Summary: In the midst of the judgment and chaos, God's hand of grace is extended.
God’s Hand Extended
* We have just read an extended portion of scripture because we needed to keep perspective on the events which are unfolding. The church has been raptured away. The saints & all residents of heaven are in high worship while the residents of earth are experiencing hell on earth. Jesus has opened 6 seals and with each seal things have become progressively worse. Picture the progression.
* Millions are caught away in the rapture so chaos comes to the earth. The first seal is opened and a charismatic leader steps forward on earth to bring a peace. Yes, it is a peace but it is a peace at any cost, a false peace, and a temporary peace. This is the only kind of peace which this leader can offer. When everyone on earth doesn’t buy into his world wide program of peace, in heaven the second seal snaps and the peace is now replaced with war. The same leader who was so ‘peace-minded’ is now turning up the heat on those who are not getting in line with his policies and programs so he unleashes his army (he’s the only one who is left with this kind of power) on the dissidents. This war takes its toll on life & property. On earth, many are dead & the land is wounded, in heaven the 3rd seal is broken, and famine follows. Multitudes go hungry and suffer mal-nutrition. Then the 4th seal comes and almost 3 billion people are dead.
* Earth is more like a ‘planet-graveyard’ a death factory because finally, God’s judgment has come. With the 5th seal, those who have been killed for their faith in Christ are seen in heaven.
* The earth-dwellers are probably thinking ‘how much worse can it get?’ and I will say this to you, “Judgment has just begun!” God is bringing judgment so He can redeem this world. This is still God desire, to redeem. God is not willing that any should perish according to Peter so, in His holiness, He mete out judgment so that redemption can be possible. In our text, we see God’s hand extended. From our extended text, let me walk us through 5 thoughts which points to redemption.
1. A Shaking of the People – Why or how in the world is the 6th seal (an earthquake) God extending His hand of grace. Throughout the previous 5 seals, the attitude on earth is based on pride, arrogance, and human ingenuity. Their hearts are cold, calloused, and calculating. With the sixth seals the Kings, commanders, ‘great’ men, the ‘rich’ men, the free men, and even the slave comes face to face with the truth that God is in control.
* Most of us remember the “Left Behind” series of novels, written by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Johnston. While those we terrible theology, they were phenomenal reading that made people aware of the end times in Biblical terms. Thinking about the earthquake from the 6th seal, Tim Lahaye tells the story that several years ago he was ask to address the Lion’s Club in San Diego. As he, a preacher, stood to speak everyone kind of had a ‘ho-hum’ attitude. A few minutes later they had a small earthquake where the ground shook, the chandeliers swung to and fro, and the lights flickered. Tim said, “Now I had their undivided attention.” When we get ‘shaken’ things change.
* Think of the aftermath of 9/11. For 3 weeks, so say the experts, people were paying attention because they had been shaken to their very core.
* Can you imagine what a planet wide shaking would do? I would to God that He would shake us today. It is only when we are shaken, when we’re reminded of our frailty and mortality that our pride is reduced to humility. But read verse 15-16 & see their wrong response. God is giving them an opportunity to return.
* Many scholars agree that Chapter 7 is a parenthesis in the action. It’s kind of like a deep breath between the 6th and 7th seal but it holds much significance for us. Let these truths speak to your heart.
2. A Sealing of the People – Verse 3 says, ‘Don’t harm anything until God’s people are sealed on their foreheads.’ Some are saying, “Didn’t the church get raptured?” The answer is yes. One thing which passes by most 21st century Americans is this: God still has a place in His heart and plans for the Jewish people. They were His people throughout the Old Testament and they are still His people today. Before God allows any more devastation on Earth, He places His angels at 4 strategic positions on Earth (I.E. North, South, East, and West) with the assignment of holding back any further ‘winds’ (or happenings) until His people are sealed. For now, the word is ‘Hold off because the time is not right.’ This stay of judgment is temporary and only lasts until God’s protection is in place.