Robert Jeffress - God's Judgments Unsealed
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In recent years, we've witnessed a number of terrible tragedies around the world. Natural disasters, acts of terror, and a global pandemic. It all reminds us that we live in a perilous world, but while tragic, none of these disasters comes even close to the catastrophes that will befall mankind during the Great Tribulation. My message is titled "God's Judgments Unsealed", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
On November the 10th, 1942, Winston Churchill stood before the house of commons in great Britain to offer just a glimmer of hope. In the midst of World War II, England had so far lost every battle. It looked as though Adolf Hitler might succeed in conquering the entire world, but then the tide began to turn. Britain suffered a victory at the battle of the Egypt, but Winston Churchill stood not only before the house of commons, but the British people via radio to help temper their optimism from being too optimistic. And talking about the victory they had experienced in the battle of Egypt, Churchill said, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning".
I thought about that phrase as I prepared today's message. It describes accurately where we are not only in the Book of Revelation, but in human history right now as well. We are not in the end times literally. This is not the beginning of the end yet, but it is the end of the beginning. We see the lightning flashes signaling that there's a great storm on the horizon. It's the storm of God's final judgment against the earth. And that's where we've come in our study of Revelation six, the beginning of the seven-year period of judgment in which God will pour out his wrath on the earth.
Now you've heard me say many times, I'm convinced that we the church will not be present to experience that storm of God's judgment. When we come to Revelation six, we come now to these first of three judgments during the seven-year period of time. You have the seal judgments in chapter six, the trumpet judgment in chapters eight and nine, and the bowl judgments in chapter 16. This is the seal judgments in Revelation six. Now there was some debate among Bible scholars at what point in the tribulation these occur? Is it the first three and a half years, or is it the final three and a half years? We can't be dogmatic about it. But what is interesting is how these seal judgments we're going to look at for the next few moments correspond to what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 24. We call it the Olivet discourse.
Now that's a fancy name for a teaching that occurred on the Mount of Olives. Remember Jesus and his disciples were on the Mount of Olives where many of us have been overlooking the Kidron Valley and they saw the glistening temple there. And the disciples asked Jesus a question: Lord, what shall be the sign of your coming and the end of the age? Did Jesus say: that's none of your beeswax? Forget it? Did he say: you just concentrate on having a right relationship with me and let God worry about the future? No, Jesus doesn't want us to be ignorant about the end times. And he gives a very detailed explanation of what will lead to his return. He talks about the false Messiahs, wars and rumors of wars, famine, death, martyrdom. And these line up exactly with the seven seal judgments we see in Revelation chapter six.
Now, remember John is watching this. He has been raptured temporarily to heaven where he's able to see what is happening in heaven as well as what is happening on earth. And what he sees, listen to this, is a connection between the commands of heaven and the consequences that occur on earth. Everything that happens, happens according to God's plan. Heaven rules on earth. And that's what we see over and over again. Look at verses one and two. "Then I saw when the lamb..". Remember Jesus, the lamb has that seven-sealed scroll that contains the final judgments against the earth. "And then when I saw the lamb break one of the seven seals, I heard one of the four living creatures". Remember that's one of the angels. "Saying with a loud voice of thunder, 'come'. I looked, and behold, a white horse, and him who sat up on it had a bow: and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer".
A horse was a war machine. And the white horse was especially symbolic. Now we're going to see three other horses: the red horse, the black horse, the pale, the ashen horse. We call this the four horsemen of the apocalypse who bring these judgments against the earth. But the first one is riding a white horse. Who is it that is riding this white horse? He had a bow, he had a crown that was given to him, he went out to conquer. Then many people say, "Well, that's easy. That's Jesus. He's riding the white horse". And they point to Revelation 19 when it says that Christ is coming and we will come with him and he will be riding a white horse. But that's not the case. This is not Jesus Christ. The rider of this white horse I believe is the antichrist. This is the beginning of the seven-year period, the reign of the antichrist. Again, he's wearing the victor's crown. He has a bow without any arrows in it. And he is given this crown, this right to rule, the right to conquer and to go out conquering.
Now, the question is, who gives him that crown that allows him to reign over the world? Who gives him permission to do the terrible things he is going to do? Anybody want to answer that question? There's only one person who has the authority to give such power and ability, and it's God himself. God's the one who gives the antichrist the authority to rule over the earth. That shouldn't surprise us. Romans chapter 13 says, "There is no governing authority that has not been established by God". We always don't understand why, but there is no human authority on this planet that does not exist, but by God's ultimate plan. Daniel chapter two says, "God is the one who establishes kings and who removes kings".
There is no authority that exists that isn't established by God. He has a purpose that he's working out and he will be the one to give the antichrist this final authority over the earth. And notice he will do it without any bloodshed. He assumes power without any bloodshed at all. The bow without the arrows. We understand that after we look at what happens in the rapture, there'll be such chaos in the world after millions of Christians are taken from this planet. The world will beg for somebody to bring order out of chaos. And that's why 1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, "While people are saying, 'peace and safety'! Then destruction will come upon them". He will be the peace candidate, the one who promises to bring peace. That is the beginning of the tribulation. The rise of the antichrist.
The second seal then is broken which represents warfare. Look at verses three and four. "When he broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, 'come'. And another, a red horse went out: and to him who sat upon it, it was granted to take peace from the earth and that men would slay one another: and a great sword was given to him". And my own personal belief is it's all four of these horses are ridden by the same rider. It's the antichrist who is mounting a different horse to bring a different judgment. In this case he is bringing warfare. He's taking peace from the earth. Remember 2 Thessalonians 2 describes the antichrist as the man of lawlessness. Right now he's being restrained by the Holy Spirit of God, but when the spirit is removed he will be unleashed to bring lawlessness into the world. And part of this lawlessness will include murder, civil wars in nations, and ultimately wars between nations. There is not just one war, the Battle of Armageddon. There will be a series of wars.
Jesus said, "Wars and rumors of wars. And with those wars will come great, great destruction". Warfare is inevitable and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Now, I believe we have a responsibility, every leader has a responsibility to bring peace wherever it's possible. War is inevitable. There will be no lasting peace in this world until the Prince of Peace returns. The third seal judgment is famine. Look at verses five and six, "And he broke the third seal. And I heard the third living creature say, 'come'. I looked, and behold, a black horse representing famine. And he who sat upon it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, 'a quart of wheat for a Denarius, and three quarts of barley for a Denarius: and do not damage the oil and the wine'".
And what in the world is that all about? Famine is always the result of war. And with famine comes hyper-inflation and a destruction of the economic system. And that's what you're going to see during the Great Tribulation. You're going to see a great famine and you're going to see sky-high inflation. And interestingly, he says, "Don't damage the oil or wine". See those were luxuries in John's day. And God is saying purposefully, "Go ahead and let luxury items exist alongside the common elements, because there'll always be people who can afford the better things, and that always causes social unrest". And that's why this rider on this horse, the antichrist has scales in his hands. He's going to balance out the economic system through socialism. Ladies and gentlemen, that never works either.
If you want to make sure that only a few have money, go to a socialist structure. It always happens. It even further limits the number of people who have and increases those who have not. And that's what we're going to see in days ahead. The antichrist says, "I will control who buys and who isn't able to buy". And that is going to be a judgment against the earth. We see the corruption of the economy. The fourth seal that is unleashed is death. Look at verses seven and eight. "When the lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, 'come'. And I looked, and behold, an ashen horse". That word ashen, 'chloros' in Greek we get our word chlorine. It sometimes says, "A pale horse". "And him who sat upon it had the name death: and hades was following after him". Apparently this is a picture. This ashen horse of a decomposing body. "Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth". In other words, there is going to be death for over a fourth of the planet's population.
Today there are about seven and a half billion people in the world. One fourth of that would be 1.9 billion people will be killed during the tribulation alone. How will they be killed? Notice the four sources of death. They will be killed with the sword. The sword here, that word sword is not the Greek word 'makhaira', which means a dagger or a precise instrument. It's 'rhomphaia'. It means a broad Roman broadsword that is used to lop off heads. The idea here is that there will be some large instrument of death that will account for millions of deaths. It could be nuclear exchanges between nations perhaps. But that's the kind of warfare that will occur. Whatever it is it's going to be effective in killing millions of people. The fifth seal: martyrdom. Look at verse nine. "And when the lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar". He's looking in heaven, the alter of God. "The souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained".
John says this fifth seal is the martyrdom of millions and millions of Christians who will be persecuted and martyred for their faith. But there will be a multitude of people saved during the tribulation and they will pay a steep price for doing so. It will cost them their lives. And here they are in heaven. The souls of those who have been martyred. And what do they say to God, "God, how long are you going to put up with this on earth? Why don't you judge what is happening on the earth and avenge our blood"? And notice the answer given. "And there was given to each one of them a white robe". That represents the righteousness given by Christ. "And they were told that they should rest for a little while longer until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also". And the final judgment, the sixth seal before the beginning of the trumpet judgments is cosmological disturbances.
Now I want you to stay with me very carefully for these next final minutes. These are the most terrifying judgements today. "I looked when he broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake: and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood". It didn't become blood. It became like blood. What's happening here? Perhaps this earthquake is also a volcano. Much increased volcanic activity that spews the soot into the air. There's so much of it that it causes a solar or a lunar eclipse that appears to change the color of both the sun and the moon. Verse 13, "And the stars of the sky fell to the earth as a fig tree cast its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind". The word stars could literally mean stars, but we know so many of our stars in our solar system are bigger than the earth. If it fell to the earth, it would destroy the earth. This word stars can also refer to meteors, asteroids that start pummelting the earth.
"The stars fell out of the sky to the earth". Verse 14, "The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up". The picture here is the sky is like a long scroll that has been unrolled and stretched across the atmosphere. But something happens to cause the scroll to be split right in the middle, rolling up each side on the left and right. What is it that would cause the sky to seem to split in two and would also cause every mountain and island being moved out of their places? Perhaps this is a reference to some great nuclear exchange between nations. Verse 15, "Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains". Up to this point the tribulation judgments have affected parts of the earth. It has affected mainly the poor, but at this point nobody is exempt. "The kings, the commanders, the rich as well as the slave, the free man, all of them start hiding among the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'fall on us'". In other words, "Kill us and thus hide us".
This is so awful. We want to be hidden. We would be rather dead than face what we're about to face. What is it that caused them to say that? What were they so fearful of that they would rather die than experience it? Are they saying, "Hide us from the earthquakes, hide us from the volcanoes, hide us from the meteors, hide us from these natural elements"? No, that's not what they're afraid of. So they say, "Fall on us rocks and hide us from the presence of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb". When they look up into the sky that has been ripped in two, they see something that no one on earth has ever seen before. They see the lamb sitting on the throne. And when the world sees that they see the Lord Jesus Christ, what is their response? They begin praying to the rocks. They begin praying to the mountains saying, "Hide us, protect us from the presence of the one who is on the throne and the wrath of the lamb. Hide us for who is able to stand and face of the wrath of God".
What is so interesting to me is what he could have said, the unbeliever. When the kings of the earth look up and see the Lamb of God, they could have said, "Save us Lord Jesus. Save us. We confess our sins, we repent, we accept your free gift of salvation". But instead of saying that, their hearts are so hardened, they start praying to the rocks. And they say to the rocks, "destroy us, kill us. We would rather be dead than face the presence and the judgment of God". And that's why they cry out for the day of God's wrath has come. And who is able to stand? Who is able to withstand the certain coming judgment of God? No one. Nobody can survive that judgment except those who have put on the white garment of forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers today. That's why the Bible says, "Today is the day of salvation. Do not harden your hearts". As we'll see over and over again, the message of the Revelation is clear. You can accept Jesus' gracious offer of salvation today or you will face the certain wrath of Jesus someday.