Revelation 6:12-17: No hiding place.

12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig-tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 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! 17 For the great day of their[b] wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’ NIV

‘’But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears?’’ (Malachi 3:2; see also Nahum 1:6).

There is something almost incongruous about the expression ‘’the wrath of the Lamb’’. I have felt wary when walking through a field of cows, and I certainly can say I’ve encountered an angry cow! But I’ve never been fearful of walking through a field of sheep, and definitely not lambs.

The imagery in vv.12-14 is like that frequently used in the Old Testament to symbolise great upheavals among the nations. It will pay you to have a look at Isaiah 13:9-11, 13; Ezekiel 32:7-9 and Nahum 1:5. These refer to tumultuous, cataclysmic events, lying between one era and another. (Examples of such might be 9/11, or the day the Berlin Wall came down). There may be many such days in history, but a final day of wrath is coming.

There is something to be feared more than death itself (vv.15-17; see Isaiah 2:19-21). It is the final judgment, and you can see how comprehensive it will be, affecting high and low. You will notice that those who have to face it, beg the mountains to fall on them and kill them, so they will not have to endure God’s terrible anger (see Hosea 10:8). On that day, unrepentant sinners will rather die than be in the presence of God.The only way to be saved from ‘’the wrath of the Lamb’’ (Jesus), is to trust in the blood of the Lamb who was slain (John 1:29, 36)

Tom Wright explains this seemingly contradictory expression in this way: ‘’But the lamb’s anger is the utter rejection, by Love incarnate, of all that is unloving. The only people who should be afraid of it are those who are determined to resist the call of love.’ Tom Wright: ‘Revelation for everyone’, p.68.

At the beginning, when man first sinned in Eden, there was no hiding place. Ever since, humanity in sin has been seeking to hide from God. But it’s not possible, and the fullest realisation of this will come at the end of history.

There is a fate worse than death. These are sobering words in Revelation 6, and should be read with utmost seriousness:

‘Therefore, let us not delay, but let us repent at once and put our faith in Christ.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied New Testament’, p.974