I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch6
I looked at this chapter in earlier threads, and I've been summing it up in the obvious way- the expression of God's wrath upon the nations- based
on the various "echoes" of different passages in the Old Testament.
This time round, though, I'm going to be asking the question; why do so many of these "echoes" carry overtones of God's wrath against his own
Let me show you what I mean, starting with some of the passages quoted in my thread on the "Sixth Seal" (i.e. vv12-17 of this chapter).
Firstly, there was the "great earthquake" of v12. That's where I found an "echo" of the earthquake mentioned at the beginning of Amos, which
indicates the real start of the "judgement" theme in prophecy.
But the prophecies of Amos are addressed mainly against Israel themselves, against their chronic injustice and their failure to listen to the
In the rest of the passage, we can find echoes of Joel ch2 vv10-11;-
"The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble.
The sun and moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining...
The Day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?"
But Joel's warning in this chapter is addressed to Zion, and he continues by calling them to repentance;
"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart."
I moved on to the echoes of Jeremiah ch4 vv27-29, in the shaking of the mountains, the darkening of the heavens, and the flight among the rocks.
But Jeremiah, once again, is addressing the city of Jerusalem, with God's complaints about their disobedience.
"For my people are foolish, they know me not...
They are skilled in doing evil, but how to do good they know not." Jeremiah ch4 v22.
Turning back, now, to the rest of Revelation ch6;
In one of my previous threads- "4 Horsemen-Why?"- I looked at this four-fold group and traced it back to the similar groups (horses and chariots)
mentioned in Zechariah.
But there's also a four-fold pattern in some of the prophecies about the fate of Jerusalem
In Ezekiel ch 14 v21 there's a declaration that God is going to send "four sore evils upon the land"- namely, the sword, famine, evil beasts, and
pestilence. The same list can be found in Ezekiel ch5 vv16-17, and a similar list (with "captivity" instead of "beasts") in Jeremiah ch15 v2.
Then we find, in Revelation ch6 v8, that the four agents of "Death and Hades" are exactly the same "sore evils" that were listed by Ezekiel.
As for the famous "Horsemen" themselves, I examined them carefully in the attached link;
Four Horsemen- Considered in detail.
You'll see from that link that I threw my weight- such as it is- behind the older popular tradition which names them as "Pestilence, War, Famine,
That quartet can easily be recognised as yet another version of the same four-fold pattern of destruction, part of the warnings against Jerusalem.
How are these overtones of "God's wrath against his own people" to be understood?
I can think of two explanations, and there may be truth in both of them.
One is that, with the coming of Christ, God's claim to recognition and worship is extended from Israel to the world at large. As Paul says in Acts
"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent."
In that case, the charge of unfaithfulness and idolatry, which was historically directed against Israel themselves, can also be extended. It can
become part of his indictment against the world at large.
As for the church, God's people in the more restricted sense, they would necessarily experience the same devastating events as the rest of the world.
They would be among the people recognising and fearing the time of judgement. Only the martyrs mentioned in v9, already removed from the scene, can be
detached enough to welcome
what God's doing.
But the very existence of those martyrs points towards the possibility that God's wrath might be applied to the church more directly.
It's one of the running themes of the Old Testament that God's people suffer at the hands of outsiders, because their own sins have prompted him to
withdraw his protection.
That's the explanation given for the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians;
"Because the people have forsaken me and polluted this place...
I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies."- Jeremiah ch4 v4 & v7
That's the explanation given for the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians;
"And this was so because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God."- 2 Kings ch17 v7.
And that's the explanation given for the defeats of Israel in the time of Judges.
"And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord...they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers...So the anger of the Lord was
kindled against Israel...and he sold them into the power of their enemies round about".- Judges ch2 vv11-14.
If the same logic can be carried over into the story told in Revelation, then the implication is;
That the martyrs of ch6 v9 lost their lives partly because God had withdrawn his protection from the church
And that God's protection had been withdrawn from the church because of their idolatry and unfaithfulness and other sins.
This, too, would have to be included in what I've been calling the "implied background" of ch6.
Then the overtones of "God's wrath against his people" would have a real application.
But we must not forget that the "chastisements" of God were never the end of the story.
In the second part of the cycle, as described in Judges ch2, Israel would appeal to the Lord in their troubles, and the Lord would respond, and he
would help them.
That response is the main theme of this chapter, and the main theme of Revelation as a whole.
"If we are faithless, he remains faithful-
for he cannot deny himself." 2 Timothy ch2 v13
[edit on 16-5-2010 by DISRAELI]