Summary: Exposition of Rev. 6:11-17
A PICTURE OF HISTORY, PART 3
We ended last week by looking at the prayer of the group of martyrs who has asked for God’s judgement against those who had put them to death in verse 10, so let’s begin tonight at verse 11 (Read).
1. A Continuing Work: God’s response to their prayer was, “I’m not finished yet.” This answer shows us the patience of God; it’s a lesson that we all need to learn. We need to realize that until Jesus returns, bad things are going to continue to happen. But that’s okay because only after the storm can the fruits of righteousness begin to grow and be harvested.
2. A Picture of Salvation: Then a white robe was given to each of them (v. 11).
This isn’t the first time we see an image of a robe. Listen to this 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 oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes” (Zechariah 3:1-4).
This Joshua who Zechariah was referring to was the high priest in Jerusalem in the days after the Babylonian Captivity. In his vision, Zechariah sees Joshua being accused by Satan, and to make matters worse, Satan has a basis for this accusation…his purity level, represented by his clothing, is filthy. Now this doesn’t mean that Joshua was any worse than us, it simply means that all of us are impure when standing before a holy God. Even our best works are like filthy garments (Is. 64:6).
But just as things are starting to look hopeless for Joshua, the Lord says that change is in order. The filthy garments that Joshua is wearing are removed and exchanged for a clean set of unspotted clothes. This isn’t just a picture of the high priest, it’s a representation of everyone who has a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. However, there will also be those who remain in their filthy garments. Those who have rejected this relationship with God will also be judged. And on that day, they will face His wrath.
THE SIXTH SEAL (Vv. 12-17)
With the opening of the sixth seal, I believe this is when John moves from the present to the future:
He’s seen the victory of the church;
He’s seen war and rumors of war;
He’s seen economic collapse;
He’s seen violent death;
He’s seen the prayer of the martyrs.
All of these things were present in John’s day and they’re still present today. But with the opening of this sixth seal, we see something that hasn’t been present since the days of Noah…God’s wrath is revealed.
The first thing I want you to notice is the parallel between the prayers of believers and the power of God. We’ve just seen believers praying for God’s judgment to come upon the unbelieving world. And here in this sixth seal, their prayer is answered.
I think this should teach us something about prayer. Prayer isn’t just some spiritual exercise that we perform as believers. Prayer actually works! The God who holds the universe in His hands not only listens to our prayers, but He responds to our prayers! Now they may not always be answered how we want them to be answered, and they’re not always answered when we want them to be answered because remember, God is patient. But there’s a direct parallel between the prayers of God’s people and the patterns of history.
Now, back to our passage. Do you remember from Scripture the last time that these events took place? Do you remember the last great earthquake when the sun grew dim and God pronounced judgment against sin?
It happened on Golgotha hill outside the city of Jerusalem where the wrath God was poured out on the Son of Man for the sins of the world. But now we see a new truth…it’s going to happen again. The same events that took place at the death of Christ will be seen again when He returns a second time. The only difference is that this time, there will be no more unbelief. This time every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
The Reaction of Men: And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves (v. 15).