Summary: Revelation 6 talks of God's vengeance upon the evil of this world. But it also speaks as if there's no hope of repentance for those who are mentioned here. Can that really be true? Can man reach a point where he can't repent?
OPEN: O, Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run To? (sung by Leon Bibb - https://youtu.be/uTuy101LcPs)
How many of you have ever heard this song?
What you just heard was an old Negro Spiritual and I heard it way back when I was a teenager.
It has been so popular over the years that it’s been sung by dozens of groups (I found pages of versions on YouTube).
It has been sung by groups such as:
* Peter, Paul & Mary
* Three Dog Night
* And a whole raft of Folk Singers and Concert Choirs
When I first heard the song I remember being struck by the haunting power of the question:
“Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run To?”
He runs to the rock, to the sea, to the Lord and ultimately to Satan… because he has come face to face with the wrath of God and he’s so frightened he’s looking for ANY way to avoid the God’s anger. But there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide because he had rejected God for so long that there was no longer any hope.
Do you know where the writer of that spiritual got his idea?
That’s right – right here in Revelation 6.
“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?” Revelation 6:15-17
That’s pretty scary stuff!
These sinners are RUNNING from God.
They’re RUNNING from the wrath of the Lamb.
Bu as I was preparing for this message it occurred to me that there was something here that just doesn’t seem quite right.
John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”
And Jesus said He had come to “seek and to save that which was lost”
And Jesus spent His time among the tax collectors, and the prostitutes and the sinners.
To illustrate that idea, Jesus once told the parable of the Prodigal Son. The son apparently hated his father and couldn’t wait for him to die. He demanded that his father give him his inheritance before he died – which the father did – and the boy took the money and went off to a far country and spent it like he had it. Until he eventually didn’t have it anymore. His friends ran off and famine hit the land. Ultimately he became so poor that he began to look at the food the pigs were eating and wondered if he could eat it too.
Then he came to himself and realized his father’s servants ate better than this, and he made up his mind that he’d back to his father and say: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” Luke 15:19
When the Son returned to his father do you remember what did the Father do?
That’s right – He ran to him to His son and embraced him.
Over and over again - throughout the New Testament - we hear this message repeated and it all seems to be summed up in what we read in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
But here we have sinners running from the Wrath of the Lamb.
They’re running from the wrath of the very one who died for them.
What’s going on here?
The answer is found in Revelation 6:9-10
“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?’
Now there’s a couple things at play here.
1st – the scene here (and in the following chapters) show God’s vengeance on mankind.
As Hebrews 10:30 tells us… we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”
The major focus in Revelation 6 is God’s judgment on those who’ve persecuted and slain HIS people.
Jesus told us that was going to happen. He said
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” Luke 6:22