THINGS TO COME – The Wrath of the Lamb
• Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1 (NIV)
John 6 begins with the praise that filled all of heaven being given to the Lamb and to the One who sits upon the throne. Amidst the sound of praise the Lamb has taken the scroll from the right hand of the Father and throughout chapter 6 begins to open the scroll. Chapter 8 then brings the opening of the seventh and final seal. Suddenly there is silence in heaven for about half an hour. The ovations of praise and worship come to a sudden stop as all of heaven waits in anticipation for what is to come. The silence of expectation filled heaven. All creation in heaven and in earth stood at attention for what was about to happen. The judgment of the Lamb has reached it’s apex; the climax of the Lambs wrath will usher in His swift return as King of kings and Lord of Lords. The Prince of Peace will reign once again over His creation and all things will be made new.
Things to come are not made known to give us a timeline of future events. Things to come are made known to reveal Jesus to us.
I. The Lamb pours out His wrath and executes His judgment.
• Revelation 6:1 (NIV)
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!"
1. The great tribulation.
a) John chapter 6 begins with a time to come called the great tribulation. This is a seven year period in which the judgment of God is unleashed against the sinfulness of men who have hardened their hearts and refused to acknowledge God.
b) During this tribulation period Satan is given authority to rule the earth through the person known as the Antichrist. As we will see, what may appear to be a victory for Satan is actually permitted by God and is used to pour out the fullness of his wrath against sin. Sin is unleashed in its fullness, but the Lamb of God who paid the penalty for sin but has been rejected by those still living on the earth is swift with His judgment.
c) The events described in Revelation 6 and continuing through chapter 19 all take place during this 7 year tribulation period.
2. The first four seals—the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
• The first seal – Revelation 6:1-2 (NIV)
 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.
a) Who is this rider on the white horse? Some have suggested it is Jesus as He later seen riding a white horse, but that is where the similarity stops.
• Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV)
 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
King of kings and Lord of lords.
b) It seems to me the only similarity is that both ride a white horse! Those that follow the rider in chapter 6 are not the armies of heaven riding on white horses. The other three riders resemble demons from hell bent upon destruction; not the kind of company I picture Jesus riding with. Daniel 9:26 says “The prince shall come” that is the Antichrist or the counterfeit Christ. Instead of Jesus riding in victory, it is Satan’s false Christ that comes upon the scene to ride in supposed triumph upon the earth.
I believe this is more likely that the identity of this rider. This rider comes with a bow but has no arrows which would seem to show not a complete victory, but one that is only temporary. This agrees with Revelation 13:4 and 13:7 that tells us no one could make war against the beast who even makes war against the saints and overcomes them!
I’m convinced that the great tribulation begins with the rise of the Antichrist taking power and authority over the world. But don’t miss what this future event tells us about the Lamb! It is Jesus who breaks the seal and gives authority to the rider on the white horse; it is Jesus who gave Satan a temporary crown to rule, but Jesus will return with many crowns to rule forever! God controls these future events, nothing will happen without his permission. And remember John has already seen the church worshiping the Lamb in heaven as the 24 elders seated around the throne (see Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:8). You don’t need to fear the rise of the Antichrist if you belong to Jesus!
• The second seal – Revelation 6:3-4 (NIV)
 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 to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.
c) The rider of the fiery red horse seems to be a personification of war carrying a large sword that pictures the death and destruction that come with war. This rider will take peace from the earth and cause men to slaughter and kill one another with terrible acts of violence. With peace taken from the earth it will not be restored until the prince of peace returns bringing a final end to the dominion and rule of the Antichrist and establishes God’s kingdom on earth.
• 2 Thessalonians 2:7 (NLT)
For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.
d) I don’t have time to comment fully on this verse, except to say that I believe that what Paul has predicted has already been partially fulfilled. But just as one who restrained apostasy within the church, so too a day will come when one will be set aside which now restrains the full force of evil on the earth. When that day comes nothing will remain to hold back the evil and sin that fills men’s hearts. Peace will be displaced by strife; love will be taken over by hate. Violence like the world has never known will be rampant upon the earth.
However, don’t overlook the Lamb who opened the second seal! By this act Jesus gave power to the rider of the fiery red horse to bring war upon the earth to accomplish His wrath upon sin!
• The third seal – Revelation 6:5-6 (NIV)
 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.  Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"
e) The rider on the black horse seems to be a personification of famine. Throughout history the aftermath of war has often brought famine and inflation. The destruction of war ravages the land destroying the harvest; such food shortages then result in an increased cost of what little food there is that remains. Who can forget that at the end of WW2 a loaf of bread would cost a wheelbarrow full of money to buy?
The scales carried by this rider may indicate that governments are forced to put limits on what people can buy. The famine that comes with the things to come will be so sever that it is likely to result in even more violence and conflict as “the Haves” are forced to defend themselves against the attack of “the Have-nots.”
But again, it is not the rider of the black horse does not have power within himself to bring famine upon the earth. It was given by the Lamb who opened the third seal pouring out His wrath upon the earth.
• The fourth seal – Revelation 6:7-8 (NIV)
 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!"  I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
f) The fourth seal brought forth a pale horse whose rider seems to personify pestilence and death. Death is pictured as a man riding a horse with hell or Hades following close behind.
Death and hell were given power and authority over those who died at this time. According to Romans 6:23 those who died were receiving their full wages for the sin that filled their lives. As slaves to sin death and hell have rightful authority over them. Death takes the body; hell takes the soul where it burns forever separated from God. (See Romans 3:16-23)
Again where did this authority come from? The Lamb who opened the fourth seal, Jesus gave death and hell authority to kill by sword famine plague and wild beast one fourth of all those living on the earth. Are you getting a picture of the power and authority that is in the hands of Jesus? When these ‘things to come’ come to pass, it is because the Lord Jesus Christ has taken the scroll from the Father, and opened its seals. The wrath of the Lamb will be severe!
3. The fifth seal
• Revelation 6:9-11 (NIV)
 When he 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.  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?"  Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.
a) The fifth seal takes John’s attention away from the events of things to come upon the earth and focuses them again on things in heaven. John now sees souls under the altar of the temple in heaven. These are martyrs who shed their blood for their faith in Jesus. They are under the altar because they in no way contributed to the sacrifice that Jesus made upon the cross as the spotless Lamb of God and whose blood was poured out upon the altar for the forgiveness of our sins. However, these martyrs has shared in the fellowship of His suffering becoming like Him in His death (see Philippians 3:10). Therefore, the blood of these martyrs were poured out as an offering or sacrifice before the Lord (see 2 Timothy 4:6).
b) These martyrs asked the Lord how much longer they must wait until He completed His judgment and avenged their blood. For their encouragement these martyrs under the altar were given white robes to assure them of their righteousness before God.
c) They are told that they must wait a while longer. Even in heaven the saints of God must still pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” Through out the tribulation many will die as martyrs for the cause of Christ. To say, “Jesus is Lord” and reject the authority of the Antichrist will bring a death sentence upon all who make Jesus their Savior.
But you do not need to fear these things to come. Jesus will have taken His bride, the Church, who have kept themselves spotless and waiting for His coming to be with Him in heaven. If you call Jesus Lord today, you will be worshiping Him around the throne when the fifth seal is opened.
4. The sixth seal
• Revelation 6:12-14 (NIV)
 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,  and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.  The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
a) The opening of the sixth seal returned John’s attention to things to come upon the earth in a vision of catastrophic events which bring destruction upon the earth. Stars fell from the heavens; earthquakes shook the earth most probably with sudden volcanic eruptions that darkened the sky covering the earth with an unnatural shadow of gloom and despair.
• Revelation 6:15-17 (NIV)
 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.  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!  For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"
b) The fear that falls upon men during these days is so great that they try to hide themselves from the terror surrounding them. The arrogance and pride that once filled the hearts of men is now gone. Suddenly those living upon the face of the earth recognize that it is God, the ruler of the universe, Who has brought this death and destruction upon them.
With these ‘things to come’ there will be no more atheists! The world joins together in a worldwide prayer meeting, but their prayer is not offered to the God who created them, or to the Lamb who they rejected as Savior. Instead they pray to the rocks and the mountains that they might fall upon them to hide them from the face of the One who sits upon the Throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.
People living in the days of these ‘things to come’ have ignored the warnings given to them to repent and be saved before the day of judgment comes. Who shall be able to stand on that day? NOBODY!
II. The Lamb seals those belonging to Him and protects them from His wrath.
1. Before the opening of the seventh seal chapter 7 records two visions. John begins saying “After these things.” Again “After these things” means a passing of time between the visions accompanying the opening of the first six seals and the seventh which is to come. What does John see?
• Revelation 7:1-4 (NIV)
 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.  Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:  "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."  Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
a) Before the judgment of the Lamb is completed with the opening of the seventh seal, Jesus instructs an angel to go and place a mark upon the foreheads of those who are servants of God. Jesus puts a seal of protection upon those who have received him as their savoir so they would not be harmed by the things that were about to happen.
b) Again this is not a seal placed upon those who presently believe in Christ; they are in heaven worshiping before the Lord. Jesus seals those who come to faith during the great tribulation to protect them. This is reaffirmed by what John saw in his second vision.
2. The great multitude before the throne.
• Revelation 7:9-10 (NIV)
 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
a) The scene again changes from things to come on earth to those things to come in heaven where John sees a multitude from all across the world that no man could number standing before the throne. John sees the fullness of Christ’s church in heaven worshipping the Lord in the glory of heaven.
b) Those in the great multitude were already clothed in white robes of the righteousness of Christ which Jesus promised to the overcomers who were members of His church.
• Revelation 3:5 (NIV)
He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
c) Overcomers, those who hear the voice of the Spirit and turn from their sin in repentance will not have to endure the great tribulation that is to come. They will be with the Lord, kept safe in His presence. Is it any wonder that the song they sing says,
"Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
3. The angels surround the multitude and join in worshipping God.
a) The worship before the throne continues to swell in a great crescendo of praise as angels lift their voices giving honor and glory to God.
• Revelation 7:11-12 (NIV)
 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,  saying:
"Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"
If as Jesus said the angels of heaven rejoice when just one soul is saved, then how great will their rejoicing be when they see all the saints of God gathered together around the throne giving worship to the Lamb! Hallelujah! We shall be there before the throne and our presence before the Lamb will not diminish the praise of the angels who are free from sin and ever live their lives in complete obedience to the will of God, but instead what they see in us who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb will only cause them to increase their praise! (See Luke 15:10)
III. The climax of His wrath leads up to the victorious triumph of the Lamb to reign as King of kings and Lord of lord forever!
1. The seventh seal
• Revelation 8:1 (NIV)
When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
a) All of heaven stand is silence before the throne as the Lamb opens the seventh seal in anticipation of the climax of His judgment upon the earth and the things that are to come for after His judgment the day that all creation is groaning for will finally come. Christ will open the heavens riding on a white horse and return with the armies of heaven following close behind. The Prince of Peace will put an end to all war and establish His kingdom where He shall forever reign as King of kings and Lord of lords!
b) Again the things to come are not shown to us so we have a timeline of events that will happen in the future. Things to come reveal Jesus as the one who reigns with all authority to execute His judgment and put an end to the dominion of Satan.
2. The seven trumpets and the seven bowls.
a) Some people see what happens in Revelation 6-19 as a timeline. We are accustomed to thinking in linear time; first this and then this and so on. What they see is a progression of judgment: the seven seals, followed by the seven trumpets, followed by the seven thunders (which remains a complete mystery because John was forbidden to write it down), and then finally the wrath of the Lamb comes to an end with the seven bowls.
b) I tend to think of John’s revelation of things to come, like watching events swirl within a tornado and then dropping them wherever they may fall. It leaves a mess, but if you work hard you can put it back together and begin to see how the pieces all fit in one eternal story of God’s redemption and love for you and me.
I believe that the seventh trumpet contains the judgments of the trumpets and bowls. In other words just before Christ returns to establish His eternal Kingdom there is an escalation in the severity of His judgment that happens quickly.
The linear timeline would look something like this:
seven years of tribulation
7 seals –> 7 trumpets –> 7 bowls –> Second Coming
The view from the swirling tornado would see the events occur something like this:
seven years of tribulation
1st seal > 2nd seal > 3rd seal > 4th seal > 5th seal > 6th seal > 7th seal
7 trumpets > Second
7 bowls Coming
c) I don’t believe that the wrath of the Lamb will rise and fall, that a time of suffering will rise and then a time of calm, followed again by another judgment and then peace, and so on. Instead I see the visions of the first six seals as a revelation to John of what was about to happen—not that the things themselves took place at the moment the seal was opened. This is because all attention in heaven is focused around the throne as the 4 living creatures, the 24 elders, the multitude beyond number, and even the angels join together to worship the One who sits upon the throne and to worship the Lamb. This great ovation and song of praise is not stopped until the Lamb opens the seventh seal which contains the trumpets and the bowls.
It is at that time when the seventh seal is opened that the attention of heaven turns to the events that will happen upon the earth as the Lamb pours out His swift judgment upon the earth that will usher in His second coming. In other words the seals introduce what is about to happen and then those things take place with the trumpets and bowls as the events described in the trumpets and bowls are the same acts of wrath upon sin as described through the seals.
3. Here then is the final word: JESUS IS COMING SOON!
a) I believe that the events we see happening in our world today point to the reality that the Lamb is about to take the scroll from the hand of the Father in heaven. The wrath of the Lamb is about to begin.
b) Therefore TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION. The safest place you can be is to be embraced by the Lamb and receive Jesus as your personal savior and Lord. Do not delay because the time is short.
• 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (NIV)
 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.