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Section 9B .. The Future/End of The Age

 

003white  Index to Section 9B... The Future         >      The End of The Age (Index)   >      Part II .. The Seven Seals

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The-Future

The End Of The Age Part II... The Seven Seals

Carol Brooks
Edited by Vicki Narlee

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13 NASB)

INDEX TO ALL SIX SECTIONS

PART I... THE 'DAY OF THE LORD This devastating period of time, described as coming suddenly, was foretold by the prophets of old and is described in several different terms in both Old and New Testaments

YOU ARE HERE 001orange PART II... THE FIRST SIX SEALS. If one avoids a superficial reading of Matthew 24, then compares what Jesus said in that chapter with the Seals of Revelation 6, it becomes quite clear that the Seals represent the persecution of Christians.

PART III... THE SEVENTH SEAL AND THE FIRST SIX TRUMPETS. This Seventh, and last, Seal does not bring about any disasters in itself but introduces the Seven Trumpets. In the Old Testament, trumpets often announced a coming disaster. And it will be no different at the end of the age, when the sounding of trumpets will herald the plagues that God will send on the earth, which will indeed be of 'Biblical proportions'.

PART IV... THE SEVENTH TRUMPET. This last Trumpet is, in a sense, the most eventful of all them all, since it literally ushers the old age out, and the new one in. In summary, this last and final Trumpet... a) Brings and end to the mystery of God, when the doors to the Kingdom close forever with no possibility of redemption for any that have not yet become a disciple of the Lamb. b) Marks the point when believers are caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air (the rapture). They are physically moved off the earth for a very specific reason. c) Introduces the Seven Bowls that end all things.

PART V... THE RAPTURE. The reasons we cannot, and should not, trust in the Rapture taking place before the tribulation.

PART VI... THE SEVEN BOWLS. Zephaniah 1:18 says it all... "Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the Lord's wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth"

 

The End Of The Age Part II... The Seven Seals.
ON THIS PAGE

Christians and The Wrath of God
Christians rightly believe that Christ's followers will not suffer in the terrible time when God brings retributive justice to the earth.

The Symbolism of The Seals
if one avoids a superficial reading of the text, it becomes quite clear that the Seals represent the persecution of Christians. In order to understand this, we first have to carefully read Jesus' words in Matthew 24 (commonly known as the Olivet Discourse), then compare what He said in that chapter with the Seals of Revelation 6.

The Two Tribulations of Matthew 24
Matthew 24 becomes much clearer if the reader bears in mind that Jesus differentiates between the "tribulation" He speaks of in verse 9, and the "great tribulation" of verse 21

A Comparison of The Seals And Matthew 24:4-9
Matthew 24:4-9 describes the events leading up to, and the actual persecution of the church, in which Christians will be hated, betrayed, and killed. What is not always realized, is that these verses are exactly paralleled by the first four Seals (Revelation 6-7), which then have to refer to the persecution of Christians, not God's judgment on the rest of humanity.

A Wake Up Call
 it is going to be a harsh reality check when believers find themselves being persecuted and killed for what they believe

Where We Are In The Prophetic Time Line
The falling away is already in full bloom, so the next step is the revealing of the antichrist whose arrival is imminent.

The Calm Before The Storm
The "day of the Lord" is described as coming suddenly, catching the non believer unawares ...

The Sixth Seal
A straightforward reading of the text indicates that God uses heavenly phenomena to herald the momentous events to come

The Interlude Between The Sixth and Seventh Seals
Just as a peculiar and eerie calm usually precedes the most devastating of storms, this short silence is the calm before the storm of judgment unleashes its fury


Christians and The Wrath of God?
Considering that the whole point of salvation is being saved from the wrath of God, Christians rightly believe that Christ's followers will not suffer in the terrible time when God brings retributive justice to the earth. This is clearly indicated by various passages of Scripture. For example... (All Emphasis Added)

    Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; (Ephesians 5:6-7 NASB)

    For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NASB)

    For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB)

The problem being that all too many Christians interpret these verses to mean that God will 'rapture' us out of here before the trouble really starts. But is this entirely accurate? Jesus and John certainly spoke of a lot of trouble for Christians .... (All Emphasis Added)

    Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (Matthew 10:21-22 NASB)

    These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. (John 16:1-3 NASB)

While it is true that there has always been isolated and tragic instances of the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world, there has never been anything remotely similar to the universal scale described in the above verses, especially the 'doing God a service' bit. (For more information on who might think killing Christians is doing God a service, See Footnote I

The most logical reason for the seeming inconsistency between Jesus rescuing believers from God's wrath, and believers being killed is that Christians undergo a tremendous persecution, which has nothing to do with God's judgment. In fact, the Bible indicates that the spilling of the blood of believers is, in a manner of speaking, the spark which sets off the fire of God's wrath. Babylon, the great city, will be thrown down "with violence" because all the nations were deceived by its sorcery, and... (Revelation 18: 21-23)

    "... in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth."  (Revelation 18:24 NASB)


The Symbolism of The Seals
As previously mentioned, Revelation, using the metaphorical images of Seals, Trumpets and Bowls, describes the horrendous conditions of the last days. While there is no doubt that, as the end times progress, conditions get progressively worse and more devastating, the million dollar question is whether the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls all signify God's judgment on sin and evil?

They do not.

In fact, if one avoids a superficial reading of the text, it becomes quite clear that the Seals represent the persecution of Christians.

To arrive at this conclusion we first have to carefully read Jesus' words in Matthew 24 (commonly known as the Olivet Discourse), then compare what He said in that chapter with the Seals of Revelation 6.


The Two Tribulations of Matthew 24
Matthew 24, has always been considered a very difficult chapter to understand. However, it becomes much clearer if the reader bears in mind that Jesus differentiates between the "tribulation" He speaks of in verse 9, and the "great tribulation" of verse 21. Although He used the same Greek word in both verses, He qualifies the second usage by the word "great" (verse 21), translated from the Greek megas (which is where we get the English word 'mega').

    Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13 NASB)

    For then there will be a great (Gk. megas) tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:21-22 NASB)

If we consider that Jesus was referring to two separate and distinct tribulations, the chapter falls into perfect chronological order.

    (Note: In fact, there are numerous clues in Matthew 24 which should give us clear indication that the chapter is indeed in chronological order. For example, "not yet" in verse 6, "merely the beginning" in verse 8, "and then" in verses 14 and 30, and "immediately after" in verse 29 clearly indicate that one event follows another. It is we who, trying to make the Olivet Discourse fit into our ideas of the end time scenario, have confused the issue. This is a very similar situation to the various interpretations of the Seven Feasts which jump backwards and forwards between them in an effort to make them fit into pre-conceived end time ideas. In reality, the Feasts were given by God in a set chronological order. Therefore the events that they symbolize will take place in the same exact order. (See The Seven Feasts of Israel)

The question is, what are these two different tribulations?

Many believe that they are different and succeeding series of judgments on humanity, which is as far from the truth as it gets.  If we read the chapter carefully, bearing in mind all the while, that it is in chronological order, a pattern emerges.

Taking Matthew 24 one step at a time, we find that when asked what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age, Jesus started with a warning (Matthew 24:4-5) that many will come in His name, claiming to be Christ and will lead many astray (which I will come to later). Jesus then indicated these signs (famines and earthquakes, wars etc.) would be "the beginning" of sorrows ....

    (6) "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.  (7) "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. (8)  "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Matthew 24:6-8 NASB)

His next words, preceded by the word "then", clearly indicate that it is His followers who, because of His name, will be hated and killed. In other words, it is the beginning of  what is clearly the persecution of the church.  Note very carefully that Jesus called it the "tribulation"...

    Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. (Matthew 24:9-12 NASB)

He then added that "the one who endures to the end" would be saved. (Vs. 13)

Jesus further warned (in verse 15) to flee when we "see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place " since that event signifies the beginning of the Great Tribulation, "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will" (Vs. 21).

He added that if those days were not shortened "no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short" (V. 22). Which makes it very clear that the elect will still be on earth during the "Great Tribulation", and it is for their sakes that those days will be cut short.

It is during this time that there will be an upsurge of "false christs" and "false prophets", who will show "great signs and wonders" to try and lead this elect astray (Matthew 24:23-25). Jesus warns NOT to believe these pretenders (V.26) as the coming of the Son of man will be an event that will be as "lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west" (Matthew 24:27). In other words... His coming will be a world wide phenomena, seen from every corner of the globe.

To summarize... There is a "Tribulation" in which Christians will be hated, betrayed and killed, followed by the "Great Tribulation", which is heralded by the Abomination of Desolation.

(Notes: Footnote II Could the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 have been the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy about the abomination of desolation?
Could this sign be completely different from what we have long believed? HERE

Footnote III Jesus' warning about fleeing from Judea to the mountains etc. in Matthew 24:16-20).

Footnote IV Are Matthew 24 and Luke 21 Parallel Accounts?

 However, how does this, in any way, show that the Seven Seals represent the persecution of Christians?

The answer is relatively simple.


A Comparison of The Seals And Matthew 24:4-9 (otherwise known as the Olivet Discourse)
Matthew 24:4-9 describes the events leading up to, and the actual tribulation, or persecution of the church, in which Christians will be hated, betrayed, and killed. What is not always realized, is that these verses are exactly paralleled by the first four Seals (Revelation 6-7), which then have to refer to the persecution of Christians, not God's judgment on the rest of humanity.

The first four Seals are also known as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, simply because specific end time events have been symbolized by four horsemen who ride horses of different colours.

The first three Seals describe the beginning of birth pains... the events leading up to the tribulation of the church. The Fourth Seal describes the actual persecution of Christians. The Fifth Seal is John's vision of the souls of people under the altar, whom he said had been slain for the word of God, which means they were Christians who had been martyred. In other words, the Fifth Seal is the result of the persecution of the church.

Both sections of Scripture then go into the 'Great Tribulation' of God's wrath... a period of time such as the world has never seen.

Also to particularly to be noted is that the wrath of God is only spoken of in connection with the trumpets and the bowls, never with the Seals. In fact the first mention Revelation makes of God's wrath is after the opening of the sixth seal, when the kings of the earth desperately want to be hidden from His wrath.

    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 6:16-17 NASB)

(All Emphasis has been added to the following the Bible verses, quoted from the NASB)


The First Seal
(Revelation 6:1-2)
First Seal: Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, "Come." I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1-2 NASB)

Olivet Discourse: And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. (Matthew 24:4-5 NASB)

    Notes on the First Horseman:
    The correlation between the First Seal and Matthew 24:4-5 may not be obvious at first glance, but becomes glaringly obvious if one gives it a little thought.

    Some believe the rider on the white horse to be Christ since, in a later chapter, the book of Revelation clearly portrays Jesus as riding a white horse. However the similarity begins and ends with the fact that both riders are astride similarly colored mounts. The rider in Revelation 19:11 is obviously none other than Jesus Christ who, in righteousness, dispenses justice. However, the rider in Revelation 6:2 is bent on conquest.

      I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.  (Revelation 6:2 NASB)

      And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  (Revelation 19:11 NASB)

    But why should a rider, other than Christ, also be portrayed on a white horse?

    Remember that, when asked what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age, Jesus started with a warning that many would be led astray. John told us that many antichrists existed at the time of his writing and would continue to make their appearance, but the culmination of all these will be the antichrist. (1 John 2:18). Paul called him "the man of lawlessness" and "the son of destruction" who would exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and take his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

    What we need to bear in mind is that the English word 'Antichrist' comes from the Greek antichristos (an-tee'-khris-tos).... Christos meaning 'messiah' or 'anointed one'. English speakers are accustomed to taking the word 'anti' to mean 'opposed to', however, in Greek, the word can also mean 'instead of'. Therefore antichristos does not necessarily mean 'against' or 'opposed to' Christ, but can mean 'instead of' Christ. This is another way of saying one who seeks to ‘take the place of' Christ. In other words, the antichrist is a clever counterfeit of God's Messiah, which is why he is seen as riding a horse the same colour as Christ's.

    In Matthew 24:4-5, Jesus warned believers not to be fooled by false Christs which, obviously, has to include the most dangerous one of
    all... The Antichrist. He also said "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him”. (John 5:43 NASB)

    The very fact that peace is not taken from the earth until the second seal/red horse (below), further indicates that the rider on the White Horse is very likely to be the false messiah, anticipated by much of the non-Christian world, who believe he will teach us to live peacefully with each other. Since the concept of a coming world teacher who sets up a 'golden age' on earth can be found in many world religious systems, as well as in the literature of the occult, he will deceive the vast majority of people. The beginning of the end will not come with death and destruction but on the wings of peace, which will lull the global masses into a false sense of security.

    However the illusion of peace created by the antichrist will be short-lived, shattered by the Red Horse Rider. It is evident that although war has always been a part of history, global warfare on an unprecedented scale will be a part of the final countdown.

    The Black Horse, perhaps as an aftermath of war, brings famine and food rationing.

    I strongly suggest you read
    An Overview of The New Age
    Alice Bailey, Lucis Trust, and The Reappearance of "The Christ"
    The Global Alliance
    The United Nations

The Second Seal (Revelation 6:3-4)
Second Seal: When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come." And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

Olivet Discourse
You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. (Matthew 24:6-7a)

    Notes on The Second Horseman:
    No explanation is needed to see the correlation between the verses above, that both speak of war on an international scale.


The Third Seal (Revelation 6:5-6)
Third Seal: When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine."

Olivet Discourse: "... and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs". (Matthew 24:7b-8)

    Notes on The Third Horseman:
    Scales or balances are the symbols of justice or equity (See Job 31:6; Psalm 62:9; Proverbs 11:1 and 16:11). However, scales can also be used to weigh food items like grain. However, when the Bible speaks of rationing out food, it is clear that the portions are not sufficient.

      When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied. (Leviticus 26:26 NASB)

      Moreover, He said to me, "Son of man, behold, I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they will eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and drink water by measure and in horror, (Ezekiel 4:16 NASB)

    Ken Cayce's explanation is as close to the truth as we can get...

      Since in biblical days a denarius was a common wage for a day's work, and a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley are basically subsistence diets, John is indicating that a man will have to work all day just to get enough food to eat, with nothing left over for his family or the elderly.

      In the parable of the vineyard, Matthew 20:2, a day's work was a penny. This "penny", in the verse above, means a full day's pay. I believe this means that a loaf of bread will be so inflated in price, because of scarcity of food, that it will take a whole day's wages of a man to buy one loaf.

      We surely know that it is a "measure", which is a very small amount. Barley seems to be a third the cost, so perhaps a meager meal of barley for three could cost a whole day's wages. [01]

    While it seems clear that the third horseman portrays future hunger and suffering "when the powers that be tightly control the meting out of staple foods at highly inflated prices" [02], the fact that God instructs that no harm is to be done to the oil and wine is not as easy to understand. As Richard T. Ritenbaugh goes on to say...

      Olive oil and wine are not luxury items, as many take them to be; in the Mediterranean world, they are important supporting elements of the common diet (see Deuteronomy 7:13; Hosea 2:8; Haggai 1:11; etc.). However, while they provide supplementary nutrition, people cannot subsist on them alone. Thus, they are secondary food items, and in the prophecy, they remain plentiful. This leads to two possible conclusions:

      1. God is limiting the severity of famines, as "the end is not yet" (Matthew 24:6) and "these are the beginning of sorrows" (verse 8); or more likely,

      2. He is indicating a measure of disparity and irregularity in these famines. Some foods will be scarce, while others are abundant. Some people will be sorely affected, while others will hardly suffer. Some areas will be hit hard, while others feel little impact. [03]

    Certainly the word "various" in Matthew 24:7 indicates that the famine will not be global.


The Fourth Seal
The Fourth Seal describes the actual persecution of Christians, which directly corresponds with Jesus' words spoken to the disciples... they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you

Fourth Seal: When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7-8 NASB)

Olivet Discourse: Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13 NASB)

    Notes on The Fourth Horseman:
    Statistics estimate that Christians make up about 32% of the world's population, [04] a number that is exceedingly close to the "fourth of the earth" that death and Hades will be given authority to.


The Fifth Seal
The fifth seal talks of the outcome of the fourth seal... John saw the souls of people under the altar, whom he said had been slain for the word of God, which could mean none other than Christians.

Fifth Seal: When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 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 6:9-11 NASB)

    Notes On The Fifth Seal: There is not a shred of evidence to support the idea that those martyred during the tribulation are, as some believe, a Jewish remnant.

    Brethren
    The Greek word translated brethren (above) is adelphos which comes from the prefix "A" and the Greek delphus or delphos, which means a womb. Therefore adelphos literally, or figuratively, means 'a brother'.

      Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers (Gk. adelphos). (Matthew 1:2 NASB)

    All Jews regarded each other as blood brothers because they considered Abraham to be their father and they were, therefore, of one family. However, Jesus made it very clear that an accident of birth could not include a person into the family of God. Only those that did the will of His Father would be considered sons of Abraham, members of the family of God, and heirs to the kingdom. It is faith in, and obedience to, God that makes someone part of the family... not ethnicity, nor membership in a synagogue or church.

    In the New Testament, the term "brethren" was specifically used to refer to other believers which did not mean they were literal brothers, but formed a spiritual brotherhood of believers who were born again of the Father.

      So then, brethren (Gk. adelphos), we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- (Romans 8:12 NASB)

      but brother (Gk. adelphos) goes to law with brother (Gk. adelphos) , and that before unbelievers? (1 Corinthians 6:6 NASB)
      and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so. (2 Corinthians 11:9 NASB)

      for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,  (1 Thessalonians 4:10 NASB)

      Therefore, brethren (Gk. adelphos), since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, (Hebrews 10:19 NASB)

    Note that in 1 Thessalonians 4:10 and 2 Corinthians 11:9 above, Paul refers to the Macedonians as brethren. In New Testament times, Macedonia was a Roman province north of Greece, governed by a proconsul, and the first region of Europe to accept Christianity.

    Fellow-Servants
    Paul used the Greek word sundoulos (fellow-servants) to speak of two different men... Tychicus and Epaphras..

      As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant (Gk. sundoulos) in the Lord, will bring you information. (Colossians 4:7 NASB)

      just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant (Gk. sundoulos) , who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,  (Colossians 1:7 NASB)

    While Tychicus is widely believed to be a Christian from Asia, we know that Epaphras was a Colossian from Paul's words "Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings...." (Colossians 4:12 NASB)


A Wake Up Call
Most Christians are eagerly looking forward to the return of Christ, which will be a glorious event unparalleled in the history of the world. However what most believers do not realize is that the time just preceding His return will be terrible period for Christians. Since much of the church believes that Christians will not go through any tribulation, but will be wafted away to heaven before the going gets rough, it is going to be a harsh reality check when believers find themselves being persecuted and killed for what they believe.

I have no doubt that, at that time, the faith of many will be sorely shaken because they will think that God has abandoned them, and the Bible has been lying about the timing of the Rapture. I wonder how many will realize that it is not the Bible that has misled them, but that they, "wanting to have their ears tickled", accumulated for themselves "teachers in accordance to their own desires" (2 Timothy 4:3). In other words, the false teachers told the people what they wanted to hear.

If you are a Christian, be prepared to be severely tested, persecuted, betrayed and even to die for your faith. See The Rapture... Reasons the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is a figment of the imagination. The exact timing of the rapture has been covered in Chapter IV


Where We Are In The Prophetic Time Line

Echoing Jesus' words, Paul described the sequence of events in slightly more detail. When he heard that the Thessalonians feared that they had missed the rapture, he wrote them a comforting letter reminding them that certain events had to take place before the coming of the Lord. In his words...

    Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NASB)

The order being

    The great apostasy or falling away (which, by the way, is already here)
    The restrainer is taken out of the way (V. 6-7)
    The man of sin/the rider on the white horse/the antichrist is revealed.

The falling away (See Signs of The Times) is already in full bloom, so the next step is the revealing of the antichrist whose arrival is imminent. Hundreds of thousands of New Agers have positioned themselves to shortly usher in the antichrist doing everything in their power to render to the "Great Ones" intelligent assistance which will make their plans for humanity materialize. And if you imagine for even a moment that these beliefs are limited to a few kooks round the globe, think again. Again, I point the reader in the direction of the following articles which are crucial to understanding what is going on in the world around us.

An Overview of The New Age
Alice Bailey, Lucis Trust, and The Reappearance of "The Christ"
The Global Alliance
The United Nations


The Calm Before The Storm
Both Jesus and Paul imply that world conditions would not necessarily allow people to suspect the approach of Armageddon. The "day of the Lord" is described as coming suddenly, catching the non believer unawares ...

    For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:38-39 NASB)

    For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 NASB)

Although there are signs which will wake up the wise to the approaching day, these events will probably be viewed by the unbelievers as passing storms. No one in their right mind would utter "peace and safety" in a the midst of an economic meltdown, a global recession, war on an international scale, or any other horrendous situation. Apparently, for most of the unbelieving world, it is business as usual. As a matter of fact, businesses seem to be thriving..

    The account of the end of Babylon in Revelation 18 portrays a picture of a very impressive economic state just prior to her destruction. Verse 7 describes the pre-plague conditions of "the great city", when she said in her heart "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall in no wise see mourning." After the devastation "the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived wantonly with her, shall weep and wail over her, when they look upon the smoke of her burning" (V. 9), and the merchants who had become rich by her (V. 19) wept and mourned over her, for no man buys their merchandise any more. The list of merchandise includes many and varied treasures like gold, and silver, precious stone, pearls, fine linen, silk, marble; cinnamon, incense, and ointment, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, and wheat, cattle, sheep etc, but at the very end of the list, Revelation 18:13 adds "and souls of men". (See Two Babylons)

So the account suggests that business is thriving and people are getting rich, but in one day "her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire;" (Verse 8). Why? Because as verse 18:24 says

    And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." (Revelation 18:24 NASB)

Luke 21:34-35 is a strong warning to all Christians who live at the end of the age... that they not be so concerned with the cares and/or pleasures of this life that events catch them as much by surprise as they will a non believing world. Jesus said..

    Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. "But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34-36 NASB)

Even the persecution of the church does not substantially affect the social and economic machinery of the world. On the contrary, fundamentalist Christians may very well be seen as a threat to this imagined world peace, and getting many of them out of the way could  fool people into thinking that they have truly established peace and security.

That is, until...


The Sixth Seal
Sixth Seal: I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and 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. 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 6:12-17 NASB)

Olivet Discourse: For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:21-22 NASB)

    Notes on The Sixth Seal: To reiterate something said earlier... The breaking of the Sixth Seal is the first time that the wrath of God is mentioned. Nothing that went before had anything to do with His judgment. 

    Some believe that this Sixth Seal summarizes the trumpets and bowls to come, for example the "Great Earthquake" mentioned at the sixth seal takes place at the end of the Seventh Bowl... ".... and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty  (Revelation 16:18 NASB). However, a straightforward reading of the text indicates that God uses heavenly phenomena to herald the momentous events to come. In fact, in the Old Testament, earthquakes were a fairly common sign of either God appearing, and/or as sign of His anger

      Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. (Exodus 19:18 NASB)

      Lord, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, Even the clouds dripped water. "The mountains quaked at the presence of the Lord, This Sinai, at the presence of the Lord, the God of Israel. (Judges 5:4-5 NASB)

      Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. (2 Samuel 22:8 NASB)

      Then the earth shook and quaked; And the foundations of the mountains were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry.  (Psalms 18:7 NASB)

      The earth quaked; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel.  (Psalms 68:8 NASB)

      The mountains saw You and quaked; The downpour of waters swept by. The deep uttered forth its voice, It lifted high its hands. (Habakkuk 3:10 NASB)

    In other words, the phenomena of the Sixth Seal, as terrible as they will be, are only the first indication that God is about to make His presence and anger known on earth in a terrifying way.

    Isaiah prophesied that the day of the Lord was coming with fury, when the stars of heaven and their constellations would not shine, the sun would be darkened and the moon would not shed its light. In that day of His burning anger, the earth would be shaken from its place. (Isaiah 13:9-13)

    Joel 2:30-31 described the same event, saying "I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. "The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes". (Joel 2:30-31 NASB). See End time Revival or End time Apostasy.

    The Signs
    An Earthquake So Great That Every Mountain And Island Will Be Moved Out Of Their Place
    The first thing that John mentions is a "great earthquake", which is significant because, although a direct causal connection between earthquakes and volcanic activity have not been satisfactorily established, scientists believe that it is possible that, in some cases, a large earthquake can trigger volcanic eruption which can, in turn, precipitate the next two signs that John spoke of. Obviously, earthquakes of such unprecedented magnitude... large enough to cause mountains and islands to move out of their places, will also cause widespread destruction and a tremendous loss of life.

    The Darkening of The Sun
    While it is impossible to say what exactly causes this phenomena, it is possible that the darkening of the sun which, as John said "became black as sackcloth made of hair", could be caused by a solar eclipse, or some kind of massive ash cloud caused by volcanic activity. When Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state on May 18, 1980, the ash cloud was "dense enough to screen out nearly all sunlight, activating darkness-sensitive switches on street lights" [05] in the city of Yakima about 150 miles away, and in Spokane which is some 350 miles away. In a few days the ash cloud had spread to the central United States. The ash from the relatively small 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland covered large areas of northern Europe, causing about 20 countries to close their airspace to commercial jet traffic for several days.

    Also to be noted is the fact that darkness was one of the terrors inflicted upon Egypt....."Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. (Exodus 10:21-22 NASB)

    The Moon Became Like Blood
    It is true that, when there is a much larger than usual amount of dust in the atmosphere, light can bend in such a way as to cause the moon to appear red. After the June 2011 Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic eruption in Chile, not only was ash blown across cities all around the Southern hemisphere, but the moon appeared to be very red, clearly visible to viewers in Asia, eastern Africa, the Middle East and western Australia. Additionally, in a total lunar eclipse, the full moon turns a coppery red as it passes into Earth's shadow. During the process, the moon's bright glow dims, taking on a red hue because of shimmers of sunlight and sunsets seeping through the Earth's atmosphere. [06]

    The Stars Of The Sky Fell To The Earth
    It should be reasonably obvious that these words refer to an extensive meteor shower or numerous asteroids falling to earth. Additionally, if the meteors are extremely large, it may have seemed to John that the very stars were falling from the sky resembling, as he wrote, figs falling off a tree when shaken by a great wind.

    The Sky Was Split Apart Like A Scroll
    It is hard to know how to apply the words of a 1st century non scientific man to the natural world.. In other words, this is an extremely baffling sign. While it is true that in a nuclear explosion the atmosphere literally rolls back on itself, all the other signs are natural phenomena, and there is no reason to believe this one isn't natural as well. As Richard T. Ritenbaugh wrote...

      Perhaps John saw clouds building to thunderheads, roiling, and flying at breakneck speed across the expanse of the sky. Such turbulence could make an observer on the ground think the sky was splitting apart. Isaiah 34:4 describes the day of the Lord similarly. [07]

    Simultaneous Cataclysmic Events
    It is entirely possible, probable even, that these catastrophic events occur at the same time. In other words, the enormous earthquakes trigger the eruption of numerous volcanoes that erupt simultaneously, filling the sky with smoke and volcanic ash which will cause the sky to not give out its light, and the moon to 'turn to blood'.

    These signs are so frightening that they have a tremendous effect on humanity and understandably, triggers men's inborn desire to save themselves. As prophesied by Isaiah many centuries ago... "Men will go into caves of the rocks And into holes of the ground Before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble.”  (Isaiah 2:19 NASB)

    John echoes these words, adding that everyone from the biggest and most powerful of men, to the weakest, will wish that the mountains and rocks would fall on them and thus hide them "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".

    What is more than astonishing is that mankind will instinctively know that these cataclysmic events are not "natural disasters", but clear and unmistakable evidence of God's wrath. One has to wonder whether this is caused by (pure speculation here) God causing the sky to "split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up" gives man a glimpse of God on His throne in the third heaven, which is how they know that "the great day of their wrath has come"

However, this is only the beginning. These signs are but a harbinger of the 'Great Tribulation' which does not start until after a 30 minute interlude.


The Interlude Between The Sixth and Seventh Seals
Revelation chapter 7, describes several things happening between the Sixth and Seventh Seals ...

a. The sealing of the 144,000

b. The vision of "a great multitude which no one could count ... standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes ...",

    (Please note that this great multitude comes out of the tribulation, from every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7:9), clearly signifying that the persecution takes place on a global scale. This uncountable number of people cannot be any other than Christians, since they are described in verse 14 as having "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb".)

c. The "silence in heaven for about half an hour" (Revelation 8:1).

    (Just as a peculiar and eerie calm usually precedes the most devastating of storms, this short silence is the calm before the storm of judgment unleashes its fury)

Then, and then only, is the seventh seal broken and, when it is, John witnesses the judgment of the Trumpets, closely followed by The Bowls.

    Note: It is also very likely that during this interlude, in complete fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (partially fulfilled at Pentecost when all believers were given the indwelling Spirit), the "latter rain" outpouring of the Holy Spirit falls on God's people. (See End Time Revival Or End Time Apostasy?) Certainly this is the time when the children of God will most need an abundant outpouring of God's spirit since, not only will the coming days be terrible beyond measure, but they will need to be fully mature for the harvest when Jesus gathers His crop into His barn (The maturing of the crops was the purpose of the spring, or latter, rains in Israel). See Chapter V... The Rapture

The people of God are "sealed" and filled with God's spirit before the Trumpets are blown and, to use a common figure of speech, all hell breaks loose.


The Seventh Seal
This last seal does not, in a manner of speaking, bring about any disasters in itself but introduces the Seven Trumpets.

Continue On To Chapter II: The Seventh Seal and the First Six Trumpets.
 

**************************

Footnote I
I used to think that people who believed they would be doing God a service by killing Christians smacked of Islam. While this is still a possibility, it does not completely line up with Jesus' prophecy in which He said (Emphasis Added) ... "Brother (Gk. adelphos) will betray brother (Gk. adelphos) to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death" (Matthew 10: 21).

Repeating something I said earlier, the Greek word used is adelphos which comes from the prefix "A" and the Greek delphus or delphos, which means a womb. Therefore adelphos literally, or figuratively, means 'a brother'.

    Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers (Gk. adelphos). (Matthew 1:2 NASB)

All Jews regarded each other as blood brothers because they considered Abraham to be their father and they were, therefore, of one family. However, Jesus made it very clear that an accident of birth could not include a person into the family of God. Only those that did the will of His Father would be considered sons of Abraham, members of the family of God, and heirs to the kingdom. It is faith in, and obedience to, God that makes someone part of the family... not ethnicity, nor membership in a synagogue or church. In the New Testament, the term "brethren" was specifically used to refer to other believers which did not mean they were literal brothers, but formed a spiritual brotherhood of believers who were born again of the Father.

    So then, brethren (Gk. adelphos), we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- (Romans 8:12 NASB)

    but brother (Gk. adelphos) goes to law with brother (Gk. adelphos) , and that before unbelievers? (1 Corinthians 6:6 NASB)

So who are these "brothers" who betray other Christians?

The more militant faction of the Manifest Sons of God believes that they are extensions of God who is here in the flesh through them, and that it is the spirit of Antichrist that refuses to recognize this. In other words orthodox believers who refuse to believe in their ridiculous ‘anointing’ are associated with the antichrist. It will then, supposedly, fall to these "sons of God" to finish the work He began, and judgment will be brought on the church through them. Therefore, with the spirit of Phinehas, they will rise up and begin to slay in a battle they liken to the American civil war...

    ''In dreams and visions blue often represents heavenly-mindedness -the sky is blue- and gray speaks of those who live by the power of their own minds -the brain is often called gray matter- This will be a conflict between those who may be genuine Christians, but who live mostly according to their natural minds and human wisdom, and those who follow the Holy Spirit.'' (Rick Joyner, Civil War In The Church" Morning Star Prophetic Bulletin, May 1996. http://www.etpv.org/1996-97/civwar.html)

By the way, according to them, following the Holy Spirit means believing every dream, vision, impression, voice or visitation that they claim to have, regardless of whether it ties in with Scripture or not.

Christians who do not submit to these modern day blood thirsty wolves (who call themselves apostles and prophets), and do not bow to their rash and dangerous doctrines are considered to be in spiritual bondage and a cancer that has to be removed, which makes it easy to see how they could bring about the fulfillment of the end time Biblical prophecies of internal strife, betrayal and bloodshed in the church..

However, if they have thought about it at all, there is one point that seemingly has not occurred to them, and that is, when Jesus made the predictions He did, He was speaking to true Christian believers, telling them that they would be killed by those that "have not known the Father or Me". (For More Information See Section on Dominion Theology) (Place In Text)


Footnote II

Some Jews, like Josephus for instance, believed that the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy.

    "And indeed it came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel's vision, and what he wrote many years before they came to pass. In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them. All these things did this man leave in writing, as God had showed them to him, insomuch, that such as read his prophecies, and see how they have been fulfilled, would wonder at the honour wherewith God honoured Daniel..." (The Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by William Whiston, Published by Simms and M'Intyre in 1841. Page 289)

To be considered here is the fact that the “Abomination of Desolation” spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24, had already occurred about 200 years prior to Jesus mentioning it. Jesus even celebrated Hanukah, the Feast of Dedication, in John 10. [below] However, in the spirit of Hebrew prophecy, Jesus took an event that had already happened in the past and spoke about it in the future tense, thereby prophesying that it would happen again. It did.. in A.D. 70. But that does not mean that the events of AD. 70 was the final fulfillment of His prophecy. It is more than likely that events will take place in the future that mirror those of Antiochus Epiphanes in some way. [See Understanding Prophecy and Typology]

    Note: The Feast of Dedication also called "Feast of the Maccabees" was a Jewish festival observed for eight days from the 25th of Kislev (December). It was instituted in the year 165 B.C. by Judas Maccabeus, his brothers, and the elders of the congregation of Israel, in commemoration of the re-consecration of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and yhe altar of burnt offering, after they had been desecrated in the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes (168 BC). (PLACE IN TEXT)


Footnote III
Matthew 24:16-20 says

    Therefore when you see the Abomination Of Desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. "Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. "Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. (Matthew 24:15-20 NASB)

Much of this warning seems far more suited to conditions in the 1st century than our modern day. For example, they were warned to flee into the mountains (V.16) which the early Christians understood and heeded, fleeing to Pella as the Romans advanced. The next warning (V.17) about those on the housetops NOT going down to take out the things that are in his house" made perfect sense in light of the fact that the houses in old Jerusalem were flat roofed and close together, making escape by way of the roof tops very feasible. Another warning (V.20) was that they were to pray that their flight would not be in winter or on a Sabbath. Winter travel in any age can be far more perilous, but especially so hundreds of years ago when conditions were much more primitive. Added to which is the fact that it is entirely possible that Nehemiah's command to close the gates of Jerusalem at dusk before the Sabbath, and not open them until after the Sabbath, was still in effect. (Nehemiah 13:19)

However that does not preclude the possibility that conditions will prevail in the 21st century that will make these warning applicable to either the residents of Jerusalem, or may even have a global application. We simply will not know until the time comes. (PLACE IN TEXT)


Footnote IV
 Are Matthew 24 and Luke 21 Parallel Accounts?
Even though Matthew 24 and Luke 21 contain strong similarities, there are key and very important differences which, when studied carefully can only lead to the conclusion that they are different teachings given at separate times. While some of the message is obviously in common between the two sections, Matthew 24 is largely an end time message related in perfect chronological order, while Luke 21 mostly speaks of the siege of 70 A.D. The tribulation described in Matthew 24 is not the same as the persecution described in Luke 21. In fact there are striking similarities between Luke 21 and Matthew 10, although the occasions are different. (PLACE IN TEXT)

 

Endnotes
[01] Ken Cayce. Revelation, Chapter 6. http://www.discoverrevelation.com/Rev_6.html

[02] Richard T. Ritenbaugh. Bible verses about Pair of Scales.
http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/3302/Pair-of-Scales.htm

[03] ibid.

[04] B.A. Robinson. Numbers of adherents of major religions, their geographical distribution, date founded, and sacred texts.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm

[05] MountStHelens.com Information Resource Center. http://www.mountsthelens.com/history-2.html

[06] Faith Karimi and Paul Vercammen, CNN. Blood moon: Lunar eclipse gazers mesmerized as red hue lights up sky. Updated 2:51 PM ET, Tue April 15, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/15/tech/innovation/blood-moon/index.html

[07] Richard T. Ritenbaugh. The Sixth Seal. December 2004.
http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/pw/k/1002/Sixth-Seal.htm

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