Revelation 6: 9-17
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
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, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig-tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
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. 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! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’
Sin didn’t just affect men and women and our personal relationship with God. We were the guardians of creation, God had given us dominion or rulership over the earth. So when we rebelled against God, our sin has affected and infected every part of creation – from the soul of man, to the soil of the earth, from nature to nations, from rulers to rivers, from weather to worship – everything is distorted and twisted by the consequences of sin.
Romans 8: 21-22 speaks of this:
“…the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Right now creation is under oppression, under bondage to the evil one, it’s groaning, longing to be freed, to be brought back to how God originally created it. And when we get to the end of Revelation we’ll see that happen. We don’t go to heaven to get away from this big bad earth – rather God restores and renews earth to bring it back to it’s original perfection.
But you don’t need me to tell you that right now that’s not the case. Creation is not working the way it was supposed to work.
Even as our own bodies get older, they start to fall apart and deteriorate. Creation, as it gets older, does exactly the same. That mixed with the full rebellion of human sin, makes for a very dark and dismal picture.
That’s what we’re seeing here in Revelation – God giving humans and creation over to it’s natural course, without His protection or intervention. Part of that, is that those who refuse to worship God, who resist God, harden their hearts against God, they turn against His people, Christians, and persecution intensifies. The very presence of faithful Christians, provokes anger and hatred from those who want to pursue a life and lifestyle which is totally opposed to God’s ways.
That’s why John is exiled on an Island. That’s why many of his friends from church have been killed, burned alive, thrown to lions, beaten, beheaded. Because they refuse to conform to the culture around them. They refuse to worship that which everyone else worships. They proclaim and declare that Jesus is Lord, he is King, and they will only worship Him.
The book of Revelation reminds us, as it reminded them – that when you make that decision to follow King Jesus, when you choose to obey Christ rather than just go along with everyone else – when you live a distinct and different life, according to God’s word and ways – it will provoke a reaction. Don’t expect everyone to love you. Don’t be surprised when people turn against you. When they reject you. Label you as narrow minded. Call you intolerant. Tell you that you’re arrogant and judgmental, simply because you won’t go along with their view of things. It’s simply that the kingdoms of this world are incompatible with, and resistant to, the Kingdom of Jesus. It’s the collision of two kingdoms. And when there’s a collision, there’s casualties.