Posts by rickbarbareblog

I am a retired Clergyman and College instructor. I live in Trenton, SC in Edgefield County.

Revelation 7 — Before the Winds of Woe Can Blow

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, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree.

Featured Image above is by Olaus Magnus – “On the Necessity of the Knowledge of Winds”; 1555; WikiMedia.

Important Note: We are not seeing a chronological unfolding of events. We are seeing the chronological order in which John saw the visions

“[Revelation 7] …functions both prospectively and retrospectively in that it casts light on chapter 6 as well as on chapters 8-11.” (see Johnson below). 

The message of the Chapter is — We cannot avoid trials common to all men, but we can make it through persecution for the faith with God’s help.

Seal_of_Náchod_town_from_1570_(big)

Official Identifying Seal WikiMedia

I. There are difficulties involved with interpreting this chapter. 

Identifying the two groups referred to in chapter 7 poses the most difficult problem for us. (1) Who are the 144,000? (2) Who are the innumerable multitude? (3) What is the relationship between the two groups.

Second, other difficult questions are: (1) Is the reference to the tribes of Israel symbolic, literal, or representative? (2) To what time period does the phrase “the Great Tribulation’ refer? (3) Are the persons described as ‘an innumerable multitude” all considered to be literal martyrs?

These are questions we will answer in future posts.

dore-jakob-engel_grt

Jacob Wrestling with an Angel — G. Dore 1855

II. God governs this world through the agency of angels.

God’s angels are worshipers of God and our servants. Hebrews 1:14 describes their “dual” service –

14 Are not all angels:
(1) ministering spirits
(2) sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

[The numbering and arrangement of this verse are mine.]

First, note that angels are “ministering spirits.” The word for “ministering” is the Greek word leitourgeô from which we derive the English word “liturgy.” It means to render to God the service of worship. (See Isaiah 6:1-7 for a symbolic glimpse of heaven and angels in worship being sent on errands of service.)

65672_gethsemane

The Angel of the Agony with Christ in Gethsemane

Second, note that angels are spirits who “are sent to serve” believers. The Greek word for “serve” is diakoneô, from which we derive the English word “deacon.” Deacons are servants of the church (for an example of humans doing this service see Acts 6:1-6).

Putting these two concepts together, we see that Angels worship God in heaven and are sent forth from that worshipful atmosphere on errands of service for believers. One area in which they serve us is to protect us from harm. We do indeed have guardian angels sent by God to deliver us in time of trouble (see Psalm 91:11-12). Some of us need more than one, obviously.

Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai, “Under the Wave off Kanagawa,” 1830–33 (woodblock print).

III. God controls the forces of nature even when he unleashes them in judgment on the ungodly.

First, it is important to see the order of these visions. The vision that John now sees follows what he previously saw in the opening of the first six seals, but it does not necessarily follow chronologically. The present vision is an aside.

“The scene in 7:1-3 is retrospective, and relates to the events described in 6:1-8. In that case the opening words of the paragraph, ‘after this I saw’, relate to succession in order of John’s apprehension, not chronological succession in order of occurrence. Chapter 7:1-8 takes us to a point in time prior to the opening of the seals.” (see Beasley-Murray, p. 142, below.)

Relationship of paragraphs in Rev 7 to Chapters 6 and 8 9

IV. In all the parenthetical sections of Revelation, we are given insight into things on earth from heaven’s viewpoint.

In this chapter we are given an understanding of trial from heaven’s perspective.

weather vane

Four directions

The number “4” occurs three times in 7:1 — (1) four angels; four corners of the earth; and (3) four winds. It is often used in connection with the earth because of the four directions of the compass.

The judgment bought by the Elements are limited as to what they can do in the way of judgment. At this point in the vision, the angels are restraining the elements from striking out at the earth.

V. God “tempers” the trials of his people.

It is amazing how many people come up to preachers and ask where a particular saying is found in the Bible. Usually, the quotation is not even in the Bible. (They do not want to hear that it is not in the Bible, however.)

One preacher has solved the problem of where they can be found, though. He labeled a ‘file folder’ in his file cabinet: “the Book of Hezekiah.” He then wrote down all of the witty aphorisms that are reputed to be verses of Scripture and put them there.

National-Bible-Week-2015When someone comes up and asks, “Where is “such-and-such” aphorism found in the Bible, Preacher?” He quickly replies, “I believe it is in Hezekiah.” And then, he makes his exit quickly before they can figure out that Hezekiah is not in the Bible. (This is intended as humorous because many sayings are inspired by the Bible thought not found within its pages.)

Donald Grey Barnhouse, the great Bible teacher at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, had a far better way of dealing with this problem. A person once came up to him and asked where the following is found: “God tempers the wind for the lamb that has been shorn of its fleece.” Barnhouse lovingly replied, “It isn’t in the Word of God, but God does temper the wind.”

V. God tells us what we need to see today from Revelation Chapter Seven.

No trial will ever overcome a believer who trusts in the everlasting God. God has placed the destructive forces of nature under his sovereign control. When he uses the forces of nature to judge wicked people on the earth for their sins and for their evil treatment of God’s people, God aids his people through their difficulties.

Next time, we will look at the 144,000 sealed.

Notes

Beasley-Murray, G. R. (1974). Revelation in the New Century Bible series. Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co. 

Johnson, A. F. (1996). Revelation (Expositor’s Bible Commentary series). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Co.

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Application of Revelation Chapter Six, Part 3

Revelation 6:8; 6:10; 6:16

These three verses give us the main symbols in Chapter Six. Around them we make application. Note that this chapter is still as relevant to today’s church as it was to the church in the first century. There is no need to offer separate applications for 1st Century Churches and 21st Century Churches.

Application of Revelation Chapter Six

We now apply the third section of Revelation Chapter Six in this post.

III. Persecution will end finally with the outpouring of God’s Wrath against the ungodly. Rev. 6:12-17. 

Key Verse of the day of wrath section

6:16 [The earth-dwellers] cried out, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb… .”

Since God alone knows when the last martyr is to be slain, we ought to leave the matter of justice and vengeance to Him. God will cause the old world order to collapse and usher in the new heavens and earth! What a horror God’s holy presence is to the wicked!

Thus, under the symbolism of these six classes [of people], John sees the entire godless world seized with sudden fear. He sees them terror stricken and fleeing, fleeing from something far more terrible than crumbling mountains and falling rocks. They even seek safety in death itself. If only death would come to them — John hears shrieks of agony uttered by thousands of voices. Kings and slaves, princes and servants, they are all caught in the same self-inflicted agony of despair. (emphasis mine; see Hendriksen, p. 109, below.)

sodom and gomorrah John Martin 1789-1854

No one will be able to hide within his possessions, or be “off the grid” for lack thereof. The poor often forget that Christ commended the “poor in spirit,” not the poor in this world’s goods. We must avoid the great sin of democracy — envy. Many believe that if you have a dime, you probably took a nickel of it from them. That’s envy. 

Personal Experience

I have taught at several institutions of higher learning over my 40+ years of ministry. I once taught a New Testament Introduction class for a college held at a local high school. I noticed a janitor cleaning a lot right outside my classroom door while I was teaching. I kept the door ajar. He was listening. I saw him at the break and asked if he would like to come in and listen. He said he wanted to ask me a question first.

He said, “Don’t you believe the Bible teaches that rich people won’t go to heaven.” I replied that it is not the amount of possessions or money one holds in his grasp that excludes anyone from a personal relationship with God through Christ (which is a prerequisite for heaven).  I said that I had found it is the possessions and money we have that holds us that excludes us from Christ, whether rich or poor. He like the Rich Young Ruler went away sad and never listened again. 

A contemporary melody to an old hymn is a good one for today when judgment is suppressed in favor of an all-loving God. As one pastor has said, “We have so elevated the love of God beyond His holiness and wrath that we have air conditioned hell.”

Next time, we move into Revelation Chapter Seven!

Notes

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. (1563). “The execution of Dr. Ridley and Master Latimer.” Accessed 25 February 2020 from https://www.exclassics.com/foxe/foxe323.htm

Hendriksen, Wm. (1930) More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Repide, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Maruta of Maiperqat. (ca. AD 325). Accessed 26 February 2020 from http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/marutha_nicaea_02_text.htm
Note on the website: This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2007. All material on this page is in the public domain – copy freely.

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Application of Revelation Chapter Six, Part 2

Revelation 6:8; 10; 16

These three verses give us the main symbols in Chapter Six. Around them we make application. Note that this chapter is still as relevant to today’s church as it was to the church in the first century. There is no need to offer separate applications for 1st Century Churches and 21st Century Churches.

Application of Revelation Chapter Six

We apply the second part of chapter six in this post.

II. God alone knows how long the church militant will suffer. Rev. 6:9-11

Key verse in Martyr’s blood crying out for justice section:

6:10 [The martyrs] cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

He keeps a tally of martyrs (witnesses who are murdered and those who are attacked but do not immediately die from their wounds.

Persecution of Christians

Here is a description of the procession of clergy into the Council of Nicaea — 

Thomas, Bishop of Marash was an object almost frightful to look upon; he had been mutilated by the removal of his eyes, nose and lips; his teeth had been dug out and both his legs and arms had been cut off. He had been kept in prison 22 years by the [Armenians] who used to cut off a member of his body or mutilate him in some way every year.

The fathers took him with them to the Council and when the Emperor saw him, he fell down upon the ground and [honored] him saying, “I [honor] you, O martyr of Christ, who are adorned with many crowns.” Out of 300+ Bishops, only 11 had no marks of persecution. (see Maruta of Maiperqat below.)

None would deny this good man was a martyr. His life was shortened by his sufferings for 22 years even though he did not die immediately from it. 

What God says to us today

Latimer and Ridley oxford martyrs

Etching from an old Bible of the martyrdom of Latimer and Ridley in Oxford.

God would say to modern day church members and clergy worldwide, “I have limited your sufferings. Even though you do not know how long you must endure, I do. I will sustain you to the end.” 

Before being burned at the stake (1555), Latimer’s words to the younger Ridley are most apropos — “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” (see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs below.)

These words are for our situation of increasing persecution for proclaiming the Gospel and living by the Word of God. We should not draw back, but pray for greater power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Word of God and the Gospel! 

Trust in God in the dark places is essential if we are to finish our walk well.

 

Notes

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. (1563). “The execution of Dr. Ridley and Master Latimer.” Accessed 25 February 2020 from https://www.exclassics.com/foxe/foxe323.htm

Hendriksen, Wm. (1930) More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Repide, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Maruta of Maiperqat. (ca. AD 325). Accessed 26 February 2020 from http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/marutha_nicaea_02_text.htm
Note on the website: This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2007. All material on this page is in the public domain – copy freely.

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Application of Revelation Chapter Six, Part 1

Revelation 6:8; 10; 16

These three verses give us the main symbols in Chapter Six. Around them we make application. Note that this chapter is still as relevant to today’s church as it was to the church in the first century. There is no need to offer separate applications for 1st Century Churches and 21st Century Churches.

Application of Revelation Chapter Six

I. The Judgment of God is ongoing throughout all ages. Rev. 6:1-8. 

Key verse in Four Horsemen section

6:8 And [the four horsemen] were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.

Some commentators try to make the four horsemen instruments of judgment against persecutors of the church and instruments for the purification of the church itself. I think this comes from relating this chapter too closely to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 & 25; Mark 13; and Luke 21).

Most commentators see the rider of the white horse to be an anti-Christ figure. I disagree. John will deal with that aspect of the Olivet discourse in Revelation Chapters 12-20. Anti-Christ’s teachings are dealt with under the symbol of the Beast from the Land or the False Prophet. (But, this must await future studies.)

Chapter six is an overview of God’s judgment on the persecutors of his church. Any spill-over of calamities to Christians is because we all live in the world though Christians are not of this world. (see Matthew 5:44-45). Jesus is clear that we are safe from ultimate harm within this world as it experiences judgment. However, we are not saved “out-from-under” the common experiences of suffering along with those who are not Christians.

Nor are we removed from the anger of men who will persecute Christ’s Church rather than admit there is a God judging them, to whom they are accountable. Europe decided it did not want God anymore in the public sector of its corporate life. The rest of the West followed that lead in its national life like lemmings falling over the precipice. The latest incarnation of godless, European public policy is to banish and restrict Christians from participating in the “public square.” As the four horsemen punish the West, the ungodly punish and persecute Christians.

Antique illustration of Four Horsemen o the Apocalypse

So Christians today as those in the 1st Century might wonder why Christians suffer. (I don’t like the expression “Why do bad things happen to good people?” because no one is good apart from Christ. See Romans 3:9-18.  Suffering is not because Christians have done wrong. Judgment comes upon the ungodly, but the fallout from the ungodly on Christians is not a sign of God’s displeasure with them. John 17 sums this up —

14 I have given them your Word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them [through] the truth; your Word is truth.
18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (To the ESV changes are mine and emphasis mine also.)

What God says to us today.

I recommend Open Doors USA  as an organization that reports accurately on the persecution of Christians worldwide. (Click on the link above and scroll down to see a summary of the top 50 countries where Christians are most in danger of persecution.)  This doesn’t mean that all the people of these 50 countries are necessarily doing this.

Remember also Colossians 1:24-25 —

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known… .

Verse 24 is an enigmatic verse. Paul is not saying Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient to save, and we must work to achieve salvation. The only possibility for needed sufferings by humans is that suffering which is incurred to deliver the Gospel to the lost. The lost are not eager to hear Christ’s Gospel and standing “a tiptoe” when they hear Christian evangelists are coming to them. They persecute the messengers since they cannot accost God for telling them they are in need of a Savior! 

We ought to pray for the persecuted Church around the world. Some are perhaps new Christians and have not the maturity to understand their situation. Hebrews 13:3 sums up our duty well — 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

There is a place is a great hymn —

Notes

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. (1563). “The execution of Dr. Ridley and Master Latimer.” Accessed 25 February 2020 from https://www.exclassics.com/foxe/foxe323.htm

Hendriksen, Wm. (1930) More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Repide, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Maruta of Maiperqat. (ca. AD 325). Accessed 26 February 2020 from http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/marutha_nicaea_02_text.htm
Note on the website: This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2007. All material on this page is in the public domain – copy freely.

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Sixth Seal: Universal Terror Grips all Mankind

Revelation 6:15-17 

Image above in the public domain from WikiMedia Commons; Michaelangelo’s “Last Judgment” (1536-1541) in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Rome.

I. All strata of society at the end will be affected by judgment. vs. 15a 

vs. 15a Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free… .

The Second Coming of Christ (parousia) will eliminate all classes of society. No longer will there be the rich and the poor. There will just be lost men, all thrown together to face the wrath of God. 

Roman Strata of Society

Roman society was segmented more than our own. European society today is “frozen in place” as was Rome’s. No one can rise above his status which he had at birth.

1. The Kingsbasileus = King; Caesar and vassal kings under him.

2. The Great megistânes = magnate, noble, or courtier; “perhaps the leading men of [the Roman Empire], but more probably the victorious party of Caesar.” See Moulton and Milligan below).

3. Generalschiliarchos, commanders of a thousand soldiers, or military leaders.

4. Richplousioi — possessing abundance of wealth

5. Powerful  — dunatoi — possessing great strength

6. Slavedoulos — bond slave, the chattel of another

7. Freeeleutheros — former slave freed by his or her owner

Everyone is included in this list. There are no exceptions. No one can opt out or get a substitute other than Jesus Christ. Note below how men avoided service by hiring their own substitutes.

Something one could hire a substitute for

Many healthy men who were eligible to serve in the military during the Civil War never ended up enlisting. The Enrollment Act of 1863 provided that a draftee could pay a “substitute” enrollee the sum of $300 (about $5,000 in today’s [2013] terms) in order to enlist in his place.

Such famous Americans as Grover Cleveland and John D. Rockefeller took advantage of this provision, in effect buying their way out of service. Abraham Lincoln was too old for the draft, and, being president, would have been exempt regardless of age. But the Army was short of men, and the commander in chief wanted to encourage other “ineligibles” like himself to voluntarily hire a substitute. To that end, in 1864 he paid a “representative recruit” to fight for him. This document, held in the National Archives, records the enlistment of 19-year-old Pennsylvanian J. Summerfield Staples at Lincoln’s request. (see Onion below).

New York Ad for Substitute

Example above of advertisement for substitute for soldiers in the Northern Army.

Atlanta Ad for a substitute

Example above of advertisement for substitute soldiers in the Southern Army

II. No person regardless of wealth and status can avoid the Day of Judgment. vs. 15b

Rev. 6:15 [people] … hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

mcheyne1One of my favorite hymns is by Robert Murrary McCheyne (pictured to the left) “When This Passing World Is Done.”

1 When this passing world is done,
when has sunk yon glaring sun,
when we stand with Christ on high
looking o’er life’s history,
then, Lord, shall I fully know,
not till then, how much I owe.

2 When I hear the wicked call
on the rocks and hills to fall,
when I see them start and shrink
on the fiery deluge brink,
then, Lord, shall I fully know,
not till then, how much I owe. (see McCheyne below.)

Another Hymn I love is “None Other Name” by Christina G. Rossetti (1830-1894) —

1 None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other hope in heav’n or earth or sea,
None other hiding-place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee. (see Rossetti below.)

Adam and Eve Hiding from God_Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern_1860

Etching from an old Bible of Adam and Eve hiding from God.

Most commentators refer to Genesis in regard to the hiding of men from the wrath of the Lamb. Genesis 3 —

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 

III. The Only way to avoid the judgment is to be found in a personal relationship with Christ as Lord and Savior now!

The only way to hide from the wrath of that great day is to be “hidden in the Savior’s side.” Look again at McCheyne’s great hymn, verse 5

Chosen not for good in me,
wakened up from wrath to flee,
hidden in the Savior’s side,
by the Spirit sanctified,
teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
by my love, how much I owe.

substitute_orig

A famous man asked another on the streets of London in the 18th Century, “What’s the news?” (He was seeking gossip.)

The other man replied, “Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose again, and is coming back!”

The famous man replied, “Ah, that is old news, new news, and good news all at the same time!” (Our Daily Bread)

IV. All attempts to hide from God’s presence is futile. 

coram-deo

Men would rather be crushed to oblivion  than witness the Second Coming of Christ (Parousia) unprepared. Only, being crushed will not obliterate us. Only Christ’s blood can wash away our sins!

It will not be a pleasant time at all for the unprepared. They fear the presence of the enthroned Father — literally, “the face” (prosopon). They also fear the wrath of the Lamb. The word is orgê. It is anger and indignation. In the case of God, it is righteous and holy anger and not a fit of passion.

It is better to flee and hide in Christ as our personal Lord and Savior now than leave that decision for a later time. We are not assured of tomorrow. 

We’ll sum up chapter 6 next time, and then we’ll move on to Chapter 7.

Notes

McCheyne, R. M. (1843). Accessed 22 February 2020 from https://hymnary.org/text/when_this_passing_world_is_done

Moulton and Milligan. (1930). The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. Accessed 22 February 2020 from https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek/3175.html

Onion, R. (2013). “The Man Who Fought in Lincoln’s Name.” Accessed 22 February 2020 from https://slate.com/human-interest/2013/01/abraham-lincoln-the-president-paid-a-substitute-to-enlist-in-the-union-army.html

Rossetti, C. G. (1830-1894). Accessed 22 February 2020 from https://hymnary.org/text/none_other_lamb_none_other_name

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

 

The Sixth Seal: Cosmic Disturbances at the End

Photo above from https://www.goodfreephotos.com/public-domain-images

Revelation 6:12-14

12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

John_Martin_-_The_Great_Day_of_His_Wrath_

“The Great Day of His Wrath,” is an 1851–1853 oil painting by the English painter John Martin. WikiMedia Commons picture.

Old Testament Descriptions of the End

The descriptions in these verses are standard apocalyptic descriptions of “the Day of the Lord.” In the OT his visitations were described in terms of cataclysmic disturbances in the skies and on the earth. They are harbingers of the end of the age.

“As later biblical authors seized on the earlier imagery of the theophany on Sinai to describe appearances of God to man (Habakkuk 3:3ff), so John utilizes the archetypal imagery of the Old Testament to describe this terrible visitation of God’s final judgment on the earth. In much the same manner as we would describe a chaotic situation by saying ‘all hell broke loose,’ so the biblical writers use the language of cosmic turmoil to describe the condition of the world when God comes to judge the earth.” (See Johnson, below.)

Our Approach to Revelation

We are approaching interpretation of the Revelation’s four sets of seven judgments as “progressive parallelism.” William Hendriksen clarifies–

“The seven sections of the Apocalypse are arranged in an ascending, climactic order. There is progress in eschatological [end times] emphasis. The final judgment is first announced, then introduced, and finally described. Similarly, the new heaven and earth are described more fully in the final section than in those that precede it. To this conception of the book we give the name “progressive parallelism.” (see Hendriksen, p. 36, below; emphasis mine).

four horsemen (2)

Public Domain photo of a Painting of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. “Death on a Pale Horse” by Benjamin West (1738-1820).

I. God’s judgment comes in answer to the saints’ prayers.

Since the four horsemen foreshadow the Day of Judgment and the the saints pray for vengeance to fall, God’s answer to their prayers comes at the End of the Age. The answer is postponed, but it comes at last. John describes the judgment in Old Testament apocalyptic terms. God intervenes in history to bring down those opposed to Him and His ways.

It is important for us to realize God’s people await Christ’s appearance as Judge to set things right. In the Intertestamental period (400-1 BC),  the Maccabees intervened in their own affairs with an army and weapons to overthrow the Syrian control over Jerusalem. We may think we can do the same in our country in the 21st Century. However, the Revelation takes us back to the Old Testament’s way of setting things right—God intervenes directly and sets things right. Our task is to pray and bear witness to the Gospel and veracity of God’s Word. II Corinthians 10:4-5

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… .

II. Intervention by God dissolves the old order and brings in the new.

Cosmic disturbances in verses 12-14 summarized below—

(1) a great earthquake and its storm affecting the sun and moon;
(2) the stars falling to the earth;
(3) the astral heavens are rolled up;
(4) every mountain and island on earth is removed from its place;

earthquake-and-fire-in-san-francisco-california-1906

Great earthquake and fire in San Francisco 1906

III. Subsequent terror on the earth follows all of this cosmic dissolution.

“The dread and terror, the awe and consternation of [the judgment] day is pictured under the twofold symbolism of (1) a crashing universe and (2) a thoroughly frightened human race.” See Hendriksen, p. 107, below).

Cosmic disturbance at the end of the age will include earth shattering disturbances.

vs. 12 The Greek word is seismos = “shaking.”

The sun was blackened = “became black like sackcloth of hair.”

The moon was reddened = “became like blood.”

stars fall_.Engraving.by_.Adolph.Vollmy

Adolf Vollmy, engraving from 1889, public domain.

vs. 13 The stars fell = “dissolution of the Astral Heavens.”

vs. 14 The sky vanished = “the atmospheric heavens, the clouds, were parted like a scroll rolling up.”

“Every mountain and island was removed from its place = were moved out of their places.” This is a result of the worldwide earthquake at the end of the age.

IV. This is not a “newspaper literal” description of what will occur at the end.

Symbolism describes the dissolution of the present age in preparation for the institution of the new one.

“What we have here is a symbolic picture of the terror of the judgment day. The symbol, taken as a whole, teaches just one lesson, namely, that the final and complete [out-pouring] of God’s wrath upon a world that has persecuted the Church will be terrible indeed.” (See Hendriksen, p. 107, below.)

Next time we will look at the terror brought upon all segments of society by the disturbances in Rev. 6:15-17. 

Notes

Hendriksen, W. (1939). More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Johnson, A. F. (1982). “Revelation,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Vol 12) Hebrews through Revelation. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub.

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Fifth Seal: Transition to the End of the Age

Revelation 6:10-11 con’t

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

V. We must realize God always hears our prayers.

6:11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

The Power of God at Mnt. Sinai


The martyr’s prayers are not denied. They have been foreshadowed in Four Horse-men’s readiness to ride across the nations of the earth in judgment on rejection of God and persecution of His people.

The answers to their prayers are only postponed. Prayers are mentioned earlier in Revelation 5:8 as prayers of the saints which are incense in the bowls which the angels before the Throne of God have. They will be answered in Rev. 6:12-17 when the prayers finally are presented for fulfillment. The white robe in Greek is the stolê. It is white and stretches to the floor. It was the standard garment of a priest. Saints are Kings and Priests of God who offer prayers to God.

The saints in heaven are said to be at rest (anapausis) cf. Heb. 4:5. This is not inactivity, but freedom from toil and stress of sin and persecution.

God will wait until all the martyrs he has permitted to die actually do die; and then he will take holy and righteous vengeance. He will spare nothing. Better for us to leave judgment in God’s hands than take into ours.

VI. We are called upon to live faithfully by the Holy Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments today!

In Fifth Seal Vision, we met the martyrs who had been dealt mortal wounds for bearing testimony about Christ and maintaining their belief in His truthful Word.

A. One Example of First Century Faith that clashed with Government.

Albrecht Dürer: The Martyrdom of St John the Evangelist Wikimedia commons

In first Century Roman Asia Minor, holding to God’s revelation of Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords could mean a death sentence. Caesar was lord to his subjects.

It is not popular today to hold to absolute truth in God’s revealed Word. In the West we may not be killed for it (not yet, that is). God’s Word is clear about people made in the image and likeness of God. We cannot as a society kill God’s image-bearers and escape judgment.

B. Christians’ Application of the Bible in the Twenty-First Century clashes with government public policy.

We live in a day when legal decisions are based not on the meaning of texts, i.e. The Constitution as written, but on other external factors: modern feelings and sensibilities, “unwritten intentions” read into the text, etc.

“Textualism is adherence to the text of a document—the practice of taking the words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs as they appear… . Conservative Bible scholars sometimes say ‘When the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense.’ (see Textualism below.)

C. One Example of Christians’ application of the Bible to life that clashes with government and Society.

Nancy Pearcey

People today bend the Bible to read the way they want to live and think instead of bending themselves to what the Bible teaches. For instance, the abortion issue in law rests not on moral considerations. It is based on modern, psychological “person-hood theory.” (see Personhood Theory below.)

In a First Things magazine article, the idea of Post-birth Abortions is discussed. Since personhood is a value and not a fact, the age when one becomes a person is fluid in the minds of “modern ethicists.” Philip K. Dick wrote a satirical, science fiction short story of the ultimate application of the Roe v Wade decision of the US Supreme Court–“The Pre-persons.”

“Dick imagines a future where the United States Congress has decided that abortion is legal until the soul enters the body. The specific instant is defined by the administration, at present the moment a person has the ability to perform simple algebraic calculations (around the age of 12).” (see Dick below; and Dick, P. K. for the link to read the short story.)

The Basis of the Roe v Wade Decision

The US High Court has ruled that the unborn are human beings, but there is no basis for the claim that they are persons entitled to protection in the womb under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution (see Pearcey below).

This is a watershed issue since it essentially is decided on the basis of either: (1) what antonymous man thinks; or (2) what the Sovereign Creator has spoken in his Word. God’s judgment continues to fall on those who promote, receive, and practice abortions (unless they repent). We who stand with God are persecuted for believing and acting against the spirit of the age in which we live. After all, persecuters can’t reach God to assault Him directly. His people they can reach! We have the privilege of Hebrews 13:12-13—

12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. (ESV)

For those wishing to maintain Biblical truth amidst all the miasma and confusion of modern thought, I wholeheartedly recommend Nancy Pearcey’s book! We do not speak for the unborn only, but more importantly we speak for God in His Word! In the modern age God doesn’t seem to be given a place at the table. We must still maintain our testimony at the public table even if people do not want to hear! The passage in Revelation 6 teaches us persecution is inevitable for the Christian who bears faithful witness to God’s infallible Word.

VII. We need to bend our lives to Christ as Lord and Savior and not to public policy or opinion!

Evan Roberts, a Welsh coal miner-turned-preacher [preaching in] a revival in 1904 saw 100,000 converts in one year. But what’s astonishing about this story is how the revival came about. Even while he dug in the coal mines, Roberts prayed. In essence, his prayer was “Lord, bend them.” For 11 years, his request went unanswered.

Picture of Evan Roberts

Finally, Roberts attended a Christian convention with evangelist Seth Joshua. While Joshua prayed over a group of believers, Roberts heard him say, “Lord, bend them.” Roberts took up the prayer, applying it to himself: “Lord, bend me!” Within six months, Roberts was seeing thousands of souls come to Christ through his ministry. (see Roberts below; paraphrased in places for meaning clarity.)

If ever we needed faithful living-out of the Word of God as written, it is today. The Lord needs to bring us to the place where we want to be bent by Him.

VIII. God will vindicate those who faithfully adhere to and witness to His Word!

The next paragraph in the chapter relates directly to the prayers prayed under the fifth seal. Note the chart below and the relationship between the three paragraphs of Chapter Six.

Relationship of paragraphs in Rev 6

I have dealt with the Pro-Life witness in this post since it puts us as Bible-believing and -living Christians in the cross-hairs of persecution in the West. Pray, Friends, that God will end this horrible wiping out of His image-bearers!

In the next couple of blog posts, we look into Rev. 6:12-17.

Notes

Dick, Phillip K. (1974). “The Pre-persons” stub article accessed 18 February 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pre-persons
Note: This article gives us basic information about Dick and his literary output.

Dick, P. K. (1973). “The Pre-Persons,” available online at Pro Life New Zealand, December 29, 2012, http://prolife.org.nz/the-pre-persons-phillip-k-dick/
Note. Phillip K. Dick’s works have inspired the following movies: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. No one even alludes to the “Pre-persons” short story today except Pro-Life groups.

Pearcy, Nancy. (2018). Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Personhood Theory. (2012). “Infanticide and the Deadly Threat of ‘Personhood Theory'”. In First Things. Accessed 18 February 2020 from https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2012/02/infanticide-and-the-deadly-threat-of-personhood-theory

Roberts, E. (2012). “Lord, Bend Me!” Blog post from Revolutionary Faith: Taking back Christianity Blog. Accessed 14 February 2020 from https://revolfaith.com/2012/11/07/lord-bend-me/
[This story is widespread in different accounts, but I thought this the most succinct telling of it.]

Textualism. (2020). “Textualism: What is It?” Accessed 14 February 2020 from https://www.compellingtruth.org/textualism.html

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved