Day 351: The 7th seal and the 7 trumpets

Amos 7-9Revelation 8

Amos 7 opens with a conversation…Amos is pleading for God to show mercy and withhold judgment from Israel. Amos seems to make headway as God relents twice, but then God shows Amos a third vision which reveals how far Israel has fallen away from the “plumb-line of God’s law.” When Amos sees the depravity of Israel as compared to the holiness of God, he stops pleading. Amos knows that there is nothing that can avert God’s judgment.

“The end has come upon my people Israel;
I will never again pass by them.
The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,”
declares the Lord God.
“So many dead bodies!”
“They are thrown everywhere!”
“Silence!” (Amos 8:2-3)

God’s judgment on Israel through the Assyrian army is a precursor of His judgment to come in the final day. This final judgment is depicted in the opening of the 7th and final seal in Revelation 8.

There is silence before the opening of the final seal and the final judgment of the earth. In this silence, the prayers of all the church, both living and before the throne of God are received by God. And He answers the prayers of the saints…their prayers for relief, for comfort, for justice, for help, for vindication, for salvation with the opening of the final seal when fire from God’s altar is thrown upon the earth in the absolute, final judgment.

John’s vision then moves to watch seven angels herald seven trumpets. The trumpets are essentially a repeating of the same judgment described in the seven seals, but according to P. Gardner, the trumpets describe the judgment from the perspective of the unbeliever. The trumpet is used as a symbol of judgment and the final coming of Christ throughout Scripture, so “this helps us understand this trumpet sound that issues from the seven angels. God is declaring holy war on Satan and those who follow him. He summons people to repentance, and announces the final judgment day and the coming of Christ.” (P. Gardner, Revelation, pg, 127).

The plagues of Egypt form the backdrop for the seven trumpets – further supporting the position that the trumpets are from the perspective of the unbeliever. With the plagues in mind, we must remember that God preserved the Israelites through the plagues. And so he will preserve His church through the tribulations of these last days!

Also important to note is that the devastation brought by the heralding trumpets is limited to “one-third.” God restrains his wrath so that all are given an opportunity to repent!! For… His judgment is revealed in the context of His faithfulness to redeem his people. 

We see this at the end of Amos…after God judges Israel, he promises to preserve a remnant and restore “the booth of David” (Amos 9:11-12). And then God describes a future where His people will enjoy a land that is fruitful beyond imagination (Amos 9:13-15). He describes our future in the New Heaven and the New Earth!!

Disclaimer: I humbly and cautiously offer an interpretation of the book of Revelation based on my Reformed understanding of Scripture, an Amillennialist eschatology, and a heavy reliance on the book,Revelation, The Compassion and Protection of Christ by Dr. Paul Gardner.

Day 350: Temporal vs. Eternal treasures

Amos 4-6Revelation 7

Revelation 6 ended with the question: Who can stand? For the 7th seal represented the final judgment – the Day of the return of Christ. But before the 7th seal is opened, there is an interlude in which John is shown how the saints are protected in the opening of the seals… In essence, Revelation 7 answers the question raised in the previous chapter…

Who can stand under Christ’s judgment? Only those sealed by His grace.

Revelation 7 gives us a glimpse of both the past and future for the believer. John is shown a scene from the past when God seals His servants. This does not remove them from the suffering to be inflicted on the earth – but preserves them as God’s own for the final day. The 144,000 who were sealed is a symbol for completeness. In other words, “everyone who will be saved and who will persevere through the trials and tribulations of this age is protected by God. Not a single one can be harmed spiritually. What amazing comfort this must have been for those suffering already within the seven churches!” (P. Gardner, Revelation, pg 109). And this is a comfort to us who live in the midst of suffering and evil in today’s world.

Once the complete number of God’s servants is sealed by God, the scene switches to show their glorious future…our future before the throne of God!

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).

John goes on to describe our glorious future in Christ!

“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 shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15-17).

When you consider the future that awaits the believer, the stern warnings in Amos toward Israel become more meaningful. For Israel was trading the true God for powerless idols. They were offering the true God their bare minimum while oppressing the poor to become rich. They chose the fleeting treasures of this world over the glory of an eternity spent with God.

Because of God’s love for Israel, he sends trial and strife in order to turn their hearts back to Him (Amos 4:6-11). But they refuse Him. They refuse His grace. They refuse His love, and they are left unprotected from the four winds of judgment who bring calamity upon the earth.

What treasure do you seek? Temporal or eternal? Forsake the idols of this age and return to the True God!!

Disclaimer: I humbly and cautiously offer an interpretation of the book of Revelation based on my Reformed understanding of Scripture, an Amillennialist eschatology, and a heavy reliance on the book,Revelation, The Compassion and Protection of Christ by Dr. Paul Gardner.

Day 349: The Scroll and The Judgment

Amos 1-3Revelation 6

Amos was a contemporary of Hosea and also prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel shortly before their fall to the Assyrians in 722 BC. The first two chapters of Amos record God’s judgment on Israel’s neighbors. Smug and prosperous, Israel was probably unprepared for Amos to turn God’s judgment oracles toward them in Chapter 3. But Israel had forsaken their true love for ritualistic religion and oppressed the poor to secure their wealth. They would be held to a higher standard because they knew God’s law and ignored it.

Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:
“You only have I known
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your iniquities (Amos 3:1-2).

Judgment is the theme of Revelation 6 as well. We watch as Jesus opens the seals of the scroll. As each seal is broken, judgment is released on the earth. Interpretations vary, but none deny that God will judge the earth.

The first four seals reveal four horsemen that hearken back to Zechariah’s vision of the patrolling horsemen (Zech 1:8-17; 6:1-8). “The horsemen are used as God’s instruments to bring judgment on his people’s enemies. The colors stand for the four points of a compass” indicating that the whole earth is affected by the horror these riders inflict (P. Gardner, Revelation, pg 95). It’s as if Satan has a bow and is set to “conquer” which is why Jesus exhorts the churches to “overcome” in Rev. 2-3.

I believe we are living under the effects of the four riders on the earth, presently. For they bring war, famine and disease…BUT, their power is limited by God. Specifically, we read that the horsemen bringing famine and death are restricted in their destruction (6:6, 8). When the fifth seal is opened we see God’s rationale for the judgment rendered by the riders…to avenge the blood of the martyrs. But it is also important to note that Christians are not exempt from the horror that is brought by the horsemen. “The work of these evil forces therefore brings punishment on some but also works to refine the faith and works of those who belong to Christ” (P. Gardner, Revelation, pg 93).

The sixth seal reveals the end is near – that Jesus is on His way to finally judge the earth, and the whole earth cries, “Who can stand?”

The Sovereignty of God is on full display in John’s vision of the seals. The horsemen are agents of Satan – but they are directed and restricted by God! How do we reconcile God’s love with this picture of Him sending horror on the earth?

We must remember that our lives are but a small dot on an eternal line.

The same suffering that embitters the unbeliever toward God refines the Christian in holiness. And God not only sends the bad, He also sends the good! The same blessing that causes the unbeliever to turn away from God in self-sufficiency will cause the believer to fall to his knees in gratitude. Our responses to both suffering and blessing reveal our true allegiance. And in God’s mercy, He delays His return so the sinner can repent and be saved!

Disclaimer: I humbly and cautiously offer an interpretation of the book of Revelation based on my Reformed understanding of Scripture, an Amillennialist eschatology, and a heavy reliance on the book,Revelation, The Compassion and Protection of Christ by Dr. Paul Gardner.