The Revelation of John contains a rehearsal of the vision John received of the future, our future. One of the quandaries I always find myself in when I read these revelations is when to consider them as figurative or symbolic and when to assume they are literal. This is especially true for me as I read of the seven seals. Much has been written, of which I have read only a small part, but I have had times in my life when an image or an event causes my mind to bring up a scripture. This happened again recently with respect to the plagues discussed in Revelations, chapter 8 and 9.
For many years, I have blindly assumed that the seals represented in Revelations were linear representations of periods of time, roughly 1000 years each. This idea has shifted somewhat as I read the descriptions of the sixth and seventh seals.
This is mainly driven by a consideration of the 144,000 described in Revelations, chapter 7, where twelve thousand are selected from each tribe and are ‘sealed the servants of God in their foreheads.’ This appears to be one of the main events of the sixth seal. Yet, later during the seventh seal, we find that the angels of destruction associated with the fifth trumpet are not to hurt those who were sealed:
“And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”
I would suggest that those with the ‘seal in their foreheads’ are the same talked about the discussion of the sixth seal. Unless the 144,000 were not mortal, which I would also include as a possibility, they are among us during both the sixth and seventh seal.
If there is overlap between the times sixth and seventh seal, we could see events associated with the plagues of the seventh seal transpiring at the same time as other events.
With that background, I would like to discuss the events of the seventh seal as described in Revelations, chapter 7.
“1 AND when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Could the silence in heaven pertain to a period when there is no revelation? There has been decades now when there has been no meaningful revelation given to the church. Has the seventh seal been open for some time?
It is also interesting to note that a great earthquake is found at the beginning of both the sixth and seventh seals. Are the earthquakes we have experienced in the last few decades considered ‘great?’
The seven angels with seven trumpets represent the plagues that will visit the earth:
“7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Recently, as I was driving through the mountains of Colorado, I was amazed at the expanded devastation of the pine forests. Many trees have been killed by this infestation as is seen in this picture from Wikipedia.
Could this represent the first plague where a third part of the trees are ‘burnt up?’ Or could this killing be a precursor to a monster forest fire that would devastate a significant portion of this infested area?
“8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”
I have often heard the potential of the sea turning to blood as being a result of an algae outbreak, the red tide. But as I watch the events transpire in the Gulf of Mexico, I had this scripture come to my feeble mind as I saw the great plumes of brownish red oil spread out across the sea. This photo is from the National Geographic website.
If you consider Strong’s treatment of the Greek word for blood, ‘haima,’ you can find its extended meaning to include death, killing, and sacrifice. This ongoing devastation in the Gulf has unleashed a massive tide of red death that is taking a toll on the sea animals as well as those who make their living on the waters of the area.
As this disaster began, we were confronted with images of the burning deep water rig as captured in this photo from MSNBC.
“as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea.”
The tremendous fire that resulted from the blowout of this drilling rig caused the platform to sink into the sea and unleashed millions of gallons of oily red death upon the area. Is this in fulfillment of the second trumpet of the last or seventh seal?
What think ye?