“The Seven Seals of the Lamb” (Part 4)
The Seventh Seal: (Revelation 8: 1-13; 9:1-21; 11:14-19)
Between the Sixth and the Seventh Seal (Chapter 7)
Between chapter six and chapter eight you have a break between the sixth and seventh seal. In this vision we are taken once again into the unseen spiritual realm where we see two people groups. We see a faithful remnant of Messianic Jewish believers sealed by the Holy Spirit and by extension and inclusion faithful believers coming out of Great Tribulation, they are all part of the Israel of God and the seed of Abraham, the father of faith and of all who believe whether they be Jew or Gentile ethnically. They are one spiritual family in the Messiah. (Romans 4:16, 23-25) (Galatians 3:26-29) (Ephesians 2:11-22) They are being raptured out. It is a continuous action described. In the Greek text they are seen “coming out of Great Tribulation (thlipsis)” Here John sees the earthly realm and the unseen spiritual realm connected in the vision, He is seeing events on earth coinciding with events in the unseen heavenly realm. One is a reflection of the other.
In every age of the Church believers have been coming out of Tribulation either through natural death of through martyrdom to stand before God to constantly serve Him day and night in His temple in the heavenly kingdom. He spreads His tent of protection and acceptance over them and they will never be hungry and thirsty again for spiritual and physical nourishment, neither will they experience the scorching ‘heat’ of persecution and oppression anymore. The lamb Himself at the centre of the throne of God will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of eternal life and satisfaction far beyond anything they have experienced in their former sojourn on the earth.
Every tear of regret and a sense of suffering will be wiped away, bad memories erased and replaced with pure uninhibited joy and peace unabated and past sins and failures and disappointments and tragedies forgotten. This will be the lot of all the redeemed that have come out of Great Tribulation, who have washed their filthy earthly robes of the old sinful nature in the blood of the Lamb and have been made perfect and without sin, having been clothed with His perfect righteousness. (7:14-17) the continuous rapture and the ultimate rapture and resurrection are seen happening between the sixth and the seventh seal.
The Sixth Seal expanded in the Seventh seal
In the Sixth Seal we saw the end of the age leading into the wrath of God. The Seventh Seal is an expanded account of what is happening in the sixth seal. Now as we come to look at the seventh seal we see a subset of seven trumpets corresponding to the seven bowls of God’s wrath. From the opening of the seventh seal we are no longer seeing tribulation but wrath. The seven trumpets announce the seven bowls of the wrath (thumos) of God. As blood washed, blood redeemed saints we are not destined for these bowls of God’s wrath.
As the Apostle Paul writes; “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath (orge) but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus the anointed Messiah…Jesus who rescues us from the coming wrath (orge).” (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9) The “orge” of God describes God’s anger expressed in punishment such as given by a magistrate in a court of law. Its fullest expression is found in the word “thumos” which is a passionate anger brought to boiling point and flowing over without restraint. When the word wrath is used in connection with the bowls of wrath it is the word “thumos” where there is no reprieve.
So then it seems we see the faithful Church being raptured continuously and ultimately completely raptured and resurrected between the sixth and the seventh seal. After this there is no reprieve for the world. Remember Lot was in Sodom and experiencing persecution and tribulation. The very same day he was rescued out of the city the fire of God’s wrath fell from the heavens. (Luke 17:29) It was the same for Noah and his family. When the flood came they were safe in the ark of salvation and God himself had shut and sealed the door of the Ark.
So it will be with the faithful saints in this present age, destined for tribulation, but not for wrath! So then, the seven trumpets announce the seven bowls of God’s wrath. When the seventh trumpet is sounded we see the kingdom of the world become the kingdom of our Lord and His Messiah and He will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15-18)
An illustration of these seven seals and the seven trumpets is seen in the Biblical account of the fall of Jericho. Using typology, Jericho is a type of the world at the end of the age. Joshua is a type of the Lord Jesus and the armies of Israel a type of the armies of heaven. The inhabitants of Jericho are a type of the unsaved in the world. Rahab with the scarlet cord attached to her window frame represents blood washed believers waiting to be rescued. She was still in the city while the armies of Israel marched once a day around the city for six days in silence with the seven priests holding their trumpets.
Then on the seventh day the Israelites marched around the city seven times with the seven priests blowing their trumpets and when the last long blast of the trumpets was sounded the people shouted and the city fell to Joshua and the Israelites and Rahab was rescued out from the city. She was still in the city for the six days while the Israelites marched around the city but she kept the red cord fastened to her window frame by faith believing she would be rescued and she was on the seventh day.
While the city was crumbling around her she was safe and did not suffer the wrath of God upon Jericho. When the time of Great Tribulation comes the saints go into it but are rescued out of it at the end just before the wrath starts to fall. (Revelation 11:15) The same thing will happen to Israel as a nation at the same time. Israel as a nation goes into this time of Great Tribulation but is rescued out of it. (Jeremiah 30:1-10)
So in this account the seven priests blowing their trumpets on the seventh day correspond to the seven angels blowing their trumpets announcing the wrath of God upon the Jericho of this world and the Coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His Messianic kingdom on earth. Notice the blast of the trumpets and the shout of the Israelites corresponds in type with what the New Testament says about a great shout from heaven and the last trumpet blast signifying the return of the Lord Jesus and the rapture and resurrection of the blood washed, blood redeemed saints. (Matthew 24:30-31) (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) (1 Corinthians 15:52) (Revelation 11:15)
So then the sixth seal leads into the seventh seal with a subset of seven trumpets and at the end when the last trumpet is sounded the end comes and the Lord Jesus comes back to establish the Messianic Kingdom on earth. With these things in view let’s now look at the Seventh Seal with the seven trumpets keeping in mind it is an expanded commentary on the sixth seal. The seventh seal with the seven trumpets describes in more detail how the wrath of God is poured out on the inhabitants of the earth. This occurs just as the Lord Jesus appears in the sky before He ascends to earth with His saints and with the armies of heaven. (Revelation 19:11-14)
The Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1-5)
(vs.1-2) “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
In the Biblical account of the fall of Jericho when the Israelites marched around Jericho six times they were silent. John sees a period of silence between the sixth and the seventh seal and it lasts about half an hour according to John’s perception of time on earth while he witnesses the silence in heaven. It is “the silence before the storm!” As Zechariah the prophet writes; “Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.” (Zechariah 2:13) These seven angels are in type represented by the seven priests at the siege of Jericho each of whom had a trumpet. Seven of course is the number of perfection referring to God and represents a perfect and finished work that He does. These seven angels each have a trumpet to be blown but are not the same seven angels who each have a bowl of God’s wrath to be poured out. We will see that the trumpets and the bowls are connected to each other.
(vs.3) Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.”
Incense in the Bible represents the prayers of the saints. Just as the incense was placed in the laver of incense in the Temple and offered up on the Altar of Incense so the prayers of God’s people come up before the throne of God. Their pleas and petitions are heard and the answers to their prayers will no longer be delayed. Even now the prayers of the martyrs cry out to God from under the altar. (Revelation 6:9)
(vs.4-5) “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”
The Lord Jesus spoke about a persistent widow who came to an unjust judge who cared neither for God or man. This woman had a relentless adversary afflicting her and came to this judge seeking a response from him. She pleaded with him to grant her justice against her adversary but he kept refusing for some time. Well she did not give up and he became so weary with her persistence that he granted her request.
We are told that this parable was intended to convey to Jesus’ disciples that they should pray and never give up. He went on to say that if a judge, who feared neither God nor man, gave her what she needed from him, then how much more would God who is infinitely good and wise and just avenge his elect saints who cry out to Him day and night? Indeed Jesus went on to say He will avenge them speedily! Of course spiritually speaking the adversary alludes to Satan and the widow to the beleaguered and persecuted saints whom Satan is oppressing.
So we see in this account in Revelation that the prayers of the saints will always get a rapid response from God at the right time. Remember God is never in a hurry. He is never too early of never too late but always on time! God gives a rapid response and the angel then takes the censer and fills it with fire from the altar of incense and hurls it to the earth to announce and to ultimately unleash the bowls of God’s wrath upon a Messiah hating, Messiah rejecting world that has persecuted and martyred His followers.
This action from the angel produces peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake and describes much of what we see in the sixth seal and in other passages of scripture describing the very foundations of the earth and the constellations in the heavens being shaken. God is announcing to the world that their time is up. With each trumpet blast there is a bowl of wrath that accompanies it. When the trumpet sounds, the bowl it announces is poured out.
The Seven Trumpets: (Revelation 8: 1-13; 9:1-21; 11:14-19)
“The Wrath of God”
God always sends a warning before He sends judgement. This is consistent with the whole tenor of scripture in both Testaments. He always announces His judgements ahead of time before He acts decisively. One case in particular was when Jonah preached at Nineveh and the nation repented. Concerning Israel God always sent His prophets to warn his people. We are told that “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) This was also the case with the people in the time of Noah, God gave them 120 years to change their ways but after that there was no reprieve. With the seventh seal about to be opened and activated time has run out for the inhabitants of the world. And so we look now at the seven trumpets and the bowls that are connected to these trumpets.
The First Trumpet: (8:7) “The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.”
The First Bowl: (16:2) “So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.”
This portentous outpouring of God’s wrath is similar to what happened in Egypt. Before God sent His judgement He warned the Egyptians what would happen to them and their livestock left in the field if they did not shelter in their houses. This was God’s mercy. Some did what they were commanded to do but many didn’t. We read what happened next. “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt—on man, on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.” And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.” (Exodus 9:22-24)
In this deluge of hail and fire that came down from the heavens and travelled along the ground killed anyone outside including any animal not to mention the crops of the field. The blood mentioned is literal blood. In the case of the Egyptians those who obeyed the world of God through His servant Moses were spared but many were not spared, nether themselves, their livestock or their crops.
Down through history we have seen ecological disasters but the one that John describes effects the whole earth. It is global. At present the world struggles with the COVID-19 Pandemic and this is bad enough but when we read the description of this coming wrath being announced and the bowl poured out, it sees man, animals and crops devastated as a third of the trees were burned up and all of the green grass was burned up as well. Scarcity of food would be the results.
Some might see this describing the effects of nuclear fallout because the first bowl sees a foul and loathsome sore coming upon those who had the mark of the beast empire on them and had been worshipping its image. This “loathsome sore” may be the result of fallout. Having said this we also know that the LORD causes boils to break out among the Egyptians in the time of Moses. (Exodus 9:8-9)
It’s interesting that Moses took soot from a furnace and threw it into the air and it became fine dust and travelled through Egypt causing festering boils to appear on men and animals. In modern times today we can associate fire, fine dust and open wounds and festering soars with nuclear fallout or even some forms of biological weapons. While God uses natural elements to unleash His judgements He also allows for the weapons men devise and use against their fellow man. The first trumpet and the bowl combined see the earth being polluted and men and animals becoming sick and the fields unable to produce crops. So then this first trumpet and its accompanying bowl effects the earth globally.
The Second Trumpet: (8:8-9) “Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.”
The Second Bowl: (16:3) “Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.”
We are told that when the second trumpet sounds something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown or cast into the sea and a significant proportion of the sea became blood killing a third of the marine life in the seas. This ultimate effect of this pollution was that it spread from a third of the marine life to being a global catastrophe killing everything in the sea. Added to this we are told that a third of the ships were also destroyed.
Once again we see a similarity to the plague of water turning to blood in Egypt where we read; “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’ ” (Exodus 7:19)
Notice we are told that there was something like a great mountain burning with fire which was thrown into the sea. This ‘mountain’ became blood we are told. This fiery ‘mountain’ may well be describing a nuclear detonation that turns a third or a portion of the sea into blood. Once again in a nuclear war this could easily happen. This mountain is “cast into the sea” the Greek word for cast is “ballo” from which we get the term “ballistic.” Today we have ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Also Mountains in the Bible can also describe kingdoms. (Revelation 17:9 KJV) With nuclear detonations much of the earth would be polluted and this would include the sea. Ships on the sea would also be destroyed. Missiles with nuclear warheads would do a lot of damage especially in a nuclear confrontation at sea. This fiery mountain may not be a literal mountain but looks similar to one. It may well be it is describing a nuclear detonation that spreads widely across the surface of the sea.
Recently President Trump has commanded that any Iranian gunboat threatening American navy ships in the Persian Gulf will be fired upon. Iran has responded with a threat to send missiles into Israel if the Americans sink any of the Iranian gunboats. Also you have the Straits of Hormuz separating Iran from Saudi Arabia being another potential hot spot for a confrontation at sea over oil, a great percentage of it which passes through the Straits of Hormuz via shipping. So this second trumpet with its accompanying bowl sees a third of the marine life and the ships destroyed escalating into a global pollution of the seas. Nuclear fallout would produce these results.
The Third Trumpet: (8:10-11) “Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter”
The Third Bowl: (16:4-7) “Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”
There have been times in the past when a meteor or asteroid capable of destroying much of our planet has passed by the earth. They have even made a movie depicting this when an asteroid was so large that it was about to destroy the whole planet. The possibility of an asteroid from outer space hitting our planet and causing widespread pollution of our drinking water is not beyond the realms of possibility at all. However, once again this star that fell from heaven is called wormwood or “bitter.” It would turn drinking water bitter causing multitudes to be without adequate water supplies.
Also we notice this ‘star’ too, like that which resembled a mountain, was also on fire. Once again nuclear fallout would pollute the water supplies and many would die from radioactive water. At first we see this third trumpet blown causing a third or a portion of the drinking water to become polluted but then with the bowl the pollution of the drinking water becomes one of global proportions. We are also told that this has happened because the world has persecuted and martyred God’s people and the ones He has sent to preach salvation to them. They have no water to drink but only blood as was the case of the Egyptians in Egypt in Moses time. All of these plagues that came upon Egypt were primarily because the Pharaoh of Egypt was persecuting God’s people. God’s judgements are always just, true and perfectly righteous in their execution. So then this third trumpet with its accompanying bowl affects the drinking water.
The Fourth Trumpet: (8:12-13) “Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night. And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
The Fourth Bowl: (16:8-9) Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.”
When we read what happens in the sixth seal it escalates with the blowing of the fourth trumpet. The constellations are affected and there is darkness when it should not be dark and day when it should not be day. Possibly with nuclear fallout these conditions would prevail. However when the bowl follows the trumpet we see described the sun actually scorching people with fire. They are not consumed by it but tormented by its effects on them. They were scorched with great heat. Once again in this nuclear age this could well be the result of exposure to nuclear fallout or the radioactivity generated by nuclear detonations.
They say at Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was detonated that the skin was burnt off of human beings yet they remained alive and that even the eyes of some melted in their sockets. We see this also described when God judges the armies that are attacking Jerusalem in the last days. (Zechariah 14:12) God’s power far exceeds that of a nuclear detonation. He can thin the ozone layer between the sun and the earth if He wants to so that the sun’s rays can burn the skins of the earth’s inhabitants. He does not need man’s nuclear detonations to do this of course. However, the effects of nuclear warfare cannot be ruled out.
Despite this portentous life threatening events in their physical suffering the unsaved deride and curse and say detestable things about God and use His name in cursing and swearing and heaping accusations against Him. They know He had power over these plagues but will not see their own rebellion and sin and violation of His laws and commandments and their due punishment. They will not repent and glorify Him. They have not learnt from the past judgements and it would seem they are refusing to acknowledge their sinful and wicked ways. So then this fourth trumpet with its accompanying bowl affects the heavens and the constellations.
In these first four trumpets with their accompanying bowls of wrath we see the earth, the sea, the drinking water and the heavens all affected by the wrath of God upon sin, rebellion and wickedness. Whether these devastating events are caused by human weapons of mass destruction or by natural disasters or a combination of them both they are the bowls of God’s wrath poured out upon a Messiah hating, Messiah rejecting world in rebellion against its creator.