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A Study in Revelation


The Seven Seals


 

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Revelation 5:1-5 KJV

 

In chapter five John’s vision of the throne in heaven shifts toward the book with the seven seals. The book was on the right hand of the Lord God. And a strong angel proclaimed "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? " And no man anywhere could be found who could open the book. This caused John to weep. And then one of the elders told John not to weep because Jesus prevailed and He is worthy to open the book and loosen the seven seals.

 

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

Revelation 5:6-7

 

John saw Jesus standing in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts and twenty-four elders. And Jesus went and took the book out of the right hand of His Father who sat upon the throne.

 

And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Revelation 5:8-14

When Jesus took the book, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down before Him. And they sang a new song. And then Jesus looked and heard the voice of hundreds of millions of angels which were around the throne with the four creatures and the twenty-four elders giving praise to Jesus that He is worthy. And then all the creatures everywhere (in heaven and earth, and under the earth) joined in and gave praise to the Lord Jesus. And the four beasts said "amen" and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped the Lamb.

There are two verses in the King James Version which shows the twenty-four elders saying:"...and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth," referring themselves with the same identity with the church.1 However, there are those who believe these verses was mistranslated. 

The modern versions, like the New American Standard Bible, have corrected the error. And the twenty-four elders are saying: "Worthy art Thou to take the book and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.2" In this translation, the twenty-four elders attribute men (the church) as those who were made to be a kingdom of priests, and reign upon the earth. There is more comment in the following chapter, The Seven Trumpets concerning the twenty-four elders.

The First Seal

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 and see.

 

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.

Revelation 6:1-2

John saw Jesus open the first seal and he saw one on a white horse who had a bow and he was given a crown. And he went forth to conquer. Many attribute the one on a white horse as the Anti-christ. However, the Anti-christ  comes out of the sea with a fatal wound and with ten horns with ten diadems and seven heads. in chapter 13. The one on the white horse, however may be the false christs Jesus warned about in Matthew 24:

Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many... Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Matthew 24:4b-5, 23-24

The Second  Seal

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 

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.

Revelation 6:3-4

John saw Jesus break the second seal. And he saw a red horse. And power was given to the one who sat on the horse to take peace away from the earth so that people should kill one another. And a great sword was given to the one on the red horse. The second seal reveals war.

Jesus instructed the disciples:

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

Matthew 24:6

The Third  Seal

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. 

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 beasts 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.

Revelation 6:5-6

 

As Jesus broke the third seal. And John saw a black horse and the one sitting on the horse had a pair of scales. And in the midst of the four beast a voice 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." The third seal reveals famine.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

Matthew 24:6

The Fourth  Seal

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell 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 beasts of the earth.

Revelation 6:7-8

As Jesus broke the fourth seal John saw a pale horse. And on that horse was one who was named Death. And Hell followed him. Power was given to them to kill one fourth of the earth with the sword, to kill with hunger, to kill with death, and kill with the beasts of the earth The fourth seal reveals death as a result of war and hunger. This is also seen in Matthew 24:6.

When these four seals were broken, four beasts around the throne commanded John "come and see..." Now if John represents the church, as many pre-tribbers believe, then we must apply these commands to the church as well. So throughout these seals, the church should be going to and fro, if we take their idea further!

The Fifth  Seal

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 fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Revelation 6:9-11

As Jesus broke the fifth seal, John saw martyred souls. These souls were under the alter, and they were given white robes. They cried with a loud voice to God how long will you avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? And they given an answer that should be fulfilled: They should rest for a little while longer until the rest of their brethren are killed as they are.

Jesus said to His disciples:

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake

Matthew 24:9

Throughout the early church and up to today, many believers in Christ Jesus have been persecuted and killed for His sake. Paul even wrote in one of his letters regarding the afflictions that occur on the believers. In Second Thessalonians, Paul assured the believers that God will repay those who afflicted them and at the same time give them rest from their affliction when Jesus is revealed with "flaming fire,"3 which is after the tribulation.

The fifth seal reveals the martyred saints throughout history who await vengeance from God on those who afflicted them.

The Sixth  Seal

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.

Revelation 6:12-14

As we look at the sixth seal, we will carefully examine what takes place and compare this event to old and new testament scriptures.

In the verse twelve, John saw a great earthquake. And the sun became black as sackcloth and the moon became as blood. In Acts, Peter gave a sermon and used Joel to confirm a fulfillment of prophecy. This prophecy was the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit being poured out among all nations. This prophecy is a continual fulfillment up until the end of the age. In this verse, Peter described the cosmic signs that will appear before the day of the Lord:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.

Acts 2:20

And this quote from scripture came from the prophet Joel:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Joel 2:31

As we compare the two verses in Joel and Acts to the verse in Revelation: 

Both Joel and Peter said  this happens before the day of the Lord.

Joel also wrote concerning the day of the Lord:

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?

Joel 2:10-11

In this verse, Joel wrote 

As we look further Jesus said at the Mount of Olives concerning His coming:

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...

Matthew 24:29

Jesus said 

This is Precisely what Joel wrote what will happen on the day of the Lord. And this is the sign which Jesus said will happen after the tribulation. 

Jesus also said 

This is what John also wrote in verse 13. As we look further, John also said "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together...," which is also seen in Isaiah:

And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.

Isaiah 34:4

Therefore, The sixth seal reveals the Day of the Lord, after the tribulation, and the commencement of God’s Wrath.

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 great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Revelation 6:15-17

John saw all the kings of the earth and the great men, every man hide in the caves and in the rocks the mountains shouting "fall on us from the face of Him (God the Father) that sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb (Jesus Christ), because the great day of His wrath has come and who is able to stand?"

Just before God's wrath, the angels gathers the elect "from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."4 This is when the rapture occurs.

As we look at other verses of scripture, Zephaniah wrote:

The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Zephaniah 1:14

Zephaniah said the day of the lord will be a day of wrath. This is just what John described in verse 17 in the sixth chapter of Revelation. In this day, as Zephaniah wrote, the mighty men will cry bitterly.

And In Joel, he wrote "for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?"5 This is what the men hiding in the caves and behind the mountains said in Revelation.

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

Revelation 7:1-4

John had seen the events of the sixth seal, that reveals the day of the Lord, and Jesus’ second coming, and multitudes hiding from the wrath which is to take place. He then saw four angels holding the winds of the earth so that the winds would not blow on the earth, or see or any tree. And he saw an angel who had the seal of God ascending from the east cry out to the four angels do not hurt the earth, the sea or the trees until the servants of God were sealed on their foreheads. In other words, wrath did not start until the all the servants were sealed. This is a contrary to the belief that the period of God’s grace ends when Jesus appears in the sky. There are two groups who are sealed: The 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel; and the large multitude from all the nations.

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

 

Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand.

Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

 

Revelation 7:4-8

The 144,000 are the sealed bond servants of God who came from the tribes of Israel. And there are12,000 from each tribe. Contrary to the pre-trib belief, there isn’t anywhere in scripture that says these 144,000 are Jewish evangelist who proclaim the gospel to the rest of the word. In the context of this scripture, these are the Jewish remnant who call upon the name of the Lord. The prophet Joel wrote there will be a deliverance for the remnant:

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

Joel 2:32

And Zechariah wrote that in that day a fountain will be opened to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness:

In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.

Zechariah13:1

And Zechariah wrote in that day that a third of those will be refined through fire:

And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

Zechariah 13:8-9 

And after the refinement, they shall call upon the Lord’s name and then Jesus will hear them. And then Jesus will call them "My people" and the people will say "the Lord is my God." It is after the remnant is sealed God’s wrath will commence.

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

Revelation 7:9-10

After John saw the 144,000, he saw a great multitude which was innumerable. They included all kinds of peoples and languages of all nations and they stood before the throne and before Jesus. They were clothed in white robes, like their martyred brethren who were under the alter of God at the fifth seal.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 7:11-12

After the multitude cried and made a proclamation to the Lord, all the angels stood around the throne with the elders and the four beasts. They fell down on their faces and worshipped God.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Revelation 7:13-14

One of the twenty-four elders asked John a question: "Who are those which are arrayed in white robes?" And then the elder said these are the ones who came out of great tribulation. Here is one of the verses pre-tribbers who use this verse to support the claim of their rapture. However, this verse needs to be examined in context with the surrounding scriptures. The description of the multitudes comes after the sixth seal which reveals the Day of the Lord and Jesus’ second coming which both happen after the tribulation.

To further illustrate. If I show you a television set and tell you "it came right out of the box," can you to assume this TV was not in the box? This is the same problem we have with the multitude that "came out of great tribulation." If they came out of great tribulation, then they must have been in the tribulation, or at least a part of it. Some of these could have been martyrs, and many of them could have been refined through the Great Tribulation! And remember, the great multitude is revealed to John just after the sixth seal! And if we examine the following verses, they washed their robes and made them white by the blood of the Lamb. God will use the tribulation to refine the church.

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Revelation 7:15-17

The multitudes are before the throne of God and serve Him night and day in His temple. And He shall dwell with them. They shall no more hunger, nor thirst. because Jesus will feed them and lead them unto living fountains of waters. The multitude surround the throne during the millennium and through the new heaven and new earth.

The Seventh  Seal

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

Revelation 8:1-5

.

When Jesus opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for a half-hour. And the seven angels who stood before God were given to them seven trumpets. Another angel came and stood at the alter with a golden sensor. He was given much incense to offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden alter before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the saints’ prayers went up to God out of the hand of the angel’s hand. The angel took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar and threw it onto the earth. And there were voices, thunders, lightning, and an earthquake. And then the seven angels who had the trumpets prepared themselves to sound them.


Footnotes

1. See Revelation 1:6.

2. Revelation 4:9b-10 NASB. For more comment on this verse, please read Come Up Hither (http://www.tribulationcentral.net/hither.html).

3. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10.

4. Matthew 24:31b

5. Joel 2:11c