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August 9, 2021 2:00 am
Let me read Revelation chapter 6 beginning at verse 12. We are in the middle of a consideration of the first vision of one of the first vision there's been several visions, but a vision that John has received beginning it chapter 4 verse one and has continued on and will continue on until the end of chapter 7. So were in the middle of that vision that he is recording what he is privilege to see and this is part of that beginning in verse 12, I looked when he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood in the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.
Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up in every mountain and island was moved out of its place in the kings of the earth. The great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains and said to the mountains and 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 his wrath has come, and who is able to stand the title of my message tonight is taken from verse 17 the great day of his wrath. The great day of his wrath. And I have contemplated. When would be a good time to spend a significant amount of time in giving you a couple of big perspectives that I think are absolutely critical to understanding the book of Revelation. These are big picture perspectives. I think I want to take that time tonight and set those before you and it wasn't until I understood these two things that I begin to get my mind around the book of Revelation we need to understand these things so that we can rightly divide the word rightly understand what God is given to us here so to big perspectives.
You remember when I pointed out to you back in chapter 4 of this vision that John was given them to go back to chapter 4 and verse one after these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven and the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me saying come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this.
John is given this vision of things that must this is the divine must of the decrees of God and they are confined in the scroll that's held in the right hand of God Almighty and remember there was a search that went out through heaven and earth and under the earth, and there was no one found worthy to open the scrolls and then one of the elders said to John do not weep for the Lamb. The root of David is worthy to open the scroll and Jesus himself went and took the scroll and begin to unfold. The seven seals. One of these big time perspectives is to understand the relationship between the seven seals. The seven trumpets and the seven bowls are the seven vials of judgment.
Seven seals of judgment. Seven trumpet judgments and seven bowl judgments as we make our way through the book of Revelation when we come to here we are tonight at this it does opening of the sixth seal. This is seven seals held in the hand of God Almighty taken by the sun and he is on holding the contents of the seals. That is, the decrees that must take place. The things that must transpire, and I in my study. I'm convinced that it is the things that must transpire between the two advents of Jesus Christ between his first Advent and his second advent. These are things that must transpire here we are in chapter 6, and it is the sixth seal what what what I want you to see is when you read when you listen and heard the language there of chapter 612 through 17 that that's language that's and of the age end of the world kind of language I won't read read it right at the moment but you heard it, you read it and we wonder okay if if that is a description of the end of the age, the end of time. The end of the old order white.
Why isn't that chapter 19 chapter 20 right proceeding.
The revealing of the new heaven and the new earth why we find that in chapter 6 get to that answer in a moment, but what I want you to see this is the first big picture perspective the relationship between the seals the trumpets and the bowls of judgment going to come to the seventh seal here. If you have your Bible, you might be able to see that chapter 8 the seventh seal. The seventh seal moves into the seven trumpets so the seven seals is in everything that is been decreed. It's only a part of it what's contained in the seventh seal is the bringing to pass the seven trumpet judgments. Similarly, when we get to the end of the trumpet judgments. We get to the seventh trumpet judgment. It leads into the seven vile judgments are the seven bowl judgments so there's a relationship between the seals the trumpets and the vial vials or the bowl judgments. It's all part of the same as the first big picture because as I said if you don't understand that you're wondering what this out. This sounds like language here in chapter 6, like where to be reading and how is this how is what we are reading here any different than what were going to read about the, the great white throne judgment.
In chapters 19 and 20 and the answer to that is they're talking about the same event talking about the same cataclysmic final day judgment at the end of the age. I and I say that because if you're reading the book of Revelation chronologically you going to be very confused if you're reading at your wanting okay where where are we in church history, we in chapter 3 we in chapter 8 we in chapter 11. You will be able to make sense chronologically. If you're looking at the book chronologically. Second big picture perspective. I believe what we have set before us in the book of the Revelation are seven cycles of judgment and their concentric circles so you have this first cycle of judgment given to to you and there are some details there's description and its description of the end of the age the judgment at the end of time and then will be a second cycle of judgment as I little further little more of a concentric circle. There's more detail and further descriptions and there are seven of those throughout the book of Revelation, and that's why why you see similar language at different places in the book and it's not that it's repetitive. It's another cycle of judgment and let me trying show that to you. We see the language here. I've Artie pointed out to their in verses 12 through 17, but seven cycles. The first cycle began in chapter 4 verse one and it will run to the end of chapter, chapter 7, there is the pouring out of God's wrath and God's judgment on an unbelieving world of Christ rejecting Christ opposing the world is supposed to hit his gospel and his demands upon their lives. What we have there.
Right before we move from again. The, the seals the judgment the seals to the trumpet judgments is a picture of worship notice with me is going to give us this description of judgment in the seventh seal and then it says after these things I looked, and behold, this is chapter 7 verse nine and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongue standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands and there's this picture of worship and praise to Almighty God and to the Lamb that picture and that pattern is repeated throughout the book of the Revelation with these seven cycles, so each cycle was a presentation with details and descriptions concerning the final judgment.
Each cycle concludes with the cataclysmic events that bring the world as we know it to an end. That is what we will look at tonight and again the opening of the six seal chapter 8 in my Bible says the seventh seal, or the prick the prelude to the seven trumpets. Remember what I told you the. The seals moved to the trumpets. The trumpets and moved to the vials or the bowl judgments whichever translation you're looking at chapter 8 the seventh seal leads into the seven trumpet judgment which again gives us another cycle more detailed description of the nature of God's wrath and judgment that is going to be poured out. How does that cycle that would be the second cycle. How does that cycle can the same way. The first cycle concluded in Revelation chapter 7, but this time it's at the end of chapter 11 notice with me the end of chapter 11. Again, there's this description of the final day in God's wrath and judgment, and then we read in verse 15 then the seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.
Words taken in song in Handel's Messiah and it was on down through verse 19. Cycle number three we have the angels who are dispatched and they come upon the earth to reap a harvest of judgment in chapter 4 team again. This is the third cycle that were revisiting. Keep that in mind there's these concentric circles. Cycle number one cycle number two cycle number three, but they're all touching on the same subject. It's the end of time.
It is God's final judgment.
It's his wrath being poured out here. We are chapter 14 the angels come to reap a harvest of judgment and there's another worship scene that is set before us again and this time it's in chapter 15 John says in chapter 15 verse one then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete and I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of gold and they sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty just and true are your ways, O King of the saints, and it goes on. It's another scene of worship. I'm showing you this this pattern. This way of of perceiving and understanding the book of the Revelation chapter 16 is the fourth cycle in this cycle is the pouring out of the Bowls of God's wrath. The bowl judgments. Chapter 18 is the fifth cycle, and it culminates in the fall of Babylon the great chapter 19 what we have there another worship scene. Notice chapter 6 and I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering saying hallelujah for the Lord God omnipotent omnipotent reigns. So there's another worship scene. Chapter 19 is the sixth cycle Christ is depicted coming in judgment on a white horse treading the winepress of the fury of God's wrath. And then there is the spinal cycle number seven and it is the great white throne judgment of chapter 20 and what follows that that ushers in the new heaven and the new earth, which is described for us in chapters 21 and 22. No, these are these are big perspective matters and I wanted to set those before you, and I think if you can get your mind around that it will settle a lot of confusion. It'll help you understand what is going on and how the book is constructed and how God has given us this portion of his Revelation.
Well, let's go back to our passage for tonight. I'll try and revisit. That's from time to time. Moving forward will need to to try and maintain continuity in an context, but for tonight back to Revelation chapter 6 because it's a short passage. Let me read it again and and again listen to the language.
This is end of time. This is the final judge Mrs. language depict being final judgment. John says I looked when he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake.
The sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood in the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind than the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place in the kings of the earth.
The great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains and said to the mountains and 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 his wrath has come, and who is able to stand when Christ opens the sixth seal in verse chapter and verse 12 the wrath of God appears on the earth, William Hendrix, in his commentary has this to say, quote, this describes what I just read verses 12 through 17. This describes the one great catastrophe at the end of this age, the dread and terror and all, and consternation of that day is pictured under the twofold symbolism of a crashing universe and a thoroughly frightened human race. What set before us.
Here is the district disruption of creation and the dismay of wicked men and God's judgment was consider number one the disruption of creation that's depicted in verses 12, 13 and 14 as you think through what is being described there. There are two important questions that come to mind that have to be answered here. Those two questions question number one. Are these to be understood symbolically or literally. Question one and question number two what is the actual event that is being described these to be understood symbolically or literally. And what is the actual event that is being described in our two prominent answers to the question. The first is the position of the prioress predators position the prioress position looks at the book of the Revelation and sees it mainly describing events that have already happened. They take the language here of judgment of earthquake and the sun becoming black and the moon becoming like blood in the stars of heaven falling in the scroll that the sky rolling up like a scroll all of that language. They look at that and they say that's language that is particular and it is descriptive of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and I don't look at that passage in isolation.
They look at what Jesus had to say in the Olivet discourse Jesus pointed to the fig tree in cursed the fig tree and said that it was right for judgment and the fig tree being alluded to as the nation of Israel and of Jerusalem that this the fig tree is a symbol of God's judgment on Jerusalem and although there is.
So I think some merit in that position on I'm not constrained to to hold that position we could take some time there. There's a lot of support for that position.
They go back and look at it Old Testament descriptions and draw from those and build their case, but we don't have the time to to look at that tonight. I in fact, I I have looked at it, but I'm not convinced that it is a plausible position to hold the other dominant view is that there may be symbolic language here but for the most part, this sixth seal is to be understood literally that it is depicting the literal calamities that will come at the end of the age. In the final judgment. No I say it's it's hard to Categorically say that there's no symbolism here. How much of it is symbolism, how much of us to be taken literal is I think left to the reader. But first four in the main, I I take a position and I think I can show it to you that the word understand this as a literal description of what is going to transpire in the cosmos in this world. At the end of the age now for those of you that are wondering about the symbolism you remember there's language or the talks about the stars. Verse 13 and the stars of heaven fell to the earth.
Your member when Joseph was describing his dreams and he told his brothers about the stars falling that was symbolic language but was he conveying with that, he was saying to his brothers that you will fall from a place of prominence. I will be elevated and you will be beneath me that it had something to do with God elevating Joseph to a place of prominence that was symbolic language.
So for those who say well there's no way this could be symbolic language.
There's one example in the Old Testament and the book of Genesis where this language the falling stars is clearly to be understood symbolically so be careful of just totally casting that aside, there's I think at times place to see symbolism. I want to read an Old Testament passage portion of it in you will I think be arrested at how similar the languages here. This is Isaiah chapter 13. Let me read verse one verses nine through 11 and then verse 13 and as I do. This is a description of the fall of the city of Babylon, verse one. The burden against Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amos all so were were told right on the front end what this is about. This is about the city of Babylon in verse one.
I go down to verse nine behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate, and he will destroy its sinners from it for the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light.
The sun will be darkened in its going forth in the moon will not cause its light to shine. I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity.
Verse 13 therefore I will shake the heavens and the earth will move out of her place in the wrath of the Lord of hosts and in the day of his fierce anger is Isaiah chapter 13. It's a picture of God. Judging the nation of Babylon and their hatred of God and his rightful rule and the prioress position says will see that is, John is borrowing language from the Old Testament prophet and he is applying it to Jerusalem with there's too many. There's too many things you've got a bill that argument on for me to be comfortable with.
But this is the point.
Just as Babylon suffered God's judgment. Jerusalem will be judged and they will suffer the wrath of Almighty God. That's again the position of the predators. Let me read another passage in Isaiah chapter 24 is in chapter 24 verse 21 Isaiah 24, 21, it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high. The host of exalted ones and on the earth. The kings of the earth. They will be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit they will be shut up in the prison and many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be disgraced in the sun ashamed for the Lord of hosts will rain on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and be result gloriously 1 More Pl. Isaiah chapter 34 Isaiah chapter 34 versus 1 to 4. Isaiah says come near you nations to hear and heed you people let the earth hear and all that is in it, the world and all things that come forth from it for the indignation of the Lord is against all nations and his fury against all their armies. He has utterly destroyed them. He has given them over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be thrown out there stench shall rise from their corpses get this and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. All the host of heaven shall be dissolved in the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll all their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine and as fruit falling from a fig tree you see the similar language that John is using their in chapter 6 in his language.
A literal interpretation of a cataclysmic judgment of the entire earth at the end of the age is what I'm convinced is being described their by John in Revelation chapter 6 not up not a local judgment, but a universal judgment and a judgment that is characterized by the great day of his wrath in verse 17 of Revelation chapter 6 this is the great day of his wrath again, not a local judgment on the Jewish nation but a worldwide judgment. Your remember the prayers of the saints who were John saw under the altar there in the fifth seal that we looked at last Sunday night. You remember their prayer. How long the Lord how long, O Lord, holy and mighty, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth. Well, the opening of the six seal is the answer to the martyrs prayer. How much time is elapses between those two events, we do not know but God is mindful the prayers of the saints in God answers the prayers of the martyrs with judgment. I think a literal reading of Revelation 612 the 17 fits best. The description that Jesus gives in his Olivet discourse. John would've been there John would have heard Jesus teaching the Olivet discourse. Jesus spoke of the son being darkened of the moon not giving its light of the stars falling in what Jesus tied those words to was the sign of the coming of the Son of Man.
Thus, it will be when the Son of Man comes again.
So Jesus is tying those two things did that but together the language of judgment and his second coming, and I think we must do the same. We must hold those two things together. The final day of judgment will bring about the dissolution. This the dissolving of the heavens and of the earth there some who hold a position well this is just a preliminary judgment. This is not the big judgment that the big judgment is later on I don't I don't think you can hold that position and be true to the text of Scripture as you read this language, this doesn't sound like a preliminary judgment. This sounds like the end of the age kind of final judgment. Peter reinforces this. Listen to what he says in second Peter chapter 3, second Peter three. He's describing what John is describing second Peter chapter 3 in verse 10 but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat both the earth and the works of in the works that are in it will be burned up. I think John is describing literally a great earthquake of unprecedented violence is not inconceivable for us to think that we're told that when Mount Saint Helens erupted on May 18 of 1980 that it spewed volcanic ash 5 mile's end-of-the-year 5 mile's into the year and everything within 150 miles of Mount Saint Helens was gone, devastated that center that is a a local earthquake were talking about a judgment that God brings upon the earth, and it is he says I looked when he opened the six seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake, a great earthquake, what would the great earthquake be like I just described the earthquake. The volcanic eruption of Mount Saint Helens, what would the great earthquake be like what would be inconceivable to think what it would be accompanied by the falling of stars, the sums I will wait a minute.
Stars can fall. Some stars are larger than the earth itself will could off, it could easily be asteroids being pictured here. One commentator said this, there is a cataclysmic event here that goes beyond description and that commentator is George Eldon Ladd. He says the language is not merely poetic or symbolic of spiritual realities. This describes a real cosmic catastrophe whose actuality could not be can see we don't have words to describe it. The word that's described here is a great earthquake. Another six items in this description of jet of this cosmic disturbance. This cosmic dissolving of the cosmos as we know it to be. There is the collapse of the universe that takes place in tandem with God's judgment, notice what he says will be a great earthquake. The sun will become black as sackcloth of hair, were told that when the volcanic ash came in that particular area that it affected the sun. The sun was was as dark the midday and noon. It just it had that effect that could be what's being described here, says the moon became like blood. He's describing the calamity that the entire earth is coming under judgment. The order that this universe is known because the God who created it is held together by the power of his word. God is no longer holding it together by the power of his word. He's tearing at a party judging it and it has to be so the old order has to give way to make room for the new. There is the removal of the old creation in order to make room for the new that's described force in relationship 21 the fig tree. It's a visual image of the shaking of Earth's foundation. Listen to what Jesus said in Luke chapter 2121 verse 11. There will be great earthquakes in various places in famines and pestilences, and there will be fearful sites and great signs from heaven Sosa Jesus. One commentator said the falling of the stars can mean only one thing to ancient readers. What is that the end has come. The end has come.
So the picture here is the dissolving of the cosmos. The sky is broken and hold up its it's something that is unprecedented. Notice the objects that are symbols of permanence and how they are affected. He says verse 14 then the sky need the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. What we associate with mountain we associate permanence mountains don't but in that day, every mountain and island will be moved out of its place. Everything that is known in our in our world is permanent is disrupted, the old order is being dissolved.
But not only does the six seal here show the destruction of the cosmos in verses 12 through 14, but in verses 15 to 17 this is that we see the terror in the Dred of the condemned human race. The terror and dread of the condemned human race. John sees six categories of condemned mankind in verses 15 through 17, and in general we can say what John the list includes all classes of society. Notice kings of the earth. Great men rich men commanders mighty man. Every slave and every free man is touching on all classes of society. The God is no respecter of persons that he judges all on an even basis regardless of social, political, or economic standing.
Notice what it starts with his starts with those who are the most esteemed those who are the most influential those who are the most powerful, the kings of the earth. The great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men that is the influential, the powerful, the mighty, but it's not just the powerful and influential, but it's it's all men free men slaves all must face the dreadful wrath of God because of their rebellion against him notice with me that there are two things that these groups of people who are of the condemned human race. Two things that they do. The first thing they do is in vain.
They attempt to flee. Notice it says they hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains well is at a safe place when the mountains are being moved. No, the point is that there is no avoiding the wrath and the judgment of Almighty God do things that they do. They vainly attempt to flee a number two notice the terror that is recorded that they experience and they say to the mountains and the rocks fall on us and hide us from the face of him hide us from the face of him who one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. There is terror real terror in the face of God's judgment. I want you to see that God is shown as the sovereign who sits on his throne and the Lamb is a reference to his compassion as a Redeemer, and their judgment is accentuated because they rejected God's rightful rule and they refused the salvation that is offered in Christ Jesus. In this six seal closes with the question what the statement for the great day of his wrath has come in my understanding here of the book of Revel of the revelation is that days yet the great day of his wrath is yet future on God's redemptive calendar, but it is a certainty. There is a day coming. The great day of his wrath is coming in here it is being described force and on that day. The question is who is able to stand. That is a very good question and the answer is given in chapter 7 who is able to stand notice with me. Chapter 7 verse nine. Again, the question who was able to stand. Chapter 7 verse nine after these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing, standing where standing before the throne and before the Lamb same languages chapter 6 and verse nine.
They were in terror, hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb will hear people who are standing in the presence of that throne, and in the presence and before that Lamb and who are they will. They are the redeemed the redeemed host in Jesus Christ are those who have believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. They've confess their sins they receive cleansing and forgiveness. They have run Jesus embracing him as Savior and Lord. And in that way, they are delivered from the wrath to come. What a contrast could ask you tonight in all sincerity you among the scoffers you among those who say the day of his wrath. There is no wrath with God. God, the God of love he would. He won't be wrathful. That's not what my Bible says the day of his wrath has come. John said in his vision, and again John was sitting in the future for those who say well I'm not a scoffer I believe is a day of judgment, but I have not yet yielded I have not bowed my knee.
I am living my own life I am living a life of my own choosing. There is a way that seems right unto a man in there of his death. You will not escape the day of judgment you will be before God. You will before his you will be before his throne, you will be beef the Lamb, but the question is will you be before him and terror and in fear of his judgment or will you be in the company of those who are described in chapter 7 worshiping around that throne exalting him rejoicing in the forgiveness that you have found in this God two applications tonight we come to conclusion. Since the world is destined to be destroyed. We who are believers should not be living for this world, but for the world is to come.
It's foolishness to be living for this world that is going to be destroyed is full and is to give our energy and our time and to set our ambitions and have all of our priorities set on this temporal world that is going to be destroyed. God is giving us the opportunity to exercise stewardship of our life and of our resources, let's do that in reference to the world that is to come. Not this world that is going to be destroyed and if we do will have no regrets and that day so let's set our ambitions are aims to have our devotion set on that before I leave that point. How would we know how would we know whether were living for this world or whether were living for the come. Well, our checkbook would be a good place to look are daytime or how we have spent our time how we are scheduling our time and in our day in our contemporary day. Perhaps your Facebook's might reveal something about which world you're living for this world or the world, application number two when this world comes to an end, not if the world comes to an end. But when this world comes to an end as we know it. It will not be because of evil and wickedness have overrun God's kingdom.
I will be the reason why why say that because in that very picture of final judgment where we see God Almighty see them on his throne. These are the things that must take place. These are the divine decrees of God so his darkest things might be as difficult as things might be. Do not lose sight of the fact that God is on his throne and ease ordering all things after the counsel of his own will and things are unfolding exactly as he has decreed and has determined our God is on the throne and he is accomplishing his will and these are the divine muffs that will take place prior to his coming. Let me conclude with words of this hymn, one of the hymns love our church to sing corporately love the refrain. I love to hear the trombone on the refrain. Great God of wonders, great God of wonders, all thy ways are matchless godlike and divine, but the bright glories of thy grace above the line, other wonders shine above the line.
Other wonders shine, who is a pardoning God like the or who has grace so rich and free, or who has grace so rich and free. Such deep transgressions to forgive such guilty sinners. Thus, despair.
This is thy great prerogative, and in this honor. None shall share and in this honor. None shall share in wonder lost with trembling joy. We take the pardon of our God, pardon for crimes of deepest die. A pardon lot with blood. A pardon bought with Jesus blood bowl made this glorious matchless love godlike miracle of grace, teach mortal tongs like those above to raise this song of lofty raise to raise the song of lofty.
Who is a pardoning God like the and who has grace so rich and free, or who has grace so rich and free, shall we pray. Father, we thank you tonight that there is pardoning grace in the way thank you for this sobering passage that we consider tonight of your judgment that will come upon the unbelieving world. At the end of the age.
Lord we want to be in the company of those who are around the throne.
On that day worshiping you.
We do not want to be the objects of your wrath and fury. So helpless father to be dismissed tonight with this blessing, where we say amen blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God for ever and ever