The Seven Seals
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What was shown upon the
opening of the first seal?NOTE. - As the number
seven in the Scriptures denotes completion or perfection, it is safe to say that
the seven seals embrace the whole of a certain class of events reaching down to
the close of probationary time. The seven trumpets are symbols of wars; but the
seals denote events of a religious nature. The symbol of a rider on a white
horse, going forth conquering and to conquer, is a fitting emblem of the
triumphs of the gospel in the first century of this dispensation.
"And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals,... a white horse: and
he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth
conquering, and to conquer." Rev. 6:1, 2.
What went out upon the
opening of the second seal?NOTE. - If the
whiteness of the first horse denoted the purity of the gospel which its rider
propagated, then the change of color in the second horse would show that
corruption had begun to creep in when this symbol applies. It is true that such
a state of things did succeed that apostolic church. Worldliness came in. The
church sought alliance with the secular power, and trouble and commotion were
the result. This symbol extends to the time of Constantine, when a complete
union of church and state was effected.
"And when he had opened the second seal,... there went out another
horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take
peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given
unto him a great sword." Rev. 6:3, 4.
What was the color of the
symbol under the third seal?NOTE. - The
"black horse" fitly represents the spiritual darkness that reigned in
the church from the time of Constantine till the establishment of the papacy in
A.D. 538. Of the vain notions and gross errors that were imbibed by the church
during that period, Mosheim says: "Those vain fictions, which an attachment
to the Platonic philosophy and to popular opinions had engaged the greatest part
of the Christian doctors to adopt before the time of Constantine, were now
confirmed, enlarged, and embellished in various ways. Hence arose that
extravagant veneration for departed saints, and those absurd notions of a
certain fire destined to purify separate souls, that now prevailed, and of which
the public marks were everywhere to be seen." Ecclesiastical History ,
cent. 4, part 2, chap. 3, par.
"And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say,
Come and see. And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him
had a pair of balances in his hand." Rev. 6:5.
What change was seen in
the symbol of the fourth seal?NOTE. - This is an
unnatural color. The original denotes the pale or yellowish color seen in
blighted plants. The symbol evidently refers to the work of persecution and
death by the Roman Church upon the people everywhere. "And power was given
unto them." This extended from A.D. 538 to the time when the Reformers
commenced their work of exposing the true character of the papacy.
"And when he had opened the fourth seal,... behold a pale horse: and
his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was
given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with
hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." Rev. 6:7, 8.
On the opening of the
fifth seal, what was seen under the altar?NOTE. - That is, when
the Reformers exposed the work of the papacy, it was then called to mind how
many martyrs had been slain for their faith.
"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls
of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they
held." Rev. 6:9.
What were these martyrs
represented as doing?
"And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord,
holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on
the earth?" Rev. 6:10.
What was done for these
martyrs because they thus cried?NOTE. - These had
been slain during the hundreds of years covered by the preceding seal. Their
persecutors had, most of them, at least, died. And if they had at death passed
to their punishment, as is by some supposed, why should the martyred ones still
importune for their punishment? In this, as in other parts of the Bible, the
figure of personification is used, and things that are not represented as though
they did exist. See Rom. 4:17. These martyrs had gone down under the darkness
and superstition of the preceding seal, covered with ignominy and shame, as
heretics. Now in the light of the Reformation they are seen to have been
righteous, and hence they are said to have "white robes." "The
fine linen [white robes] is the righteousness of saints." Rev. 19:8.
Righteousness is ascribed to them, and when they have rested a little longer
where they are, under the altar, till all others who are to fall for their faith
have followed them, then together they will be raised to immortal glory.
"And white robes were given unto everyone of them; and it was
said unto them, That they Should rest yet for a little season, until their
fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were,
should be fulfilled." Rev. 6:11.
What was first seen on
the opening of the sixth seal?NOTE. - This
unquestionably refers to the great earthquake of Nov. 1, 1755, which covered
4,000,000 square miles. Lisbon, Portugal, which had before contained 150,000 inhabitants,
was almost entirely destroyed. It is said that 90,000 persons perished on that
occasion. (See Encyclopedia Britannica.) As one writer has described it: The
shock of the earthquake "was instantly followed by the fall of every church
and convent, almost all the large public buildings, and one fourth of the
houses. In about two hours afterward, fires broke out in different quarters, and
raged with such violence for the space of nearly three days that the city was
completely desolated. The earthquake happened on a holy day, when the churches
and convents were ful1 of people, very few of whom escaped." "The
terror of the people was beyond description. Nobody wept: it was beyond tears.
They ran hither and thither, delirious with horror and astonishment, beating
their faces and breasts, crying, 'Misericordia! the world's at an end!' Mothers
forgot their children, and ran to the churches for protection; but in vain was
the sacrament exposed; in vain did the poor creatures embrace the altars;
images, priests, and people were buried in one common ruin." "Ninety
thousand persons are supposed to have been lost on that fatal day."
"And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a
great earthquake." Rev. 6:12.
What was to follow the
great earthquake?NOTE. - This refers
to the dark day and night of May 19, 1780, when the darkness and gloom were such
as to give the general opinion that the day of judgment was at hand. See Pres.
Dwight, in Connecticut Historical Collection, and other authors quoted in
reading, "Our Lord's Great Prophecy." page 35.
"And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as
blood." Rev. 6:12.
What was the next event
under this seal?NOTE. - This was
fulfilled in the wonderful meteoric shower of Nov. 13, 1833. Describing the
scene in the vicinity of Niagara Falls, one writer says: "No spectacle so
terribly grand and sublime was ever before beheld by man as that of the
firmament descending in fiery torrents over the dark and roaring cataract."
Our First Century , page 330.
"And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree
casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind." Rev. 6:13.
Henry Dana Ward, writing for the Journal of Commerce, in regard to
the falling stars of Nov. 13, 1833, said (issue of Nov. 15, 1833): "Were I
to hunt through nature for a simile, I could not find one so apt to illustrate
the appearance of the heavens, as that which St. John uses in the prophecy (Rev.
6:13). The falling stars did not come as if from several trees shaken, but as
from one; those which appeared in the east, fell toward the east; those
which appeared in the north, fell toward the north; those which appeared in the
west, fell toward the west; and those which appeared in the south, fell toward
the south. And they fell not as the ripe fruit falls. Far from it; but
they flew, they were cast, like the unripe fruit which at first refuses
to leave the branch; and when, under a violent pressure, it does break its hold,
it flies swiftly, straight off, descending; and in the multitude falling, some
cross the track of others, as they are thrown with more or less force; but each
one falls on its own side of the tree."
What was to follow the
sign of falling stars?NOTE. - We are now
standing between the two the last of the of the signs in the heavens, and the
removal of the heavens and the solid earth out of their places. The signs that
mark the approach of the Saviour and the dissolution of earthly things are all
in the past, and the world awaits the sound of the last trump as the closing
scene in the thrilling drama. Then the wicked of every class will fly to the
caverns and fissures of the rocks, in a fruitless attempt to hide their guilt
from Him who sits on the throne.
"And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together: and
every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Rev. 6:14.
After the sealing work
brought to view in Rev. 7, which takes place under the sixth seal, how is the
seventh seal introduced?NOTE. - The sixth
seal introduced the events connected with the second coming of Christ. The
seventh must refer to that event, and its accompanying effect. When Christ
comes, all the holy angels will accompany Him. Matt. 25:31. If all these
celestial harpers leave the heavenly courts, it follows that silence will reign
in heaven during their absence. A half-hour of prophetic time would be about
seven days. See chapter 44 in this book entitled "A Remarkable
"And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in
heaven about the space of half an hour." Rev. 8:1.