A scroll sealed with seven seals
Many people have a very limited perspective of Yahushua Mashiach. They think only of His first coming as the suffering Savior and as the Lamb of God. But He, along with the Father, is a God of justice and judgment as well as a God of mercy and forgiveness. When Yahushua comes the second time, it will be as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” to punish those who are in rebellion against God (Revelation:5:5). That will be essential to prepare the way for true peace on earth.
The end-time sequence of events is pictured as Christ unrolling a scroll by breaking open its seven seals one by one (Revelation 5). The sequence of the seals is the same sequence of events Yahushua described in His prophecy about His return recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. These are crises that will be growing in frequency and intensity leading up to that time.
The opening of the first four seals unveils what are commonly referred to as the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse ,” representing false religion, war, famine and death by pestilence and various disasters (see Revelation:6:1-8).
The fifth seal represents the persecution of God’s people and the Great Tribulation, when God will use gentile nations to punish the nations that are the modern descendants of ancient Israel (Revelation:6:9-11; Matthew:24:21; Jeremiah:30:7).
Then “immediately after the tribulation” will be heavenly signs with the opening of the sixth seal (Matthew:24:29-30; Revelation:6:12-16).
The seventh seal: the Day of the Lord
The heavenly signs of the sixth seal announce the Day of the Lord, with fearful people crying out: “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation:6:17). Likewise, the prophet Joel tells us that the heavenly signs will happen just “before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord” (Joel:2:31). So the period of the seventh seal that follows in Revelation is the Day of the Lord. (Except for a few inset chapters, the book of Revelation is organized quite sequentially.)
The Day of the Lord is the time of God’s major intervention on the earth. This age is Satan’s “day,” when “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John:5:19). The Day of the Lord begins when Christ begins to take back control and mete out calamitous judgment on the rebellious nations that defy God.
Joel says, “The day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” (Joel:2:11; see also Joel:1:15; Joel:2:1; Joel:3:14). The Day of the Lord is also called, as we saw in Revelation:6:17, “the great day of His wrath.”
Numerous other prophecies describe the fierce wrath of God against the forces of evil during the Day of the Lord.
The opening of the “seventh seal,” which is the Day of the Lord, reveals “seven angels” with “seven trumpets” (Revelation:8:1-2). Each trumpet blast announces terrifying calamities that will afflict rebellious mankind. The blowing of these trumpets apparently takes place over the course of a year , since Isaiah:34:8 refers to this time as “the Day of the Lord’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion.” And one trumpet plague takes five months, as we’ll see in a moment.
This year comes at the end of the time of terrible tribulation and concludes with the return of Yahushua Mashiach and the resurrection. Given the seven warning trumpets over this period, it would seem that the Feast of Trumpets pictures all of it, not just Christ’s return and the resurrection at the end— though these events at the end following the final trumpet are certainly the high point.
Be assured that while Yahushua Mashiach is sending plagues and other punishments on the earth, He will be protecting His faithful followers (although He will allow some to be martyred). To them He promises, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation:3:10; see also Revelation:7:3).
The blowing of the seven trumpets
After each of the first three trumpets, devastating destruction befalls the earth (Revelation:8:1-11). The fourth trumpet announces a time of great darkness (Revelation:8:12).
When the fifth angel sounds, a mighty army suddenly comes on the scene with great power, including power that will be used against its enemies “to torment them for five months” (Revelation:9:1-12).
When the sixth angel sounds, a giant army of 200 million comes from the east, resulting in the deaths of a third of mankind (Revelation:9:13-21). One would think that all the survivors would then have enough sense and fear of God to repent of their sins, but not so—”they did not.
When the seventh angel sounds, he is announcing events both wonderful and terrifying. The wonderful events are the coronation of Yahushua Mashiach as King of Kings, His return to rule all nations and the resurrection of the saints—”at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians:15:52). And the terrifying events are a series of seven last plagues, as we’ll see.
Revelation:11:15-18 proclaims: “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah [or Christ], and he will reign for ever and ever.’
“And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.
“‘The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth”.
To be continued…