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The Wrath of the Lamb

Come to Jesus and rest in Jesus for He is the Lamb who satisfied the wrath of God, or get ready to face the wrath of the Lamb.

 

Revelation 6:9-17 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.


When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

 

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “the wrath of the Lamb?” Last Easter, my wife come with me to the butcher shop to buy some lamb. It was there that she discovered what a lamb is. Perhaps some of you do not know as well. It is a baby sheep. Why would a cute little baby sheep terrify people so that they will hide in the mountains and pray that the mountains might fall on them? Because the wrath of the Lamb is the wrath of the crucified, risen, and coming again Christ who will judge the world for which He died.

 

The problem is that the idea of the wrath does not sit well with the civilized world of our times. They need to know that the wrath of the Lamb is necessary to carry out God’s justice. 

 

As we continue our series “Uncovering Revelation” verse by verse, Revelation 6:9-17 is the overview of the full impact of the Wrath of the Lamb in executing justice.

 

The big idea is, that the wrath of the Lamb is coming to carry out God’s justice. The question is, who will withstand it? Revelation 6:9-17 says no one and provides the reason for it, the result of it, and the the reality of it.

 

The Reason for the Wrath of the Lamb

 

Revelation 6:9 reads, “When he [the Lamb] opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.” The fifth seal reveals the threefold reason for the wrath of the Lamb. 

 

The first reason is the martyrs of Christ. The most commonly accepted interpretation of the souls under the altar is that they are the martyrs who came to Christ in the first three and a half years of the tribulation. Whether we put the Rapture before the tribulation, that is before the four horses of the apocalypse, or in the middle of the seven-year period, either way, probably after the Rapture nominal Christians who would be left behind will follow Christ and will die for Christ.

 

Their function in heaven is different too. In Revelation 5:7-8 when the Lamb took the scroll from the hand of God, verse 8 said, “the twenty-four elders [which represent believers from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds]  fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” The focus of heaven is the throne room of God which is in the temple in heaven where the saints of the Raptured offered incense which the verse says are prayers of the saints. However, the souls of the slain of the tribulation in Rev. 6:9 are under the altar.

 

Why are they under the altar and not with the rest of the saints? It is a bit complicated so please bear with me as I connect a few dots for us from the Old Testament. Here is my reason:

 

Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the Temple and its worship systems were a copy and a shadow of the real one in heaven. So, to understand what is happening in heaven we need to understand the Temple worship in the Old Testament.

 

In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle and then the Temple were divided into two main sections: the outer court and the inner court. The inner court was further divided into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, the meeting place of God. In the Tabernacle and in the Temple, there were two altars: one was in the outer court and the other was in the Holy Place right at the entrance of the Holy of Holies.

 

The altar in the outer court was the place for the blood offerings, that is, the burnt offerings for sin. Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17 says that they were offered to atone for sin and to placate the wrath of God. In other words, they did not remove the sin, but they assuaged God’s wrath.

 

However, the altar in the Holy Place at the entrance of the Holy of Holies, the meeting place of God, was the altar of incense. In Leviticus 4:7 we read, “And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the Lord that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” 

 

John saw the souls of the martyrs of Christ in Revelation 6:9 at this base of the altar of burnt offerings in heaven in the outer court of God’s temple in heaven which means they were not given access to the alter of incense in the inner court where the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies is where the saints of the Rapture were.

 

Why were they not given access to the inner court? Many Bible scholars believe these souls under the altar, unlike the raptured saints, have not received the glorified bodies yet which were given to all the believers alive and resurrected at the invisible coming of Jesus known as the Rapture.

 

Where do they get that? First Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

 

First Corinthians 15:52 explains that this all will happen in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye. So, the martyrs of Christ of the tribulation are waiting for their glorified bodies.

 

The second reason is the witness of Christ. In Greek, martyr means witness. Revelation 6:9 says that they were killed for their witness of Christ and for the Word of God. Therefore, they were under the altar as a blood sacrifice. For this reason, the wrath of the Lamb is coming.

 

In the future, in the middle of the seven-year period of intense tribulation according to Daniel 9, 11, and 12 and also Matthew 24, the abomination of desolation that is the antichrist will set himself up as God in the Temple on earth and those who will believe, preach, and live by the Word of God and testify to Jesus will be killed for their faith. This seems to align with Matthew 24:9 which reads, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake.”

 

Today, persecution in many parts of the world, though awful, usually is not open, not directly state-sponsored, and not openly celebrated. I believe a day is coming when being Christian will be criminalized and conversions will be punishable by death. 

 

The third reason is the justice of Christ. The souls under the altar in Revelation 6:10-11 pleads, “They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” ”

 

Was the plea for vengeance against their persecutors? No. What we have here is not a thirst for vengeance in anger but a thirst for justice. In Revelation 6:11, “Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

 

The white robe signifies not only purity, but also, celebration and honor. They were celebrated and honored and told to rest a little longer. Not wait a little longer but rest. Those who trust in Christ do not have to wait like others but rest in Christ because He has complete authority and power.

 

In Evening Service, we are going through the book of Psalms. Two Sundays ago, we studied Psalm 13 where David cries out for justice, too. Starting in Psalm 13:1, he says, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” If you are asking God how long, trust God; He wants you to rest in Him. 

 

The application is do not compromise your faith. Be faithful witnesses of Christ, do not take vengeance, and rest a little longer for God’s justice will prevail.

 

The Result of the Wrath of the Lamb

 

Revelation 6:12-14 reads, “When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”

 

The result of the wrath of the lamb is cosmic judgment. We see similar imagery in Amos 8:8-9; Ezekiel 38:19, Isaiah 34:4, and Joel 2:10, 31, and other places. No longer is a human agent used to bring the judgment of God— God the Son is directly involved. This is the first time we witness the power of God the Son as He begins to pour out His wrath on the earth.

 

The response of the inhabitants of the earth in Revelation 6:15-16 says, “Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb 

 

Though the result of the wrath of the Lamb is horrific and universal, like the flood of Noah, no one can escape. Still, they did not repent and did not pray for mercy. Instead, they called on the objects of God’s creation, the mountains and rocks, to fall on them. The truth is that even death will not be an escape from the wrath of the lamb. 

 

It is interesting that in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned against God, rather than repenting, they too tried to hide but they could not hide anywhere where God could not see.

 

This application is, we cannot hide from God. We should repent and walk with Jesus.

 

The Reality of the Wrath of the Lamb

 

Revelation 6 finishes with verse 17, “for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” The reality is that no one can escape the wrath of the Lamb unless one has the covering of the blood of the Lamb. The reality is that without Christ, all things whether living or not, human or not, will fall apart. Christ is the glue that holds everything together. 

 

Colossian 1:16, speaking about Jesus, says, “For by him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things were created through him and for him.” The reality is that the very fabric of the universe is held together by Jesus and if He pulls back, things will begin to fall apart. That is true in our lives too. Jesus is holding our lives together.

 

As an application, let me encourage you to focus on the main theme of Revelation which is to be faithful until the end and be His witnesses until the end and you will never face the wrath of the Lamb. 

 

A skeptic said to a Christian apologist, “I do not believe in your God of wrath who sends people to hell.”

 

The apologist said, “I do not believe in Him either. I believe in the God of love who saves people from hell.”

 

Though the response was sharp, it is not the full truth. We do not need to hide the truth of the wrath of God. The reason, result, and reality of the wrath of the Lamb revealing the wrath of God is not the problem. It is the solution to the problem of sin, evil, and injustice.

 

Never shy away from telling others that on the cross, God’s just wrath was poured out on God’s Son to execute justice against sin, death, and damnation— not out of anger but out of love to save us, to deliver us, and to destroy the power of death. 

 

Don’t sugarcoat God’s wrath in favor of God’s love. Without one, the other will lose its power. Just as the love of God is good news, the wrath of God is also good news to every soul suffering in pain suppressed by evil and injustice. The wrath of God guarantees that His pure and holy justice will be fully executed against all workers of Satan. 

 

Don’t dismiss or dilute the truth of the coming wrath of God because the absence of it from the church, a believer's life, and society will be the death of God’s holiness in our lives, His perfect love in our families, and divine justice in this world. 

 

Dismissing the wrath of God is dismissing the love of God that simultaneously killed the power of death on the cross and gave the hope of resurrection. When the full fury of God’s wrath struck the Lamb of God who bore our sins on the cross, it made Jesus our propitiation, wrath-bearer, redeemer, and restorer savior.

 

If you are without Jesus, come to Jesus and rest in Jesus for He is the Lamb who satisfied the wrath of God, or get ready to face the wrath of the Lamb.

 

Study Questions

 

 1. What did John see when the Lamb opened the fifth seal (Revelation 6:9)?

 

2. Who were the slain people in Revelation 6:9 and why were their souls under the altar? What does the imagery mean (Hint: Leviticus 4, especially verse 7)?

 

3. Why did they plead to God to judge and avenge their blood on those who dwell on the earth? Who are “those who dwell on the earth” and what was God’s response to their plea?

 

4. In Revelation 6:12-14, the sixth seal reveals supernatural, terrifying, disastrous elements that are hard to imagine. What do the following events mean?

 

               A.           a great earthquake

 

               B.           the blood moon

 

               C.           the falling of the stars

 

               D.           the sky vanishing like a scroll

 

5. In Revelation 6:15-16, what might be the reason that the weak and powerful, rich and poor, free and slave are hiding in caves and among the rocks of the mountains and calling to the mountains and rocks to fall on them?

 

Deeper Study Questions

 

1. What did you learn from Revelation 6:10-11? Have you ever invoked God to rise up and inflict harm on one who inflicted pain on you? How do you deal with forgiveness and grace that you should offer to your enemies versus what you read in Revelation 6:10-11?

  

2. How does God’s response to the pleas of the martyrs help you deal with the pains, injuries, and injustices done to you?

 

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