Episode 71: End Times Judgments, Part 1- The Seals

Peace to Live By Episode 71: End Times Judgments, Part 1- The Seals - Daniel Litton
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[Transcript may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and contains extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       I hope everyone is doing well today.

       We are going to set our focus today and over the next several weeks on end times events—particularly relating to the wrath of God. The Book of the Revelation outlines three different areas of God’s judgment that is to come upon the world, and these things are set to happen before Jesus Christ’s return to the earth at the Battle of Armageddon. At this battle, Jesus fully descends to the earth, defeats his enemies (those who are left), and then sets up his earthly kingdom, primarily for the Nation of Israel. God fulfills his promise to the Jewish people, that of establishing an earthly kingdom, as he promised King David in 2 Samuel 7. But our focus over the next several weeks is going to be what happens in the seven years right before this kingdom is established. This is the final period of time in our current world setup, the setup we are in today. The period we are in right now ends at the Battle of Armageddon, and a new order then comes into play. Nonetheless, it should be noted that once the Rapture of the Church happens, the Church Age ends, and God, in shifting his focus back to the Nation of Israel, shifts from a God of grace to a God of judgment. God’s grace is completed, and it’s time for his wrath to come.

       Those of us who are familiar with our Bibles know that the Book of the Revelation written by the Apostle John outlines three distinct areas of God’s judgment. These are the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl judgments, and they cover quite a lot of area within John’s book of Revelation. It’s important and good for us to go over these things, as these are events that are actually going to happen in the future. This is where the future of the earth is headed. This is where human history is going, and nothing can change that. God always does what he says he’s going to do, and that no matter what anybody says. He’s demonstrated that in the past, as he has spoken things before they have happened, and then he has done them. Examples of this include things like judgments on the Nation of Israel, in the Old Testament, Christ’s coming to the earth as an infant, Christ’s crucifixion on the cross and rising from the dead, and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., just to name a few of the main things God has prophesied and done. And we, as believers, help him in this process, when we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We are helping him call these things into existence.

       Now, before we dive into the Seal Judgments for today, I want us to consider something that the Lord Jesus Christ told us in Matthew 24. This passage in Matthew 24 is a great overview of end times events, things found in the Book of the Revelation. Let’s go to verse 21 in this passage. Here, we find one of the most startling verses in the whole New Testament, or even the whole Bible for that matter. Consider this carefully. Jesus stated: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21, 22, ESV). That was an incredible and shocking statement that Jesus made. This will be the worst time in earth’s history ever, nothing ever has there been as bad, and nothing ever will be as bad as this. However, one might say, “Well, what about the flood? It killed almost everybody.” Yeah, the Flood of Noah was bad, but that involved a quick, easy death for the people of the world. Such is not the case here; far, far from it.

       Go ahead and strap yourselves in and turn to Revelation 6. It is here where we are going to spend our time today. This is the passage on the Seal Judgments, the first round of judgments against unbelievers living on the world at the end times. We join the Book of Revelation here in the midst of the Apostle John’s vision of the future, or his visitation to the future, as he became the world’s first time-traveler. Yes, God sent him into the future; time-travel is possible by the way. The Shuttle astronauts used to do it for instance. Anyway, we find ourselves here still in the beginning parts of John’s vision of earthly end times events. Let us remind ourselves that John is in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ and angels. This being the case, he was not the first disciple of Jesus to go to Heaven and return safely to the earth. It appears, if you read 2 Corinthians 12, that the Apostle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, was also caught up to the third Heaven for a time.

       Now, we are not going to read the entire chapter first here, but we will go through it section by section, as pertains to each of the Seal Judgments. The first judgment here appears to start the Tribulation period (remember, the Prophet Daniel told us that the Tribulation would be a week, which, we believe to represent seven years, each day being a year, in Daniel 9:27). So, the first four here, and perhaps all of them (depending on which view you take) are in the first three and a half years. It should also be noted that each of these seals can be found described in Jesus’ discussion in Matthew 24, where we just were. Revelation 5 tells us that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who has been found worthy to open the scroll and each of its seals in Heaven. Many theologians have noted this scroll with the seals on it to represent the title deed of the earth. Indeed, Jesus was the only one in Heaven who was found worthy to open it. This is agreed by the four-living creatures (angels), the 24-elders, other angels, and all the animals, both in Heaven and inside the earth. For that reason, it would make sense that it is the title deed, since the world belongs to God, and he is making Jesus’ enemies a footstool for his feet.

       That then sets up the scene for us. Revelation chapter 6, starting in verse 1. The text says: “Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.” (Revelation 6:1, 2, ESV). Consider that instead of Jesus telling us what is going to happen here in the first seal, we instead actually see what happens, which is interesting and I think easier for us to understand. And, as we read each of these seals, we will realize that the first four involve what is commonly referred to as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

       So, the angel of the Lord, with a powerful voice, tells the Apostle John to “Come.” John sees a white house with a rider on it. Understand that this is not the Lord Jesus Christ, who may have come to mind because of the white horse, but actually if one was the ascribe as to who is on the horse, you would likely say it is the Antichrist. He has a bow and a crown, and he has come conquering, and will further conquer in the future. The overall idea here is that because the Antichrist has conquered, we might say this rider on the horse represents the peace accomplished by the Antichrist, the long-awaited peace established in the Middle East between Israel and her neighbors, and the whole world really. Note that the rider’s bow bestows no violence, and his crown is “given to him.” He didn’t obtain his crown by force, like through the fighting of war, but peacefully. Therefore, there will be a peaceful time on the earth during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation period.

       If you look at recent history here in the United States, we can recall the many attempts at establishing peace in the Middle East. We could note the efforts of President Jimmy Carter, and his accomplishments, though he didn’t establish peace. We would recall President Bill Clinton, and his efforts in both his terms of office, especially his second term of office. And, of course, we could bring to mind President George W. Bush’s unfruitful efforts. And this trend will likely continue until one ruler, the one-world ruler, does in fact establish peace in the Middle East. Yes, the Antichrist will be able to achieve this. If we consider the world at the time when this happens, we know that the Rapture of the Church has already occurred, so Christians have left the earth. There will be a more liberal bend, obviously, and the Antichrist will also bring unison then between all the world religions, including those false Christian brothers and sisters who were left behind. Accordingly, it will be in the world that everyone is at peace with everyone. The ‘coexist’ idea will have it’s fulfillment.

       For the second Seal Judgment, we read: “When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.” (Revelation 6:3, 4, ESV)

       So, the Apostle John is summoned again by the angel, and this time he sees world peace go down the tubes. Likely, the red horse represents blood, which denotes the slayings that take place in a world now under war. Let us recall what the Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24, and this is significant here. He told the Israelites:

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8, ESV).

Since the human race will still be under sin’s power, the Antichrist’s peace will be short-lived. Perhaps other leaders and people rise up to challenge his authority. And this may be what causes wars to break out, and people talking about the possibility of starting wars. At this point, there still is peace in Israel, for Jesus said that they will hear of wars and rumors or wars, but not actually be in them yet. This won’t happen until the Antichrist exalts himself as God which causes the Israelites to come under persecution. Remember, he is going to go into the newly rebuilt Temple of God in Jerusalem, desecrate it, and declare himself to in fact be God. Thereby he goes against the Jewish people, and against Judaism. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 24:15, and it will take place either between Seals 4 and 5, or at the end of the Seals, depending on what you believe.

       The third Seal Judgment: “When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!” (Revelation 6:5, 6, ESV)

       The Apostle John is summoned again for the third time by an angel. Note this time that the horse is black, which as the rest of the passage indicates represents famine in the world. John seems to indicate this rider was a distinguished sight, as he said, “Behold” when he saw him. Now, it is likely that the world in war has lead to famine in the world, which makes sense. The pair of scales in the rider’s hand denotes that the food will be apportioned out to people. Thusly, food will be hard to come by and limited. The voice that John hears “in the midst of the four living creatures” probably is God the Father, since that is where we are told that God’s throne is earlier in the Book. He provides an example of the rationing of the food. We can recall that a denarius was a day’s wages back during the time of the New Testament, as Jesus has told us. A quart of wheat then isn’t very much food, and would be little for a person to live on in a single day. The three quarts of barely then might be what is given to a family. But God tells the hearers not to “harm the oil and wine!” because those things will likely be more scarce. Both these items are obviously used for cooking and wine used to used to make water drinkable.

       The fourth Seal Judgment: “When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:7, 8, ESV)

       A fourth angel here tells John to “Come.” The Lord Jesus Christ in opening the fourth seal shows us a rider with a pale horse. Based off the rest of the passage here, the pale color of the horse represents the paleness of a human corpse. The riders name of Death represents what is to come. We also see that Hades, or Hell, follows him, which must have been a pretty disturbing vision to John. Nevertheless, God the Father gives Death authority to kill a fourth of the world’s population. That’s a tremendous amount of people. Therefore, this judgment from God is on a massive scale. And this is accomplished through war, famine, pestilence (disease and disasters within nature in epidemic proportions), and wild animals. Now, one may view the war and famine here as from the second and third Seals, or this may be additional war and famine. But, pestilence rises within the war and famine. We know that small animals can bring on pestilence, like with the bubonic plague. It also could be that because the natural order of the earth, nature, is distributed, some wild animals may have to look elsewhere for food, like eating human beings.

       The fifth Seal: “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. 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?” 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.” (Revelation 6:9-11, ESV)

       Here, we meet the first martyrs of the Tribulation period. Since the Antichrist may have declared himself as God at this point, anyone then who does not agree with him will be prosecuted, even unto death. This then will include both Jewish and Christian people. The text says they were “slain for the word of God.” This means obviously that they had Bibles, for the Bible is likely going to be outlawed. This is because the world, under the Antichrist, believes it to be false. The text also says, “and for the witness they had borne.” Realize then that these believers in Jesus Christ have been preaching his Word, telling the Gospel, and probably doing one-on-one evangelism. Recall, these martyrs are people who have believed in God after the Rapture of the Church.

       So, these people ask God to be avenged, and they do this calling God “Sovereign.” This name for God is important because it goes to show that he still is in control. As a matter of fact, he is the one who has been displaying his wrath on the world through these Seal Judgments. But the Antichrist and his forces are killing Christians. Now, one might ask, “Isn’t it wrong for these believers to ask for vengeance on these people? Shouldn’t they have a forgiving spirit?” Well, you need to remember the time at which this is taking place. The grace period is over. It’s like the Old Testament again, when David would ask for vengeance on his adversaries in the Psalms. Sound familiar? At the end, all believers will agree with God when he takes his vengeance on anyone as being justified in doing so. We will side with God. So, no, it’s not wrong in this time period for them to do that, as the giving of the white robes shows (see also Revelation 20:4, 5). God is going to make Jesus’ enemies a footstool for his feet, as he is going to do for us believers in the lives of those who do not repent and believe.

       However, notice when these martyred saints are given their white robes that the Tribulation is not complete yet. There are still more believers to be martyred. More believers are going to be killed. And note, quickly, how these believers had called God “holy and true.” These are two important terms to describe God. He is the One who is truly holy, set apart. The Antichrist, in contrast, while he tries to appear holy, is not the Holy One. And notice that God is called True. He is true because he has the truth of life. His truth is the only truth; his way is the only way. There are not multiple truths that are true. There is only one Truth, and it’s his truth. The Antichrist has his own set of beliefs of what he will call true, but that is not truth. What he says are lies, like that of calling himself God. His ways will look true, because of false signs and wonders, but he is deceiving the world.

       The sixth Seal: “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, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” (Revelation 6:12-14, ESV)

       Notice while we might say the last four Seal Judgments were of an indirect nature from God, this judgment will be unmistakably God induced. That’s the way the world will see it. First there is a great earthquake. The word “great” here coupled with earthquake denotes a powerful one, probably encompassing the entire earth. Then we see the disturbance with the sun and the moon. It could be that because the earth was affected by such a great earthquake that the sun becomes darkened and the moon changes its color due to an effect on the sky. Thus, if the great earthquake caused volcanos to erupt, then the volcanic ash in the sky would change the human perception of the sun. It is also possible that are are actual, physical things that happen both to the sun and moon. The stars falling on the earth here are representative to either hot volcanic ash coming from the sky or perhaps objects from space entering the earth’s atmosphere and coming through. This could be meteors that make it to the ground. A third explanation is that it is the actual stars in outer space, which have been supernaturally made to fall on the earth at a much smaller size than they originally were.

       We see that the sky of the earth undergoes a change, which is said to be “vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up.” Now, this might be a large hole created in the earth’s ozone layer. And perhaps this has occurred from the stars falling to the earth. Nonetheless, some sort of disturbance is in the sky here. John also tells us that “and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” This happening is likely related to the great earthquake that had occurred, and the earth’s platonic plates are now in disarray. Therefore, the plates are shifting causing havoc on the earth.

       Continuing on the sixth Seal: “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, 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, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17, ESV)

       We note here then the entirety of the human race. The text mentions the elites, but it also mentions the average individuals, both free and slave. Apparently, they go into caves and among the rocks of mountains in an attempt to escape the catastrophes. It could be that the stars are still falling to the earth, and the earth’s plates are still moving, and the people feel they will be safer in these areas. While the people acknowledge God, and that these judgments are coming from him, they do not turn to believe in him. Recall, we know that anyone who receives the mark of the beast is banned from a life with God forever. Once a person receives the mark, becoming a true follower of the Antichrist, no hope of repentance exists for that individual. And these people even realize there is more wrath to come from God, and that it will result in their ultimate destruction. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, people listening to my voice and others, they recognize that what I am saying is true, but the do not turn and repent. This is a terribly unfortunate thing.

       Now, the seventh seal includes both the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments, and we will be looking at those over the next several weeks to come.

       In conclusion today, maybe you are thinking about these end times events of the Seal Judgments and are believing that they are true. Perhaps you want to make sure you're not left here on the earth when the end does indeed come, when God’s wrath is poured out on the earth. Maybe you don't know God—you don't know Jesus, as your personal Lord and Savior, and you would like to know him. Well, today, you can become part of God's family by repenting of your sins, the things you know are wrong and of which are against God, and by believing in Jesus' perfect sacrifice on the cross for you sins. Jesus came into the world as a man and died on the cross and rose again, some 2,000 year ago, so that we, as humans, would not have go to the place of torment—to Hell—after this life, for our sins. By accepting Jesus' sacrifice in your place, paying the penalty that you deserve, you can escape from God's wrath. God will accept you completely, and he will transform you to be like Jesus.

       The Bible tells us that anyone who knows the truth of the Gospel but refuses to believe and obey it, that if the Rapture does take place, and the end times come, you will have no chance for repentance of your sins and hope of believing in God. It is very important you do not pass up God's nudge on your heart to do what is right, to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. The writer of Hebrews noted to some Jewish people of his day:

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:7-12, ESV)

You still have time today to make the right decision, and I encourage you to make that life-changing decision.

       If you would like to accept Jesus today, then follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I am a sinner. I have sinned against you in many ways in my life. But now I turn from my sins and want to accept Jesus' death on the cross as a substitute for what I deserve. I believe Jesus died on the cross for me and that he rose from the dead so that I might have a new life in you. God, I turn from sins and give my life over to following your ways, so that you say in my guide because you know what is best for me. Please change me, Father, and make me good like Jesus. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton