Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the passage of the Four Horsemen.
The Sermons of S. Lewis Johnson
“A Panorama of Coming Cosmic Judgment” TRANSCRIPT
[Message] Returning to Revelation chapter 6 and trying to expound the entire chapter in our study today you may remember in the preceding chapter we’ve had the great vision of the throne in heaven and the one seated upon the throne with the little book in his right hand which we have called a scroll sealed with seven seals and thus, a testamentary scroll, in fact, a testamentary disposition of the affairs of the earth. John was disturbed very much that no one was able to take the book and to open the seals.
But as a result of what happened in his vision the lion of the tribe of Judah, the lamb of God, came, took the scroll out of the hand of the one seated upon the throne and all heaven immediately broke in to immense excitement over that fact all signifying for us the fact that the law of Jesus by his death on the cross has made it possible for him to take control of the affairs of this earth.
Now beginning of chapter 6 he begins to open the seals. And the seals revealed various things that are going to transpire upon the earth toward the consummation the empire of the thousand years and ultimately the new heavens and the new earth. So we’re now going to read the things that will happen as the fulfillment of the testamentary disposition which our Lord has won the right to oversee and carry out in the purpose of the triune God. The apostle writes,
“And I saw when the lamb opened one of the seals and I heard as it were the noise of thunder one of the four beasts saying, Come.” (Now the little words “and see” are found in the Authorized Version in case you have an Authorized Version, but they are probably not genuine. In other words, John is not invited to see, but rather the living creatures call upon the men on the horses to come. So we will take it that way.) “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, come. And there went out another horse that was red and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, come and I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures say, a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast or living creature say, come. And I looked, and behold a pale horse and his name that sat on him was death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the wild beasts of the earth.” (This word is a little different from the other. It means a wild beast and so we have the picture of ravaging beasts that are killers.) “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the day of his (many of you who may have a Greek Testament with you you will notice that there is testimony witness to the plural their wrath, as well as to the singular. We’ll leave it as the singular, although perhaps there is more genuine.) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
The unanswerable question, “Who shall be able to stand?” May the Lord bless this reading of his word and now we bow together at a moment of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful to Thee that we are able by thy grace to read holy Scripture which gives us an insight into the future, as well as the present, as well as into our own natures and our need as sinners to find the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. How true it is to that which we know of human nature that we need a savior. And we thank thee that Jesus Christ has accomplished the saving work by his atoning sacrifice and through him we may truly have life and deliverance. We pray oh God that each one in this auditorium may know the experience of salvation through Christ. Bring us Lord to true repentance and to the true acceptance of the grace that is offered to us through Christ.
We pray for this church for its leadership. We thank thee for the testimony that thou has given to it through these years and we pray, Lord, that thou will enable our elders to exercise genuine oversight over us, oversight that is pleasing to the that the work may continue to give testimony to the greatness of our savior God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We pray for the whole church of Christ wherever the name of our Lord is lifted up. We pay thy blessing upon the bodies of believers who gather. May our Lord be exalted and may those whom thou are, in whose hearts thou are moving be drawn to him.
And remember the words of holy Scripture that no man can come to thee except the father that has sent the son draw one to Christ O Lord, draw men and women to Jesus Christ in our day.
We pray for the sick. We ask thy blessing upon them and upon the bereaving. We remember them and others Lord who have special needs thou knowest the needs ministered to them too, and give healing as it pleases thee, and answer the petitions of the saints.
We pray for our country, and in these critical days we pray that thou would give wisdom and guidance to the United States of America.
Lord, we pray for our children who have just been in our Sunday school. May the things that they have learned be things that will stick with them and have meaningful significance for them throughout all of the days of their lives. Be with us now through the remainder of our service as we sing together as we listen to thy word. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Message] The subject for today in the continuation of the exposition of John’s apocalypse is “A Panorama of Coming Cosmic Judgment.” A question that might arise as you’re thinking about the Book of Revelation is what, is the meaning of civilization itself since this book has so much to do with civilization as a whole. And what is the relationship of civilization to Christianity.
Arnold Toynbee who was one of the most philosophical of modern theologians suggested in one of his lectures that he gave that there were really three views that one might take. And the first is that Christianity is really the enemy of civilization. This was the view of Marcus Aurelius. This was also the view of the emperor Julian known in history of Julian the Apostate. It was also ultimately the view of Edward Gibbon who was born a Protestant, an Anglican, converted to Roman Catholicism, reconverted to Anglicanism and then ultimately converted to perhaps what he had been all along to an anti-Christian viewpoint. It’s not an old view. It’s a very modern view.
As some of you have noted recently in reading your newspapers that two million dollars has been given to the archway of the new building, The Morton Meyerson Symphony Center. Two million dollars had been given towards the city’s new symphony hall. And particularly for the main entrance which is now, if this gift is accepted, to be named the Reves Arch of Peace in memory of publisher and author, Emery Reves and given by his surviving wife.
Now, what is striking about this, of course, is that Reves has long been associated with a one world organization located in Washington DC. He wrote a book in 1945 called The Anatomy of Peace. And in that book he made this statement, “The wholesale murder, torture, persecution and oppression we are witnessing in the middle of the 20th Century, proves the complete bankruptcy of Christianity as a civilizing force.” And then later he writes, “To put it bluntly, the meaning of the crises of the 20th Century is that this planet must to some degree be brought under unified control.”
Now, I wouldn’t mind it being brought under unified control if I were in control, of course. But I do not have any confidence in anyone else according to holy Scripture. And the facts of the matter are, of course, I would have no confidence whatsoever in myself to rule this world. But what is significant about that is that Mr. Reves is really one who would hold to this first view that Christianity is the enemy of civilization. We will have constant reminders of that fact as we note the archway of the new building.
Toynbee went on to say, “It was possible also to hold the view that Christianity was the handmaid, or the servant of civilization. And in the since that it fostered the growth of modern European capitalism.”
Now, of course, if it were only a handmaid you would expect Christianity to pass out of existence as civilization continued its onward growth. But the facts are that the things that have to do with the civilization have past out of existence, but Christianity has continued. There was a close identification between feudalism and the Roman Catholic church, but when feudalism collapsed the Roman Catholic church entered into a second or third step in its growth and has continued to the present day. We were taught when we went to school that Holy Roman Empire was not holy. It was not Roman and it was not an Empire, but it was closely associated with the Roman Catholic church, feudalism did not survive but the church has survived.
The Greek Orthodox church identified with Byzantine thought and Byzantinism if we might call it that than later with the Bolsheviks in Russia. You might have thought that it would have passed out of existence, but while those things have either passed out of existence or are passing, the Greek Orthodox church has survived.
Lutheranism was inflicted by Nazism and hardly everything could be worse than that, at least in our memory. But nevertheless the Lutheran church and the Evangelical Church of Germany has entered into a second or third wind and it has survived the debacle of Nazism.
Toynbee also went on to point out that civilization might exist to facilitate the development of Christianity and the world. And after holding the second view, he had finally come to believe that this was correct, that civilization itself exists in order to facilitate the development of Christianity in the world. Civilization he thought of as by itself trying to make a success as a movement, trying to make success out of egocentricity that man in history was seeking to make selfishness a success and that was really the essence of civilization.
Von Ranke who was one of the unusual interpreters of the historical process more than once called attention to something subtle in history which remained at the finish as a sort of residuum unexplained. He said that it felt some times as though an occult force were at work in the midst of the apparent confusion. Well, we know there is a force in civilization and that force is really a define force. There is opposition, of course, to the divine force and so we do have other forces. But the controlling force is the Lord God. And I think anyone who reads the word of God and reflects upon civilization as Toynbee did over a lengthy period of time and realizes the twenty or twenty one discernible civilizations that have existed that in the final analysis civilization is really the arena in which God glorifies himself as redeemer and judge through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, of course, at the present time we are unable to understand everything that is transpiring around us. We are like an individual who is a member of an orchestra and in his hands is placed a new score. And if he’s the clarinetist or the saxophonist, or whatever, he may look at that piece of music, but he really does not know where he’s going until he has played through it. And, in fact, the orchestra itself does not know where it is going or what will be the results of their playing together until they have actually done it. And if I, as an individual, or you as an individual member of an orchestra looks at the score, we really do not have any understanding of what we will do so far as the effects of it, a concern until we hear what everybody else is going to do at the same time that we’re doing our part of orchestral work.
So we look at history with the eyes of the word of God. We are able from the word of God to chart the flow of human history. And we know that things are heading to a climax and that climax is revealed in a number of places in the word of God but preeminently in the Book of the Revelation.
When we come to chapter 6 we are introduced to a broad panorama of one of the last stages in the divine purpose as revealed in this great book. There was a German theologian by the name of Ethelbert Stauffer who was a professor at Erlangen, really a professor of ancient coinage. He studied the coins of ancient civilizations. And from them was able to give unusual insights into the ancient world. He was a professor at Erlangen in Germany. And he wrote a book entitled Christ and the Cesars. He had an interesting section of it in which he points out that the liturgical festivals that existed at the time that John wrote the Book of Revelation were festivals that one could perhaps relate to the Book of Revelation.
In fact, he went on to point out that these festivals which took place in honor of the Emperor Domitian were festivals that John, or the one who gave the revelation to John, the Lord, himself, may have had in mind when he gave John the revelation. In other words, what we have in the Book of Revelation is a kind of grim marking parody of Roman emperor worship. And what the Lord is trying to say through his apostle and through this great book is that one should not worship Emperor Domitian and shout out to him that he is the lord our god, but one should look to our Lord Jesus Christ as the one whom we should worship.
And Professor Stauffer went on to point out that there was a remarkable similarity in the earlier stages of this book to the things that transpired in those festivals in which they worshiped the emperor. The lethargically preamble had decrees and messages from “the lord our god.” Those words quoted “the lord our god” a reference to Domitian. Hymns were sung to the lord in Rome. Then there was horse racing in the festivals. And the horses raced in four teams and in four colors. Well, that’s precisely almost what we have in Revelation chapter 6. Not precisely because we’re talking about a parody. But we have four horses that are called out. And they are designed to represent certain things in the ongoing purpose of God.
Then following that there was a succession of processions, plays, contests, gymnastic exhibition, dances, wedding pantomimes, beauty parades with Burt Parks as master of ceremonies. [Laughter] And incidentally I did say Burt Parks this morning at 8:30 and, again, I was told by the men in the recording room that it was not Burt Parks it was Burtus Parkus. [Laughter] But, nevertheless, there were individuals who had masters. They had the beauty parades and I presume there were some master of ceremony, some ancient Burticus Parkus interspersed with fanfares and acclamations and proclamations. And finally, the conclusion of the celebration was generally a great meal of banquet which was followed by orgies and libertinism. And, as you know, the Book of Revelation reaches one of its climaxes in chapter 19 with the marriage supper.
So it is possible that the Lord had as one of his purposes in writing this book, the purpose of reminding us that we are worshiping the triune God. And it is not our Lord and God in the city of Rome or in the city of Washington or whatever whom we worship, but it is the Lord God in heaven.
So in Revelation the games begin with a race, an apocalyptic death race, a frightful game in which the heavenly imperator mocks the defiant and fearful heart of the Roman false Christ. So we are to think of that as we go through this book. I’m sure that if Domitian read the apocalypse he would not be happy at all with it. And furthermore that may have had something to do with John’s exile to the Isle of Patmos where criminals were put. That is individuals who believe that civilization was the arena in which God glorifies himself as redeemer and Judge through Jesus Christ. They wound up on the Isle of Patmos.
Well, now, we’re going to look very briefly at the four seals that begin. And then we will look finally at the fifth and sixth. Remember this, we don’t have time to talk about all of these things. We’ll try to from time to time refer to them, but what is necessary to the understanding of Revelation chapter 6 is a knowledge of our Lord’s Olivet discourse, his great prophetic discourse set forth for us in Matthew chapter 24 and 25, Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21 because the order of events set forth there as our Lord’s order in the last days is the order generally that is followed here. So in other words, there’s one author of the Revelation and the author of Revelation is the author of our Lord’s Olivet discourse as well.
There’s another point that we need to bear in mind and that is that everything that transpires is set forth as being initiated by God. I want you to notice the use of the term “given”. In verse two we read, “And I saw and behold a white horse and he that sat on him had a bow and a crown was given onto him.” In other words, he’s the recipient of the crown. He does not initiate things. God is the initiator. In verse 4 we have two of these. “And there went out another horse that was read and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth and that they should kill one another and there was given unto him a great sword.” In verse 8 we read, “And I looked and behold a pale horse and his name that sat on was death and Hades followed with him and power was given onto them over the fourth part of the earth.” Clearly the divine initiative. Man does not initiate these judgments. It’s God who initiates these judgments.
And finally on the 11th verse we read again, “And white robes were given onto everyone of the souls that were under the altar.” So what we have is God carrying out his purpose. So he initiates things. The first seal in verses 1 and 2 is a seal in which a white horse immerges “And he that sat on him had a bow.” The Partheons were famous as those who handled the bow in warfare. And for that reason many feel the Partheons, Rome’s great enemies of that time, may have been meant here. There is no indication clearly that that is true because the bow in the Old Testament is used as a figure of warfare more than once. But we read “A crown was given onto him and he went forth conquering and to conquer.”
Now, the fact that this individual sits upon a white horse, and that he had a bow, is very suggestive of the picture of our Lord, himself, in chapter 19. And, so, there have been a few commentators who have sought to identify the first of these riders upon horses as our Lord himself. But every one of the other riders introduces a judgment. And, furthermore, that’s the only thing that might suggest our Lord. Everything else suggests that it was not our Lord. And one might even ask, how can it be that the lamb should open the seal and be the one who sits on the horse as well? So, consequently almost universally now the commentators have abandoned that view. They do not believe that the one who sits upon this first horse is the gospel nor Christ, but the anti-Christ.
And I have friend who likes still to argue the other point. And whenever we discuss it, we used to discuss it a good bit, but when I saw his mind was closed, then he wouldn’t discuss it with me any longer and he feels exactly about me as I do about him. But I said, “You see the very fact that you’re deceived, you a great fine Christian man, is evidence that my view is probably correct.” That is that anti-Christ is a deceiver and he’s deceived even an outstanding Christian like you. He did not accept that argument either, so. We still our friends, but we differ over the interpretation of that point.
At any rate the person who rides upon the white horse is one who is given authority to conquer. And so he does conquer. He gains dominion and he ultimately gains dominion over the whole world as the anti-Christ will do.
“And then the second of the seals is broken and there went out one upon a red horse.” And this was designed to represent great internecine strife, civil strife. One thinks of the kind of strife that took place in Nazi Germany in which the nation was at war with itself as well as at war with the world with Dietrich Von Hoffer and others who were seeking to overthrow the government, but at the same time the government seeking to overthrow other governments around the world. Internecine warfare and that which is has gone on in many communist nations as well. And even in democracies too.
There is bloody red slaughter that takes place. The third seal is a seal that has to do with famine and so we read,
“And when he had opened the third seal” in verse 5, “I heard the third beast saying come and see and behold a black horse. And he that sat him had on a pair of balances in his hand. And one in a voice in the midst of the four living creatures said a measure of wheat for a penny and three measures of barley for a penny and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
Now, the penny was the denarius and the denarius, one denarius was what an individual made for one day’s labor. In other words, if you were an ordinary workman you would receive at the end of the day a denarius. Now, if one received four denarius, a measure, or a conics, or about a quart of wheat that was about that which one man consumed in one day. And so he would have enough for his food for one day, but if he had a family it was obvious he could not survive. These are famine conditions. Now, if he wanted to buy the cheaper and the less desirable barley he might get three measures of barley and survive.
Then further it is said, “And see thou hurt not the oil and wine.” Oil and wine were foods that rich people used. And so one looks at this and wonders if what John is not indicating is that the poor get poorer and poorer, but the rich survive, maybe even become rich and richer. The situation that exists in a number of governments over the face of this globe.
The fourth seal in verses 7 and 8 is the seal in which “One comes forth upon a pale horse and his name was death and Hades follows with him.” This particular horse was a pale green horse. That’s really the force of that translated pale. A kind of a pale green horse, a cadaverous hue and very properly so because sitting upon it is death and Hades follows along. Hades follows death very much like his hearse. Someone has said there’s three’s a crowd and that’s surely true here.
Now, at this point the judgments have been unfolded and John turns his in the sight of his vision, the vision turns and we read in verse 9 “And when he had opened the fifth seal I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” And, so, John, now, no longer looking at the earth is seeing in heaven a vision of souls, martyred souls, lying under the altar. Lying under the altar is a suggestion of why they are there. When animals were slain according to the Jewish requirements of the Old Testament they were slain at the brazen altar and the blood of the animals would drain down and be at the bottom of the altar.
And, so, seeing the souls under the altar is a very clean suggestion that these are individuals who have suffered and that their death is a sacrifice received in heaven as an acceptable sacrifice. So they are there under the altar slain on account of the word of God and on account of the testimony which they held. And they are crying out, “How long O Lord, holy and true, does thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth.” Almost all of the commentators point out that they are not anxious for vengeance in the bad sense. What they’re anxious for is the vindication of the reason why they lost their lives. Why they gave their lives for the truth. They want to see, long to see the vindication of the truth for which they stood.
White robes were given to them, in token of their purity, perhaps also of their righteousness and especially of God’s pleasure with them, though their vindication has not yet been made plain to the world. White robes were given to them and they were told that they should rest yet for a little season. Incidentally, you’ll notice that those who have lost their lives they are conscious, they are resting and they look forward to the full deliverance of that which they had believed was theirs through our Lord Jesus Christ’s saving work.
So they were told they should, “Rest yet for a little season until their fellow servants also and their brethren that should be killed as they were should be fulfilled.” In other words, there is a plan and a purpose which is undergoing completion. And they are to wait until the completion of it then there will be the vindication for which they are anxiously requesting.
Now, then you can learn from this, of course, there is a plan that God is following. There is a planner. It is the Lord God himself. And there will be a consummation and we still await that.
The sixth seal is remarkable. And incidentally turning back to Matthew, chapter 24 and you read these verses you will see how John is following largely the pattern of our Lord’s Olivet discourse. Jesus began his answer to the apostles’ question,
“When shall these things be and what shall be the sign of thy coming.” (And of the end of the age he said,) “Take heed that no man deceive you for many shall come in my name saying I am Christ and shall deceive many. You shall here of wars and rumors of wars. See that you be not troubled. All these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there shall be famines and pestilences, deaths and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
And the in the 29th verse we read,
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken and our Lord shall come in his second advent.”
So what we are introduced to in our sixth seal is cosmic catastrophe. The imagery is the imagery of an earthquake brought about by the Lord God. And it is called a great earthquake. One of the biggest bangs that was ever heard on the Earth was the earthquake that destroyed the Island of Krakatau which was located out in the east. The earthquake of Krakatau blew away two thirds of a rather large island that killed thirty seven thousand people, sent shockwaves, sound waves and dramatic sunsets clear around the world.
Krakatau was a volcano island on an island in the Sundra Strait between Sumatra and Java and it had been quiescent for centuries. It was known to be that kind of island, but people went about their business as usual don’t they, don’t we? And so finally when it did occur August the 26th, 1883 nobody actually witnessed the whole event because the strait, the whole strait was plunged into inky darkness for three days. Ships in the area reported stygian blackness broken only by periodic eruptions from the volcano which momentarily lit up a scene straight out of Dante’s Inferno, one of the reviewers of a book written 20 years ago giving all of the details of it.
The islanders and most of the whites were convinced that the end of the world had come, but incidentally there’s no record of any repentance on the part of any of the people involved. “It blew itself into the sky. The sea rushed in to fill the void where it collided with the boiling gases. This produced a new and even more stupendous eruption as the oceans was expelled. Hundreds of miles a way the seas receded, only to return in towering waves that engulfed everything. And the straight itself, the waves reached over a hundred feet in height sweeping over hills and to drown those sheltering there. Those who saw it said that it was horrible and even the contemporary reports make awesome reading even to this day,” the author said. “As far away as the island of Rodriguez in the Indian Ocean almost three thousand miles from the eruptions the big bang was heard. If, say, Krakatau had erupted in London the sound would have been heard in New York and Paris would have been plunged into three days of darkness.” Now, that was some big bang. But when the apostle writes here of this great earthquake,
“And the sun becoming black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became his blood, and the stars of heaven fall into the earth even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind and the heaven departs as a scroll when it is rolled together and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
That is a real earthquake. And so far as I know there is no reason to believe other than this. In the Old Testament over and over again these things that are set forth here are set forth as ultimately to come to pass. In fact, if you studied the Old Testament and then study this passage there are five specific passages in the Old Testament that the prophets use that this author has used in the construction of this particular passage. So here we have a concentration of passages from the Scripture to set forth what is going to come to pass. You can just imagine the heavens rolling up like your old diploma that you receive when you graduated from college or university. You know how it is, you open it up like a scroll and you look at it and then if you let go it will immediately come back into a roll, but if you take a pair of scissors and you slice it right up the middle you’ll have two scrolls. Well, that’s the way heavens are going do, so the prophet John here tells us.
“Then there shall follow world wide consternation.” In verse 15 we read,
“The kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the chief, captains, the empty men, the mighty men and every bondmen and every free man hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains and said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sittith on the throne and from the wrath of the land.”
If it were not so horrible and terrible it would be funny. These individuals know the cause of the wrath. They know it’s because of the one who sits upon the throne and they know it’s because of the lamb that was slain. But they dread the presence of the Lord God more than the smitten and tumbling universe about them. They thought it was foolishness to call upon a living God before this transpired, but now one of the Lutheran commentators says, “All imbecile men, but now they, instead of praying to the living God that they have heard about, they pray to dead rocks and dumb mountains.” Those who did not believe that God answered prayer now pray, but instead of praying to the one who might answer their prayers they pray to dead rocks and dumb mountains. Hershel Ford, a Baptist preacher, likes to call this the world’s greatest prayer meeting. [Laughter] Well, it’s maybe the world’s greatest prayer meeting, but it’s not the kind of prayer that is effectual prayer.
Now, of course, this is just a brief survey of some of the things that will transpire. This chapter ends just before the coming of our Lord, but John will go back now and fill in details.
The last question is the unanswerable question. “The great day of his wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?” That too is taken from Scripture. No one shall be able to stand. You will not be able to stand. I will not be able to stand if we have not given ourselves to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So that pressing question presses upon us as well. Notice the poverty of human means to salvation. Rank won’t help you. Kings, political power won’t help you, the great men. Money won’t help you, the rich men. Patriotism and power of a military kind, the captains. The body building, the mighty. The union of the lowly and white collar men referred to here as the bondman and the freeman. The union won’t help you at that time either. Nothing will be able to help you at that time.
Lord Acton, famous for his famous statement about power that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Said that, “Practically all great men were bad men, and that hardly any public reputation survived the exposure of private archives. In one sense, we’ve seen illustrations of that manifold in our present society and on our front pages we’re still seeing evidences of that. I think you would have been kinder if he had made the whole world kin and would have been less unbalanced himself. Herbert Butterfield said, “If he had started simply on the footing that all men are sinners.”
Butterfield went on to say, “I’ve seen little men so willful in their little kingdoms that it seems to me merely their good fortune that they were not crowned heads or prime ministers with peace and war depending on their coolness of mind. All over the face of this globe, the little rulers of little kingdoms whether democratic or non-democratic you surely would not want them to have power in their hands. I’m sorry, Mrs. Reves, and anyone else who believes in world government. Nothing could be worse than to have no government to which you could flee which is what we would have.” You might say well he’s slandering all men.
Butterfield went on to say that he had been accused of slandering the great saints, but he said, “I accept that correction as perhaps indicating I’ve gone a bit too far. But I still note the fact that these great saints you talk about always seem to me to be the people who are most empathically in agreement with me on the point that I’m making, that is that men are sinners. They’re little men. They’re little men and not a one of them could really survive and rule under God.”
Well, if the rocks and mountains cannot save, there is one rock that can. And that is the rock lamb, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the day of his wrath is coming, but we live in the time before the wrath. And there’s still opportunity to flee to our Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness. May God touch the heart of any person in this auditorium who has never believed in our Lord Jesus Christ and may you turn to him the lamb rock and pray.
“Rock of ages cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee. Let the water and the blood from thy wounded side that flowed. Be of sin, the double cure, saved from wrath and make me pure.” May that be the prayer of anyone in this auditorium who has never believed in our Lord Jesus Christ. As an ambassador of our Lord and representative our elders and other believers in this particular audience we call upon you to turn to him and receive the forgiveness of sins which he has won by the sacrifice of his blood as the lion of the tribe of Judah and the lamb that taketh away the son of the world. Come to Christ. Trust him. Believe in him. Make it a personal decision of yours.
Let’s stand for the benediction.
[Prayer] Father, we are so grateful to thee that thou hast given us these magnificent chapters and words and truths upon which we may feed in very difficult times. We thank thee that when the kingdoms collapse and tumble there is one great kingdom that shall never do that, the kingdom of our great triune God in heaven. Father, if there is anyone in this auditorium who has not the assurance of the forgiveness of sins may they in their heart at this very moment turn to thee and give thee thanks for all that Christ has done for them personally.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.