End Game: Part 6 Cont., Is the CoronaVirus Pandemic the Fulfillment of Revelation Prophecies? – Revelation 6

“When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’ When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. 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” (Revelation 6:5-8, NIV).

Right in the middle of a devotional series on the Book of Revelation that I have been posting the last several weeks, the world has suddenly been struck with a worldwide pandemic–the Coronavirus and a significant downturn in the global economy.

It almost seems providential that I just posted a devotional on the opening of the seven seals, which reveals a series of worldwide calamities that will take place at the beginning of the end of the world as we know it!

The third seal in Revelation 6 unleashes a rider on a black horse causing economic collapse across the world possibly due to drought and food shortages. During the opening of the fourth seal power is given to the rider of a pale horse over a fourth of the world to kill people by sword, famine and plague!

These prophecies seem to beg the question, “Is the CoronaVirus pandemic the fulfillment of end-time prophecies described in Revelation 6?

I don’t believe that the Coronavirus pandemic is the fulfillment of the opening of any seals described in Revelation. But, I do believe that the opening of the seals described in Revelation 6-8 has certain similarities to what we are now experiencing with the pandemic and maybe there are some biblical lessons to learn about how we should react to this global crisis.

First, we see with the Coronavirus that a pandemic doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The Coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a health crisis, it’s a health and economic crisis at the same time. A large number of people getting sick and spreading the illness to others also causes significant economic instability–food and supply shortages, price gouging, unemployment, bankruptcy.

It’s the same with the calamities we read about in the opening of the seven seals in Revelation 6-8. These Revelation calamities probably don’t happen in isolation from one another (although we sometimes read it that way). These global catastrophes are inclusive, interrelated. Famine and disease and war cause economic distress and vice versa.

Second, the Coronavirus pandemic demonstrates what happens when we lose control (or reaffirms that we are not in control). Human beings like to think that they are masters of the universe. Then, a global catastrophe like the Coronavirus pandemic comes along and reminds us how very much not in control we are.

That was the outcome for the world leaders, the rich, the powerful and every other person on Earth who thought they were masters of the universe when the calamities of Revelation 6 begin: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Revelation 6:15-17, NIV).

Finally, calamity, catastrophe, adversity, tragedy serve to turn the hard of heart to faith in God and strengthen the faith of the already faithful. In other words, times of tribulation can ultimately build hope out of hopelessness when we realize that only God is truly in control of our individual and collective destiny.

So, if you’re feeling a lack of control, then trust in the One who is in control. Let this current tribulation persuade you to trust and follow Jesus.

And, if you are already a follower of Jesus, then let this current tribulation become a faith-building experience because you already know that God is in control.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)

End Game: Part 6, The Beginning of the End – Revelation 6

“Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Revelation 6:15-17, NIV).

At this point in the Revelation story, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, is about to open or unseal a seven-sealed scroll, which is purported to be the title deed to the world. The seven seals are part of a series of end-times judgments from God.

The opening of the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation Chapter 6 is the beginning of the end of the world as we know it!

As each seal is opened, the scroll is unrolled a little more, revealing the series of judgments God has in store.  It’s likely that each of the calamities described with the opening of each seal leads to the next calamity.  Political corruption leads to war, which leads to economic collapse, which leads to pandemics and famine, which leads to the death of many, many people on the earth.

The opening of the first four of the seven seals release what is known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, because the judgments appear symbolically as a horse and rider bringing devastation in their wake.

The first seal introduces the antichrist onto the scene as a rider of a white horse. He comes under the pretense of bringing peace to the world. He is given a crown indicating he will exercise great authority. But, the bow he holds reveals his intent on conquest.

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End Game: Part 5, The Worthy One – Revelation 5

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals, and I saw a might angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’(Revelation 5:1-2, NIV).

In Revelation Chapters 4 and 5 John received a sneak-peek into the heavenly throne room of God prior to viewing the apocalyptic events he will describe in Chapters 6-20.

Chapter 4 established that redemption is the grand master plan of God for the universe. Chapter 5 revealed the Worthy Redeemer, the One who consummates the redemption master plan.

Chapter 4 declared the worthiness of God for conceiving the great redemption plan. Chapter 5 proclaimed the worthiness of the Redeemer for accomplishing the great redemption plan!

After seeing God sitting on a throne continuously worshiped by twenty-four elders and four living creatures who surrounded the throne, John noticed that God was holding a scroll sealed with seven seals and with writing on both sides (inside and outside).

The symbolism here is fairly straightforward. The double-sided scroll represents the title deed to the inhabited world with the legal, signed title written and sealed on the inside and the abstract or description of the document written on the outside.

The seven seals signify the absolute inviolability of the scroll. Only the ones who had their seals engraved on a document were allowed to open it. And, the seals had to be broken before the contents of the scroll could be revealed.

The seven-sealed scroll establishes God’s intention to reclaim the world as the final act in his redemptive purpose. And, it becomes apparent that God’s redemptive efforts will include not only the final redemption of His people but also the judgment and overthrow of evil, specifically, the Devil or Satan, who has been in control of the world since the Fall in Genesis 3.

If we stand by this interpretation that the seven-sealed scroll represents the title deed to the world, then the opening of the seven seals represents precursors to the end of the world. God intends to reclaim a world which has been infiltrated by evil and the final stage of this reclamation will come with the climactic events described in Revelation 6-20.

Because it was a double-sided scroll with its description on the outside, John likely understood what the scroll contained. He was, therefore, deeply saddened as it seemed to him that no one had the supreme qualifications to execute it (vs. 3-4).

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End Game: Part 4, Casting Crowns – Revelation 4

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this(Revelation 4:1, NIV).

Meta tauta is Greek for “After this” and is repeated twice in Revelation 4:1.

If the letters to the seven churches in Chapters 2-3 are indicative of the the Church Age, then meta tauta possibly refers to what occurs after the Church Age. The first meta tauta  seems to mean “after having seen the previous visions” while the second meta tauta seems to mean “after the fulfillment of the previous visions.” Some interpret “Come up here” and this second meta tauta to refer to the rapture of the Church.

But, it is important not to force the book of Revelation into a literal, historical interpretive grid by overlaying the events of our day into the details of this ancient apocalyptic book. Revelation is not meant to be a primer on how and when the Apocalypse will occur but is  better interpreted through the framework of the redemptive plan of God at work in human events.

What John sees in Chapters 4 and 5 provides a context for the apocalyptic events of Chapters 6-20. John received a sneak-peek into the celestial control room. The door into the heavenly sanctuary and the throne room of God was left open for John to peer in. What John saw in the heavenly sanctuary was akin to what some of his prophetic predecessors experienced and observed (see, Isaiah 6:1-5 and Ezekiel 1).

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End Game: Part 3, Church Counsel – Revelation 2-3

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:19-20, NIV).

In Revelation 1:4 John identifies who he is writing his Revelation to–the seven (primary) churches in the province of Asia (often called Asia Minor).  Today,  this region comprises much of modern Turkey.

What’s significant about this region is that it would be key to the expansion of Christianity in the Roman empire.

Again, in Revelation 1:11 John identifies his target audience and this time names the the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

After identifying Jesus as/with Daniel’s “Ancient of Days” in Chapter 1 John is then commanded to write down “what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Some interpret this command to mean: (1) what has taken place in the historical past; (2) what is taking place in the present; and (3) what will take place in the future.

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End Game: Part 2, The New Ancient of Days – Revelation 1:9-20

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ but dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:12-16, NIV).

The Christians of the first century knew (or knew of) Jesus as a 30-year old man who was unjustly executed by the Roman government with the complicity of the Jewish religious leadership. Perhaps it was quite out of the ordinary for John and other first-century Christians to imagine Jesus, whom they had known as a compassionate human being, as the God of the Old Testament wielding divine judgment over His Creation.

The language describing the Son of Man figure in John’s vision in the first chapter of Revelation is suggestive of the Ancient of Days figure in one of Daniel’s visions described in Daniel 7, who confers divine authority, power and glory upon “one like a son of man” (Daniel 7:13). Daniel’s vision is considered to be a messianic prophecy in which the “Ancient of Days” represents God the Father and the “one like a Son of Man” represents God the Son, the Messiah Jesus Christ.

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End Game: Part 1, Righting What’s Wrong – Revelation 1:1-8

“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Revelation 1:3, NIV).

The book of Revelation is perhaps the one book in the New Testament that I’ve read and studied the least. That’s probably because it’s the one I least understand.

There’s so much imagery and symbolism that I don’t get. There’s so many interpretations and I don’t know who and what to believe.

Have its prophecies been fulfilled or are they yet to be fulfilled? Will Christians be raptured before the Second Coming of Christ? Is the millennial reign of Christ on Earth literal or symbolic?

These are some of the questions I carry into my reading of Revelation because I have relied on the interpretations of others I consider more knowledgeable than myself to help me understand its prophetic discourse.

But, the book of Revelation shouldn’t be neglected or ignored in our personal Bible study. It shouldn’t be left to Bible scholars to explain it’s meaning to us.

Revelation has much to offer the diligent and conscientious reader. We know this because it begins by promising a blessing to those who read it. It declares that those who read it and take it to heart (apply it to their faith) will be blessed!

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