Dear Friends,                                                                        

"As long as they [Americans] can have these things [personal peace and affluence], they will give up anything!" (Francis Schaeffer – 1912-1984) Before we begin our study of the tribulation (God's wrath and judgment) let's review what we have studied in Revelation 1-5 to contextualize the most severe judgment that will ever come upon mankind. This teaching is based on what commentators call the futuristic approach from the outline seen in Rev. 1:19: "Write, therefore, what you have seen, (the past – chapter 1) what is now (chapters 2-3) and what will take place later" (chapters 4-22). First of all, God's wrath is only for those who reject His saving grace through His Son's substitutionary death. In Revelation chapters 6-20 we see the age of grace ending and judgment day has come. As horrible as the tribulation is, eternal damnation is far worse and many come to salvation in the tribulation. (Rev. 7:9) In wrath God remembers mercy (Habakkuk 3:2). John has seen the glorified Christ and taken His Word of correction and commendation to the seven churches in Asia Minor which may also represent all churches in the church age up until today. Judgment begins with the people of God (1 Peter 4:17); not punitive judgment but correcting judgment for our eternal good. Then John's vision took us to heaven (Revelation 4-5) and we saw the awesome glory of God the Father (chapter 4) and God the Son (chapter 5). The thunder and lightning around the throne represent the judgment about to take place. Jesus takes the scroll (the title deed of the earth taken from mankind by Satan the usurper) and now begins to break open the seven seals- one by one. Each opened seal releases God's judgment on the earth although He uses the evil of man and Satan as His instruments of judgment. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpet judgments (8:1-6) and the seventh trumpet contains the seven bowl judgments (16:1). Jesus lays out the same sequence of judgments seen here in His Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24.  Though commentators disagree on the timing of the rapture (1 Thess. 4:17) of God's church, my conviction is that we are raptured before the tribulation. The Greek word for church (ekklesia) is not mentioned after chapter 3 until 22:16 and then we're in heaven. Also God's Word says we are not appointed unto wrath. (1 Thess. 5:9) Ultimately the book of Revelation is good news for all who are saved as God puts a permanent end to all evil and restores His kingdom, first on a renewed earth (the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth- Rev. 20) and then creates a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21-22). {In a very real sense Revelation, chapters 21-22 are the new Genesis, but this time there will be no Fall. In broadest terms, the Bible gives the story of God's work in creation, redemption, and re-creation, and it centers on the incarnation of the God-man. (Wilkinson, Bruce; Boa, Kenneth: Talk Thru the Bible. Nashville : T. Nelson.)                                        

"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!" 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." (Rev. 6:1-2) Some commentators say this is Christ. But that does not fit. Why?  Because Christ is opening the seal.  Also it can't be Christ, because this rider has a crown (stephanos) that you win as a prize. Christ wears a diadem for a crown; that's a kingly crown in chapter 19 when we see Him.  Also it can't be Christ because Christ doesn't come at the beginning, He comes at the end.  It can't be Christ, He doesn't carry a bow, He carries a sword.  Some say it's the Antichrist and this fits with what follows.    The word "Antichrist" is not used in the book of Revelation for this satanically inspired man. (See 1 John 2:18) He is called the beast (13:1) and other names. "Anti" not only means "against" but also means "instead of." As Jesus comes on a white horse (Rev. 19) to bring true peace, the beast comes on a white horse to bring a false peace. Note that he holds a bow but has no arrows. This symbolizes how he will take control of the world with no force but through the false promise of unity and peace. He will successfully sign a peace treaty with Israel which he will break after 31/2 years (Dan. 9:27). Some commentators believe this is when the Great Tribulation begins or the last 31/2 years of the seven year tribulation with the intensity of God's judgment increasing.                                                              

The current events we are now seeing and hearing in the news are precursors for a world ruler. Add to this the chaos that will occur when hundreds of thousands of Christians will be raptured all over the world. Even now people are selling their souls and freedoms for personal peace and "provision" from the government and the greater the chaos the easier the sell. Also the apostasy of the church (the "falling away" in 2 Thess. 2:3, another sign of the end times) is leading to a one world religion as nominal Christians compromise the essential doctrines of the faith for the sake of unity and peace with other religions (i.e., there are many ways to God versus Jesus alone; John 14:6.) This one-world false religion is seen as the whore or great harlot in Revelation 17 and other places and serves the purpose of the beast (Antichrist) to turn people to worship and submit to him.  Michael O'Brien warns that the globalization we are currently experiencing has the unprecedented potential for bringing about a one-world government, with the subsequent dangers to individual and national freedoms. [For comments on The New World Order see:].                                                          

But note the brevity of the promised peace: "When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power (from God) to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword." (Rev. 6:3) We will study this and the other tribulation judgments in more depth later.

The false prophets in Jeremiah's day were promising peace to Israel when God's impending judgment was right at the door. "They (false prophets) dress the wound of my people (their sins) as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace." (Jer.6:14) Fallen man wants personal (temporal) peace in the midst of this "present evil age" (life since the Fall; see Gal. 1:4) with no correcting discipline from God, more than they want God's truth about life (in a world of lies) or about themselves (while living in self-deception and sin with no repentance). But, "There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 48:22) We will never have peace on earth and good will toward man until the Prince of peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes again and gives us a true and lasting peace. "Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles, and he has united us by breaking down the wall of hatred that separated us. Christ gave his own body to destroy the Law of Moses with all its rules and commands. He even brought Jews and Gentiles together as though we were only one person, when he united us in peace. On the cross Christ did away with our hatred for each other. He also made peace between us and God by uniting Jews and Gentiles in one body. Christ came and preached peace to you Gentiles, who were far from God, and peace to us Jews, who were near God. And because of Christ, all of us can come to the Father by the same Spirit." (Eph. 2:14-18)  "He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."   And may we pray with John, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22:20)

Questions for Reflection and Application     

Why is it wise to study the book of Revelation that reveals God's wrath?

"As long as they [Americans] can have these things [personal peace and affluence], they will give up anything!" Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-37: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace (a false peace) but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Are you a peace lover or a peacemaker (Matt. 5:9)? Do you prefer a false peace (no conflicts, etc.) with people and thus avoid sharing or receiving God's pure truth about them or yourself?                                                                                                                                               

Until He comes,

Len and Kristen

 [We would appreciate your prayers for God's provision to make up our current deficit of approximately $9,000 in 2010. Thank you.]

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