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Sun, Jun 29, 2008

155 - Seal Judgments 4 - 6 [b]

Revelation 6:8-17 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 35 secs

Seal Judgments 4 - 6; Rev. 6:8-17


When we go through the first four seal judgments they related to the category of internal dynamics. One thing leads to another and there is a natural progression these first four seal judgments. But once we move from the fourth seal judgment to the fifth seal judgment we see a supernatural enhancement that occurs and there is a new dynamic at work in these judgments.


The statement in 6:1: "I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder." We have the four living creatures associated with God's throne room (His holiness), and that tells us that what lies behind God's judgment and its outworking in the Tribulation is the righteousness and the justice of God. That is what the Tribulation is all about. God is executing His justice on the evildoers in the world. The four living creatures are associated with the first four judgments which are also indicated by four horsemen.


The fifth judgment relates to martyrdom and the sixth judgment refers to the wrath of the Lamb. This is the first time on the book of Revelation that we see this term "wrath" which is used eleven times in the book. It is a key word indicating that a major theme in the book of Revelation is God executing judgment and resolving the problem of evil in history. The seventh seal judgment, when it is opened, reveals seven more judgments which are the trumpet judgments.


Revelation 6:8 NASB "I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth." This is the first of several passages in Revelation that connect death with Hades. In fact, every time Hades is mentioned in Revelation it is connected with the presence of death. Hades is mentioned in a couple of interesting passages. In Matthew 11:23 NASB "And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day." This is one of those passages which indicate that the Lord and God the Father are omniscient. They not only know what will happen in history but they also know what could have or what might have happened in history.   


Luke 16 is sometimes viewed as a parable. However, the difference between this story and a parable is that the other parables that we have in Scripture do not ever give proper names to the major people in the story. E.g. the prodigal son where names are not given. It was a story to illustrate a point. But in this story in Luke one individual has a name, so he is treated as a natural flesh and blood human being who could be investigated. So we have the story here of Lazarus and the rich man.

Luke 16:19 NASB  "Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. [20] And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, [21] and longing to be fed with the {crumbs} which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. [22] Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried." This tells us that at the time of death our souls are escorted to their destiny by the angels. Today the destiny is a little different from what it was then, as we will see from the story, but for us at the time of death the angels transport our souls to the presence of God. [23] "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom."

So what we see is that Hades has two compartments. One compartment is Paradise (sometimes referred to as Abraham's bosom) and the other is a place of torments, and there is this inviolable gulf that is fixed between the two places so that the people either place cannot move. But they have some knowledge of what is going on in the other location and can see to the other location. The rich man can see that Lazarus is in Abraham's bosom, and he himself is in a place of torments. The Greek word there indicates a place of physical suffering. So even though he does not have the material flesh and blood body that we have now it indicates that there is some sort of interim body between our present body and the body that one receives in resurrection—whether a believer in a resurrection body for eternal life or the unbeliever a type of body that will survive for eternity in the lake of fire—and that these bodies have properties that will feel pain and suffering bit it is not totally destructive.

Luke 16:24 NASB "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.'" Notice the specificity here. This indicates a kind of body. It mentions a finger and a tongue. He is not just talking in figures of speech here, he is extremely thirsty as part of the fact that he is in a place of extreme heat and flame. It is not the lake of fire but it is a precursor to the lake of fire. [25] "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. [26] And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and {that} none may cross over from there to us.' [27] And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house— [28] for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'" That is, let him be resurrected from the dead and they will believe him. What a miracle! We often think that if something miraculous, something dramatic, something profound, if people just saw the resurrected Christ, if people would see someone, like the later Lazarus of John 11, raised from the dead, that they would believe. The most miraculous, the most powerful thing that we can present anyone is not a miracle, not the evidence of someone who was raised from the dead; it is the testimony of the Word of God because that is empowered by God the Holy Spirit. And this is the response that Abraham gives.

Luke 16:29 NASB "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' [30] But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' [31] But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'" What confidence that gives us as believers in evangelism, that we don't have to have all the sophisticated arguments to turn every objection. The power is in the Word of God and in the Spirit of God. And somehow God uses us in all of our frailties and foibles to simply present the truth of God's Word, and because it is God's Word and it is empowered by the Holy Spirit that is the strongest and most powerful evidence and testimony that we can give. Even if it were coupled with miracles and people rising from the dead, and all these other things, that is only secondary, it is not the real power; the real power is in God's Word.

Paradise, we are told, is a place now in heaven where in 2 Corinthians 12:4 we are told Paul ascended. After the cross when Christ descended to Hades he made an announcement to the angels confined there that He had gained the victory over Satan at the cross and that there doom was secured. At that time He ascended to heaven (not the ascension) and took Paradise with Him. Cf. Revelation 2:7. So now all that is left is Torments. This is Hades, the place where unbelievers go when they are absent from the body and are in torments which is like the lake of fire.

Revelation 1:17, 18 NASB "…I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." Those who are there can only be released through the Lord Jesus Christ and He will release them only to judgment. That judgment is described in Revelation 20:13, 14 NASB "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one {of them} according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire."

In Revelation 6:8 mention is made of killing with the sword, with hunger, with death, and then with the wild beasts of the earth. The sword, of course, emphasises violence, the warfare that is going on around the world, and so there will be some who are killed as a result of that warfare. Second, there are those who are killed as a result of the famine that continues to increase. This is a second famine that goes beyond that of the third seal. Others just die from other causes as a result of this Tribulation and the different things that are going on, and these are summarised by simply the term "death." Last but not least is the term "beasts of the earth." Today this is not a very common occurrence, and yet it is a remarkably common occurrence during this particular period of time. When we think about this there is a doctrine of the wild beasts and the environment.

If we go back and look at places like Leviticus 26:6 NASB "I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making {you} tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land." This is in the blessing section of the Mosaic covenant. God promises this peace to Israel. Many of these wild animals are a hindrance to productivity. When we think about a biblical doctrine of the environment we recognise clearly from Scripture that man is placed as the responsible steward over the environment, but he is to use the environment to develop the natural resources so that there is productivity. In the process of productivity this means that the natural habitat of certain wild animals will be destroyed as man tames the land and as man builds cities, and that this is not wrong. This is a biblical doctrine and the concept of preserving natural habitat for certain marauding animals is not biblical. In fact, what the Bible emphasises is that under the blessing of God these animals will disappear and will be removed from the land. It is also interesting that in Deuteronomy 32 where Moses is reminding the people of what will happen under divine judgment when they are disobedient, and he is summarising the judgments of the five cycles of divine discipline.

Deuteronomy 32:21-24 NASB "They [Israel] have made Me jealous with {what} is not God [idolatry]; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with {those who} are not a people [nation]; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation, For a fire is kindled in My anger, And burns to the lowest part of Sheol, And consumes the earth with its yield, And sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap misfortunes on them; I will use My arrows on them.{They will be} wasted by famine, and consumed by plague And bitter destruction; And the teeth of beasts I will send upon them, With the venom of crawling things of the dust."