"THE WRATH OF GOD-WHAT IT IS NOT"
As we mentioned in the last chapter, much of present day prophetic teaching says the wrath of God/Day of the Lord starts at the beginning of Daniel's Seventieth Week which many falsely call "the tribulation period". This school of teaching also says that the seven seals of Revelation are the wrath of God because the Bible teaches they are opened sequentially at the start of this so called 'tribulation period' which is in reality the 70th Week of Daniel.
If we compare the description of the seals given in Revelation 6 with the wrath of God/Day of the Lord it will be obvious to even the casual observer that they do not fit the description given by the Old Testament prophets of the wrath of God/Day of the Lord. The results of the first five seals are not supernatural in nature but instead represent the actions of a Satan-empowered man who is called ‘the beast’ of the Antichrist.
But, before we get too hasty and 'rush to judgment', let us examine the text in Revelation 6:1-11 and once again look for a Distinguishing Name/Title, the Distinguishing Description and the Distinguishing Person responsible for bringing about the results of each seal being opened and compare them with the wrath of God/Day of the Lord described by the prophets.
The first seal (v.1, 2) shows a personage on a white horse. Some say this is the Lord Jesus Christ, but He does not come to conquer at the beginning of Daniel's Seventieth Week, but, instead He will come on His white horse to the battle of Armageddon at the end of the Day of the Lord (Revelation 19). Besides, the Lord Jesus is at this moment seen as the Lamb who is opening the Seals not riding a horse. Many commentators agree this is the "the prince that shall come" (Daniel 9:26) which refers to the Antichrist who here is falsely representing Christ.
Jesus indicated this very thing in His opening statement to the disciples in the Olivet Discourse when he warned the disciples "many shall come in My name, saying I am Christ, and shall deceive many"(Matthew 24:4, 5). In Revelation 6:2 the Antichrist's activity is portrayed as he will go "forth conquering, and to conquer" at the beginning of Daniel's Seventieth Week which is indicated in the victorious color of his horse.
However, let us answer the three distinguishing questions concerning the results of this first seal. Is the result of the Antichrist falsely representing Christ, and conquering in war the results of the wrath of God? Does this description sound like the one the Old Testament prophets gave concerning the wrath of God the Day of the Lord ? Is God the Definite Person responsible for these results as He is described by the Old Testament prophets? All three questions must logically be answered NO! These events are obviously authored by the Antichrist, the direct agent of Satan himself! Neither the wrath of God nor the Day of the Lord is even mentioned in Revelation 6:1, 2!
The second seal follows revealing a red horse: "And power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. and there was given unto him a great sword."(v.3) 'Wars and rumors of wars' will follow on the heels of the Antichrists entry described in the first seal. The red horse some would say denotes bloodshed, and it is certain their will be much carnage as a result of this 'great sword' wielded by the Antichrist who is the one symbolized upon the red horse.
Jesus' words in Matthew 24:6, 7a most accurately prophecy of this period of Daniel's Seventieth Week: "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom..." Here, the Lord continues His answer to the disciples describing the unfolding of ‘the beginning of sorrows’ (Matthew 24:8).
We must again ask the three questions we asked of the first seal and rightly answer them all with a resounding NO! Although God has used the wrath and wickedness of man and Satan to accomplish His ends, these results of the second seal do not even closely resemble the horrendous judgment of His wrath the Day of the Lord as described by the Old Testament prophets in chapter one!
The third seal is opened and a black horse and rider are shown with "a pair of balances in his hand". The weighing and valuation of different items is interpreted by most to indicate that one days wages will only be enough to buy one loaf of bread. The symbolism "indicates a time of famine when life is reduced to the barest necessities; for famine is almost always the aftermath of war." writes John Walvoord in his commentary "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" pp.129.
This, too, agrees perfectly with the Lord's chronological answer "there shall be famines" (Matthew 24:7b). The symbolic rider of this horse is also the Antichrist as he is the Satanically inspired man who will rise to power authoring these tragic events of the first 3-1/2 years of Daniel's Seventieth Week.
The result of the third seal is not the result of the wrath of God. Famine is not found in the description of the wrath of God in the Old Testament. As nations are decimated they lose their ability to produce crops thereby stripping the people of their natural food supply. This plight brought on man by the Antichrist is in reality the result of man's own doing and not directly initiated by the Lord. The questions posed above have become rhetorical with the obvious answer of NO!
With the opening of the fourth seal the pale horse and rider appear. "Death, and Hell followed with him. And Power was given unto them, over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." (v.8) Although Power (lit. authority) was given unto them, over the fourth part of the earth that does not mean that a fourth of the earth's population was killed as some teach in an attempt to shift the blame for this event on the wrath of God. After all, they say, if one fourth of the earth's population is wiped out post haste, it must be God's doing!
However, the opening of this seal does mean that one fourth of the earth was under the authority of this ruthless one who sits atop the pale horse. This would be approximately the size of the United Kingdom in its heyday! The Antichrist will be given the authority to inflict death upon them, but, nowhere does it say that one fourth died!
Those that are killed during this time are killed with the sword, hunger, death, and beasts of the earth, but, here again these causes of death are not inflicted by the wrath of God as described in the Old Testament. They are instead the result of the actions of a Satanically inspired man, the Antichrist, who also symbolically appears here as the one atop the pale horse.
The fifth seal describes the escalating persecution of God's people which begins at the mid-point of Daniel's Seventieth Week when the 'abomination of desolation' takes place. The Antichrist and his followers are most certainly responsible for the martyrdom of these who would not take his mark, nor surrender to his authority.
They are asking the Lord: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, does Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”(Revelation 6:10). This question indicates a number of key facts. First of all, those responsible for the martyrdom of these saints are still alive on the earth, secondly God’s judgment, which is the Day of the Lord has not yet begun and lastly He will eventually judge those who have committed this most heinous deed!
These martyred faithful saints remained true to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Their subsequent cry to God for His judgment on those who are inflicting this unparalleled persecution is then answered: "Rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren that should be killed as they were should be fulfilled."(v.11)
Although we often are not able to understand trying circumstances we too must rest in the Lord, knowing that He is in control of even the most difficult and troubling situation. This widespread martyrdom of God's own can not be the result of the wrath of God, for He would never initiate nor be the author of the deliberate killing of His own faithful children.
Matthew 24:9 describes this torturous martyrdom in the words of the Lord Jesus: "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake." The Lord's chronological teaching continues as Matthew 24:9ff parallels the results of the opening of the fifth seal.
As these first five seals are evaluated by identifying the three distinguishing elements, Title, Description and Agent, it becomes clearly evident that these seals are not the result of the wrath of God, they do not fit the description of the Day of the Lord as described by the Old Testament prophets who are quoted in chapter one.
No, they are the direct result of man's wrath which is called the "great wrath" (Revelation 12:12) of Satan and his Antichrist. There is no specific Title given for the activities of Antichrist. The Description of his infliction of death, famine and martyrdom are not consistent with the account of the wrath of God/Day of the Lord by the Old Testament prophets, and the Definite Person bringing about these actions is nowhere specifically identified as the God of heaven.
We have determined in the last two messages what the wrath of God is and what it is not. We also have established that the first five seals are not part of God's wrath the Day of the Lord judgment. In the next message the answer to the question: "When will the wrath of God/Day of the Lord begin?" will be revealed!
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