Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to know the balanced truth of what your Word teaches on every topic, including the end times. We want to be fully ready to stand before you. We ask in Jesus mighty, holy name! Amen!
At the present time, we are going through Revelation chapters 4-10 verse-by-verse. This present study builds on my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10 that is located on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). It also builds on my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture."
Today we'll start with Rev. 6:12-17. These verses deal with the Lord Jesus Christ's removal of the sixth seal from the all-important scroll that He took from the right hand of God the Father in chapter 5. They give us a brief, but dramatic, look at the arrival of judgment day before the scroll is opened. As we have discussed, the scroll cannot be opened until the Lord removes the seventh and last seal at Rev. 8:1. These verses emphasize the terror of judgment day for the multitudes who will not be ready to stand before God the Father and His Son. They emphasize the wrath of God the Father and God the Son.
We can say that God's day of judgment will officially begin when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, but it is also fair to say that His wrath will be manifested against many of His enemies in a very substantial way through the great shaking that will take place under the sixth trumpet, during the one month period that precedes the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. That great shaking is included in these verses.
These verses are quite important, but we don't receive hardly any new revelation here. For the most part these verses speak of things that had already been revealed in the Bible. After the scroll is opened at Rev. 8:1, the book of Revelation is literally packed with very important detailed information that had not been revealed before in the Bible.
I'll read Rev. 6:12, 13. As is typical, I'll read from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition. Sometimes I make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]] to make the brackets more obvious. "I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake [or, a great shaking]; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind." I believe it would be better to translate "a great shaking" here instead of "a great earthquake." (It is clear that the Greek noun "seismos" can be translated "shaking"; see the BAGD Greek Lexicon, for example.) This great shaking includes the great shaking of the very intense warfare of the sixth trumpet, which equals the warfare of the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22 (also see Mark chapter 13).
The words that follow great shaking here in Rev. 6:12, about the sun and moon being darkened, serve to confirm that the great shaking of the intense warfare of the short tribulation is included here. As we have discussed in some detail, Matt. 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; and Joel 2:30-32 (also see Joel 3:15) enable us to see that the sun and moon will be darkened by the smoke and dust generated during the very intense warfare of the short great tribulation, and that the sun and moon will have been darkened when the Lord comes to judge the world. The verses that prophesy of this very intense warfare in Revelation chapter 9 don't mention the sun and moon being darkened, but they do mention (two times) the smoke that will be generated by that warfare. Revelation 9:2 confirms that it is biblical to speak of the sun's being darkened by smoke on the earth.
I should comment on a detail here. Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Joel 2:31; and Rev. 6:12 speak of the sun being darkened, and Matt. 24:29 and Mark 13:24 speak of the moon not giving its light (in other words, it is darkened), but Rev. 6:13 and Joel 2:31 speak of the moon's becoming like blood. There is widespread agreement that all four verses prophesy of the same reality. I assume that the moon's becoming like blood in two of these verses means that what little light does appear on the earth from the moon will have an ominous red coloration, the color of blood. It is also possible, of course, that there will be a miraculous component in the darkening of the sun and moon.
Isaiah 13:6-16 prophesy of Yahweh's day of judgment. Verse 10 mentions the darkening of the sun and moon, and verse 13 mentions the shaking of the heavens and the earth. I'll read Isa. 13:9-13 from the Amplified Bible: "Behold, the day of the Lord [Yahweh] comes! Fierce, with wrath and raging anger, to make the land and the whole earth a desolation, and to destroy out of it its sinners. (10) For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. (11) And I, the Lord, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their guilt and iniquity; I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible and boasting of the violent and ruthless. (12) I will make a man more rare than fine gold, and mankind scarcer than the pure gold of Ophir. (13) Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth shall be shaken out of its place at the wrath of the Lord [Yahweh] of hosts in the day of His fierce anger."
I'll read Rev. 6:12, 13 again, and we'll further discuss these verses, "I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great shaking; 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."
The great shaking of Rev. 6:12 also undoubtedly includes the great shaking that causes the stars to fall to the earth mentioned in verse 13. I'll read verse 13 again, "and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree cast its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind." The Greek verb translated "shaken" here is "seio." It should be noted that the Greek noun "seismos" that was used in verse 12 was derived from this Greek verb. Another important passage that uses this Greek verb is Heb. 12:26-29. I'll read those verses. For one thing, they help us understand that God's end-time judgment of the world can be pictured as a great shaking. "And His voice [God's voice] shook the earth then [in Old Testament days], but now He has promised, saying, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven.' (27) This expression, 'Yet once more,' denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (28) Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; (29) for our God is a consuming fire." The Greek verb seio was used at the end of verse 26. Another Greek verb was used at the beginning of verse 26 and in verse 27.
It is also significant that the stars falling to the earth here in Rev. 6:13 was also pictured in Matt. 24:29 (and in Mark 13:25). I'll read Matt. 24:29, "But immediately after the tribulation of those days [referring to the great tribulation of verses 21, 22] the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." As we have discussed, Revelation chapter 12 is the most important cross-reference for understanding the falling stars of Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:25; and Rev. 6:13 and the powers of the heavens being shaken in Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:25. Revelation 12:4, 7-9 show that the devil and his angels will be cast down to the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, and it is significant that the devil's angels are called "stars" in verse 4. There probably will be some literal shooting stars visible on the earth at that time, but the primary fulfillment of the falling stars of Rev. 6:13; Matt. 24:29; and Mark 13:25 will come to pass when the devil and his angels are cast down to the earth.
So, the great shaking of Rev. 6:13 includes the great shaking of the very intense warfare of the short great tribulation, and it includes the great shaking that will cast Satan and his angels down to the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. In this context (see verse 14), the great shaking could include all of the great shaking that will take place as God judges the world in the last days. When He is done shaking (including His shaking at the end of the millennium) the old world will be gone, and it will be time for the new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem. Every unrepentant rebel and all chaos and corruption will have been totally removed from God's kingdom by His shaking/judgments. In my paper I listed quite a few other verses that speak of God's shaking the world in judgment in the last days (see, for example, Isa. 2:19, 21; 13:13; 24: 19, 20; Hag. 2:6, 7;, 21; and Heb. 12:26-29).
I'll read Rev. 6:14, "The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Isaiah chapter 34 is an important cross-reference dealing with God's end-time judgment of the world, especially verse 4, which speaks of the sky being rolled up like a scroll. I won't get into the details here of what it means for the sky to be rolled up like a scroll, but I discussed that topic in my paper.
I'll read Rev. 6:15-17, "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 [God the Father], and from the wrath of the Lamb; (17) for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand." Isaiah 2:12-22 is an important cross-reference. I'll quote several key verses from this passage, Isa. 2:12, "For the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased. [Pride with unbelief are the root of sin. If we don't humble ourselves, God will humble us in judgment.] ... (17) The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness of men will be abased; And the LORD [Yahweh] alone will be exalted in that day, (18) But the idols will completely vanish. (19) Men will go into caves of the rocks And into holes of the ground Before the terror of the LORD [Yahweh] And the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble. [Trembling goes with the shaking of the day of judgment.] (20) In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats Their idols of silver and their idols of gold Which they made for themselves to worship, (21) In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs Before the terror of the LORD [Yahweh] and the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble. (22) Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?"
Now we come to Revelation chapter 7. I'll give an overview of this chapter before we get into the details. In these introductory comments, we will discuss how Revelation chapter 7 fits with the seven seals and how it fits the overall scheme of the book of Revelation. Revelation chapter 7 is an interlude between the breaking of the sixth seal (at the end of chapter 6) and the opening of the seventh seal (at the beginning of chapter 8). In Revelation chapter 7, before the seventh and last seal is removed from the scroll, which will allow the all-important scroll to be opened, we pause to look at two special groups of people. Both multitudinous groups are part of God's true Israel, and both groups will be living on the earth throughout the first half of Daniel's 70th week, when the first six trumpets will be sounding.
We'll discuss the second group first. For one thing, this group is easier to understand and discuss, and it is quite possible, even probable, that we will be included in this group. In Rev. 7:9-17 we see a great multitude of saints (members of God's true Israel) in heaven, before the throne of God. Their state of existence at the time the day of wrath begins is in total contrast with the state of those pictured at the end of chapter 6. I'll read those verses again, "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; 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; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?' "
The saints pictured in the second half of Revelation chapter 7, in stark contrast, have just been glorified and raptured from the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, at the time of the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet. For one thing, these saints will be kept out of the hour of great testing that will take place on the earth throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week (see Rev. 3:10). They won't be living on the earth when the devil, having been cast down to the earth with his angels in the middle of the seven-year period, and having great wrath, will attack Christians (see Revelation chapters 12 and 13). They won't be living on the earth during any part of the three and one-half year super-evil reign of Antichrist that will start right after the rapture (see Revelation chapter 13).
Furthermore, these saints will know God's protective care throughout the first half of Daniel's 70th week, when the first six trumpets will be sounding. It is important to see that those judgments are not coming against true Christians. During the fifth trumpet, for example, the locusts (apparently they are demonic locusts) will not be permitted to touch those who have been sealed by God, and that includes all true Christians. I am not saying, however, that there won't be any martyrs during the first half of Daniel's 70th week. We know, for one thing, that the two prophets will be martyred at the end of that period. Most generations (if not all generations) have known some Christian martyrs. But dying as a martyr in the will of God is victory, not defeat
Now we'll briefly discuss the multitude spoken of in the first half of Revelation chapter 7. This multitude numbers 144,000. I agree with the widespread viewpoint that this is a symbolic number, and that the actual number will be much higher than a literal 144,000. We will speak more of the number 144,000 when we get into the details of these verses. As I mentioned, these verses also deal with elect members of God's true Israel, but one major difference is that these people will not become Christians until after the rapture. They will need a special seal to protect them as they live on the earth during the first half of Daniel's 70th week, during the time of the sounding of the first six trumpets, and this special sealing is what these verses are all about.
I believe this multitude will embrace all the members of God's true Israel who will become Christians after the rapture, which will undoubtedly include many Gentiles, but the spotlight here is clearly on people of Israel. As we have discussed, many verses speak of the fact that Israel will be greatly shaken in the last days (especially during the days of the short great tribulation), and that God will leave a substantial remnant after that great shaking. That remnant will submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, but not in time to be taken in the rapture. God will make sure that every one of the people sealed with the sealing of Revelation 7:1-8 will still be alive in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. Remember, for example, that Michael the archangel will arise in the last days in behalf of the elect sons of Israel, whose names will be found written in God's book of life. He will make sure that they will escape being destroyed in the intense shaking of the days of the short great tribulation. See Dan. 12:1
Revelation chapter 7 answers the question of the last verse of chapter 6, "for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" All the members of God's true Israel will be able to stand before Him, which includes both multitudes pictured in Revelation chapter 7. Both multitudes will end up standing before God and having a place in His eternal kingdom that is filled with His glory.
Now I'll read Rev. 7:1 and we'll get into some of the details. (See my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10 that is on my internet site and my book for more details.) "After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree." The message behind this oversimplified picture of a flat earth with four corners is that the four winds are under the control of God, and they will not be permitted to blow - bringing judgments - until after He has sealed His bond-servants for protection. In this context, the judgments of the trumpets are in view. The trumpets are announced right after the scroll is opened in Rev. 8:1. I understand the first five trumpets to be in the category of warning judgments, warnings of the imminent coming of the day of judgment. With the sixth trumpet, however, even though it will sound a month before the day of judgment officially begins, the judgment will be very intense for those directly involved, including Israel
I'll read Rev. 7:2, 3. "And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, 'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.' " I won't get into all the details here (see my book and paper for more details), but I assume that this sealing builds on the sealing of the righteous remnant of Israel by the "man dressed in linen" in Ezekiel chapter 9. We discussed the "man dressed in linen" in some detail when we discussed Daniel chapter 12. As I mentioned, I believe the "man dressed in linen" is God the Son. In Ezekiel chapter 9, Yahweh instructed the man dressed in linen to "go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and PUT A MARK ON THE FOREHEADS of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst." At the same time, Yahweh called for judgment to fall on all the people in Jerusalem who had not been sealed for protection. That judgment came through the Babylonians, who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple in 587/586 BC. As the mark on the forehead of Ezekiel chapter 9 protected the elect remnant of Israel during the days of the destruction of Jerusalem, so the sealing of Rev. 7:1-8 will protect the elect remnant of Israel during the days of the sounding of the trumpets. This sealing will apparently take place before the first trumpet sounds. A reasonable time for this sealing would be about the time of the beginning of Daniel's 70th week.
I'll read Rev. 9:4, which prophesies of locusts (apparently demonic locusts) that will attack mankind under the fifth trumpet. "They [the locusts] were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads." Those sealed on their foreheads in Rev. 7:1-8 will be protected from the locusts, even though they will not yet have become Christians. What about the true Christians who will be living on the earth at that time? We won't need a special seal, because we have already been sealed by God through the atoning blood of the Lamb and by the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 1:13; 4:30; and Rev. 14:1, for example).
I mentioned that I assume that this sealing builds on the sealing of the man dressed in linen of Ezekiel chapter 9, and that I believe the man dressed in linen was God the Son. I won't get into the details here, but I should mention, without being dogmatic at all, that I favor the viewpoint that the "angel" here in Rev. 7:2 also represents the Lord Jesus Christ. It seems that the same Person does the sealing in both passages, and how appropriate it is for God the Son to seal His people. I discuss this viewpoint in substantial detail (covering many pages) in my book. I am not saying, of course, that the Lord Jesus is a created angel, but He is a messenger of God the Father, and He frequently appeared in the Old Testament as the Angel (or Messenger) of Yahweh (God the Father). The Hebrew and Greek nouns translated angel can also be translated messenger. I agree that it would be quite unusual to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as "another angel," but I think the other considerations are weighty enough that I have to favor this viewpoint. The case for this viewpoint is greatly strengthened if the Lord Jesus Christ is also called "another angel" in Revelation chapter 8 and "another strong angel" in Revelation chapter 10, which I believe is the case. Quite a few commentators believe the Lord Jesus Christ is the One being spoken of in chapters 8 and 10.
I'll comment briefly on the words, "And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun" of Rev. 7:2. The NIV has, "Then I saw another angel coming up from the east," and the KJV has, "And I saw another angel ascending from the east." Apparently we are to picture this angel rising out of the east, as the sun rises out of the east. The rising of this "sun" apparently pictures the return of the light of God in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it begins to return to Israel in the end times (see, for example, Mal. 4:2; Matt. 17:2; Luke 1:78, 79; Eph. 5:14; Rev. 1:16; and 10:1).
It is important that we don't allow any confusion regarding the identity of this angel to affect our understanding of these verses. God will make sure that this totally effective sealing will take place, whether this angel represents the Lord Jesus Christ, or not. I didn't mention this viewpoint to stir up controversy. We don't need any more controversy. I mention this viewpoint because I believe the evidence is very strong for this viewpoint, and that we ought to at least consider the possibility that God intended that we see the Lord Jesus Christ in these verses. His presence certainly brings some extra glory to these verses.
Let's go on to Rev. 7:4-8, "And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, (6) from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, (7) from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, (8) from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed."
These verses list twelve tribes of Israel and say that 12,000 will be sealed from each tribe. The total number is 144,000. I agree with the widespread viewpoint that these are symbolic numbers of completeness. The actual numbers will be much higher than a literal 144,000. I'll quote part of a sentence from Henry Alford, who was a Christian scholar writing in the 1800s that was well acquainted with the earlier Christian writings; this quotation will surprise some people, "No one that I am aware of has taken it literally." Many Christians in our day do take the number literally. As I mentioned, the people being sealed for protection here are the elect of God who will become Christians after the rapture. This multitude will center in the end-time elect remnant of the people of Israel, but many Gentiles will also become Christians (and part of God's true Israel) after the rapture, and I assume they are included here too.
I'll read an endnote from my book that deals with symbolic numbers in the book of Revelation. Symbolic numbers are frequently used in the book of Revelation. Seven, the number for perfection, is often used. Revelation 5:6, for example, speaks of "a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth." The "seven horns" speak of Christ's perfect (complete) authority and dominion. The "seven eyes" speak of His perfect (complete) knowledge. The "seven Spirits of God" speaks of the Holy Spirit (see Rev. 1:4, 5; 3:1; and 4:5).
The number twelve, and multiples of twelve, are sometimes used in the book of Revelation to denote completeness. (For one thing, there were twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles, and there were twelve months.) I believe the 12,000 stadia of Rev. 21:16 and the 144 cubits of Rev. 21:17 are in this category and are not to be taken as literal dimensions. (See my paper on my internet site that deals with Revelation chapters 20-22 for the details.) More relevant to our consideration of the 144,000 of Rev. 7:4 is the mention of 144,000 in Rev. 14:1. I believe the 144,000 of Rev. 14:1 is a symbolic number of completeness and that that glorious multitude embraces all the raptured saints; they will be glorified and raptured at the time of Christ's return, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. That multitude will include all the true Christians who have lived from the beginning of Christianity to the time of Christ's return. I believe it will also include all the believers from Old Testament days. They will be resurrected, glorified, and raptured at the time of Christ's return. From the time of the rapture, this gigantic multitude will be with the Lord Jesus Christ, and they will be reigning with Him in a never-ending reign.
So, the 144,000 of Revelation 7 is to be distinguished from the 144,000 of Rev. 14:1. Both multitudes are part of God's true Israel, and taken together they represent the totality of God's true Israel. The difference is that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 will not be converted until after the rapture. The 144,000 of Revelation 7 can undoubtedly be equated with 'the rest of her [true Israel's] offspring [or, seed]' of Rev. 12:17. The woman of Revelation chapter 12 is God's true Israel." It's time to stop. God bless you!
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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