John’s head must have been spinning after seeing the first six seal judgments. Chapter six ends with people cowering in caves, overcome with fear. The question was asked, “Who can stand?” Will the great day of wrath destroy all of humanity?
Sometimes it seems that life on earth is heading for a nuclear disaster that will wipe out humanity. When fear threatens to immobilize us, we need a new vision of heaven. Things are not what they seem. God is at work in surprising ways. There is a lull before the storm to show John (and us) that God has made provision for all who will respond. Many, indeed, will be able to stand.
DAY ONE: GOD SEALS 144,000 EVANGELISTS.
READ: Revelation 7:1-8
A. ANGELS HOLD BACK DESTRUCTION.
Four angels who are commissioned to bring destruction on the earth are put on “pause.” Their destruction is aimed at the whole earth as the wrath of God becomes more intense. God has a mission of mercy to carry out for all who will respond.
B. 144,000 JEWS ARE COMMISSIONED.
This often comes as quite a surprise to readers of Revelation. There will be 144,000 Jews who are sealed during the tribulation period. Sealing is normally carried out for service or for protection. In this case it appears that both are in order. The seal on their bodies will protect them from harm during the tribulation either from the judgments of God or the persecution of antichrist followers.
Their service will be to proclaim the message of the gospel to the world during the tribulation, as prophesied by Jesus (Matthew 24:14). The Jews will come from all parts of the world as indicated by the four winds. They will know the language and culture of people from all over the world. As we will see in the next section, they will be highly efficient and highly effective!
These evangelists are identified as Jews – 12,000 from twelve different tribes. No reason is given for leaving out Dan. In different places in Scripture where the tribes are named, there are always twelve tribes but the names will vary. In this list, Joseph is listed instead of Ephraim. Levi is included, and Dan is omitted. So we have the necessary twelve.
In every age God has his faithful remnant. Today most of the Jews no longer can prove their tribal identity but God knows. In modern times, perhaps DNA tests can be utilized to prove tribal identities.
- Note which tribes are listed or omitted in Genesis 49, Deuteronomy 33, and Ezekiel 48.
- How is the seal described in Revelation 14:1?
- Why do you think God uses Jewish believers to spread the gospel in this period of time?
- What attribute of God stands out to you as you read this plan of evangelism?
- How does God’s zeal in spreading the gospel to the whole world compare with your zeal in your neighborhood, office, or extended family?
DAY TWO: JOHN SAW A MULTITUDE OF BELIEVERS.
READ: Revelation 7:9-17
A. PEOPLE RESPOND FROM ALL NATIONS.
When God first called Abraham to begin a new nation, he was promised that he would be a blessing to all families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). Now we see that promise fulfilled. John saw a multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language. They were standing before God and the Lamb in white robes with palm branches – praising God for salvation. The angels along with 24 elders and 4 living creatures joined in the worship. What a thrilling scene this is among the judgment events in Revelation.
These believers are identified as having come out of the tribulation. Since their story follows the identification of the 144,000 Jews, it is assumed that they have come to faith as a result of the ministry of these Jews along with the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit throughout the world.
B. TRIBULATION BELIEVERS RECEIVE ETERNAL BLESSINGS.
These new believers have been through real suffering – hunger, thirst, lack of shelter. They were rejected on earth but are now fully accepted in Heaven as servants of God. They will never again be needy. They are rejoicing as they celebrate their new shepherd who will provide living water and wipe away every tear.
- What protected God’s people from death in Egypt? (Exodus 12:12-13)
- What is our seal today? (Ephesians 1:13)
- What do you think the palm branches represent in verse 9?
- Read the beautiful promise in Isaiah 49:10 and compare it with the rejoicing in Revelation 7:15-17.
- List some reasons for rejoicing for Christians today.
- What additional blessings do you anticipate in Heaven? (Revelation 21:1-4)
DAY THREE: THE SEVENTH SEAL IS BROKEN.
READ: Revelation 8:1-6
A. THERE IS SILENCE IN HEAVEN.
The rejoicing is over temporarily. The Lamb opened the seventh seal, and there was silence in heaven for a half hour. No explanation is given, but we can feel a tension, anticipation, awe, or maybe a stunned dread. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpet judgments which intensify the pouring out of God’s wrath on earth. At last the prayers for justice from the saints and martyrs will be answered. But the devastation will be great.
B. THE PREPARATION BEGINS.
The seven angels standing before God were given seven trumpets. Another angel mixed incense with the prayers of the saints. The smoke from the burning incense and the prayers went up before God. The angel hurling fire from the altar to the earth indicates the answers to the prayers coming down to the earth. Thunder, lightning, rumblings and an earthquake signal this round of judgments. One catastrophe after another will come upon the earth.
Trumpets held a special place in the lives of God’s chosen people. A trumpet called the people together, announced war, announced special times, and even announced the crowning of a king. Seven angels will blow trumpets and a new disaster follows each blast.
- What event signaled the blowing of a trumpet in Exodus 19:16-19?
- What event signaled the blowing of a trumpet in I Kings 1:34-39?
- How were trumpets used in the conquest of Jericho? (Joshua (6:3-16)
- What does this passage tell you about the value of your prayers?
- What has God said about prayer that gives you confidence that every prayer is answered? (1 Peter 3:12)
- Share one answered prayer with someone in your study group or with someone near to you this week.
DAY FOUR: TRUMPET JUDGMENTS BEGIN.
READ: Revelation 8:6-9
A. FIRST TRUMPET IS SOUNDED.
The first trumpet unleashed a heavy storm of hail and fire mixed with blood. These disasters are called natural because they affect the land. They could be called unnatural or supernatural because there is no explanation of how fire is mixed with blood. In the first plague against Egypt God used blood as a judgment. (Exodus 7:14-21) In the seventh plague He used hail (Exodus 9:13-26). The target for this judgment in Revelation is the vegetation on earth – one third of the trees and grass are burned up. This would affect the food supply as well as the balance of nature. Destruction of pasture lands would destroy the cattle industry.
When the things we take for granted are suddenly removed, we are forced to stop and rethink our priorities. God is sending a wake-up call.
B. SECOND TRUMPET IS SOUNDED.
A fiery object (like a huge mountain) was thrown into the sea. One third of the sea turned to blood and killed the sea life. One third of the ships were destroyed.
Since about three fourths of the earth’s surface is ocean, this would have a major impact on the shipping industry as well as a major source of food. This kind of economic disaster cannot be ignored, not to mention the problem of pollution from dead marine life. God is sending a second wake-up call.
- Why do you think God is limiting his first judgments to disasters on the earth?
- What effect do oil spills have on normal life in our country?
- How would unbelievers likely react to these first judgments?
- Have you ever experienced a wake-up call – something that impacted your normal life?
- What was your reaction?
DAY FIVE: TRUMPET JUDGMENTS CONTINUE
READ: Revelation 8:10-13
A. THIRD TRUMPET IS SOUNDED.
The salt waters were impacted by the second trumpet, which brought much disaster. But now the fresh water is hit. The rivers and springs produced bitter water on one third of the earth’s water sources. There are about 100 major rivers in the world. The United States has about 30. A great star named Wormwood created bitter water that can cause death from drinking. The star must have come apart as it entered the atmosphere so that it landed in many places. Or, as in many other places in Scripture, a star may mean an angel that was sent to pollute the fresh water on earth. A loss of sweet drinking water causes immediate crises that cannot be ignored.
B. FOURTH TRUMPET IS SOUNDED.
The trumpet judgments thus far have impacted one third of land and waters. This fourth trumpet impacts one third of the light sources on earth. A third of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened, leaving earth’s day and night with less light. We depend on light for food production, energy, guidance, heat, and daily living. Imagine the panic that loss of light would bring to earth’s inhabitants.
C. AN EAGLE WARNS OF COMING WOES.
If the first four trumpets have failed to be sufficient warning, an eagle now announced that three more disasters are yet to come. They will be so terrible that they are called woes that will come upon the earth.
1. In some English versions the word ‘wormwood’ is translated as ‘gall.’ How is gall described in Proverbs 5:4?
2. Wormwood means bitterness. What did God promise in the following passages?
- Jeremiah 9:15
- Jeremiah 23:15
3. Why do you think God is still limiting the judgment on earth?
4. .What is the meaning of woe? Why is it repeated?
5. Even in the midst of discipline and hardship, God provides hope. In the last days amid the judgments, what does Peter mention to provide hope? (Acts 2:17-21)
6. God has given us His promises for hope and comfort. Read the following passages:
- 2 Peter 3:13
- Ephesians 1:3-14
- 1 John 4:13-18
The first four trumpets have affected the earth’s natural resources, things that contribute to the beauty and well being of the earth and its inhabitants. God has provided vegetation, salt water, fresh water, and light from the sun, moon and stars. Unbelieving men have taken these things for granted and even attributed them to a chance happening of an evolutionary process. We are reminded in Romans 1:20 “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Now that God has partially taken these things away, man has a chance to reconsider his response to the creator God.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK
God hears the cries of His people and will avenge them fully in His time.
Be faithful in prayer when you see injustice against anyone in the Christian world.
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