I have taken a few weeks off from Revelation due to the holidays. This past week we began our Wednesday night Bible study once again and below is where we pick up. If you want to read my previous studies on Revelation just scroll down (quite a ways) and you can start from the beginning.
The Lamb has the scroll and five out of the six seals have been broken. The six seals are divided into two groups, the first group contains the four-horsemen of the Apocalypse. These horsemen are among some of the most recognized symbols in the book of Revelation and they have a wide variety of ways they have being interpreted. Most likely they represent God’s judgment, and the imagery in this passage is closely related to Zechariah’s vision in Ch.1:8 -17 and 6:1- 8. But, in Revelation the judgment corresponds with the rider and symbolize conquest, slaughter, shortage, and death. In Zechariah, the riders patrol the earth and in Revelation they release disaster on the earth. All the scenes depicted by the seals take place on earth except for the fifth seal.
The Great Earthquake
Vs 12 - 14: Sixth Seal – Opening of the sixth seal brings about an earthquake. According to Robert Mounce, “With the opening of the sixth seal the great cosmic disturbances which are to herald the last days begin.” The early readers probably would not take this to be a complete literal earthquake, because they were part of an established tradition that goes back to the OT as the prophetic portrayal of the day of the Lord. The earthquake was traditionally taken as a divine visitation being at hand. We see this over and over in the OT When God ascended Mt. Sinai, it was accompanied by an earthquake. In both Isaiah and Haggai they speaks of the earth shaking and people wanting to hide in caves from the terror that was about to befall. After the earthquake we are told the sun was blackened, the moon became like blood, and the stars fall from heaven like a fig tree sheds its winter fruit. The falling stars meant one thing to the ancient reader – the end has come.
Vs 15 - 17: Once again, this does not mean it will happen in a literal sense, but regardless whatever is depicted literally or metaphorically it will instill fear and terror to the world leaders, military leaders, and the most powerful people in the world that they would rather die than face the wrath of the Lamb. The day of the Lord will be a day of terror, fear, and dismay. We can imagine the great and powerful men and women of the world fleeing for their lives and crying for death rather than face the judgement of God and the wrath of the Lamb. But there is no place to hide. God’s judgment will be swift and just.
The wrath of God is a major theme throughout the NT. It is not personal revenge or vindication. It is not an impersonal retribution that will work itself out over history. It is the response of God’s holiness and to relentless and unrepentant sin.
The chapter ends with the rhetorical question, “who can stand?”. The beginning of the end is at hand.
Chapter seven is a parenthesis or break between the sixth and seventh seals. This chapter serves as an interlude before the seventh seal is broken. Some suggest that this interlude is intended to answer the question posed at the end of chapter 6, “Who can stand?”
It consists of two visions –
Vs 1: Four angels hold back the four winds of destruction. In Apocalyptic writing angels are pictured as the ones who are in charge of the forces of natures.
“Four corners of the earth.” – this does not insinuate that ancients thought the world was a rectangle, but probably is the same expression that we use today. The winds are held in check by the four angels until the servants of God are sealed.
Vs 2 - 3: “Angel ascending from the east.” This angel has the authority to restrain the four angels from releasing destruction. The angel was holding the seal of the Living God. This seal is probably a signet ring like those used by oriental kings to authentical and protect official documents. The seal or signet is the mark that is the name of the Lord and seals the 144,000. The seal or signet is a sign of ownership and ownership entails protection. It is a seal of protection for the believers of the coming judgment.
According to Robert Mounce, “The servants of God are not a select group singled out from among the rest to receive the seal of God. They are the full number of faithful believers alive when that event takes place.”
We will stop here and pickup next week as we will look at the 144,000 and who and what they represent.
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.