Interregnum [5-22-22]



Chapter seven brings us to a little break from the seven seals. It's an interlude. The first six seals revealed a fury of devastating judgment. The period of wrath to come consists of:

  • False Peace.

  • War.

  • Famine.

  • Pestilence and Death.

  • Vengeance.

  • Fear.

The close of chapter six leads us to an interlude. These six calamities are all by-products of sinful rebellion…or, as R.C. Sproul once called it, "Cosmic Treason." And as they come crashing down on God's creation, we arrive at a break for regrouping, refocusing, and refreshment.


We are reminded here, in chapter seven, about who is in charge. The Lord

Jesus Christ, along with the One who sits on the throne, His Father, God Almighty, are unleashing these powerful judgments on earth. Chapter seven takes a break from these judgments of the ungodly to show us our blessings.


As we move forward, here's something you might want to write down:

THE PEOPLE OF GOD WILL EXPERIENCE TRIBULATION BUT NOT WRATH.

That's going to be important to remember.


Up until the sixth seal, no one cared a whit about God. Aside from believers, everybody else just went about their business. Until the sixth seal. As we saw in 6:12-17, all hell broke loose and finally unbelievers spoke up, calling to the crumbling mountains and falling rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."


And then they ask the question whose answer is given in chapter seven:

"For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"

Finally, when the sixth seal hits, unbelievers can no longer escape the truth. Their question reveals that they know they can no longer escape the wrath that is to come. What a painful realization that must be.


They are, as we euphemistically put it, scared to death. As Jesus said in Luke 21:25-26:

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

The word translated as "fainting" literally means "to breathe out life; to expire." They know the end of them is about to arrive.


Deathbed conversions are interesting things.


The last verse of chapter six, then, transitions us with a very good question. It's not a stupid question at all. We all know stupid questions when we hear them, right? A short while ago, while giving my birth date, I said, 10/17/56. The person asked, "1956?" Further evidence that there are

no stupid questions…just stupid people who ask questions. Anyway, chapter six ends with a very good question. Who can survive the day of wrath?


Here's the quick answer. The ungodly cannot survive. They will not survive.


Over ten years ago, a guy wrote a wildly popular book, "Love Wins." His basic premise was that, ultimately, everyone will be with God in heaven. As one reviewer observed, "The history is inaccurate. The impact on souls is devastating. And the use of Scripture is indefensible. Worst of all, Love Wins demeans the cross and misrepresents God’s character." And we would add, you cannot come to that conclusion after studying The Revelation to John. Forget about dogs…not all people go to heaven.


And so, the cry of the wicked - "For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"


The wicked will not survive. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3:

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to

have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Paul is speaking of unbelievers who cannot stand on the great day of wrath. But as for those who belong to Christ, he says:

But you are not in darkness, brothers and sisters, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.

- 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6


So, to find the answer to the question, "Who can stand?" let's look at Revelation 7:9-17:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”


These verses set a beautiful scene of mercy. In the midst of judgment, there is mercy for those who have not rejected the work of the Lamb of God. Remember what we said was important to remember:

THE PEOPLE OF GOD WILL EXPERIENCE TRIBULATION BUT NOT WRATH.


There is a great multitude that cannot be numbered. These are the saved. While not saved from trial or tribulation, they are saved from wrath. Verse fourteen speaks of those who will pass through the final trials of life, entering the blessedness of eternity. And so they cry out their praises to the Lamb who was slain, because it was the Lamb who won their salvation on the cross. This is the Christ in whom they were called to believe.


And who are they who believe? They are from every nation and tribe. As Paul describes it in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in

Christ Jesus." That is a beautiful promise. This speaks comfort into the life of the gravely ill or the depressed or the discouraged or those who are in mourning or the sin-sick-soul. No matter what you experience or go through in life, when you are in Christ, God knows you belong to Him. God knows He wants to protect you. You can stand because you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. In fact, verse fourteen - “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" - verse fourteen has been called the heavenly victory cry.


Here's something else you might want to write down:

WE HAVE BEEN SAVED FROM SIN AND ALL ITS DIRE CONSEQUENCES.

That's why John is given this glorious heavenly vision. No matter what kinds of trial or tribulation we go through in this life, there will be great joy in heaven. As Jesus foreshadows in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, "Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” What a joyous picture Revelation 7 paints!


Finally, we need to circle back around to verse three - Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on the foreheads. This may bring to mind what's coming up later when the mark of the beast will be addressed. People really do get excitable by that; the whole "666" symbolism and what not.


The meaning here is quite simple. Believers are sealed, or marked with a sign of protection, from wrath. It is not a mark of protection from tribulation. Bad things happen. We all suffer through difficulties and hardships. No one is protected. This sealing means followers of Jesus Christ will be invulnerable to attacks from demonic forces trying to pry them away from God. How good is that? When you are in Christ…that's what being washed in the blood of the Lamb means…when you are in Christ, the wickedness of this world cannot pull you away from God. "Once saved, always saved." You have been sealed in Christ.


Here's one last thing you might want to write down:

WE WILL STAND BEFORE GOD IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST.

What happens next, for those who persist in their rebellion against the grace and mercy of God, will be utter desolation.


Meanwhile, in the interlude, those who are saved are promised heavenly joy beyond measure:

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Claimed by Christ, washed in his blood, marked with the seal of his promised protection from eternal wrath, we will have ultimate satisfaction of our soul's longing for spiritual wholeness.


Let's pray:

HEAVENLY FATHER, THANK YOU THAT THE WORK OF JESUS CHRIST WILL CULMINATE IN A GREAT HEAVENLY REVIVAL. THANK YOU THAT WE HAVE BEEN SEALED IN HIS BLOOD. OUR HEARTS HAVE BEEN OPENED TO YOU. YOU HAVE REDEEMED A PEOPLE FOR YOURSELF. AND SO, WE SING. IN JESUS' NAME WE PRAY. AMEN.














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