With the start of Chapter 6 we are moving into the meat of the Book of Revelation. We see the events of Revelation being fulfilled in the news of today. If we pay attention to the news, we can apply the news to God’s Word. This shows me the truth of God’s Word. It shows me that the return of Jesus is close
In chapter 5 John is introduced to the seven-sealed book in the hand of Christ. In chapter 6 the first six seals are opened with the resultant tremendous events occurring in the earth. The interpretation of these events depends upon the understanding of other portions of the prophetic Word. If the events portrayed are taken in any literal sense, it should be clear that they describe an event yet future, in the words of Christ “the things which shall be hereafter” (1:19).
The events here revealed also depend for their interpretation on the question of whether a translation of the church has already taken place. Though the book of Revelation itself does not determine this important question with finality, it is significant that the church so prominent in chapters 2 and 3 is not mentioned again until 22:16 except as the wife of the Lamb at the close of the tribulation. Nowhere in scenes of earth which describe the end time (chaps. 6-19) is the church pictured as involved in the earthly struggle. Further, the hope of the rapture mentioned to the church of Thyatira and the church at Philadelphia does not appear in the detailed prophetic program which unfolds in the book of Revelation. This lends credence to the conclusion that the rapture of the church has occurred before the events pictured beginning with chapter 4.
The unfolding of the seven seals parallels our Lord’s chronology of tribulation events found in His own message in Matthew 24. As we continue our study of the seals, we will look at Matthew 24 in more detail. “But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.” (Matthew 24:8) As terrible as those four judgments are, they are but the preliminary outpouring of God’s final wrath in the last three seals.
The picture before us, in a word, is God’s revelation of the dramatic and terrible judgment which will climax the present age. This constitutes a warning to those who are living carelessly in unbelief to beware lest this age engulf them.