Opinions on faith and life

Shakedown

2011-04-18

Revelation, chapter six:

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers and sisters who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face 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 can stand?”

There is a famous prophecy in the book of Daniel in the OT of the Bible. In chapter 9, vs. 24-27, Daniel is told of a period of seventy ’sevens’, concerning “your people and your holy city” (that is, the Jews and Jerusalem), whose purpose is “to finish transgression, to put an end to (or restrain) sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy (or most holy place, the inner chamber of the Temple)”. It would take all 70 ’sevens’ to accomplish this. The first sixty nine transpired uninterrupted, to the very point in history when Jesus came; any internet search on “seventy weeks Daniel” will provide many sources detailing the reasons for that claim. But then the Anointed One (the Messiah, Jesus) would be “cut off” (killed), and then a “prince” would come with his “people” and destroy the Temple and Jerusalem. This happened about 40 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection when the Roman Titus suppressed a Jewish revolt (one source).

When we consider that the first 69 ’sevens’ were ’weeks of years’ totalling 483 (69x7), we know that seven years remain for the prophecy to be completed. It could not have already happened because, as already noted, the time between the end of the 69th and the arrival of Titus was not 7 years but closer to 40 years. Neither could Jesus’ death in the ’middle of the week’ fulfill the prophecy, because it is the fallacy of “special pleading” to take only that one ’seven’ as a week of days instead of years. In addition, Jesus did not renew or confirm an existing covenant, but instituted a brand new one (see all Gospel accounts of the Last Supper, the book of Hebrews, 2 Cor. 3:6, etc.). Lastly, if Revelation is all alegory then by what right do we take Dan. 9’s final ’seven’ as literal days? From the vantage point of history we know that the ’sevens’ were ’weeks of years’, and if we are consistent we must take the final one the same as all the others. We could add as well the fact that the Revelation given to John was about 95 AD, long after Titus. So there is no doubt that the final seven years of this prophecy yet remain.

So Daniel’s 70th ’week’ is what the Revelation explains in detail, the ’unsealing’ of it. This is not to be confused with the seven seals quoted at the top of this article, since Daniel was told to seal up the whole prophecy and no number of seals was mentioned. Why else would Jesus make a point of saying to not seal up the words (Rev. 22:10), unless He was identifying this revelation with Daniel’s and telling John that the time had come to make these things known? When we understand both prophecies in that light, we refute the claim that this command not to seal up the prophecy means that the events therein had to happen in John’s lifetime or thereabouts.

Now let’s consider Daniel’s statement that a coming ’prince’ will renew a covenant “with many” for a seven-year period, which obviously is the 70th ’seven’. He was told that this covenant would be broken halfway through at the point when the ’prince’ will sit in the Temple and declare himself God. So the signing of this covenant marks the beginning of the final 7 years before Jesus returns in power to rule the earth. This is in contrast to when Jesus comes to the sky to gather up His Body or Bride (1 Thes. 4:17) and take them to His “Father’s house” (John 14:2); more about the amazing symbolism of a Jewish wedding in this regard in my next post.

From the quoted passage above, who can deny that we are seeing at least the shadows of these things now? Check out some interesting information at the following links: here, here, and here for example, along with daily news reports on revolutions and unrest (sample). The whole world, from the secular to the pagan to the Biblical, is in agreement that enormous, literally earth-shattering events are imminent. But I firmly believe that the “church” must be in heaven (“raptured”) before the seal judgments can begin, and remember that the Rapture is not the event which triggers the final seven years. So there may be a gap of time between the Rapture and the Tribulation, depending on how long after the Rapture the Antichrist signs the covenant.

Yet there are other prophecies to consider, such as the war of Ezekiel 38-39, Psalm 83, etc. Various prophecy teachers have taken those into consideration and written much detail about it, which I can’t repeat hear due to volume. But it seems plausible to me that these other significant events fit nicely into the seal judgments. One of the reasons I believe the “church” is not to be here at that time is because all OT prophecy concerns the Jews; none of it is directed at the “church” which was a hidden secret until after Jesus was crucified (1 Cor. 2:7-8, Eph. 3:9). Since the seal judgments focus on the Jews then the “church” is not involved (see also Rev. 3:10 and note that “keep from” carries the meaning in Greek of being completely removed, not preserved within). We are not to suffer the wrath of God (1 Thes. 5:9) and we are not Israel; those who teach otherwise make a hopleless tangled mess of that which Jesus said was not to be intertwined (e.g. Mark 2:22).

Now the question is whether the seal judgments are before or after the signing of the covenant. If this covenant is a peace treaty between Israel and “many”, allowing them to build a Temple in exchange for laying down their arms (“a land of unwalled villages” per Ezekiel 38:11), it would make sense for this to happen after the seals and their devastation on a global scale. People will have been through horrendous war, plague, famine, and natural disasters we are seeing the beginnings of even now. Many of Israel’s bitterest enemies will have been decimated by God (Ezekiel 39:4), and even the secular world is already crying out for some man to lead the world into peace. It’s a “perfect storm” for the end times.

The whole world is literally and figuratively shaking. While other prophets have come and gone, Daniel and the Revelation to John have stood steady for thousands of years, and only now, at their time of fulfillment, do we see the stage completely set. Jesus said, “Even so, when you see all these things, you know that [the end] is near, right at the door” (Mt. 24:33), but He also said “Therefore keep watch” (Mt. 24:42), so don’t ignore or fear what is about to happen. If you belong to Jesus you will not suffer the coming wrath of God; this is the promise of scripture as we’ve seen here. We do suffer all kinds of trouble (John 16:33, Phil. 1:29, Rom. 8:17, 1 Peter 4:1, 2 Cor. 12:10, etc.), but those are the result of sin and evil. The wrath of God is for His enemies and to complete the judgment of His people Israel.

We are promised a special reward if we “long for His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). Believer, are you watching for Jesus, or are you looking around in fear as Peter did (Mt. 14:30)? Get ready!