What happens during the Seal Judgments?
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A. Dr. John F. Walvoord (Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., 1910-2002). Revelation Commentary.
The opening of chapter 6 of the book of Revelation marks an important milestone in the progressive revelation of the end of the age. In chapter 5 John is introduced to the seven-sealed book in the hand of Christ. In chapter 6 the first six seals are opened with the resultant tremendous events occurring in the earth. The interpretation of these events depends upon the understanding of other portions of the prophetic Word. If the events portrayed are taken in any literal sense, it should be clear that they describe an event yet future, in the words of Christ, “the things which shall be hereafter” (1:19). Van Ryn expresses the common pre-tribulation position: The opening of the seals ushers in the terrible judgments to fall upon this earth after the Church has been caught up to glory, as we saw in chap. 4:1.
B. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost (Th. B., Th., D., 1915-2014) Things To Come, p 215.
Of the Book of Revelation, Chapters 1-3 present the development of the church in this present age. Chapters 4-11 cover the events of the entire seventieth week period, and include the return of Christ to earth to reign in 11:15-18. Thus, the seals are the events of the first three and one-half years, and the trumpets events of the last three and one-half years. According to the instructions given John in 10:11, chapters 12-19 survey the seventieth week, with a second time, this time with a view of revealing the actors on the stage of the drama. This chronology makes a mid tribulation view of the rapture impossible, for the so-called mid tribulation rapture of 11:15-18 is seen to be the post tribulation return to the earth, not the rapture at all. This gives supporting evidence for the pre-tribulation rapture position.
III. Scripture Text. Revelation Chapter 6. Pasted from Bible Gateway.
IV. Verse Examination. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., 1925-2016) Ryrie Study Bible.
A. 6:1. Here begins the first of three series of judgments in the book (seals, chap 6; trumpets, chap 8-9; bowls, chap 16). Some see the later series as recapitulating the earlier series. But, more likely, the three series are consecutive, each succeeding one following the preceding one.
A. 6:2. “he who sat on it.” Evidently a reference to Antihrist. His method of conquest at first does not seem to include open warfare, since peace is not removed from the earth until the second seal is opened (v. 3). This corresponds to the description of delusion in 1 Thes. 5:3.
B. 6:3-4. Everything about the second seal judgment indicates bloodshed (e.g., “red horse, take peace from, sword”).
C. 6:6. “a denarius.” A Roman silver coin that had a normal purchasing power of 10 qt (9.5 lit) of wheat, or 30 qt (28.5 lit) of barley. One qt (.95 lit) of wheat was the daily ration for a soldier. Thus, a daily wage will buy food for only one person, who will have to share with his family.
D. 6:8. “ashen”= a sickly, yellowish green. Probably representing the inevitable result of disease that accompanies war and famine. “Death” claims the bodies, and “Hades” the souls and spirits, of one-fourth of the world’s population in this single judgment (cf. 9:18).
E. 6:9. “the souls of those who had been slain.” Evidently the martyrs of the first months of the tribulation period.
F. 6:10. Notice that these martyrs are alive and conversing with the Lord in His presence.
G. 6:11. “rest for a little while longer.” I.e., wait a little while. It is difficult for these martyrs to understand why God would allow their murderers to live; yet, God asks these saints to trust Him.
H. 6:12. These cosmic disturbances are predicted elsewhere in Scripture (Isa. 34:4; Joel 2:30-31; Matt 24:29).
I. 6:16. When the Tribulation comes, men will act as if they believe the end of the world is at hand, not simply talk as if it were.
V. Additional Thoughts.
A. Notice that it is Christ (the Lamb) who breaks open these seals which brings judgment on all who reside on the earth. The seal judgments are not a source of Satan, the Antichrist, mankind, or anyone other than Christ. Those, who are left on the earth after the Rapture takes place, are left because they have not been born again, having the Spirit of Christ dwelling within their spirits, making their spirits as righteous as the Spirit of God (2 Cor 5:17, 21). Those who are left behind are known as “earth dwellers,” or “those who dwell upon the earth” (Rev 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 14; 17:8). Even as judgments on “earth dwellers” become increasingly more severe, many earth dwellers will continue to defy God. Earth dwellers chose earth over citizenship in Heaven (Phil. 3:20).
B. We who are believers in Christ have been told, “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is conclusive evidence: “For God has appointed us not to wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Wrath for others, but salvation for us at the Rapture, whether we wake or sleep.’ ” (J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. M., Th. D., “Things To Come,” p 195).
C. “According to the observation that John announced (Rev 6:16-17) that the program there being unfolded is related to the ‘wrath of the Lamb.’ ” The aorist tense in verse 17, elthen (has come) signifies, not something that is about to happen, but that which has taken place. Thus, in unfolding the program of the seals, John announces that these represent “the wrath” that has already come (J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. M., Th. D., Things To Come, pp 183-184).
D. In addition to the above comments that relate to the breakdown of the events of the tribulation, the Ryrie Study Bible shows a division of the tribulation in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew chap 24 (Charles Ryrie, Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., 1925-2016) (See my note in the following notes, D.4-10).
- 24:3. “the disciples.” In this discourse Jesus answers two of the three questions of only Peter, James, John, and Andrew, that these disciples asked. Mark 13:3 states, “Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately.” Jesus does not answer “when will these things happen?” He answers “what will be the sign of Your coming?” in verses 29-31, and He speaks of the signs of the end of the age in verses 4-28. Verses 4-14 list the characteristics of the first half of the tribulation period, whereas, verses 15-18 deal with the second half.
- 24:29. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days.”
- 24:29. “THE SUN…THE MOON…THE STARS.” These astral phenomena, which will accompany the return of the “Son of Man,” are foretold in Isa 13:9-10 and Joel 2:31; 3:15.
- Notice that it will be “after the Tribulation” that Jesus will return to earth, which is not the same event as the Rapture (John 14:2-6; 1 Cor 15:50-54; 1 Thes 4:13-18).
- Notice that the discussion is with only four of the disciples, and was not a proclamation to Gentiles.
- Notice that the events of the tribulation are caused by Jesus or His angels (Rev 6:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-11, 12-17; 8:1-6, 8:2-6; 8:7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13; 9:1-12; 9:13-21; 11:15-19; 15:1, 6-7; 16:1-2, 3, 4-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-16, 17-21). Notice that the judgments of the tribulation are not caused by Satan, the Anti-Christ, mankind or “mother nature.” Notice, also, that in 6:17, the earth dwellers recognize that they have been coming under “the wrath of God,” and that 6:17 this is not the beginning of “God’s wrath.”
- All of the Tribulation is of “God’s wrath.” The flood of Noah’s time (Genesis 6) was of “the wrath of God.” The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19) was also of “the wrath of God,” whether the words “wrath of God,” were (or were not) written in those passages.
- The stated purpose of the tribulation (Jacob’s distress) is for unsaved Jews (Jeremiah 30:7, 606 B.C.). God’s love for Israel had been stated in Gen 12:1-3 (Ca 2100 B.C.), Deu 14:2 (1451 B.C.), and elsewhere. In spite of the tribulation, of which unsaved Israel (and Gentiles) will endure, God’s love for Israel is restated in Jer 31:1-4 (606 B.C.), “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
- The tribulation will not begin until after the Anti-Christ confirms a peace treaty with Israel, as prophesied in Daniel 9:27 (538 B.C.). The duration of the Tribulation will be 7 years (Ryrie note: Dan 9:27).
- All unsaved Jews and Gentiles will be left behind from the rapture. Per Revelation 7:9, of those who are left behind and find themselves in the Tribulation, a great multitude of many racial and geographic groups will be redeemed during the Tribulation (Rev 7:14). In these difficult days, many will find Christ as Savior (Ryrie Study Bible). God’s eternal plan for the redemption of mankind, as stated in Gen 3:15 (4004 B.C.), will not be thwarted (Rev 20:10 (A.D. 96).
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