BREAKING THE BOOK'S SEVEN SEALS - REVELATIONS 6 & 7 February 5, 2023
Updated: Mar 22
MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRING FROM BETHANY CHURCH IN RICHMOND, BC.
Hollywood has a fascination for the horror genre. The reason? quite simply, it sells. For a couple of hours people gripped with fear until credits roll and lights come up. Then panicked silence washed away with beer, pizza and I wasn’t afraid bravado.
But what happens if what’s depicted doesn’t change when lights come on? What if things shown are just a shadow of what’s to come – this screenplay not ending with laughter? A
future awaiting, God warns of a world that’s rejected Him. All outlined in what we begin looking at today in the opening events of the Tribulation as Jesus begins breaking the seal on the Scroll He has taken.
The 1st is the pre-tribulation view, the belief that those who have put saving faith in Jesus, will be raptured prior to the Tribulation thereby escaping this time of terror. Jesus coming for believers who, 7 years later, will return with Jesus when He comes to bring judgment and establish His reign – 1 event, 2 stages. For clarity, the term rapture doesn’t appear in our English Bibles rather it comes from Latin translations of the Greek harpazo - caught up/snatched out/seized – think raptor. Names that many of you would be familiar, hold this view of Christ’s return: Swindoll, Jeremiah, Laurie, Evans, a view also held by the early church, contrary to what some suggest. Like these, this is a view I also believe Scripture best supports.
The 2nd is the post-tribulation view, the belief that Christ’s Second Coming is a single event caught up in the air for His church to meet the Lord in the air then simultaneously returning with His church. Those who hold this view, point out no single verse supports the pre-trib view which is true just as no single verse supports post trib which is why there’s variance of opinion. Some suggest that pre-trib suggests that Christians will escape persecution when in truth, an accurate pre-trib understanding isn’t that Christians escape tribulation. It’s that they escape this Tribulation, a worldwide time of trouble unlike anything the world has ever known. So for a few moments, a look at some pertinent Scriptures.
Rapture - FOR For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess 4:15-18 FREEDOM FROM
Second COMING - WITH And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were IN heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev 19:11-16 JUDGMENT UPON
So that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints 1 Tesa: 3:13. Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints Jude 14; every eye will see Him Rev 1:7.
• Steps out of heaven for His saints but in the 2nd, He steps out of heaven with His saints
Rapture UNEXPECTED For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then 2 men will be in the field; 1 will be taken and 1 left. 2 women will be grinding at the mill; 1 will be taken and 1 left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matt 24:37-42
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Cor 15:51-53
Second COMING SIGNS Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory Matt 24:29-30
Rapture Provides COMFORT I will also keep you from the hour of testing, that hour that shall come upon the whole world Rev 3:10
Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go, I will come again and receive unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also John 14.
Second COMING TROUBLED At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people . And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time, but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. Dan 12:1
Rapture BLESSED HOPE But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thess 4:13-18
Blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ Titus 2:13
Second COMING FINALLY HOPE They will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you and you will be hated by all nations on account of my name. Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another and many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased most people’s love will grow cold. Matt 24:9–12
Rapture NO WRATH For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; …… But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thess 5:2-9
who delivers us from the wrath to come 1 Thess 1:10
Second COMING WRATH! 10x Then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. If those days had not been cut short, no life would have been saved but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short Matt 24:21,22
When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed 2 Thess 1:7-10.
For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 2 Thess 2:3-8
Ray Stedman – It is impossible for these comings to be identical. In the 1st He will come without any warning or previous sign; in the 2nd His coming will be preceded by terrible sights in the heavens - the sun being darkened, the moon failing to give its light. In the 1st coming, He will appear before the great tribulation to remove the salt from society so evil can be loosed; in the 2nd he specifically says that His coming will be “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” In the 1st, His coming is likened to the flood of Noah which came at a time when life was going on as usual; in the 2nd He will come with so many previous announcement in unusual events that “all the tribes of the earth … will see the Son of man coming”
So to summarize:
RAPTURE SECOND COMING
Blessed Hope Finally Hope
No Appointed to Wrath Wrath __________________________________________________________________________________
What should this mean to us? First and foremost, we know without a doubt that if Christ were to come today, we will be with Him. Be clear – there is no family plan holding on to my parents’ coattails; no merit plan – my goods greater than bads; no portfolio plan – riches stored up because of our care of widows and orphans; there is only a redemption plan – we are not with redeemed silver and gold but with the precious blood of Christ.
Meaning, no matter the view we take regarding Christ’s return, post-trib, pre-trib - and we may agree to disagree about the when - Jesus IS coming again meaning our only hope is faith in Jesus to forgive our sins so we can be right with God. This morning the biggest question is, How are you living in light of Christ’s return? Do you know Him as Saviour? And for those who do know Him, am I living to please Him - ethically, relationally, sexually? Does my life live out of faith that loves, that serves, that attracts? Do I live with hope as Christ reflecting people so others see Him?
Martin Luther King writing from a cell expressed this, reflect what you believe in life: To our most bitter opponents, we say: Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you…. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be double.
Martin Luther King’s passion for a future greater than his present - knowing the future he longed for would only be achieved by different living in the present. This is a far greater truth for Christians, who have the certainty of a forever future with Jesus knowing this is not the future for those who don’t know Jesus. It’s why we as Jesus's followers are to be people fully appealing to hearts so those around will be disarmed and won for Christ because the future told about in Rev 6 & 7 is horrific.
In the first 4 seals, we see the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The 1st Seal – the white horse whose rider is presented as a crown-wearing Christ figure, he an imposter, his intent to deceive and destroy. He will rule over others, using them as pawns, one of whom will be Israel with whom the antichrist will make a peace treaty which he’ll break 3½ years in
2nd Seal the red horse of war will remove peace from the earth. Men will slay one another, violence set loose, goring one another with their drive for rights and power.
3rd Seal the black horse of famine and inflation beyond anything human resources can address. Technology will be powerless. The belief that man, in some godlike way, can orchestrate, control, and store up will be shattered as cupboards are opened to find them empty.
4th Seal the ashen horse of death. Death by war, famine, pestilence and beast. Death, where authority has been given to kill ¼ of the earth, a figure I don’t believe, is metaphoric.
5th Seal is a departure from what we’ve just seen however it’s important so as to not forget the context of why this judgment has come. Underneath the Altar are the souls of those slain during the Tribulation because of the Word of God and the testimony they maintained. Dressed in white robes, they are waiting for their blood to be avenged, How long will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?
6th Seal Previously, judgments are the byproduct of man’s choice to live as his own god. This seal signals a direct intervention of God. Heb 1:3 tells us, Jesus upholds the universe by the word of his power but not holding now, seen by the immensity of what occurs - a great earthquake where every mountain is moved out of place These aren’t tectonic plates colliding under Mt Zion leaving the Rockies and the Himalayas untouched. This is worldwide. No wonder we read: the kings and commanders, the rich and the strong, the slave and the free hide in the caves trying to escape Him who sits on the Throne. Sadly, they are no closer to worshipping God. And with the mountains moved, the sun blackened, the moon becoming as blood and stars falling to the earth, the Wrath of the Lamb has come
Rev 7 Following up a world being shaken out of place – the eeriness of dead air. No wind. Imagine what that will feel like as people wonder what is next.
Amidst the chaos: 4 144,000 Jewish evangelists, 12,000 from each tribe. Some suggest numbers given in Revelation are symbolic but I see no justification for this. The fact that the tribes of Israel are named and this exact number is sealed by God, not one lost to Satan, does great damage to assertions like these. Rev 14:1 states, I looked and behold a Lamb standing on Mt Zion and with Him, 144,000 having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.
These 144,000 evangelists during the Tribulation will proclaim the Word of God leading a vast number :9 to saving faith in Yahweh but they will do so while suffering great persecution. Jeremiah tells us, How awful that day will be! No other will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved from it. Yet we are told that a great multitude dressed in white will come out of the great tribulation. Jer. 30:7
One source noted that the names of the tribes listed for the 144,000 as Revelation 7 records them, tells us this:
1- Judah means "I will praise the Lord"
2- Reuben means "He has looked on Me"
3- Gad means "Given good fortune"
4- Asher means "Happy I am"
5- Naphtali means "My wrestling"
6- Manasseh means "Making me to forget"
7- Simeon means "God hears me"
8- Levi means "Joined to me"
9- Issachar means "Purchased me"
10- Zebulun means "Dwelling"
11- Joseph means "Will add to me"
12- Benjamin means "Son of His right Hand"
“I will praise the Lord for he has looked on me and granted good fortune. I am happy because my wrestling, God is making me to forget. God hears me and is joined to me. He has purchased me a dwelling and will add to me, the Son of His right hand.”
No wonder a great multitude that no one could number cry out in worship and joyous celebration, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the Throne and to the Lamb! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, and power might be to our God forever and ever. 7:10,12
So what do we do with this whirlwind through end times and Rev 6 & 7? We could breathe a sigh of relief hoping Rob’s view about the Rapture is right and that as Christians we are spared the worst that is to come. Hearing this, we could cocoon ourselves and just wait. Or we could be mobilized into action and reflect the heart Martin Luther King spoke to - giving and living a message to those who don’t know Jesus - We will still love you. We shall appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be double.
A double victory – not just waiting for heaven, rapture cocooned but engaged –
living out and speaking out heaven so others will know
Jesus as Saviour and Lord.