Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tribulation: The Seven Seals

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 
Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"... 
"...Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."... 
Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Rev. 5:1-2,5,7 NKJV
In the past several posts, we have been reminded of the very real judgment that is coming upon this earth and have seen how the events of this world are lining up with prophecy in a way which indicates that time is coming very soon. Now, as we jump into the actual events of the tribulation, we are going to see the beginnings of that judgment finally being realized. In this chapter, we are given a picture, as Jesus revealed to John, of these seals being broken one by one, and as they are, certain events are taking place on earth....
And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Rev. 6:2 NKJV
The first seal introduces the antichrist. As I mentioned in the last post, the image used to describe him here is indicative of the pattern that will follow for the next several years: one of mimicking Jesus Christ. As always, Satan offers us a cheap imitation of the real thing; often times, even for a Christian, the things we believe to be good and beneficial and worthy of our time and attention are really just Satan's lies, infused with enough truth to fool the eye (and the heart), offering us a "harmless" distraction from the genuine things of heaven. The antichrist will be this for the world. He will be allowed to rule for a period of 7 years and he will successfully convince many that he can save them, that he can help them, and that he cares for them. But those who choose to follow him will pay the ultimate price.
Then another horse appeared, a red one. Its rider was given a mighty sword and the authority to take peace from the earth. And there was war and slaughter everywhere. Rev. 6:4 NLT
This horse represents war on the earth. When the antichrist enters the picture, he will appear to be a peacemaker. But this "peace" will quickly fade, and there will again be war throughout the world.
I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, "A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day's pay. And don't waste the olive oil and wine." Rev. 6:5-6 NLT
This horse is representative of famine and scarcity on earth. This is a famine the likes of which the world has never seen before. We're not talking a little inconvenience like having to go to three different stores to find your favorite potato chips. We're talking real, devastating, famine. The entire world is going to go hungry.
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. Rev. 6:8 NKJV
This verse tells us that the antichrist and those who follow him are going to be allowed to kill one fourth of the world's population. The ones who are killed will be those who resist the antichrist and the one world government, due to their new found faith in Jesus Christ.
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. Rev. 6:9-11 NKJV
As a result of the previous seal, the ones who have been killed for their faith in Jesus are now crying out to God, begging him to avenge their deaths. But God tells them to wait a little while longer. There are going to be more who are martyred for their faith, and when that number has been fulfilled, God will respond to their cry. We're going to see later God's wrath fully poured out on an evil world.
I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the 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?" Rev. 6:12-17 NKJV
In these verses, we see an earthquake unlike anything the world has ever experienced before. Now, the power of God aside, his ability to erase this planet from existence aside, scientists and geologists will all tell you that it's just a matter of time anyways until we finally experience "the big one." There are massive amounts of scientific evidence which indicate earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, meteors in space that have barely missed us on a collision course, and any number of other natural disasters that are believed to be realities for this planet. Many will agree that it's not a matter of if, but when. Well, God's about to unzip the zipper if you will on the world's fault lines, tectonic plates, etc. (I'm clearly not a scientist.) This earthquake is the beginning of many natural disasters that will soon follow. It is going to be so devastating that it is going to cause the sky to go black, possibly from massive amounts of volcanic ash flooding the skies. The "stars" are going to be falling; as John understood it, the "stars", possibly meteors were falling to earth. Every mountain and island will be moved out of place. EVERY mountain and island. And the world's response? Not surrender to God or a plea for mercy, but rather a further rejection of God, a plea to the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of God.

And the seal that follows is God's response to those earlier cries of the martyrs...
When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour... Rev. 8:1
The seventh seal leads us into a new set of judgments, the trumpet judgments, and the weight of their destruction is so devastating that it causes the entirety of heaven to stand in silence for half an hour.

This should be our response now. We should look at these judgments and respond with reverence and awe at the incomprehensible power of our God. Our God is righteous and good. He cannot coexist with evil, and these judgments are the beginning of the end. He is finally going to put an end to evil, and you must make a choice now whether you want eternal life and peace with the Creator, or eternal pain, suffering, and death with Satan. Sin is an unpardonable affront to the holiness of God. It must be paid for. The Good News is that Jesus paid that price for you! He took the weight of each and every one of these judgments that we have seen and will continue to see upon his shoulders. He paid the price. But you have to claim it. If you reject him, then you simultaneously commit yourself to paying the price yourself, in these judgments if you are here to live through them, and ultimately in hell for eternity. God doesn't desire anyone to go to hell. Yet people choose that fate when they reject his free gift of salvation.

Don't destine yourself for a fate that you don't have to endure. And don't watch loved ones, or even strangers, enter this fate either without taking the opportunity to share the gospel with them.

In the next post, we will see the trumpet judgments poured out on the earth, and the blood of the martyrs finally avenged. It's going to get much much worse before it gets better...

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