CDPCKL · What Must Soon Take Place (Revelation 6:1-17)

What Must Soon Take Place (Revelation 6:1-17)

Soon after God led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, he brought them to a mountain in Arabia, where he married them: they became his people; he became their God. 

And as part of the marriage ceremony, God told his new bride that he would never cheat on them by falling in love with other nations — and he really hoped they would not cheat on him by falling in love with other gods. 

But even as he said it, God knew his nation would fail. They had been slaves in Egypt for a long time, surrounded by abusive Egyptian gods for several generations; they were a thoroughly traumatized people who had picked up some very self-destructive habits. 

And so, first, God made it clear that he would never abandon them, no matter what happened. He told them that if — actually: when — they cheated on him with other gods, they would always be able to come, and confess, and repent, and begin again as many times as they needed to. 

Second, God made it clear that he was committed to healing them, to breaking all of their destructive bad habits. So he also told them that when they cheated on him with other gods — and when they clung to those false gods instead of repenting and returning to him — then he would allow those gods to gain limited power over them for a time, so they could re-experience and remember how terrible it was to live in slavery to false gods. Then God outlined the four main kinds of disasters that he would use to purify his people: external conquest; internal unrest; famine; and pandemic. 

And for a thousand years, God’s people experienced these four things from time to time as God worked slowly and patiently to break them of their bad habits and heal them. 

Much later in the Old Testament, God returned to this subject. He wanted to remind his people why these things were happening to them. So, through his prophet Ezekiel, he outlined again what he called “my four dreadful judgements: sword and famine and wild beasts and plague.” He emphasized again that these judgements were designed to purify them by allowing them to taste the bitter fruit of their sins for a while, so that they would learn to hate their sins and return to the God who loves them. 

Well, the people refused to stop cheating on God. The four dreadful judgements kept happening, getting worse each time, until finally they completely lost their homeland and re-experienced slavery — under abusive Babylonian gods this time. And so, when the people were finally allowed to return to their homeland, they were thoroughly traumatized all over again but finally ready to listen. 

So when God sent his prophet Zechariah to call the nation to repentance…they actually repented! They said, “The LORD Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve.” No fussing. No excuses. No blame-shifting. Just, “Yep. We did it to ourselves… 

“Now what?” 

Well, last week, when we looked at this moment in history, we noticed that this resulted in a four month long silence. Zechariah probably felt like a man who got himself all pumped up to break down a locked door, and then discovered it was not even latched properly. 

But after that four month long silence, Zechariah began to receive a series of visions. And the very first one was a vision of four horsemen. And these four horsemen turned out to be angelic beings who had been sent to go throughout the earth as scouts — as spies, really. And Zechariah’s vision begins just as these four horsemen get back to make their report to the commander of God’s armies. They tell him, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.” 

Strangely, however, the commander of God’s armies is not happy at all with this report. So he turns to God and says, “LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” 

Now: why is the commander of God’s armies upset to hear that the nations of the world are at peace? 

Because these are the same nations that devastated and enslaved God’s people. They are the same nations that are blocking the rebuilding of God’s temple in Jerusalem. The commander of God’s armies is basically saying, “This is not right! Surely you are not going to let them get away with this?” 

And the LORD Almighty basically tells his commander, “Don’t worry. They will not get away with what they are doing.” 

Sure enough, a few visions later, Zechariah sees four war-chariots leaving God’s presence, drawn by matching sets of horses: white, red, black, and dappled grey. And an angel tells Zechariah, “These are the four spirits of heaven — the four winds of heaven — going out from standing in the presence of the Lord.” Zechariah notices that these four warrior spirits, these four angelic winds, are very powerful, and that they are straining to go and carry God’s judgements throughout the earth. 

And as Zechariah watches, these four horse-drawn war-chariots are released, and almost at once reports of victory begin to come back: Babylon and Persia are the first to be defeated, because they were the ones who had first revoked the temple’s rebuilding permits. But then, much later on, Zechariah discovers that many people from those nations have actually responded to God’s judgements by repenting and joining God’s people. 

Well, about 600 years after Zechariah, a man named John also received a vision of four horsemen. 

And this really makes sense, because in many ways John’s situation was very much like Zechariah’s: basically, the whole world was at rest and in peace under the rule of the Roman empire. And this seemed like a good thing to a lot of people! — except that the Roman empire was increasingly committed to devastating and enslaving God’s people and blocking the expansion of Jesus’ Church, which was God’s new temple on earth. 

The first really bad persecution of Christians happened during the time of Nero, though his persecution was mostly limited to the city of Rome itself. But about 30 years after Nero the first really well-organized, empire-wide persecution began: the emperor Domitian decided to unite his empire by insisting that every citizen worship him publically once a year as a test of their loyalty to the State. Those who obeyed would get their IC renewed. Those who refused would have their citizenship revoked, their property confiscated, their lives taken, their families enslaved. 

So Christians at that time were beginning to say — just like the commander of God’s armies in Zechariah’s vision — “Lord, this is not right! Surely you are not going to let them get away with this?” 

And John’s vision of the four horsemen here in Chapter 6 is the beginning of God’s answer. So let’s get started! 


Now, if you remember, in Chapter 4 John was lifted up into God’s heavenly throne room, God’s heavenly temple, which also turned out to be the original heavenly garden of Eden. 

Then, last week, in Chapter 5, John was transported backward in time about 60 years or so to witness Jesus’ great homecoming after his victory over death on earth. John watched as Jesus approached his Father’s throne and received, as his inheritance, a scroll sealed with seven seals. And John realized that this scroll is the original Book of God’s Covenants, the Book of God’s Judgements, the Book of God’s History, and the the Book of God’s Plans for the building of his eternal earthly temple. 

So, beginning in verse 1, John says this: I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” [2] I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. 

So the first things John sees is a mounted archer given permission to conquer and build a kingdom of his own. 

This is interesting. Because if there was one thing Roman citizens feared at that time, it was invasion by mounted archers. For more than 100 years Roman armies had fought — and lost — several battles against mounted archers that kept nibbling away at the empire’s far eastern borders… 

Okay. Let’s go on: 

[3] When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” [4] Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. 

So now John sees a swordsman given power to turn people against each other. 

This is also interesting. Because if there was another thing Roman citizens feared, it was civil unrest within the empire. Mostly because, over the last few decades, the empire had already experienced several slave rebellions, uncounted riots, and seven emperors in less than 50 years, most of them assassinated… 


[5] When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. [6] Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” 

So now John sees a merchant given permission to sell basic necessities at about sixteen times their normal price, while continuing to sell long-term investments at a normal interest rate. 

This is interesting! Because if there was yet another thing Roman citizens feared, it was runaway inflation due to drought, famine, and greed. And at least once every decade for the last half of the first century, the empire has experienced some kind of major crop failure somewhere, and Roman governors have had to import grain from other parts of the empire at incredibly inflated prices… 

Going on: 

[7] When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” [8] I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. 

So, finally, John sees Death mounted on a horse the same pale grey or green colour as a plague victim. 

This is interesting. Because if there was one thing Roman citizens feared above all it was death by disease, death by pandemic. Why? Because a pandemic is an enemy that cannot be seen, cannot be fought, and even when you flee from it you can never be quite sure you have run far enough…and this is why the pale horse in John’s vision is followed by Hades, a manifestation of the Greek underworld: a giant cave mouth that consumes everything in its path without distinction, without mercy, without pausing. 

And the thing is: during the last 50 years or so, as Roman cities have grown in wealth and in size, they have begun to have more and more problems with the plague: pandemics that would wipe out whole neighborhoods almost overnight. 

So…what is going on here? 

It is quite simple, really: John is witnessing the same truth that Zechariah did 600 years earlier. The “whole world” under the Roman empire at the time of Christ was at rest and in peace. But this was a false rest, this was an unjust peace. And so now the commander of God’s armies — Jesus Christ himself — has begun to activate the same four dreadful judgements that God’s prophets had talked about in the Old Testament, the same four horsemen God used to punish the nations who persecuted his Old Testament people. 

John is simply seeing, in more detail than Zechariah did, what these four horsemen symbolize: white for defeat by outside enemies; red for defeat from within; black for defeat through famine and economic collapse; pale grey or green to represent death by disease. These are God’s judgements upon the Roman empire, just as they were his judgements on Persia and Babylon in Zechariah’s time. 

For a little while now, Christians have been wondering if God is going to let the empire get away with its attacks on the Church. This is God’s answer: “No! They not going to get away with it!” 

And in fact, now, as these Christians look back over the last 60 years, they are supposed to realize that God’s judgement upon the empire actually began the moment Jesus began to rule at his Father’s right hand. 

And so, John concludes in verse 8, these four horsemen were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. 

And we are supposed to notice that this is the exact same list Ezekiel wrote down when he described God’s four dreadful judgements. 

And this last addition of “wild beasts” is also supposed to catch our attention. Because — as we have already noticed in previous chapters — the Book of Revelation is strongly patterned after the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Here there are four horsemen that torment the earth; in the Book of Daniel there are four monstrous, mutated beasts that torment the earth, beasts that symbolized four different kinds of monstrous empires…

This concept is going to be developed further, later on in this book, so keep coming back for that. 

In the meantime, however, [9] when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 

Okay. This is a change in the pattern. And we have some questions. So — 

First question: why is there an altar inside God’s throne room? 

The temple in Jerusalem did have an altar where animals were sacrificed and burned — but it was outside, in the courtyard, not inside. Besides: isn’t Jesus supposed to be the final sacrificed Lamb that has atoned for all of our sins: past, present and future? There should be no more need for an altar of sacrifice at all! 

True. But the temple in Jerusalem actually had a second, smaller altar: the altar of incense, which did stand inside the temple, in front of God’s throne, separated from it by a curtain. The sweet smoke rising from this small altar inside was conceptually connected with the smoke rising from the large altar outside, symbolizing how — through the sacrifices made outside — the prayers of God’s people were purified and brought inside, into God’s presence where they could be heard. 

It is the altar of incense that John is seeing here before God’s throne in heaven — though, of course, by this point in history the curtain is no longer there: the inner room and the outer room are now the same room. 

Okay. Second question: why are these souls under the altar? 

Well, in the Old Testament, the priests regularly anointed the altar inside with the blood of sacrificed animals, before pouring out the rest of the blood on the ground at the base of the big altar outside. That blood symbolized the souls of the people, which had been substituted — exchanged — with the souls of animals: essentially, symbolically, the animals gave up their lifeblood so that the people could keep theirs. 

So the fact that these slain souls are under the altar simply reinforces the connection between the blood sacrifices performed outside God’s temple and the eternal life available inside God’s temple. 

Jesus’ lifeblood — Jesus “soul” — was poured out first, and then carried within, thus removing the curtain between God and mankind, so that the souls of Jesus’ people could also be poured out and then carried within to live forever in God’s presence. 

Okay. Third question: what are these souls doing under the altar? 

Well, they are praying, of course! This is the altar of incense, and incense symbolizes the prayers of God’s people. So: 

[10] They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 

So this is interesting: these souls are essentially repeating the same prayer that Jesus — the commander of God’s armies — prayed back in Zechariah’s vision when he saw the nations living unpunished and in peace. 

But why? Hasn’t their prayer already been answered? Hasn’t God already begun to avenge their blood? 

Well…actually: no. 

 Yes, it is true that God’s four dreadful judgements against Rome have already begun, those have been in operation for the last 60 years or so. 

However, we have to remember that God’s four dreadful judgements were never meant to be final judgements, they were always purifying judgements, designed to drive people to desperation and repentance. In fact, they were first designed as purifying judgements upon God’s own nation. 

So what we have to realize here is that, over the last 60+ years before John received this vision, both Romans and Christians have been suffering from invasions and civil wars and famines and pandemics. Christians are not magically immune from these disasters: the citizens of Jesus’ spiritual kingdom suffer right alongside the citizens of earthly political kingdoms. The only difference is that when Christians die from one of these disasters, their souls enter the presence of God; when non-Christians die, their souls are swallowed up by the gaping mouth of Hades. 

The problem is this: in the minds of pagan Roman citizens, when Christians die from the same disasters as everyone else, this actually proves that their God is weak, powerless, unable to protect his own worshipers from the gods of war or famine or disease. 

Actually, it’s even worse than that: because, in the eyes of Roman citizens, these Christians look like fools who suffer and die from things they could easily avoid. 

For instance, whenever the empire was invaded by mounted archers from the east, these Christians remained faithful to the values contained in God’s Word — even if that meant death for showing love to the enemies of the empire. But in the eyes of Roman citizens, they did not have to do that: they could have saved their lives by registering their complete support for the Roman war effort! 

Or: when Rome was consumed by civil war and internal rebellions, these Christians remained faithful to the values contained in God’s Word — even if it meant death for refusing to join one side or another. But again, they did not have to do that: they could have saved their lives by registering their complete support for the Government or for the Opposition. 

When Rome was struck by drought and famine, these Christians remained faithful to the values contained in God’s Word — even if it meant sharing their very last meal with a starving neighbor. But they did not have to do that: they could have saved their lives by hoarding food, they could have taken advantage of high interest rates to get rich. 

Or when a pandemic wiped out 25% of a city’s population, these Christians remained faithful to the values contained in God’s Word — even if it meant caring for the sick and losing their lives as a result. But in the eyes of world, they did not have to do that: they could have saved their lives by running away like everyone else, by social distancing themselves from the plague victims. 

In the eyes of Roman citizens, these Christians were idiots: they kept laying down their lives for their neighbors and even for their enemies. They kept testifying that these were the self-sacrificial values of their God. But instead of rewarding them for their faithfulness, it looks like their God keeps betraying them by letting them die! So: 

Yes, God’s general judgements against the Roman empire have already begun — the kind of judgements that affect everyone everywhere, the righteous along with the unrighteous. 

But, no: God’s particular judgements against the Roman empire, his final judgements…those judgements have not yet begun. 

That is why these souls are still praying the same prayer Jesus prayed back in Zechariah’s vision: they want God to vindicate them and vindicate himself in the eyes of the Roman world. 

And they want to know how long they have to wait. 

This is the answer: [11] each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. 

Okay. But how long is a little longer? 

Well, it’s just one verse in this case: 

[12] I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, [13] and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. [14] The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 

Yep, this is exactly what it sounds like: this is the beginning of the end of the world. 

And we can tell because every Old Testament “end of the world” meme has been collected here in this paragraph: we’ve got the earthquake that always happens in God’s presence — the same rumblings that John experienced in God’s throne room back in Chapter 4. We’ve got the sun blackened as the thick thunderclouds of God’s war-chariot fill the sky. We’ve got the moon turning red through the smoke rising from defeated cities as they burn. We’ve got stars falling to earth: angelic and demonic princes locked in battle with one another. And then, finally, we’ve got the sky itself tearing open as God steps down from his throne, breaks through the ceiling of our universe and arrives in our reality in all his uncontainable fulness, flattening every mountain, every island, beneath his feet as he comes to stand upon our earth — which is nothing more than his footstool anyway. 

And, quite naturally, [15] then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. [16] They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! [17] For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” 



What have we just witnessed here? What is the significance of this scene? And what does it have to do with us, 2000 years later? 

Well, last week we discovered that, really, Chapter 5 contains the entire history of the world: from Jesus’ crowning until the end, when every creature in the universe will finally worship the true God. And so we discovered that the last 2000 years of our history are actually contained in that chapter, between verses 12 and 13. 

Apparently Chapter 6 also contains the entire history of the world, from Jesus’ time until the end — or: almost. There is still one more seal to go, but we will have to wait to find out what that seal contains. But, essentially, Chapter 6 is simply a more detailed development of Chapter 5. In Chapter 5, the story skipped: straight from the opening scene — where Jesus received the sealed-up blueprints for his kingdom — to the closing scene where his kingdom was finally fully completed. Chapter 6 has simply begun to fill in the details of that gap. 

Which means that the last 2000 years of our history are also contained in this chapter! 

But where, exactly? 

Let’s look back at what John has described here and think things through: 

Since the end of the world begins in verse 12, when the Lamb opens the sixth seal, then we must be living in the time before verse 12, before the sixth seal. 

But since the first four seals symbolized God’s four dreadful judgements against the Roman empire — and since we do not live in the Roman empire — then we must be living in the time after the first four seals. 

Which means that our lives must be contained here between verses 9 and 11, during the fifth seal. So: 

We must be the souls under the altar in this vision! 

…but that makes no sense. Because these are the souls of Christians who died during those four dreadful judgements against the Roman empire. Right? 


But let me ask you this: do the nations of our world still live in fear of invasion from outside? Are political takeovers, civil wars and civil unrest still a thing? Do we still worry about runaway inflation, economic collapse, famine, starvation, greed? Do we — ooo, here’s a relevant one: do we still experience pandemics? 

Friends, we were asking what this passage has to do with us. The answer is: everything! Clearly these four terrible horsemen are still roaming the earth, striking down the righteous and the unrighteous alike. For the last 2000 years the citizens of Jesus’ heavenly nation have been suffering right alongside the citizens of every earthly nation. We are not immune to these disasters! So: 

Yes, these souls under the altar in this vision are the souls of Christians who died in the Roman empire. But they are also the souls of every Christian who has died since! 

So if we are still asking where we fit into this scene, here is our answer: while we live in these bodies, on this earth, we are living between verses 1 and 8, during the continuing reign of these four horsemen. 

But, after we die, we go to live between verses 9 and 11, as one of these souls under the altar. One day, each one of us will find ourselves here calling out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 

”But hang on,“ someone is going to say, “aren’t these the souls of people who were slain because of the Word of God? Aren’t these the souls of martyrs, Christians who were killed for their faith, not Christians who died of ‘natural’ causes?” 

Well: yes, these are the souls of martyrs. But these are also the souls of Christians who have died of “natural“ causes. 

How do we know? 

First, these are clearly the souls of Christians who died because of invasions, civil unrest, economic collapse, and disease. Those are — regrettably — “natural” causes of death in this world. Those things can potentially happen to anybody! — not just to faithful Christians. 

Second, our modern understanding of the word “martyr” is actually incomplete. To us, the word “martyr” means someone who is actively persecuted and killed for their faith. And it does mean that…now. But originally — at the time when John wrote this book — the word “martyr” simply meant “a witness”: a person who testifies to the truth and lives according to the values of Jesus’ kingdom…no matter what happens to them. So: 

Yes, these souls under the altar are martyrs, because — as John points out here — they had been slain. These are “witnesses” who clung to the truth and clung to Jesus’ values no matter what. But, in that way, every Christian who who remains faithful — even in the face of death by “natural” causes — is a martyr who was slain because of the word of God. 

“…Okay,” someone else is going to say, “that makes sense, maybe. But still: this word that John uses here — the word ‘slain’ — this is a very violent word. It means to butcher, to slaughter, to dismember: to tear into pieces. So how can you say that this word also applies to Christians who die of starvation or sickness or even simple old age?” 

Mmmm. Yes. This part may be a little more difficult for us to accept — or even, perhaps, for us to understand… 

So, again, let’s look back carefully at what John describes here and think things through… 

And when we look back at these four horsemen, two things become clear: first, these are some kind of extremely powerful spiritual beings; we should probably think of them as princes of the angelic world. Second, the things that they are given permission to do are not good things. 

And this is where we are supposed to realize that these four horsemen are…demonic. They are fallen angels like the Princes of Persia and Greece that we find in Daniel’s book: spiritual beings that were committed to making sure God’s temple never got rebuilt. They are fallen angels like the Nephilim who ruled over Cain’s evil empire before the Flood, and the Canaanite nations afterward. The difference is that these four horsemen are not princes over particular nations or empires, they are the lords of war, division, greed, and disease. 

In other words, these four horsemen are the spiritual representatives of these four destructive forces on the earth. Their ultimate goal is to bring Death to all creation! — the fact that they are only given permission to strike down 25% of the earth is really an act of mercy and restraint on God’s part! 

It is also interesting to notice that the Lamb breaks the seals and reveals these four horsemen, but it is the four living creatures who call them out. And as we have discovered in previous weeks, these four living creatures are meant to be the spiritual representatives of living creatures on earth. Their ultimate goal is to bring Life to all creation! In a way, we could say that the four living creatures are the mirror images of these four deathly horsemen. 

But if that is so, why are these four agents of Life involved in unleashing these four agents of Death upon the earth…? 

…we are going to have to revisit that question next week. So make sure to come back for that. 

The main thing we need to realize here is that these four destructive forces that torment every nation on earth are actually living forces that hate Life of all kinds and hate human beings in particular. In our modern scientific minds we tend to think of things like war and famine and pandemic as mindless historical accidents. But the truth is: these earthly realities are actually influenced and driven by ancient spiritual beings with immense power and corrupted motivations of their own. 

So when John says that these Christians under the altar have been “slain“ — slaughtered, butchered, torn to pieces — he is not just talking about Christians who are torn apart by human persecutors, he is also talking about Christians who are torn apart by these four demonic horsemen. And that means all of us. 

Because, look — the first horseman may not get us: we might not die in a war. The second horseman may not get us: we might not be murdered by a neighbor. The third horseman may not get us: we might not starve to death. But the fourth horseman will: because, in the end, Death comes for us all. Whether we die of the disease called Covid-19, or whether we die of the disease called Old Age, actually makes no difference: right up until the moment we take our last breath, these four horsemen are committed to trying to tear us apart from our faith in Christ. 

And this is, of course, where we ask: why? Why does the Lamb — who is clearly in control here! — allow these four horsemen to torment us along with everyone else? Why does the Lamb allow Death to continue? 

This is where we have to go back and remember that, from the beginning, these four dreadful judgements were actually permitted to operate for our benefit, as purifying reminders to us of the bitter fruit of sin. Sometimes the Lamb allows these horsemen to gain limited power over us for a time because of our own foolishness and unrepentance; sometimes we suffer because of the foolishness and unrepentance of the nations we live among — but either way, for us, as God’s children, these disasters are actually what keep us awake to the horrible consequences of sin; the presence of Death in this world is actually what keeps us alive to the horrors of what it means to live in slavery under the demonic princes that stalk this earth pretending to be gods. 

And so, the truth is, these four dreadful judgements serve us as constant reminders of our powerlessness, our inability to save ourselves from ourselves or from these terrible cosmic forces that hate us. But this is a good thing! because it is only those who know themselves to be powerless who cry out God for salvation. 

And as we have seen here, with the opening of the sixth seal, God never fails to answer that cry for help. 

So that is going to be our application for today. This is what we are going to do: we are going to lift up our voices alongside our brothers and sisters who have already gone ahead of us into our Father’s presence. Our souls are not yet under the altar, we are still here waiting to be slain by one of these four demonic horsemen, but because of Jesus’ blood we are able to start even now, calling out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord? How long? 

The really Good News is that we already have an answer: “Just a little longer.” 

We only have to wait a little bit longer, until the full number of our brothers and sisters have been gathered in, and poured out in sacrifice before the throne. 

And this is important. The reason we wait, the reason we continue to suffer, is so that these four dreadful judgements can fulfill all of God’s purposes. Because — remember — these judgements are not just designed to purify God’s people, they are also designed to drive people from other nations to desperation, to a sense of their own powerlessness, so that they too might repent and cry out to the Lamb for salvation and be joined to God’s nation, just as Zechariah saw in his visions. 

These four dreadful judgements are also designed to harden those who refuse to repent. That way, when the Lamb finally breaks open the sixth seal and it becomes obvious that the final Judgement is upon them…even then they will still refuse to repent! Oh, don’t worry: in their terror they will call out for salvation! — but they will not call out to the Lamb for salvation from the disintegrating earth, they will call out to the disintegrating earth for salvation from the Lamb…which is not going to work. 

But here’s a closing question: where are we going to be when that terrible Day dawns? How are we going to respond? 

We will find out next week. 

Scroll to top