July 26, 2023
History is headed inexorably toward a bloody global showdown between the forces of good and evil, Light and Darkness, Christ and the anti-Christ, God and Satan, which the Devil wins decisively, however, only temporarily. Jesus’ followers need to understand this and need to prepare themselves accordingly. Continuing with Chapters 4 through 7 of the Book of Revelation, David and Karen Mains share their insights into this powerful section of God’s written Word: Understand the “Scroll of the Future” with its “Seven Seals” is describing a world to which most of us have become accustomed, except for “Seal Six.”
Revelation can be a bit like trying to explain a dream you had a couple nights ago when things were confusing, and the sequence didn’t come normally. It was mixed up in what was your sister doing talking to President Eisenhower who’s dead. That kind of thing. That’s sometimes what I feel like when I get into Revelation. I’ve been working on it for a long time.
David: We are in the early stages of a study based on the New Testament book of Revelation. So far, Revelation chapters 1, 2, and 3 have not been all that difficult to understand. However…
Karen: However, I sense that all things change with Revelation chapter 4 and I would say the material gets confusing rather quickly. Here’s hoping David that you can help clarify things for us.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife, noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains .
David: I hope I can, too. Revelation can be a bit like trying to explain a dream you had a couple nights ago when things were confusing, and the sequence didn’t come normally. It was mixed up in what was your sister doing talking to President Eisenhower who’s dead. That kind of thing. That’s sometimes what I feel like when I get into Revelation. I’ve been working on it for a long time.
Karen: You have. I think you’ve actually been working on it for years. What we have to say about Revelation doesn’t sound too promising.
David: I’m ready to take a full count. Okay.
Karen: Anyway, in preparation for this visit, you asked me to read Revelation chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7 and I did that. So now let’s see if we can make sense out of this material.
David: Okay. I’d just like to say this is my thinking process anyway. I try to say what is the main thought being shared here and how do I take that through and how do I set aside anything that distracts from that.
Karen: That would be called the through line.
David: That’s what I feel. And there are aspects of these chapters that take us away from the through line.
David: I’ll give an illustration right away and we’ll go to the text. The text begins in Revelation chapter 4 verse 1. This is after the letters to the churches, the seven churches.
David: Immediately after that, we’ve just finished the letter to the church in Laodicea. Chapter 4 verse 1 begins, “After this I looked and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.” Now that’s interesting. “And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said something.” Who was that voice?
Karen: Jesus’ voice, I believe.
David: Yeah, that’s out of chapter 1. “At once I was in the spirit.” Let’s even talk about that. What’s he mean? He’s in the spirit.
Karen: We have a literal mindset and then we have an imaginative mindset and then sometimes we have a spiritual mindset. Thoughts come to us that we know are not of our own devising.
Karen: And they are holy thoughts or they’re thoughts that illuminate our spiritual sense of self. So that’s how I take that, that he’s in a place that’s not literal.
David: It’s almost a spiritual trance.
Karen: I think that’s even better than saying he had a vision. It was like a spiritual trance where things were conveyed to him that were holy, but they used symbols to convey it to this man, this old man on earth, so that vision or trance came to him with a series of symbol.
David: “At once I was in the spirit and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.” And now I’ve immediately come to a sidetrack as far as what I want to communicate this visit, because the whole rest of that chapter four of Revelation is about heaven. And it’s fascinating and I could talk about it, but it would take us away from what’s in this scroll of the future. So, I’m going to jump from verse 2 of chapter 4 to verse 1 of chapter 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.” So this is not like a book and books didn’t come in until like the second century. But this is a scroll and it’s in a shape of a cylinder, nothing on the ends, but across the middle part of that scroll are seven seals or seven wax seals and they need to be opened.
“I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice who’s worthy to break the seals and open the scroll, but no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.” There’s a huge response on the part of John. He said, “I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep, see the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed. He’s able to open the scroll and it’s seven seals’.”
Now who is that?
Karen: That would be Christ.
David: Then he says, “Then I saw a lamb.” So, is that Christ?
Karen: Yeah, I think the various…
David: “It’s a lamb looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, and circled by the four living creatures” and so on. And it begins to go into detail. Eventually even you’ll say that these creatures sing praises to Jesus because you were slain and then you get this huge choir of angels. Ten thousand times ten thousand angels singing praise to the lamb, and we won’t go into that. We’ll go immediately to chapter six verse one because it says, “I watched as the lamb opened the first of the seven seals.” Doesn’t say how he did it. It just bang, he opened. Okay, now I want you to read what happens.
Karen: “Then I heard one of the four living creatures saying a voice like thunder, ‘Come’. I looked and there before me was a white horse. Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.”
David: Okay, so that’s quite a vivid picture that is there, okay? But now that’s just the first of several horses. “When the lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come’. And then another horse came out.” What’s its color this time?
Karen: This is a fiery red one.
David: And that makes sense. “And this rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. And to him was given a large sword.”
Karen: “When the lamb opened the third seal”, this is verse five, “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, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s wages’.”
David: Okay, we stop right there. He’s going to work all day just for a quart of meal. So, this is poverty.
Karen: Famine, whatever.
David: Okay, let’s get one more of these because these are the famous four horsemen of the apocalypse.
David: And so, there’s one more of those. It’s interesting, Karen, there are four horsemen that relate to the first four of the seals that need to be broken on the scroll of the future. And then there are three more seals, but no more horsemen.
Karen: No more horsemen.
David: It doesn’t make sense to me. Let’s get the fourth horsemen.
Karen: “When the lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voices of fourth living creatures say, ‘Come’. I looked and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death and Hades was following close behind him.”
David: Kind of a vivid picture that…
Karen: Oh, my goodness.
David: …and Hades following on behind him.
Karen: We have a heyday drawing.
David: Yeah, you can see the death and this big sickle.
Karen: Oh yeah. “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.”
David: Okay, I’m going to try to simplify this by going to another source.
David: This is George Allen Ladd. He’s the former professor in New Testament Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. Fuller is a name that I understand immediately because it pulls back all kind of memories. The old-fashioned revival hour was a radio program. The speaker on that was Charles Fuller. He was a pastor in the Los Angeles area. He is the one who founded Fuller Seminary, one of the leading evangelical seminaries in terms of the country.
Karen: And I think he was one of the first religious broadcasters too to even go on public airways.
David: Very early on.
Karen: Very early.
David: And his broadcast was huge. I mean, it was all over the country. People waited for it to come on air. In terms of Fuller, the professor there, George Allen Ladd, he writes and says, “In terms of these horsemen, two, three, and four are not in doubt. One, that’s a big question mark”, but he says “It’s pretty much universally agreed that the second is war. That’s the sword and the bloody, the fiery red horse. The third of the horsemen is scarcity. There’s not enough food for people. It’s famine, that kind of thing. The fourth is the form of pestilence or pandemics. It’s the disease all through the world. That’s kind of the thing. The problem is not two, three, and four. The problem is number one. One doesn’t fit with the other. So, what is number one?” And he says, “The key to understanding what number one is, is the color, the white horse.”
Karen: The white horse.
David: And he says, “White in revelation is always a symbol of Christ.” Not that Christ is the rider, we will come to that. It’s Christ or something associated with Christ. And then just to give a little of what he writes, “the exalted Christ has white hair, white as wool. The faithful will receive a white stone with a new name written on it. They’re to wear white garments. The 24 elders are clad in white. The martyrs are given white robes, as is the great numberless throng. The Son of Man is seen on a white cloud. He returns on a white horse accompanied by the armies of heaven who are clad in white and ride white horses.” So white connects always with Christ or matters related to Christ. I don’t think that’s a problem. I would say that the first horseman, it’s not Jesus himself. That would seem odd. But I think it is the proclamation of the kingdom. It’s the message of the gospel going out through the world. And it’s a very vivid picture. Two, three and four, those horsemen, we’ve identified them. And the big thing now is to say, “Okay, why don’t we have more horsemen”? I have no idea why there are no more horsemen. Let’s go to the next seal. Okay?
David: We’re reading from chapter six of Revelation, verse number nine.
Karen: “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who’d been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood’.”
David: “Then each of them was given a white robe and they were told to wait a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was complete.”
Karen: So, these are the martyrs, right? The martyrs of faith.
David: In fact, if people want to read carefully, chapter seven, there are two large groups of martyrs. One is related to Jewish people. I won’t try to explain that at the moment. The next one is the great multitude in white robes that is seen. “After this, I looked in there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne and in front of the lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out with a loud voice; ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb’.”
I’m just giving an amplification of the martyrs here which come in the next chapter. Read, Karen, chapter 7 verse 13.
Karen: Okay. “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes, who are they and where do they come from?’”
David: “I answered, sir, you know, and he said…”
Karen: “…these are they who have come out of the great tribulation.”
David: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.” So far, we’re going through these seals. Okay. Seal one is the gospel going out into the world. Okay. Seal two is there still war, will dominate the story of the world. Seal three is poverty will continue to be a big part of the scene of the world. Seal four, pandemics making life very, very hard. Seal five, those are the martyrs. No more horsemen. Okay. Now there’s six and seven yet to go. And then there’s kind of an odd thing. I’m going to skip six for a second. And I’m going to go to seal number seven. And that’s chapter eight, verse one. “When he opened the seventh seal”, who opened the seals? Jesus. “When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God and to them were given seven trumpets.”
We’ve gone seven seals, then it will be seven trumpets. Those are incredible. And we’ll have to save those until our next visit. But there is the sequence. It’s all kind of funny, Karen, because people say, “You know, why make all this big Hadoo about such that’s common to our history”? I mean, as people alive today, we understand as far as the gospel going out into the world, why didn’t he just say “The scroll of the future, the gospel is going to go out into the world”?
Karen: But it’s imaginative literature. It’s not imaginative literature in that it’s fantastic or not true. But we go to imagination because it illuminates things that we should know literally, but we don’t receive literally. We don’t understand literally. Not only is it imaginative literature, but it’s also prophetic literature. It’s literature that forth tells that says this is what will happen in the near or the distant future. And so, in time, if you use literalness, when you’re writing at a certain time, those things pass and they will have no meaning to future readers. Thousand years down the road or two thousand years down the road. So, you have to go to imaginative literature. And then each generation in its own time interprets that imaginative literature, which is based on truth. It’s based on fact in the best way that they can possibly understand that.
David: That’s so beautifully. That’s exactly what he’s doing here. If it said, “Here’s what the scroll of the future says, the gospel is going to go out into the world, all over the world. It will spread. It will be amazing. The response of people everywhere to this wonderful message. Wars will continue. You know, you’re going to have a problem with few rich people and an awful lot of people who have nothing that kind of try to struggle all through their lives. You’re going to have on top of that pandemic. You’re going to have all kinds of troubles. And then it’s kind of surprising to say the martyrdom will not stop. Well, even as you say this, you read it once and okay, I got that figured out and you go on and you don’t think about it that much.”
But this way it’s forcing you to say, okay, what is common to the world back then as always will be continuing on generation after generation. However, we haven’t talked about seal six yet. We kind of went right past that, but that was on purpose. And all of a sudden there’s something that’s different. But again, what this approach is doing, it’s capturing your fancy so that you’re intrigued by it all. And you’re saying, “Yeah, yeah, I can understand that.”
Karen: Well, I think when it’s captured and you don’t quite understand it, you struggle to ascertain the meaning the way we have been struggling to convey what we have struggled to understand.
When you do, they not just read it literally and say, “Okay, get it.” That becomes part of your own essence. It becomes a part of your own psychological meaning. It becomes a part of your passion when you begin to say, “Oh my goodness, these things have been prophesied.” And then we get to the end time prophecies that are also in Revelation. And then we say to ourselves, “Am I living? Are we living? Could it possibly be that we are living in the end times? Oh, my goodness, look at the signs and we’re seeing them all around us.” Okay.
David: Which is really very interesting because that’s what seal number six is about.
David: I’m going to read it from the scriptures here. “I watched as he opened”, he was he again.
Karen: The lamb…
David: …the lamb, Jesus. “I watched (Jesus} opened the sixth seal and there was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like set cloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to the earth as late figs dropped from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. And the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man 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 stand’.”
So, this is the seal that all of a sudden, we’re talking in a different way. We’re very serious. This is the wrath of God. That’s one of the seals that is going to be there. And it’s going to be defined in many ways in the trumpets that come. We’ll pick up the trumpets with chapter eight as we continue on. And one of the things I will explain is here’s the sequence of topics as we cover them. And they’re relatively clear, but they’re hard to pull out because they kind of run into one another. You have to say, “Where does that topic stop? And where does the new topic begin”?
Anyway, as far as the seals are concerned, let me see if I can put into a sentence what it is we’ve been saying. Ok?
Understand the scroll of the future with its seven seals as describing a world to which most of us have become accustomed to, except for seal six.
Say it again. Understand the scroll of the future with its seven seals as describing a world to which most of us have become accustomed to, except for seal six.
That’s basically the great revelation is the world has gone on for a long time, but it’s not getting better. It’s got problems they can’t solve. Ok.
Karen: And that increases, and it gets worse.
David: Yeah, exactly.
Karen: And then there are things that cannot be controlled or resolved.
David: Well, I think what’s happening is we’re beginning to see the world come to a place where all of a sudden it’s got problems that are bigger than they know how to solve.
Karen: Than a technological society can solve.
David: It’s very scary. We’re hearing people talk about topics I haven’t heard for a long time. We’re talking about the world having to decide whether it’s going to go the route of democracy or autocracy. Democracy says the power is with the people. Autocracy says the power is with this one individual.
The truth of the matter is the direction the world is going is toward autocracy because it’s the ultimate one who has all the power in his hands. It’s going to be the, not the Christ. Yes, the Christ in terms of the final ultimate, but it’s going to be the anti-Christ. He’s going to be the one who says, “I’ll solve your problems for you.” And he solves them as far as he’s concerned, but not as far as most of the people are concerned.
Karen: Okay, so we’re heading into some extraordinary information that we’re learning about or relearning that we’re going to pass on in our podcast.
David: Yeah, we are. It’s all disjointed here and I’m wondering as we talk about these things, you know, those guys, they don’t have a clue. So, the people may say…
Karen: I don’t think so. Not if they have their Bibles in front of them, I think that they would be very grateful to follow along with us as we struggle to understand this. I do want to mention Ladd’s book again. What’s the title of it?
David: Well, it’s just Revelation. This is an older book because he’s gone from the scene now, but it’s very helpful.
Karen: If anyone can get a hold of that commentary by going to thrift books or wherever you find things, that after searching for years, Ladd’s commentary on Revelation was the very best one, the most illuminating one that you found. So, it’s maybe extremely helpful to you and it would be helpful to our listeners if they’re interested in going that deep into the process.
David: Karen, let me go back to the message of Revelation in a sentence.
David: History is headed inexorably. That means you can’t stop it. This is where it’s going. Inexorably toward a bloody global showdown between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, Christ and the anti-Christ, God, and Satan, which the devil wins decisively, however, only temporarily. Then it all reverses. Jesus’ followers need to understand this and to prepare themselves accordingly and to the best of our ability. That’s what we’re trying to help people do.
Karen: So, before I forget it, let’s give an assignment for the next podcast and that would be reading Revelation 8, 9, 10 and 11.
David: Good. Thank you.
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