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. 

 

ONE MORNING THE MUSIC JUST STOPPED AND THEN…

LOOKING BACK ON THAT ‘ONE PARTICULAR MORNING’:

And The Music Stopped
And The Music Stopped

The week before the awakening of a particular  Sunday Morning– after the pastor’s message, my wife and I headed towards the church parking lot. I found myself in a quandary. Why had his words fell flat in my hearing?  I was feeling the pastor’s presentation was being directed to a younger generation; my age group was being totally ignored, disrespected and my feelings were hurt . The more I thought about it as I left that day, the more outraged and disenchanted I became.

On arriving at our car, I opened the passenger side of the car for my wife (yep, after 48 years of marriage…I still open doors), then went around to the driver’s side and sat quiet in thought, as my hands rested on the steering wheel and finding myself in a trance.

My wife asked if I was alright.  My response was hesitant in the beginning, and then… the floodgates opened wide.  I told her I was dismayed with the Sunday morning message…then proceeded giving her all the reasons why this young pastor had missed the boat; he was preaching to the wrong audience.  Maybe it would be better to just skip this series of pastor’s messages.  I also went on to ask, “And besides…What did we get out of worship this morning?”  I’ll rephrased the question: “What did I…get out of worship this morning?”

— Needed counseling began that afternoon... 

Later that day, by the prompting of the Spirit of God, I realized that I had entered a designated place… of PRAISE & WORSHIP– out of my own needs, my selfish motives, without even thinking why I was there in the first place–to give PRAISE to Who praise was due.

–the following Sunday morning.

So Holy Spirit  urged me to go to church the following Sunday.  I knew He had something in mind.  I was to go with a  blank slate and not… with a predetermined outcome. I reluctantly obeyed.

To my surprise, the pastor didn’t continue with his message from last week. He had the flu all week and was unable continue in his message series.  Since our pastor also leads the music on Sunday mornings, I sang out with everything I had with voice and spirit– with my focus on who God is and the glory due His name.  Not the glory due to pastor…nor to my feelings, but to God’s Presence.

And after the music and singing stopped in the sanctuary, with my hands raised and head bowed, I waited IN SILENCE until praise began to rise in the heart of the people.  GUESS WHAT?  God turned up!

— It’s not about me, it’s all about You Jesus…

One of my favorite worship songs is a song that comes out of this tune by Matt Redman’s HEART OF WORSHIP:

When the music fades and all is stripped away,

and I simply come, longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart.

I bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required, You search much deeper within, than the things appear, You’re looking into my heart.

I’m coming back to the heart of worship and its all about You Jesus.

I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it, cause its all about you, all about you Jesus.

It’s not our singing that brings a change in the Atmosphere, it is our PRAISE and WORSHIP!

EXPERIENCING GOD’S PRESENCE:

Even though God is OMNISCIENT…”the attribute by which God perfectly and eternally knows all things that can be known past, present and future” [NIV Bible Dictionary]–He can and does manifest His presence in a realistic way in a place or in the midst of His congregation. We have to look for it!

“But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered]”  (Psalm 22:3 AMP).

— When God shows up, the atmosphere changes!  Things happen!

ASCRIBE TO the Lord, O sons of the mighty,  Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The Lord is over many waters.  The voice of the Lord is powerful, The voice of the Lord is majestic.

The voice of the Lord breaks cedars;  Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. And He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.

The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;  The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve,  And strips the forests bare,  And in His temple everything says,  “Glory!”

The Lord sat as King at the flood;  Yes, the Lord sits as King forever.  The Lord will give strength to His people;  The Lord will bless His people with peace  (PSALM 29 NAS).

— When we release a sound of praise, the Earth must respond.  God’s Voice is manifested! 

When Israel was ordered by the Lord, into ranks and tribes…

When they crossed the Red Sea…

Whenever they moved forward and traveled on in their journey (Numbers 2)…

Whenever they went to war (Judges 1:1-2)…

Whenever they were called to stand before the Lord…

ONE TRIBE always took the lead position–JUDAH

JUDAH in the Hebrew means PRAISE.  So what the Lord was saying, in asking the Tribe of Judah to take the lead role was…PRAISE always leads us into the things of God.

— God’s Presence isn’t just a place to visit:

And the Lord said,  My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest  (Exodus 33:14).

JUDAH must go first!  PRAISE must go first in our lives as well!

— Our church

— Our Ministries

— Our cities

— Our Nation

“What are the benefits in The Presence?”

One of the first questions asked in a job offer are these words.  We are living in a “benefit-oriented” society; everyone wanting to know, “What’s in it for me?”

We don’t seem to realize that we are missing out on a greater source of benefits coming from living and dwelling in the PRESENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

EVERYTHING you could ever need or want can be found in THE PRESENCE of the Lord.

— Do you need healing today?  You will find it in His Presence!

— Do you need provision today?  You’ll find it in His Presence!

It’s so simple, yet many Christians are missing out on the powerful truth.  It’s so amazing that many believers fail to exercise or practice God’s Presence.

Think about it.  Everyday in making decisions, we say no to God’s offer of fellowship and choosing instead, filling our minds with TV, gossip and mindless recreation.  Am I saying all of that is bad?  Not at all.  But if it takes or gets in the way of His Presence…you make the decision.

Results of Training and Practicing God’s Presence…

“TRAIN YOURSELF…For physical training is of some value, but godliness [practicing GOD’S PRESENCE] has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”       (1 Timothy 4:8 NIV–and my words added in the brackets).

— The experiencing of God’s Presence is the consciousness of His presence.

“And the Lord said,  My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you REST ” (Exodus 33:14).

God’s Presence isn’t just a place you visit…it moves with you wherever you go!  In fact, Moses goes on to say to God, I’m not moving from this spot until Your Presence goes with me:

“And Moses said to the Lord,  If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! ” (Exodus 33:15).

Can you imagine yourself saying tomorrow morning before your day begins, Lord…I’m not going to start my day without Your Presence going ahead of me!

GOD-CONSCIOUSNESS:

Experiencing God’s Presence is the direct consciousness of God’s Presence in our lives.  It’s not making God become present on Sunday morning’s Worship and Praise, but it’s becoming more aware of the Holy Presence that is here and now!

One of the ways, the most basic, most powerful in experiencing the Presence of God is through His Word.  How?

“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself”  (John 1:1 AMP).

GOD AND HIS WORD ARE INSEPARABLE!

 When you are in the presence of the Word, you are in the Presence of God.

Something powerful happens when you spend quality time in your Bible.  Something happens to your heart;  it feeds your spirit, changes you right where you are and continues to actively work in you, even after you close the Book and walk away.

— Benefits of Two Partners Found In God’s Presence:

“Glory and honour are in His presence…”  (1 Chronicles 16:27 KJV).

GLORY – the God-kind, appears any time something promised in the Word is manifested [made visible] in the physical realm.

AN EXAMPLE: When HEALING, as promised in God’s Word (Scripture), comes into someones life, that’s GLORY!

Where can you go to see the GLORY of God manifested…made visible in your life?  According to the above verse, when you enter into the Presence! THAT…is a definitive BENEFIT!

— GLORY HAS A PARTNER:  HONOR

What kind of HONOR? The HONOR OF GOD.

[4] “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earth-born] man that You care for him?  

[5] Yet You have made him but a little lower than God, and You have [crowned] him with GLORY and HONOR”  (Psalm 8:4, 5 AMP). 

SOME PRACTICAL STEPS IN “PRACTICING AWARENESS OF GOD’S PRESENCE”:

— What works for one, doesn’t mean it works for every one.

Being aware of God’s Presence is not some kind of formula.  I haven’t spent much time before this blog-post, in analyzing what I do to be more aware.  I like to think it’s a work in progress.

These are but a few STEPS that I practice:

STEP #1.  Make sure my awareness is not required by anything or by anyone else.  EX.: i’M NOT DRIVING A CAR, CROSSING A STREET, TALKING WITH SOME ONE ELSE–or, with myself  for that matter :-).  Nothing that requires my attention.

STEP #2.  I always practice my awareness in a quiet place; where I am not likely to be interrupted.  

AWARENESS and ATTENTION are fleeting,jumping from one thing to another; one thought to another.  I wish some churches who initiate “fellowship time” right after Worship and Praise on Sunday mornings, would re-evaluate their practice.  

So, a quiet place with few distractions works best for me. 

STEP #3.  I close my eyes.  Visual stimuli are distracting for me.  Maybe it’s is just my age :-).  The fewer the distractions, the more aware I become.

STEP #4.  I turn my attention away from the daily activities in my life.  I turn my attention towards God’s Presence in the ‘right now’.  I sometimes have to take a deep breath and relax.  Then start praising God in the Spirit of Who He is!  Giving thanks that God so loves us “that each of us is in God’s Presence.” 

So What Works For You?

Use your own creativity.  It may be that the awareness you might have is unique to you.

In closing, my responsibility is to be aware of God’s Presence.  I don’t somehow conjure up God in doing magical things that might cause God to be present in the moment.  That’s already done for me, and, I believe for all.

It is up to me to do something about this Presence–not the pastors–not the music team–not the congregation–to reap the benefits available of God’s Glory; healing, provision, etc.

The “ball is in my court”, as, I believe, it’s in yours.  So let ‘JUDAH PRAISE’ lead out, and then start practicing–being aware–of God’s Presence in your life.  And maybe one Sunday morning, the music will stop…and you too will be aware of His Presence manifested in your Tabernacle.  It’s a work in progress for me and I hope it will for you.