Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Opening of the Book

"When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour" (Revelation 8:1).

Now the seventh seal is broken, and the book can be opened up. Before Christ opens it, however, He puts the seal of protection upon 144,000 of Israel and a great multitude from every nation under heaven (Revelation 7). These are the saints of God, who are given His protection—even when they are martyred—throughout the judgments in history. Some have seen the 144,000 and the great multitude as two complementary symbols for the church of all time. Preterists and some futurists take the 144,000 as referring to Jewish converts, either of the first century or of the end times, and the great multitude as a reference to Gentile believers.

When the last seal is broken, the first part of the book is revealed. We see seven angels, who will blow trumpets of warning to the world. They will be followed by seven angels who will pour out chalices of wrath upon those who did not heed the warning of the trumpets. When the final trumpet blast was heard around Jericho, the city fell (Joshua 6). Similarly, the seventh trumpet initiates the last series of seven, the seven chalices, which describe in detail the judgment of God upon the city of man.

Revelation 8:3–5 shows us that both the warnings and the judgments come in response to the prayers of the saints, who have asked Christ to come and vindicate them both in history and in finality. Then begin the preliminary trumpet judgments, the warning judgments. God sent ten plagues upon Pharaoh. After the first three, Israel was sealed and protected. The next six were warnings. The last one destroyed Egypt (Exodus 7:14–12:29).

The trumpets do not destroy the world, only part of it, as warnings. The first trumpet repeats the plague of fiery hail on Egypt (Revelation 8:7). The second turns the sea to blood, as in Egypt (8:8). The third turns the waters bitter (compare Exodus 15:25), and the fourth tears down many “suns, moons, and stars,” repeating the plague of darkness (8:10–12). The fifth plague repeats the Egyptian plague of locusts (9:1–11). The sixth plague brings in a huge army (9:12–21, possibly parallel to Exodus 17:8–13). By these plagues a third of mankind dies. These are preliminary judgments of warning.

Though we as Christians are sealed, we do see God’s judgments, and sometimes experience them as God warns us to shape up and take Him more seriously. Has God ever destroyed “one third” of your life as a warning? Did you heed the warning?