THE REAL SEVEN SEALS
The Seven Seals are the cornerstone of the Book of Revelation. They are the pivot on which the book turns and the foundation on which it unfolds. The seals give us an overview of the fate of the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, as well as the conditions that would befall Christians and Jews, from the time of Jesus Christ's first coming until the time of His return.
In Revelation 5:1-5 the apostle John is shown a vision of a scroll in the right hand of God. He is told that the scroll is "sealed with seven seals” and that only Christ is "worthy" to "loose the seven seals" thereof. From Rev 1:3 we gather, and the contents confirm, that this scroll contains written prophecy.
Why is Christ worthy to remove the seals of the prophecy? Verse 9 explains:
“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood"
Jesus Christ came to Earth to conquer Satan, to die for the sins of mankind and to qualify to rule on Earth. Through His victory, He became worthy to unseal the seals of this prophecy.
But which prophecy?
There is only one set of prophecies in the Old Testament said to be sealed. They are the writings of Daniel. In Dan 12:4 Daniel is told to "seal the book" and in verse 9 he is informed that "the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end".
How does Christ's victory qualify Him to unseal the prophecies of Daniel?
It does so because the prophecies of Daniel cover a timeline of events from Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Jerusalem until the second coming of Christ.
Christ's return coincides with the resurrection of the firstfruits, the removal of Satan from rule and the accession of Christ to the rulership of Earth.
None of these would be possible had Christ not succeeded in His mission at His first coming - that's how He qualifies.
Jesus Christ's first coming was according to the timeline given to the prophet Daniel in the "70 week prophecy", found in Dan 9:24-27.
The 70 week prophecy begins in Dan 9:24 by stating that "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city" and verse 26 adds that "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary".
When did Christ speak of these very events, thereby unsealing their fuller application? He did so first and foremost in His Olivet prophecy. There He described conditions and events culminating in the final three and a half years which remained of the 70th week. Christ's ministry covered the first three and a half years of the 70th week as mentioned in Dan 9:27. Then a forty year period of grace transpired for Jews to repent and for the Church to become established. The Roman destruction of the nation of Judah began in the spring of 67AD and reached its climax with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its subsequent plunder throughout 70AD.
In Rev 1:1 we are told that the prophecies of the book of Revelation relate to "things that must shortly take place". Verse 19 elaborates further by stating it is about "things which are" and "things which will take place after this". This is important because the majority of people in the end time Churches of God think most of these events are yet future, but that doesn't fit this description. It's not just speaking of future conditions, but also of ones already happening at the time of writing.
Many different interpretations of the book of Revelation exist, but it is the Historicist view that, with the benefit of hindsight, proves to be correct. This is logical because the Scriptures themselves employ that method of interpretation. When Daniel was given his prophecies of beasts and the statue of a man made of various metals, he himself was told they referred to empires which will appear successively in history. It is also logical that God, in His Word, having given man an overview of man's first 4000 years, would give the next 2000 years in advance, leading up to the return of Christ. This way, no matter where in history a person would find themselves, they would have a message, and see conditions, pertaining to their time.
The region where the explanation of the seals must be sought is the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem, because it is the focus of the prophecies of Daniel. Jerusalem is also the focus of Christ's Olivet prophecy. Additionally, Christ's millennial rule will be from Jerusalem, so maintaining a "Jerusalem focus" throughout is essential to understanding.
Earlier prophecies given by God had pertained to Israel as a whole. However, it were people from the Kingdom of Judah who had returned to the Holy Land from captivity. Daniel, who was among the captive Jews, was told that the prophecies given to him were about "your people and your holy city" (Dan 9:24), i.e. the Jews and Jerusalem. This is why the first "beast" in the prophecies of Daniel is Babylon, which captured Judah and Jerusalem, and why it is not Assyria, which captured Israel and Samaria.
Let's look at the description of the first seal in Revelation chapter 6.
I have added Christ's Olivet explanations under the text of the seals, in gold colour.
First Seal: False religion
Rev 6:1 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”
2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
“For many will come in my name saying I am He” (Lk 21:8) and “false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders” (Mt 24:23-27).
The first condition that would exist in Jerusalem is the continued presence and influence of false religion.
This first seal is not about Gentile countries having false religions. Gentile countries always have false religions; that's par for the course for Gentiles. It wouldn't require a Biblical prophecy to foretell that under Satan's rule, Gentile countries would have false religions.
At the time of Christ's first coming, Jerusalem was under Roman rule, Rome being the sixth head of the overall "Beast" power of Gentile kingdoms to rule the city of God (Rev 17:10). The Romans were into all types of pagan religion, and with their practices defiled the land of Israel.
Jewish "prophets", of which Josephus disparagingly mentions a number in War of the Jews 2:13.4-6, arose from time to time, and were allowed to teach, but when their preaching led to insurrection, they were swiftly dealt with.
Leading up to their demise, the Jews became evermore stricken with false religion; the siege of Jerusalem in 70AD saw three factions of Jews fighting each other more than they fought the Romans. Each faction had its own "false prophet" in charge: John of Gischala, Simon bar Giora and Eleazar ben Simon, as described at length by Josephus in "Wars of the Jews". The people's allegiance to these men was a major factor in their defeat.
In the following century, another false Jewish prophet arose, Simon Bar Kokhba, who had a large hand in the further demise of Jerusalem and the Jewish people.
In Acts 8 we see in Samaria the appearance of Simon the Magician who went on to found false Christianity, as elaborated on at length by the historian Eusebius. As far as false prophets go, it is hard to overstate the impact Simon has made on history. False Christianity became the dominant religion in all the Roman Empire in the time of Constantine the Great, and has greatly impacted Jerusalem throughout the millennia.
Therefore, though Christ mentions "false christs and false prophets" in His Olivet statement regarding the time leading up to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, the broader application of false religion must be intended by Him in regard to this first seal, as history shows that false Christianity and, following on from it, Islam, together trampled down Jerusalem for more that sixteen hundred years.
Christ's first removed seal unseals Daniel 2, 7 and 8, showing that Jerusalem would be subjected to a long history of influence and occupation by the practitioners of false religions.
Second Seal: Bloodshed through war and violence
3 When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.”
4 Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth (of Israel), and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.
“Wars and commotions” (Lk 21:9), “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (Lk 21:10) and you will hear of wars and rumours of wars (Matt 24:6).
The second condition to last till Christ's return is bloodshed caused by war and violence, in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Note that the word "earth" in verse 4 denotes Israel. On the third day of Creation God separated the earth from the sea. This foreshadowed God's work in the third millennium when He created the people of Israel and placed them in the land of Israel, separating them from the surrounding Gentile nations. In Rev 17:15 the nations are referred to as "waters" or seas. Please see the page "THE SEVEN DAY BLUEPRINT" for more on this.
Only a number of years after the death of Christ, war erupted between Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Perea (who had been responsible for the beheading John the Baptist), and King Aretas of Nabatea, the kingdom to the south of Perea and Judea. As quoted from newworldencyclopedia.org:
"....border disputes between Antipas and King Aretas of Nabatea had been slowly moving toward open warfare, exacerbated by Antipas' divorce of Aretas' daughter. In 36 C.E. Antipas' army suffered a serious defeat after fugitives from the former tetrarchy of Philip sided with the Nabateans. Antipas was forced to appeal to (Roman Emperor) Tiberius for help. The emperor ordered Lucius Vitellius, the Roman governor of Syria, to march against Aretas and ensure that he was captured or killed. Vitellius mobilized two legions, sending them on a detour around Judea..." (Article "Herod Antipas").
Emperor Caligula (37AD-41AD), who succeeded Tiberius, was not a person lacking in self esteem. He gradually began to view himself as a god and, as a consequence, led to "rumours of war" for a considerable time in the land of Israel. Caligula ordered statues of himself to be erected in all nations the Romans occupied, and so, in 40AD, a general by the name of Petronius was sent to Jerusalem to set up Caligula's statue in the Temple. However, he was intercepted before he got there and was rebuffed by the Jews. The order had been that if he and his army met opposition, they should kill all who stood against them and carry the rest of the nation off into captivity. Instead the Romans slunk off to Syria in defeat and reported to Caligula. From that time forward the fear of reprisal hung over the nation of Israel. However, Caligula's sudden death gave the Jews a temporary reprieve. Josephus records this, and a lot more, in his Antiquities from 18:8.2 onwards.
In the decades leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, the land was terrorised by a rebel group called the "Sicarii" as described by Josephus in War of the Jews 2:13.3. Here is a quote from Wikipedia:
"The Sicarii were a splinter group of the Jewish Zealots who, in the decades preceding Jerusalem's destruction in 70 CE, strongly opposed the Roman occupation of Judea and attempted to expel them and their sympathisers from the area. The Sicarii carried "sicae", or small daggers, concealed in their cloaks. At public gatherings, they pulled out these daggers to attack Romans and alleged Roman sympathisers alike, blending into the crowd after the deed to escape detection" (article "Sicarii").
Josephus says that thousands were killed by the Sicarii, many of them villagers whose towns were raided for supplies (War of the Jews 4:7.2). He also says that as bad as their deeds were, the fear of them that came over the people was even greater.
In 66AD the Jews revolted against the Romans, initially in regard to heavy taxation, but mainly because of the generally deteriorating relationship between local Romans rulers and the Jews. Violent clashes had also occurred in some regions between Jews and non-Jews, leading to many deaths. One Cestius Gallus was dispatched to restore order. Cestius marched on Jerusalem but was driven off when victory appeared to be his. The following year Vespasian and his armies arrived and began what would be the campaign that brought the Jewish nation to its knees, culminating in the total destruction of Jerusalem.
It is interesting to note that during the relatively short period of this campaign, 67AD to 70AD, no less than four Roman emperors, Nero, Galba, Otho and Vitellius met an untimely death.
Christ foretold this first century war in His Olivet prophecy, as well as other places in the gospels, and added in Lk 21:24 that Jerusalem would be "trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled", predicting a whole lot more warfare and violence in the Holy Land.
This ongoing warfare is elaborated in detail throughout the seven trumpet events of the seventh seal. Please see the page "THE HISTORICAL SEVENTH SEAL".
Christ's second removed seal unseals large portions of the book of Daniel, showing that Jerusalem would be subjected to a long history of war, violence and bloodshed.
Third Seal: Famine and hardship
5 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”
“Famines” (Matt 24:7 and Lk 21:11)
The third condition to exist in the Holy Land is not only famine and malnutrition, but in its broader application hardship, poverty and deprivation. The above description in Rev 6:5-6 alludes to a lack of food as well as economic hardship. A denarius is a man's daily wage, but the amount of food it is said here to be able to purchase is barely enough for one person, let alone a man's dependants.
In Acts 11:27-30, the prophet Agabus foretells of a coming famine. Most translations say this would come upon the "world", but the word is actually "earth" and verse 29 clearly says that the location of the famine is "Judaea". Verse 28 says that this famine took place during the reign of Emperor Claudius who ruled from 41AD to 54AD. I Cor 16:1-3 shows Paul arranging contributions for the Jerusalem brethren; Rom 15:25-28 refers to this as well.
Josephus adds that Queen Helena of Adiabene (Assyria) came to Jerusalem to worship around this time and, finding the city in famine, made arrangements for grain and dried figs to be brought from Egypt and Cyprus (Ant 20:47-51). This and the above contributions from brethren show that surrounding countries were not affected like Judaea was.
While Jerusalem was under siege in 70AD, terrible famine resulted from rival groups of Jews destroying their own grain supply out of spite toward one another.
When Israel walked with God, it was blessed with all the abundance God foretold in Lev 26 and Deut 28. However, the more they went against God, the more they were cursed, as foretold by the same prophecies. Ultimately, and bit by bit, they lost their land, and when Gentiles conquered Israel it came to be under one long curse.
Obviously, there weren't always famines, but poverty, hardship and struggling to make ends meet became the norm in the land that should have been flowing with milk and honey.
Christ's third removed seal from Daniel's writings unseals Dan 9:11, where Daniel in prayer to God states that "all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us". The curses that would befall Israel if they disobeyed were recorded by Moses mainly in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. With regard to food production and economic prosperity, we see it abundantly described in these two chapters that walking with God brings blessings, and walking contrary to Him results in curses.
Before Israel was given their land, it was occupied by people who brought curses upon it. That changed in Israel's early years when for some time they obeyed God. Crops were blessed and herds were plentiful, as can be seen from the enormous number of sacrifices that used to be offered. Over time, as lawlessness and godlessness became the norm, these blessings diminished. When Jerusalem and the whole land reverted to Gentile occupation, the original curses returned in full.
Visitors to the Holy Land during its many centuries of occupation would comment on how bleak and dismal the countryside looked. Not until Jewish settlers returned in the early 20th century did things begin to change. When they first arrived they found swamps, marshland, sand dunes and desert. Since the founding of the State of Israel, a total transformation has taken place. Vegetation is again flourishing, water is flowing, and much food is being produced. Travel from Jordan into Israel and you'll see a brown, barren countryside turn into a green one.
The 2520 years ("seven times") of Gentile conquest prophesied in Daniel 4 cursed Jerusalem and the Holy Land for that entire duration.
Fourth Seal: Untimely death
7 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him.
8 They were given power over a fourth of the earth (of Israel) to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (NIV)
"Famine, pestilences and earthquakes in various places” (Matt 24:7) "great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences" (Lk 21:11).
The fourth condition to exist until Christ's return includes all causes of untimely death in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Note that these curses are not a new phenomenon. In Eze 14:21 God already states, regarding Judah's then impending fall to Nebuchadnezzar, that He will send "My four severe judgments on Jerusalem - the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence".
It barely needs mentioning that war and famine themselves kill many people and invariably lead to all types of disease and sickness which in turn kill a whole lot more people.
Josephus recorded much of the suffering endured by the Jews in many of their towns as the Romans swept through their country, reaching a crescendo in the ultimate devastation of 70AD.
The reference to "fourth of the earth" most probably refers to the fraction of people living in the Holy Land throughout history who have suffered a premature death.
Like the previous seal, Christ's fourth removed seal from Daniel's writings also unseals Dan 9:11, where Daniel in prayer confesses to God that "all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us". Those curses are recorded mainly in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.
If Israel had obeyed Him, God promised that "you shall eat your bread to the full" (Lev 26:5) and "I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through the land" (Lev 26:6). In Ex 15:26 He says "I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians". These kinds of promises are repeated in many places in the Bible and were fulfilled as long as Israel was faithful to God.
When Jerusalem and the Holy Land went into their long period of captivity, as prophesied in the book of Daniel, the reverse applied and untimely death became common.
The first four seals are described as horses with riders. Horsemen in Scripture signify armies and so these first four conditions are the direct result of Jerusalem's fall to the Gentiles. The fifth and sixth seals however, are somewhat different. Both these conditions started in Jerusalem, but over time spread to affect true Christians and Jews in the various other countries to which they dispersed.
Fifth Seal: Persecution of the faithful people of God: true Christians
9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth (of Israel)?”
11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
“They will lay their hands on you and persecute you” (Lk 21:12), “They will put some of you to death” (Lk 21:16) and "Brother will betray brother to death" (Mk 13:12).
The fifth condition is the ongoing persecution of the true worshippers of God.
Luke 21:22 says "these be the days of vengeance", but vengeance on which people? Rev 6:10, quoted above, says "on those who dwell on the earth". The earth in prophecy refers to the land of Israel. The Jews instigated Christ's death and persecuted the Church as shown in the book of Acts, which records the killing of the deacon Stephen and the apostle James. It states that severe persecution broke out against the Church at that time, beginning in Jerusalem. Mark 13:9 adds that "they shall deliver you up to councils, and you shall be beaten in the synagogues". Clearly this refers to an initial Jewish persecution of the Church.
Prior to Christ's time, this same mindset already existed as testified by Him in Luke 13:34 where Christ states "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her". Those who speak the truth have never been popular.
Through the millennia after the Jewish state ceased to exist, the persecution was meted out mostly by Beast powers in the areas they controlled, including the "earth" of the Holy Land.
Christ's unsealing of the fifth seal in the Olivet prophecy shows that the examples of persecution in Daniel 3 and 6 are applicable to all believers, as those who stand up for God's truth are likely to face persecution of some sort throughout the age of man. The events involving Daniel and his friends being saved from the fiery furnace and the lions' den are indicative of such demonic hostility.
Sixth Seal: Punishment of the unfaithful people of God: the Jews
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake (the commencement of the "great tribulation" of the final three and a half years of the Seventy Week Prophecy culminating in the destruction of 70AD); and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair (great Jewish suffering and mourning), and the moon became like blood (enormous numbers of Jews killed).
13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth (the Jews were defeated and cast down), as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind (Israel is typified as a fig tree – see below).
14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island (those of the mountain and island of God, located in the midst of the seas of Gentiles) was moved out of its place (the surviving Jews saw their lives turned upside down, with many removed from their nation and sold into slavery).
15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains (the Jews became a stateless people, scattered among the nations),
16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! ("Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” " (the time Christ is referring to here, the AD70 destruction, was just the beginning of this sorrow) Lk 23:28-30).
17 For the great day of His wrath has come (and continued a long period), and who is able to stand?”
"And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (and, as a consequence, the Jews dispersed among the nations would be persecuted for this same duration of time) (Luke 21:24).
The sixth condition is the ongoing punishment of the Jews.
Christ's unsealing of the sixth seal in the Olivet prophecy reveals that a thread running throughout Daniel's writings was to continue, that being God's vengeance against the Jews for their ongoing rejection of Him. At the particular stage of history mentioned here in Rev 6, the commencement of the Roman campaign in 67AD, the Jews were about to go into captivity once again.
The persecution of Jews was conducted by all the heads and horns of the Beast, but specifically the 1260 year long persecution at the hand of the "little horn" (Catholicism/Christianity) is unsealed here, as foretold in Dan 7:25 (the page "THE TWO WITNESSES" explains this in detail).
A special note must be made on the use of the words "sun", "moon" and "stars". In Joseph's dream recorded in Gen 37:9-11, these heavenly bodies are used to designate a family: husband, wife and children. However, not just any family, but the physical family of Israel, the ancestors of the whole House of Israel. Therefore, the phrase "the sun, the moon and the stars" is figurative language used to signify them. They are, as God's physical elect people, meant to be lights unto the world.
In Scripture the phrase is also used when speaking of other nations, as in Isa 13:10 and Eze 32:7, but even here it denotes their leaders, their great ones, their luminaries if you will.
Spiritually, the sun is a type of Christ, the moon a type of Christ's bride and the stars are the children of the family of God, as described on the page "THE SEVEN DAY BLUEPRINT".
Of course, not all Jews rejected God. The book of Daniel also treats us to Daniel's thoroughly heartfelt prayer of repentance in chapter 9. It is a remarkable response to Lev 26:40-42 and an enormous example for us in the Laodicean era of the Church of God, showing that even if the great majority are going astray, an individual can still go against the flow, repent and find favour with God.
Below is the Olivet prophecy as recorded by Luke, containing and revealing all of the seven seals. I've used Luke's version as it is the most encompassing version and includes the seventh seal. Matthew's account has the first six seals listed in the order given in Revelation 6.
Underlined text identifies the seals; annotations in gold.
5 Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said,
6 “These things which you see, the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”
7 So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”
8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He’ and ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them (Seal 1).
9 But when you hear of wars and commotions (Seal 2 and 4), do not be terrified; for these things
must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (Seal 2 and 4).
11 And there will be great earthquakes (Seal 4) in various places, and famines (Seal 3 and 4) and pestilences (Seal 4); and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake (Seal 5).
13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.
14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer;
15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist (Seal 5).
16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.
17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake (Seal 5).
18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost.
19 By your patience possess your souls.
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near (Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet (in Dan 9:27), standing in the holy place" (Mt 24:15).
21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.
22 For these are the days of vengeance (vengeance on the Jews for rejecting and killing Christ), that all things which are written may be fulfilled (written in the 70 week prophecy of Dan 9:24-27, but also in Eze 4 where 40 years of sin by the House of Judah are foretold. Christ died on Passover 31AD; the final siege of Jerusalem began exactly 40 inclusive years later on Passover 70AD).
23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! (Lk 23:28-30: "But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” For there will be great distress in the land (of Israel) and wrath upon this people (the Jews).
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations (punishment of the Jews ongoing until 2520 years are fulfilled from the first fall of Jerusalem, as prophesied in Lev 26:24) 24 (Luke 21:20-24 are all Seal 6). And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Seal 7, Trumpets 1-6) (This is a momentous chronological statement. It takes the prophecy all the way to the 20th century, when Judah's years of punishment ended).
25 And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars (those of Jacob's family who had retained their identity - see Gen 37:9-10) ; and on the earth (of Israel) distress of nations (Gentiles), with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring (many Gentile invasions);
26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth (on Israel), for the powers of the heavens (powers that control Jerusalem) will be shaken (will change frequently) (Seal 7, Trumpets 1-6).
27 Then (after "the times of the Gentiles" are fulfilled and the Jews control Jerusalem again) they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Seal 7, Trumpet 7).
28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.
29 Then He spoke to them a parable: Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.
30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. (Israel is in Scripture pictured as a fig tree - see Jer 24, Hos 9:10, Joel 1:6-7 and Lk 13:6-9, which put Mk 11:12-14, where Christ cursed a fig tree, into perspective. The re-establishment of the nation of Israel is a sure sign that Christ's return is near).
31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things (prophesied about it) take place. (The generation that Christ spoke to did not fully pass away until it was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. Lk 17:25 tells us who Christ meant by "this generation". Speaking of His then impending crucifixion, He said "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation").
33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
There are two important points I want to add to the above explanation. Both have caused much confusion.
The first point is the meaning of Matt 24:14. It states "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then will the end come". In our Church era the word "end" has almost always been taught to apply to the time of Christ's second coming. Unfortunately, this has had a very blinding effect on our understanding. There are many things that come to an end at various times in Scripture, e.g. a ruling dynasty, a "beast" power's time of reign, a prophecy, a specified period of time, a person's life etc.
Matt 24:15 says "Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation ....... standing in the holy place". This corresponds with Luke 21:20 which says "but when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near". Therefore the "end" spoken of in Matt 24:14 is the very one described here by Christ, i.e. the end of the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish state. People of course will object and say that the gospel wasn't preached to all nations by that time, so that in their eyes this can't possibly be the explanation. The Scriptures however, state otherwise:
In Col 1:5-6 Paul writes "the truth of the gospel which has come to you, as it has in all the world". A bit further, in Col 1:23 Paul continues with "the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven".
In Rom 10:18 Paul quotes Psalm 19 in regard to the preaching of the gospel: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the end of the world". In Rom 16:25-26 Paul speaks of the "gospel" that has been "made manifest .... to all nations".
So rather than us telling God what "this gospel shall be preached unto all the nations, and then shall the end come" means, we should rather listen to Him, and carefully try to understand what He is saying to us: the New Covenant gospel began to go out to all nations, and then in the 67-70AD calamity all things associated with the Old Covenant were destroyed, i.e. brought to an end, thus fulfilling the final week of Daniel's 70 week prophecy, when Christ was prophesied to "confirm the covenant for one week" (Dan 9:27).
The second point concerns the phrase "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved" found in Matt 24:22, recorded after Christ warns about a coming "great tribulation". People in our time have taken this phrase to be speaking of all people in the world.
Luke's account, however, as quoted above, gives us the explanation in Luke 21:23. He uses the phrase "great distress" instead of "great tribulation", and gives us two vital clues about it. He says that the great distress is upon "the land" and "this people". As Christ emphatically states that the disciples need to flee "Judea" to avoid the "great distress/great tribulation", obviously "the land" is the land of Judea, and "this people" are the people of Judea, i.e. the Jews.
Seventh Seal: Seven major historical events in the timeline of Jerusalem
"And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Lk 21:24)
Rev 8:1 "And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour".
The seventh seal consists of seven trumpets, which are seven major events in Jerusalem's history. All of the first six seals had begun to be fulfilled by the time the first trumpet of the seventh seal sounded, which is logical.
From the time of Christ's death and resurrection there was a short space of "silence (peace) in heaven" (Jerusalem) for the Church to get established, but then the big prophetic fulfilments began.
See the page "THE HISTORICAL SEVENTH SEAL" for where Biblical history continues.