After taking the scroll from God and being worshipped by all creation the Lamb now opens the seven seals to reveal its contents. The seals as with the trumpets are in a group of four, two and one. The opening of the first four seals is introduced by each of the four living creatures in turn. Each one of the four living creatures reveals a horseman, the first three are summed up by the fourth horsemen, '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'. These are popularly known as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The power of these horsemen is limited to a quarter, with the trumpets later it is limited to a third. The fifth seal reveals those who had been slain because of the word of God and their testimony, that is the persecuted church. The sixth seal reveals the day of the Lord, which brings the Lamb's wrath to those on the earth. The opening of the seventh seal reveals silence. The seven seals sum up human history from the viewpoint of heaven and the church. There is war, famine and pestilence in general and on the church in particular there is persecution, then the end will come bringing terror to the world, this probably accounts for the silence of the seventh seal. What is described by the seals is similar to the signs of the end of the age as described by Jesus in Matthew 24. There will be wars, famines and earthquakes (Mat 24:6-8), persecution (24:9-14), the heavenly bodies are shaken (Mat 24:29) and 'at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn' (Mat 24:30). After the opening of the seven seals the scroll can be read and we find more detail, but this starts in chapter 8. The seven seals describe tribulation that is largely man made (wars, famine and persecution) but under the control of God, the seven trumpets are disasters sent by God with the aim of persuading man to repent, the seven bowls... [continues]
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