Thursday, 3 December 2020
For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6:17
There is an emphasis in the Greek that is missing in this translation. It literally says, “the day, the great.” Thus, a rendering such as the Weymouth Version is appropriate. In that translation, the emphasis is rendered almost as a proper name –
“for the day of His anger–that great day–has come, and who is able to stand?”
Also, some Greek translations say “their” while others say “His.” As two entities are referred to in the previous verse (the one on the throne and the Lamb), the word “their” is fine. But because they are both manifestations of Christ, saying “His” is fine as well. Either way, the time of the Lord’s wrath is what is being spoken of.
With these variations noted, John says (using the Weymouth Version), “for the day of His anger–that great day–has come.” The Lamb who was crucified for the sins of the world has been rejected. His church has been taken home, and worldwide enmity towards Him and His gospel of peace is left. Because of this, only His anger can be poured out on those who have failed to believe. The love seen in the shed blood is now anger towards the rejection of that offering.
With the coming of this great day in mind, a question is presented, “and who is able to stand?” If the One on the throne has presented the Lamb, and the Lamb is rejected, then what shall be the end of those who have rejected Him? The question is being raised based on the categories given in verse 15. There are the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man. Who can stand before the Lamb?
The answer is given in Chapter 7, and it involves two separate categories who will be presented there.
Life application: There are verses in the Bible that seem to contain oxymorons because they don’t fit our thinking of how things are. For example, each in Christ is asked to be a “living sacrifice.” A sacrifice, by its very nature, is something that dies. Someone not understanding the significance of the Christian life cannot grasp such a concept. But the informed believer knows that we are to be “dead to sin,” and to offer our lives to God apart from the body of sin and death that is in the world and which is in our flesh.
Likewise, we have here what would otherwise be considered an oxymoron – the wrath of the Lamb. How can a lamb demonstrate wrath? For some, even the “wrath of God” makes no sense. They can only see the Creator as a big fluffy pushover who dotes on us and gives us candy and prosperity. But God is holy. Our sin, no matter how small, is an affront to God. Multiply that by the billions of people on earth who have rejected Him, and His righteousness demands justice.
God doesn’t change during this process. Think of a column that is fixed and unmoving. On one side of the column is written “peace” and on the other side is written “strife.” If you are on the “peace” side, then peace reigns down on you, but if you move to the “strife” side, then you have become the object of punishment and pain. This is how we interact with God. We change in relation to Him; He does not change in position to us. When we are covered in Christ, we are on the “peace” side, but without His covering, we remain on the “strife” side.
As we are at strife with God because of original sin, we can never again be on His good side by anything we do. It is an eternal change, and only an eternal correction – one from outside of the created order – can rectify the situation. This is Jesus. He is the payment for an infinite crime of sinning against an infinite Creator.
In the tribulation, the world will have rejected Jesus and therefore it will taste the fruits of that rejection – the wrath of the Lamb. One cannot be right with God without accepting Jesus Christ. He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” No one comes to the Father except through Him. He is the path to reconciliation with our Creator. He is JESUS.
Lord God, it is certain that a finite crime against You bears an infinite penalty. It is certain that we can never pay the fine necessary to be right with You. But we know that Jesus could – He is fully God and fully Man, and He is qualified to do so. May we be wise and accept His payment on our behalf. Thank You for the Lamb of God; thank You for Jesus! Amen.