Things to Come, Lesson 17, The Great Tribulation, Part 5,
THE FIFTH SEAL
Revelation 6:9-11, 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: 10And 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? 11And 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.
We are looking at the fifth of seven seals opened by our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not a look at what is taking place upon the earth but it is a look at what is beneath the altar in heaven.
Our study last time showed that there is a particular group of saints under the altar, who have the credentials of martyrdom earned during the great tribulation.
These souls await Godís vengeance upon those of the earth whose actions resulted in their death for these are the souls who were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony they held.
These are the souls who have, within Danielís seventieth week, suffered death at the hands of Godís enemies who dwell on the earth during the time of tribulation.
The attention given these souls by the opening of this fifth seal is to remind us of Godís great love and grace for his people, for even during such great destruction and death God is seeking and saving those who were lost.
These souls under the altar are there because they choose to love God during the most terrible of times.
These souls loved God to the death and bowed not to the Man of Sin.
They suffered great persecution which was brought about by their obedience in the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The preaching of the Gospel of the Grace of God was for the church age which by this time has ended with the Rapture.
The Seventieth week is the age of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
As was true in Jesus day this seventieth week is a Jewish age.
This continues the preaching of John the Baptist who called the Jews to: Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
It is to be preached in all the world for a witness; and then shall the "End," the End of this Dispensation, come.
It will be preached by the Jews, and will be the announcement that Christ, the Messiah, is coming back to set up His Earthly Kingdom, and rule over the affairs of men.
This will be the most hated of messages to Antichrist and the kings of the Earth, and will result in a "Great Persecution" of those who preach and accept such a Gospel.
To these martyred "SOULS" under the altar white robes were given.
11And 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.
They cried for vengeance but at this time they received comforting words to rest for a little season for the harvest was not complete.
There were more souls destined to die for the word of God which would result in more glory being given to God.
But their cry for immediate vengeance was not rejected but was to be simply delayed.
Godís judgment was indeed coming.
And be sure to look at Revelation 20:4 for the glory that was before these souls under the altar.
4And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
How little is required for so great reward!
THE SIXTH SEAL
Revelation 6:12-17, 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; 13And 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. 14And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15And 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; 16And 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: 17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
We have witnessed the opening of five seals.
They have been about the actions of men.
Peace, war, famine, death, and martyrdom.
But now in the opening of the sixth seal, verse 6:17 tells us it is God who intervenes for the great day of His wrath is come.
Satan and his man of sin have had their day but now they face the great day, a day like no other.
When the "sixth seal" was broken John tells us that there was a "great earthquake," and the "sun became black as sackcloth of hair," and the "moon became as blood," and the "stars of heaven fell to the earth," and the "heaven departed as a scroll," and "every mountain and island were moved out of their place."
It is a great announcement to the earth that the King is coming.
The earth convulses as a woman in the labor of child birth cries in pain.
We are not ignorant of this great day for the prophets of old and Christ himself have told us of things to come.
The Prophet Zechariah speaks of a day that shall not be "clear" or "dark," and he associates it with an earthquake at the time of the return of the Lord. Zechariah 14:1-7.
In the prophecy of Joel we read in Joel 2:30-31, And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
In Isaiah 13:9-11, we read, Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. 10For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 11And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
And in Isaiah 34:4 we read, 4And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
Christ refers to this period in Matt. 24:29, where He says, In 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."
This is a picture of the birth pangs of a new order about to be ushered in upon the earth for Christ is coming to bring onto the earth, in physical form, His kingdom of the Millennial Age.
The picture of this great day of physical changes and earth wide physical convulsions that we are given to see will cause the greatest of fear to fall on all classes and conditions of men.
God is no respecter of persons for he lists those who wish to be consumed by the mountains.
We see kings, great men, rich men, chief captains, mighty men, bondmen, and free men who all look to find refuge in the dens and rocks of the mountains.
This is not a time of natural disaster where men and women call upon government for solutions but this is a time where it is obvious to these seven classes of men that the Hand of God is moving the earth.
For they will resort to the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Notice whose wrath this is.
It is the wrath of the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain for the very sins of those who call on the mountains to fall upon them.
But these did not repent in the past nor are they about to repent in the face of utter destruction.
Notice there is only bended knee to the mountains, bended knee to that which was created instead of the Creator.
Prayer to that which they have worshipped, that which they say hhas evolved from nothing by natural means.
No crying for salvation for they have believed the LIE for their minds are reprobate.
What a prayer!
Instead of repenting and crying for Salvation, they will call on the mountains and rocks to bury them from the sight of the Almighty.
We have witnessed six seals and expect to proceed to the seventh seal but God inserts as it were a parenthesis between the first six seals and the opening of the seventh seal.
We move to and read the entire Chapter Seven to see what is taking place.
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. 2And 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, 3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4And 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. 5Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. 9After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And 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. 15Therefore 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. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17For 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.
Four angels stood on the four corners of the Earth holding the four winds of the earth.
They were told to delay the hurting of the earth until a certain thing happened.
So we can see in this instruction that chapter seven is not chronological to chapter six which describes much hurt to the earth.
The thing that is about to happen, happens before the terrible events of chapter six.
We are given to see a great commission order being given to thousands of called out ones.
The hurting of the earth is future to this calling out for the angels are told:
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4And 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.
These are called out servants of our God sealed in their foreheads. Sealed means stamped or marked.
They are identified ones of God protected by God until their mission is complete.
Jesus told us of their mission in Matthew 24 whereby they were called to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Matthew 24:14, And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
God in chapter seven tells us that these called out ones are called out, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel.
These are Jewish evangelists who are to go forth into all the world preaching that Jesus, the Messiah, is coming.
We know that they have great success for we are told from of the results of this world wide evangelism of the great multitudes who bow the knee to the coming king and stand before the throne of God.
9After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
Now there is no date given as to the sealing of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists but most likely it takes place right after the Rapture.
Remember the Rapture of the Church includes a shout and the trump of God.
The trumpet of scripture is used, for among other things, a call to war.
The shout from the Lord calls the church and the trumpet calls Israel.
So the Rapture not only ushers in the taking out of the church it also ushers in the world wide Jewish evangelism that Israel failed to do in Old Testament times.
But God will have his way as regards the relationship of the Jew to the Gentile as he said in:
Isaiah 49:6, And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
So we are given to see a great multitude, who are the results of this world wide evangelism.
These 144,000 are sealed by God to preach to every part of the world the good news of the coming kingdom.
No part of the world is withheld from their preaching for we are told that all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne.
This is not the church because they come out of the great tribulation.
They are not only Jews because they are of all nations, kindreds, people and tongues.
This great multitude is composed of saved individuals who will now serve God in His heavenly temple.
Hunger, nor thirst, nor the heat of the sun will no longer be factors in their eternal lives.
Revelation 8:1, And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.