Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Anti-Christ is Punished - The 144,000, The Seven Seals and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Seven Bowls and the Seven Trumpets

The Anti-Christ is Punished

After the second half of the last ‘seven’ (Last Days 486.5), when the Anti-Christ sets up the “abomination that causes desolation” in the Jerusalem Temple, and carries out his persecution against Christians, he himself will face persecution from God.

These punishments begin when Christ takes the scroll and removes the seals one at a time.

Before the punishment happens, however, God sends His angel to place His own seal of protection on a select group of people.

Who are the 144,000?

Revelation 7:1-8 – After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

The angels place God’s mark of protection on 144,000 Jews. My guess is that these are Jewish Christians. How special Jewish Christians must be to God. Israel was God’s chosen people, and when a Jewish person chooses to follow Christ, they are twice-chosen. Here we see that just as God protected the Israelites from the worst of the plagues He sent on Egypt (Exodus 8:22; 9:4; 26; 10:23; 11:7), He will also protect those faithful Jewish Christians when He sends the plagues of the Seven Seals on the Anti-Christ.

What are the Seven Seals?

The First Four Seals – the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Revelation 6:1-8 – I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in 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.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

When the Lamb opened the third seal, 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, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. 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.”

The first four seals reveal the angels who will carry out the plagues. These are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, God’s personal agents of destruction of death. The description of who they are and what they do give us a general picture of the plagues they are summoned to enact. The details of those plagues are revealed once all seven seals are broken.

The Fifth Seal – Why Will God Punish the Anti-Christ?

Revelation 6:9-10 – When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 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?” 11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.”

The first four seals showed us who God is going to use to punish the Anti-Christ: the four horsemen. The fifth seal shows us why God is going to punish the Anti-Christ. God loves His saints and will avenge those who have been killed for their beliefs. During the Great Tribulation and the terrible persecution by the Anti-Christ, many more martyrs will die for Christ, making God’s vengeance against the Anti-Christ all that much greater.

It’s interesting that the emphasis for why God will punish the Anti-Christ is not that the Anti-Christ has insulted or disobeyed God personally but that the Anti-Christ has attacked God’s children. The issue is not God’s honor in itself, but the love He has for those who are His. Again, this just shows us how much God values us. He goes to war for us. He acts for us. He avenges us.

The Sixth Seal

Revelation 6:12-17 – I watched as He opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 

15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 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! 17 For the great day of Their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?

We know from Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 that the sixth seal occurs immediately before His return to Earth.

Matthew 24:29-30 – “Immediately after the distress of those days
 ‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.”

So, shortly before Christ returns, the sun will not shine, which will, of course, affect the moon, and the stars, and planets will begin falling. What a sign that will be!

The Seventh Seal – The End

Revelation 8:1-5 – 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 seven trumpets were given to them.

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

The seventh seal is a point of transition. The seven seals end with “peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” This line will be repeated once more as the end of the seven trumpets and is the indication that the end has finally come.

In other words, the seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets, but only as a further explanation of what will happen in the seven seals. The seven seals are the overview, the trumpets the details. The four horsemen (seals) carry out the plagues described in the trumpets.

We know that they are to be seen together because both end with “peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake,” showing us their literary unity.

What are the Trumpets and Bowls?

Now we come to the details of the Seven Seals, as we see how the Four Horsemen are carrying out their plagues on Nero’s Kingdom.

If you compare the seven trumpets beginning in Revelation 8 and the seven bowls of God’s wrath beginning in Revelation 16, you can see that they are referring to the same events, though different details are provided in each account.

In both accounts, angels are given the power to unleash these punishments on the earth (Revelation 8:2, 15:1-8).

The First Trumpet/Bowl

Revelation 8:7The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

Revelation 16:2The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

The first trumpet describes a mixture of hail and fire and blood falling down on the earth and burning up the trees and grass. Then, the first bowl shows sores breaking out on the Anti-Christ’s followers. At first glance, these two events don’t sound like they’re necessarily the same thing, but it is my belief that the blood-and-fire hail that will burn up the earth’s trees and grass will be the same thing that will fall on the Anti-Christ’s followers and give them sores. Because the rest of the trumpets and bowls are so similar, I think it’s a good guess that the first trumpet and bowl are related in this way.

The Second Trumpet/Bowl

Revelation 8:8-9The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Revelation 16:3The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.

The second trumpet says that something like a burning mountain will be thrown into the sea and will cause a third of the sea water to turn into blood, a third of the sea creatures to die, and a third of the ships on the sea to be destroyed. The second bowl also says that the waters of the sea will turn to blood and the sea creatures will die.

The Third Trumpet/Bowl

Revelation 8:10-11 – The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water — 11 the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

Revelation 16:4-7The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:

“You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, 
You who are and who were; 
for they have shed the blood of Your holy people and Your prophets, 
and You have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
And I heard the altar respond:
“Yes, Lord God Almighty, 
true and just are Your judgments.”

The third trumpet shows a star falling onto the earth and turning a third of the rivers and springs bitter so that people cannot drink from them. The third bowl is similar in that it says that the rivers and springs will turn into blood.

Also, we read once again that the reason God is punishing the Anti-Christ is because of the Anti-Christ’s persecution against Christians (Revelation 16:6).

The Fourth Trumpet/Bowl

Revelation 8:12The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.

Revelation 16:8-9The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify Him.

The fourth trumpet says a third of the sun, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars will turn dark and will not give the earth as much light. The fourth bowl says that the sun will become hotter and will burn people. Both involve problems with the sun and sound as if the sun will be behaving at extremes.

The Fifth Trumpet/Bowl

Revelation 9:1-11 – The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

Revelation 16:10-11The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

The fifth trumpet says that the Abyss (the pit) of the earth will be opened and that the smoke of it will block out the light of the sun. It sounds like what happens when a volcano erupts and the ash-cloud stays in the atmosphere for a while, blocking out the light.

Then, locusts will come out of the Abyss and will sting the Anti-Christ’s followers. The fifth bowl says that the Anti-Christ’s kingdom will be plunged into darkness and that people will have painful sores. Taken together, we can surmise that the Anti-Christ’s kingdom will be plunged into darkness by the smoke from the Abyss and people will have sores because they are being stung by the locusts.

The Sixth Trumpet/Bowl

Revelation 9:13-21 – The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number. 

17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.

20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

Revelation 16:12-16 – “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. 13 Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”

The sixth trumpet says that four angels stationed at the Euphrates River will lead two hundred million troops to kill a third of the world’s population. The sixth bowl says that the Euphrates river was dried up in order to allow the kings from the East to cross over. It could be that these kings are the ones leading the two hundred million troops, all at the direction of the four angels.

These two hundred million troops form the last human battle against the Anti-Christ.

As Daniel tells us, the King of Egypt will attack once more, but the Anti-Christ will be victorious and will invade many more lands, including Israel again, but will not conquer Edom, Moab, or Ammon. He will conquer Egypt and Libya and Cush, soundly defeating the Southern Empire. This last war between the Anti-Christ and the Southern Empire will last forty-five days.

But then, the Anti-Christ will hear reports of rebellion from the north and east. My guess is that these reports of rebellion are pointing to the two hundred million troops mentioned in the sixth trumpet. If the Anti-Christ is in Egypt battling the Southern Empire, then this huge force crossing the Euphrates will be to his north-east.

The Anti-Christ will then travel north again to meet them and will set up camp between the seas and at the beautiful holy mountain (Daniel 11:40-45; 12:11). This area between the seas and before the holy mountain is most likely referring to Armageddon. The region of Armageddon, literally “Mountain of Megiddo” and an actual place in Israel, is located between the Mediterranean and Salt Seas, north-west of Jerusalem, “the beautiful holy mountain.”

In summary, the order and similarity of the trumpets and bowls convince me that they are describing the same events back to back but with different and complementary details provided in both. It’s almost like reading the four Gospels right in a row. They all tell you the same basic story, one right after the other, but emphasize different details from one account to the next.


This blog post is included in my book, Last Days: A Biblical Guide to the End Times.

Last Days: A Biblical Guide to the End Times by [Wilson, Rev. Stephen R.]
Kindle $4.99, Print $7.99

Read the answers to more interesting questions on my Theology 101 - Simple and Surprising Answers to Your Questions! page.

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