Understanding The Apocalypse

Revelation 6:1-17
Chapter 11

Revelation 6, is a turning point in the Apocalypse. No longer is the focus on the scene in heaven. Now, the earth is in view and the scroll in the right hand of the Almighty is about to be opened.

The structure of the chapter is very simple, in that, when one of the seals in the scroll is opened something happens on earth. However, the interpretation of those seals and events is far from simple. Consequently, there are myriad applications and interpretations in print.

For example, one says the events described in Revelation 6, are symbolic of the entire course of human history. This cannot possibly be true because John heard the "voice from heaven" in Revelation 4:1, saying, "Come up here, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter." The key phrase is "must be hereafter." This clearly excludes things that occurred before this statement.

This "voice" comes after the seven letters to the churches and therefore, indicates the "things which must be hereafter" follow the seven periods of church history described in the church letters. Furthermore, in heaven, John saw the elders who represent the "called up" Church, standing in the presence of God. He saw the passing of authority over the earth to the Lamb and he saw the angelic hosts of heaven praising the Lamb as God. It is after these events that John sees the Lamb open the scroll. So we know, the events in Revelation 6, do not cover the entire history of humanity. Rather, they are connected with the end of human history and the period we know as the Great Tribulation.

To better understand the unfolding of the events contained in the scroll we need to read Daniel 9:27.

"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."

The "he" is identified in Daniel 9:26 as the "prince that shall come." Because the text says he will "destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the temple of God)," we know this prince is not from God.

Furthermore, the text says this prince will come after "Messiah be cut off." This is a reference to the rejection and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His first advent as the Messiah of Israel.

This "prince" is not a godly prince and when he comes, he will do the opposite or "anti" of what our Lord will do, when He returns in glory. Clearly, this "prince that shall come" is anti-Christ.

Daniel 9:27 also says this "prince" will make a "covenant with many for one week." The "week" referenced is a week of years or a seven year period.

The "many" means Israel. We know this from the references to the city (Jerusalem), the sanctuary, the sacrifice and oblation. These certainly point to the temple worship in Jerusalem that was required of Israel, under the Law of Moses.

What have we discovered so far from Daniel 9:27? An anti-Christ will come, sometime after the rejection of Messiah and will make an agreement with Israel that is supposed to last for seven years.

We must now go forward in the Scriptures, to Matthew 24:4-8.

"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
Next, we need to consider that for the Antichrist to make a covenant with Israel, at least two things are required:
(1) Israel must have some need the covenant will supply.

From the context of our passage in Matthew 24, we know our Lord Jesus warned Israel not to be deceived by false christs who would come during certain world conditions. The conditions He described were wars between nations, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. He said first, Israel should not to be worried about rumors of wars because they must happen and He foretold of the actual wars that will arise. Famine and pestilence are results of the widespread destruction of war. Perhaps, the earthquakes speak of the force of the explosions that will rock the earth.

It is this fear of, and perhaps, participation in war that is the need the covenant will remedy. Apparently, Israel will desire peace and the Antichrist will offer it for seven years.

Now, notice the reason Jesus says Israel should not be deceived: "All these are the beginning of sorrows." He is not saying the wars are the beginning of sorrows. He is warning that those who come in Christ's name during the time the rumors of wars abound, are the beginning of sorrows. Why? Because, these false christs will make false promises to lead the people of Israel into a sense of false security. Jesus told them the wars would come so they would realize any agreements with false christs are worthless.

When we read in Daniel 9:27, that Antichrist will make a seven year agreement with Israel, we understand, because of what our Lord Jesus later revealed in Matthew 24, the basis of that agreement will be to provide peace for Israel. Again, peace is the need the covenant will supposedly supply.

(2) This Antichrist must have the authority to make the agreement.

Because the Scripture plainly tells us in Daniel 9:27, the "prince who will come" makes this covenant, we understand he has the authority to do so. This must mean he is a world leader or ruler who controls the military might of the nations. Since military leaders make war not peace, we understand this Antichrist is not a military leader but a political leader.

Remember the words of our Lord. This false Christ is the beginning of sorrows. In Daniel 9:27, we learn more about the true intentions of this false Christ who makes a covenant of peace with Israel.
"And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
The references to sacrifice and oblation (offering) indicate Israel will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and resume the temple worship. Then, in the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:3, "When they shall say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape."

Just when Israel is feeling secure under the peace agreement she made with the Antichrist and reinstitutes the temple worship required under the Law of Moses, the false Christ will renege on the covenant. Daniel says he will cause the sacrifice and offerings in the temple to cease and will make it desolate through abominations.

Again, we must go to Matthew 24, where in v:15-21, we read,

"When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whosoever readeth, let him understand), Then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house; Neither let him who is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto those who are with child, and to those who nurse children in those days! But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day; For then shall be tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
We have an historical picture of this abomination: In 169 BC, Antiochus IV, the ruler of the Grecian Empire established by Alexander the Great, entered the city of Jerusalem and raided the temple. His purpose was to Hellenize Palestine and to do this he had to stop the temple worship and religious practices of the Jews.

He entered the most holy place and carried off the gold and silver vessels. As if that were not desecration enough, he slaughtered a pig on the altar of the temple before replacing it with a Greek altar.

He declared himself god and called himself "Theos Epiphanes," which means God manifest. He erected his own image in the temple and distributed coins throughout Palestine with his own picture and the inscription "Theos Epiphanes." Antiocus was himself, an abomination that brought the temple worship to an abrupt halt when he defiled the temple, brought a graven image into it and declared himself god.

Indeed, this is a good picture of what will happen when the Antichrist voids his agreement with Israel and commits "the abomination of desolation." Listen to the words of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.

"Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
The false Christ will declare himself God and will enter the temple demanding that Israel worship him. When this happens, Jesus warns all Judea to flee, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).

Daniel says this will happen in the midst of the week or at the mid point of the seven year peace agreement. Three and one-half years after making a peace compact with Israel, the Antichrist will violate the temple, proclaim himself God, demand that Israel worship him and enforce his demands with great tribulation or persecution of Israel.

Those who refuse to worship him will either flee or die and as we will see in a later study those who worship him will receive a mark allowing them to circulate freely in the government established by the Antichrist.

According to Daniel 9:27, the Antichrist will be allowed to continue "Until the consummation," and "Until that determined shall be poured out upon the desolate."

This simply means the Antichrist will be allowed to continue in power until the appointed time when the pre-determined judgments have been poured on Israel, the desolate.

Our Lord speaking in Matthew 23:37-38 said this,

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
This Great Tribulation of Israel or "Time of Jacob's trouble" as Jeremiah 30:7, calls it, has been determined upon Israel. They are the desolate, because they rejected their Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Following is an overview of Daniel's seventieth week that was determined upon Israel:

This seven year period is known as the Tribulation, and it is the beginning of this period that we see in Revelation 6, when the seven sealed scroll is opened by our Lord Jesus Christ. During the first three and one-half years of this Tribulation there will be peace in Israel because of an agreement with the Antichrist. The temple will be rebuilt and the sacrifices and offerings required under the Law of Moses will be re-instituted.

Ignoring Christ's warnings, Israel will feel secure with the agreement. Then, halfway through it the Antichrist will cause the sacrifice and offerings in the temple to cease, making it desolate through abominations. He will enter the temple and proclaim himself god, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 and will begin a program of persecuting the Jews who do not worship him. This will begin what Jeremiah 30:7, called the "Time of Jacob's trouble" and our Lord called "Tribulation, such as was not, since the beginning of the world." It is also called the Great Tribulation.

This Great Tribulation will last for another three and one-half years and will end with the return of Christ in Glory.

We now return to the throne room of the Lord where,

I. John Views the Opening of the First Seal

Notice first, that John is an eye witness of the events he records. His is not hearsay testimony for he writes, "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals" (Revelation 6:1).

John testifies it is the Lamb who opens one of the seals. This is important because it indicates this is the time of judgment. In Revelation 5, we read, the Lamb is alone worthy to remove the scroll from the right hand of the Almighty. This means the authority to judge the earth is committed to the Eternal Son of God who according to Revelation 5:9, has paid for that right with His own blood.

Make no mistake, this is the time when the wrath of God is to be poured on the earth in what we call the Great Tribulation and we know the curtain of time is soon to close because the events leading to the end of the age are now beginning.

Also, notice the Lamb only opened one of the seals. This indicates the opening of the scroll is chronological. The whole of God's judgment is not poured on the earth at once, but one at a time as the seals are opened.

John next tells us what happened after he witnessed the opening of the first seal. "And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder." Just as the noise of thunder often betrays a distant storm we cannot see, John heard the result of the storm that was released upon the earth, when the scroll was opened.

Though he could not yet see the results of opening the seal, he heard out of the thunder "one of the four living creatures saying, come." This is John's invitation to see the results of opening the scroll and it is also our invitation to see the results of the wrath or judgment of God, on the earth.

As we read about the events that will take place on the earth during this dreadful period, keep in mind the structure of the Chapter is very simple. When one of the seals is opened, something happens on the earth. Also, while there are many symbols in the Chapter, the main symbol is the horse and we know from Job 39:19-25, the horse symbolizes aggressive power and courage.

"Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength; he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not dismayed; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage; neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, Ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting."
Also, the horse, the general symbol of power and courage is modified by colors that must be interpreted by the context of the passage.

In Revelation 6:2, John says, "And I saw and, behold, a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering, and to conquer."

Because of the white horse and the crown, many people believe this rider is our Lord Jesus Christ, especially, when they couple this description with that found in Revelation 19:11, describing our Lord coming in Glory, but notice, the riders that follow bring with them war, famine, death, persecutions and anarchy. None of these things will follow the return of our Lord in Glory and the establishment of His Kingdom. He will bring peace, prosperity, freedom from death and sin and a righteous government.

Additionally, we know this is not a reference to His first advent because our Lord did not come on a white horse, wearing a crown. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the only crown He wore was one made of thorns, placed there by the soldiers who crucified Him.

This rider on a white horse is not Christ. He is the personification of the "prince that shall come." He is the Antichrist, predicted by Daniel 9:26. His white horse indicates his coming with peace, which he does with his seven year agreement with Israel. His crown indicates that he is a victor, and he is. He is destined to be the world ruler. A ruler who conquers, but not by military might. Rather, his rise to power is by political means.

Notice, he has a bow, but there is no mention of arrows. This means he holds the threat of military might or "rumors of wars" (indicated by the bow), that causes Israel to agree to his peace pact. He does not use military might (indicated by lack of arrows), to neutralize Israel. According to Daniel, this Antichrist will deceive Israel with the promise of peace.

II. The Opening of the Second Seal

"And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, Come. And there went out another horse that was red; and power was given to him that sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword" (Revelation 6:3-4).
The horse that appears after opening the second seal is red, the color of blood and the rider is given a great sword with which to take peace from the earth, meaning, the opening of the second seal releases war upon the earth. The rider is the same as on the white horse. He is the personification of the Antichrist and now, he is given another tool to afflict the inhabitants of the earth. The tool is war.

Keep in mind, the Antichrist will become the world leader through political means, not through use of military might. He will make a peace agreement with Israel, indicating peace throughout the world, and during the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation there will be peace. But, when the red horse appears, it signifies the Antichrist defiling the temple, betraying Israel and removing peace from the earth.

Our Lord said in Matthew 24:7, that nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. This was a prediction of war among the Gentile nations during the Tribulation. Global conflicts will encompass the earth as nation rises against nation and kingdom against kingdom. This follows the rapture of the Church into heaven and this is the time for the outpouring of God's judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth, who rejected salvation by grace through faith.

Proclaiming himself God, the false Christ will use the sword given him to smite the earth. The "prince" people trusted to bring peace and prosperity to the earth will now show his true colors, as the Lord uses him as an instrument of wrath. Now, there will be no peace until the coming of the Prince of peace, as the "prince that shall come," who first conquered with politics, uses war to gain his objectives.

III. The Opening of the Third Seal

"And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, come. And I beheld and, lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures say, A measure of wheat for a denarius, and three measures of barley for a denarius and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine" (Revelation 6:5-6).
The opening of the third seal releases a black horse upon the earth. Black is symbolic of suffering and suffering is great upon the earth as the result of war is brought to bear. This result is famine. Now, the rider has a balance in his hand, indicating the government of the Antichrist will weigh out the available commodities. Because it is his desire to be worshipped as God, it seems logical that only those who worship him will receive the commodities available during this famine. Even so, life will be reduced to the barest necessities.

Notice, it is the "voice in the midst of the four living creatures," that determines the ration. We know from Revelation 4, it is the Almighty who is surrounded by the four living creatures. Therefore, it is the voice of God, in the midst of the four living creatures that determines the severity of the famine.

To understand how severe this famine will be we need to define some of the terms that are used in Revelation 6:6.

(1) A denarius is the equivalent of a day's wages for the average working person.
(2) A measure is the amount of grain required for one meal.
(3) Oil and wine are not essentials for survival, but represent sumptuous fare.
Therefore, we see in Revelation 6:6, a day's wages will be required to purchase enough wheat for one meal, or if a person buys barley, which is much cheaper, he will have enough for three meals.

Oil and wine are not to be hurt, meaning they will still be plentiful, only they will be unaffordable, because the entire day's wage must go for grain. This indicates there will be no sumptuous living. It will be a time of Spartan existence. The famine will be so severe that a day's work will only buy three basic meals, with nothing left for other things.

In other words, life will be reduced to hard work and bare existence. No doubt, the world's economy will collapse, industry will fold, demand for goods and services will cease to exist as mankind struggles to merely feed itself.

But the conditions on earth get much worse with,

IV. The Opening of the Fourth Seal

"And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say come. And I looked and, behold, a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth" (Revelation 6:7-8).
The opening of the fourth seal brings the "four severe judgments" of Ezekiel 14:12-23. There, God promised that if Israel sinned against Him He would bring four severe judgments upon them. These judgments are: Sword or war; Famine or hunger; Death or pestilence; Evil or wild beasts. He also promised He would save a remnant out of the judgments He brought.

The fourth horse is pale or ghastly and the rider is Death followed by Hell. Here, we see the intentions of the Antichrist. He comes to kill and destroy, because he hates humanity and God that created them.

However, the Almighty is still in control and the false Christ is only given power over a fourth of the earth's population. He will kill them in armed conflicts by the sword, or war and with the results of war. The results of war are: Famine that brings starvation, a direct result of armed conflict; Pestilence or disease brought on by the unsanitary conditions left by war; Attacks by wild beasts on those made homeless by the wars, who are left without protection from nature.

It is a terrible time for earth's inhabitants and for Israel. Death is everywhere because it is the time for God's judgment of wickedness and sin. It is the Great Tribulation.

There is one other thing we need to consider. It is that each of the four horsemen was introduced by one of the four living creatures.

We know from Revelation 4, these living creatures surround the throne of God where day and night they proclaim, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." We also know from Revelation 4, that these living creatures are an order of angelic beings whose purpose is to guard the glory and holiness of God, to praise Him and carry out His directives. Perhaps, their involvement in the opening of the seals is to show the righteousness of the judgments that will come upon the earth.

Also, in Revelation 4:7, we find each of the living creatures has different attributes characterized by a lion, a calf, a man and an eagle, respectively. Perhaps, these represent the primary characteristics required to survive when the "man of sin" appears.

The courage of the lion, represented by the first living creature, will be required to resist the charismatic, political, prowess of the Antichrist.

The patient, endurance of the ox will be required to last through the wars that occur when the red horse is released.

The intelligence of the man, represented by the third living creature, will be required to survive the great famines that come with the black horse.

The swiftness and caution of the eagle will be required to escape the Death and Hell that comes with the pale, fourth horse.

While there are many interpretations of the four horsemen in Revelation 6, the most logical seems to be that they are the personifications of the Antichrist and his effects on the earth during the Tribulation. Keep in mind, he is allowed to appear and is given power by the Lord who is always in sovereign control. The Antichrist is an agent of God's judgment against those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church (represented by John in the Revelation), will see the effects from heaven, not from earth as participants. Also, keep in mind that with the rapture of the Church, the Age of Grace wherein God indwells His people is over and without the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit working through the Church, evil will be unchecked and Satan will ravage mankind on the earth.

Though the Church will be gone, called home to be with the Lord before this terrible time begins, there will be those who come to believe in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, as payment for their sins.

True, they will not be interested until after the Rapture occurs and the events of the Great Tribulation begin, but when they see the Antichrist, killing and destroying humanity in wholesale quantities, they will turn to the Lord.

However, unlike the vast majority of Christians today, who enjoy the hedge of protection the Lord has placed around them, these will not be so fortunate, these will pay a price for their faith. Because the Antichrist is unable to attack the Lord God, he will vent his hatred on God's people.

V. The Opening of the Fifth Seal

"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were 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, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Revelation 6:9-11).
This reveals the results of the unchecked reign of the Antichrist on the Tribulation Saints. Notice, when the fifth seal is opened John "saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain." The appearance of the altar is important to understanding what is happening on the earth at this time.

Under the Law of Moses, the altar was the place where the blood of the sin offering was poured. According to Leviticus 4:7, some of the blood was put upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense and the rest was poured under the altar of burnt offerings. At the altar, the blood of the innocent sacrifice was poured out, on behalf of the sinner foreshadows the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins.

The appearance of the altar speaks of sacrifice and sacrifice indicates innocence, otherwise it is not sacrifice but debt. It then follows that those John saw under the altar have been sacrificed, indicating their innocence. They were not slain because they were guilty of crimes, they were killed because of their faith in the Lord. John says they were slain "for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held." Because they believed the Word of God and lived so as to demonstrate that faith, they were killed or martyred. They were willing to talk the talk and walk the walk and to die for what they believed.

It has often been said the greatest blow Satan delivered to the Church, came when Constantine made "Christianity" the official "religion" of the Roman Empire. Before this edict, Christians suffered tremendously through the reigns of ten different emperors of Rome, each trying to outdo his predecessor in cruelty to Christians.

One of the results of this persecution was that a person had to truly believe in Christ before he was willing to face the wrath of Rome. There was no fame attached to being a Christian. There were no riches to be accrued by using the name of Christ. There were no pedestals on which to stand. On the contrary, persecutions and death awaited those who claimed the name of Christ and only the sincere, unfeigned, desire to see others come to faith in Christ, motivated these early day Christians to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God.

All this changed when Constantine became emperor and made "Christianity" the official "religion" of the Roman Empire. Because the persecutions ceased, it became socially acceptable and sometimes profitable to use the name of the Lord. Almost overnight, Money, fame, and power all became motives for claiming to be a Christian. Many jumped on board for all the wrong reasons and because there were no "costs" attached to claiming the name of Christ, it became difficult or even impossible to know those who were born again and those who were not. False doctrines and false teachers abounded and the pure sweet gospel of Christ became clouded with social and religious issues that continue to this day.

This will not be the case when the Antichrist comes to power. During the Great Tribulation there will again be such open hostility toward God and His people that those who express faith in Him will be "slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held."

This will be a terrible time on earth for God's people, as Satan attempts to extinguish all who come to faith in Christ and Believers will be forced to the acid test of their faith. However, the deaths of those who trust Christ will be a great testimony to encourage others to faith in Him.

In Revelation 6:10, these Tribulation Saints who are martyred ask the age old question, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"

Since time immemorial, God's people have cried to Him for justice and deliverance. In Psalm 31:15, David prayed, "Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from those who persecute me."

Asaph, in Psalm 73, was so concerned about "the prosperity of the wicked," that he said he was "envious" of them and his "steps had almost slipped."

A fellow I know had a favored saying when things did not go right for him. It was, "No good deed goes unpunished," and often it seems that way for Christians. Sometimes, when things are not going well and we see the prosperity of the wicked in the world, we feel as Asaph did when he said, "Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain." Then, we cry, why? Why, Lord, do you allow these things to happen? Why, do you not come and establish your kingdom? Why, do you allow the wicked to prosper in the earth?

The answer is and always will be the same. As 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Very simply, if the curtain of time closed today, there would be billions of people lost for eternity and God is not willing for that to happen. He desires to save all that will be saved.

For this reason the Tribulation Saints are told in Revelation 6:11,

"They should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
God will not stop the Antichrist until many of those who will trust in the true Christ have been ferreted out and killed for their faith.

The prayer of the martyred Saints in Revelation 6:10, is one asking for God to judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge the blood of the Saints. The Lord will answer this prayer, but not until He has effectively used the testimonies of those who are martyred for their faith.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, we find one of the great truths of salvation. Paul, writing to the Church said we have been delivered "from the wrath to come." Part of God's wrath to come, is the outpouring of His judgment on the earth during the Great Tribulation. Because Christ has already suffered the wrath of God, those who place their faith in Him will never do so. Certainly, the Tribulation Saints are included in this salvation.

One of the ways God will shield those who come to faith during the Tribulation, from His wrath, is through death. Death as martyrs is the doorway God has chosen to bring them into His presence. Had these chosen to trust Christ for salvation before the Rapture of the Church, they would not suffer persecutions or death at the hand of the Antichrist. Because they waited, this is the price they will pay for their faith, but it is also the way God shields them from His wrath.

It is true, the entire Tribulation is the time for the outpouring of God's judgment, but so far the judgments have come through the Antichrist who has been given more and more power with the opening of the seals.

Because we know salvation is always by grace through faith, people being saved during this period demonstrates God still being gracious. However, this will end after many who come to faith in Christ are martyred. The Lord will then pour His wrath upon the unrepentant inhabitants of the earth and it will be too late for salvation.

VI. The Opening of the Sixth Seal

"And I beheld, when he had opened the sixth seal and, lo, 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 unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places" (Revelation 6:12-14).
This day of God's wrath begins with the Lord removing His control of the universe. Those who believe the Big Bang Theory would do well to read this portion of God's Word.

The forces that hold the continents of the earth together are not accidental. The energy of the sun is not inexhaustible. The stars and planets are not held in place by some chance arrangement. The Lord God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth is the sole force behind the order of the universe and when He removes His mighty hand, chaos, not order is the result.

There will be a great earthquake that shakes the very foundations of the earth and results in the mountains and islands being moved out of their places. The heavenly bodies will break from their orbits and fall toward the earth, giving the effect of a scroll being rolled up as the heavenly bodies depart.

The sun will darken as the gases that form it are exhausted and not replaced. The moon that reflects the light from the sun will become the color of blood or red, indicating the dimness of the sun.

The results of these events will be catastrophic and will destroy the social order on the earth, according to Revelation 6:15-17.

"And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens 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 that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"
Apparently, the earthquake and barrage of heavenly bodies bombarding the earth will destroy all that mankind has built upon the earth. From the mighty pyramids to the grass huts of the Aborigines, all man made shelter will be ruined and all people, regardless of class, will seek refuge in caves and among rocks. The darkened sun and moon will leave people groping in perpetual darkness and temperatures will surely plummet without the heat from the sun.

It is interesting that the hyper-ecologists of our day have managed to have the use of certain refrigerants banned because they think the ozone is being depleted, which will result in global warming. Perhaps, they did not read this portion of the Word of God or if they did, they do not believe it.

Mankind's problem with the sun will not be too much of it. Rather, the problem will be not enough sunshine to penetrate the darkness and warm the planet.

Though there may be misunderstanding or unbelief concerning the Word of God and His program today, when the events contained in the sixth seal are released upon the earth, there will be no doubts in people's minds. They will seek to hide from the face of the righteous and Holy God and they will know that the great day of His wrath has come.

VII. Conclusion

Revelation 6:17, asks, "For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" This concluding question must be answered with a resounding, none! No one can stand against the wrath of God because He is God. One of the purposes of the Great Tribulation is to demonstrate with certainty, that God's wrath against sin cannot be stopped by anyone or anything, outside faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 6, and the opening of the first six seals summarizes the events that will occur during the Tribulation and is a basic outline of what will happen on the earth between the Rapture of the Church and the second coming of Christ to establish His Kingdom.

From "Understanding The Apocalypse"
A book of sermons by Pastor Jim McColloch, Th.M., Th.D.
© Copyright 1994, 1999, 2006