Living In-Between

revelation.pngAn exposition of Revelation 6:1-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 24, 2008.

I’m sure none of you struggle with my bad habits but I tend to be impatient. I don’t like to wait. I like for things to be done yesterday. Now, don’t get me wrong I understand the need for patience and in fact I can lecture you on your need to wait in God’s timing – but I shouldn’t have to wait. Add to that the fact that I don’t like tension. I like for things to be settled. Things ought to be one way or the other none of this “both and” stuff. That’s why the life of faith is often difficult for me. Things happen in this life that frankly, I don’t like. I see good people suffer and, from my perspective, they suffer needlessly. I see wicked people profit and I’m not happy about it. I hear God mocked and His Holy character slandered and I want to see a little smoke and fire! And at times my most cherished doctrines give me the most grief. I believe God is sovereign over all things. That means people, nations, nature, world events are all under His sovereign control. So why do babies suffer and die? Why do godly people get cancer? Why do wicked people get rich and live lives of ease and comfort? I understand the skeptic who reasons, “If God is good He is not all powerful and if He is all powerful, He is not good.” I understand how a person can think that. From a human perspective it makes sense. Why wouldn’t a good and powerful God always see to it that good triumphs and evil suffers? As the people of God we long for the return of our Lord. Our hope is in the blessed appearance of our Lord at the end of the age. And yet we understand that when that day comes, it comes with great terror. What is a glorious and wonderful thing for us will be a living hell for others. It is one of the things about the book of Revelation that we find fascinating. The struggle between good and evil; light and darkness; the sharp contrast between worship and judgment. With chapter 6 we move into the main section of the book. Now we come to all of those strange and wonderful visions as the seals are broken, the trumpet judgments are sounded and the bowls of wrath are poured out. As we seek to walk through the book together we must keep in mind the context. This book meant something to those who first received it. They were being persecuted without mercy – a great number were being martyred, John is writing to lift their sagging faith to encourage their fainting hearts. We must not lose sight of that if we are to rightly understand the book. Our text this morning is found in the sixth chapter of Revelation.

Text: Revelation 6:1-17
As the people of God we find ourselves swimming upstream. Our lives are lived against
the current of culture. The church near the end of the first century found themselves in a
fight for their very existence. Persecution was rampant and violent. To confess faith in
Christ cost you dearly and the martyr’s fate was to be expected. How do you live in that environment? How do you stand your ground and remain faithful? That is the context
for the book of Revelation. John, inspired by the Spirit, wrote to assure shaken saints that
God was still on His throne; that Caesar was no god; and that history was on track.
As we explore this chapter there is something I want us to keep in mind…
Thesis: The life of faith does not eliminate doubt and heartache but rather finds grace to live triumphantly in the face of overwhelming tragedy.
Our faith is not a fairytale.
It is not a matter of, “I believe in Jesus and then I live happily ever after.” Faith in Christ does not grant me immunity from life’s hardships and genuine pain. In fact, often my faith will cause me pain in this life. But in my believing I will find grace not just to survive but to triumph through Christ.

  1. Believers find great comfort in the triumph of the Gospel while at the same time burdened by the terror of God’s coming judgment. (6:1-8)
    White = the Gospel – 6:1-2
    Red horse = war – 6:3-4
    Black horse = famine – 6:5-6
    Pale horse = death followed by Hades – 6:7-8
  2. Believers remain anxious about the injustice that abounds while they are assured that justice will prevail. (6:9-11)
  3. tempered by the terror of that day. (6:12-17)The believer joyfully anticipates the coming “Day of the Lord” but his joy in

Every child of God is to long for our Lord’s blessed appearing. We joyfully anticipate that day when the trumpet shall sound and we’ll be gathered home. But what is clear in this text is the terror surrounding that day. A glorious day is coming. In the meantime we are comforted by the triumph of the Gospel while burdened by the terror of the Lord’s sovereign judgment. We are anxious about the injustice we see yet assured that justice will prevail. We joyfully anticipate the coming day of the Lord, yet our joy is tempered by the terror of that day.

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