“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
This article is not necessarily the viewpoint of the BloggingHounds.com
This article offers a bit of what I call unconventional eschatology. Because the seals seem to be such a mystery, I’ve been asking the Lord for insight about them and want to present the results of a prayerful study. I don’t share this as a teaching, but as something to consider as you study prophecy yourself and seek our heavenly Father for wisdom in these last days. I am not dogmatic about these findings and remain soft, humble, and open to correction by the Holy Spirit.
I believe the seven-year “tribulation age” begins with the trumpets. The seals are not part of Daniel’s 70th week and Jesus has been opening them for the last 2000 years. In my humble understanding, the “dead in Christ rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16) happens at the completion of the 5th seal. “We who are alive and remain” (1 Thess. 4:17) will occur in the 6th seal.
I also want to mention that Gary and Jeff hold to the traditional dispensational view where the seals are opened after the rapture. What I present here is a pre-tribulational alternative to the traditional view, and I believe the fifth seal has already been opened.
The book of Revelation describes a series of seals, trumpets, and bowls that hold current events, plagues of warning, and the wrath of God.
I’ve come to understand that the seals described in Revelation 6 & 7 are pre-trib; i.e., before the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. The seals are not judgments. There is “tribulation” during the seals—tribulation as in trouble and trial and heartache and suffering (see John 16:33). But I believe Jesus has been opening the seals ever since he ascended to the throne and that the first five have already been opened. My position is that we are, right now, in the 5th seal. Here is why.
The revelation that Jesus gave to the Apostle John shows us that after Jesus ascended to His Father (Acts 1:9-11), He took the scroll (Rev. 5:5-7) and began opening the seals (Rev. 6:1). Notice that Jesus Himself is opening the seals, which is different than the later judgments, where angels are actively blowing trumpets or pouring out bowls of wrath.
The scroll contains judgments (and / or legal matters), but the seals are simply holding the scroll closed.
“Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32-33)
“And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed [conquered; overcome] to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” (Rev. 5:3-5)
Prevailing is what made Him worthy to take and open the scroll. This is something that only Christ could do. What is something only Christ has done? He alone tasted death for all men, the just for the unjust (1 Pet. 3:18), and conquered it.
Seals 1-5 are all things that Jesus has already overcome.
Not all of the seals are destructive, so we cannot think of them as tribulation or judgments. Seal 5 is about comfort. Seal 7 is about silence in heaven, an atonement ritual, and the 7 angels preparing to sound.
Moreover, I do not believe that Seal 1 is the antichrist. While it could be a spirit of deception, there is perhaps another conclusion.
“And I saw, and behold 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.” (Rev. 6:1)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:35-39)
We are more than conquerors.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev. 12:11)
“He who overcomes!”
Please read Revelation chapters 2 & 3 and see all of Jesus’ promises to “him who overcomes.”
“I die daily.”—Paul.
I realize the first seal could apply to deception & false christs, but knowing that not all of the seals contain what Jesus described in John 16:33 as “in the world you will have tribulation,” it’s very possible that Seal 1 is associated with the saints. Just as Jesus overcame the world, so we too, with Him, can overcome. And each of the first five seals are associated with the very things Paul said that we are more than conquerors in—tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, death, and more—through Him that loved us.
The first five seals, the Olivet discourse, and where we are now…
There is a fascinating parallel to the first five seals and Jesus’ conversation with his disciples about the years leading up to His 2nd coming. There are nearly two thousand of them, and the rapture happens before the last seven.
Take a look:
“But the end is not yet…”
2nd seal: Great conflict on earth; Rev. 6:3-4
Jesus: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Matt. 24:6
“The beginning of sorrows…”
3rd seal: Scarcity & economic distress; Rev. 6:5-6
Jesus: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matt. 24:7-8
Where I believe we are right now:
5th seal: Cry of the martyrs: Rev. 6:9-11
Jesus: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation [John 16:33 tribulation] and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” Matt. 24:9
The things happening in seals 1-5 are not new events.
Almost all of these things have been happening in the world since before Jesus ascended to His throne. The volume and magnitude of them has increased, but none of it is new. Famines, pestilences, death, earthquakes, war…these are not new events.
Out of all of these distresses, Christian persecution is the newest, and it started with the stoning of Stephen nearly 2000 years ago.
What has not yet happened in the seals is that the martyrs are given white robes & told to rest for a little while.
And he said, “Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.” (Amos 8:2)
“I will not again pass by them anymore.” This is the shift in dispensation where God turns His attention back to Israel (Micah 5:3, Romans 11:25) and I believe Seal 5 concludes & Seal 6 opens. As mentioned, I believe we are currently in the 5th seal. I also believe that the harpazo could begin in the 5th seal. Consider the following:
“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 testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” (Rev. 6:9-11)
White robes are given to bodies. In the 5th seal, the souls under the altar receive white robes which means they must also receive bodies. Later, in the following seal, we see the multitude wearing their white robes already in heaven. We know from Paul that the dead in Christ rise first (1 Thess. 4:16), and we who are alive & remain meet them and Jesus in the air (1 Thess. 4:17).
I submit that, in the fifth seal, the souls under the altar are joined with their bodies (& thus given white robes). This means a rapture! First the dead in Christ, followed quickly by the sixth seal and “we who are alive & remain…”
The mystery of the sixth seal
6th seal: The shaking of heaven & earth; Rev. 6:12-17
“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6:12-17
I believe the 6th seal describes a catastrophic cosmic & earthly event (quite possibly the Ezekiel 38 war; please read it and note its similarities with the sixth seal) that brings the age of grace to a close and ushers in the time of Jacob’s Trouble. At this time, as promised in John 14:1-3, 1 Cor. 15:50-52, and 1 Thess. 4:17, Jesus receives his alive & remaining Body in the air and takes us to always be with him.
“And then the end will come…”
This further illuminates the conversation between Jesus and His disciples. As we saw above, after he tells them that some will be martyred for His name’s sake (Matt. 24:9), the next thing to expect is:
“AND THEN many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matt. 24:10-14
Why “…and then…offended?”
Why (then) will lawlessness abound?
Why (then) will false prophets arise and deceive many?
There must be a cataclysmic shift. Something huge has to happen here. Offenses, betrayals, false prophets, lawlessness, and hatred of others have occurred since the fall of man. What is different now? What is significant about this particular time, and what distinguishes it from all the thousands of years prior to this?
The answer is found in 2 Thessalonians 2.
“And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:6-12)
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” Matt. 5:14
Right now Jesus, the light of the world, indwells believers. Light keeps the darkness away. With the Church out of the earth, the light of the world will go out. The Holy Spirit will still be in the world, but I believe He will operate as He did in the Old Testament, Law & Prophet days. Once the restrainer is gone, and the influence of the Holy Spirit is removed, indeed: lawlessness and deception will abound. Once the Church is caught up to God, many who thought they were the church will not be included.
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—” (Rev. 3:15-17)
“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:28-29
And they will be offended: offended because they were left behind. These are the Christian-in-name-only folks who may have a form of godliness, but deny its power (2 Tim. 3:1-7). They will see what happened and will be offended that they were not included in the rapture, and with the restraining work of the Holy Spirit through the Church out of the way, darkness will again cover the earth.
“Out of” tribulation, not “through” it
Before continuing on to the 7th and final seal, two new events take place. John says, “After these things…” which confirms a sequence of events:
- • First, the 144k of the twelve tribes of Israel are sealed with the seal of God on their foreheads. (Rev. 7:1-8) Also consider Micah 5:3.
- • Second, John sees something new: a great and innumerable multitude clothed in white robes standing before the Lamb (Jesus). (Rev. 7:9-10)
A heavenly elder tells John,
“These are the ones who come out of [rather than through] the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:14-17)
Some believe this multitude is made of tribulation saints, or those who come to faith during Daniel’s 70th week. Perhaps they are. However, this vast multitude, great and innumerable which no one could number, would be a perfect representation of 2000-years-worth of “dead in Christ & we who are alive and remain” believers… a congregation that is truly impossible to count. I believe it is the faithful Church who is caught up to God and his throne before Daniel’s 70th week begins—those whom the dragon tried to devour, but which “overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev. 12:11)
Consider these points:
- • We know that the current world population is almost 7.6 billion. This is numbered.
- • After the rapture, this population will be drastically reduced.
- • During Daniel’s 70th week, the numbers of those who come to faith will be even less.
- • Those who come to faith after the rapture appear after the 2nd Coming (Rev. 20:4), which follows the trumpets & the bowls, and there is a good case that they will be judged by the saints.
- • Remember, when this innumerable multitude appears, we are still pre-trib in the sixth seal.
Note that in the book of Revelation, there are two saved groups from two separate dispensations.
The first, believers from the dispensation of grace: the body of Christ which makes no distinction between Gentile or Jew. They sing the song of salvation (Rev. 7:10, 12:10) and have overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb & word of their testimony (Rom. 10:9-10, Rev. 12:11). This is the innumerable multitude which appears during the sixth seal.
This second group is not part of the body of Christ. They do not exist until after the catching away of the Church. They are people from the dispensation of time that features two witnesses (Rev. 11:1-12) and the angelic everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:6-7). This happens during the first 3.5 years of Daniel’s 70th week, which contain the trumpets.
The 7th seal & silence in heaven
The seventh seal is a mysterious seal. It seems to indicate a ritual (described in Exodus 30 and Leviticus 16) and a transition.
“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.” Rev. 8:1-6
Here we have silence in heaven which precedes the incense that is offered with all the prayers of the saints. John Barnett, from Discover the Book Ministries, writes that this ceremony takes about half an hour. He also suggests that the silence is because God stops everything to listen!
God Stops Everything to Listen—The silence in Heaven may well be a precious insight into how vital our prayers are to God. Everything halts before the Throne as the prayers of His saints arise before our Almighty God. If everything else halts and God breathes in the sweet fragrance of the devoted prayers we offer, doesn’t that make us want to pray, and pray, and pray: without ceasing, as Paul exhorts us?—John Barnett
Once the fire is thrown to earth, the seven angels prepare to sound the trumpets for the judgments. And this is when I believe Daniel’s 70th week begins.
So, Beloved, PRAY.
Regardless of where we are in the timeline, the truth is: we know we are in the last days. Many of us can sense the chill of coming darkness. Dear saints, the Day is at hand! We are called to watch and pray. To watch & pray is part of our warfare.
“…Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Eph. 6:10-18)
The power is the blood.
We do not have to agree on secondary issues. We do not need to all interpret eschatology the same way. But more than ever, there is urgency to believe and to proclaim the gospel. Right now, the Holy Spirit indwells the body of Christ on earth. You are the light of the world! (Matt. 5:14) When the Church is taken away, the door to this dispensation of grace will close.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16)
This is the gospel: the death (shedding of blood), burial and resurrection of Jesus: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:1-4)
Among those who will not be part of the rapture are those who have the form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
The power is the blood of Jesus, because without the shedding of blood there is no remission, or forgiveness, of sin. (Heb. 9:22) His blood makes atonement for us, or at-ONE-ment. Because of Jesus, we are reconciled to God. Through Yeshua, our sin no longer separates us from His holiness and we have peace with God. (Rom. 5:1-11)
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Rom. 5:9)
Nothing else saves us. Repentance from sin does not save us. Living a holy life does not save us. Only belief in the finished work of Jesus saves us! Once we are saved, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit who guides us, leads us and convicts us to repent, walk in obedience and holiness, and to grow in our faith so we can do good in our lives. (Eph. 2:8-10, Eph. 1:13-14, 1 Pet. 1:5).
If you have not yet put your trust solely in the blood of Jesus, I urge you to do so now. Trust that He, and He alone, saves you!
If you already believe, pray always in the Spirit and pray for all the saints and pray for those who will become saints. Like never before, we must become a people of prayer.
Here is a brief overview of how I see events unfold:
- Pre-trib: first 5 seals
- Pre-trib/beginning trib: harpazo (the catching away of the Church at the last trump, the trumpet of God & the Lord gathers his people), 6th & 7th seals, the sealing of the 144k, the revealing of the lawless one (the man of sin in 2 Thess. 2:3)
- First half: seven trumpet judgments, 2 witnesses, antichrist rises in power
- Mid-point: the abomination of desolation
- Last half: seven bowl judgments, Jews fleeing (Matt. 24:15-22), satan indwells antichrist (the son of perdition in 2 Thess. 2:3-4)
- Very end: 2nd Coming & angels gather the tares first (Matt. 13:30, Matt. 24:29-31), Armageddon
- Millennial kingdom / new heavens & new earth
In closing, I believe that we are currently experiencing the 5th seal. Believers are being martyred like never before across the globe. I believe the dead in Christ rise at the end of the 5th seal, and “we who are a live & remain” will be removed from the earth at the 6th seal. And with the trumpet judgments, the 7-year time of Jacob’s Trouble will begin.