Right off the bat, I have to warn you, this study is eight pages long.
I am used to reading my own work, and I can fly through it, and it makes sense to me, but I work very hard at making my posts readable. In comparison, a book study that I am involved in is using an author who writes in a style that I equate to getting your teeth pulled; it is painful, and that particular author has to keep working over a subject matter when I, the reader am ready to move on.
Enough warning, let’s dive in as I attempt to understand the time of wrath.
Seals, trumpets, and bowls – Who, what, when, where, and how.
All this has a context, which begins with the end; the end of the Church age, that is. Revelation chapter three ends with a commentary on the last church age, the Laodicean church. Physically, this church is long gone, but spiritually, it is us. We have lost our first love, and many of us should take this as a warning.
Revelation, chapter four opens with, “after these things.” The things are the churches. Why say after? Because Jesus would have returned and, we, the church, are caught up to meet Him in the air, ever to live forever with Him.
Chapter five of the Revelation has John looking at the sealed scrolled and lamenting, as are the others because no one can open the seals. At this point, the Lamb – looking as though it had been slain walks on the scene.
That lamb is none other than Jesus Christ.
John 1:29 AMPC The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him and said, Look! There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! [Exo 12:3; Isa 53:7]
Isaiah 53:7 AMPC He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep, before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
While all we know, at this point, is that there is a scroll with seven seals. The seventh seal opens the arrival of the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet unleashes some extra things and the seven bowls. The seven bowls are the last of God’s wrath, and brings Jesus, riding upon a white horse into the scenario, where He administers a swift and deadly justice. With the end of God’s anger being poured out, the millennial reign is set to begin.
So, with that, let’s see if we can define these events. (Yes, I jumped the gun and posted a detailed look at the first seal already, but bear with me.)
The first seal – The Antichrist
Revelation 6:1-2 AMPC THEN I saw as the Lamb broke open one of the seven seals, and as if in a voice of thunder I heard one of the four living creatures call out, Come! (2) And I looked and saw there a white horse whose rider carried a bow. And a crown was given him, and he rode forth conquering and to conquer.
Pay attention – A rider on a white horse, carrying a bow, symbolic of war, but the rider has no arrows. This rider also has a crown, symbolic of authority and rulership.
There is one ideology in the world right now that fulfills both of these characteristics, and that is Islam. They claim to be the religion of peace, but peace is only achieved when all bow before Allah, the ruling authority, pledging allegiance. What I am telling you, is a clearly stated goal and purpose of Islam.
So what is Islam doing as we speak, conquering, just as the Qu’ran describes?
A white horse. In Zechariah 6:1-8, we have red, black, white, and grizzled bay horses like the four winds of heaven, ministers to do God’s will. White seems to be the color of victory (cf. the white horse of the Persian Kings) like the white horse ridden by the Roman conqueror in a triumphant procession. RWP
It was interesting to find out that the former leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, frequently portrayed himself as this rider.
The second seal – War and murder
Revelation 6:3-4 AMPC And when He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, Come! (4) And another horse came out, flaming red. And its rider was empowered to take the peace from the earth so that men slaughtered one another, and he was given a huge sword.
The NASB implies that this rider takes peace from the earth and that men would slay each other with the sword. “Its rider was given the power to take peace away from the earth and make people slaughter each other.” They are both correct. Being given the power to take away peace does not mean that you do. However, both translations convey violent and bloody imagery. One correctly describes making people slaughter each other with the sword. If, as I have stated on many occasions, this is Islam, their primary means of death seem to be the sword and bombs. These weapons are not only directed at those they deem infidels but each other as well – this killing of each other is Biblical and can be found in references to the descendants of Ishmael.
Genesis 16:12 AMP And he [Ishmael] will be as a wild ass among men; his hand will be against every man and every man’s hand against him, and he will live to the east and on the borders of all his kinsmen.
None of this excludes the bully factor and the general passion many have for violence.
The third seal – Famine
Revelation 6:5-6 NASB When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. (6) And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
J Vernon McGee and many others say this black horse represents worldwide famine. J Vernon McGee then quotes several speakers, saying,
- “in 1798, the Rev. Thomas Malthus concluded that “the power of population is infinitely greater than the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man.” His prediction had little weight in his day.
- In 1959 the United Nations’ seventy-seven-nation Food and Agriculture Organization met in Rome to talk about “the fight against hunger and malnutrition.” At this meeting, Toynbee declared: “Sooner or later food production will reach its limit. And then, if population is still increasing, famine will do the execution that was done in the past by famine, pestilence, and war combined.”
- Sir John Boyd Orr, at one time the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, warned, “I shall finish my office by giving a last warning to the world. If it is not solved, there will be world chaos in the next fifty years.”
Even in the late 1700s, the elite was concerned about their ability to eat; that theme has not stopped, and we now have serious concerns about engineered weather. Here is America, we had the wettest winter, extending into early summer. This rain has decimated corn crops and ruined others. Now, once again, it is blisteringly hot, and new crops, if they were able to plant, are frying. Famine is coming; there is no doubt about that.
The Fourth Seal – Death
Revelation 6:7-8 NASB When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” (8) I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death, and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Let me get this straight. The first seal brings the Antichrist, but he appears to be coming in the middle of warfare, most likely with Israel. If this is the Gog/Magog war of Ezekiel 38,39, then those who are still here will already be witnessing tremendous bloodshed. Let alone, the carnage that the Antichrist will bring. The second seal brings war, murder, and once again bloodshed. The third seal brings about a global famine, and people will die because of this. And now, as though nothing worse could happen, this fourth seal, from multiple sources and reasons, brings about death to a fourth of the global population.
Death comes at the hands of humankind – utilizing a sword; famine; pestilence; and by wild beasts.
The Fifth Seal – Persecution of the Saints.
Revelation 6:9-11 NASB When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; (10) and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (11) And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
Think about the process. Christ returns for His church, and many of them rise to meet Him in the air. The result of that is that WE then live with Him forever. NOW, when the church rises many who thought they should go, will still be here. That will bring about tremendous grief. The numbers will include many from so-called charismatic churches; many from the Latter Day Saints; many from the Mormon church, and sadly, the largest population of so-called Christians – will come from the Jewish community.
We are told that when the church is removed, that the veil that has covered so many eyes, keeping them from finding the truth in the Gospels, and Jesus as the Messiah, will be lifted. This lifting of the veil will come off of everyone’s eyes. People will come to Jesus by the thousands.
2 Corinthians 3:13-18 NLT We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. (14) But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. (15) Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. (16) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (17) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (18) So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
One more passage on the veil.
Isaiah 25:7 NASB And on this mountain, He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
The Sixth Seal – Cosmic and ecological disaster.
Revelation 6:12-17 NASB (12) I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair and the whole moon became like blood; (13) and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. (14) The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (15) Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; (16) and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; (17) for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
A great earthquake
The earth is experiencing large earthquakes on a daily basis. One that concerns me, would the earthquake associated with say, the Yellowstone National Park supervolcano. It has a magma pool that seems to be about half the size of Wyoming. Something of this magnitude could easily put us all into a polar winter. Mount St. Helens in Washington State, blocked out the sun for days when it blew.
The sun became black.
Volcanic activity, either caused by a volcano or spewed by a volcano can easily block out the sun. Documentation on recent volcanoes has demonstrated global temperature drops.
The moon became like blood.
With smog and soot, we currently have in the sky, the moon frequently has a dark orange, almost blood red look about it. This could easily be the result of air quality degradation.
And, the stars of the sky fell to the earth.
What we call shooting stars are small pieces of rock or dust that hit the Earth’s atmosphere from space. But that is not what the verse says.
This would probably be a good time to interject some literary clarity. As Rabbi K.A. Schneider points out in his book, The Book of Revelation Decoded, John saw many things which had no explanation; John used terminology that goes like this, “it was something like,” in other words, it might like shooting stars, but could be asteroids, or actual stars falling from space. We don’t really know for sure. Just pray that you do not have to experience these events.
A brief interlude
Chapter six has ended, but there is one more seal to be broken.
The headline caption over the next few verses reads The 144,000 of Israel Sealed. This could be a major point of contention, seeing as the Latter Day Saints (The Jehovah’s Witnesses) believe that some of their elders are the 144,000. I want to ask them if they are all Jewish virgins because that is a qualification.
“After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.” (Revelation 7:1 NLT)
I am interrupting here because I have a question. What would happen on the earth if the winds ceased to blow?
Chuck Doswelli, a research meteorologist since the mid-1970s gives us an answer. He begins by saying, “This is a purely hypothetical situation, impossible ever to realize on a global scale.” Interesting how God is not terribly concerned with things like the laws of physics. Mr. Doswell went on to explain the hypothetical situation.
“if the winds everywhere were to cease, the Earth’s unequal heating distribution would eventually result in a huge increase in the temperature differences between the poles and the equator, as well as between the land and the sea, eventually to the point where most of the planet’s surface wouldn’t be able to support life as we know it: cold regions would become extremely cold, and warm regions would become extremely hot.”
And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. (Revelation 7:1-8 NASB)
Things to note about Revelation 7:1-8.
- An angel having the seal of the living God.
Satan also has his imitation seal, which he will try to get the whole world to receive, along with the worship of the beast (the Antichrist,) and to worship the image that will set in the rebuilt temple in old Jerusalem. (I said old Jerusalem because there is a new one coming down out of heaven.)
- This angel, which may be Yahshua, says, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”
The admonition is to not harm the earth, sea, or trees. Considering that horrendous warfare may have been going on the entire time, how would you expect the earth, sea, and trees to not suffer? However, this damage that is coming, is from God. Alright, another point of clarification: God frequently uses people and nations to bring about His judgments. Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar are just some of those examples.
- “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:” Twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of:
Judah; Reuben; Gad; Asher; Naphtali; Manasseh; Simeon; Levi; Issachar; Zebulun; Joseph; Benjamin.
An interesting thing, which I do not totally comprehend just took place, for Genesis 49, the first listing of the twelve tribes, reads like this:
Reuben; Simeon; Levi; Judah; Zebulun; Issachar; Dan; Gad; Asher; Naphtali; Joseph; Benjamin.
Did you notice the difference? Dan is completely out of the picture, and, Manasseh, one of Joseph’s sons has taken his place.
The most notable piece of evidence we have on Dan comes from Judges 18.
Judges 18:26-28 NLT So the men of Dan continued on their way. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to attack, he turned around and went home. (27) Then, with Micah’s idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked with swords and burned the town to the ground. (28) There was no one to rescue the people, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob. Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there.
The men of Dan took this mans idols and priest and made them theirs.
The next thing we see during this interlude is John’s second look at the martyred, in heaven, before the throne.
The NASB entitles this section: A Great Multitude from Every Nation.
Revelation 7:9-17 NASB After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; (10) and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (11) And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (13) Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” (14) I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. (16) “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; (17) for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”