Seven Seals – Truth Revealed (Revelation 6-7)

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Welcome to the beginning of hell on earth.
That’s right, today we are going to take a closer look at the opening of the seven seals, which literally is the beginning of hell on earth, otherwise known as the Tribulation. And it’s going to be much worse than if the San Andreas fault went off like that in that movie.
If you’re just joining us, we are in the middle of our study on Revelation and the End of the World as We Know It. I strongly encourage you to watch or listen to the previous messages so that what I’m talking about today and the following weeks will make more sense.
Last week we witnessed the opening of the first seal in Revelation 6 and then spent the rest of the time getting to know the infamous Antichrist and how he rises to power. And last week I also showed you how he is already in the process of doing that through the influence of the “spirit of antichrist” that is quickly blanketing the world in lies that are so clever they sound like the truth to the point that when he does show up, he’ll already have the world in the palm of his hand. If you missed it, you can catch it on our website or via podcast.
Today we are going to cover the rest of chapter 6 and move into chapter 7.
But before we do, let’s pray.

If you have your bibles with you, open up to Revelation chapter 6. Otherwise you can follow along on the screens.
Revelation 6 (NASB)
Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they 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; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
As you can already see, this is not a time in history that you want to be on the earth…and it only gets much worse from there.
Here’s a look again at what I believe is the overall timeline of the tribulation. As you can see the seals we just read about make up about the first quarter, quickly followed by the far worse seven trumpets, the crazy midpoint, a period of relative calm as far as judgments from God go and then a flurry of devastations at the very end. And again, this is just my best and somewhat educated guess – so don’t be mad at me if you don’t get raptured and my timeline is wrong.
Last week I explained how the first seal of the white horse symbolizes the Antichrist’s rise to power via intrigue and promises of peace in the chaotic post-Rapture world. But his guise of peace is soon to give way to world war.
When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
Obviously we cannot know exactly how long the initial world peace lasted, but it couldn’t have been more than a few months to a year based on the overall timeline of 7 years with most of the action taking place in the first half. I think it will take about as long as it takes the Jews to rebuild the Temple – so probably 6 to 12 months.
Then war breaks out.
We don’t know what starts the war in human terms (perhaps the completion of the Temple sparks it?), but regardless of who exactly is fighting and why – it’s all part of the plan. This may be when the Antichrist subdues three of the ten kings he rose above in power as Daniel’s vision of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 indicates. We don’t really know.
When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
A natural result of war is famine, a disruption in the the supply and distribution of food, so once again, to the people on earth this will not seem like a judgment from God but just a normal result of the war that is going on.  A few things to note about this picture that may not be obvious to us modern westerners…
The scales in the rider’s hand are a symbol of the economy. In a market place in John’s day you would likely have seen scales of some kind at every stand. They were the ancient cash registers in a way. Back then, they used coins made of silver and other metals as their currency. Real silver, not the nickel plated copper that most of our coins are today. And the value of a coin was not so much what was stamped on it, but what it weighed. If you were dishonest, you could easily scrape a little of the silver off of each coin and turn the shavings into more coins. So scales were used in ancient times to verify that the coins people were using were legitimate.
What this vision indicates is that the world economy will be in bad shape, and it’s illustrated by what the voice says.
“A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
A denarius was the standard day’s wage for labor workers in those days and was the equivalent to about a day’s worth of minimum wage today. Which at $7.25/hr for 8 hours = $58.
This is saying that with one day’s wage you will be able to buy either a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley. To put that into perspective, a quart of wheat can make about 1.5 loaves of bread. Enough to feed a family for a single day if all they eat is bread and water. 
In John’s day, a denarius could usually buy about 12 quarts of wheat and three times as much barley, meaning for a day’s wage a man could feed his family for about two weeks. Today is about the same. For $58, if you are smart with your choices, you could buy enough subsistence food to last a week or two depending on the size of your family. But this prophecy is saying that in these times, after war breaks out in the tribulation, inflation will be so high that a loaf of bread will cost a whole day’s pay. And if bread is $58 a loaf, imagine what other things cost.  People will be starving to death, much like during the Great Depression after World War 1, though much worse.
As for the comment about not damaging the oil and the wine, there are many different opinions on this. I’ll leave a link in my notes if you want to see them all.
But the most common one suggests this is an indication of an extreme gap between the rich and the poor. Oil and wine are luxury items compared with wheat and barley, and they will be in plenty while the food for the poorest will be scarce. Seems plausible, but whatever the reason and how this will actually look, it’s not a good situation.
Next comes another seemingly natural consequence of war and famine.
When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
The Greek term translated as “ashen” here and “pale” in other translations is CHLOROS, where we get words like chloroform from. It’s basically a pale sickly green color like a corpse that has been dead awhile. Which is clearly appropriate considering it’s rider is named Death.
The fact that it also says that Hades is following him has led some to suggest that there is a fifth horse, but the fact that another horse is not mentioned makes that unlikely. Perhaps the better notion is simply that Hades always follows Death – at least for non-believers. Hades, also known as Hell, is the destination of the soul of someone who dies having not made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.
So, it would seem from this picture that only unbelievers are being killed, which would make sense, since believers are not “appointed to wrath.” This does not mean that believers are not dying. In fact, we will see in a minute that indeed they are, just not by the hand of God.
The vision says that they are given authority to kill 1/4 of the earth. Looking at our numbers again. If we assume a present earth population of 7.5 Billion. 1.5B Raptured away, leaving 6B. 1/4 of 6B is another 1.5B, leaving 4.5B people, not counting the Christians being martyred.
That’s a lot of bodies.
And it says that they are killed by sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts. The sword and famine make sense as we’ve already seen that. Pestilence is disease, which is another common thing to come out of war. Throughout human history, disease has killed people on a far more massive scale than war. More Union and Confederate soldiers died from disease during the Civil War than were killed in battle. An estimated 30 million people died during the great influenza epidemic of 1918-19 —more than three times as many as the estimated 8.5 million soldiers who died in battle during World War I.
Wild beasts is something different. Basically, it seems that with so much famine and shortage of food, the animals get hungry and start eating people.
 
But mostly, all of this is just in keeping with the promises that God gave Israel in the original covenant if they did not obey. 
If you were here during the Back to the Future background information miniseries, you will know what I mean. But in case you weren’t here or have forgotten, let’s revisit the wonderful book of Leviticus together.
Leviticus 26 is at the end of all the laws that God gave the Israelites. Here, God lays out the terms of the covenant. If they obey, then God will bless them exceedingly, but if they do not obey (which they didn’t and still don’t) then He will heap on curses – curses that are not done playing out and are in fact the reason for the whole tribulation in the first place. I broke that down in week 10 if you want to look it up for the full scoop. For now, let’s read some of those curses and see if they sound familiar.
Leviticus 26
17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
(WAR)
18 “‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. 19 I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. 20 Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit. 
(FAMINE)
21 “‘If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. 22 I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.
(BEASTS)
23 “‘If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, 24 I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. 25 And I will bring the sword on you to avenge the breaking of the covenant.
(SWORD)
When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands.
 
(PESTILENCE)
 
26 When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.
(Sounds just like the third seal…)
These things that God is bringing on the world are not arbitrary. He’s simply keeping His promises.
But to the inhabitants of the earth, all of these things will seem like natural happenings. There will likely be no indication that any of this is of supernatural origin or direction. But that is about to change.
Before it does, though, the fifth seal breaks the pattern thus far followed.
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
This seal doesn’t so much describe something done to the earth, but shows the results of something that had apparently been going on during all the war, famine, and death. Apparently, people were coming to faith and  being martyred – killed for their faith, and here at this point we see their souls underneath the altar in the heavenly temple of God.
Some who do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture like to suggest this is the result of the rapture, but if you just read the text it clearly is not. These souls are here because they had been killed by human beings because of the word of God and their faithful testimony of faith. Not only that, but raptured believers will have new bodies in heaven whereas these are body-less souls, which is what happens today when a believer dies and goes to heaven. No, these are people who came to faith after the Rapture and have been killed by the world that is saturated with the antichrist spirit and ruled by the Antichrist, the person. And they are crying out to God for justice, to which they are told to wait a little longer, for more martyrs will be joining their number before the end when God does just that – avenge their blood. 
One thing this makes clear is that salvation is still possible after the Rapture. But, personally, I’d rather be watching this stuff from the owner’s box than be a player on the field. It’s only going to get nastier.
And the real nasty is going to start with the sixth seal.
12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they 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; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
With this seal and judgment, the people of the earth can no longer claim ignorance as to who is behind these happenings and where they are in the timeline of world history.
Some very interesting and terrifying things happen here.
There is a great worldwide earthquake. Remember, unless otherwise specified, we should assume these things happen over the entire globe. And this earthquake is so powerful that every mountain and island (which is an underwater mountain) are moved out of their place. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a mountain range, but to have an earthquake that causes the mountains to move from one place to another must be quite a shaking. Imagine the earthquake from that video multiplied by ten and all over the globe…
Not only that, but the sun goes black. And this is more than an eclipse where you can see the outer ring. This is like someone put the sun inside a sackcloth bag. That and the moon turns red like blood.
Many try to naturalize these events, suggesting that the earthquake will cause volcanoes to erupt, spewing ash into the air, and so forth, which may very well happen. But I’m not sure how ash in the air could completely block out the sun, but sill cause light from the moon to shine through, albeit red. No, I fall on the side of opinions that this is when God makes it clear who is at work, and there can be no natural explanation for it.
In addition to what I’ve already said, it also says that stars are falling to the earth like figs falling from a fig tree. Now, in this case we do have to clarify that these could not be literal stars – which are all like our sun. If literal stars came to earth, there would be no more earth. What he’s witnessing is likely a great meteor shower as it burns up in the atmosphere or something like it, causing giant rocks to pummel the earth. Later we will hear of other stars falling to earth, but in that case it’s referring to fallen angels.
The reference to the fig tree reminds us of what Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse that I covered just before Christmas.
Speaking of what it will be like near the end of the Age of the Gentiles, Jesus says…
Luke 21
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
And this seal is not the last of such signs.
So, crazy stuff going on in the sky and on the earth, but that isn’t even the part that makes it obvious to the people of earth where this is coming from. That happens when the sky is split apart like a scroll rolled up.
What exactly that is like, we can’t really know except as John describes it. But based on the effect, it would seem that the sky rolling back revealed the throne room that John described in chapters 4 and 5, because, the people, after trying to hide themselves are now asking for death…
“Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Why would these nonbelievers and God-haters, who probably never read the book of Revelation or any of the bible for that matter, speak of the presence of “Him on the throne and the wrath of the Lamb?” if they had not seen it with their eyes? I dare you to ask some of your non-church friends about the wrath of the lamb to see if they know what that is…
No, I’m convinced that what John is describing is literal events on earth. Tremendous earthquake that moves mountains and islands, blackened sun, blood red moon, what looks like stars falling to earth, and the sky peeled back to reveal the throne room of God, and the people cannot stand it.
And notice that it was all the people of every class. John specifically calls out kings, great men, commanders, the rich, the strong, every slave and free man – every class of society. No one is immune or unaffected by this. Every human being alive at this point will know for certain that it is the God of the Bible who is bringing these judgments on them. Yet we will continue to see that they refuse to repent.
It doesn’t list a death toll from this, but I’m sure it will be quite large. And the damage to the earth will be tremendous. They might even lose internet access and cell phones stop working as all the towers are toppled in the earthquake or falling sky rocks. We will need to remember that from this point forward, a lot of what we take for granted today as far as technology will start becoming obsolete as more destruction is heaped on the earth. If this seal doesn’t do it, some of the trumpets probably will. Truly the end of the world as we know it has begun at this point.
And as for the question they ask of “who is able to stand?” Well, that question is answered in the vision John has next.
Revelation 7
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
 
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
 
Another interesting scene which begins with the Greek term that means “after these things,” which means that John seeing this is chronologically after what we just saw in the first six seals. When we get to the midpoint of tribulation, there will be several chapters describing events occurring at about the same time, so it’s important to pay attention to the markers that tell us things like that.
Here we meet the famous 144,000 – a group of people and number that has had so many interpretations that I’m going to let you read them on your own if you wish. I’ll post a link in my notes to a place that lists and describes most of them.
What I’m going to teach you today is what the literal interpretation probably means.
The scene begins with John seeing four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds. Now, the nay-sayers like to point out that the sphere of the earth does not have corners – and of course they would be correct. But again, taking what John SEES to be literal means that he is writing exactly what he SEES, but often the pictures are symbolic of something else – such is the case here.  Basically, the idea of the four corners of the earth simply correlates to the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west – so this is effectively just saying “everywhere.” There are four angels standing in four directions who are holding back all of the wind from those directions.
Now, does this mean that this is another judgment where all the wind on the earth is stopped, thus causing considerable harm? Some think so, but I would say not.
 
In many places in Scripture, God’s judgment is described as coming in on the wind, or blowing in as a wind. So that combined with what the other angel says would seem to indicate that this is a picture that symbolizes judgments being held back for a moment in order to do something important, namely to seal a specific group of people for an important job as the angel says. 
 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 
 
The specific mention of the land, sea, and trees is also symbolic. In other places in prophecy the Jews are represented by the land, the Gentiles by the sea, and their leaders by trees. And so, the angel is instructing these other angels to cause no more harm on all the people until these 144,000 are sealed for God’s work. Later we will learn that this seal protects them from the judgments to come.
So, let’s talk about these 144,000. We know how many there are because John actually hears their number.
 
Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
 
Then he goes on to list that the 144,000 would be comprised of 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes. Again, a lot of speculation has gone into these numbers and in the specific tribes mentioned.
Now, in case you didn’t know – a tribe of Israel is simply the descendants of a specific son of Israel the patriarch. Here’s a nice graphic of how this came about. It began with Abraham – who God made the original covenant with to bless the earth through his descendants. Later Abraham and Sarah had Isaac even though they were very old. Isaac grew up and married Rebekah who had the twin boys Jacob and Esau. Before they were born, God chose Jacob to be the seed of the promise even though he was the younger sibling. Later God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and gave him the same promise He gave to Abraham. Jacob/Israel went on to marry Leah (on accident) and eventually Rachel (the one he really loved). The two of them together with their personal servants Bilhah and Zilpah bore to Jacob/Israel 12 sons in total with Joseph and Benjamin being his favorites from Rachel.
Those 12 sons of Israel became the patriarchs of 12 tribes, or groups of descendants, of Israel.
All of this you can find in Genesis – good story, you should read it.
But one thing you may have noticed from this drawing is that Joseph’s two sons are specifically called out, whereas the direct descendants of the others are not. That’s because of Josephs unique story, which resulted in rather than there being a tribe of Joseph, the blessing was passed on to his two sons who became tribal patriarchs themselves – Manasseh and Ephraim. They are often called half tribes.
But what this means is that in practice there are actually 13 tribes rather than 12. But if you look up all the times that the tribes are listed, only 12 are listed and each time a different one is missing. And in this case in Revelation, the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are missing and Joseph is actually listed. 
Why that is has been the topic of much debate and speculation, but in the end it’s basically one of those things that we simply do not know because it’s never explained in scripture. You can feel free to do your own research if you are unsatisfied with that answer.  But in my opinion, it must not be that important since it is never explained in Scripture the way the other important things usually are.
So, anyway, that’s how we get 12 tribes, and that’s how we end up with 144,000 of these sealed servants – who are all of Jewish descent and later we learn are also life long virgins – so don’t get your hopes up that it’s you.
So, taking what John hears literally (which when numbers are stated rather than seen, it’s safe to take them literally) it means that after the earth is rocked by the sixth seal, there will be a brief time in which judgment is halted and exactly 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the listed twelve tribes will be sealed for God’s service during the remainder of the tribulation. Which will be quite a miracle considering that the tribal distinctions basically disappeared from records after the temple was destroyed in AD 70. But God still knows who is who.
What exactly these 144,000 will be doing is indirectly explained in the remainder of the chapter.
 
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
 
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
 
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
 
“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”
 
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
 
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
 
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
 
“they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
    will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
We see the 144,000 again in chapter 14 being rewarded, so it appears they survive the coming judgments. And it seems that their service to God is that of evangelism and the multitudes just described are the results of their efforts. There’s nothing like difficult times to bring about a revival, and it especially helps when God hand picks 144,000 evangelists to make it happen.
This picture of the uncountable multitude must be a vision of all those who will be saved and killed during the whole tribulation, rather than just those killed up to this point. The fifth seal was that. And if you remember, in the fifth seal, the angel informed the souls under the altar that more would be added to their number. Well, here they are.
And the reason we know who they are is because one of the elders makes sure that we know by bringing it to John’s attention in the classic – ask a question you know he won’t know answer to so he’ll ask you for the answer and you’ll sound smart – technique. We see this happen in other prophetic visions as well. It’s a technique in prophecy to ensure the person having the vision notices the right things.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
 
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
 
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
 
The Greek behind the phrase “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation” is actually a present participle which more accurately would be “These are they who are coming out of the great tribulation” – as in a present and ongoing action. These are they who are still coming out of the great tribulation – in other words, John is being shown the end result of all the martyrs of the tribulation. And aside from the grammar, what the elder says next clues us in as well.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
    nor any scorching heat.
The “never agains” clue us into some of the things that they have endured, such as hunger and thirst, and the scorching heat of the sun. Hunger could be a result of the famine we’ve already seen. Thirst could also be a result of the famine, but could also have to do with the future judgments when the water is turned to blood or made bitter. And the scorching heat of the sun is specifically the fourth bowl judgment at the very end.
This shows us that people will be coming to faith and dying for it throughout the whole tribulation. Which makes sense, since God does send out this evangelistic force and at a later point even has an angel telling the gospel to the whole world from the sky. And there are also the Two Witnesses to consider that we will meet later. The seven years of tribulation may be the greatest revival ever known to man, but it will come at a price as you can see by this countless multitude of believers who were killed for their faith. 
But here’s the thing…we don’t have to wait for the tribulation and the sealing of the 144,000 evangelists to start bringing people to faith here and now…
 
because I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone that I love to have to go through what we just read in chapter 6 or in the rest of the book when it gets worse, much less spend an eternity in hell or the lake of fire. 
It’s interesting – some of the people that talk with me about this topic – the end times – express a bit of remorse or sadness over the people that will be left behind in the rapture and about the fact that it’s all going to come to an end and ultimate judgment. Well, I say, it’s ok to feel sad about that, but don’t stop there – do something about it. Lest we forget that when Jesus walked the earth – what did he call us?
He called us the light of the world.
Matthew 5
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
So, what exactly is this light? And, what does it look like to be this light in practice in our context?
As to what it is, there is a lot of talk in the New Testament especially about light and darkness.
Jesus talked about it elsewhere in the context of the world’s favorite and most misunderstood bible verse:
John 3
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
And what is that light that came into the world that Jesus just spoke of…well, two chapters earlier, John tells us.
John 1
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
And Jesus himself even comes right out and says it later in John.
John 8
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
So, what is the light? Jesus is the light. And we, who are his followers, we have HIM, thus we have the light. And we are told to let it shine. We are told to let HIM shine through us.
So, now that we know what the light is exactly – how do we let it, or rather HIM, shine? What does it look like in practice for you and for me?
I’ll tell you what it doesn’t look like.
It’s not the guy on the street corner with the signs waving at people. That only brings attention to himself.
It’s not the shouting from the rooftop (or on Facebook) judgments on all of the evil in the world…or for that matter, everything wrong with the OTHER political party and its leaders.
And it’s also not necessarily going door to door in your neighborhood or another and asking people if they know Jesus.
To be the light that Jesus talked about, you simply need to reflect Jesus just like the moon reflects the sun.
So, how do we do that?
Well, step one is that you have to actually be a follower of Christ in order to have His light. Which means you make Him your lord and your King. Notice I didn’t say you let him forgive your sins and accept him as your savior. If you can show me where that is in the bible I’ll take YOU to lunch!
No, scripture is clear that salvation is not a matter of “letting Jesus save you” or “accepting His sacrifice.” Salvation comes in making Jesus your Lord, your King, your Master. It’s right there in
Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Confess means to say something that is true about yourself. And in order to make Jesus Christ your Lord, you must not only believe that God raised him from the dead, but you must believe he is the Christ – which I explained last week is not his last name but his title – which has a whole depth of meaning equating Jesus to be the Son of God, equal with God himself.
That’s why Jesus said that everyone who FOLLOWS him will have the light. He is very clear in Matthew 7 that
Matthew 7:21
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
I encourage you to read Romans 8 as well. But all of this to say that the first step to being and having the light is that you have surrendered your life, your will, your desires, your ways to the king of kings and lord of lords, Jesus the Christ, because you believe he is the Son of God and rose from the dead.
If you have done that, and continue to do that, then you now have the Holy Spirit inside of you and you are now the light of the world, a reflector of the true light – Jesus. Much like the moon reflects the sun.
But that doesn’t automatically make you a good reflector. There’s more to it than just being the light. Jesus made it clear that as the light we should “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Which clearly implies that you could NOT let your light shine, if you so choose.
So, how do we let it shine? What are these good deeds that Jesus speaks of?
Well, James gives us some help there.
James 1
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
He further clarifies in the next chapter:
James 2
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
The good deeds that you do are your faith in action in obedience to the Word of God. It’s really that simple.
If you simply live as your Heavenly Father tells you to live though His Word, then you will not have to figure out how to shine your light – you will BE a light. And what do lights do? They shine!
It seems simple and easy, but the fact of the matter is that most Christians are not very good at shining. If we were, the world would not be so engulfed in darkness. 
The problem is not that we do not know how to shine, or even that we do not want to shine. Every true Christ Follower cannot help but want to shine the great light they have inside of them. If you don’t have that desire at all, then I would question whether you even have the light.
The problem is not the lack of desire or know how – the problem is a lack of resources.
And I’m not talking about money or marketing strategy.
We individually lack the resources to be effective lights in this world because we mostly have rather dirty minds.
And I don’t mean THAT kind of dirty mind, but minds that have more of the World’s filth and lies in them than they do of the truth of God’s Word. 
Jesus spoke of this…
Matthew 6
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
The modern Christian world has a bad case of unhealthy eyes, and a great many who call themselves followers of Christ have more darkness than light in them and they don’t even realize it. 
Basically Paul sums it up in Romans 12.
Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
If we want to truly be good reflectors of Jesus. If we want to make a difference in this world instead of just blending in with the darkness and being overwhelmed by it. Then we must renew our minds.  We must no longer conform to the pattern of this world (which is darkness), but be transformed. Be changed. 
And so, I’ll offer this one more time. If your heart is burning right now and you want that kind of change. If you want that kind of transformation, and you’re willing to put some effort into it – then I am offering to provide you with some hands-on transformation training to that effect.  If you are interested, then plan to meet me this Wednesday night at 7pm at the church office to learn what it entails.

As for now, we have seen the beginning of hell on earth in the first six seals. War, famine, death, catastrophic earthquakes and all of mankind begging for death already because they can’t handle it – not knowing that it’s going to get much, much worse. But at the same time, God is at work saving those who are willing – but we should also be at work here and now so that those we love do not have to come to Christ the hard way.
Next week I will be covering the seven trumpets in chapter 8 & 9. I encourage you to read ahead.
Let’s Pray