During the end times, seven-year tribulation God will pour out His wrath as judgment for the world's sin and as a final call for humanity to repent and worship Him. In the book of Revelation, John describes the vision God gave him of this future period. The seven seals are the first series of God's judgments during this time, and they are described in Revelation 6:1–17 and 8:1–5.
In his vision John sees an angel searching for someone who is worthy to open a scroll that will commence judgment on the world. John weeps "because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it" (Revelation 5:4). But one of the elders tells John not to weep because "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals" (Revelation 5:5). John looks, "And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders [he] saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain … And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne" (Revelation 5:6–7). John saw Jesus who had died to pay for the sins of the world and is the only one worthy of opening the scroll to judge the world. The four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell down in worship of Jesus (Revelation 5:8–14). Then Jesus broke the first seal revealing the first judgment on the world.
The first four seals are known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Seal 1: "…a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer" (Revelation 6:2). The first seal allows the Antichrist to come into the world. As the white horse and crown symbolize, he promotes peace and is someone with power. However, the bow reveals that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing with the intent of deceiving and conquering the world. The image of the white horse is similar to the one used to describe Jesus' second coming in Revelation 19:11. However, Jesus will come wielding a sword with the intent of bringing justice to the world.
Seal 2: "And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword" (Revelation 6:4). The second seal marks the start of intense war on the earth. This war is worse than any war we have experienced so far.
Seal 3: "…a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand" (Revelation 6:5). The third seal depicts a famine on the earth and people working hard for little profit.
Seal 4: "…a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him" (Revelation 6:8). The fourth seal will allow death to kill a fourth of the world's population through war, famine, and wild animals.
Seal 5: "I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne" (Revelation 6:9). The fifth seal shows all the people martyred for God asking when He will avenge them. He dresses them in white robes and promises to avenge them after the final people are martyred in His name.
Seal 6: "There was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale" (Revelation 6:12–13). The sixth seal causes an intense earthquake that moves both mountains and islands. It also effects the sun, moon, and atmosphere. The people hide in caves from the wrath of God.
Seal 7: "When the lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour" (Revelation 8:1). The seventh seal contains the second series of God's judgments, the seven trumpets. These judgments are even worse than the first set as the end of the world draws nearer.
In the midst of the outpouring of God's wrath, God's desire to bring humanity to salvation is evident. After the sixth seal an angel shows John that 144,000 will be sealed so that they will be protected during the upcoming judgments on the earth. They will preach the good news and bring many people to Christ during the tribulation. The angel confirms this by showing John the many believers from every nation of the world that have come out of the tribulation and are worshipping God in heaven (see Revelation 7).
Unfortunately, many people will not repent and instead curse God for His judgment of the world. Therefore, the opening of the seventh seal will commence the second stage of God's wrath, the seven trumpets.
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