Seals 1 – 4
Revelation Chapter Four
This chapter begins with the prophet seeing a vision of the Almighty seated on His throne. In Jehovah’s (Yahweh’s) right hand the prophet sees a scroll which is sealed with seven seals. The only one in the universe who is qualified to open the sealed scroll is Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God). He is symbolised as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). The heavenly hosts around the Almighty’s throne rejoice at the fact that at last someone has been found worthy to open the scroll and tell its contents. From this we may infer that the angelic host are intensely eager to learn about the future of those things which must shortly come to pass. Oh that the church on earth would display a similar interest in the sealed scroll and the future of humanity. It is true, multitudes are apparently interested in the future, because great sums of money are spent each week by people who consult witches, fortune tellers, astrologers and mystics of every shade and type; but how few, by comparison, consult the Word of God or study the prophecies in order to find out what the Almighty says about the future? How very few!
We trust that when you have thoroughly studied this booklet, you will have taken a great step forward in understanding what the real future holds in store for humanity at large and for yourself in particular. And though the knowledge of it may initially fill you with dread, you may be sure that if you place your trust in the Almighty and do His will, your fears will gradually give way to a growing sense of confidence, a confidence that will stand you in good stead when the terrors of the last days begin to occur in your neighbourhood.
The First Seal … A White Horse
|2 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.|
Here we are shown the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the White Horse. The rider on the white horse carries a bow and goes forth conquering and to conquer. This means that he is victorious and invincible; nothing can halt his advance. Before we explain what the white horse represents, let us first draw the reader’s attention to the FIRST CLUE to understanding Bible prophecy. It is comparing scripture with scripture: of letting the Bible interpret itself; of searching for the meaning of one obscure passage in another part of the Bible which describes the same subject or event in a simplified way.
It is perfectly obvious that there is only one future, and it follows that no matter how many Bible prophecies there may be concerning the future, they cannot contradict each other and still all be correct. Therefore, if one prophet describes the future in symbolic language in one book, and another tells of the same future in another part of the scriptures in simple language, a comparison of one scripture with the other will obviously direct us to the real meaning.
To help us understand the symbolic language of the Revelation we will first consider another Bible prophecy describing the same end-time scenes in simple language. The prophecy we will look at is our Lord’s famous Olivet prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. In that prophecy the Master spoke of the end-time, the period in earth’s history which occurs just prior to his return to earth. The Olivet prophecy is in plain language with a minimum of symbolic references. The order of events in the Saviour’s plain language prediction, therefore, ought to be similar to those described in symbolic language in the Revelation, for both prophecies deal with the same events in the last days. When we examine the two prophecies side by side, that is exactly what we find. One complements the other, explains and fills in details which the other lacks: and together they provide us with a detailed picture of the world’s future as it will occur just before the Master returns to earth.
Using this method of allowing one scripture to interpret another, we find that the white horse of Revelation 6 corresponds with the Saviour’s warning message in Matthew 24.4-5
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.
This is plainly a WARNING message: Take heed! says the Master. The vast majority of Bible prophecies are in a sense warning messages, given by the Almighty to warn people of approaching punishment or danger. In order to warn effectively, a prophet must do at least two things:
- He must warn of error and its consequences.
- And he must point to the Truth and a way of escape.
This is what the Master is doing in Matthew 24.4.
He is opening his truth-filled warning message with the words ‘Take heed!’ and he closes by pointing to a way of escape. The prophecy of the Seven Seals is no different; for, like the great prophecy in Matthew 24, it begins with a truth-filled warning message symbolised by the invincible rider on the white horse and goes on to point to a way of escape.
The colour white represents purity and truth. (Isaiah 1:18, Rev. 19:8) The rider on the white horse corresponds to the Messiah’s truth-filled, warning message of ‘take heed’ in Matthew 24.4. This rider symbolises God’s Invincible Truth, which by its very existence warns us to beware (take heed) of deception and counterfeit in the church: the counterfeit baptism of the Holy Spirit, the counterfeit Sabbaths being celebrated by believers, the counterfeit messiah that is shortly to arrive on the world scene and the counterfeit Bibles which are currently being foisted on unsuspecting Christendom.
The rider on the white horse is even now galloping across the globe and there is no power in the universe that can check his advance. Yahweh’s Truth is currently demolishing the strongholds of human ignorance and error and there is scarcely a country on earth where the light of the gospel has not begun to shine. People may, of course, choose not to believe God’s Truth, but there is absolutely no way any person or government can stop its advance. Yes, the events under the first seal have already begun.
The Second Seal … A Red Horse
|4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.|
In this seal the symbolic language used is almost self explanatory. The rider on the red horse, we are told, was ‘given a great sword’ and power was given to him to ‘take peace from the earth.’ Clearly this rider represents bloodshed and war; for red is the colour of blood and a sword is the universally accepted symbol of war. And that is exactly how the Master put it when he followed his take heed warning with:
|7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.|
One doesn’t need great spiritual insight to recognise in this verse a picture of our day. Violence, bloodshed, revolution and international turmoil are now commonplace and global war is a constant threat. The world, it seems, is glutting itself on an ever-increasing diet of violence, carnage and death; with each blood-bath being dwarfed by the enormity of the next. Read any daily newspaper, switch to any radio or TV station and the same, sad catalogue of violence and bloodshed fills the news. And always, above and behind it all, there lurks that fearful spectre of a nuclear war a war which could well nigh obliterate life from this planet.
What’s more, all the efforts of world leaders, politicians, economists, scientists and even the theologians of all the faiths, cannot stem the tide of slaughter which is threatening to engulf mankind. Nothing, it seems, anyone can say or do can prevent the on-coming holocaust. Only the Almighty can stem this tide of evil which He so accurately predicted so long ago. Yes, there is little doubt, the second horseman of the Apocalypse, the rider on the red horse, like the white horse before him, is even now breaking into a gallop; and the thunder of his hoof beats can be heard around the world.
Power was given unto him to take peace from the earth, said the divine messenger, and oh how true those fearsome words have proved to be. Peace on earth is a vanishing memory and war is taking its place. The prophet Jeremiah also predicted war on a world-wide scale. (Jeremiah 25:15-38)
The Third Seal … A Black Horse
|5: And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6: And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
From the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, we learn that a denarius (translated ‘penny’ in this verse) was then the ordinary wage for a day’s work. (Matthew 20:2-13)
Here we are shown a symbolic picture of hyper-inflation, crippling food shortages, rising prices and mass starvation! The rider on the black horse represents famine world famine! when food prices for even the barest of life’s necessities will sky-rocket out of control. Can you imagine the world’s economy so depressed that a man would work all day for the price of a few loaves of bread? I’m sure that not many of us can imagine this happening, even though rising food prices are all too familiar. But, according to this prophecy, runaway inflation coupled with frightening food shortages are due to occur in the last days. Indeed, in many countries they have already arrived, Prices are rising daily in all the markets of the world and there is very little anyone or any government can do to stop them.
The rider on the black horse may not be moving at speed in the West, but I can assure you that in the East, in South America and Africa he is out there in the field and he is soon to break into an earthshaking gallop. Famines generally follow war. In this and the Olivet prophecy Yeshua the Saviour confirms this when he says:
|7 Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there shall be famines.|
The Fourth Seal … A Pale Horse
|8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell 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.|
The colour of the fourth horse is given as deathly pale or sickly, yellowish green. Again comparing the Revelation with the Master’s Olivet prophecy we find that the sickly pale horse symbolises pestilence: deadly disease epidemics and plagues that so quickly lay low millions of humans engulfed in war and famine. This is not to mention the agricultural pestilence (pests) that periodically wreck havoc on our farms. When the pale horse breaks into a gallop it will appear as though the finely tuned forces of nature have become dislodged. Disease epidemics of all kinds will sweep across the globe bringing death to millions of people, their cattle and their crops. The severe food shortages pictured by the black horse will most certainly exacerbate the problem of pestilence, as the world’s population, weakened by war and famine, struggles to keep alive. To be sure, the rider on the pale horse has begun to ride and death is following closely at his heels.
Summary of the First Four Seals
- FIRST there is the white horse: the Almighty’s truth-filled, warning message! which exposes the various spiritual counterfeits that abound in our day.
- SECOND there is the red horse: whose rider wields a great sword which symbolises violence, revolution, bloodshed and – war!
- THIRD there is the black horse: which pictures hyper-inflation, sky-rocketing food prices and mass starvation – famine!
- And FOURTH the sickly pale, yellowish-green horse: which stands for disease epidemics and plagues on an international scale – pestilence!.
WAR, FAMINE, PESTILENCE, that terrifying trio which invariably overtakes civilisations given to sin. Reading through the prophecies of the Bible one can hardly fail to recognise the fact that warnings rejected are always followed by war, famine and pestilence; for that is the Almighty’s way of dealing with those who persistently ignore His truth and reject His commandments.
|12…I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.|
|10 And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.|
The great prophet Jeremiah analysed the messages of all the prophets of God that had gone before him and summarised their work in these telling words:
|8 The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.|
Oh yes, divine warning is the opening theme of almost every Bible prophecy, and when rejected is always followed by war, famine and pestilence. But will mankind ever take heed and recognise this fact, that if warnings are rejected there always follows war, famine and pestilence? It is doubtful. People, it seems, are quite unable or unwilling to link national calamity with national sin. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have, nonetheless, begun to ride, and as described in Revelation.
|8 Power was given them over a fourth part of the earth
to kill with SWORD with HUNGER and with DEATH.
Seals 5 & 6
|9 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:
10: 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?
11: 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 fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Here we are shown religious persecutions involving two groups of martyrs; a) the early martyrs who were slain for their faith before the four horsemen had taken the field, and b) the end-time martyrs who are to be slain after the horsemen (war, famine, and pestilence) have begun to ride.
The Early Martyrs
These are the martyrs who died before the 20th century, died in their millions during the period known as the ‘dark ages.’ They died, we are told, ‘for the Word of God’ and ‘for their testimony.’ The blood of these martyrs has still not been avenged; nor are they rejoicing in heaven right now. Instead they were each given a white robe (accredited with the righteousness of Jesus) and told to rest, to wait for a little season till another great martyrdom took place.
The End-time Martyrs
These martyrs would be killed ‘as they (the early martyrs) were.’ In other words they would be martyred for the very same reason that the early martyrs died: that is, for the Word of God (the Bible) and their testimony. In short, the martyrdom under the fifth seal pictures an end-time martyrdom, a persecution of believers in our day! There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that in some countries this end-time persecution has already begun. But it is scheduled to intensify and will no doubt reach the free West in due course.
In his Olivet prophecy the Master also places this final martyrdom after the wars, famines and pestilence that are symbolised by the red, black and pale horses. He said this:
|9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10: And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
The scene for this end-time persecution, which culminates in the death of many leading believers, is already set. Satanic forces are even now undermining the faith of many Christians in the real Word of God and love within the brotherhood is fading away. Jealousy, hatred, slander and outright rejection are all too common in the churches today and many believers are giving up their faith altogether. Added to this sad reality is the fact that the real Word of God, the genuine Bible, is being jettisoned in favour of scores of counterfeit Bibles!
Those who cling to the real Word of God will soon be a target for persecution.
Take warning dear reader that you are not deceived by Satan into rejecting the Word of God or into harbouring hatred in your heart towards fellow Christians; especially those who seek to do the Almighty’s will. Because jealousy and slander are the stepping stones to betrayal; and betrayal is but one step away from a true believer’s martyrdom. When that end-time tribulation arrives in your area it will test the faith of every believer almost to the point of destruction. But God in His infinite mercy has decreed that many will be saved through it all; be saved to stand in faultless splendour before the soul-searching gaze of the Almighty God!
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matt. 24:13)
That is, those who refuse to give up their faith in the Almighty, even though they may be called to give up their lives for Him. This end-time persecution is upon us, so do not be surprised when it starts in your neighbourhood. We are happy to report, however, that not all the church is scheduled for martyrdom. Many will be spared and be miraculously protected from the onslaught of the Evil One. They will live unscathed through the very worst Satan can do and will stand before God in faultless splendour in that last day. This reassuring prospect will be looked at again when we examine Revelation chapters 9, 12 and 13.
The Sixth Seal
|12 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 as blood;
13: 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.
14: And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15: And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16: 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:
17: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Speaking of these same events in Matthew’s gospel the Master said this:
|Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.|
The prophet Joel writing of this same period wrote:
|30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
32: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
In the sixth seal the reader is given a preview of that same end-time celestial display. It will be witnessed throughout our galaxy. The language of these prophecies seems to indicate that besides their spiritual counterparts, these signs will also be literally fulfilled. In other words, the whole earth will be shaken to its very foundations; the literal mountains will heave and swell like the waves of the restless sea and every island will be shifted from its primeval moorings.
|23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
24: I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
25: I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
26: I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and ALL the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
Panic, blind, uncontrollable panic will sweep across the globe when the events under the 6th seal occur. Earth’s terror-stricken inhabitants will incorrectly conclude that the universe is beginning to disintegrate. The sun, we are told, will become black as sackcloth. It will disappear for a short period of time and the moon will glow like blood. Falling stars (meteorites) in their thousands will criss-cross the sky and the heavens will be rolled back as a scroll. In that day, every man, woman and child the world over will be filled with the fear of the Almighty and nobody will then doubt his existence. Indeed, all mankind will realise that the day of God’s wrath has arrived. (Rev. 6:17)
The events under this seal have obviously not yet happened. Admittedly there have been a few isolated instances in history when unusually large numbers of meteorites have been sighted from certain parts of the globe, or when the sun was darkened for a few hours; but it is forcing the issue to suggest that those local happenings are the fulfilment of this awesome 6th seal, because they are not.
Why not? Simply because all the events under the 6th seal are to occur more or less at the same time, and will be witnessed by the entire population of the earth.
- A global earthquake
- The darkened sun
- The blood-red moon
- The dislodged mountains and islands
- The falling stars and the vanishing sky.
All these signs happen concurrently and that has never happened before: nor has the world’s population ever exhibited the kind of blind panic described in Revelation 6:16 when mankind en-mass cried out:
‘…Hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne,
and from the wrath of the Lamb.
Wait for the 6th seal. It is still future. When it occurs Yahweh’s true followers will be galvanised into action. Gone forever will be their reticence in proclaiming the Gospel to the unconverted. Gone too their need to even convince people of the existence of God and His Son, the symbolic Lamb. For after the earthshaking events of the 6th seal, all the world will acknowledge the existence of the Almighty God and the prospect of the soon-coming Day of Judgement.
For the great day of his wrath is come;
and who shall be able to stand?
Oh yes, the world’s population will accept the fact that the Messiah exists; but it will be an acceptance born of terror, not of love. Nevertheless, it is part of the Almighty’s plan to give mankind a final opportunity to choose between right and wrong, between obedience and sin, between the worship of Yahweh as specified in His commandments and the worship of Satan which manifests itself in various human traditions. That final appeal, that end-time work of inviting mankind to accept Yahweh’s authority will reach its climax immediately after the 6th seal, after the state of widespread chaos and panic already described. It will be a unique message, a special end-time work concentrating on one aspect of the Everlasting Gospel, the Seal of the Living God!
The unique message concerning the Seal of God is programmed to go to all the world between the 6th and 7th seals. Indeed, its importance can only be appreciated when one considers that the events of the 7th seal are held up till that special message has reached the whole world. In Revelation chapter 7 that unique, end-time message is introduced. We will now turn our attention to that chapter and examine it carefully; not forgetting that the 7th seal has still to be opened.
File 4 of 12
Sealing of the 144,000
|1: And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2: And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3: Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
4: And I heard the number of them which were sealed:
and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
After reading this passage the first question that comes to mind is: What is the Seal of God? According to the dictionary, a seal is a legal instrument, a device that makes a ratifying impression on wax or some other receptive substance to prove that it is genuine. The word ‘seal’ in this context is synonymous with an owner’s name, his signature, his sign, his stamp, his brand or identification mark.
Yahweh’s Seal, in other words, represents His name, His signature, His stamp of ownership, the ratifying sign He seeks to place in the foreheads of His followers. The forehead represents the mind, the seat of a person’s intellect, allegiance and faith. We are told in this chapters 7 and 14 that 144,000 believer’s will accept the Father’s Seal or Name in their foreheads. This means they will willingly accept Yahweh’s ratifying seal in their minds. They will believe it, remember it, bear it in mind and be willing to live by it. Obviously they will be moved to this high degree of acceptance by the Holy Spirit. But do not make the mistake of supposing that the Holy Spirit is God’s Seal, because He isn’t. A believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit with the Seal of God, just as a sheep is marked by a shepherd with a special mark. But the shepherd is not the mark any more than the Holy Spirit is the seal.
The Holy Spirit of God is the Agent who does the sealing, but the Holy Spirit is not the Seal. What, then, is the Seal or Sign of Yahweh the God of Israel? To find out we will again resort to that reliable guideline of allowing the scriptures to interpret themselves. When we do this we find that Yahweh’s Seal, the identifying sign he places in the minds of followers is His LAW. Yes, the law of God is the Almighty’s seal and the Sabbath commandment in His law is the unique, ratifying SIGN (signature) the Almighty places in the minds of His followers, to signify to the universe that they are His special people.
In other words, God’s people are to be signed and sealed with obedience. Here is proof of this astonishing fact.
|16 Bind up the testimony, says God, seal the law among my disciples.|
|10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.|
|13: Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a SIGN between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.|
|12: Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a SIGN between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. …
20: And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God.
|9: And it shall be for a SIGN unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.|
|16: This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;|
These texts clearly prove that Yahweh’s law, and the Sabbath commandment in His law, constitutes the identifying seal and signature He places in the minds of His followers. Consequently, when a believer remembers them, bears them in mind and keeps the Almighty’s commandments, especially His Sabbath commandments, he/she is in effect declaring to the universe that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is his/her Father. And what, you may well ask, are the Almighty’s Sabbath commandments?
The answer is:
- They are the True Weekly Sabbath recorded in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11)
- And the Seven Annual Sabbaths mentioned in Leviticus chapter 23. Together with the true seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), these annual Sabbath days constitute the signature (sign) of Yahweh, the Creator of the universe.
If you would like to know more about the Sabbaths of the Almighty and about the Sacred Calendar which He is currently using to organise His work, write to us for our free booklet entitled The Sacred Calendar of the God of Israel.
When , you may well ask, does the sealing of the 144,000 take place? The answer is, the sealing begins shortly after the 6th seal and finishes just before the 7th seal. Indeed, the events of the 7th seal (the hurting of the earth, the sea and the trees etc.) are held up till the sealing of the 144,000 is finished,
|1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2: And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3: Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
The four winds which are scheduled to hurt the earth, the sea and the trees are not merely physical winds like hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons etc. They are far more than that. These ‘winds’ also represent the enormous spiritual authority and power angel or spirit-beings possess. Spirit-beings are themselves often referred to in the Scriptures as ‘winds’ and even the work of God’s Spirit is likened to a ‘wind.’
|8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.|
The four angels are granted authority to hurt, that is to wreck havoc upon the earth, the sea, the trees and the grass once the sealing of the 144,000 is finished. And in measured onslaughts of destruction that is exactly what we will find them doing at the 7th seal. See Trumpets 1 to 3 later.
The Innumerable Multitude
Besides the 144,000 commandment keeping Israelites who are sealed, and this number will certainly include many Gentile believers who are grafted in the Olive of Israel, (Romans 11:17-24) the prophet sees another mighty throng an innumerable multitude from every nation, kindred, tongue and people. (Rev. 7:9)
It is not specified in chapter 7 whether or not these believers accept the Almighty’s Seal at the same time as do the 144,000. But this much is certain, they will eventually all come around to keeping the commandments of God; and that includes the keeping of His weekly and annual Sabbath days. Here is proof of this amazing fact:
|13: And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14: And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15: Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16: They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17: For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Note the words, these are they which came out of the great tribulation. These believers, in other words go through the tribulation or at least part of it. We are expressly told that they shall hunger and thirst no more, implying that they had already experienced hunger and thirst during the tribulation. Remember this important point.
The prophecy goes on to say that they washed their robes. What does this mean? It means that through the merits and power of the blood (life) of the Saviour these believers now begin to keep the commandments. The figurative phrase ‘wash their robes’ in chapter 7 is translated ‘do the commandments‘ in Revelation 22.14. The innumerable host, in other words, will begin to keep the commandments of God. They will clean up their lives (wash their robes) by bringing them into line with the high and holy standards of Yahweh’s law.
If this multitude hadn’t accepted the claims of God’s law at the time of the sealing, they will most certainly do so shortly after during the tribulation. That is what these Scriptures are impliedly saying.
The Blood of the Lamb
What does this phrase mean? Blood is life. It also symbolises life. (Lev. 17:14, Deut. 12:23) The blood of the Lamb, therefore, symbolises the life giving power of the Messiah the Lamb of God. Washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, in short, is a symbolic way of saying that this innumerable multitude of believers would begin to keep the commandments of God, accomplishing the seemingly impossible feat by the sanctifying power of the living Messiah. In their own strength it would have, of course, been utterly impossible to attain the high and holy standards required by God’s law. But when aided by the power of the blood, the wonder-working, sanctifying and cleansing power of the Messiah’s matchless life, they will reach the required standard of obedience. They will be pure, holy and perfect. Figuratively speaking they will then be clothed in white robes .
As the old hymn POWER IN THE BLOOD puts it:
Would you be free from your burden of sin?
There is power in the blood, power in the blood?
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There is wonderful power in the blood.
Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There is power in the blood, power in the blood.
Sin stains are lost in its life-giving flow.
There is wonderful power in the blood.
Note that the innumerable multitude of blood-washed believers is not in heaven at the moment. Nor will they be caught away to heaven before the great tribulation, as some suppose. We are plainly told in verses 14-17 that they will come out of the great tribulation after having experienced hunger, thirst and the great heat of the sun. And only after that terrible time, after they have washed their robes (begun to keep the commandments) will they stand before the throne of God. Then it shall come to pass that God will wipe away all tears from their eyes and the Lamb shall lead them to fountains of living waters. The word shall is repeated several times in this passage and it clearly places the fulfilment of this part of the prophecy after the great tribulation.
In view of these texts, and there are others, there is obviously no truth in the popular theory about the church being secretly caught away to heaven before the tribulation. In this chapter we can plainly see that an innumerable host of Gentile believers will be on earth during the tribulation. See The Secret Rapture
Summary of Chapter 7.
- The chapter briefly tells of that unique, end-time work of God the sealing work.
- The sealing work will begin after the fearsome events of the 6th seal have occurred: that is, after the great earthquake, after the sun is darkened, after the mountains and the islands have moved, and after the sky is rolled back as a scroll and after world-wide panic overtakes the peoples of the world. (Rev. 6:12-17)
- The sealing work must however be finished before the 7th seal starts: that is, before the four angels begin to hurt the earth, the sea and the trees. (Rev. 7:1-3)
- The Seal of Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel is His law, and the Sabbath days in His law represent His signature. They are the divine, identifying SIGN of sanctification which the Holy Spirit places in the minds of believers willing to obey Him. (Eze. 20:12 & 20, Isa. 8:16)
- 144,000 believers accept Yahweh’s Seal in their minds. They are Israelites, but some Gentile believers willing to obey the Almighty’s commandments are numbered among them. (Rev. 7 and Romans 11:17-24)
- The innumerable multitude from all nations will suffer hunger, thirst and scorching heat of the sun during the great tribulation. But they will eventually come out of it and wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. That is, they too will begin to keep the commandments of God and will accomplish this seemingly impossible feat by the life-giving power of the Son of God.
- At the end of the great tribulation they will stand in the presence of the Almighty. And then God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. (Rev. 7:13-17)
The Seventh Seal
Let us now return to the mainstream of the prophecy, back to the seals. The 7th seal, remember, has still to be opened. Chapter seven was inserted between the 6th and 7th seals simply because that is when the sealing work will occur in the stream of time. But once the 144,000 are sealed, the four angels standing at the four corners of the earth are allowed to release the four winds which will hurt the earth, the sea and the trees. The hurting of the earth, the sea and the trees is in fact the beginning of the 7th seal.
The 7th seal is divided into seven sub-sections, each introduced by a Trumpet blast. The seven Trumpets, in other words, constitute the 7th seal; they are the 7th seal in terrifying detail.
Remember this important point, for great confusion will result if the seven seals and the seven trumpets are treated as two separate prophecies. The 7th seal is introduced with these words:
|1: And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
2: And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
The First Trumpet
|7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.|
At this Trumpet, mighty continents housing millions of human beings will be devastated by hail and fire mingled with blood. Similar scenes, though on a much smaller scale, were witnessed in ancient times at the destruction of Sodom and Egypt. (Gen. 19:24, Exodus 9:24) The God of Israel then literally rained hail and fire on mankind because of their grievous sins and stubborn refusal to acknowledge His authority. The same thing is due to happen at the 1st Trumpet. We are also told that one third of the world’s forests and all the green grass will be burnt up. As foretold in Rev. 7. 1-3 the four winds are beginning to hurt the earth and the trees.
What these events do to the agricultural output of the world is difficult to imagine: but it is quite obvious that this 1st Trumpet ushers in the terrible Time of Trouble! a time of international turmoil and terror unparalleled in the history of humanity.
The Second Trumpet
|8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9: And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
At this Trumpet one third of the earth’s oceans will congeal like the blood of a dead man. The sea, like the earth and trees before it, is being hurt as foretold in Rev. 7.1-3. All the traffic on the ocean/s involved will stop; and all the fish in those waters will perish. In addition to these immediate effects, there will be other awesome repercussions, such as freak weather conditions, lack of rain water, fresh air and oil. The oceans of the world, as any ecologist will confirm, regulate the weather and help purify the very air we breathe. So the death of even one ocean is a catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude. This Trumpet, in short, will disrupt the weather, the agricultural output, the economy and the physical welfare of the whole human race.
At about this time the sun will begin to scorch the earth, for the cooling effect of the oceans will have diminished and drought will become a world-wide problem. Hunger and thirst will then become as common in the West as they are today in the East. The Great Tribulation will have then entered its second terrifying stage.
The Third Trumpet
|10: And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11: And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
Like the 1st and 2nd Trumpets before it, the 3rd Trumpet causes untold damage and distress on earth. A third of the rivers and fountains of water are now polluted and many people die as a result. The question is often asked, Could not the terms earth, sea, trees, grass, ships and fish be symbolic?
The Stewarton Bible School does not deny that possibility for it obviously does exist. Indeed, some of the terms (trees, grass, fish etc.) could easily be taken to represent people and scriptural texts found in support. The main reason why we favour the literal translation, however, and avoid references to people, is because ‘a third of mankind’ is scheduled to die under the 6th Trumpet That frightening fact by itself, which is expressed twice in Revelation 9 verses 15 and 18, compels us towards the opinion of that the hurting of a third of the sea, a third of the ships, a third of the rivers, a third of the trees and all the green grass cannot also refer to people, but must, at least on a lower plane, refer to the literal sea, ships, rivers, fish, trees and grass. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine what else they could be, especially when we remember that a third of the human race is scheduled to die at the 6th Trumpet. Nevertheless, and we say this without reservation, symbolic representation may still be present here; but to date we have not come across any person capable of explaining away the anomalies such an interpretation would create.
The Fourth Trumpet
|12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.|
The punishment hitherto confined to this planet now mounts up to the heavens. The sun, moon, and stars are somehow smitten and begin to shine with a greatly diminished beam. How this almost unimaginable catastrophe is brought about is not explained, but it is obvious that if this trumpet is understood in a literal sense, then physical light as we know it will be greatly reduced on earth. This could be the result of enormous amounts of dust, ash and smoke being produced by the natural catastrophes mentioned above.
Once again we ask the question: Could it be that this Trumpet presents a symbolic picture of heavenly powers, and that the sun, moon and the stars in this instance actually stand for spiritual agents of light and energy perhaps angel beings?
The possibility obviously must exist, especially in view of the plain statement like: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. (Rev. 1:20) If this were the case, then this Trumpet’s reference to darkened stars could well present a drastic reduction in angelic authority throughout the universe. A third of the angelic host would be smitten by God, and their privilege and ability to radiate spiritual light taken from them. This Trumpet, then, may be the prelude which is mentioned below:
|9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.|
Yes, the 4th Trumpet could well have symbolic overtones; but whatever its interpretation, it sets the scene for another dark age, a spiritual twilight zone in time when light from heaven will diminish greatly and Satanic activity on earth will increase sevenfold.
The picture presented so far is undoubtedly grim and the reader is probably wondering if there is any good news in this catalogue of catastrophe; any protection for the true believer in the terrible Time of Trouble. We are happy to report that there is a great deal of good news and a most encouraging degree of protection; but these blessings are conditional, being reserved for those who genuinely endeavour to obey God. (Read Deuteronomy 28 for proof of the principle that the blessings of God are reserved for the obedient.)
We have already seen that the Seal of Yahweh the God of Israel is His law, and that His Sign (signature) is the Sabbath commandment in His law. We have also seen how that 144,000 believers will at that time accept the Almighty’s Seal in their minds, and will begin keeping the commandments of God with faultless dedication and effect. The blessings which follow that kind of obedience will be beyond comparison and will manifest themselves in many miraculous ways during the Time of Trouble. One of the blessings will be that of divine protection. A perfect example of the protection afforded the 144,000 sealed believers in the Time of Trouble is given in Revelation chapter 9, which outlines the event of the 5th Trumpet. In verse 4 we note with great relief that at that time all sealed believers (those who obey Yahweh’s law) will be supernaturally protected from torture and abuse. All others will suffer. This matter of divine protection is dealt with later. Yes, there will be protection during the Great Tribulation, but it will be reserved for those who obey the Almighty God and bear His Seal. Of all mankind, they alone will be kept from Satan at the time of the end, and will walk unscathed through the fiery trials just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did in ancient Babylon. (Daniel 3) Indeed, those bygone experiences in Daniel’s day were especially staged by the Eternal as miniature demonstrations, prophetic prototypes of a mighty deliverance which is to be repeated on a world-wide scale before the entire universe, when the Almighty will once again miraculously protect His obedient servants form the terrors of the Evil One.
Bearing these reassuring thoughts in mind, let us now return to the prophecy of the seven seals, for there are still three trumpets to explain. The last three Trumpets (5, 6 and 7) are so fearful that even by angel standards they are classified as ‘Woes.’
- The 5th Trumpet is the 1st Woe.
- The 6th Trumpet is the 2nd Woe.
- The 7th Trumpet is the 3rd Woe.
|13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!|
The Fifth Trumpet … 1st Woe!
|1: And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
2: And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
3: And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
4: And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
5: And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
6: And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
No one will deny, but that here before us is a picture of absolute terror, when for 5 months earth’s mighty population, all except the sealed servants of Yahweh, will be tormented by a host of merciless beings who are to arise from the bottomless pit. For obvious reasons we will not dwell on this frightening aspect of the prophecy once having presented it. Instead, we will briefly answer the following questions and point to a way of escape.
1) What is the Bottomless Pit?
2) And who are the beings that ascend out of it?
The general lack of interest in the Revelation has over the years resulted in a dearth of information about the Bottomless Pit. But it is obviously a subject which all the world should know about; for is not mankind going to be tormented for 5 months by beings which come out of the bottomless pit? The answers to those two questions about the bottomless pit and it occupants are of vital importance, so let us closely study the matter.
The original Greek word abussos is translated in the Bible (in Rev. 9:1) as bottomless pit. Some Bible dictionaries render abussos as ‘abyss.’ The word abussos means exceedingly deep gulf or pit. Abussos is also used in Luke’s gospel where it is translated simply as the deep. In the incident recorded in Luke 8. 26-36 we are given an important clue as to what the abyss is and how frightened evil angels are of being sent there. If the reader will turn to Luke’s gospel he will see (in verse 31) how certain devils who had taken possession of a man were themselves terrified of being ordered into the abyss. They literally begged the Messiah for permission to enter a herd of swine rather than be sentenced to the abussos the exceedingly deep pit.
From this incident we can see that the abussos, the Bottomless Pit is a place or condition which evil angels dread; a kind of spirit penitentiary or dungeon which existed thousands of years ago.
Strong’s concordance describing the ‘bottomless pit’ says it is a:
“pit of immeasurable depth, a very deep gulf or chasm in the lowest parts of the earth used as the common receptacle of the dead and especially as the abode of demons.”
It is from somewhere within that unlit dungeon that a myriad symbolic locusts will arise at the 5th Trumpet or 1st Woe. (Rev. 9:1-3) What are these locusts that torture mankind for five months? They are evil angels, devils of mind-bending depravity who were sentenced to the abyss long before the early Christian era. At this very moment (1998) they are still chained and completely immobilised within the blackness of the abyss, held there in total darkness awaiting the judgement of the Great Day. Here is proof of this astounding fact.
2 Peter 2:
|4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;|
|And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.|
Yes, fallen angels are at this moment held captive in the abyss, the Bottomless Pit, fettered in a way we humans do not properly understand, so the symbol of a ‘chain’ is used to help us. At the 1st Woe, a mighty angel (star) will be divinely authorised to open the abyss, and out will pour this host of devils like the smoke of a great furnace. (Rev. 9:1-5) The only people on earth who will be protected from their sadistic onslaught will be the ones who bear in their foreheads the Seal of the God of Israel. All others will be tormented. Here is proof of this frightening fact.
|4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads..|
Without labouring the point, we will at this stage again respectfully remind the reader to seriously consider accepting Yahweh’s Seal, for fearful indeed will be the lot of those who reject it. References in this woe to Abaddon, the king of the bottomless pit (verse 11) are covered later where the identity of this king who is to ascend from the bottomless pit is considered.
Revelation 9:12 brings us to the end of the 1st woe (the 5th Trumpet). The reader will have noticed that even though the scenes portrayed here are fearsome, divine protection is assured to those who have God’s Seal, especially from the terrors of Abaddon the Destroyer from the Abyss!
Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
First published 1983 / Placed on the Internet 1996 / Updated: 1998 / Reformatted: May 2000