God is the book with seven seals shows that the kingdom of Christ is at work and that sin has no place in the lives of redeemed people. Although the lives of martyrs testifies to the fact that Satan's kingdom is unsustainable, yet the lives of believers throughout history do not provide a satisfactory answer to the cosmic conflict the ultimate question: can Christ rule better? But before the end of the world's history, God will present this overwhelming proof to the last generation of mankind.
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The generation of the end times
Seal 6 - Signs and light of the last days
No group has yet emerged from a survey of sacred history that has given credible and unequivocal testimony by its life that sin - independence from God - has no justification in the universe. Although the amount of clarity available has increased in successive ages, there has been no evidence to definitively silence the accusations against the kingdom of Christ. God must therefore provide special help to those living at the end of the world's history, so that His work on earth may be completed and the heavenly judgment may be concluded.
"Then I saw, when he opened the sixth seal, behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as black paste, and the whole moon became like blood. The stars of heaven fell to the earth, as when a fig tree drops its unripe fruit when shaken by a great wind. And the sky disappeared, as when a roll of paper is rolled up, and every mountain and island moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the princes, the rulers, the rich, the mighty, all the servants, and all the free, hid themselves in caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and 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 can stand?"
Revelation 6:12-17Revelation 6:12-17
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The sixth seal places great emphasis on a series of monumental natural events, which follow in a specific sequence: a great earthquake, the sun turns black, the moon turns to blood, the stars fall from the sky, the heavens open, the whole earth shakes and moves - and finally, Jesus Christ appears. This description is in perfect harmony with the way the Lord Jesus described the events immediately preceding His coming:
"Immediately after the tribulations of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not shine, the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the families of the earth will weep when they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory."
Matthew 24:29-30Matthew 24:29-30
Signs preceding the coming of Jesus Christ have been tried in the past to be linked to significant natural/historical events. For example, the great advent movement of the 19th century, which expected the coming of Jesus in 1844, explained the fulfilment of prophecy by the following events:
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- On 1 November 1755, Lisbon was hit by one of the most devastating earthquakes in world history, accompanied by a tsunami and a fiery fiery knife. The massive earthquake was felt on the other side of the world, and contemporaries - including enlightened writers who had turned away from God, such as Voltaire - described the disaster as a warning from God.
- A few decades later, on May 19, 1780, the sun turned black in America (New England), and for a full day, a thick darkness fell over the entire region. Although nowadays this phenomenon is usually explained by natural causes (forest fires, smog, etc.), many people at the time interpreted this event as a supernatural sign - the fulfilment of the dark sun foretold in prophecy.
- In addition, on the same night, another sign was fulfilled, for on May 19, 1780, as the sky cleared over New England, the moon turned blood red. This further strengthened the conviction of believers at the time that the coming of Jesus was near.
- Finally, a monumental meteor shower was visible in the New England sky on 11-12 November 1833. The 'starburst' from the Leonid meteor swarm is not uncommon, but the hourly amount that fell is still considered an outlier today. Indeed, the dense shower of stars resembled the wind shaking unripe fruit from a fig tree, and this spectacular coincidence with the predicted sign gave a huge boost to the great Advent movement of the early 1830s.
These phenomena - the earthquake, the dark sun, the blood-red moon and the falling star - all happened within a few decades of each other, and focused people's attention on biblical prophecies. A careful study of historical prophecy has led some Christians to conclude that the coming of Jesus Christ is very near, and natural signs have confirmed their conviction. They accepted the logical conclusion that if all these were fulfilled, then the final sign enumerated by Jesus - the revelation of the heavens and the appearance of the Son of Man in the clouds - was imminent. Although they were ultimately disappointed in their expectations, the world was nevertheless given a taste of the impact of a message that confronts people with the imminent coming of Jesus.
The result 170 years ago was devastating: most churches refused to hear of Jesus' coming, shutting out the message and even ostracising and mocking those whose hearts longed to see their Lord face to face. Those who participated in the Advent movement had to go through bitter disappointment, but God revealed truths about himself and the final steps of his plan of redemption that had been forgotten in previous centuries. As we shall see in later studies, through the Advent movement God opened up to the followers of Jesus a light whose reception was absolutely necessary for the completion of God's work on earth and for the gospel to reach all people as a witness:
"And this gospel of the kingdom of God shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and shall be then comes the end."
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Matthew 24:14Matthew 24:14
Although the Advent movement drew attention to the imminent coming of Jesus, its interpretation of prophecy was not without flaws. If we compare the signs listed at the sixth seal and the Old Testament prophecies about them (Isaiah 34:1-4; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:31) with Jesus' great apocalyptic discourse, we can make an important observation. These extraordinary natural phenomena are all "great misery" After will occur, in close succession:
"And in a moment. after the misery of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will not shine, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."
Matthew 24:29Matthew 24:29
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Natural phenomena in the 18th and 19th centuries before tribulation period - the Dark Ages - is not the same as what Jesus spoke about. This particular "great misery" refers to a very specific period - one that has never been and will never be again:
"Because then it will be such a misery, as it was not from the beginning of the world until now, and never will be."
Matthew 24:21Matthew 24:21
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"In that day shall rise up Michael the great prince, who shall stand by the children of thy people, for it shall be a time of trouble, as it has not been until nowfor as long as there have been people. And at that time your people will be freed, all who are written in the book."
Daniel 12:1Daniel 12:1
This is the "great misery... such as has not been seen since the world began", immediately precedes the coming of Jesus (cf. Matthew 24:29), and will test God's people to the end. The book of Daniel makes it clear why will never be from this trial the appearance of Christ will bring final deliverance for God's people, and with it the end of earthly history. The natural signs which follow the great tribulation and which shake the whole world - a great earthquake, the sun darkened, the moon turned to blood, the stars falling, the heavens opening, the earth moving out of its place - are still to come.
The great Advent movement of the nineteenth century, although it misread the signs of the times and was therefore disappointed, was in a sense a foretaste, a "dress rehearsal" for the movement that will proclaim the imminent coming of Jesus at the end of time. Crowds of people will show the same desperate resistance to their message, and the sixth seal says that at the Lord's appearing, the fear of death will fill the hearts of those who reject the final call of grace.
It is noteworthy that the sixth seal is the first in which the generation depicted lives to see the coming of Jesus. As we have noted in previous studies, the seals tell of the judgment of God's kingdom - of generations of people who have claimed to belong to God. Against this background, it is all the more striking that the group of people presented here will nevertheless be counting on the "wrath" of God and Jesus at the second coming of the Lord - that is, they will not be among the saved. Is it possible that the lost presented here profess to be Christians? From their words, it would seem not ignorant, they flee as unbiblical heathens - for fear of the unknown danger - but are afraid because know exactlywho we are dealing with and what will happen...
"And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the captains, and the rich, and the mighty, and all the servants, and all the free, hid themselves in caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us, and hide us from its face, who sits on the throne, and the Wrath of the Lamb out of the way! Because the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stop?"
Revelation 6:15-17Revelation 6:15-17
According to Matthew 24:14, the gospel of God's kingdom will come to all people in the end time. The last generation of mankind will have an unprecedented opportunity to choose God, because they will be able to make their decision in full light. Since the Reformation, and especially over the last two centuries, there has been a growing light in the world, and at the dawn of this shining light, God once tested those who profess to be Christians to see if they were truly ready, willing and desirous to meet the Lord face to face. But those of the last generation will be confronted with a far greater and more convincing light than the Christians of the nineteenth century. They will have a living testimony of the pure gospel, which most of them will not accept, so that their unrepentant hearts will not rejoice at the coming of Jesus.
Let's stop here for a moment and return to the main topic of the seals, the investigative judgment. It is important to note that the lives of the generations represented by the seals are not in "real time" when the seals are opened. For the first four seals, for example, only the records of the past are being examined in "real time" in heaven. At the fifth seal, the martyrs of the past, present and future are examined. Likewise, the heavenly resolution of seal 6 does not give a live account of the natural signs immediately preceding the coming of Jesus and the reaction of the people who were terrified by his appearance. Only the examination of the evidence takes place at the breaking of the seals, the events under discussion do not take place then. This is important to bear in mind because the investigative phase of the judgment must be completed by the time Jesus returns, since He is coming with a "decision in His hand":
"Behold, I come quickly, the my reward is with meand I will reward everyone according to his deeds."
Revelation 22:12Revelation 22:12
So before Jesus comes back - and, as we shall see, before the last seven plagues are completed - He will complete the investigative judgment, which means that those who are alive at that time will be judged in their lifetime. At first sight, this may seem unfair: what if they change their minds later?! But we must see that these people will receive a degree of clarity and witness that no other generation has ever received. And that light puts them in a position of decision.
How do we understand this? Decisions put you on one side or the other in proportion to the amount of light available. Jesus formulated this principle as follows:
"Jesus replied: If you were blind, you would have no sin, but because you say that we see, your sin remains."
John 9:41John 9:41
"And although so many signs put in front of them, yet they did not believe in him,... They could not believe, because again Isaiah said, "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they may not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor repent, nor be healed."
John 12:37,39-40John 12:37,39-40
What this means in practice is that the more one resists the light, the more hardened one's heart becomes, and the less chance one has of repenting later - not because God no longer loves one, but because one is no longer able to repent. On the other hand, if one resists the greatest light that can be given, what more can God show him to make him change his mind? Those who reject the growing light of the last days blind themselves, harden their hearts and make their conversion impossible.
When all the people have made their final decision, Jesus closes the judgment. At the same time, the judgment of the generation under consideration in seal 6 includes evidence of future actions that have not yet taken place in "real time" by the time the judgment closes - the fear of those who reject the gospel, their flight from Jesus. But these manifestations follow directly from the condition of their hearts - and their previous decisions - and their actual occurrence will ultimately vindicate the correctness of Jesus' decision.
The sixth seal, together with the other seals, is the judgment. The emphasis is not on the events leading up to Jesus' coming, nor on how those who reject his grace will be terrified at his coming. The sixth seal the verdict of a generation: those who refuse to walk in the growing light at the end of time.
A very important and important admonition follows from this. The final frame of Revelation 6 gives a striking snapshot of the condition of those who, in the face of the growing light of the end times, delay full commitment to God. By the time Jesus comes, it will be too late to change their minds, they will no longer be able - or willing - to repent. Their words reflect that, although they have knowledge of God and of Christ, they would prefer to go on living their own selfish lives and die rather than meet the Saviour face to face. So if you have not yet committed yourself to Him, don't delay your decision, because you don't know how long you will have the opportunity to change your mind - and whether you will even want to later...
"According to this saying: Todaywhen you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in despair."
Hebrews 3:15Hebrews 3:15
The chapter concludes with a painful yet extremely important question: "Who can stop?" In fact, this is one of the main issues of the vision of the seals - the investigative judgment. Who can stop With your head held high at the coming of Jesus? Who can say what Jesus declared at the end of his mission on earth: "I have glorified you in the earth, I have done the work which you have given me to do." (John 17:4) Who can stand as a credible witness for Jesus on this earth at the end of history - whom God can point to and declare, "Behold, here is the final proof that sin has no justification even in the lives of fallen human beings! The group of people presented in the sixth seal, with their extraordinary religious privileges, are quite obviously not such. The crown witnesses of the judgment have - up to this point - not yet come forward... ■
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