Rev 6:12-17 “When he opened the sixth seal…”
Unfortunately there are many who read these verses, and begin to watch for earthquakes. Their eyes are trained to the skies, looking for evidence of the sun becoming black, the moon appearing blood-red, and stars falling from the sky. They watch the world news, and hear of natural disasters with drool hanging off their lips, hoping everything comes crashing down as a sign of Jesus’ returning.
Thankfully, these verses contain much more hope and transformational New Life than that. What we read here are words symbolizing a cosmic “upheaval”. John is writing to a community by the sea, well aware of how travelers know where they are and where they are going. Navigators use the sun, the moon, the stars, and islands/mountains as landmarks.
John had just finished talking about the faithful who have passed from this fallen world in verses 9-11. Now he moves his focus to those who find themselves living apart from God in a world He is breaking into. And the “breaking into” being discussed here? The presence of God embodied in the Church.
When the Church is faithfully living as the presence of the resurrected Jesus in a broken world, the impact on the world is as noticeable as such cosmic upheavals. From the highest leaders to the lowliest servants, anyone living according to their own natures will continue to lose footing as God’s Kingdom becomes realized here and now.
He ends this section with those people crying out to be hidden from the “wrath of God”. This is hard for some people to swallow, noting that so much of scripture speaks of God as a “God of Love”. To quote Dr.Mulholland, “if we began to walk off the roof of this building, you wouldn’t accuse gravity of being retributive or vengeful, but you would surely experience its’ wrath.”
God’s nature is Love, and His Kingdom is one of infinite sacrificial Love. To those who have built up an entire existence against this Love, the Church moves in the world as an extremely disorienting and radical force. Not as a weapon, but as Truth revealing, New Life bringing, Kingdom establishing presence of God.
May we live a bit less self-stabilized this week…