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October 30th, 2020
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gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

This week’s study of Revelation is a continuation of chapter 6, concerning the fifth and sixth seals. I would encourage anyone to go back to chapter 5, with the heavenly choir singing to the Lamb – and read ahead to chapters 7 and 8 – as today’s scripture is a difficult one sandwiched in between two encouraging ones. 

Last week’s passage revealed four horsemen: The first rider on a white horse portrays a conqueror who substitutes false ideals for biblical truths. The rider on a red horse represents war and bloodshed, taking peace from the earth. Following is the rider on a black horse bringing famine, while at the same time there remain certain segments of the population who live lavishly, indifferent to the misery around. The fourth horse, a pale one, brings a rider depicting death and Hades, a type of shadowland where those who die without Christ dwell temporarily. 

An overview of the book shows that chapter 6 begins a series of three judgments, forming concentric circles which describe many of the same events under different symbols. The first is that of seven seals (chapters 6 and 7), followed by seven trumpets (chapters 8 through 11); and seven bowls (chapters 15 and 16). As we learned earlier, seven indicates completion. Each event is closely tied to the next, which was opened by the last. I don’t believe there are 21 separate happenings, but 7 occurrences with narratives told 3 different ways. 

As the fifth seal is broken, Revelation 6:9, John hears a cry coming from under an altar. “‘How long, O Lord…’” The voices are of those who in their lifetime confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior and who died for their faith, their lives poured out on the altar. The martyrs’ cry is not for personal deliverance, but one of justice for all who are suffering. John describes their reward. “And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also” (Revelation 6:11). 

The sixth seal, bringing a day of terror, marks the end of the age. Throughout history, there have been earthquakes, wars and other end-times signs; but as indicated earlier, the intensity will introduce this day of catastrophe and terror. Though many may have looked at the passage in figurative terms, with the advent of nuclear energy and our understanding of planetary upheaval, it seems possible, even plausible, that the vision will come to pass. 

John’s words describe what he saw. “There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Revelation 6:12-14). 

Old Testament prophets described similar scenes (Isaiah chapter 34, Joel 2:1-17, Zephaniah chapters 1 and 2). Jesus in the New Testament spoke with consistency to his followers, describing such a day (Mark 13:24-25). Here in Revelation, John describes his vision. “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17). 

With the advent of this day, there will no longer be safety for anyone, rich or poor. Great fear will accompany cosmic events, amid conviction on those whose consciences condemn them. Those who believe in Jesus need not fear for themselves, but belief that these things are coming motivates us to share the message of Christ’s salvation with all we love. 

God our Creator has been faithful down through the generations to offer a way of peace and repentance. He sent Jesus to identify with us, die as sacrifice for our sins, and reign in power. Yes, the sixth seal will bring an end to the present age. But be encouraged, as the next chapter will reveal hope beyond this destruction that complete one circle of revelation. Even amid cosmic chaos, we’re promised, “‘By your endurance you will gain your lives’” (Luke 21:19) and “‘…lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’” (Luke 21:28).

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