The Rapture and the Wrath of God
Seven Churches, Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets.
This is intended to be a short overview of the seven churches, the seven seals and the seven trumpets. To see a fuller account please read the text mentioned or better still to see the full account read the whole book of Revelation.
In Revelation chapters two and three we have seven letters to seven churches in Asia. These seven letters show us God’s dealings with the church according to its state. These were individual churches; however, what was said to these individual churches needs to be heeded by all churches from the time of the Apostle John right through to today. It is often said that these seven churches represent the church age, starting with Ephesus being the state of the church in general at the time of John (leaving their first love opens the door for the rest of the problems to follow), and going right through to Laodicea which is seen as the last state of the church before Christ returns.
Next we have the seven seals (the reflection of the state of the church in the state of the world). The state of the world parallels the state of the church. The seven seals are the state of the world according to the effect of Gods church upon it. This I believe runs from the early church right through to the sounding of the first of the seven trumpets.
While ever the church is right with God then God blesses it which in turn affects the world.
The early church was on fire for God. It suffered much but turned the world upside down. Eventually much of the then known world became Christian. However corruption soon started on the inside, there was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans followed by the doctrine of Balaam followed by the spirit of Jezebel.
The Nicolaitan doctrine, I believe, is where men rule over the church, not leading by godly example, nor by encouragement and persuasion, but by lording over the church, by bringing the church into submission through fear. Instead of plural leadership it becomes one man with his handpicked men under him ruling over the church.
The doctrine of Balaam is the church joining with the world powers for an easy life.
The spirit of Jezebel is the amalgamation of the church with other religions and other forms of worship.
The first seal to be opened was of “a white horse. He who sat upon it had a bow; and a crown was given to him and he went out conquering and to conquer” (see Revelation 6:2) (the Greek word for “overcomes” and “overcome” is the same as used here for “conquering” and “conquer”).
Now I know some say that this is the antichrist but I believe it represents Christ and His church. In Revelation 19 we read of the Lord coming back on a white horse and also his army behind him were on white horses. 1 John 5:4-5 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes (conquers) the world. And this is the victory that has overcome (conquered) the world --- our faith. Who is he that overcomes (conquers) the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” It is the church who overcomes through faith in Christ. In Revelation 3:11 the church at Philadelphia are told to hold fast what they have that no one can take their crown. It is the church, with Christ as its head, that conquers and it is the church that has a crown. In the Septuagint (the word of God used by the early church), we read, in Psalm 45:3-5, “Gird thy sword upon the thigh, O Mighty One, in thy comeliness and in thy beauty; and bend thy bow, and prosper and reign, because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall guide thee wonderfully. Thy weapons are sharpened Mighty One, (the nations shall fall under thee) they are in the heart of the king’s enemies.” That is the first seal.
The second seal is the red horse where the rider takes peace from the earth. Here we have the rise of Islam under Mohammed and later the rise of others such as Genghis Khan. They rule the earth according to their rules reflecting the Nicolaitan spirit in the church. It has to be said that many people like this kind of leadership.
Soon one man becomes the head of the church and he joins with the state to enforce his rule. The word of God becomes the enemy so the word of God must be removed. There is a famine of the word of God.
The third seal, a black horse represents a great famine in the world. Just as the church has a famine of the word of God so also the world has a famine of food. There was the great famine of 1315-1317 and many more famines in the world around this time. However a voice cries out, "Do not harm the oil and the wine." The oil and the wine, I believe, represent the children of God, those sealed by the Spirit of God. The oil is the Spirit while the wine is the life, in this case it is the Life of God, Jesus Christ, God's Son, dwelling in their hearts through faith.
By the time of Laodicea there is spiritual death in the church. There has been times when God has blessed the church spiritually in the past but now it seems the church is letting the world into the church, and also committing spiritual adultery with other religions and with false spirits. All this brings spiritual death in the church. Jesus is no longer in the midst of the church. The forth seal, the pale horse whose name of him that sat on it is Death now comes onto the scene, he includes the wars and famines by the previous two horses but now death is the dominant feature. This is the state of the church and the world today.
We have looked at the state of the church and the state of the world on this earth, but what is going on in heaven?
At the opening of the fifth seal we see under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. They cried out to God, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth.” Gods answer was that they should rest a little while longer until the rest of the brethren who should be killed as they were should be completed (see Revelation 6:9-11).
At the opening of the sixth seal there is a great earthquake, the sun turns black and the moon is as blood, the stars of heaven fall to the earth, and every mountain and island is moved out of its place. Men are filled with fear.
The seventh seal is the bringing in of the seven trumpets.
Before the seven trumpets come on the scene we are told a bit more about the fifth and sixth seals.
An angel came to the altar were the souls of the saints were and much incense was given him to offer it with the prayers of the saints. Revelation 8:4-6 says, “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it on the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."
This is surely the wrath of God upon those who come against Israel in Ezekiel 38:18-20. We are told that there is a great earthquake in the land of Israel, “so that, the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beast of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.” This also lines up with the sixth seal when fear filled every man and they cried to mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb (see Revelation 6:13-17).
The time of the sounding of the trumpets coincides, I believe, with the time of the two witnesses. Some of the things that are a result of the trumpets are also caused by the two witnesses. Following the sounding of the first trumpet hail and fire mingled with blood are thrown to the earth and a third of the trees are burnt up plus all grass is burnt up. The second angel sounded and something like a great mountain burning with fire is thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died and a third of the ships were destroyed. The third angel sounded and a great star fell from heaven burning like a torch and it fell upon a third of the rivers and springs of waters and turned them bitter and many men died from drinking the water. The fourth angel sounded and a third of the sun, moon and stars were darkened and did not give their light.
When the fifth angel sounded it was like a star falling from heaven to earth and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. He opened the pit up and out came thick smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Out of the smoke came creatures like locust, with power like scorpions to harm all men who had not the seal of God on their foreheads. They tormented men for five months. They had a king over them, the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, meaning Destruction, and in Greek, Apollyon, meaning Destroyer. He is also called the “beast” in the Bible.
The sixth angel sounds his trumpet and a third of mankind is killed by an army of two hundred million.
This “beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit"
makes war against the two witnesses and kills them.
After three and a half days they rise and
stand on their feet and a loud voice from heaven says “Come up here,”
ascend to heaven in a cloud. In the same
hour there was a great earthquake which killed seven thousand people. (See Revelation 11:7-13). After
this the seventh angel sounded his
trumpet and loud voices are heard in heaven glorifying God. The mystery of God is finished.
The kingdoms of this world have become the
kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.
The rapture of the saints has now happened the only thing
left is the
pouring out of the seven bowls of God’s wrath followed by the return of
Christ to reign.