A Study in Revelation
The Seven Seals
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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!
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:
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.
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:
And this quote from scripture came from the prophet Joel:
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:
In this verse, Joel wrote
As we look further Jesus said at the Mount of Olives concerning His coming:
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...
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:
Therefore, The sixth seal reveals the Day of the Lord, after the tribulation, and the commencement of God’s Wrath.
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:
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.
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.
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 Zechariah wrote that in that day a fountain will be opened to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness:
And Zechariah wrote in that day that a third of those will be refined through fire:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.com/revelation/hither.html).
3. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10.
4. Matthew 24:31b
5. Joel 2:11c