Let’s start at the beginning, in Revelation 1 we get the introduction, but we also get the framework of the entire book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:19 it tells you exactly the order that John was writing in.
19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.
As we see here, Jesus commands John to write what he has seen, which refers to past tense, then what is now, which is present tense, and what will take later, which is future. This to me dictates the entire flow of the book of Revelation.
Now we know that the seven churches were letters to those specific churches, but they were also there to show us the culmination of the church with the ages to come. However, another way to look at this would be, that Jesus is showing each different types of Christians and showing us what needs to be done to get back on the right path. The letters to the churches were not part of the vision as we need to remember, they were simply letters that Christ directed John to write, so John did not see any future or meaning behind the letters, so it could possibly just simply be the fact that Jesus was directing us what needs to be done to keep the faith. This is just how I see it; I could be wrong.
If we go to Revelation 4, then we start to see the actual vision of John. We are transported to the throne room of God, and it introduces the Father, the 24 elders, and the 4 beasts. I do not believe that these elders are the church from the rapture that some people believe. I have heard of some people claiming that the door that John goes in is the rapture, but there is nothing in scripture that I can find that supports that, as it was simply a call to John to see the vision.
Revelation 5 is where we start getting answers and it shows us the timeframe for Revelation. I firmly believe that John is witnessing the events that immediately came after the resurrection of Christ. In revelation 5:5 we are told that Jesus has triumphed.
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 is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then immediately after this Jesus, who was slain shows up and takes the scroll and starts opening it.
If you read revelation 5, it is all sent in past tense, which makes me believe that that scene was in the past.
Regardless we continue as we see the seals opening. These same seals were mirrored in the Olivet prophecy in Mathew 24:
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
24 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
First seal: antichrists, false prophets, sent out on the world: Mathew 24:4, 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.
Second seal: wars, rumors of wars: 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom
Third Seal: famine: There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
4th Seal: death. This one is in my opinion taken out of context. Most scholars believe this means that 1/4 of the world will be killed, but that’s not what this is saying.
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 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.
All it simply says is that it gives power to a fourth of the earth, this doesn’t mean a fourth of the earth was killed, but that God gave death permission over a piece of land basically to kill, have famine and plagues, etc. I personally believe this is the middle east, but I could be wrong.
5th seal: martyrs. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their servants, their brothers and sisters, [e] were killed just as they had been.
This tells us that the seal was opened immediately upon Jesus resurrection, just look at how when the first martyr died, Stephen, and it has just continued ever since.
The birth pangs are the seals that opened around 2,000 years ago and as we see in this world today how fast the contractions have become. The sixth seal is right around the corner.
Another reason I believe that the 5 seals deal with the past is because of how it was written. If you look at Revelation 6 you see that the first 5 seals all start with when he opened. which refers to the past. But as we look at the six seal his writing changes, he says I watched as he opened the sixth seal. Something had changed with the vision. I believe this was going from past to future.
Now let’s examine the 6th seal
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.
Again, the sixth seal follows perfectly along with the Olivet prophecy in Mathew 24.
“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[c] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. [d] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
As we see the day of the lord is the rapture as the sixth seal is opened the son of man will come in the clouds with a loud trumpet call.
also, see Joel 2:31
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
The sun and moon will be darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.
In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will weep and wail for the mountains
and take up a lament concerning the wilderness grasslands.
They are desolate and untraveled,
and the lowing of cattle is not heard.
The birds have all fled
and the animals are gone
These verses point back to the sixth seal.
I think everyone has been getting pre-tribulation and pre-wrath so mixed up, honestly I believe they are one in the same. Nothing in the bible ever says that the seals are the judgment, and if I am right about the seals being opened after the resurrection, then the rapture and the sixth seal would happen simultaneously. It kind of makes sense if you think about it, what else would cause a worldwide earthquake, except for God showing up in the clouds and throwing the devil and his angels or “stars” down on earth? Just food for thought.