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Saturday, 29 October 2016 22:18

37. The Seven Seals: general view * Revelation 6

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Before we dive into the details of each of the seals, we must take a look at the big picture. The events on chapter 4 and 5 of Revelation led to the high point of a fenomenal worship and enthronement service. With Christ sitting at the right side of the Father, and being recognized as worthy to open the seals, all eyes were now once again on the sealed book in Jesus' possession. As Jesus opens each of the seals, we see the description of amazing events, and not the reading of the contents of the book. It is not hard to understand that the book can only be read after all seals are broken. However, each seal is a trigger for events happening on Earth. And those are the events being described in chapter 6 and beginning of chapter 8 of Revelation. There is a gap between the 6th and 7th seals. Think of this pause as a parenthesis. This interruption is necessary in order to zoom in on some important information. Once that information is explained in chapter 7, the opening of the seals resumes in chapter 8.

In ancient Israel, a new king would usually exercise his judgment over his enemies soon after taking over the throne (1 Kings 2;  1 Kings 16:11;  2 Kings 9:14-37 to  2 Kings 10:27;  2 Kings 11:1,13-16). The fact that the opening of the seals is the first action of Christ as king, makes us think that the selas have some elements of judgment embedded in them. But unlike the judgment of the kings of Israel, the judgment component of the seals are not directed at God’s enemies, but at His people. We must then conclude that His judgments are based on love, and are intended as a call for repentance. To bring back the theme of the seven letters of Revelation, the seven seals relate to the path of the one who overcomes. When God disciplines His people, it is always with the intention of saving them, and guiding them back to Him. As Jesus said in Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Jon Paulien, a theology professor specializing in the Bible books written by the apostle John, observed how the first four seals contain the same themes of the covenant curses, found in the Pentateuch. These curses are found in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, and are rooted in Leviticus 26:21-26. Ezekiel talks about “four severe judgements” God would send upon Jerusalem because of their disobedience: war, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts (Ezekiel 14:21). Jeremiah 15:2-3 mentions 4 types of curses God would appoint over Jerusalem. The people whom He had the covenant with at the time were not willing to follow His instructions. By rejecting God’s word, people made their stand to oppose God’s protection, and to inevitably expose themselves to the consequences of their choices. As a result of Israel’s apostasy, their enemies would come and afflict them. History tells us how they were ultimately exiled to Babylon. These curses were often mentioned in the Old testament, and they always had the objective of leading the people to repentance (Jeremiah 14; Jeremiah 15; Jeremiah 21:6-9; Jeremiah 24:10; Jeremiah 29:17-18; Ezekiel 5:12-17; Ezekiel 6:11-12; Ezekiel 12-23; Ezekiel 33:27-29).

In the same way He allowed Israel to suffer the consequences of their disobedience, and experience war, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts, He also promised to deliver His servants from their enemies (Deuteronomy 32:41-43). We can see that God took it personally, and called Israel’s enemies “My adversaries […] who hate Me” (Deuteronomy 32:41). This is exactly what we see on the 5th seal. In Deuteronomy 32:43, we read: “Rejoice, O you nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” Once again, we see that when God’s judgment is directed at His people, it has redemption purposes. When it is directed at His enemies, it is the execution of God’s justice.

Stefanovic notes that chapter 6 of Revelation also follows the format of Jesus’ sermon in the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). Once again the themes of war, famine, pestilence, and persecution are mentioned. In addition to that, we also see the parallel with the 6th seal, with the mention of heavenly signs, people who will mourn, and the Second Coming of Christ.

*** Overview ***: Just like the Seven Churches, the Seven Seals cover the prophetic period from John’s time all the way to the Second Coming. But the point of view being portrayed is different. The Seven Churches described events related to the church history. The Seven Seals have to do with the preaching and acceptance of the gospel message throughout history. It relates with the up and down path the one who overcomes is on. In the Old Testament, we see a similar description of the journey of the Israelites, and how God dealt with them during that time. God would send His judgement upon the people when they were braking the covenant God had made with them. These judgements were often described as war, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts. At a first glance, such consequences may seem a bit too harsh. But God, in His infinite love and wisdom, knew what buttons to press in order to lead His people back to Him. Bringing people to repentance was the main goal behind the covenant curses of the Old Testament. Similar judgements are also found in the New Testament, where Jesus Himself is teaching about the last days of this Earth. Because God is Love, His mission is not to condemn the ones who choose to serve Him. His desire is that no one be lost. He respects our right to choose which side we want belong to. Each choice comes with repercussions. If we choose His side, we automatically allow Him to course correct us back to the right path. If we choose not to be on His side, than we automatically expose ourselves to the certain execution of His justice, and the consequences of not choosing life. There cannot be life aside from the Life Giver.

© Hello-Bible 2016