Friday, September 15, 2023

The Seventh Seal

Bobservations' Column
Titled - The Seventh Seal
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

When looking this week for reliable resources to study Revelation 8 for this morning’s Sunday teaching, I was looking for online resources that might offer a slightly different point of view, not a fresh new teaching, but fresh insight into God’s established word.

What I found were more translations and commentaries that actually contradicted His word than what I expected. They not only contradicted His word but contradicted one another! Our English translation, King James Version Bibles, are themselves translations from the original languages of God’s teachings, and because of language differences, no translation is perfect, not even the King James Version. But the King James Version does remain to be the most accurate English translation to date; not the easiest to read, but the most accurate.

Dozens of translations do exist. Many are translated from other translations and are generally further and further away from God’s truths. The King James Version is a translation based upon original manuscripts, the specific collection of which is referred to as the “Textus Receptus.”

Not only do languages differ in their usage of even common words, but individual languages change over time, within their respective cultures. Many languages do not even share some word definitions or concepts with languages of other cultures. Even when considering just the English language, the Official Miriam Webster Dictionary adds new words and colloquial phrases to the English language regularly. That’s a problem when it comes to translating ancient texts.

But this is nothing new. In an effort to make God’s word more easily read, and 
understood, two 19th Century men (Brooke Foss Westcott, and Fenton John Anthony Hort) ventured into “updating” the widely used manuscripts that had been used for hundreds of years. For the New Testament in particular, they developed a “new” Greek text from which nearly all modern-day translations use as their “go-to” resource. But in essence, they have literally and figuratively altered God’s word to the point that several church representatives and Bible Scholars (and I used this word loosely) have declared Wescott and Hort to be heretics on multiple Bible Doctrines. Using their translations as a resource cannot be advised. Changing any word of this book or omitting passages of it will bring heavy judgments upon those who do such things (Revelation 22:18,19).

Finding no accurate commentary with a “fresh” point of view, I prayed and asked the Lord to give me fresh insight to the chapter we study today. While the Bible is of no private interpretation, (2 Peter 1:15-21 and 2 Timothy 3:14-16), The Word is to be read as it was written, and I think it was also translated by other holy men of God besides the original writers. God’s plans must certainly accommodate future contingencies, as long as they don’t directly contradict the faith He has already given to us. This is a Book that continually unveils the future that God has set before humanity, for God is not the author of confusion. As time advances, so also will our application of His word. 

Daniel 12:4 – 
"…knowledge will be increased.”
John 14:26 – 
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in (Jesus’) name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Bobservations' Column - Audio Version:

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 8:1-13 - "The Seventh Seal"


As you know, we are continuing our study in the book of Revelation. This morning we are in the eighth chapter of Revelation.

To this point in Revelation, John has witnessed Jesus open six of the seven seals of judgment seen on the scroll in heaven (⁠Revelation 5:1–5⁠). After the opening of the sixth seal and its consequences, John described the sealing of 144,000 Jewish believers, listed by their tribe. This was followed by a vision of an enormous crowd of people, of every nation, race, tribe, tongue, people group worshipping God (⁠Revelation 7⁠).

The reprieve of the picture from chapter 7, this magnificent worship, changes as ⁠Revelation 8⁠ opens with the 7th and final seal breaking open. And what it brings is silence for half an hour. All of the angelic adoration ceases; the scene of great worship becomes mute; silence envelops the command center of the universe.

When the Lamb breaks opens the seventh and last seal on the scroll to the title deed to the earth, the judgments of the "Day of the Lord" intensify dramatically. The final seal contains within it all of the remaining judgments of the Great Tribulation.

So, as we begin chapter 8, the first thing we notice is the Lamb breaking open the seventh and last seal. The seventh seal encompasses all of God’s final wrath up to the return of Jesus Christ.

As the seal is opened, John writes, “There was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”

What does this mean? Is there significance to half an hour? The bible does not say. What we know is that time is simply not an issue with God, because He does not hold to the same time constraints as we do. When answering the doubters and the scoffers about why God delays His coming, after all, believers have been waiting 2,000 years for His return, Peter reminded believers, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” - 2 Peter 3:8.

Why did John note a delay? Perhaps John was measuring time according to the physical measurement of the universe. What is more curious is that there was silence for that length of time. Again, scripture is silent. Perhaps the silence was a sign of deep respect and awe in the presence of our Holy and Righteous Judge. Just as earthly courtrooms are silent during judgment, so much more the heavenly courtroom.

Zephaniah 1:7 - “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.”

Habakkuk 2:20 - “But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”

There is also the fact that the seals are broken and what was written on the scroll was finally revealed for the first time. Perhaps somber reflection of the severity of God’s judgment being fully revealed, and understood.

What we know is this silence is the calm before the storm.

John describes seven angels standing before God, and they are given seven trumpets (8:2).

Trumpets - primarily announce impending judgment. Seven trumpets make this a BIG announcement. The trumpets are of greater intensity than the seals but not as destructive as the final bowl judgments will be. The trumpets occur during the final 3 1/2 years of the tribulation, but the time of each is indefinite except the effects of the 5th judgment, which we will learn next week will last for 5 months (Revelation 9:10). The first 4 trumpets announce the divine destruction of earth’s ecology (verses 6-12), and the final 3 involve demonic devastation of earth’s inhabitants (9:1-21; 11:15-19).

Next we see angels preparing to bring the next judgments, and the next wave of judgments have a unique pattern.

The trumpet judgments are split between impacting the physical earth and the physical bodies of humanity.

Meanwhile, before the judgments begin, God receives the prayers of the saints, as pictured by incense before the Throne (in heaven). The prayers of God’s people added to the prayers of all the saints already under the altar. Prayers for Satan to be destroyed, for sin to be defeated, for their deaths to be avenged, and for Jesus to return (second coming).

This angel adds incense to that which is already burning on the altar. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints, came up before God out of the angels hands.

The Censer - refers to a golden pan, suspended on a rope or chain, that was used to transport fiery coals from the brazen altar to the altar of incense, in order to ignite the incense, symbolizing the prayers of the people (5:8).

Next we see the angel taking the censer and filling it with fire of the altar, and casting it to the earth. John hears voices, and thunderings and sees lightning and an earthquake. All of these things are associated with the majesty of God throne.

The first set of judgments called the seal judgments, set the stage for the seven years. But now, the world has been put on notice that the end is near. This is approaching the midpoint of the Tribulation period, and the Lord reveals that by these trumpet judgments. Each trumpet is like a blast of warning, reminding the world that time is running out!

The angels prepare themselves to sound, and now the trumpets begin to blow and the judgments follow:

First Trumpet - Deals with the Land. Hail and fire mixed with blood were thrown to the earth. One third of the earth is burned up. These things are frequently associated with judgment. In fact it’s not a coincidence that the first trumpet judgment is very similar to the account in Exodus. (See: Exodus 9:13-25; Job 38:22-23, Genesis 19:24; Psalm 11:6; Ezekiel 38:22 and Joel 2:30).

Some ask what would cause such a catastrophic devastation? It’s not revealed to us. From a scientific point of view, an earthquake of the magnitude and extent of this would likely trigger worldwide volcanic eruptions. We’ve all seen the documentaries on the “ring of fire.” The Ring of Fire is a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity, or earthquakes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. We know that volcanoes produce red lava and disturb the earth’s atmosphere. They also produce thunder and lightning storms. They are also known to produce large hail.

-- Pastor Bob pointed out the interesting fact that on the 3rd day of Creation, God created the trees, grass and plant life. God’s wake up calls have been ignored by most, and here at the end, God’s judgment is that 1/3 of the trees, grass and plant life are destroyed.

This will affect crops all over the world. The trees will have no fruit. The animals will not be able to graze, The loss of wood for construction…think of the devastation.

Second Trumpet - John sees something like a great mountain burning with fire that was thrown into the sea. One third of the sea becomes blood. One third of the creatures in the sea are dead. One third of ships are destroyed. Perhaps this is a giant meteor with flaming gasses. It strikes in one of the earth’s oceans with the force of the most powerful atomic bomb. Such an explosion would create mammoth tsunamis disrupting commerce and food supply globally.

The Sea became blood - This may refer to an event known as red tides, caused by billions of dead micro-organisms poisoning the water - or, it may be actual blood, a clear act of eschatological judgment.

Third Trumpet - a great star falls from heaven, burning like a torch and falls on a third of the rivers and springs of waters. The name of the star is called Wormwood. The great star fell, another celestial body, perhaps a comet as it leaves a fiery trail, disintegrating as it nears the earth, scattering over the globe.

Wormwood - a bitter, poisonous substance, derived from a root which causes drunkenness and eventually death (Proverbs 5:4; Jeremiah 9:15).

-- Pastor Bob has some very interesting insight about all of this, how the rivers connect, and back to the lands they connect to. It’s as if the Lord is walking us back the path that man has taken with the gospel of Christ (in Jerusalem, in all Judaea, and in Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth - Acts 1:8) all the way back to the Jews - Romans 11:26.

1/3 Destruction - it should be noted that this pattern demonstrates that these are all judgments, not natural events, not because of climate change, global warming or other claims. These are the prophetic judgments that have been written about in the volume of the Book.

Fourth Trumpet - The angel sounded and a third of the sun, moon and stars are struck so that a third of each would be darkened. This means that each of these will shine for 1/3 less time. Cumulatively, that means the earth is receiving one third less energy from the sun and stars. One third of the day and night represent one third of a twenty four hour day. This is a total blackout of all the universe for a third of each 24 hour day resulting in a dramatic drop in temperatures on the earth. Crops would fail, perhaps water sources freeze, disruption in earth’s weather patterns and sea tides which leads to violent, unpredictable storms. Loss of animal and human life. (See: Ezekiel 32:7-8, Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15; Amos 8:9). The Lord added his own prophetic word, (Luke 21:25; Mark 13:24).

All of the darkness sets the stage for another startling announcement. This is another warning to the earth and its inhabitants.

In verse 13, John hears an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth…”

“Woe, woe, woe…”  - The pronouncement of woe is used for emphasis and for each remaining trumpet blast, one threat for each trumpet to sound. Although the first four trumpets are unimaginable, they will be nothing like the three to come (9:1-21; 11:15-19).

So far judgments have fallen upon everything that man needs to stay alive. These judgments follow closely to the 6 days of Creation, which man refused to acknowledge God for. Through all of these judgments, people will finally acknowledge God in that God is surely judging them, but they will not repent.

We are all watching the warnings of prophecy being fulfilled, each and every day, with every news cycle, every catastrophe. Wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, floods, persecution, violence…all of these things are the beginning of birth pains. These pains will increase as we draw nearer to the end, when God will pour out His wrath upon the wickedness of man.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 reminds us, “For God hath not appointed us (His children, believers) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” We can take great comfort in the fact that true Believers will not be here on earth during this time of Great Tribulation, we are already in heaven.

Today is the Day of Salvation - We implore you, on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. Now is the day of salvation. There is a time in God’s economy when He listens to sinners and responds to those who are repentant. However, there will also be an end to that time. God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. He commands that all men everywhere to repent. That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Read: Acts 10:43; 13:38-39; 16:31a; 17:30b-31; Romans 10:9-13; 2 Corinthians 5:17, 20 - 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:15a; 2:3-4; 1 John 4:9-10; 5:1a, 11:13, 20; Jude 24-25.

Heed the warnings of God. “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith,Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts…”

The reality is, whether you believe Him or not, God is true to His Word, and every promise WILL BE FULFILLED.

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