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Revelation and the Seven Seals

The Olivet Discourse ends with the 6th seal. The 7th seal, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls are God’s judgment on unrepentant humanity.

In my previous post, I wrote on the Olivet Discourse, as recorded in Matthew 24. In this passage, Jesus responded to two of three specific questions: When will the temple be destroyed? What will be the sign of His coming and, three, of the end of the age? In this text, Jesus laid out more clearly than anywhere else in the Bible the sequence of events that will take place prior to His return.

Jesus warned of events that would follow:

    1. There will be false prophets, wars, earthquakes, and famines (Matthew 24:4-8)
    2. The appearance of the abomination in the temple will spark a great persecution (vs. 15).
    3. If the abomination is to appear in the temple, then the temple must be rebuilt.

The persecution and martyrdom of Christians will be so significant, only the act of God cutting that time short will their lives be preserved (vs. 22).

Then Jesus stated,

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken (vs. 29)

Sometime prior to this cataclysmic event, Christians will be raptured. We will not know the day and the hour (vs. 36), but we should be able to recognize the season (vs.32-33). And then Jesus will return in power and great glory for all the world to see.

What should be emphasized is that the Book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus and Jesus would never contradict himself. Revelation 1:1 reads,

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

Following His letter to the seven churches, the great when throne, and the Lamb of God, with seven horns and seven eyes, we learn that only the Lamb, who is Jesus, is worthy of opening the seven seals of the scroll (Revelation 5:6-9). The seals must be removed before God’s message of wrath against mankind is revealed.

With the Olivet Discourse as our guide, we can observe that the first five seals refer to persecution and primarily man’s wrath: which is persecution against Christians. But just as the Jews who escaped Egypt, who experienced some of the ten plagues, so to Christians will have to endure earthquakes and famine.

The Olivet Discourse ends with the 6th seal. The 7th seal, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls are God’s judgment on unrepentant humanity. Below is a visual representation of the events, otherwise known as “The Day of the Lord.”

The Great Tribulation could be described as the Great Persecution, as it will be the intense persecution of Christians. The persecution outbreak will begin upon the revelation of the Abomination of Desolation in the temple.

Each of the first four Seals parallels Jesus’ warning of wars, death, famine, and earthquakes. The fifth Seal parallels Jesus’ warning of intense persecution. The sixth Seal represents the many who will be martyred for their faith during the Great tribulation.

Now let’s compare Matthew 24:29 to the sixth seal. Matthew 24:29 reads:

Immediately after the distress of those days

the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

Revelation 6:12-14 reads:

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

A natural reading of these passages would indicate that they are one and the same event. At this point, we know that the Christians have been raptured, and those left behind are aware that they are about to experience the wrath of God.

Regarding those not raptured we read in Revelation 6:15-17:

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the 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 their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

So to review, the first 6 seals parallel Jesus’ teaching on the Mount of Olives regarding the end times. Prior to His return, there will be wars, famines, earthquakes, and an outbreak of intense persecution of Christians, beginning when the Abomination of Desolation is revealed in the temple. The rapture will occur sometime prior to Christ’s return and The Day of the Lord when God will pour out his wrath on rebellious humankind.

In chapter 7 we read about the 144,000 Jews who are sealed, and the great multitude in white robes, martyrs from the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This is the first resurrection, and they will reign with Christ for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4).

Mark Eastway

Pastor, Burket Bible Church

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