"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass," Revelation 1:1.
(Read Revelation 6.)
As we take up our study again:
I. I TURN NOW TO THE QUESTION IN OUR SUBJECT.
If I were offer a suggestion I would say that we should look at the opening of the 1st Seal, 6:1-2. There the return of Christ is revealed. That wonderful event is referred to repeatedly. 1:7, 6:2, 12-17, 19:11. Preachers should take note of this!
1. Here is a Scriptural Principle.
The end of all things shown before the preceding events, Isaiah 2:1-4. Then the preceding judgments, verses 10-22.
2. The Lord would allay the fear of the saints by so doing.
The Lord likes to show how it will all end in order to comfort the saints.
3. There will be an awakening knowledge of these truths at the end.
I believe that there will be a re-emerging of an awareness of the return of Christ as we near the end of this age.
Christ is carrying a bow and that is a weapon used at a distance from the enemy. I suggest that this is an indication that the subject of the Saviour's return comes into sight some time before it actually happens. When He actually comes, He is carrying a sword, a close quarter weapon! We are told that the 'Church' will have largely gone to sleep and will have 'forgotten' the return of Christ, right up until He is virtually on the doorstep. The Saviour makes that clear in Matthew 25:1-13. "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him, verses 5-6.But as the time draws near there is an awakening cry from heaven, a fresh revealing of that glorious event, though it is still some way off. The saints of God are made aware of the nearness of the times and they have revealed unto them that Christ is, as it were, on the horizon! There is a quickening of them and a growing awareness of His approach just as the parable of the Virgins teaches us.
II. I THINK THAT TODAY WE ARE AT LEAST APPROACHING THIS POINT!
I say that with hesitation and would not seek to impose upon any my view. But I ask you to consider what it is I have said. The SEALS, the TRUMPETS and the PLAGUES take place, I believe, during Antichrist's reign and mostly during the last three and half years of his reign, after he has declared himself 'God' and sits in the temple in Jerusalem, 2 Thess 2:4. It is the emergence of Antichrist which will 'trigger' Heaven's response to earth's rebellion and wickedness.But first there is this highlighting that the return of Christ is drawing near!
Is there not a creeping, growing awareness of things prophetic amongst a remnant? Two years ago, the SGAT marked 100 years of its witness to the prophetic truth of God. Is there not a growing consciousness of the deepening apostasy, the universal rejection of God's Word amongst those nations privileged for centuries to hear it proclaimed, and a recognising that, as never before, men are embracing everything that is unholy and ungodly? There was a slow awakening to the wickedness of the WCC amongst evangelicals and likewise to the wicked departures of Billy Graham but light did finally dawn!!The darkness reigning over the nations is seen in that nothing seems to have been brought home to the multitude by this 'Coronavirus' plague. Only a few have noted the 'spirit' of this day! In the midst of the pandemic, the deaths and sicknesses, there has been little or no public reference to God. Political leaders have purposely avoided any mention of Him altogether while the so-called 'church leaders in the mainline' churches have made such scant and irrelevant mention of Him, silence on their part would have been more beneficial! Pulpits in evangelical assemblies are also largely silent on the matter.
I believe then that the events that are revealed by the opening of the first seal indicates the great need of this hour - a revealing of the approach of the Saviour's return. It is something we ought to be praying for! I will not be dogmatic about this but I think that what I say is worthy of some consideration. If I am correct in suggesting that we are near to the opening of the first seal and the revealing and emphasising afresh to God's people the great doctrine of the Saviour's return in glory, then soon there will follow the events shown us here under the likeness of the opening of the pages of a book. This are simultaneous occurrences in the 'earth', the territory of Antichrist.
The 2nd seal signals WAR.
Who can read of the increasing 'squaring up' between the USA, Iran, China and Russia and the accumulation of advanced weapons that almost daily we are told they are assembling and the 'war games' they engage in, without anticipating that it will all lead to conflict and likely that on a scale unseen before!For many decades now the likes of the United Nations have declared that, 'peace reigns'! Nothing could be further from the truth! Even if that were true, the Lord Jesus tells us that the close of this age will see conflict between nations.
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom," Matthew 24:6-7. These things have marked this age even as has many sins but just as ALL sin will intensify so it will be with WAR! The opening of the second seal will see the taking of "peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another," Revelation 6:4. Peace was given by God's mercy for the sake of His people and the spread of the gospel, 1 Tim 2:1-4. But that will end at the close of this age.The rider of the horse "was given . . . a great sword." That seems to indicate an intensifying of God's judgments against the nations.
The 3rd seal signifies FAMINE.
Verses 5-6. The prices quoted here are exorbitant according to the pricing of the day in which John lived. The use of "a pair of balances" would suggest rationing, food being distributed by exact weight. That is the inevitable outcome of war! In recent days, due to 'panic buying' prior to a period of 'lockdown', many of the big stores 'rationed' certain goods for which there was a particularly heavy demand. It was, I believe, but an omen of things to come.Our newspapers and news bulletins have recently predicted 'food shortages' as a result of BREXIT. That danger seems to have receded. But if there is war then food shortages will be very real and very severe. I believe that the change in farming methods, with the emphasis on profit, and a concentrating by farmers on crops which make the most profit, a range of foods may not be so freely available as once they were.
Also, the supply of food is very much in the hands of the larger nations so that like a child seeking a place in a queue may be pushed back by the stronger adults, even so there will be an intimidating of smaller nations in a time of crisis. That was evidenced very recently when the USA and other large countries bought up huge supplies of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and smaller countries had a difficult time obtaining a supply.
The 4th seal initiates even more DEATH.
Verses 7-8. War, famine and food shortage have ever created such. On a much smaller scale we have all seen the chaos when food is supplied to starving communities - the fighting and scrambling for a loaf of bread as it is distributed. Multiply that a million times and we are at the 4th seal! Hell, that is 'Hades' or the grave, follows at the heels of death. "And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." This is over the fourth part of Antichrist's dominion. Remember his territory will stretch from the Scottish border across Europe, along the north shores of Africa to the borders of India! The reference to the wild beasts would suggest that the dominion given to man over beasts just after the creation, has been removed! "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat," Genesis 1:29. Many a farmer has learned to his cost the power of the domesticated milk cow!
The opening of the fifth seal reveals a scene in HEAVEN.
Verses 9-11. We are shown "under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held," verse 9. We may gauge just when this scene takes place by the use of the response to the cry of the martyred saints. "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And 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," verses 10-11. The phrase, 'a little' means a 'short, brief time'. So, we are told that the persecuting of the saints has yet to continue for a short time and then would come the avenging of the blood of those slain by Antichrist and his minions.
The 6th seal reveals the SIGN
Indicating the return of Christ and the soon end of the age, 6:12-17. "The great day" of "the wrath of the Lamb" "is come." Matthew 24:29-30 states: "Immediately after the tribulation of 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: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. "The cry in verses 16-17 is from the lips of the armies of the Antichrist, assembled to do battle with the Lord Jesus. We read of this attempt to war against the Saviour in 17:13-14. "These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."How wicked and foolishly blind will men have become when they are ready to do battle with the Lord of glory! Is this not the darkness which prevailed at the cross when Peter told Israel's leaders that they had 'killed the Prince of life,' Acts 3:15. But grace was at work at the cross and men were permitted to acts so. But this world will see a time when the Saviour turns on His attackers and they will pay the price for their folly!
In Revelation 8:1, we read of the opening of the 7th seal.
It is followed by A PERIOD OF SILENCE - the silence that goes before a great battle.In the brief time that follows the opening of the 7th seal, there will be the sounding of the 7 trumpets, 8:2. God is declaring WAR upon His enemies! What a foretaste of God's wrath upon sinful men will be seen, and it should be noted that the judgments now about to be visited upon Antichrist's kingdom come about in answer to the prayers of the saints, offered through the perfume of Christ's righteousness, verse 3. It is during the time of the 7th Trumpet (11:15) that we read that: "the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time," 12:12. This is another indication of where this is in God's timetable. It is during the great tribulation, shortly before the end, when the devil empowers Antichrist against the cause and people of God.
Daniel was shown this time. "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom," Daniel 7:21-22.The devil knows how to read the 'signs of the times'! He knows that he has "but a short time." Back to the question - there is a faint glimmer, a small but growing indication of an awakening today amongst us, God's people, and a realising that the coming of the Lord is indeed 'drawing nigh'! Christian, you should seek to stir yourself in this matter and endeavour to become more acquainted with prophecy. We ought to pray also that a studying of God's Word amongst God's remnant become much more prevalent, especially amongst God's servants. There is very few it seems who care to find out more about the return of Christ. It is just like it was at the first advent. But small as it may be, I believe it is there and that signals a change of heart and mind amongst believers.
Are you amongst that number? I trust you are and that you will give yourself to the study of God's Word and be found waiting for the Lord to return.