The seven thunders
appear in Revelation 10:1–7.
apocalyptic vision, the apostle
John saw a
mighty angel striding
sea and the land
in his hand
The angel gave a shout like the roar of a lion,
and then the voices of the
seven thunders spoke. Just as
John was about to
write down what they said,
a voice from heaven told him to
"seal up what the seven thunders have
said and do not write it down”
The incident of the seven thunderous voices occurs in the
interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets.
The seven thunders are not just the usual noise of thunder
but are thunder-like voices communicating a message.
The Greek word translated
“thunder” means “to roar.”
Thunder is often a mark of judgment in Scripture
as in 1 Samuel 2:10, 2 Samuel 22:14,
and several more places in
Revelation (8:5, 11:19, 16:18), so these
seven powerful voices are crying out for
God’s judgment upon the sinful earth.
The thunder represents the voice of God. Psalm 18:13 says,
“The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of
the Most High resounded.”
Further evidence of the seven
thunders being the voice of God
is in Revelation 4:5:
“From the throne came flashes of
rumblings and peals of thunder.
Before the throne,
seven lamps were blazing.
These are the
seven spirits of God.”
Again the voice of God is depicted as
thunderous rumblings that
display the power, majesty and
glory of our mighty Lord.
In this verse,
John saw a preview of the
divine wrath to be poured out
on the earth as described in
in Revelation chapters 6—19.
Just as John was about to write the words of the seven thunders,
a voice from heaven commands him to seal up what was
revealed by them. The same throne that issues
forth lightning and peals of thunder issues a command to
keep secret what the voices have revealed.
The reason for the sealing is not given, but it could be that the judgment was simply too terrifying to be recorded. The content of the message is never revealed in Scripture, so we can’t speculate on it.
The seven thunders are the only words in
Revelation that are sealed.
There are five verses in
Bible that refer
to a “seal of God” or
an object or
person sealed by
(John 6:27; 2 Timothy 2:19; Revelation 6:9; 7:2; and 9:4).
The word sealed in the New Testament comes from a Greek word that means
“to stamp with a private mark”
in the interest of keeping something secret or protecting or preserving the sealed object. Seals were used for official business: a Roman centurion, for instance, might have sealed a document that was meant only for the eyes of his superior. If the seal were broken, the one receiving the document would know that the letter had been tampered with or read by someone other than the sealer.
Revelation 7:3–4 and 9:4 refer to group of people who have the seal of God, and thus His protection, during the tribulation. During the fifth trumpet judgment, locusts from the Abyss attack the people of the earth with “power like that of scorpions” (Revelation 9:3). However, these demonic locusts are limited in what they can harm: “They 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” (Revelation 9:4). The individuals who are marked by God are preserved. The seal of God during the tribulation is the direct opposite of the mark of the beast, which identifies people as followers of Satan (Revelation 13:16–18).
Paul speaks of the seal of God in the context of foundational truth. He tells Timothy that false doctrines are circulating and some people are trying to destroy the faith of believers. Then he offers this encouragement: “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness’” (2 Timothy 2:19). The picture is of a building’s foundation that has been inscribed with two statements giving the purpose of the building. The church’s foundation has been laid (Ephesians 2:20), and the eternal “seal” or inscription sums up the two aspects of faith—trust in God and departure from sin (see Mark 1:15). The passage goes on to describe the contents of the great house so inscribed: vessels for honorable use and those for dishonorable use. “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21, ESV).
Jesus Christ bore the seal of God: “On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (John 6:27). Those who trust in Jesus also possess the seal of God, which is the Holy Spirit: “You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:13–14). It is good to know that God’s children are sealed, secure, and sustained amid the wickedness of this transitory world.
The seven seals are one of a series of end-times judgments from God. The seals are described in Revelation 6:1–17 and 8:1–5. In John’s vision, the seven seals hold closed a scroll in heaven, and, as each seal is broken, a new judgment is unleashed on the earth. Following the seal judgments are the trumpet judgments and the bowl or vial judgments.
The prelude to the opening
is a search for someone worthy to open the
heavenly scroll in Revelation 5.
John writes, “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”
This SCROLL contains
judgments of God;
that it is written on both sides indicates
the extensive nature
A mighty angel cries out,
“Who is worthy to
REAL the SEALS
OPEN the SCROLL?”
No one was
found worthy of breaking the SEALS
and OPENING the SCROLL,
a fact that causes
John to mourn (verse 3–4).
If the SCROLL could not be opened,
would not be judged and evil would
to INFECT the EARTH.
As John is weeping over the unopened scroll and its unbroken seven seals, he receives good news: “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5). “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne. . . . He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne” (verses 6–7). This is a picture of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain who is also the Lion of judgment. Jesus is the only one worthy to judge the world (cf. John 5:22). As He takes the scroll to open the seals and pronounce judgment on the unbelieving world, the beings in heaven glorify
Him with anew song:
“You are worthy to take
and to open its seals,
because you were
and with your blood you purchased
persons from every tribe and language
and people and nation. . . .
Worthy is the Lamb,
who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and
wisdom and strength
honor and glory and praise!”
(verses 9 and 12).
Amid the worship due to Him, the Lamb begins to open the seals (Revelation 6:1). With each seal opened, the scroll is able to be unrolled a little more, revealing bit by bit the judgments God has in store during the tribulation period. The first four of the seven seals release what are known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, because the judgments appear symbolically as a horse and rider bringing devastation in their wake.
The first seal.
The first seal introduces the Antichrist (Revelation 6:1–2). From the biblical description, we gather several details: he rides a white horse, which speaks of peace; at the beginning of the tribulation, the Antichrist will come under the pretense of bringing peace to the world (cf. Daniel 9:27). He is given a crown, which indicates that the Antichrist will exercise great authority (cf. Daniel 7:24–25). He holds a bow, which shows his true intentions, and he advances “as a conqueror bent on conquest” (Revelation 6:2).
The second seal.
When the Lamb opens the second seal, great warfare breaks out on the earth (Revelation 6:3–4). This is symbolized by a rider with a large sword on a fiery red horse.
The third seal.
The breaking of the third of the seven seals causes famine (Revelation 6:5–6). The rider that John sees is riding a black horse and “holding a pair of scales in his hand.” Then John hears a declaration that people will have to work all day to earn just a little food.
The fourth seal.
The fourth seal is opened, and John sees a pale horse. “Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him” (Revelation 6:7–8). The result of this fourth seal is that one fourth of the earth’s population are killed “by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”
The fifth seal.
The scroll’s fifth seal reveals those who will be martyred for their faith in Christ during the tribulation (Revelation 6:9–11; cf. Matthew 24:9). The souls of these martyrs are pictured as dwelling under the altar in heaven. God hears their cries for justice, and He gives each of them a white robe. The martyrs are told to wait “until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.” God promises to avenge them, but the time was not yet (cf. Romans 12:19).
The sixth seal.
When the Lamb of God opens the sixth seal, a devastating earthquake occurs, causing massive upheaval and terrible devastation—along with unusual astronomical phenomena: the sun turns black, and the moon turns blood-red, and “the heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place” (Revelation 6:12–14). Survivors of the sixth seal, regardless of their social position, take refuge in caves and cry out 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?” (verses 16–17).
After the opening of the
sixth of the seven seals
interlude in the book of Revelation.
John describes the 144,000 Jews
who will be
protected during the tribulation
Then, in heaven, he sees
“a great multitude
that no one could count,
every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne and
before the Lamb”
These people wear white robes,
hold palm branches, and shout:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb” (verse 10).
John is told
who this white-clad multitude is:
“These are they who have come out
of the great tribulation; they have
washed their robes and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14).
They are given the promise that
“‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat. . . .
‘And God will wipe away every tear from
(verses 16–17; cf. Isaiah 25:8; 49:10).
The seventh seal.
When the Lamb opens the seventh seal, “
there was silence in heaven for about half an hour”
The judgments that lead up to the
close of the tribulation
are now visible in the scroll and
are so severe that a
solemn silence falls upon all of heaven.
The seventh seal
obviously introduces the next
series of judgments, for John
sees seven angels who are handed
ready to sound (verse 2).
An eighth angel takes a
burns “much incense” in it,
representing the prayers of God’s people
The angel then took the same censer,
“filled it with fire from the altar,
and hurled it on the earth; and
peals of thunder, rumblings,
flashes of lightning
Once the seven seal judgments are finished,
the next part of the tribulation,
featuring the seven trumpet judgments, is
ready to begin.
The Bible mentions that some
events will occur in
temple in Jerusalem
(Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15). Second Thessalonians 2:4,
tells us, "He will oppose and will exalt himself
over everything that is called God or is worshiped,
so that he sets himself up in God’s temple,
proclaiming himself to be God." Before the end times can occur,
a temple must be present for these events to occur in.
There is still the “small” problem of the Islamic Dome of the Rock being on the site where the Jewish temple is supposed to be. Muslims believe this is the place from which Mohammed ascended into heaven, making it the third most sacred of Muslim shrines. For the Jews to take over this place and build a temple upon it would be unthinkable in today’s political climate.
But during the tribulation,
the building of the Temple
will come about, protected by the Antichrist
Temple being constructed,
we can be sure the end times are indeed upon us.
The Antichrist will be
the Church will already have been raptured,
and the first half of the tribulation will have passed.
But there will still be
for people to come
Christ for salvation.
tribulation saints are,
, saints living during the tribulation.
We believe that the church will be raptured before the tribulation,
but the Bible indicates that a great number of people during the tribulation will place their faith in Jesus Christ. In his vision of heaven, John sees a vast number of these tribulation saints who have been martyred by the Antichrist: “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” (Revelation 7:9). When John asks who they are, he is told, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14).
The tribulation will be a time of great trouble for the wicked, because of God’s judgments. It will also be a time of great persecution for the believers—or saints—because of the Antichrist’s persecution (Revelation 13:7). Daniel saw the Antichrist “waging war against the saints and defeating them” (Daniel 7:21). Of course, the saints’ eternal salvation is secure: Daniel also saw that “the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom” (Daniel 7:22; cf. Revelation 14:12–13).
The tribulation saints will hear the gospel from several possible sources. The first is the Bible; there will be many copies of the Bible left in the world, and when God’s judgments begin to fall, many people will likely react by finding a Bible to see if prophecies are being fulfilled. Many of the tribulation saints will also have heard the gospel from the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1–13). The Bible says these two individuals “will prophesy for 1,260 days [three and a half years]” (verse 3) and perform great miracles (verse 6). And then there are the 144,000 Jewish missionaries who are redeemed and sealed by God during the tribulation (Revelation 7:1–8). Immediately following the description of their sealing in Revelation 7, we read of the multitudes of tribulation saints who are saved from every corner of the world (verses 9–17).
The tribulation saints will serve their Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of desperate surroundings. Faithful to the end, many of these believers will die for their faith. But in their death, they overcome; “They overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11). And God will reward them: “He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15–17).
We praise the Lord that the great day of trouble will also be a great day of grace. Even as God is meting out His just punishment on an unbelieving world, He will be restoring Israel to faith and extending grace to all who believe, both Jew and Gentile. God has always been in the business of saving people, and that salvation will still be available during the tribulation. Don’t wait until then, however; receive Jesus now (John 1:12).
Throughout Scripture, the tribulation is associated with the day of the Lord, that time during which God personally intervenes in history to accomplish His plan (see Isaiah 2:12; 13:6–9; Joel 1:15; 2:1–31; 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). It is referred to as “tribulation . . . in the latter days” (Deuteronomy 4:30, ESV); the great tribulation, which refers to the more intense second half of the seven-year period (Matthew 24:21); “a time of distress” (Daniel 12:1); and “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7, NKJV). And we have this description of the tribulation that attends the day of the Lord:
“That day will be a day of
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of trouble and ruin,
a day of darkness and gloom,
of clouds and blackness--
a day of
trumpet and battle cry”
The tribulation will be
by various divine judgments,
celestial disturbances, natural disasters,
and terrible plagues
(see Revelation 6—16).
In His mercy, God
sets a limit on the duration
of the tribulation.
As Jesus said, “
Those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days,
no one would survive”
Daniel 9:24–27 reveals the
purpose and time of the tribulation.
This passage speaks of
that have been declared
against “your people.”
are the Jews, the nation of Israel, and
speaks of a period of time in which
is “to finish transgression, to
end to sin, to atone for wickedness,
to bring in everlasting righteousness,
to seal up vision and prophecy
anoint the most holy.”
God declares that “seventy sevens” will fulfill all these things.
The “sevens” are groups of years, so 70 sevens is 490 years
. (Some translations refer to 70 “weeks” of years.)
In Daniel 9:25 and 26,
Messiah will be
cut off after
“seven sevens and sixty-two sevens” (69 total sevens),
beginning with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.
In other words, 69 sevens (483 years)
after the decree to rebuild is issued, the Messiah will die.
Biblical historians confirm that 483
years passed from the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the time when Jesus was crucified. Most Christian scholars, regardless of their view of eschatology, have the above understanding of
Daniel’s 70 sevens.
God said that 70 weeks
had been determined (490 years), but, with the
death of the
we only have
69 weeks accounted for (483 years).
This leaves one seven-year period to be fulfilled
“to finish transgression, to put an end to sin,
to atone for wickedness,
to bring in everlasting righteousness, to
seal up vision and prophecy and to
anoint the most holy”
This final seven-year period is what we
call the tribulation—the time when
God finishes judging Israel and
brings them back to Himself.
gives a few highlights of the final week,
the seven-year tribulation period: “
will confirm a covenant
with many for one ‘seven.’
In the middle of the ‘seven’
he will put an end
to sacrifice and offering.
And on a wing
of the temple he will set up an
that causes desolation,
until the end
that is decreed is poured out on him.”
Jesus refers to this passage in
The ruler who confirms the
covenant and then
sets up the abomination is
“the beast” in Revelation 13.
According to Daniel 9:27, the beast’s covenant will be for seven years, but in the middle of this week (3 ½ years into the tribulation), the beast will break the covenant, putting a stop to the Jewish sacrifices. Revelation 13 explains that the beast will place an image of himself in the temple and require the world to worship him.
Revelation 13:5 says that this will go on for 42 months, which is 3 ½ years (the second half of the tribulation).
So, we see a covenant lasting to the middle of the “week” (Daniel 9:27) and the beast who made the covenant demanding worship for 42 months (Revelation 13:5).
Therefore, the total length of time is 84 months or seven years.
We also have a reference to the last half of the tribulation in Daniel 7:25. There, the ruler will oppress God’s people for “a time, times, and half a time” (time=1 year; times=2 years; half a time=½ year; total of 3 ½ years). This time of oppression against the Jews is also described in Revelation 13:5–7 and is part of the “great tribulation,” the last half of the seven-year tribulation when the beast, or the Antichrist, will be in power.
A further reference to the timing of events in the tribulation is found in Revelation 11:2–3, which speaks of 1,260 days and 42 months (both equaling 3 ½ years, using the “prophetic year” of 360 days).
Also, Daniel 12:11–12 speaks of 1,290 days and 1,335 days from the midpoint of the tribulation. The additional days in Daniel 12 may include time after the tribulation for the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31–46) and time for the setting up of Christ’s millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4–6).
In summary, the tribulation is the seven-year period in the end times in which humanity’s decadence and depravity will reach its fullness, with God judging accordingly. Also during that time, Israel will repent of their sin and receive Jesus as their Messiah, setting up a time of great blessing and restoration (Zephaniah 3:9–20; Isaiah 12; 35).
The seven seals (Revelation 6:1–17; 8:1–5), seven trumpets (Revelation 8:6–9:21; 11:15–19), and seven bowls/vials (Revelation 16:1–21) are three series of end-times judgments from God. The judgments get increasingly worse and more devastating as the end times progress. The seven seals, trumpets, and bowls are connected to one another. The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:1–5), and the seventh trumpet introduces the seven bowls (Revelation 11:15–19; 15:1–8).
The seven seals
include the appearance
(Revelation 6:1–2), great warfare (Revelation 6:3–4),
famine (Revelation 6:5–6),
plague (Revelation 6:7–8), the
martyrdom of believers in Christ (Revelation 6:9–11), a
devastating earthquake causing
terrible devastation, and astronomical upheaval
Those who survive the
six seals are right to cry out, “
Fall on us and hide
us from the face of him who sits on the
throne and from the
wrath of the Lamb!
great day of their wrath has come,
and who can stand?”
The seventh seal introduces the
seven trumpet judgments.
The trumpets include hail and
fire that destroy
much of the plant life in the world
the death of much of the world’s aquatic life
(Revelation 8:8–9; 8:10–11),
the darkening of the sun and moon
(Revelation 8:12), a
plague of “demonic locusts” that
torture the unsaved
and the march of a
demonic army that
kills a third of humanity
The seventh trumpet calls forth seven angels who carry
the seven bowls of God’s wrath
(Revelation 11:15–19; 15:1–8).
The bowl judgments include painful sores afflicting humanity
the death of every living thing in the sea
the turning of rivers to blood
(Revelation 16:4–7), an intensifying of the sun’s heat
great darkness and an intensification of
the sores from the first bowl (Revelation 16:10–11),
the advance of the
Antichrist’s armies at Armageddon
and a devastating earthquake followed by giant hailstones
Together, the seals, trumpets,
and bowls of the end times comprise
“the great day of [God’s]
and serve to judge the
Antichrist’s kingdom of wickedness.
Revelation 16:5–7 declares of God, “
You are just in these judgments,
you who are and who were,
Holy One, because you
have so judged;
for they have shed the blood of your
saints and prophets,
and you have given them
blood to drink as they deserve. . . .
Yes, Lord God Almighty,
true and just
are your judgments.”