Revelation 6:16-17 - The Wrath of the Lamb
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 stand?'Revelation 6:16, 17
It is not a pretty picture that these two verses paint for us. God is a God of truth, and He reveals things as they are and as they will be. Cheap and worldly optimists cry out words of peace when there is no peace. They will paint a rosy picture of human nature and how the human race is constantly getting better, even though God says it will end with destruction. False leaders may deceive, but God says, "This is the future." He unveils it for us so that we might be prepared and that our souls might be delivered out of the tribulation.
A Strange Picture
The picture we have before us in Revelation 6 is of the opening of six of the seven seals that were upon the scroll. Only the Lamb was able to open the scroll. The opening of the seals ends with people shouting for the mountains and the rocks to hide them from Him who sits upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.
We usually associate lambs with meekness and humility. They are tender and mild little creatures. Other animals are associated with wrath and considered ferocious. We would think the Lion from the tribe of Judah would be a more fitting image to depict the Christ at this point. Lions are fierce. No one would care to meet a lion unless he was armed with a weapon. One would not, however, take a weapon to protect himself against a lamb.
While we may tend to downplay the wrath of the Lamb of God, the Bible does not let us forget it. Revelation makes clear that, although Christ defers punishment, there comes a time when His patience is exhausted. He waits long — but at last His righteous anger is aroused, and He breaks forth in all the fury of His wrath. The Bible is clear that when the measure of man's iniquity is full, we shall be ripe for judgment. Sin will have run its course.
The enemies of God have attempted their worst. They have united their forces against Him and against His people. Suddenly, like a thief in the night, His anger will break forth like lightning. His indignation will burn like fire. The great day of His vengeance will come. The day of judgment will be upon all those who have stubbornly refused to bow their knees before Christ or confess His lordship over their lives.
So great will be the wrath of the Lamb that men will cry out for the mountains to fall upon them and the rocks to cover them. Those who fall under the wrath of the Lamb would rather be annihilated — destroyed completely — than face the wrath of God and the Lamb. Their cries, however, will be fruitless. They will face Him who sits upon the throne. They will acknowledge the Lamb that was slain.
A Stark Contrast
What a switch! Contrast the wrath of the Lamb in that day of judgment over against the meekness of the Lamb upon the cross. At Calvary, Jesus Christ the Lamb offered no resistance. He was abused but made no complaint. He bore it all in patience and majestic silence.
Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb, could have stepped down from the cross at any time. He could have consumed His enemies with a single word. The same angels who sing praise to Him who is worthy in Revelation 5 were at His beck and call ready to come to His aid should He have desired them to do so. In spite of all the torment and anguish, Jesus stayed on the cross and died.
The enemy certainly seemed triumphant then! It was his hour — the hour of darkness. Satan was holding high carnival as the Son of God died upon the cross. It was the day of his power. He seemed to be in control. Oh, how he must have laughed with hellish glee when the Lord of life breathed His last and succumbed to the power of death.
But Christ did not stay in the tomb. Death could not hold Him. He is risen and now sits upon the throne in heaven. That is news the devil does not want anyone to know. All through history he has been trying to convince the world that he was the victor instead of Christ. So convincing has been his argument that the followers of the Lamb have been persecuted and terrorized throughout history. How often the streams of the martyrs' blood have been made to flow. It is no wonder that they cry out as they do in verse 10,
How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?
How often the Master has replied, "Wait." Rest for a while longer until the number is complete. Wait until your fellow servants follow you into martyrdom. The good news of the gospel is going to be proclaimed to all the nations (Matthew 24:14). It will be proclaimed by a generation willing to die for the sake of reaching the unreached. Today we see inroads being made in what were once Hindu and Islamic strongholds. Where the gospel was once forbidden, it is now being proclaimed. Those strongholds are being pried open by the blood of martyrs — ordinary people who are willing to die for their profession of Christ as Lord. In nations like Sudan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan the ground has already been receiving the blood of martyrs — our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Where are you in all of this? A Gallup poll tells us that there are over sixty million born-again Christians in North America. How committed are they? Tell them to renounce Christ or have their head blown off and then count again. I dare say that Mr. Gallup would, like Gideon, find his troops drastically dwindling. The sad truth is that the price probably would not even have to be that great. Threatening to take away their televisions would probably yield the same results. Faith is cheap when it is easily pawned.
The gospel is worth our lives! It is worth everything we have. No cost is too great to be a follower of the Lamb. Jesus Christ died to bring us forgiveness, and now He demands absolute obedience. We are to love Him with heart, mind, and soul.
One day the measure of the world's iniquity will be full, and all our guilt shame will be exposed. That day of vengeance will come. The sun will be black and the moon will turn the color of blood. Stars will fall from the sky. The sky itself will be split apart and opened like a scroll. Every mountain and island will be moved.
If you have at that time not already given your life to the Lamb, terror will seize your heart. You will be as those at the end of Revelation 6 who cry out for death to come and for an end to the suffering and agony. You will call for the mountains to fall upon you and the rocks to cover you. That will be the day of the Lord. You will meet the Judge — the Christ whom you have rejected — and you will face His fury.
A Striking Admission
Like Adam and Eve, those who call for the mountains to cover them wish to be hidden from the wrath of Him who sits upon the throne. Remember that Adam and Eve knew who God was! This proves that those who make their plea to the mountains have known all along that God is supreme and sovereign over them. It has been written on their hearts.
This warning is not just for the unbelieving world. It is for those who claim they know God but have failed to acknowledge the Lamb on the throne as the Lord of their lives. They have ignored the gospel call to repent, believe, and be saved. For them, it will be too late — the day of His wrath has come; the day of grace is past.
The most pathetic thing in this entire chapter is the reaction of the unbelieving world to the terrors that are unleashed in the opening of the first six seals. Not one of them repents. They see the Lamb descend from the throne. They are forced to recognize Him as Lord of lords and King of kings. They will believe and fear, but they will not repent. Those condemned under the sixth seal pray not to the God who could save them but to the rocks that they hope will destroy them.
Revelation 6 ends with a frightening question: "For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" It is a scary question, isn't it? But notice that is asked by those who are disobedient to God's will — those who are filled with fear.
As horrible and frightening as the opening of the first six seals may be, it is not hopeless. The question that ends Revelation 6 is answered in Revelation 7. Revelation 7 is an intermission. It is an aside written by John between the opening of the sixth seal and the opening of the seventh seal. It answers the question, "Who will be able to stand?" Revelation 7:9 answers,
After this I looked and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb
Standing before the throne are the servants of God who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb who sits upon the throne. Even though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea; even though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging, these servants stand without fear before the throne because they stand upon the immovable Rock of Ages.
And that Rock is Jesus — the Lamb who sits upon the throne. They will stand because upon their foreheads is the seal of God that assures them that the blood of Christ has saved them from all their sin. He will remain with them through the opening of the seventh seal even to the close of the age.