The Wrath of the Lamb
We are going to find that the Book of Revelation pulls us back and forth a bit; that is, it does not proceed in a linear sequence as we move chapter by chapter. Here, we find ourselves up against the end of time and we are only in chapter six. We will find ourselves here again before too long. If that’s a problem for us, that simply shows that we are products of our age who are used to stories and histories progressing in linear fashion—it’s not Revelation’s problem.
You will remember from Thursday that the first four seals describe life on earth during our pilgrimage, and 2000 years have proven John right. Yesterday, we saw the martyrs under the altar in heaven which were killed during that time. The sixth seal brings payday for the wicked. John’s reference to cosmic and catastrophic events was not an unusual way of describing harrowing events in the ancient world. Indeed, the Bible uses such imagery even when speaking of wonderful events, such as the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21)! So, stars falling to the earth need not be taken literally; however, the terror that the wicked feel at the coming of the Son is literal, and I’m sure will be accompanied by both natural and unnatural catastrophes (i.e., signs and wonders). But while the wicked look for caves to hide in, believers may look up with open arms.
Some may be troubled by the phrase “wrath of the Lamb.” If so, the trouble is with their own misconceptions of God. It’s troubling when theologians try to explain away God’s wrath by turning it into the mere results of the natural forces with which He has created the world, or even the impersonal response of God’s holiness to sin. I believe sin and rebellion are very personal to God. And though we should not see God’s wrath as uncontrolled rage as we see in ourselves, we should see it as His intentional judgment of man’s sin leading to death if unrepentant. And there will come a time when repentance is no longer possible and punishment no longer remedial. This is the same God who called for Israel to utterly wipe out the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15) and who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). The first time he came in humility; the second, in judgment.
But “we wait for His Son from heaven…Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). And that is why we will be able to stand on that day. Until then, this is the day of salvation. May we fulfill our role as witnesses before that great and terrible day arrives.