And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. – Matthew 24:3-9
As John’s vision of the end times continues, the details that unfold before his eyes maintain a striking similarity to the message that Jesus had spoken on the Mount of Olives. In Revelation 5, Jesus had taken the scroll from God’s hand and began opening it one seal at a time. As He broke open each seal, a new level of devastation and pestilence was unleashed on the sin-filled world. False peace was followed by devastating war. Famine and disease riddled the planet and brought humanity to its knees. Now, John watched as Jesus opened the fifth seal on the scroll.
Instead of a cataclysmic event occurring on the earth, John saw a number of martyrs petitioning God to do justly and exact revenge on the wrong doers. These martyrs had been slain for declaring the gospel and preaching the truth, and now they were asking God to dispense vengeance on those who had killed them. Here, we see souls asking God to unleash the fury of the fierceness of His wrath.
For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. –Hebrews 10:30-31
For a moment the wrath of God is withheld, but as John looks back at Jesus, he sees Him opening the sixth seal. Instantly, the cosmos was rattled with a tremor that stretched beyond the earth and across the heavens. The Sun went black, the moon went blood red, and heavenly bodies began plummeting to the earth. The heavens were ripped in two and every inch of the earth writhed with the upheaval of God’s retribution. There was no place safe, the “day of the Lord” that had been prophesied for ages was now at hand, and God was exacting His unbridled vengeance on a rebellious and insolent human race.
John finished his explanation of the devastation of the sixth seal by describing the response of those unrepentant who were doomed to live through this apocalyptic nightmare. Their insolence became utter despair as they hid themselves and begged the mountains and rocks to fall on them so they might by chance escape the wrath of God. Every rank and every income level finally found themselves with one common experience – absolute torment at the hands of a vengeful and just God.
What a horrifying series of events. What a truly dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The one thing that I am reminded of as I read John’s account is that God’s vengeance is not executed on His own people. For those who come in faith to Jesus, the wrath of God is not a threat. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. We can rejoice, but we also should become clarions of the impending destruction of all who are unrepentant and that continue in their sin. The judgement day of God is coming, and all who do not believe will face the unstoppable wrath of God.
Reflect: Read Ezekiel 30:3, Joel 2:1, Joel 3:14, Obadiah 15, Zephaniah 1:7, and Zechariah 14:1. What do you find about the “Day of the Lord” from these prophecies?