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Summary: The American church has been mostly exempt from persecution for more than 200 years. Could it be that we too have become lazy along the way? The fifth seal talks about those who have died for the Lord rather than live for the world. If you were given th

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Revelation 6:9-11; 12:10-17

Purpose: To describe how and why martyrs die.

Aim: I want the listener to accept persecution as a privilege.

INTRODUCTION: The early church suffered much persecution. But from the death of Severus in 211 until the reign of Decius in 240, about 30 years, the church enjoyed peace and the freedom to worship. Two prominent pastors during this time wrote about what the church was like.

Cyprian who was born in 200 was a pastor in North Africa. In 257 he was arrested for being a Christian and was put to death for refusing to deny that Christ was his savior. When this persecution first began Cyprian wrote, "It must be owned and confessed that the outrageous and heavy calamity which bath almost devoured the flock and continues to devour it to this day, bath happened to us because of our sins... Our principle study is to get money and estates; we follow after pride; we are at leisure for nothing but emulation [the desire to get ahead) and quarreling and have neglected the simplicity of faith. We have renounced the world in words only, and not in deed. Everyone studies to please himself and to displease others." Eusebius, another early pastor who lived during the same time, wrote, "Through too much liberty they grew negligent and slothful, envying and reproaching one another; waging, as it were, civil wars among themselves, bishops quarrelling with bishops, and people divided into parties. Hypocrisy and deceit were grown to the highest pitch of wickedness.... The bishops themselves had thrown off all concern about religion; were perpetually contending with one another; and did nothing but quarrel with, and threaten, and envy, and hate one another; they were full of ambition and tyrannically used power."[Quoted from "Christianity Yesterday" Vol. 2 No. 5 Sept-Oct 1995 p.151]

The American church has been mostly exempt from persecution for more than 200 years. Could it be that we too have become lazy along the way?

The fifth seal talks about those who have died for the Lord rather than live for the world. If you were given that choice, which would you choose?

REVIEW:

1:1-20 I. John’s Vision of the Past "the things which you have seen"

2:1-5:14 II. Christ’s Vision of the Present "the things which are"

2:1-3:22 A. The testimony of the church on earth

4:1-5:14 B. The throne of God in heaven

Ch.6-22 III. John’s Vision of the Future "things which will take places"

6-7; 12-14 A. Satan’s war against God’s creation

1. The first seal

6:1-2 a. Heaven’s view: a white horse "a bow and a crown"

12:1-2,6a b. Earth’s view: Israel deceived "the woman fled"

2. The second seal

6:3-4 a. Heaven’s view: a red horse "slay one another"

12:3-4a b. Earth’s view: a red dragon "third of the stars"

3. The third seal

6:5-6 a. Heaven’s view: a black horse- world famine

12:4b-6 b. Earth’s view: a dragon-Israel’s oppression

4. The fourth seal:

6:7-8 a. Heaven’s view: a pale horse-a bloodbath 12:7-9 b. Earth’s view: a dragon-Satan’s demotion

LESSON:

➽5. The fifth sea

In the first four seals we saw four horses called forth by the four living creatures in heaven. They show us Satan’s attempts to rule this earth. It began with a promise of peace and it ended in a blood bath.

As we look at the last three seals, we now see God personally intervening in the affairs of the world. I believe that the first six seals are the Great Tribulation that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24:21-22 21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (NAU)

Jesus went on the describe what follows the Great Tribulation and this has been called the Wrath of God: Matthew 24:29-31 29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet [the seven trumpets that begin in Revelation chapter 8] and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (NAU)

In the first four seals, God lets Satan dig his own grave. In the last three seals God comes and finishes Satan off. Just as God created this world in stages, He will also purify this world in stages.

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