Revelation 11-15; I am deviating from the normal five chapters from our weekly reading because the content and context of these chapters are different from chapters 16 and 17. The thought of Seals and Trumpets from last weeks blog revealed that much of the events or judgments released via the seals and trumpets reflect an ongoing tribulation which if it dare be said are “normal” for life on earth. The hope of God for the seals and trumpets is that mankind will repent of their evil and rebellion and turn back to Him as Yahweh! In the chapters I identified for this blog we find a sort of sitcom episode occurring. What I mean by this is the events and description of the characters in these chapters are ongoing the same time as the seals and trumpets are being released. I know that this will not bode well with many who read this blog; that is because we have been overwhelmed with bible prophecy and “scholars” understand that has been tainted by the compulsion of the pre-trib rapture and dispensation. I find that it is interesting that only is American Christianity do you find this overwhelming desire to project future cataclysmic events from the perspective of “escapism” of the tribulation. I would think anyone who has been living on planet earth for the last few years has discovered we are now living in a “tribulation period.” However, this is normal when forces of evil and the Holy Spirit are resident on earth. The martyrs for the faith are often overlooked by western Christians. Part of the problem with understanding the end times events is where one places the snatching out or 1st resurrection. Most dispensationalist try to put the “rapture” event early on, even after the discourse of the Seven Churches. However, if we realize the significance of the seven seals and trumpets as God’s way of “inviting” repentant souls to embrace Jesus as Savior, then the Rapture cannot occur until after the last Trumpet – which makes sense for Paul says this as does Jesus. [Rev 11:15-19; 1 Cor 15:52; Matthew 24:31] In Rev 16 we read of the Wrath of God being poured out on all ungodliness. The Wrath and Judgment are two different things. Wrath of the Bowls is poured out, but not with a purpose of getting mankind to repent, for they refuse to do so [ 16:9, 11]
With Parallelism in a book we find that many events are going on at the same time; yet we also find that there are varied perspectives of the same thing. The struggle with modern-day “Prophets” is that they try to make every scene fit into a chronological sequence. Much of the modern prophecy is given from the vantage point of the news as heard on CNN or Fox News. Very interesting since the media serves itself, not God.
In chapters 12-14 we have a continuing picture of what is going on in the world during the seals and trumpets. The battle between the forces of evil and the saints. If we could fold these chapters into the seals and trumpets dialogue we could see that the scenes are synonymous with each other. God and the angels at war with Satan who has been cast down to earth. In chapter 12, we have to see that this is a reflecting backwards at what has happened in times past – Satan being cast down to earth has made war with mankind. The main objective of these episodes is to reveal the war of Satan and the messengers of God to men. I see the 144,000 as an innumerable host of mankind who are martyrs for the Gospel.
When we capture the event described with the reapers in chapter 14; we discover the “harvest reaped” the saints of God. Jesus spoke of how the wheat and tares would remain until the harvest – this harvest [14-16; a different harvest is seen in 17-20; the first is the saints, the second is the lost. When we get to the scene in chapter 15; we find a great rejoicing; after the rapture event in chapter 14; there is great celebration; again God’s deliverance of His people from WRATH – this hold true to Old and New Testaments of God releasing His wrath; but only after His saints are delivered. [1 Thess 5:9]
The major problem that most interpretation of end times is that too often the tribulation times are not identified with the saints – this is a false theology, for we find that many preachers say the same from the pulpits – the Christian life is one of suffering and tribulation, to try to deny that such is the life of a believer, is heresy. If the believer is intimately identified with his Savior, then that which the Savior endured will be the life of the Follower.
Revelation 6-11; when we look at these chapters so many ideas and opinions that we have heard collide. So how do we look at these prophetic chapters and glean some understanding? We must first start with the scroll that is mentioned in chapter five. The fact that no one was able to take and open the scroll caused great remorse and tears. However, we read that One Like a slain lamb came forward to take the scroll from the Father. In that moment, Jesus the slain Lamb becomes the Lion of Judah. Questions of when was the earliest time that the Lamb could take the book as the Lion of Judah? It could not have been before Christ’s resurrection; for up until that time; Jesus was not proven worthy – His obedience of the Cross. At His resurrection there is the completion of His worthiness. The second question that comes to mind, How long was the Father holding the scroll? I think that the Father held the scroll from the foundation of the world and that it was only at the completion of salvation’s plan that anyone [Jesus] could even think of opening the scroll. No why would all of Heaven rejoice at the opening of the scroll containing the seals, trumpets and bowls, they are judgment? Until Jesus was found worthy, and ascended to the Father, the END TIMES could not end. In other words there would have been no end to evil and Satan. In Jesus salvation Plan is authored and put in place. With the seals and the trumpets we find that there is a “natural” tribulation that causes crisis to happen to mankind, in each of these crises we find that there is opportunity to repent. As the scroll is unfolded we are faced with an interpretation problem; too often when we look at prophecy we think of a chronological sequence of events – this is not necessarily true. In other books such as Daniel and even Joel we find that there is often a reflective look at what has been happening all along, not a sequenced event of this happened then that happened. Jesus is Matthew 24:4-8 talks about tribulation days, but from a point of what would be happening in the world, then He adds; but this is only the beginning. My approach to the Seals and the Trumpets is one that follows them through an ongoing matter rather than 1st seal, then a 2nd seal and so on. The nature of the seals reflect mankind’s effect on his world and his existence. From wars, conquering, famine, death, terror and the such – these things happen as a result of mankind in his greed and rebellious state against God. Wars and rumors of wars; these things have been going on forever, yes they have increased, but these are not signs that the end is near. In the Trumpets we find that a shift has occurred; the effects of the blowing trumpets are natural disasters. Each time there is an invitation to repent – similar to what God did with Pharaoh and Egypt – allowing them to repent. I have lived long enough to see both man-made and natural events unfold that caused a “temporary” turning to God. God uses these things in the course of world history in an attempt to bring people to Himself. At the end of the seals and trumpets we have an interlude; it is my thought that because these two stop at the same time, and the Seventh Trumpet looking at the Reign of Christ, that God is allowing the world conditions to continue in attempt to bring man to God; until enough is enough – He knows when that will be. A little ahead of myself, but when the Bowls are released, no invitation, no repentance [even though man wouldn’t do it anyway] – I see this as the wrath of God being poured out on the remaining humanity that was not part of the 1st resurrection.[Rev 20:11-15]
Again my view is Revelation is a book that captures End Times in a parallel fashion not in a chronological manner. In other words there are many things going on at the same time, like a sitcom will have multiple stories. In chapter 11 there is a snap shot of praise and worship in Heaven; also chapter 7:9-17; in both cases we get a scene that reflects heavenly deliverance. I know many people think of a specific Tribulation – but when we look at the Fearful Day of the Lord, and Jacob’s Trouble we find a wrath, not a tribulation. Jesus – In the world you will have tribulation! Yes martyrs, the church has been going through the Last Days since Jesus ascended. We are in the Last Days now – the Last Days began when Jesus took the scroll from God in chapter 5! If we advance to chapter 15; we find that the Bowls indeed are the Wrath – not tribulation. So in closing – God is merciful and long-suffering, not willing that any should perish has been “using” man-made and natural disasters to bring conviction and salvation to the world. We are living during the Seals and the Trumpets now; especially while salvation and repentance present themselves!