to yourself, "Wait a minute. Things aren’t as bad as all that. I am not suffering any real hardship." Maybe it is because you fall into the second category which is described here.
3. A Symbol of Prosperity: "And do not harm the oil and wine" (6:6).
Oil and wine are the comforts of life. In the midst of economic hardships which most people experience, there are still a few who enjoy an abundance of food and the added luxuries of life, too.
This was true in the first century. There were many people who were struggling merely to feed themselves and their families. Jesus said that we will always have the poor among us. But here is another truth. We will always have the rich among us. No matter how bad things get, there will still be those who are rich. No matter how good things get, there will still be those who are poor.
THE RIDER OF THE ASHEN HORSE
And when He broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come."
And I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. And authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7-8).
We are left in no doubt as to the identity of this last horseman. He is named for us. He is Death. He has a companion. His companion is Hades.
Death statistics are astounding. One out of every one person dies. Death is no respecter of persons. And yet, this dark rider is not the normal death which eventually strikes down all men. His authority only reaches to a portion of mankind. His realm is death by disease and by violence.
Now we come to the final question. How are we to understand these four horsemen? Are they some future apparition which awaits us? Are they reserved for some time of terrible tribulation which must befall us in the days and years to come?
No. I don’t think that they are only to be found in the future. I believe that they are a part of God’s plan for this age in which we now live. From the vision of John to this day, we have witnessed the activity of these four horsemen.
We have seen the preaching of the gospel and the conquest of Christianity. We have seen wars and rumors of wars. We have seen economic upheaval and the poor and the rich are still with us. And we continue to see violent death in our society.
These are not visions of the future. They are visions of the present. They are visions of God’s program for history for yesterday and today and tomorrow.
This is a very bleak picture that John has painted for us. While we rejoice at the white horse of the gospel of Christ, we shudder as we hear the hoofbeats of warfare and of economic upheavals and of violent death. And yet, we should remember that it is God who sits on the throne and it is from His hand that the scroll of history has been taken and unraveled.
Do you tremble when you hear the hoofbeats? Take comfort, for the Lord of the horsemen watches over you and though they may appear frightful and uncontrolled, they are merely His servants. When you open tomorrow’s newspaper and read of the things that are happening throughout the world, you are reading about the One who holds the reigns of human history - the God who sends the horsemen.
THE FIFTH SEAL
And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also. (Revelation 6:9-11).
As we open to this passage, John witnesses the opening of the fifth seal. He has already seen the opening of the first four seals.
¸ The first seal pictured the conquering Christ and His church, moving out to battle in the world.
¸ The second seal represented the results of the spiritual battle — the physical and social unrest that has plagued mankind since John’s day.
¸ The third seal revealed economic upheaval. It pictured economic inflation and its results on the poor and the rich.
¸ And the fourth seal pictured the most terrible specter thus far — violent death.
Now, as we come to the fifth seal, it is introduced, not by a horseman, but by an altar.
1. The Significance of the Altar: I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain (6:9).
This is the first mention that John has made of an altar. He has described other things that would have been present in the temple, but up to this point he has not mentioned an altar.
Isaiah’s description of the throne room of heaven included an altar of incense. The sixth chapter of Isaiah tells of a wonderful vision which that prophet received of the throne room of God. As Isaiah saw the magnificent vision of the glory of the Lord in His temple, he realized his own unclean state.
Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the ALTAR with tongs.
And he touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” (Isaiah 6:5-7).
you could have gone to the city of
A priest would come here each morning and each evening to offer incense upon the altar. As he took the incense in a small bowl and sprinkled it upon the altar, the people would be gathered together outside the temple for the morning or evening prayers. As the incense fell upon the altar, it would touch the hot coals and produce a light sweet-smelling smoke which would fill the temple and rise up into the sky. This smoke represented the prayers of the people being offered up to God.
In Revelation 5:6 John described each of the 24 elders as holding a golden bowl full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. However, there is no incense mentioned in connection with this altar. This altar has the souls of martyred believers gathered under it.
2. The Souls and the Altar: The souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained (6:9).
martyred believers had been put to death for the same reason that John had been
3. The Prayer from the Altar: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (6:10).
This is the prayer of the martyred believers that John sees under the altar. They are asking a question. Why does God allow sin to continue? Why does He allow a Hitler to live? Why doesn’t He stop bad things from happening?
The answer is found in the patience of God. God is patient. The same God who holds the universe together by His power daily holds together the life of the unbeliever who hates Him.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).
When you sin, God does not send down a great bolt of lightning and blast you into oblivion. He is patient. He is waiting for a time of future judgment.
Why? It is because He does not want any of His people to perish. He is waiting for all those who will become His people to come to Him.
Let me ask you a question. What would have happened if God had grown impatient and decided to punish sin four days before you came to know Christ? You would have been judged and condemned and cast into hell! The reason that you are saved today is because God withheld His judgment against sin until you had come to Him in faith.
Don’t miss this! The reason you are saved today and not suffering the torment of hell is because God has been patient toward you. He was not willing that you should perish. He waited for you to come to repentance.
He is still waiting. He is waiting for others to come to Him in faith, trusting in the provision that He has made for them. He is waiting for other to believe in .Jesus Christ and be saved.
But He will not wait forever. There is coming a day when judgment will come. There is coming a day when the Lord will return to judge those who have rejected His salvation. There is coming a day when the heavens will pass away and the earth with all of its wickedness will be destroyed.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10).
What is to be our response to this terrible vision? What effect does this teaching of the wrath of God have in our lives? This is an important question. This prophecy was not given to satisfy our curiosity about future events. Prophecy is never given for that reason. Why was this prophecy given? It was given to bring about a change in our lives. Peter is quick to point out the proper response.
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you.” (2 Peter 3:14-15).
The response to this teaching of the wrath of God is twofold. The first response is inward. It concerns our personal lives. Once we have seen what God’s attitude is concerning sin, it should have an effect in our lives. We are to he at peace. We are to be spotless and blameless. We are to be free of sin. The wrath of God is a motivation to personal godliness.
The second response is upward. It concerns our view of the patience of God. When we see sin going unpunished and wrong and evil-doing flourishing, we should not be disheartened. Rather, we need to see this as a sign of the patience of God which has brought about our salvation.
Let me put this on a personal level. Have you suffered a wrong that has not been righted? Have you been stepped on so many times that you feel like a welcome mat? Do you always seem to get the short end of the stick?
You are seeing the patience of God at work. That very same patience was necessary for your salvation. It is a sign of your salvation. This is reflected in the answer that is given to the souls under the altar.
4. A Continuing Work: They were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also (6:11).
This group of martyrs had asked for the judgment of God against those who had put them to death. In answer, God says, “I’m not finished yet.” This is the answer of the patience of God. It is a lesson that we need to learn, We need to realize that had things are going to continue to happen, but that it is okay because only after the storm rains can the fruit grow and he harvested.
5. A Picture of Salvation: And there was given to each of them a white robe (6:11).
The image of the white robe is not a new one. It is found in a vivid prophecy of Zechariah.
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
And the Lord said to Satan, “The
Lord rebuke you, Satan. Indeed, the Lord who has chosen
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel.
And he spoke and said to those who were standing before him saying, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, See, I have taken you iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” (Zechariah 3:1-4).
was the name of the high priest in
This does not mean that Joshua was any worse than you or I. It simply means that all of us are impure when standing before a holy God. Even our good works are likened to filthy garments (Isaiah 64:6).
just as things are looking hopeless for Joshua, the angel announces that a
change is to he made. The filthy garments that belong to Joshua are removed and
a set of clean, unspotted clothes are given in their place. This is not merely a picture of the high
“Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you —indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.
“For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” (Zechariah 3:6-9).
Notice that Joshua is merely a symbol. Although Zechariah only sees Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, he is merely a symbol of all men who must stand before God and give account.
And, like Joshua, we are all found to be lacking when we stand before God. We all wear the same filthy garments. We have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. But there is also good news. The good news is that God has brought His Branch — the One who is from the root of Jesse and the royal tree of David. And when He died upon the cross, He removed iniquity from the land.
However, there are also some who remain in their filthy garments. There are some who have rejected the Branch. They will also be judged. And on that day, they will face the wrath of the Lamb.
THE SIXTH SEAL
And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6: 12-17).
With the opening of the sixth seal, I believe that John moves from the realm of the present to the realm of the future.
¸ He has seen the conquest of the church.
¸ He has seen war and rumors of war.
¸ He has seen economic upheaval. has seen violent death.
¸ He has seen the cry of martyrs.
All of these things were going on in John’s day and of them are still going on today. But with the opening of this sixth seal, we see something that has never been seen from John’s day to the present. We see the wrath of God revealed.
The first thing that I want you to notice is the correlation between the prayers of believers and the power of God. We have just seen believers praying. What were they praying for? They were praying for God’s judgment to come upon the unbelieving world. And in the sixth seal this prayer is answered.
I think that this is meant to teach us something about prayer. Prayer is not merely a spiritual exercise that we perform. Prayer changes things. The God who controls the universe acts in response to the prayer of His people. There is a direct correlation between the prayers of God’s people and the patterns of history.
1. Signs in the Heavens: And there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood (6:12).
These things that John witnesses echo throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.
Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; then sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light.
Thus I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:9-11).
is this passage describing? Isaiah calls
it an “oracle concerning
Likewise, the Lord speaks through prophet Joel to foretell a destruction that is to come upon the earth. Once again, it is described as “the day of the Lord.”
And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. (Joel 2:30-31).
In the following chapter, Joel again mentions the day of the Lord and the effects that this day has upon the sun and the moon.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The sun and moon grow dark,
And the stars loose their brightness. (Joel 3:14-15).
Notice that this time the stars are also mentioned. We shall see this paralleled in the sixth seal of Revelation. Each of these passages have one thing in common. Each of them describes the judgment of God. Each of the describes the wrath of a righteous God upon unrighteous men.
And there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood
For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; then sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light
The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood (2:30-31).
The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars loose their brightness (3:14-15)
Now I want to ask you a question. When was the last time that these events took place? When was there a great earthquake and when did the sun grow dim and when did God pronounce judgment against sin?
It happen on a small hill outside the city of
¸ There was darkness upon the whole land (Matthew 27:45).
¸ The great veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51).
¸ There was a great earthquake as the ground shook and rocks were torn asunder and graves were opened and dead people were raised from the dead (Matthew 27:51-52).
Now we see a new truth. It is going to happen again. The same events which we seen at the death of Christ will be seen when He comes the second time.
¸ The sun an the moon will he darkened.
¸ There will be a great earthquake.
¸ And once again dead men will get up and walk.
Only, this time, there will be a difference. This time the kings of the earth will sit up and take notice. This time there will be no more unbelief. This time every man will realize that Jesus is King.
2. The Reaction of Men: And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves (6:15).
you remember the story of Joshua and the battle with the five Amorite
kings? The battle took place before the
During the battle, great hailstones fell from the sky, devastating the Amorite armies. It was during that battle that Joshua called for the sun and the moon to stand still so that the enemy would not. be able to escape under cover of darkness. And the five kings were discovered hiding from the army of the Lord within a cave.
On the day that the Lord returns, the kings of the earth will once again wish to go into hiding within the bowels of the earth. But they will not be alone. John mentions seven different groups:
¸ The kings of the earth
¸ The great men.
¸ The commanders.
¸ The rich.
¸ The strong.
¸ Every slave.
¸ Every free man.
The first five groups describe people who consider themselves fearless. They are the self-sufficient. They are the powerful. But they are going to recognize their own inadequacy.
The last two groups describe the two extremes in society. The rich and the poor, the slave and the free, the up and coming and the down and out will all face the coming of the Lord on an equal footing.
3. A Hebraistic Appeal: And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us” (6:13).
This is a Hebraism. It is a figure of speech. Similar figures of speech are found in Isaiah 2:19, Hosea 10:8 and in Luke 23:30. We use a similar figure of speech when we talk about someone who hides his head in a hole in the ground. It doesn’t mean that people will literally be praying for landslides. But it does describe the appeal of one who has found that there is no escape from that final judgment. I think that in a sense, we can view this as the prayer of the atheist, for he appeals to nature, the god of the atheist. There is coming a day when the atheist will look to the cosmos for help and he will find none.
4. An Angry Lamb: The wrath of the Lamb (6:17).
is a striking description. We would
expect to read “the wrath of the Lion of the tribe of
5. The Day of Wrath: For the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand? (6:17).
The answer to this question is going to be answered in the next chapter. Who will be able to stand before God in the day of judgment? Only those who have the seal of God upon themselves. That day is coming. And you must ask yourself the same question. Are you able to stand in that day? Are you ready to meet your God? That is the same question that the Old Testament prophet Nahum asked as he described the coming of the Lord.
Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken up by Him.
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.
But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of its site, and will pursue His enemies into darkness. (Nahum 1:6-8).
There are two kinds of people. There are those who have seen in the Lord a stronghold — those who have come to Him in faith and who have trusted in Him as Savior and Lord. And there are also those who have rejected the Lord. Maybe you are in that category. Maybe you feel that you do not need the Lord. Maybe you are one of the rich, or the powerful, or the strong. Maybe you feel that you are good enough. On that day, will you be able to stand?