Two House Chronicles
The Folding of the Seals, Trumpets and Vials in the Revelation of John (part 1)
Published: Sunday, 12 February 2017 15:42
Written by Administrator
The Folding of the Seals, Trumpets and Vials in the Revelation of John (part 1)
by Hope, Marsue and Jerry Huerta
Historicists have perceived the structure of the four septets of the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials in Revelation as considerably folding upon themselves or continually revisiting the period between the two advents of Christ.
“A second significant phase of the structure of Revelation deserves careful scrutiny. It may be called the plan of recapitulation, or better, perhaps, parallelism. What is meant is this: the chief series of visions, e. g., the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, do not succeed each other in historical and chronological sequence, but move side by side.”1
This was certainly the position held by the nineteenth century historicist E. B. Elliott who interpreted the opening of the first seal as the, “triumph, prosperity, and health of the Roman empire,” and the opening of first trumpet as the barbarian invasion in the fifth century and the fulfillment of the first vial, “to represent that tremendous outbreak of moral and social evil, that mixture of atheism, vice, and democratic fury, which burst forth at the French Revolution.”2 Progressive revelation has certainly corrected Elliott’s misapprehensions of the vials, which will be affirmed presently. Nevertheless, with centuries of progressive revelation behind him, Elliott corrected the misapprehension of the then rising preterist model that the emperor Nero fulfilled Revelation 17’s eighth king, and by doing so also refuted this misapprehension by the early church, from whence preterists obtain such a notion. Elliott commences by refuting the preterist’s assertion that the kings in Revelation 17 are individuals and not kingdoms.
“The heads then, as they assert, mean certain individual kings. This is not surely according to the precedent of Daniel vii. 6, where the third Beasts four heads would seem … to have signified the monarchical successions that governed the four kingdoms into which Alexanders empire was divided at his death. – But, not to stop at this, the decisive question next recurs, What the eighth head of the Beast, on this hypothesis of the Præterists: Nero being the sixth; and, as they generally say, Galba, who reigned but a short time, the seventh? It is admitted (and common sense itself forces the admission) that this eighth head is the same which is said in Apoc. xiii. 3, 12, 14.… And, in reply, first Eichhorn, and then his copyists Heinrichs, Stuart, Davidson, all four refer us to a rumor prevalent in Neros time, and believed by many, that after suffering some reverse he would return again to power: a rumor which after his death took the form that he would revive again, and reappear, and retake the empire.65 Such is their explanation. The eighth head of the Beast is the imaginary revived Nero. – But do they not explain the Beast (the revived Beast) in Apoc. xiii., and his blasphemies, and persecution of the saints, and predicated continuance 42 months, of the real original Nero, and his blasphemies and his three or four years persecution of the Christians, begun November, 64, A.D. and ended with Neros death, June 9, A.D. 68? Such indeed is the case; and by this palpable self-contradiction, (one which however they cannot do without,) they give to their own solution its death-wound: as much its death-wound, I may say, as that given to the Beast itself to which the solution relates.”3
Elliot’s refutation that the eighth king was Nero is founded on the perception of progressive revelation, which historicist Oral E. Collins conveyed in an essay on how to interpret prophecy.
“It may be presupposed that the actual fulfillment of the prophecy in history will offer a correct alternative to previous misinterpretations. For this reason, it is to be assumed that the process of interpretation of historical prophecies is necessarily dynamic and progressive, every generation being responsible to study the prophecies and to discern the signs of its own times (Matt. 16:3).”4
Collins credits H. Grattan Guinness for the presupposition (or hermeneutic) of progressive revelation, which was broached in the first chapter of this work. Collins rightfully concludes that, “the meaning of the prophetic text should be determined first,”5 which is merely stating that the use of the historical-grammatical presupposition takes precedence in interpreting prophecy. Yet, as stated in the chapter on the insufficiencies of dispensationalism, the prophets were not given to see all the implications or significance of what they were inspired to write, which is irrefutably affirmed by the two separate advents of Christ; the difference of the two advents were not realized until the prophecies of the first advent were fulfilled, which affirms progressive revelation. Futurist Daniel B. Wallace concurs that, “there is ample evidence of progressive revelation within the NT about several themes—that is, certain themes are not developed/recognized until after some time.”6 Thus, it was progressive revelation that exhorted Elliot to refute that the wounded head in Revelation 13 and 17 was Nero. Futurist Mark L. Hitchcock also comments on the confusion that arises when Preterist Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. repeated the early misrepresentation that the head that is wounded in Revelation 13:3 was the emperor Nero in 68 A.D. and its healing manifest as emperor Vespasian in 69 A.D., while fallaciously maintaining Nero as the beast in Revelation 17:14 that is destroyed at a theophany of Christ in 70 A.D.
“the mention of the eighth king seems to take the reader to the end of the list. There is no mention of a ninth or tenth king. The eighth king is the final manifestation of the beast. Speaking of the eighth and final form of the beast's rule, 17:11 says, ‘and he goes to destruction.’ Gentry says this refers to Vespasian. However, two chapters later (in 19:20) the beast and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire, which is the same destruction of the final head of the beast described in 17:11. Yet Gentry interprets 19:20 as a reference to Christ's providential destruction of Nero.”7
By the same hermeneutic, progressive revelation, Hitchcock’s futurist’s perception is thwarted. In refuting Gentry’s preterist perception of Nero, Hitchcock concurs with the historicists that the seven kings of Revelation 17:9-10 must, “represent seven successive Gentile world powers or kingdoms,” and cannot be interpreted as seven individual kings conterminous with the sixth king.
“The best solution to the identity of the seven kings is the view that the seven kings represent seven successive Gentile world powers or kingdoms, followed by the Antichrist as the eighth king. This interpretation is supported by the parallels between Revelation 17:9-12 and Daniel 7:17, 23, where references to kings and kingdoms are interchangeable, thus revealing that a king represents the kingdom he rules. Adopting this interpretation, the eight kingdoms are the eight Gentile world powers that encompass the sweep of history: Egypt, Assyria, Neo-Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome, the reunited Roman Empire in a ten-king form, and the future kingdom of the beast or final world ruler who will emerge from the reunited Roman Empire.”8
Like so many mistaken futurists, Hitchcock mistakenly overlooks that John witnessed that the eighth king “was” prior to the sixth king, and not that the sixth kings’ reign suffers the deadly wound of Rev 13:3. Revelation 17:10-11 establishes the eighth king “that was” is actually of the five that were fallen, insomuch as the eighth king “is not” (v 8) at the time John witnesses the sixth king as the one who “is” (v. 10). Revelation 17 clearly affirms the eighth king as exercising its power prior to the time of the sixth king—and will again after the seventh’s short span (Revelation 17:8, 11). If Rome is perceived as the sixth king, then Hitchcock is forced to interpret the revival of either the Egyptian, Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Persian, or Grecian empire as the eighth king, but not Rome. Hitchcock’s futurist fallacy is only resolved by the progressive revelation that the kings/kingdoms in Revelation 17 must commence with Babylon, in correspondence with Daniel. Historicists have grasped this in more recent times,9 by reckoning that there are two other kings that arise after John’s time before the power of the eighth king is restored. Reckoning Rome as the sixth king, as Hitchcock and even some historicists have, only allows for one more king before the last, the eighth, to rise and make war with Christ at his return (Revelation 17:14; 19:20). Only the perception where Rome is the fourth king (of the five that were fallen) allows for the sixth king to correspond to the two-horned beast, which makes the image that becomes the seventh king, before the eight king regains its power in correspondence with all the beasts in Revelation. Only the perception where Rome is the fourth king allows for correspondence between the wounding of the beast in Revelation 13:3 and the time the beast “is not” in Revelation 17:8-11. Only the perception where Rome is the fourth king allows one to grasp that the wounding and the “is not” phenomena is the historical fulfillment of our modern separation of church and state and the rejoining of the two as the sine qua non of the seven kings, nay eight. While outside the scope of this essay, the reconciliation of church and state is well on its way in America.
Returning to the issue of the structure of the four septets in Revelation, Elliott’s interpretation that the opening of the first vial or plague of Revelation 16 was fulfilled in the eighteenth century by the French Revolution has not endured progressive revelation. Even the staunch historicist, Alberto R. Treiyer, has conceded that the seven vials are future, immediately preceding the return of Christ.
“While the first six trumpets were partial judgments (a third), only the last and seventh trumpet was expected to be definitive in connection with the coming of the Lord (Rev 11:18: God's wrath outpoured in the seven plagues, 16:1).”10
Treiyer concedes the progressive revelation that the seven vials fold over the seventh trumpet, or that they are restricted to the events of the seventh trumpet and final woe (Revelation 11:14-19). An earlier nineteenth century historicist, Uriah Smith, had come to the same conclusion that the vials were future, confined to the return of Christ.
“If these plagues are in the past, the image of the beast and his worship are in the past. If these are past, the two-horned beast, which makes this image, and all his work, are in the past. If these are past, then the third angel’s message, which warns us in reference to this work, is in the past; and if this is ages in the past, then the first and second messages which precede it were also ages in the past.… Under the fifth plague, men blaspheme God because of their sores, the same sores, of course, caused by the outpouring of the first plague. This shows that these plagues all fall upon one and the same generation of men, some being, no doubt swept off by each one, yet some surviving through the terrible scenes of them all. These plagues are the wine of God’s wrath without mixture, threatened by the third angel. (Revelation 14:10; 15:1.) Such language cannot be applied to any judgments visited upon the earth while Christ pleads with His Father in behalf of our fallen race. Therefore we must locate them in the future, when probation shall have closed.… Christ is then no longer a mediator. Mercy, which has long stayed the hand of vengeance, pleads no more. The servants of God are all sealed. What could then be expected but that the storm of vengeance should fall, and earth be swept with the besom of destruction.”11
Contemporary historicist Hans K. LaRondelle also acknowledged the progressive revelation that the seven vials or plagues are folded over, or recapping, the phenomena of the seventh trumpet.
“The content of the seventh trumpet is unfolded in the seven bowls of God’s final judgment (chaps. 15-16). This is implied in the explicit numbering of the last three trumpets as the three “woes” on the earth dwellers (8:13).”12
Yet, Treiyer inflexibly holds to the perception that the preceding six trumpets recap a significant part of the seven eras of the churches and that the seven seals, or in parallel recap the greater part of the period betwixt the two advents of Christ, commencing with a judgment of the Roman empire.13
“On the rank of historicism were Pr. Ty Gibson (Light Bearers Ministry with James Rafferty, another panelist in the symposium), and Dr. Alberto R. Treiyer (Adventist Distinctive Messages, Ph D in the University of Strasbourg, residing in NC). The difference between them is that Gibson follows Edwin Thiele and C. M. Maxwell when he connects the first trumpet with the fall of Jerusalem, while Treiyer follows the Protestant and Adventist historicist legacy that has Rome as the target of the judgments of God, from the beginning of our Christian dispensation to the end.”14
Treiyer’s perception is so inflexible in the consideration that the traditional Protestant historicist’s perception of the seven trumpets has not surmounted the exegetical challenge of recent progressive revelation. Historicists Jon Hjorleifur Stefansson has chronicled this exegetical challenge to the traditional historicist’s perception of the seven trumpets in his master thesis to Andrews University: “From Clear Fulfillment to Complex Prophecy: the History of the Adventist Interpretation of Revelation 9, from 1833 to 1957.”15 The challenges to the traditional historicist’s rendition, according to Stefansson, concerns the commencement of the five months of the fifth trumpet and the termination of the time conveyed in Revelation 9:15, concerning the sixth trumpet. The dates of 1299 A.D. for the commencement and the 1840 A.D. for the termination have been challenged for some time concerning their accuracy and alternative dating has resulted. This has supported the progressive revelation that the trumpets are actually contemporaneous phenomena, correspondent with our end times, in agreement with the framework of the pending judgment conveyed in the fifth and sixth seals of Revelation 6, the sealing of the 144,000 in Revelation 7, and the three angels in Revelation 14. This work will not enter into the controversy concerning the starting and ending dates of the traditional Protestant rendition of the fifth and sixth trumpets, as the controversy is not unlike the Preterist’s endless arguments over which Roman emperors represent the seven, nay eight kings of Revelation 17:10; the endless debates are evidence that the Roman emperors do not fit the prophecy any more a square peg fits into a round hole. In like manner, the debates will continue with the traditional Protestant rendition because the trumpets are not historical events, but rather end time phenomena in the framework of the judgment conveyed in the fifth and sixth seals of Revelation 6, the sealing of the 144,000 in Revelation 7 and the three angels in Revelation 14. This work uses Stefansson’s thesis to vindicate the more recent progressive revelations, which refutes the traditional Protestant historicist’s perception.
Considering the impending judgments conveyed in the fifth and sixth seals, Historicist Jon Paulien recognizes the significance of the framework as it pertains to the judgment scene in Revelation 8:3-5 that introduces the sounding of the seven trumpets, at the opening of the seventh seal:
“The seven trumpets, like the churches and seals before them, are preceded by a view of the heavenly sanctuary (8:2-6). The scene in verse 2 is probably based on the fact that there were seven trumpet priests in the Old Testament cultus (1 Chr 15:24; Josh 6; cf. also 1QM 3:1-11; 7:7ff.).6 Their trumpet calls represented the prayers of God's people for deliverance in battle and forgiveness of sin (Numbers 10:8-10). Thus the prayers of the saints in Revelation 8:3-5 are probably cries for deliverance from the oppression visited by their enemies as depicted in the seven seals.… Two basic ideas are portrayed in Revelation 8:3-5, mediation and judgment.… This relationship is, perhaps, best understood by examining the apparent connection between the fifth seal and the introduction to the seven trumpets (Rev 8:3-5). In the fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11) John sees martyred souls under ‘the’ altar crying out ‘How long, O Lord, the Holy and True One, do you not judge and avenge our blood upon those who live on the earth (tôn katoikountôn epi tês gês)?’11 These souls are given white robes and told to rest a short while until ‘the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.’12 Since the question ‘how long’ is not really answered in the fifth seal, the reader anticipates that things will be clarified later on in the book. Thus it is not surprising that there are later references to numbered groups of God's people (chapter 7), prayer (8:3-5) and those who dwell on the earth (8:13; 11:10; 13:8,14, etc.). Very significant is the reference in Rev 8:13, which stands at the structural center of the seven trumpets.13 This verse indicates that the trumpet plagues fall on ‘those who live on the earth,’ the same group which was martyring the saints, referred to in 6:9-11 as the ‘souls under the altar.’ The spiritual connection between the trumpets and the fifth seal is made in Rev 8:3-5 where incense from the golden altar is mingled with ‘the prayers of the saints (tais proseuchais tôn hagiôn).’14 This scene symbolizes Christ's intercession for His saints. He responds to their prayers by casting His censer to the earth, with frightful results. This connection between the altar of 6:9-11 and that of 8:3-5 indicates that the seven trumpets are God’s response to the prayers of the saints for vengeance on those who have persecuted and martyred them. The martyrs were anxious for the judgment to begin but it was delayed until all the seals had been opened.15 In verse 5 the altar which receives the prayers of the saints becomes the source from which judgments are poured out on the wicked in response (cf. 9:13-15; 14:18-20 and 16:4-7). When the fire of purification from the altar contacts the earth, it provokes disasters. The same fire which purifies can also destroy. The censer of judgment and the censer of prayer become one. Thus the seven trumpets should be understood as God's judgment-response to the prayers of the martyrs, resulting in justice being done with respect to those who persecuted the saints.”16
Paulien’s work decisively renders the prayers of the saints in Revelation 8:3-5 as corresponding to the petitions or prayers of “the souls of them that were slain for the word of God” (Revelation 6:10) and the seven trumpets as the commencement of the judgment that was entreated by the souls. This correspondence is also affirmed by another historicist, Ranko Stefanovic, cited below, who adds that the seals and the trumpets are in the model of covenantal curses.
“The scene of the opening of the seven seals echoes the Hebrew Bible covenantal curses concept.… In implementing the covenant curses, God used enemy nations, such as the Philistines, Moabites, Assyrians, and Babylonians, as instruments of his judgment (cf. Judges 2:13-14; Psalms 106:40; Isa 10:5-6). The enemy nation would come and afflict the Israelites by plundering and destroying them. In most cases, these nations, while sent by God as the executor of judgment, overplayed their part and tried to destroy God's people. In their hopeless situation, the people of Israel would turn to God for deliverance. At this point, God responded to the prayers of his afflicted people and reversed the judgments on the enemy nation(s) in order to provide deliverance for his people (cf. Deut 32:41-43).… This Hebrew Bible background clearly defines the context of the seals: the situation of the church in the hostile world. The opening of the first four seals describes in a symbolic presentation the judgments of God on the church unfaithful to the gospel (6:1-8). The scene of the fifth seal portrays the slain faithful at the base of the altar of burnt offering, crying to God for intervention and judgment on their oppressors and enemies.… Thus the plea of the slain saints under the altar ‘must be seen as a legal plea in which God is asked to conduct a legal process leading to a verdict that will vindicate his martyred saints.’”17
Stefanovic maintains the seals represent, “the judgments of God on the church unfaithful to the gospel,” embodied by the four horsemen of the seals, and the seven trumpets as the judgments upon them for exceeding their mandate and oppressing God’s faithful people.
“The foregoing discussion strongly suggests that the seven trumpets are heaven's response to the prayers of God's people for deliverance from their oppressors. While the scene of the sixth seal provides the saints with an assurance that the day is coming when God's ultimate judgments will visit their adversaries, the vision of the seven trumpet plagues gives an even more direct message: God is already judging the enemies of his faithful people. This makes the trumpet plagues preliminary judgments and the foretaste of the ultimate and final judgments to fall on the wicked as portrayed in Revelation 15-16. The trumpet plagues are seen as mixed with mercy; the bowl plagues are expressed as the fullness of God's wrath unmixed with mercy (15:1).”18
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Paulien rendered the first trumpet as judgment against the “Jewish nation,” which maintains that the souls under the altar were consoled by the destruction of Jerusalem; such a rendition has Revelation 8:3-5 fulfilled at the first advent in order for the judgment of the first trumpet to fall upon the Jewish nation. Yet, historicists hold that the church is the house of God and not the Jewish nation, which this work has affirmed numerous times in the first three chapters. Consequently, “God’s own people” would be the church and not the Jewish nation. Again, Paulien is attempting to avoid terminological and thematic correspondence with the sealing of the 144,000 and Revelation 14, insomuch as the judgment on the Jewish nation at the first advent is asynchronous with this correspondence. Yet, 1 Peter 4:17-18 proves Paulien wrong and specifies that oppression must originate initially from those who profess Christ, those who had “given allegiance to God’s kingdom”, and were envisaged that they would oppress “their brethren”, which harmonizes with 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10, Daniel 7: 8-10, 21-22, 1 Timothy 4:1-2 and Revelation 17:6. The restraint of the “lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 was taken out of the way when the popes usurped the place of God in his temple (Ephesians 2:19-22; Revelation 3:12) to blaspheme and “wear out the saints” and then, in the day of the son of perdition, the judgment was to be set and the books opened on the little horn of Daniel 7:10. And ultimately, Babylon cannot be omitted for its oppression of the saints, insomuch as the harlot is drunk with the blood of the martyrs, and whose merchants market the “slaves and souls of men” (Revelation 17:6; 18:11-13). The elect martyrs slain by Babylon and the eighth king of Revelation 17, candidly, cannot be omitted as they are essential constituents in the intent of the fifth seal. And, insomuch as the papacy cannot be construed as fallen from moral rectitude, as it was ordained to persecute the church, Babylon has greater resemblance with fallen Protestantism in the latter days, in the Laodicean condition of being “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). In acknowledging that the four horsemen of the seals represent the oppression of the church Paulien and Sefanovic unintentionally deviate from the traditional the historicist’s interpretations and accord the four horsemen terminological and thematic correspondence with the sealing of the 144,000 and the messages of three angels in Revelation 14, insomuch as the martyrs slain by Babylon and the eighth king of Revelation 17 cannot be omitted as essential constituents of the intent of the fifth seal. Such correspondence supports the seven trumpets are an end-day phenomenon.
Further evidence that the trumpets have terminological and thematic correspondence with the sealing of the 144,000 and the angel’s messages lies with the work of historicists Kenneth A. Strand, Jon Paulien and Richard M. Davidson on the use of temple imagery in Revelation. In his dissertation to the University of South Africa, Johan Adraiaan Japp cites these historicists concerning John’s use of the “Hebraic cultus” in the Apocalypse.
“The temple imagery also shows a definite progression that moves in the first place from the ‘daily’ (tamid) intercession to the ‘yearly’ (yoma), corresponding with the first and second half of the book, and in the second place from the spring festivals to the autumn festivals of the cultic year, once again corresponding with the first and second half of the book.(39)”20
The object of Japp’s use of Paulien is to maintain that the phenomena and symbolism in Revelation 8-11 pertains to the “daily intercession” and indicates, in their perception, that the seven trumpets represent the “new moon” observances between the spring and autumnal festivals (Numbers 10:1-10), which folds the trumpets considerably over the seven churches and seven seals.
“The seven trumpets in Revelation are reminiscent of the seven monthly new moon festivals which form a transition between spring and autumn feasts, and climaxes in the blowing of the trumpets on Rosh Hashanah.(73) Also, just as the feast of trumpets summoned Israel to prepare for the time of judgement at Yom Kippur, so the trumpets of Revelation highlight the approach of the antitypical Day of Atonement. The Autumn festivals of Trumpets, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles, could therefore be regarded as anticipations of the ultimate eschaton.… It is interesting to note that the unsealing of the prophetic scroll of Revelation 10, which contains God's final message to the world (Rev. 10:7., 10), forms the dividing point for both the daily/yearly dyad, and the spring/autumn festivals dyad.”21
In such a rendition, the seven trumpets fold over the horsemen of the seals. This allows Paulien and Japp to continue to avoid correspondence between the seven trumpets, the sealing of the 144,000 and the angel’s messages; their rendition allows for the interpretation that the trumpets are past historical events, as opposed to end day phenomena. Yet, similar to the topic that judgment begins with the house of God, they overlook the fact that the subject matter of the sounding of the seven trumpets appears for the first time in Revelation 1-3 and not in Revelation 8-11 as they would suppose, in order to in support their assertion that the seven trumpets represent, “the seven monthlong religious year from Abib 1. to Tishri 1. (Numbers 10:1-10).
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The traditional Protestant interpretation that the fifth and sixth trumpet represent the rise and fall of the Ottoman empire falters nowhere with greater transparency than in their inability to render any coherence concerning the locust’s prohibitions against harming men having “the seal of God in their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4). In analyzing the historicist Uriah Smith’s interpretation of the sealing, Stefansson remarks that Smith did not go much beyond what the nineteenth century evangelists, Josiah Litch and William Miller, had formulated concerning the seal of God in the fifth trumpet.
“Though both Miller and Litch had interpreted the various elements brought to view in command given to the locusts.… neither one had interpreted the seal of God in v. 4 as being of a more specific meaning than a marker of true Christians.… Uriah Smith modified this interpretation … that … the seal of God in Rev 7 … as the seventh-day Sabbath … and that those who have the seal of God were only there ‘by implication,’ and that neither prophecy nor history taught:
‘that those persons whom Abubeker charged his followers not to molest were in possession of the seal of God, or necessarily constituted the people of God. Who they were, and for what reason they were spared, the meager testimony of Gibbon does not inform us, and we have no other means of knowing; but we have every reason to believe that none of those who had the seal of God were molested, while another class, who emphatically had it not, were put to the sword.’
If Smith had had historical sources that had shown that Sabbath-keepers were especially spared by the Arab invaders, he would probably have dropped his caution. But since this did not appear to be the case, he warned against interpreting more than was explicitly stated in the text.”27
Smith added his own interpretation of the seal of God as, “the seventh-day Sabbath,” but there is no historical evidence that the Muslims withheld any such torment from Sabbath-keepers. Such recanting and lack of historical evidence is to the discredit of the traditional historicist’s rendition of the trumpets.
The historicist’s hermeneutic that the seven churches represent seven eras between the advents maintains that the Laodicean church epitomizes the “end of this age” and that the following three septets must also arrive at the end of this age, in order to sustain recapitulation as the structure of the Revelation; this work concedes that. The object of this work is to vindicate the concept that the placement of the “start” of the following three septets is at the seventh part of the antecedent septet, which was conceded by Alberto R. Treiyer concerning the vials or final plagues; the start of the seven vials or final plagues is concurrent with the seventh trumpet. This work has agreed with the testimony of Paulien, Stefanovic and Japp that the trumpets are the response to the petitions of the souls under the altar, but comes to a different conclusion that trumpets cannot fold considerably over the seven churches and seven seals, insomuch as the martyrs slain by Babylon and the eighth king of Revelation 17 cannot be omitted as essential constituents of the intent of the fifth seal. In support of this different conclusion, this work has shown that the trumpets cannot fold considerably over the churches and seals, insomuch as the seventh month of Tishri cannot be equated with the seven months prior; it is the seven churches that actually represent the “new moon” observances between the spring and autumnal festivals. In support of said conclusion, this work has shown the trumpets cannot fold considerably over the churches and seals, inasmuch as the prohibitions against harming those with the seal of God in the fifth trumpet establishes judgment upon God’s house (in correspondence with Ezekiel 9:4-5 and 1 Peter 4:17-18). Furthermore, the principle of Matthew 12:25-26 must be observed in interpreting the sixth trumpet; under such scrutiny, the fifth, nay, the first five trumpets must represent God’s judgment on the church before he judges the reprobate in the sixth trumpet. All the evidence supports that the historical phenomena depicted by the trumpets commence with the seventh seal and, in like manner, the blowing of the seventh trumpet kicks off the seven vials or final plagues. In that view, the trumpets maintain terminological and thematic correspondence as end day phenomena with the sealing of the 144,000 and the messages of the angels.
In continuing to observe the conformity of the structure established above, the historical phenomena depicted by the seven seals must commence during the time of the seventh church; the seals represent the oppression of the church by those who profess allegiance to God's kingdom (in congruity with 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10; Daniel 7: 8-10, 21-22; 1 Timothy 4:1-2 and Revelation 17:6). Conformity to this structure reveals the that seals and trumpets relate to Laodicea’s fallen condition of self-indulgence and prodigal material concerns, a condition which spawned persistent provocation for God’s punishment under the Old Covenant (Isaiah 5:8-9, 10:2; Jeremiah 34:8-17; Ezekiel 22:29, 45:9; Amos 2:6-8, 8:2-7). This explains the symbolism of the white horse which a great number of historicists attempt to apply to the church;28 the church goes forth “conquering, and to conquer”, but not in the first century and certainly not for the gospel—but rather it goes forth “conquering, and to conquer” in the time of the end, the nineteenth century. For it is by their commerce that the Protestants oppressed their brethren in order to enrich themselves, and this is the shameful depiction of the spirit of the Laodicean church. The symbolism in the seals represents the provocation for covenantal judgments in the OT that Japp, not too ironically, defined in his dissertation.
“Because the Jews did not keep either the letter or the spirit of the sabbath year, which demanded the freeing of all Jewish slaves, without compensation, every seventh year, and the resting of the land from all agricultural activities, the principle of the sabbath year became the basis of punishment for Judah and Jerusalem (81). The principle of the Jubilee year prescribed that in addition to the freeing of all Israelite slaves and the resting of the land, the full restoration of all property to their original owners or their descendants.(82) In Daniel 9, the Jubilee, encapsulated in the prophetic number of 490 days, becomes the basis for a Messianic promise of release from the enslavement of sin, rest from the works of unbelief and complete restoration of the land to Israel.”29
James’s prophecy of the last days, below, conveys the self-indulgent and prodigal materialist condition of the final Laodicean era, which was ordained to oppress their brethren as depicted in the seals; Paulien, Stefanovic and other historicists of their ilk concede that the seals represent oppression of the church, but mistakenly attribute it to those who disavow Christ, which does not withstand examination. God uses those who disavow Christ to refine the church under the trumpets.
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. (James 5:1-7).
The oppression of the elect conveyed by the fifth seal followed the Protestant reformation depicted in the era of Sardis, that sold “the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes” (Amos 8:6).
“The wool trade was a major driver of enclosure (the privatization of common land) in English agriculture, which in turn had major social consequences, as part of the British Agricultural Revolution.”30
Enclosure evicted masses of peasantry from the land so as to build large scale production farms that sold their produce as commodities during the first attempt at globalism. The peasantry, including the women and children, had no choice but to work the large farms for wages that barely sustained them or to become the cheap labor that prompted the industrial revolution: “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Historian Alfred J. Toynbee wrote about this transition that fostered the modern industrial and commercial societies of today. Concerning the early transition Toynbee wrote:
“When we turn to investigate the industrial organisation of the time, we find that the class of capitalist employers was as yet but in its infancy. A large part of our goods were still produced on the domestic system. Manufactures were little concentrated in towns, and only partially separated from agriculture. The manufacturer, was, literally, the man who worked with his own hands in his own cottage. Nearly the whole cloth trade of the West Riding, for instance, was organised on this system at the beginning of the century. An important feature in the industrial organisation of the time was the existence of a number of small master-manufacturers, who were entirely independent, having capital and land of their own, for they combined the culture of small freehold pasture-farms with their handicraft.… This system, however, was no longer universal in Arthur Young's time. That writer found at Sheffield a silk-mill employing 152 hands, including women and children; at Darlington ‘one master-manufacturer employed above fifty looms’; at Boyton there were 150 hands in one factory. So, too, in the West of England cloth-trade the germs of the capitalist system were visible. The rich merchant gave out work to labourers in the surrounding villages, who were his employes, and were not independent.”31
According to economic and theological Historian, Richard Henry Tawney, the matter of election was corrupted by Puritanism during the seventeenth century, which was the underlying cause of the oppression at issue.
“For, since conduct and action, though availing nothing to attain the free gift of salvation, are a proof that the gift has been accorded, what is rejected as a means is resumed as a consequence, and the Puritan flings himself into practical activities with the demonic energy of one who, all doubts allayed, is conscious that he is a sealed and chosen vessel. Once engaged in affairs, he brings to them both the qualities and limitations of his creed in all their remorseless logic. Called by God to labor in his vineyard, he has within himself a principle at once of energy and of order, which makes him irresistible both in war and in the struggles of commerce. Convinced that character is all and circumstances nothing, he sees in the poverty of those who fall by the way, not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion—though like other gifts they may be abused—but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will. Tempered by self-examination, self-discipline, self-control, he is the practical ascetic, whose victories are won not in the cloister, but on the battlefield, in the counting-house, and in the market.”32
The Reformation had removed the stigma from wealth. But Puritanism did a complete turnabout to place the stigma on poverty as if it were a curse from God, “a moral failing to be condemned,” which gave them license to exploit and oppress their brethren.33 Toynbee and Tawney wrote about the era of the church of Sardis, who was warned to repent or Christ would come upon them like a thief in the night (Revelation 3:1-6). Covenantal curses require a warning before judgment (Amos 3:7), and the warning was fulfilled by the era of the Philadelphian church, which is expounded upon fairly accurately by the historicist, Austin Cooke.
“At what time, then, did the Philadelphian period commence? The timeframe covered by Sardis, the fifth church, was that of the Reformation and post- Reformation churches, concluding in approximately 1750. This position has been generally held by most scholars through the years.”34
Cooke has the Philadelphian era commence with the time of the Great Awakenings, and with the time of men like John Wesley who:
“attacked the legal, political and religious corruption of the day.… They abolished child slavery – the cruel system of child labour. The individual prominent in this reform was Lord Shaftesbury, a product of the Revival.… They attacked bribery and smuggling - the curse of English life - and engaged in a remarkable ministry to the poverty-stricken, who were the vast majority of the population.”35
Yet, the Great Awakenings abated, while the Protestant penchant for exploiting their brethren did not and became the spirit of the final church era, the Laodicean era. All one has to make is a cursory investigation into the abuses of child labor that continued well into the twentieth century in America, to find that its horrific practice was upheld by a Supreme Court decision under the right to contract in 1918.36 Again, the rider of the white horse represents how the Protestants went forth conquering and to conquer the world to expand their markets, where they were compelled to exploit labor in foreign fields when at home labor began to dissent violently, as they would in America, also. Colonialism ensued, fomented wars and rumors of wars, as characterized by the rider of the red horse. The use of markets and national banks to control the prices of goods and services is characterized by the rider of the black horse, followed by the rider of the pale horse when fluctuations, such as depressions and recessions, resulted in famine and death: “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). The scope of this book is not to provide the minutiae on such events, but to show that the events are easily discernable as the apocalyptic four horsemen when the seven seals are properly placed in the Hebraic cultic calendar.
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