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. 

 

Christmas Behind Us…So What’s Next?

– THE MIRACLE BIRTH –

Christians just celebrated the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World.  Every year my wife and I re-watch the DVD of The Nativity on the night before Christmas.  There lies in a manger, a crib between Mary and Joseph as they lay the baby Jesus gently down in a bed of hay.

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Baby Lying In A Crib

One night a wife found her husband standing over their infant’s crib.  As she watched him looking down at their very first baby, she saw a face with mixed emotions…disbelief, doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, skepticism.  Touched by this unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, she slipped her loving arm around her husband.  “A penny for your thoughts,” she said.  My wife occasionally asks me the same question, “A penny for your thoughts,” even after 50 years of marriage while I stare into an empty space of a room.

Her husbands response?  “It’s amazing” he replied.  “I just can’t see a crib like that for only $46.50.”  

Now in the original Christmas Story, I’m positive that Joseph and Mary’s dialogue never considered the costs involved of a borrowed crib in the manger.  They were thankful that they had a place at all!

Here, in both stories, lay one of the greatest MIRACLES in God’s creation.  In the first story I shared, all the father saw was a CRIB.  As baby JESUS lay in His crib…Joseph and Mary saw what lay within.  Not the uncleanliness of barn animals, the town’s people reactions, the cold of the night.  They were focused on the Miracle!

Many times people FOCUS upon God’s handiwork and only see the outside manifestation…never the MIRACLE of the birth of a new baby… or, the MIRACLE BIRTH OF A NEW CHRISTIAN!

SOMETHING EXCEPTIONAL HAPPENS DURING THE SPIRITUAL REBIRTH.

Something very exceptional dies within each Christian when we obey Jesus; by repenting of our sins and being buried in Christian Baptism and a new life is born.

We receive a promise…

“Repent  (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it)  and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 2:38 AMP).

There are those who believe that the Holy Spirit is some kind of inanimate object – like the crib that held that baby – AND they see only the crib, NOT the miracle within.

What the Bible Tells Us that the Spirit of God Does Within Us–

~ helps us in our prayers

~ guides us

~ teaches us

~ AND empowers us

BUT perhaps the most captivating thing that the Holy Spirit was sent to do was implied in Acts 1:8:

But YOU shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and YOU shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.

Notice the Bible verse says first, they had to receive Holy Spirit – and then they would be His witnesses.  The Holy Spirit came first – then the witnesses.

Now that might sound rather peculiar at first reading.  These people gathered here had been with JESUS from the beginning of His ministry. They had been schooled, taught by JESUS and sat at His feet.

BUT Acts 1:8 implies they should become witnesses AFTER receiving the Holy Spirit.  Why should they have to wait?  Why not just start witnessing right then and there?

WELL, they could have…but they would have been lacking the “DUNAMIS” — the POWER to effectively witness.

We get the English word “dynamite” from the Greek word “dunamis”.  

In other words, they could have begun witnessing in the surrounding communities without the Holy Spirit but it wouldn’t have the same exploding power.

My wife gave me a wonderful surprise Christmas gift this year–an Electric Hedge Trimmer!  I’ve been trimming the hedges along side of our home for years with only hand shears.  Now the shears got the job done alright, but with the POWER  TRIMMER…the task becomes less difficult.

FRUSTRATION Can Come With WITNESSING:

Have you ever felt frustrated in witnessing…inviting someone to church…talking to them about JESUS?  Trust me, it can come with FRUSTRATION and INTIMIDATION.

Understanding  Prevents Frustration–

It’s my belief that part of our frustration in our sharing JESUS (“witnessing”) can come from NOT UNDERSTANDING the pivotal role that Holy Spirit can play in helping us share our faith with others.

JESUS said:  “However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable for you that I go away.  Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you,    And when He comes, He will CONVICT and CONVINCE the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness and about judgement”  (John 16:7, 8 AMP).

It is NOT our job to CONVICT and CONVINCE the World… 

One of the primary jobs for God’s Spirit in this world of ours is convicting people of their sin; their need for righteousness and the impending judgement.

You and I don’t have to convict people (change their hearts) regarding SALVATION.  That’s the Spirit’s job.  According to Scripture in Acts 1:8, we are to be WITNESSES.

Courtroom Testifying
Courtroom Testifying

Let me give you an Illustration:  In a courtroom, there is a judge, prosecutor, defense attorney,a defendant, AND witness.

Who gives TESTIMONY in the courtroom?  The witnesses do.

Do the witnesses prosecute the defendant?  Do the witnesses convict the defendant?  NO!  WITNESSES…witness…and they do their best to give honest and true testimony because they realize that the verdict may hinge on how well they give an account.  BUT their only job is TESTIFYING.

CONVICTING OF PEOPLE of their Sins & of the Need of Righteousness & the Closeness of Judgement…is the Spirit’s job–NOT OURS!

OUR TESTIMONY IS IMPORTANT:

In Romans 10:13-15, the apostle Paul says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be SAVED.”  How then, can they “call” on the one they have not believed in?  How can they believe in the one of who they haven’t heard?  And how can they he”ar without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

God’s Mandate 2000 Years Ago Is Still In Effect…”Be witnesses”

GOD has given every one of us (NOT just pastors), a MANDATE.  What’s a “mandate”?  According to the On-line Dictionary:  The noun is…”an official order or commission to do something”; the Verb is “to give (someone) authority to act in a certain way.”

So when Jesus says “you shall be My witnesses”, He is given us the AUTHORITY and the COMMISSION to be His witnesses here on earth after receiving the given POWER to do so.

Now I found it interesting in Acts 1:10, 11 after JESUS was caught up, and a cloud received and carried Him away out of their sight, what the disciples were found doing:

“And while they were gazing intently into heaven as He [Jesus] went, behold, two men [dressed] in white robes suddenly stood beside them”  (verse 10).

The messengers (angels) question becomes one to be asked to all of us:  “…why do you stand gazing into heaven?”  

JESUS had already said, “you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  

The angels were encouraging the disciples (and us too!),  “Don’t just stand there and think about what’s in the ‘right now’, GO!”   Their words sunk into their hearts and in verse 12,  “Then [the disciples] went…”

Who Are the Preachers Today?

UNLESS someone preaches (witnesses), people cannot hear the Gospel Message…the Good News.

AND, if they don’t hear, they can’t believe…

AND, if they don’t believe, they don’t call…

AND, if they don’t call out, they won’t be SAVED!

This Is Our Service to God–

The SALVATION of the people we care about around us hinges on our FAITHFULNESS in our witnessing.  This is such a valuable SERVICE to God, that He regards even our feet (those who give testimony), of how they came to Jesus… as beautiful!

HOLY SPIRIT OPPORTUNITIES:

I believe that God’s Spirit gives each Christian believer opportunities to talk to others, IF…and that’s a big IF, if we just ask.  I’ve been reading of late in the Gospel of John, when I came upon 3-verses about “asking”.

John 14:12-14:

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, IF anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.    

“And I will do [I will grant] whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son.

“[Yes]  I will grant [I myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My name  [as presenting all that I AM].”

Now most of the things we seem to ASK FOR, are things that will benefit us: food, clothing, roofs over our heads, a good job…  But how about asking for OPPORTUNITIES…opportunities to talk to other about Christ Jesus this coming new year.

SO, WHAT’S NEXT AFTER CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR?

We need to:

PRAY, ASK for God’s Spirit to prepare the hearts of people we want to talk to.  We don’t go out “witnessing”, we “witness” as we go after praying earnestly first.

TRUST the Holy Spirit to do His part as we go.

LISTEN for God as He guides you to people to speak with.

AND SPEAK about what God has done specifically for you and what He means personally to you.

We are truly living in the LAST DAYS.  The BAD NEWS is always hitting you in the face.  The GOOD NEWS should be always in our hearts, minds, and souls as we go.

JERUSALEM FIRST…our neighborhoods, our workplace, our communities.

JUDEA…the towns, cities, counties all around us.

SAMARIA…the bordering States, Provinces, Countries…

TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH!

What’s next?  The Time Is Now!

But you shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be MY WITNESSES in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.

Where is your JERUSALEM?