The Weekend Word
The Seven Seals – 5-6
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.
- Under the altar – there is an altar in heaven
- The souls of martyrs = witnesses
- The 5th seal shows us the Church at worship. This is the suffering church that lives under the cross, under attack.
- This church appears to be executed, and weak, dying and dead as far as the world is concerned – but this is not so!
10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
- This church consists of praise and lament. This is the way it has always been with OT Israel – they always lamented their situation – their exile – the apparent absence of God.
- Humanly speaking this can’t be understood because it is unexplainable. See;
- Psalm 74:1– “O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?”
- Psalm 44:23 – “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!”
- Jeremiah 14:19 – “Have you utterly rejected Judah? Does your soul loathe Zion? Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us?
We looked for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror.”
- At the same time, note the praise – ““O Sovereign Lord, holy and true”
- “…on those who dwell on the earth?” = Code word for unbelievers.
11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
- But right on the heels of this lament they are given reward – the white robe – the righteousness of Christ.
- This is a baptismal scene – a reminder of who you are so that you can live as a baptized believer – even in the midst of what is happening.
- Even in the face of the opening of the first four seals. Remember why these have been slain (v.9)
- This is all still happening today – all over the world.
- White robes bring to mind the wedding garment.
- White = purity and victory – and in this context, purity and victory in Christ
- They had conquered in Christ – How? By their death. Who would expect that?
12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood,
- It sounds like Judgment Day here (v.12-16) – we have heard this language before – Haggai – Joel – Matthew 24. This is the end of the world.
- The same will be repeated when we see the 6th Trumpet – a recapitulation of the end.
- Isaiah 50:3 – Joel – Mark 13
13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.
- It is amazing to look at those who look to the skies to know the future, to make their plans and have hope and security – and it will all be shaken.
- The sun, the moon, the stars will be gone – all wiped out.
14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
- It gets worse – even the sky itself rolls up, like the blinds in your living room.
- Islands no more – Mountains no more – It seems impossible, but many today in their teaching deny that here in Revelation 6 that this is the end – they want to compare it more like a knockdown punch instead of a knockout.
15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,
- This judgment will come on the inhabitants of the earth – namely the unbeliever. Can you hide from that judgment? They will try.
- Who are these inhabitants of the earth? Here in Revelation 6 it seems to be very specific – look at the list;
- Everybody – The Kings of the Earth – The Great Ones – The Generals – The Rich & Powerful – Slave & Free.
- Every part of society will be helpless when they face God on the last day.
- Political power – Royal power – Social power – Economic power
- All power will be worthless on that day (The Last Day)
- No one will be able to bribe or manipulate or pressure or intimidate their way out.
16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,
- This is the ironic part that shows the heart of unbelief – These guys even properly identify who this wrath is coming from, but instead of repenting they would rather be killed in an avalanche than to be in the presence of Jesus.
- What does the sinful man do in the presence of the Holy God? Run and hide.
17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
- Who can stand? No one! Who else has asked this? Nahum & Malachi.
- The sinner cannot – left to ourselves what do we do? Run & hide from God.
- What did Adam & Eve do? Ran & hid.
- Only those who have been clothed in white, the one who is redeemed, whose sins have been washed away in the blood of the lamb – they can stand!
With the birth, the perfect life, the death and resurrection of the lamb the last days had begun – this is a parallel of Matthew 24 – Mark 13 – Luke 21. The countdown to the Last Day began with the opening of the seal.
It began with the coming of Jesus at Bethlehem and continues until he comes on the Last Day – which is described in v. 17.
Soon, on that day Jesus will be visible and on that day he will vindicate his people and the question “how long” (v 10) will finally be answered for our eyes to see (It has already been answered) – and his wrath will come on the inhabitants of the earth.
- As we see the seals being opened, the trumpets being blow and the bowls being poured out, it will all be the same history. There is this repetitive pattern – similar to what we saw with the letters to the 7 churches.
- They each have the same pattern but each is distinct – just like each sermon has a distinct message.
- The same history – a spiraling effect of this history, perhaps amplified with each telling. Rev it up and say more than you ever expected.