Faith and Despair ‐ The Seals of Revelation

Dennis McClendon, January 2, 2011

Rev 1:12

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double‐edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

The Problem with Humanity

A. Love/Free Will
B. Choosing Disobedience
C. Finding Our Way Back to Righteousness

1. On our own, through the mess we have made

Naturalistic viewpoint

• ethics and morals relative to situation
• initial response to threat is fight or flight
• ongoing response is adoption/assimilation or denial/withdrawal

Matt 24:12

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold

• primary character attributes are pride or depression
• fatalistic despair

Rev 12:12

Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

• eternal destruction

2. With Godʹs guidance, in spite of the mess we have made

Supernatural viewpoint

• ethics and morals aligned with Godʹs standard of holiness
• initial response to threat seeks Godʹs direction and intervention
• ongoing response is prayerful resistance; firm standing in holiness

1 Thessalonians 3:4

In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain. 6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.

• growing faith, love, hope, joy, peace, and other spiritual fruit

James 1:2‐4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

• Faith that overcomes

Romans 5:3

Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

• everlasting life

D. Godʹs Encouragement from the Book of Revelation

Rev 1: 17

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. ||| Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

1. He is in control

Rev 5:1

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.

2. He already knows the outcome is His victory

Rev 5:5

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

3. He has made a place for His faithful followers

Rev 3:7

… To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God

Rev 3:11

… He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death

Rev 3:17

… To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

Rev 3:26

And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘ He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’

Rev 4:5

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Rev 4:12

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

Rev 4:21

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

E. The Seals ‐ Symbolic Ideas or Specific Prophecy

Jesus, the triumphant Lion of Judah, the Lamb of God, who was the only one worthy to break the seals of the greatest secret document in history, chose to break those seals to let us know what was happening, what is happening, and what will happen. A lot has happened since John first saw this. So, today, were are we in this story?

Letʹs just blast through the story, the history, and the current and future events and see what we can see.

Revelation Chapter 6 starts the list of the seals being opened and the revelation of what lay behind them:

1st seal: White horse with an archer wearing a victorʹs crown (not an imperial crown) given power to conquer
Retroactive: Nimrodʹs original conquest, Egyptian conquests of the 2nd millennium BC, Imperial conquests of Kings David and Solomon, the later Babylonians, the Assyrian Empire, the Persian Empire, the Greek conquest under Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire. These were just those prior to this prophecy. Many scholars believe that the 1st seal specifically refers to the conquest of the church as it was merged with paganism and folded into government control under the Roman emperor Constantine in the mid 4th century AD. Still, after that came the Muslim conquest of the later part of the first millennium, the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, the Viking and Norman Conquests, the great crusades, the greatest land grab in history, around 1200 AD was the Mongol Conquest under Genghis Khan who created an empire that stretched over 8,000 miles from Korea to Central Europe. Then of course there were the global empires of the various European colonial powers which mostly ended in the Spanish‐American War and the great world wars of the 20th century. Now we have the American Empire, which strives not to look like an empire, but maintains over 700 military bases worldwide with military presence in over 130 countries, spending more money to maintain itʹs military than all of the other counties of the world combined, with enough intercontinental ballistic missiles to wipe out every living thing on the planet several times over. Now THATʹS power to conquer.

‐ He is in control
‐ He already knows the outcome is His victory
‐ He has made a place for His faithful followers
‐ Donʹt let your love grow cold

Consider this prophesy fulfilled and continuing.

2nd seal: Red horse ‐ rider given power to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword
Again, retroactive. War casualties are historically difficult to count accurately, especially for ancient wars, so lets just look at casualties in the last thousand years. 350 million people have been killed in wars since 1000 AD. That is about 1,000 times the population of Tampa. This casualty count is rising daily in at least 33 ongoing armed conflicts worldwide.

‐ He is in control
‐ He already knows the outcome is His victory
‐ He has made a place for His faithful followers
‐ Donʹt let your love grow cold

Consider this prophesy fulfilled and continuing.

3rd seal: Black horse ‐ rider carries scales and brings scarcity to the earth
80% of the inhabitants of the earth in 2007 made under $7,000/year. Over a billion people worldwide do not have access to our most basic need, safe drinking water. Over 2 million of them die every year from water‐borne diseases.

‐ He is in control
‐ He already knows the outcome is His victory
‐ He has made a place for His faithful followers
‐ Donʹt let your love grow cold

Consider this prophesy fulfilled and continuing.

4th seal: Pale horse ‐ the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with famine, with plague.
Thankfully, we havenʹt seen this yet… or have we? I looked into this and found some rather startling revelations.
There have been plenty of plagues recorded in history ‐ plagues are defined here as infectious disease outbreaks. The Antonin plague (smallpox) of the 2nd century killed 5 million people over 15 years and at itʹs height killed over 5,000 people per day in Rome. The Athens plague (typhoid fever) of the fifth century lasted four years and killed 1/4 of the population of Athens. The Justinian plague of the 6th‐8th centuries was probably the mother of all plagues in history killed 100 million people reducing the population of Europe by upwards of 50%. The black plague pandemic of the 14th century killed over 75 million of the people who lived in that century… over 25% of the population. But what about today. As of 2002, just under 60 million people were dying each year total. Would you believe that 15 million of those deaths (25%) were caused by infectious diseases, or plague. The primary culprits are respiratory infections (like pneumonia and influenza), HIV/AIDS, intestinal infections (like cholera and dysentery), tuberculosis, and malaria. The point is that the 25% proportion keeps popping up and continues as 1/4 of the deaths globally are cause by infectious disease, or plague.
Well, how about famine? Surely we havenʹt seen famine on that scale. I mean, hmmm. 10 million died from starvation in the Stalinist reorganization, and even worse 40 million in the Maoist cultural revolution. Still those great famines only amounted to about 1% of global population. I dug a bit deeper and found WHO statistics stating that 58% of global deaths annually are the result of starvation. Even if we pull the one out that were indirectly caused by starvation, it seems like the 25% threshold is easily reached.

‐ He is in control
‐ He already knows the outcome is His victory
‐ He has made a place for His faithful followers
‐ Donʹt let your love grow cold

Consider this prophesy fulfilled and continuing.

That leaves one last category in this prophesy of the 4th seal… death by sword. It is easy to see that 1/4 of us havenʹt been killed violently by some kind of weapon… or is it? Well this one really blew me away. If someone stuck a vacuum cleaner through the church window and sucked up into dismembered oblivion, I think we could say we would have been killed violently, as if by a sword. It is a small stretch to say the same would be true if someone blew chemicals in through those same windows and burned or asphyxiated us. Well, of the 172 million people conceived each year in the world, 43 million, or about 25%, suffer precisely this fate. Only they are not in a church like my example. They are ʺsafeʺ in their motherʹs wombs. Since 1950, a staggering 2 billion people, a little over 1/4 of the worldʹs current population, have died this way.

‐ He is in control
‐ He already knows the outcome is His victory
‐ He has made a place for His faithful followers
‐ Donʹt let your love grow cold

Consider the fourth seal prophesy fulfilled and continuing.

This brings us to the fifth seal:

Rev 6:9

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. 10 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?” 11 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 who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

‐ He is in control
‐ He already knows the outcome is His victory
‐ He has made a place for His faithful followers
‐ Donʹt let your love grow cold

The fifth seal… I believe this is where we are today.

Soon, and very soon, the sixth seal will be opened. At that point, things start to get really nasty, as if they werenʹt bad enough right now. The seals represent a history of the misadventures of man. They lead up to the seven trumpets which herald milestones in the wrath of Satan, furious in knowing his time is short and he has lost his epic battle to supplant God as, well, God. The trumpets lead to the outpouring of Godʹs judgment on the Earth with the seven bowls of Godʹs wrath. We are not appointed to Godʹs wrath, so we will be taken up in the rapture.

1 Cor 15:51

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

First Trumpet ‐ Feast of Pentecost
Last Trumpet ‐ Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)
Great Trumpet ‐ Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

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