Thoughts On Revelation (12)
The seven churches in Asia Minor were the first to read John’s apocalyptic letter concerning things that would come to pass in the future. In addition to the message specific to each of those churches, John unfolded to them the glorious visions of heaven that had been given to him. He had seen the throne room of heaven and heard the mighty voice of God inviting him to come and see the things that must take place.
The things which must take place include God’s judgment of the wicked and the completed redemption of believers. As is the character of God, His judgment is tempered with mercy, and a call to repentance. The Lamb, worthy of opening the scroll, breaks the seals of the scroll one by one. With the breaking of the seals comes the beginning of what the Bible calls The Great Tribulation. This time of trouble was described by Jesus with certain clarity. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22)
Beginning in chapter six John describes the judgments as they are carried out with the opening of each seal. First John sees what has come to be known as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These four horsemen represent conquest, war, famine and death. The sixth seal when opened, unleashes cosmic disturbances shaking the earth and the heavens. Meanwhile those martyred for their faith are told to rest and wait for God’s completed plan of redemption.
This time of tribulation is bittersweet, containing bitter judgment and sweet salvation. How then do we respond. Speaking of such, the writer of Hebrews offers this admonition. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Hebrews 12:26)