Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide!

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Revelation 6:1-17

SINNER MAN –

I first heard this song on the car radio the year after my wife and I were married, in 1965.  I was struck by the question in the lyric, “Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run To?”  I discovered later that the song originated from an African American spiritual song that had been recorded by a number of performers (Bob Marley, Peter, Paul and Mary, Les Baxter and more).

The lyrics go on telling the story with…He [the sinner man] runs to the rock, to the sea, to the Lord and ultimately to Satan because he comes face to face with the wrath of God and he’s so frightened he’s looking for ANY way to avoid God’s anger.  But there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide because he had rejected God for so long there was no longer hope.

I thought to myself, now where would the writer for this old spiritual song get his idea?

Right here in Revelation 6.

That’s pretty scary stuff!

These SINNERS are running from God.  They’re RUNNING from the wrath of the Lamb.

In my reading of John’s words here, something just didn’t seem to correlate with my knowledge of the bible.  John 3:16 tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

And Jesus spent His time among the tax collectors, and the prostitutes and the SINNERS.

Over and over again we read throughout the New Testament hearing the message repeated and it all seems to be summed up in 2 Peter 3:9.  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to yo repentance.”

BUT in our passage in Revelation Chapter 6, we have sinners running from the Wrath of the Lamb.  They are running from the wrath of the very One who died for them.  What’s going on here?

After re-reading and meditating on the previous verses in the chapter, the answer is found in verses 9 thru 10:

I see two things in play here.  1st – the scene here shows God’s vengeance on mankind.  As Hebrews 10:30 tells us and we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”

The major focus in Revelation 6 is GOD’S JUDGMENT on those who’ve persecuted and slain His people in the name of His Son Jesus.

Jesus, while on this earth, told us what was going to happen when He said “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22).

AND Luke 21:17 – “And you will be hated (despised) by everyone because [you bear] My name and for its sake.”  [AMP]

John wrote in 1 John 3:13 – “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.”

DID IT HAPPEN?

Yes!  Within the first 3 years of the EARLY church’s existence.

  • The Apostle James was executed.
  • Peter was thrown into prison.
  • Philip was stoned to death.
  • And a man named Saul had Christians arrested, jailed, beaten and even killed.

And that was just the beginning.

Down through the ages Christians have been murdered and tortured for their FAITH.

In my research, for this study, I came across some statistics that shocked me. [See Footnote [i].]

Every month…

  • 255 Christians are killed.
  • 104 are abducted.
  • 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage.
  • 60 churches are attacked.
  • 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.

And this isn’t a new situation for BELIEVERS.  Christians have been suffering and dying for their FAITH for centuries!

And Jesus’ Revelation to John is telling us that God knew this would happen and it made Him angry.

And He was so angry that He said:  “Vengence is Mine”.

You REALLY don’t want to be on the receiving end of that kind of anger.

Paul wrote:  “God is just:  He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you”  (2 Thessalonians 1:6).

I literally feel sorry for the people who try to harm God’s people because I know the truth of Revelation 6.  You don’t mess with God’s people!

Hebrews 10:31tells us “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

So the 1st thing I see in Revelation 6 is THIS:

  • God will bring JUDGMENT on those who hurt His people.

But there is something else here that I almost missed:

God’s JUDGMENT isn’t just about VENGEANCE, it’s ALSO about reaching out to the lost!

In the Youtube video presentation at the beginning of this Blog, listen to this verse:

RUN TO THE LORD

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

RUN TO THE LORD

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

RUN TO THE LORD.

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

“And the Lord said ‘sinner man’ – you shoulda been prayin.”

Do you know what this verse is saying?

It’s saying, it’s too late Sinner Man…you shoulda been a prayin!  BUT you didn’t, so don’t bother me.  You’ve messed up big time and now there’s no hope.

I have a real problem with that thinking.

Isaiah 55:7 – “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

As Long as the wicked are willing to REPENT…God will forgive. 

That’s the MESSAGE throughout Scripture.

Hebrews 9:27 tells us “And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment”  [AMP].

But these guys (in Revelation 6) aren’t dead yet!  Until they die they still have the opportunity to REPENT.

And besides, it doesn’t say that the “Sinners” were appealing to God.  These folks weren’t running TO Jesus…they were running AWAY from Him.

Revelation 6:15-16 says they “hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains”

These folks aren’t appealing to God to hide them, they “called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne’.” 

They were calling on the rocks and Mountains to fall on them and protect them.

I remember growing up in a home where the punishment my folks dealt out to my brother and I definitely got our attention.  So much so, that even a slight look of dissatisfaction was all that was needed.

And there are times in Scripture where God disciplined entire nations in order to get their attention to REPENT–“turn from their wicked ways”  (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Psalm 32:4, we see David speaking about how God dealt with him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.  He wrote: “For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me…”  (AMP).

It was a repeated theme throughout the Old Testament.  God would slap the people in order to wake them UP!

And God hasn’t changed.  He’s still working on sinners NOW as He did back then.

One of my favorite bible verses is where Jesus says:

What does Jesus mean when He says the Holy Spirit (“the Helper”) will CONVICT?

It means that someone has been convicted of their GUILT.

It means to make a person FEEL their Guilt.

AND that’s the Spirit’s job–to CONVICT people of their SIN.

CONVINCE them of the need of RIGHTEOUSNESS and remind them of the coming judgment.

Now, how’s the Holy Spirit going to do that?

As my mother would try to explain when I was a child:  “That small voice inside of you will make you very uncomfortable, Mel, when you are doing something you shouldn’t.”

Being AWARE…

Being aware of what the Spirit of the Lord is trying to get your attention for.

Be open to receiving His correction and what He is showing you that you need to REPENT of and change direction in your life.

The word REPENT means to turn in the direction you were headed; change the way we did something or the direction we are thinking of proceeding.  [See Footnote [i].]

Remember always, the Holy Spirit is CONVICTING and NOT CONDEMNING us! 

That’s what the enemy does.

HOLY SPIRIT is NOT going to badger or nag us about the same thing.  He is going to show us the MISTAKE–laying it on our hearts to REPENT and ask for forgiveness and then… He is going to expect us to move on.  He will keep on until we do something about it!  That’s not “nagging,” that’s the Father’s LOVE for us.

In reflection and asking myself the question. who do I know, or don’t know today who are living in the ‘spiritual caves’ right now while shaking their fists at God?

Should I be praying that the Holy Spirit might CONVICT them to REPENTANCE?

QUESTION:  “But aren’t these people really God’s enemies and if they are God’s enemies, they have to be mine too? And shouldn’t God’s enemies be put in place–PUNISHED?”

MY ENEMIES–GOD’S ENEMIES deserve to be punished!!

Well, here’s the deal.

If I rejoice when my enemy falls, I prove I’ve missed something.

You see, Jesus came to die for SINNERS.  Now–are my enemies…SINNERS?

Yeah!  I’m pretty sure that’s part of the reason they’re my enemies.

There’s an interesting passage of Scripture from Proverbs 24:17-18 (AMP).

[17] Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown.  [18] Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turns away His wrath from him [to expend Thit upon you, the worse offender].

There’s a hint given in the verses at the fact that your ENEMY is being punished for a reason.

THE REASON is this:

God is punishing your enemy so that you can show them GRACE.  You see God punishes your enemies so that you can come into their lives and show them God’s LOVE for them which lends to REPENTANCE.

You and I need to be constantly reminded by God’s Spirit that we were not SAVED so we could be pampered.

We were SAVED because we were going to HELL!

We were SAVED because we didn’t stand a chance without God’s MERCY!

It’s not that God doesn’t want you to have a better life than you’d have if you didn’t become a Christian; it’s just that God has SAVED us to become something more than just self-centered and self-serving individuals.

GOD SAVED you and I–and enlisted us to be His Ambassadors (His missionaries) to a lost world.            (2 Corinthians 6:20)

Now here’s the deal–you may be thinking that you are not qualified–not important enough to become a missionary–an ambassador.  But if you are willing to go to the “sinner man” during their struggles and SHARE with them the LOVE of God and HOPE of His forgiveness…then you have a chance to change the world!

Are you willing to take a chance?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  Statistics –  https://www.opendoorusa.org/christian-persecution/

Credit:  Charisma News – Discerning the Difference…Between Holy Spirit Conviction and Demonic Condemnation.

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV), or elsewhere noted in the text.

Media:  Sinner Man by the Seekers, 1965.  Courtesy of YouTube. 

 

“That’s A Lot of Pork Chops!”

“For Jesus was commanding, Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!  And He asked him, What is your name?  He replied, My name is Legion, for we are many.  And he kept begging Him urgently not to send them [himself and the other demons] away out of that region.” “Now a great herd of hogs was grazing there on the hillside.  And the demons begged Him, saying, Send us to the hogs, that we may go into them!” “So He gave them permission.  And the unclean spirits came out [of the man] and entered into the hogs; and the herd, numbering about 2000, rushed headlong down the steep slope into the sea and were drowned in the sea.” (MARK 5:8-13 ~ Amplified Bible)

BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIANS

We have always accepted the fact of demons and their activities in New Testament times.  But in these days, we are inclined to relegate demonic activity to pagan lands and missionary experiences. Like it or not, demonic forces are likely to become much more of a concern for you in days to come.  The apostle Paul tells us that are struggle is, at the bottom, a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12): “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending with physical opponents] but against the despotisms, against powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.” Even in our sophisticated times and intense interest of the “supernatural” and the “occult”: — Ouija boards are found in many American homes. — Horoscopes and astrological predictions found in most major newspapers.

FOR THE CHRISTIAN

There are two extremes that must be avoided in reference to Satanic activity.  C.S. Lewis aptly put: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” The confrontation between the powers of heaven and hell can nowhere be seen in a better perspective than Mark’s account of the encounter; the Gerasene demoniac and our Lord Jesus Christ.

THE SETTING

I was reading this morning, as a devotional and my prayer time, The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 8.  I completed reading the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee when “they came to the country of the Gadarenes or Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee” (Luke 8:26).  This same setting is recounted in Matthew 8:28-34 and Mark 5:1-20.  The Holy Spirit prompted me in writing this blog based on the story in the Gospel of Mark.  I had no idea why, I just obeyed the “prompting” and so here we are.  I later discovered the reason! At the conclusion of the day, after Jesus had calmed the waters in the Sea of Galilee, He and His disciple continued to the other side.  The ship landed perhaps late in the evening in the countryside of the Gadarenes. The Gadarenes consisted of two major cities; Hippos and Gadara.  Since Gadara was geographically several miles from the Sea, perhaps the boat might have landed in the harbor of Hippos but Scripture doesn’t say so and I’ll stick to the country of or the region of the Gadarenes If they arrived late at night, the scene must have been a dark and eerie one.  I can imagine that the nerves of the disciples were worn thin by the terrifying experience of the violent storm at sea. In 1986, a wooden vessel was found from the first century, discovered near Nof Ginosar at the lake’s  northwest shore [Gadara was on the southeast side of the lake].  The size was 26 by 7 feet, and big enough for 15 men. 

MEETING THE “INCREDIBLE HULK” 

“And as soon as He [Jesus] got out of the boat, there met Him out of the tombs a man [under the power] of an unclean spirit.  This man continually lived among the tombs, and no one could subdue him any more, even with a chain;  For he had been bound often with shackles for the feet and handcuffs, but the handcuffs of [light] chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he rubbed and ground together and broke in pieces; and no one had the strength enough to restrain or tame him.  Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always shrieking and screaming and beating and bruising and cutting himself with stones”  (Mark 5:2-5–Amplified Bible).

After this weary group disembarked the boat, they meet what appeared to be a madman.  Our children would probably understand best by his appearance, he might have looked like the television creation of The Incredible Hulk!Never-the-less, he would have appeared to be insane.  The Gospel writers inform us that he was demon-possessed. Although the manifestation of demonization vary widely. the classic symptoms were there:

1.  Severe personality change.

2.  Anti-social behavior; living in solitude in a cemetery, perhaps near a ‘garbage dump’ if there was such a thing then.  What do pigs eat?  GARBAGE!

3.  Super-human strength:  (Mark 5:3, 4; Acts 19:16). 4.  Spiritual insight.   The [demoniac] in Mark 5:7, instantly recognized the Lord Jesus as the Son of God.  Matthew’s account adds the words:  “And behold, they shrieked and screamed, What have You to do with us, Jesus, Son of God?  Have You come to torment us BEFORE THE APPOINTED TIME?”  (Matthew 8:29). 

The words reveal to us that demons have an intuitive knowledge of their impending doom.

5.  Tormented.  The price tag of possession was high when falling victim to the demons, agonized in constant torment of night and day (verse 5).  His animal-like shrieks must have sent chills up spines of those nearby.

6.  Tendency towards self-destruction.  Another indication of demonic control.  All you have to do is watch the media report on well-known celebrities, who are addicted to alcohol, drugs or both.  The so-called experts and psychologist announce that these people have an illness that only needs extensive medical treatment and therapy.  Do you see where I am going? This man in Mark was continually doing harm to himself, even bruising and gashing himself with stones (verse 5); and other examples of a demoniac described in Scripture bent on self-destruction (Mark 9:17-29).

THE CONFRONTATION AND CASTING OUT

It wasn’t difficult for me to imagine what was going through the minds of the disciples as their ship landed.  In Matthew’s account, there were two demon possessed men who rushed to them.  It was like being attacked by two “Hulks”. The small group probably thought very quickly to get back aboard the ship and push-off.  Maybe they clinched their fist and picked up driftwood to defend themselves.  But from all of the Gospel accounts, I got a distinct impression that the man’s eyes were riveted on Jesus.  He didn’t appear to rush upon the group on the beach as he would normally have done.  Rather he began to plead with Jesus. Though Legion bowed at Jesus’ feet (verse 6), it wasn’t an act of worship.  He seemed to view Jesus’ approach as a launching of a direct attack on demonic forces.  He pleaded with the Lord not to be tormented. Something for us to pay attention here:  Unclean spiritual traits; they have names, they know who Jesus is, they are aware of their surroundings, they have a voice.  How ironic that the tormentor pleads not to be tormented.

THE PLEAS OF “LEGION”

In response to Jesus’ command for the demons to come out of him (verse 8); when Jesus asked the demoniac his name, it wasn’t without significance.

I agree with others, He was asking all the demons to reveal their identities.  The reply, Legion, might have been some kind of evasion of the question; a reluctance to individually identify themselves.  To the evildoer, anonymity is always preferred to identification.  On the other hand, although there were many demons, they had combined as one force to possess this man. 

While Mark records Legion’s request not to be sent out of the region (verse 10), Luke adds to this request: “And they begged [Jesus] not to command them to depart into the Abyss (bottomless pit)”  (Luke 8:31) [Rev. 9:1].

Jewish thinking was the spirit beings were assigned to certain geographical territories.  As an alternative to confinement, the demons posed an option; being permitted to enter the pigs on the scene, some 2000 in number who were feeding at the time.  The request was granted and the entire herd rushed headlong to their own destruction.  I might add here that the pigs all died and not the demons.  Demons are spirit beings and spirit beings don’t die.  After the group had departed, they perhaps continued their attack on the surrounding countryside.

THE DROWNING OF THE PIGS

This event has caused a great deal of discussion amongst Bible students.  “That’s A Lot of Pork Chops!” Had Jesus achieved such a miracle today, He would be in deep trouble.–Under investigation by the EPA for polluting Lake Galilee with decaying pigs.–The SPCA would have been up in arms for cruelty to animals.–The Livestock Association and consumer groups distressed over the sudden decrease in pig population and the impact on pork prices.

THE DELIVERANCE

Let’s not end up on the note of the death of 2000 hogs, BUT on the deliverance of the demoniac.  He had been a slave and now he was delivered from demon possession.  The New Roget’s Thesaurus in Dictionary Form gives what it means to be servile or subject to slavery: “controlled, exposed, cringe, be at the mercy of, depend upon; fall prey to, serve, obey, submit to.”  That kind of slavery can apply to substance abuse, other people, emotions, fears, etc. While the demon-possessed man was once uncontrollable, he now was sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus.  Where once he was an instrument of Satanic opposition against the Messiah, now he is a witness to His power!  Once he was naked but now he is clothed.  Once a menace to society, now a messenger of the words of deliverance and healing!

CONCLUSION and APPLICATION:

What purposes did Mark intend to achieve by the inclusion of this event?  First of all, I personally think Mark was attempting to warn his Gentile readers of the great danger of demonic influences and activity in the world around us today. The Greek were believers in the spirit world but not necessarily convinced that demons were evil.  The scene which Mark presents is deliberately dark. A word of clarification is in order here.  We must recognize in this account the dark side of Satan is exposed, but this is perhaps the more unusual side of Satan.  Satan’s most useful instrument is the outstanding, moral, upright religious man whose good deeds are done independently of God, whether in the congregation of believers or behind the pulpit.

And it is of no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light;  So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds”  (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15).