Let’s turn now and talk about what God’s going to do. We’re going to get it here in Revelation chapter six.
People often wonder, What does the future hold? And so often we are thinking in terms of our own personal experience. What does the future hold?
Beginning in the fourth chapter of the book of Revelation, we do enter into future events. But there’s a vast difference in the future and it all is related to your relationship with Jesus Christ. For the believers, there is a glorious future ahead! For the unbelievers, there is real trouble ahead, big trouble! And we looked at the believers’ future in the last study last Sunday night on the fifth chapter of Revelation. Tonight we begin to deal with the issues that will happen here on the earth when the Lord takes His church out. We were in heaven with the church last Sunday night. Tonight we come back to the earth after the church is gone and the events that are going to happen here on the earth once the Lord has removed His church.
So in the background for this, there in the heavenly scene last week, John saw a scroll in the right hand of Him who sits upon the throne, the Father. The scroll was sealed with seven seals. The strong angel with a loud voice said, Who is worthy to take this scroll and loose the seals? John began to sob because no one was found worthy. As we explained last week, the scroll is the title deed to the earth. And if no one is able to redeem the earth, then it means that it remains forever under Satan’s control. That thought was more than John could bear. And so when no man is found worthy to take the scroll and loose the seals, John begins to weep with the thought of the earth continuing on under Satan’s control.
But the elders said to John, John, don’t weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to take the scroll and to loose the seals! And then there breaks forth in heaven all kinds of worship starting with the cherubim, adding to that now the redeemed church, adding to that a hundred million angels plus millions of millions! As then all of creation, joining in, in the praise unto the Lord. Now Jesus is holding the scroll with the seven seals. And in chapter six, He begins to break the seals to open this scroll that is there.
With the breaking of each seal, there comes a corresponding event upon the earth that ties in with the various seals. So in verse one,
I saw when the Lamb had opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, and one of the four living creatures which are the cherubim said, Come (6:1)
The word “and see” is added. But John said,
I saw, and behold there was a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer (6:2).
The moment the church is taken out of the earth, the restraining force against evil will be removed and the world will plunge in to the darkest hour of its history. There will arise a man who is in the Scriptures called by many various names. The antiChrist is the most common name, the least used in the Scriptures.
In the thirteenth chapter, he’ll be called the beast out of the sea. In 2 Thessalonians, he is called the son of perdition. But this man will arise to govern the world. He will be a dictator but his rule will be over the earth. He will arise out of Western Europe, out of the NATO nations.
It is interesting the fact that Europe has federated together as a common nation. They’ve removed the borders. You now belong to the European community and they are becoming now a military power. As of this recent bombardment of Serbia, NATO was formed as an alliance for defense but it has evolved from that into an alliance of nations to force their will on other nations that are non-compliant to their wishes. And so the beginning of the rise of this European power, which will ultimately become the world dominating power and out of it there will come this man of sin who will, when the church is gone, be revealed and he will establish his program here on the earth.
Now for the first three-and-a-half years, it’s going to look rosy. He’s coming as a man of peace. He’s coming as a man of economic genius. He’s coming as a man who is able to bring warring powers together, signing treaties and the world will hail him as the Messiah, the Savior of the world. He will come with supernatural powers–the powers of Satan. He will actually receive from Satan the world. Satan’s going to turn the world over to him because Satan desires to be worshipped and he will receive worship through this man. And so he is coming as the white horse, the antiChrist.
Jesus will be coming in chapter nineteen on a white horse. This man is a deceiver. He is a false Messiah. He will come disguised as the true Messiah and the world will hail him as such and even for a time the Jews will hail him as such. But then after three-and-a-half years, he will come to the temple that has been rebuilt in Jerusalem through the treaty that he makes with Israel. And he will stand in the holy of holies of the rebuilt temple and declare that he is God. He’ll demand to be worshipped as God.
Daniel tells us that this is the abomination, which will cause the desolation or the great judgment of God to come upon the earth. God has been very, very patient with man. God is today so patient, so long-suffering. He puts up with an awful lot. People are allowed to blaspheme God. People are allowed to engage in all kinds of evil practices and God allows that. But when this man of sin stands in the temple, the holy of holies, and declares that he is God, then is when God will begin to pour out His judgment upon the earth as we will find in subsequent verses here. The judgments of God begin at that time.
Jesus said, “When you see the abomination, which was spoken by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, then flee to wilderness” (Matthew 24:15,16). In the twelfth chapter of Revelation, we are told that God has prepared a place for them to flee, the Jews, at this time. Those that do not escape will then face the wrath of the antiChrist and he will make war against the saints, the Jews, and overcome them and prevail against them.
Paul the apostle tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2 that he will stand in the temple of God, showing that he is God or declaring that he is God, and demand to be worshipped as God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The final blasphemy of man against God, the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak. That is the last straw as far as God is concerned and from now on, God’s judgment will come pouring forth upon the earth. It begins with the opening of the second seal.
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second cherub say, Come. And there went out another horse that was red: 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 (6:3,4).
And so with the opening of the second seal, you’re going to have wars breaking forth upon the earth. The antiChrist leading the western powers will ultimately face the powers from the east. Further on in the Book of Revelation, we’ll be told that the River Euphrates will be dried up to prepare the way for the kings of the east. And the great battle will culminate in the valley of Megiddo just east of Haifa and there is where God will gather the nations, their armies together, for the great slaughter, which we will read further in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Revelation. And so, great wars.
We have seen some terrible wars. I’m old enough that I lived during the Second World War. And it was really a very tragic experience to have many of my friends, buddies, who were killed in the war. War is a terrible thing. But now with the development of the super weapons, the biological warfare and the various nerve gases, an atomic war is going to be something like we cannot imagine! And more and more nations are entering into the atomic community and atomic weapons are now in the hands of terrorists. And so the world is not going to be a safe place at all because not only do you have just the initial damage that is done by the atomic explosion, but you have the radioactivity that spreads with the winds across the landscape.
The third seal is opened and the third living creature said, Come. And I beheld there was a black horse; he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four cherubim saying, A measure of wheat for a penny, three measures of barley for a penny; and see that you hurt not the oil and the wine (6:5,6).
Following the wars, especially wars in which atomic weapons are used, it will create a tremendous famine on the earth. A famine so great that they’ll be selling a quart of wheat for thirty-five dollars. It will take a whole day’s wage for a laboring man to buy just a quart of wheat.
It is interesting that they are told not to hurt the oil or the wine. The oil representing the luxuries of perfumes and so forth. And the wine. They’ll use the barley for the making of the liquor but there won’t be barley for the people to eat. The rich will be able to survive through their wealth but the poor people are going to really be suffering during this famine. Famine such as the world has never known before.
And then when he opened the fourth seal, the fourth living creature said, Come. And I looked, and behold there was a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over a fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth (6:7,8).
So in these first four seals, one fourth of the earth’s population will be destroyed! If there are four billion people at the beginning of the great tribulation period, in just the beginning of the first four seals being opened, one billion people will not survive but will be killed during the opening of the first four seals. You cannot believe the horror that is going to be upon the earth once the church is taken out and God begins to judge the earth because of its sinfulness!
When he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, before You judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled (6:9-11).
Now we enter into an interesting thing. When the fifth seal is opened, there are these souls under the altar. People who have been martyred and they are asking for entrance into the heavenly scene. They’re asking, How long before we can come in?
I do believe that when the Lord raptures His church, it will be a real eye opener for a lot of people that have been sitting on the fence. I believe that there will be a time of great wailing by those that are left behind who understand and know what has transpired. When suddenly millions of Christians are missing from the face of the earth, they’ll realize that the Lord has raptured His church and they’ve been left behind. And they have enough knowledge to know that the earth is going to be plunged into this blood bath and they’ll realize that because of their folly, their carelessness, that they have been left to face the judgment of God that’s coming upon the earth! But they’ll know enough that when this man of sin seeks to enforce a new economy that they’ll be using a mark rather than money for a medium of exchange, and he requires that everyone receives a mark in his right hand or in their forehead, and they will not be able to sell without that mark; that they’ll have enough sense not to take the mark.
We read in chapter thirteen that they have power to put to death those that refuse to take the mark. If for the testimony of Jesus Christ, if you say, I will not take that mark, I believe in Jesus Christ, I was a fool, I wasn’t walking with the Lord, He came and He took His church but I do believe that Jesus is the Son of God, I refuse to take the mark, they’ll put you to death for the refusal to take the mark. But believe me, that’s much better than taking the mark!
In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we find that the Lord will be sending an angel through the midst of heaven warning people not to take that mark. So a person won’t take that ignorantly. God is going to give them a warning not to take the mark. But for those who do take the mark, according to the warning given by the angel in the fourteenth chapter, there will be no hope of their salvation ever. They’ll be cut off forever because they will have joined the forces of evil and darkness by the taking of that mark.
So those that will be slain and those who will stand up for Jesus Christ, those who will bear witness of Christ and of their own folly in not being ready when the Lord took the church, they will through death, through their martyrdom, and their witness of Jesus Christ, they will ultimately be brought into the heavenly scene. But I’ve often said there’s an easy way to go and there’s a hard way to go. There are lessons that we need to learn and we can learn them the easy way or we can learn them the hard way and it’s all up to you. If you’re stubborn, you’ll learn the lessons the hard way. If you are pliant and obedient, you can learn the lessons the easy way. But God’s going to teach you lessons that you need to know one way or the other.
Jonah learned the lesson the hard way. And it wasn’t necessary that he go through all of that misery, but he forced it on himself because he was trying to resist the will of God for his life. And you in trying to resist the will of God for your life can make it hard on yourself. Jonah told you when he finished his experience there in the whale, he told you what he learned. “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercies” (Jonah 2:8). Or those that are observing a lie make it tough on themselves. And if you are observing a lie, thinking that you can run from the call of God, thinking that you can flee from the presence of God as did Jonah, you’re only going to make it hard on yourself. You’re forsaking your own mercy.
There will be many, a great multitude, numberless multitude, and as we get into chapter seven next week, we will see this multitude, the numbers now evidently complete. And as we get into chapter seven, the completed numbers are there in heaven and are finally brought into the heavenly scene. They are not the church, but they are people who will be saved during the tribulation through martyrdom. And they will be brought into the heavenly scene in chapter seven, we’ll get that next week.
When you get to chapter twenty as John is seeing the various groups in heaven, they are still a separate group from the church. I saw the throne and they that sat upon them. That’s the church. And then I saw those that were martyred for their testimony. And that’s this group that we have under the fifth seal and we’ll see more complete in chapter seven as their number is complete and they’re identified for us again a little more fully. They came up out of the great tribulation, washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb.
You can go that way but I sure wouldn’t plan on it. There are those, I don’t agree with them, but God knows I could be wrong, once in my life. But there are those who teach that if you reject Christ now, that you will not be one of those who will be saved during the great tribulation period. And they use the verse in Second Thessalonians where it speaks of the antiChrist, the white horse rider in verses one and two, and Paul writing of that in Second Thessalonians chapter two said that they did not, “God will give them a strong delusion, that they’ll believe a lie rather than the truth because they did not have the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
So if you don’t have the love of the truth now, there are those teachers, commentators, that say you will not have another chance even in the great tribulation and even by martyrdom. As I said, I don’t agree with them but don’t trust me. You just get right with God and you don’t have to worry. There are a lot of things, a lot of issues, that in my mind there’s a question mark. I don’t know.
Will a Christian who is walking in the flesh, will he be raptured with the church? Or will he be as one of the five foolish virgins? I don’t know. It is possible that you won’t go up in the rapture if you are living in the flesh. I don’t want to assure you of something that may not be because I don’t want you in heaven or in hell pointing at me and saying, You led me wrong, man. There’s to me a question mark. And I don’t want to live under a question mark. I want to be sure. I don’t want to be on a hope so or I think so or possibly so or maybe so, I want to know so, that I am ready, I’m walking after the Spirit, I’m seeking the things of God, and then I can be assured I’m going in the rapture!
What about the children of unsaved homes where the parents are not Christians? What about them? There’s a question mark. I don’t know but I surely don’t want to live in a question mark. Several issues were question marks. If you reject Christ now, will you be able to be saved through martyrdom? As I said, some teachers teach no, I personally think maybe yes, but that’s a maybe and it’s a question mark, don’t bank on it. Don’t live in a question mark. You make sure that things between you and God are okay. That you’re walking in the Spirit. Make sure of that!
So we’re going to see this group again. We’ll come back to them and thus, we’ll leave them right now because we’ll find them again next Sunday night, and then we’ll find them again when we get to the twentieth chapter of the book of Revelation and we get a little more information each time. Verse twelve,
I beheld and when he had opened the sixth seal, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, and the moon became as blood; The stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places (6:12-14).
Sorry to hear that. I was planning to spend some time in Hawaii during the millennium.
Now with the sixth seal, there come great cataclysmic catastrophes. It is interesting that Isaiah speaks of these events. He speaks of the “heavens being rolled like a scroll. And the stars falling from heaven” (Isaiah 34:4). Isaiah speaks about the “earth staggering like a drunken man and being moved out of its place” (Isaiah 13:13). The physicists talk about a polar axis shift and they believe that every so often, the earth experiences a polar axis shift in which the whole geological surface of the earth is transformed and changed. We know from the fossils and the sea fossils that have been found up in the painted desert area of Arizona that there was once a large sea or body of water up there in that high desert area.
At 7,000 feet there on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, you can see sea fossils that are there in the strata. There was once sea life up at that great altitude. They believe that the Grand Canyon was perhaps formed as a result of a polar axis shift when that great body of water came rushing down as the result of the polar axis shift and the changing of mountains and so forth that happened when the earth shifts the polar axis and the oceans come flooding into areas, the weight of the water pushing down, causing the upthrust of the mountainous regions and so forth. And the geologist and the physicist talk about things of this nature. How the mountains are formed and how the sea changed. And there are some interesting things.
There is an interesting book called Earth in Upheaval by Immanuel Velikovsky in which he records many interesting phenomena that are observable, historic things that happen that are observable today in the geologic structures and so forth. A fascinating book if you’re interested in that subject. But there have been cataclysmic changes in the past. There are those who believe that the great flood of Noah’s day could have been precipitated by a polar axis shift where the waters just came rushing in as the result of the polar axis shift and the whole geographical surface of the earth was transformed and changed.
Of course, you can only imagine the devastation that such a polar axis shift would create today with all of this modern structures and all that would not be able to withstand the violent shaking of the earth at that time. A great earthquake, notice, is the thing that begins this. But this isn’t a localized San Andreas fault or Newport-Long Beach fault. Here in California we have so many faults, whenever the earth begins to shake, you never know which fault it is. But it’s something that we’re living on these tectonic plates that are moving underneath and we expect the big one to come sometime but hey, that’s not the big one!
God speaks about He’s going to shake the earth once again until “everything that can be shaken will be shaken and only those things which can’t be shaken will be left” (Hebrews 12:27). A great earthquake, not a localized earthquake but the whole earth will be going into a violent shaking. Around the world and thus, this sixth seal brings the great earthquake. The sun becoming black as sackcloth, the sun darkened as the result of the tremendous upheaval of the earth during this earthquake. The dust and so forth going into the atmosphere. The moon becoming as blood. The particles in the atmosphere turning the moon a bloody red at night. The stars of the heaven falling to the earth.
Now the scientists and the astronomers also talk to us about asteroids and the possibility of an earth being struck by an asteroid. And the astronomers are on an asteroid watch. And they can tell you the asteroids that they have catalogued, they can tell you about when they are going to come close to the earth and about how close they’re going to come. The astronomers are in an argument right now concerning an asteroid that’s supposed to come in around 2002 and some say it’s going to come within 30,000 miles of the earth, and others say, No, it’ll be about 300,000. Tell you what, the last asteroid that was on a near miss with the earth, don’t want that this should alarm you but we didn’t discover it until after it had passed. And as it was going away, they discovered it and they said, Oh, wow, that was close.
Meteorite showers. If you’ve been out in the high Arizona desert near Winslow, you perhaps have seen that huge meteorite crater where at one time this meteorite did not dissolve in the atmosphere but hit there on the Arizona desert and the great crater hole in the ground that was formed as the result of that meteorite hitting out there in the desert. Can you imagine when there comes a meteorite shower and the meteorites begin to strike the earth “as the fig tree casts her untimely figs when she is shaken in a mighty wind.”
Jesus makes mention of this same event as a part of the tribulation experiences. Joel prophesies of it in the second chapter of Joel. And also Peter quotes from Joel in the second chapter of Acts as they talk about this same event of this astronomical calamity that takes place at the opening of the sixth seal.
“The heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together.” Just great, cataclysmic, events, signs in the heavens. “Every mountain and island moved out of their places.” Tremendous geological upheavals.
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the chief captains, the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man (6:15),
In other words, there’s no escaping. Rich or poor. Famous or unknown. The people that are on the earth are going to be terrified. Filled with terror when God begins to shake the earth. When God begins to send the meteorite showers. When God begins to move the earth and the islands and the mountains and they go through this great cataclysmic upheaval, terror and fear gripping the hearts of the people as they seek to,
hide themselves in the caves and in the rocks. And they call for them to fall on them, the mountains and rocks, they cry, Fall on us, hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb (6:15,16):
That sounds almost like an oxymoron. “The wrath of the Lamb.” Lambs are very mild kind of animals. You never see signs that say, Beware of ferocious lambs. But Jesus as the Lamb of God who gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sin, because of the evil of the world. And what makes the Lord angry is the effects of evil on man! How many innocent people suffer because of the evil! And this is the thing that creates the wrath of God is what evil brings to pass upon the innocent! So “the wrath of the Lamb:”
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand (6:17)?
There will be no hiding place. There’ll be no safe place. I know that there are some people who have been fearful because of possible consequences from the Y2K coming along and the computer glitches and so forth and some of them are storing food, some of them have moved to isolated places and they bought generators and they have their own wells and so forth and they’re looking to survive if there are calamities that befall us as the result of the computer glitches that could take place at the turn of the millennium. And there are those that would seek to prepare to go through the great tribulation. And there have been fellows who have sort of capitalized on this, they sell you a seven-year supply of food and will sell you a piece of property up in Oregon in an isolated place and the whole idea is to hunker down and survive.
But there will be no safe place, no safe place. God is going to bring His judgment and it’s going to come upon all of mankind that is upon the face of the earth. There’ll be no escape. There is only one escape and that’s before it happens. And the Lord has provided that escape. He is the ark of refuge for those that will come. And those that will receive Jesus Christ, they will escape by way of the rapture! But the rest of the world will not escape the wrath of God that will come upon the face of the whole earth, the judgment of God coming against the Christ-rejecting world.
So God has made the way for you now. Reject that, continue to reject that, and you can be sure that there’ll be a day in which you will weep and wail over the folly of rejecting Jesus Christ!
Father, we look at the future that is coming upon this earth once the church is taken out and Lord, we’re assured we don’t want to be here. And we thank You, Lord, that we don’t have to be here. That You’ve provided for Your people a way of escape from the judgment of God. For Jesus, You took the judgment Yourself. You took our sins upon Yourself, You died in our place, that we, through You, might have the forgiveness of our sins and that we, through You, might become children of God. Lord, we see the events taking place on the earth, which are all precursors to the revelation of this man of sin. We see, Lord, in place the systems that he will be using. It’s all coming together, Lord, in front of our eyes. Just like You told us it would. Lord, may we not be foolish and live after the flesh and desire, Lord, the things of the world. But may we renounce the hidden works of darkness and may we, Lord, walk with You in newness of life in Christ in fellowship with You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Edited & Highlighted from “The Word For Today” Transcription, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #8245