THE SEAL JUDGMENTS BEGIN
In chapters 4 and 5, when John was caught up into Heaven, he was transported forward in time to that future momentous day when Christ will receive the authority and program for his kingdom from the hand of his Father. Finding himself standing at that unparalleled event, John saw Christ take a scroll from his Father's hand. Here, in chapter 6, the Lamb begins to open that scroll by breaking off each of its seven seals ... one by one. As each is broken away, the amazing drama of its unique, future, preordained event or events will unfold before us. Before we begin this chapter, let's take a moment and talk a bit about the concept of the coming Tribulation it will describe.
Time-wise, the Bible prophesies that the Tribulation will last for seven years. It is divided into two parts, each consisting of three and a half years. The last three and a half year segment is called The Great Tribulation. The scriptural basis for these time periods is discussed in Appendix B. During the seven year Tribulation, three great series of judgments will come upon the Earth initiated by the Lamb's breaking off of the seals from his scroll. They are the Seal, the Trumpet and the Bowl Judgments. Each series consists of seven judgments. Also, the last judgment of the first two series introduces the first judgment in the next series. So, the breaking of the seventh Seal introduces the first Trumpet judgment and the blowing of the seventh Trumpet introduces the first Bowl judgment. After the pouring out of the seventh Bowl judgment, Christ will immediately return to Earth with great power and glory and rule and reign here for a thousand years.
When Christ breaks the first seal off his scroll, the seven year Tribulation period will commence down on Earth. The breaking of the first five Seals will each result in five indirect judgments on Earth. When these judgments come, the world may not realize that they are of supernatural origin or from Christ. People may assume that the terrible things they are experiencing are merely due to fate or circumstance. The sixth Seal, however, will be the eye-opener. It will be the first of God's direct interventions on the earth. During the spectacular judgment of the sixth Seal, the world will arrive at the beginning of the second half of the Tribulation ... the Great Tribulation. The first six Seals cover the first half of the Tribulation and they are all found here in Revelation 6.
The gospel accounts that contain Jesus’ words about the coming Tribulation are found in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 17 and 21. The material we find in those scriptures exactly parallel the much expanded view that we find in Revelation 6 through 19. This coming day of earth's trial (The Tribulation) is referred to by:
THE FIRST SEAL BROKEN … THE WHITE HORSE RIDER
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the [NU adds: seven seals]; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
When the Lamb broke the first seal of his scroll, John saw the first of the famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride forth down upon the earth. The scene has shifted here from Heaven down to the earth but the event itself was triggered from above. The first Seal judgment from the Lamb came forth in the form of a man. In symbol, John saw him ride forth on a white horse carrying a bow (as in bow and arrow) and he was given a crown, after which, he immediately went out conquering and to conquer. Notice that we are not given any explanation as to this man's identity. That is because the reader is expected to understand his symbol based on his or her previous knowledge and study of the Scriptures. Who is he? He is the symbol of a future person (and events related to him) that is predicted in the Bible in several places. The symbol itself is an oriental one, depicting a military conqueror. In chapter 19, we will see Christ himself riding a white horse, but that is the only similarity between these two. This rider is not Christ for the following reasons:
1. It is Christ who sends this rider forth.
2. This rider appears at the beginning of the Tribulation; Christ will appear at its end3.
3. This rider uses conventional weapons, a bow; Christ will fight with the sword of His mouth (19:15).
4. This rider wears a victor’s crown, στέφανος (stephanos); when Christ appears, he will be wearing many diadems, διαδήματα (diademata) (19:12).
5. This man initiates wars; Christ will end them.
6. This man goes forth unnamed; but, when Christ appears, he will be wearing his name for all to see … King of Kings and Lord of Lords (19:16).
Who then is this white horse rider? The one who best fits the description, as well as the placing here in the book of Revelation, is called, among other names in the Bible, Antichrist. Very early in the Tribulation, at the breaking of the first seal, Antichrist will begin his rise to power by means of military might and will ultimately conquer the world … becoming its undisputed ruler and dictator. Here are some scriptures that foretell the coming of this powerful, future world ruler:
And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means. And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future. And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king's business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it. Daniel 8:23-27
Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. Daniel 11:36-39
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming. Second Thessalonians 2:8
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. First John 2:18
So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, ’Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him? Revelation 13:4
These scriptures prophecies the coming of Satan’s man, Antichrist. They predict he will be a warrior who will conquer the world and become its undisputed dictator. His rise to power will be the first terrible indirect judgment of the Lamb on an unbelieving world who has consistently and stubbornly rejected Christ's lordship over them.
Before we move on, I would like to add a comment about the Daniel prophecy above in regards to the phrase He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women. I believe that this desire of women, spoken of here, refers to the desire that women in general have for a husband. In my opinion, this may well indicate that Antichrist will be a homosexual. His dual rejection of the God of his fathers and the desire of women follows the same pattern that is found in Romans 1:21, 24-27. There we read, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God. Then, we read the following results... God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts … the men leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly (KJV). The tremendous explosion of homosexuality in our world today, and the ongoing and unprecedented push to legitimatize it in every realm of society, may well be laying the foundation for the future acceptance and, indeed, adoration of Antichrist. In a very short period of time, homosexuality has become an accepted lifestyle and is now aggressively being promoted and endorsed on a world-wide scale. This may well be in preparation for the arrival of Antichrist.
THE SECOND SEAL BROKEN … THE RED HORSE RIDER
When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come.' [NU omits: and see] Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.
When the Lamb broke the second Seal from his scroll, another indirect judgment began to unfold down on Earth. John saw a rider come forth who was mounted on a fiery red horse who would take peace from the earth. This symbol is pretty straightforward. It is a symbol for war. Upon the rise of Antichrist, every nation on Earth will quickly become embroiled in red war. This is the logical and sure result of the rise of the warrior, Antichrist, who was loosed by the first Seal. Jesus, commenting on this judgment in Matthew 24:6-7, said,
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
Early in the Tribulation, multiple and devastating wars will break out on the Earth as a result from the Lamb's breaking of the second Seal. Is this World War III? Yes, if you wish to call it so. Whatever its actual number will be, however, when the Lamb breaks the second seal from his scroll the whole world will become embroiled in war and, ultimately, even our beloved and powerful United States military will fall to Antichrist! I will comment a bit more on that when we get to Revelation 13.
THE THIRD SEAL BROKEN … THE BLACK HORSE RIDER
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ’Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ’A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’
Again, the symbol is a straightforward one. Famine will spread across the earth after Christ breaks off the third Seal. In Matthew 24:6, just quoted as it relates to the second seal, you will notice that Jesus also said that famines would follow the wars and rumors of wars. Famine is typically the result of war. We see its ugly head all across the world today where wars are raging. Take Darfur, for example. Wherever men are engaged in fighting, there is no time for planting and harvesting.
This specter of the black horse rider is a graphic one. He rides forth clutching a set of food scales and, as he rides, the Father speaks from the midst of the four living creatures, setting the exact conditions of this worldwide famine by saying, A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine. With these words, the Lord ensures a great scarcity of food on Earth during those days. And, may I say to you, what the Father decrees in heaven is always a done deal. A denarius was a whole day’s wage in Jesus’ day. During the days of the black horse rider, a whole day’s wages will only buy enough food for one person. Further, the Father commands no one harm the oil and the wine. These words accentuate the thought that these usually abundant items will become so rare and precious that special care will have to be taken to handle them.
THE FOURTH SEAL BROKEN … THE PALE HORSE RIDER
When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ’Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.
When the Lamb broke the fourth Seal from his scroll, John saw the personification of Death itself ride forth. It was seen riding a sickly yellowish green horse. The Greek word here translated pale is χλωρός (cloros). We get our word chlorine, a pale greenish chemical, from this Greek word. Notice that Death was closely followed by Hades, the Greek word that designates the holding place of all the wicked dead. Someone has said Death never travels alone. Heaven or hell is always on its heels. This was a terrifying apparition indeed. Can you picture it? Hell, loping along behind Death, eagerly gobbling up all those who Death was destroying! This is a reminder that, as spiritual beings made in the image of God, all humans will live somewhere ... for all eternity. The only question that remains is, Where? You definitely will not want it to be Hades. Our text says, And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill… One quarter of Earth’s population will perish following the Lamb breaking of the fourth Seal. We are told here, that death will come from one of four quarters: the sword (war); hunger (famine); death (includes all other sources … sickness, heart attacks, old age, accidents, etc.); and wild beasts. Wild beasts are notorious for becoming ferocious when they have fed on human flesh. Man-eating tigers in Asia have well demonstrated that fact. Ezekiel also spoke of four elements of judgment that came upon wicked Israel in his day.
For thus says the Lord GOD: ’How much more it shall be when I send my four severe judgments on Jerusalem; the sword and famine and wild beastspestilence; to cut off man and beast from it?’ Ezekiel 14:21 and
In summary, after the Lamb has broken the first four Seals off his scroll, the results will be the worst decimation by war and its by-products the world has ever seen. If it were to take place today, over a billion and a quarter people would lose their lives. Hopefully, these judgments will have a sobering and eye-opening effect on many people of that day. These judgments are not merely designed to carry out the vengeance of God on a wicked and unbelieving humanity. They will also be sent to awaken the consciences of sinners. Disasters can be powerful wake-up calls from God.
May we step aside here for a moment? One of the terrible things about this age of grace in which you and I are presently living is the fact that multitudes of people slip away each day into a Christless eternity. They live out their lives blithely unaware and uncaring of the eternal doom that awaits them just around the corner. This alone is more than ample reason to be against the push for euthanasia in our day. People without Christ who are assisted in taking their own lives think they are being delivered from their pain and suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth. They merely awake on the other side to discover that their real pain and suffering has just begun. How tragic! The Bible says,
…For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. Ecclesiastes 9:4
Christ is really going to turn up the heat on mankind with his four Seal judgments during the opening days of the Tribulation. And, I believe they will drive many sinners to reconsider and turn to Christ. Jude 23, speaks of this method of reaching people.
…but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
THE FIFTH SEAL BROKEN … TRIBULATION MARTYRS ARE REVEALED
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been 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, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? ‘Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
At the breaking of the fifth Seal, the scene shifts back from Earth to Heaven. Up there, throughout the first three and a half years of the rise of Antichrist, murdered saints have been continuously arriving from down below. The Greek word used here, translated slain, is εσφαγμενων (esthagmenown). This word speaks of a death by violence. The tense of this Greek participle is perfect passive meaning, having been slain. It alludes to the fact that these saints were murdered because they were considered a nuisance. But, up in Heaven, John sees them under the altar, which speaks of the fact that God views them as sacrifices.
This is our first encounter in Revelation with Tribulation saints. It will be costly to believe in Christ during the rise of, and under the reign of, Antichrist. Those days will really separate the men from the boys. Many are Christians today because it costs them nothing. On that day it will cost people everything. Second Thessalonians 2:6-7, tells us that in that day the restraints on sinful man will be lifted. That being the case, men will be more cruel and pitiless than ever … as cruel as their depraved natures dictate. It will be Satan, and his Antichrist's, day. Both Daniel and Jesus prophesied that the saints would be given into Antichrist's hand on that day.
I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them… Daniel 7:21
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. Daniel 7:25
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. Matthew 24:9
The question arises, In what sense is the fifth Seal a judgment of the Lamb then, since it is his own saints who are being killed? I believe the answer lies within the fact that those who are doing the murdering of God’s people are storing up for themselves vengeance against the day of vengeance (Romans 2:5). As Christ's murdered Saints continue to swell in number in Heaven, the wrath of God will be continuing to swell up above as well. Psalm 9:12, says,
When he avenges blood, he remembers them; he does not forget the cry of the humble.
Having suffered the horrors of execution by Antichrist, John heard the Tribulation martyrs cry out to their Lord for vengeance. Their cries resulted in the handing out of white robes to each one, followed by the Lord's words to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. What a long-suffering God our Lord is! Even in that awful day, when his own beloved people are being slaughtered by the score ... he will continue to delay his wrath for his great mercy’s sake.
THE SIXTH SEAL BROKEN ... HEAVEN IS OPENED
I looked when he opened the sixth seal, and [NU omits: behold] there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the [NU adds: whole] moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves 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 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?
We come now to a spectacular and very significant future turning point in history. It is during the events unleashed by the sixth Seal that the Great Tribulation (the second half of the Tribulation) will begin. The judgments of the sixth Seal are the first direct judgments we have encountered in the book of Revelation and their nature fits like a glove with all the other judgments that are prophesied to occur during the Great Tribulation (the last three and a half years of the Tribulation). Today, you and I are living in the Age of Grace. It began at the cross, closing the Old Testament dispensation of the Law, and continues on to this very hour. During this Age of Grace, direct supernatural judgments from God have been virtually unheard of. It has been well over two millennia since mankind has witnessed any direct supernatural judgments from God on Earth. Today, the only sin God is holding mankind accountable for is unbelief, by the way. As you have it in Second Corinthians 5:19,
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation.
I repeat. The only sin that God is holding men accountable for today is the sin of unbelief in his Son … a horrendous sin that has not yet brought direct judgment on mankind ... but one day will. At the end of the Age of Grace, it will come. As you have it in Second Thessalonians 1:7-9,
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power…
And again, in John 3:36,
He that believeth on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
God has directly intervened in judgment on the earth in ages past. Before the Law was given, he judged mankind in Noah's day leaving only nine people alive on the earth. During the age of the Law, God intervened many times in judgment during Moses and Joshua's day and during the days of the prophets. However, from those times up to today, his judgments have been muted. That will dramatically change when Christ breaks away the sixth Seal from his scroll. At that time, the world will experience the first direct intervention by God in judgment that has taken place here on the Earth in nearly three thousand years. If you accept the supernatural, you will have little trouble with the description of his judgments from this point on in the book of Revelation. If not, you will have a good deal of difficulty from this point on with what the book of Revelation predicts is coming to planet Earth. Let's look at this one. Jesus was also speaking of this judgment of the sixth Seal when he said in Luke 21:11,
And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
The judgments of the sixth Seal will fulfill Jesus’ prediction of fearful sights and great signs in heaven. When Christ breaks the sixth Seal off his scroll in Heaven, things will occur around the globe like nothing ever before recorded in human history. Our text says it will come as follows:
1 …a world-wide earthquake
2 …a total blackout of the sun
3 …a change in the nature of the moon that will cause it to become a light source, glowing with the hue of red blood
4 …a change in the nature of the universe that will result in actual stars falling to the Earth like overripe figs
5 …the displacement of every mountain and island on earth from their present geographic locations
6 …and (the finale) … the rolling back of the sky above, revealing God Almighty and His Lamb seated upon their Throne for all to see. Needless to say, these events will be undeniably supernatural by the earth-dwellers of that day. Let’s look a bit closer at these prophesied events.
Now, a worldwide earthquake is scientifically impossible. Earthquakes are caused by the shifting of the tectonic plates in the Earth and thus only occur in specific and very limited locations. A worldwide earthquake cannot occur apart from the supernatural. Also, a temporary and total darkening of the sun is scientifically impossible. It just couldn't occur apart from the supernatural. The reversal of Earth's primary light source from the sun to the moon is scientifically impossible. One can only imagine the effect on the scientific community when, for a period of time, the moon will be earth's only source of light! Stars falling to the earth is scientifically impossible. Many would say that the very fact that such a thing is stated in the Bible is proof that it is a scientifically inaccurate book. They would strenuously object, saying, Real stars falling to the Earth? Do you realize the nature and size of a star? You Christians are so ignorant and so unscientific! Why, if this literally were to occur, the stars wouldn’t fall to the earth ... the earth would be sucked into the first star that even got close and then burn up like a moth in a flame! The shifting and relocation of every mountain and every island is scientifically impossible. How could that be? Yet, it shall. Finally, the rolling back of the heavens above like a scroll is scientifically impossible. But that too will occur.
Puny ... oh so scientific man … politically correct man … sophisticated, modern, civilized man … is scheduled for a rude awakening when Christ breaks the sixth Seal from off his scroll. God exists, you see, and man has been living in God’s supernatural universe for millennia but he has stubbornly refused to acknowledge its true nature. How great and powerful our God is! He is the Omnipotent One. As Gabriel, the archangel, once said to a young girl who had been told she was scheduled to have a baby apart from the normal impregnation by a man, with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37). Do you really think that he who holds the whole universe together by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3) could not do the things that are so clearly described here in the sixth Seal judgment?
Jeremiah 32:7, says,
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?
If God so desired, with a mere thought he could cause every star in the universe to fall to the earth and bounce along the ground like so many fiery marbles ... just as, it appears, many actually will at the breaking of the sixth Seal. At that time, God will arise and bear his right arm, you see, and the supernatural will become a matter of undeniable fact. Can you picture what effect these things will have on unregenerate men and women when they see such contradictions of their so-called laws of nature!?
We Christians do not need to scientifically explain how stars could fall to the earth, by the way. Nor, do we need to scientifically show how the heavens could roll back like a scroll. We just need to believe the Word of God, dear saint … whether it makes sense to us or not. The burden of proof is on the skeptics. They must prove that these things will not occur as prophesied here in the Word of God. By the way, it doesn’t say that all the stars fell to the earth although, under the omnipotent hand of Almighty God, they certainly could. Later in the book, and subsequent to this event, we will still find stars shining in the heavens. But, it's my opinion that a large number of them will be conspicuously absent from their places in Earth’s skies above. After the Lamb sets in motion the amazing events of the breaking of the sixth Seal, mankind will have a very difficult time indeed denying the supernatural. These events will be powerful blows to proud, haughty, scientific man and none too soon in my opinion. At the breaking of the sixth Seal, men who have obstinately viewed the universe from the vantage point of uniformitarian, naturalistic, humanistic, evolutionary ideology, will be proved the fools they are.
Now let's look at the profound results that these events will have on earth-dwellers in that day. John says, And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves. What abject panic and utter bedlam this judgment will cause. The sixth Seal will truly stop men’s mouths. They will only have one thing to say on that day... and it will be said to the mountains and the rocks around them ... Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sets on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. Isaiah also prophesied of the chaos that the sixth Seal will bring, saying,
Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up; and it shall be brought low; upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan; upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up; upon every high tower, and upon every fortified wall; upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all the beautiful sloops. The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, but the idols he shall utterly abolish. They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake the earth mightily. In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made, each for himself to worship, to the moles and bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks, from the terror o f the LORD and the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake the earth mightily. Isaiah 2:10-21
May we step aside here for a moment? Notice that when this actually will occur, men will not simply stare curiously up at God Almighty and the Lamb above them. No. What will they do? They will attempt to do everything in their power to get away and hide themselves from the presence of God and his Lamb. Anyone who thinks that they can look upon Holy God and his Lamb apart from the spiritual protection which the imputed righteousness that Christ provides (1 Corinthians 5:21) is very sadly mistaken. Notice that when men look upon the Holy Ones above in that day, their only motivation will be to flee away from their presence. Sinners cannot stand in the presence of Holy God and his Righteous Lamb unless they have been specifically and supernaturally prepared for it by being born again (John 3:3). We sinners must be re-made into a new creature, having our sins washed away by faith in Christ and having received the very righteousness of Christ himself by imputation (Romans 4:20-24). This alone prepares a man or woman to be able to stand unharmed and unafraid before Holy God. Any other scenario or scheme of man to prepare to meet his Maker will inevitably result in abject panic and ultimate destruction. Are you prepared to stand in the presence of Holy God and his Holy Lamb? Jesus can make you ready.
Now, the question arises, How long will the judgment of the sixth Seal last? It doesn’t say here. But I expect its events will be comparatively brief in duration, especially when the heavens are rolled back for unregenerate men to see God and his Lamb above. In conclusion, let me say that the events of the sixth Seal are critical to the understanding of the rest of the book of Revelation. At the end of the sixth Seal judgment, when the heavens are rolled back like a great scroll, mankind will have historically arrived at the halfway point of the Tribulation (three and a half years in) and the Great Tribulation will have begun. There is an important verse in Joel that applies here. Joel 2:30-31, quotes God as saying,
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
At the beginning of the sixth Seal judgment, Joel's prophetic words, The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, will be fulfilled. Note that he says that these things will take place before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. The great and the terrible day of the Lord refer to the Great Tribulation (the second half of the Tribulation). When we read that the sun was darkened and the moon turned to blood in verse thirteen, we are still in the first half of the Tribulation. But, when the sky is rolled back like a scroll, in verse fourteen, we have entered into the second half of the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation … Joel's great and terrible day of the Lord. So, the words men cried out at the sight of God's throne and the Lamb are eschatologically (doctrine of end time things) correct and "right on". They cried, For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Although they will not be thinking of the timing of these end-time events when they say this, they will have hit the nail on the head, for the great day of his wrath will have come indeed. And, although they will assume that they themselves are toast, it will not yet be the case. For, just as suddenly as it all began, it will come to an end and they will crawl out from their holes and hiding places to find that things are relatively back to normal … except for the aftermath of these terrible judgments including a good number missing stars from the heavens above.
Now, let's think for a moment about the effect that these things will have on God's chosen people, the Jews, who will be living at that time. I believe that the supernatural events at the breaking of the sixth Seal will result in the conversion of thousands of Jews in that day. Along with the rest of mankind, they too will climb out from their holes having visibly seen their God and his Christ seated on their throne in Heaven. It will be very difficult, after that point in time, for a Jew to deny Christ is his Messiah and the King of Israel. The breaking of the sixth Seal will be the turning point, in my opinion, for many Jews ... and a certain 144,000 in particular ... who we will shortly meet just a few verses from now.
In closing, let me say again that you and I currently live in a very stable and relatively predictable world today. God's natural laws have been unchanging and consistent for a very long time. So much so, that men have almost universally adopted a uniformitarian secular mindset and have taken it upon themselves to altogether deny the supernatural nature of the universe and world in which they live and, often, even the existence of God himself. They proudly declare that all things consist and merely function by predictable laws of nature apart from God whatsoever. At the breaking of the sixth Seal, our Lord will dramatically confront them with the error of their thinking.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Proceed to the next chapter