There are three sets of seven judgments in the Book of Revelation—seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls. There is, however, a rather strange difference between the seals and the other two sets of judgments. Each of the seals is opened by the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Each of the trumpet and bowl judgments is activated by angels.
The determination of who could open the seals begins in Revelation 5, where the question is asked, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” (Revelation 5:2). The answer came quickly: “And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it” (Revelation 5:3).
John wept with concern that no one was qualified to open the scroll and loose its seals, but then one of the twenty-four elders also looking on told him, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” He was naming the Lord Jesus Christ, as the narrative continues to identify Him and His qualifications in that chapter.
In Chapter 6, then, we see that He opens six of the seals in due course, and then, the seventh one at the beginning of chapter 8 to introduce the seven trumpet judgments handed out by angels. Chapter 7, like chapter 12 and others, is a sidebar-like narrative of developments along the chronological pathway of judgments that were to come. The three sets of judgments appear to be the backbone of the seven-year period, and are fleshed out, so to speak, with these sidebar narratives.
However, the seal judgments are different, so highlighted by the fact that the Lamb of God is the one who opens each of the seals. The four horsemen and the subsequent descriptions of the wrath of God appear to be an overview of the remainder of the specific judgments. It is as if the Lord is giving His authority to the angels who hand out the trumpet and bowl judgments, the details of what has been captioned in the six seals with the seventy activating the specific judgments.
Let’s look at those seals as they are opened.
The first one’s opening is described by John like this:
“Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer” (Revelation 6:1-2).
This person on the white horse, a symbolic picture, no doubt, is the central character in the unfolding drama of the Book of Revelation. He is identified in Daniel 9:26-27 as the one with heritage links to ancient Rome, and who would “confirm a covenant with many” to begin a seven-year tailspin of events and judgments leading to the physical return of Christ to reign on the earth for a thousand years. Daniel foretold it like this:
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.
“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
This matter of abominations and desolations is wheat Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:15+16:
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
There is no indication whatsoever that Titus and his troops were interested in anything but getting at the gold between the stones of the temple, in which case they left not one stone upon another, just as Jesus predict4ed in Matthew 24:1-2. There are those who that Titus fulfilled that prophecy of Daniel and Jesus, but sit will not come about until the Antichrist enters the holy place and declares himself God at the mid-point of the seven years of tribulation.
Earlier Daniel had been told that seventy years of judgment had been allocated for Israel, and this passage tells us that sixty-nine of those years were finished at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. (An initial period of seven weeks occurred prior to these sixty-two noted here.)
It was a strange way of counting weeks of years instead of days, but it calculates out that way. One more week of years, or seven years, was uncounted and it appears the seven-year, or one week, for which the covenant covered is this lagging seven years.
It is important to note that this “prince” who has kinship with the Romans who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 A.D. is the one who will apparently instigate the covenant’s confirmation, which is yet future. We will refer to this again.
When the Lord opens that first seal, a white horse is seen, and the person on it has a bow but no arrows. When that person confirms the covenant, essentially a peace agreement with Israel, he heads right out to sell his peace treaty as the champion of peace. The “many” who confirmed the covenant with him were members of the United Nations, no doubt. His goal, however, is to complete the mission of a New World Order that would usher in a one-world government.
It is interesting that the man is “given a crown,” not one earned by him. However, when Christ appears on His white horse at the end of the seven years, He has on His head “many crown.” (The original King James Version calls them diadems, and that caused me to miss the significance of it for many years) The question is, where did Jesus get all those crowns? Of course, it was when the raptured saints, represented by the twenty-four elders, were given those crowns at the rewards ceremony recorded in Revelation 1, and they laid them at the feet of the Lord Jesus! That is one more piece of evidence in favor of the pre-tribulation rapture position.
When Daniel, looking ahead, foretold of a beast having four heads, he identified those heads as successive reigning kingdoms ruling the world. The beast that John saw, rising up out of the sea, had seven heads, but the seventh was not yet formed. It was for the future. Daniel’s fourth head, or kingdom, was the one in which John lived. Two such kingdoms came before Daniel’s time, Assyria and Egypt.
Revelation 17:8 further identifies that seventh head of the beast John saw: “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition.” The coming one-world government is the kingdom represented by that seventh head which was not yet formed in John’s vision.
The man on the white horse, who links back to the sixth head of the beast, Rome, is going forth “conquering and to conquer” in his goal of establishing that world government. He is identified with the beast, but strictly speaking, he is not the beast, though many say that he is so, even at the first appearance in Revelation 13:1-2.
Because of that “same as” identification, Bible prophecy teachers make a telling mistake, in my opinion. They assume that the person, the Antichrist, suffers a mortal wound, dies, then rises again in three days to emulate Christ and thereby deceive the people. The truth is that those left behind at the Rapture will not have been prepared for such an event, and God says, “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…” (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
However, there is no Scripture that supports any part of that scenario. The Scripture says, “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast” (Revelation 13:8). One of his heads is mortally wounded. How many heads does the Antichrist have? No, the only head that could be the one meant is that sixth head, Rome of old, the kingdom that ruled the world when John lived. The first five heads, or kingdoms, had long ago faded into history, and that seventh head was not yet formed. So, the kingdom of Rome died, but out of the shadows of history there comes one who is scripturally and historically linked to that regime and who will be the central figure for its resurrection as the seventh head of the beast.
Note this in Revelation 17:10-11:
“There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.”
The Antichrist will work behind the open frontage of government entity, but will soon tire of that and will shut down that New World Order and its one-world government and take over completely—the eighth head of the beast, truly personified.
No doubt but what this is the time, halfway through the seven years of the tribulation period, when “…in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering” (Daniel 9:27) “…and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
There we have the continuity of the man on the white horse, “conquering and to conquer” as he completes his role in the end-time scenario. (The “perdition” he is headed for, along with his false prophet, also alluded to in Revelation 17:9, is to burn forever and ever in the lake of fire, according to Revelation 19:20.)
In order to have a one-world government there must not be any nation states having their own sovereignty. The prophetic purpose of God is for that to happen, as Scripture reveals. The Rapture event will effectively end America’s sovereignty, if not so already, and in the working of a time-table that only God could accomplish, the Gog-Magog war will eliminate Russia, Iran (Persia) and the other Islamic nations joining with them.
Without much thinking on it over the years, like others, perhaps, I read about the seven seals and assumed each horseman came out, did his thing, then faded back into the shadows in favor of the next one to appear. That actually makes no sense, for once the seven years begins, it opens with the sudden destruction that accompanies the disappearance of millions of believers in the Rapture. Absolute terror will rule the world at that time. The riders on the symbolic red, black and pale horses, representing warfare, starvation and desolation, and death, will continue, wall-to-wall, for the remainder of the tribulation period.
In that first three and one-half years, the Antichrist will be busy eliminating the sovereignty of individual nations and organizing them into ten regions of the world, the ten toes of Daniel’s statue in his dream. The Jews will be rebuilding their temple and reinstating its sacrifices. As revealed in Revelation 7, God will ordain 144,000 Jewish missionaries wo will lead millions to believe in the Messiah, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, as Matthew 24:14 declares: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” This means Israel will have recognized Jesus as their true Messiah, just as Zechariah 12:10 declares:
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
The two witnesses, quite possibly Moses and Elijah, will be on hand for that half of the time as vivid reminders in Jerusalem of God’s ultimate coming judgment.
When the man of sin enters the temple, cancels the covenant and shuts down the sacrifices and offerings at midpoint of the seven years, death and destruction will reign with fury. The mark of the beast will be fully activated and worship of any other than that man of sin will not be tolerated. In Revelation 12 we are told in a sidebar narrative how Satan is cast out of heaven and is like a raging red dragon. As a spirit, he has no body of his own, so he will indwell the Antichrist, and in that mode he will enter the temple and declare himself God. It is just as he envisioned in Isaiah 14:13-14:
“For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’”
The fifth seal opened to reveal the many martyrs who will be losing their lives over the seven-year period. Notable are those described in Revelation 7:9-17.
The sixth seal, then, summarizes the massive upheavals and destruction in the physical heavens and earth, especially during that last half of the time.
The opening of the seventh seal merely gives authority for the sounding of those trumpet judgments, as recorded in Revelation 8.
As a tag to this analysis of these seals, we should consider what might be the “times and seasons” for the beginning of such things. To the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).
With no need of embellishment, the evidence of major uncertainties and difficult times approaching brings us to a vivid realization that we must make sure our sins are forgiven and our salvation is secure in the Lord.
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