John sees the Ancient of Days seated on His throne with a heavenly court of elders and angels around Him. In His right hand He holds a book which is tightly shutheld in place by seven seals. Then a search is conducted to find a person who is qualified to take the book, break open its seals and release the prophecies it contains. Only Jesus who meets the requirements of the ancient prophecies and died on the cross is able to take the book and open it. And when He does the events it describes concerning the last days begin to take place. As each seal is broken the spiritual forces prophesied by Daniel (Dn 7:13-27; 9:27; 12:7-13) are released. The divine hand that held them back for so many centuries is removed and the earth enters its final years of evil human government.
As each seal is opened God releases deeper dimensions of the antichrists empire. Like a progression of photographs, snapshots of these tragic events unfold. But thankfully when the sixth and seventh seals are opened God begins to actively resist the antichrist.
Today well attempt to identify the sealed book and the event signified by each seal. Then well assemble a partial scenario of the last days with the hope of finding a chronological order. And finally well step back from the intensity of these events in order to ask ourselves, What lessons does God want us to learn from all of this?
A. The sealed book (Dn 12:4, 9, 13; Eze 2:9, 10)
B. The time has arrived (Mt 24:36)
C. Heaven rejoices (Rev 5:8-14) four living creatures, twenty-four elders, myriads of angels.
D. Seven seals:
Antichrist released (Rev 6:1, 2) / fake Christs (Mt 24:5) / little horn (Dn 7:8) / man of lawlessness (2Th 2:5-7).
Antichrist fights to form his kingdom (Rev 6:3, 4) / wars and rumors of wars (Mt 24:6) / fourth beast (Dn 7:7, 19)
Famine resulting from siege and war (Rev 6:5, 6) (Eze 4:16) / famines (Mt 24:7)
Widespread genocide (Rev 6:7, 8) (Eze 14:21)
Violent religious persecution (Rev 6:9-11) / tribulation (Mt 24:9-13), abomination (Mt 24:15-22)/great boasts (Dn 7:8, 20, 25), overpowering the saints (Dn 7:21, 25) / broken covenant (Dn 9:27; 11:36, 37; 12:11).
Massive earthquakes (Rev 6:12-17) / earthquakes (Mt 24:7).
Judgment of God (Rev 8:1-6) / heavens shaken (Mt 24:29)
E. Scenario of events:
Birthpangs: antichrist sets up his empire.
Covenant with many (Dn 9:27): antichrist allows religious freedom for 3 1⁄2 years.
Abomination (Dn 7:8, 20, 25; Mt 24:15; 2Th 2:4): antichrist breaks his promise of religious freedom and declares himself divine (second 3 1⁄2 years begins)
Tribulation: antichrist tries to destroy all who will not worship him (Dn 9:27; Mt 24:9-13, 16-22; 2Th 2:3)
Desolation: God goes to war to protect believers.
1) Trumpets: He mercifully sends partial judgments as a warning to repent.
2) Bowls: when no one repents He pours out His undiluted justice.
F. What lessons does God want us to learn from this grim season of earths history?
We can always remain hopeful even though it may look like the devils winning. Ultimately God will triumph.
We are warned to grow strong in our faith because we may face severe opposition.
We are reminded not to waste the opportunities we have because a night is coming when no one can work (Jn 9:4). A clock is ticking, the days are numbered, opportunities are limited.
It helps us understand why there is such evil in the world.
It warns those who would forfeit their faith to save their lives of the eternal danger they face.
It gives us the perspective that the rewards of heaven are eternal while the rewards of this world will pass away.
1) When you think about last days events do they make you frightened or encouraged? Why?
2) Given the scriptures weve read in this study where do you think we are on the clock of prophetic history?