What Does Revelation 6:17 Mean?

for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

Revelation 6:17(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Universal destruction is brought about by the opening of the sixth seal as a great earthquake erupts in the world. Old and new testament prophets described the terrible events that are ushered in, when this seal judgement begins. The bright shining of the sun will be turned dark; the moon will become blood-red; the sky will roll up like a scroll and every mountain and island will be displaced from its location... "for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

So shocking are the events of the sixth seal that every stratum of society will be affected. The events of the sixth seal are vividly described by John, Jesus, and many prophets of old. The great days of God's wrath is so shocking that it causes kings of the earth to cry out in fear. We read that great men; rich men; army commanders; mighty men; every slave, and all freemen will rush to hide themselves in caves and rocky mountain crevices as they will cry out, in terror, "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 His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?

While the prophetic Day of the Lord includes a time of severe judgement on Israel and the ungodly nations (the 7-year tribulation period), it is immediately followed by 1000 years of great blessing (the millennial reign of Christ). In verse 17, the great day of their wrath is connected to this terrible tribulation period, where God pours out His wrath on a God-hating, Christ-rejecting sinful world. 

While chapters 4 and 5 are scenes from heaven, chapter 6 shifts our focus back onto the earth. Zechariah tells us that it will be a time of trouble and distress; a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess when the light of the sun and moon will be withdrawn. He warns that the day of God's wrath - the day of punishment for the ungodly, will be a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers.

Joel, Amos, and Zechariah all describe it as a terrible day of clouds and thick darkness with a gloominess that is unparalleled. Isaiah records that the day of the Lord of hosts shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. He warns that it will descend on the proud and lofty, and everyone that is lifted up shall be brought low, while Jeremiah describes it as a day of God's vengeance, where He will avenge Himself of His adversaries. He also warns that on that day, the sword shall devour the ungodly. It shall be satiated and made drunk with their blood.

In Matthew 24, Jesus gives an exhaustive description of the tribulation period to His disciples, when they asked Him to describe the time of His return to earth - to set up His kingdom. While the Church is raptured, before the tribulation period begins, Israel is destined to go through this terrible "Time of Jacob's Trouble".

The tribulation period is not only to punish the nations for rejecting God's offer of salvation, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but is designed to punish His people for their rebellious apostasy, defiant idolatry, and many centuries of disobedience. The great day of God's wrath is also to bring the nation of Israel back into fellowship with their God through their national repentance - as so beautifully described by Zechariah. 

The great day of God's wrath was poured out on Jesus for the sin of those who believe in Christ, for the forgiveness of sin. Neither Old Testament saints nor the Body of Christ will be harmed by the wrath of God, for the wrath of God was poured out on Christ for all who believe in His name and the debt has been paid in full by Jesus - our Saviour. However, the works of those that rejected God's offer of salvation will be judged, and found wanting and they will face the full wrath of God's great anger - and not one will be able to stand on that awful day.

May we recognise that the time is short and do all that we can to tell a lost world that salvation is by grace, through faith in Christ, Who faced the wrath of God for us, and died on the cross. Only those who believe in Him will be able to stand. Praise God that there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, for the wrath of God was poured out on Him in place of us.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, what a chilling reminder that there will come a day, yet future, where the wrath of the Lamb will be poured out on a Christ-rejecting, sinful world. Thank You that in Your lovingkindness and great mercy, You have not destined us for wrath, and all those who trust in Jesus in this Church Age will be taken into heaven in that event we call the Rapture of the Church, before Your wrath is poured out in the 7 year Tribulation period. May I share the gospel of salvation with those in my life and may many more be saved before it is too late. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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