The Seven Seals (Rev 6)
In Revelation 6 we are introduced to a book with seven seals. We are told about six of them. The first four are signified by horses going out on the earth to bring destruction and death. The fifth seal is a brief glimpse of martyrs before the throne of God. The sixth seal is a great terror of cosmic proportions and the seventh seal is not spoken about at all. How should we interpret this chapter? Here is how the preterist will identify these seals.
- The first seal (6:2) shows the Romans armies victoriously marching on Jerusalem in 67 A.D. The white horse means one who is conquering.
- The second seal (6:3-4) is the temporary disruption of the Pax Romana. Red signifies blood which flows due to the lack of peace and introduction of war.
- The third (6:5-6) and fourth seals (6:7-8) show the results of this war. The colors of black and green/pale show that death and famine result from war.
- The fifth seal (6:9-11) turns our attention to heaven. We see that God is attentive to the 1st century martyrs. He is judging the Jews/Jerusalem for killing his servants who preached the truth.
- The sixth seal (6:12-17) is highly enveloped with Old Testament prophetic language. The concepts of "sun darkened" and "moon turning to blood" is typical judgmental language in the Old Testament. It is not describing literal cosmic destruction. Instead it points our attention to a nation or city being destroyed (cf. Isa 13:1, 10, 19; Ezek 32:3, 7-8, 16, 18; Isa 34:3-4). This is in direct reference to the destruction of Jerusalem. Vespasian cleared out the mountainous terrain and built siege equipment in order to scale the walls of Jerusalem. During this time many Jews hid themselves underground or in caves when he broke into the city (6:15-16).
The 144,000 Sains (Rev 7)
Before we can hear about the seventh seal our attention is diverted to the sealing of 144,000 saints. The concept of sealing directly points to protection. This is based on Ezekiel 9. Before God judges his people he always seals those who are his for protection (also reference the Passover). If the destruction of chapter 6 was about the destruction of Jerusalem in the Preterist view then chapter 7 has to do with sealing God's people.
- The four angles are holding back the winds, the winds of destruction (7:1-3; compare Jer 49:36-37). The destruction that is soon to occur is on Jerusalem by the Roman General Vespasian.
- The 144,000, then, are racial Jews who have become Christians. God is sealing them who live in Jerusalem but have converted to Christianity so they are not hurt alongside their Jewish brethren who don't believe in Christ. The Preterist will point to the time when Nero killed himself. This forced Vespasian to leave Jerusalem for a year in order to solidify things in Rome. This gave the Jewish Christians time to leave Jerusalem and flee while the non-Christian Jews remained behind thinking God sent Vespasian away. But Vespasian comes back and destroys Jerusalem. The Jewish Christians were sealed (protected) from the siege when God gave them that year to leave. They would have know they should leave based on Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24.
The Seven Trumpets (Rev 8-9)
First we see a dramatic pause (8:1) to catch our attention. Then we are introduced to the next series of sevens; The seven trumpets. This is pointing to the same event as the seven seals (destruction of Jerusalem) but with increased intensity. Notice that we go from 1/4 to 1/3 (6:8; 8:7-12). These trumpet blasts parallel the Exodus plagues. But this time it is not a foreign people who are suffering the plagues but rather Jerusalem (11:8).
The First Four Trumpets
- Josephus tells us about great storms during this time in the land of Judea (8:5)
- The Romans cut down lots of trees and burned villages in order to plunder for war and gain supplies for the siege (8:7)
- Some Jews fled and became pirates but the storms at sea dashed their ships together destroying them (8:8-9). This caused lots of dead bodies floating in the seas (8:10-11)
The Fifth Trumpet (9:1-6) most likely points to an increased demonic presence during the siege of Jerusalem (cf. Matt. 12:43-45). We do know that some Jews resorted to cannibalism due to starvation risks.
The Sixth Trumpet (9:14-16) was in reference to Vespasian commissioning four legions of Roman soldiers against Jerusalem. These legions were stationed in Syria, which touches the Euphrates. Furthermore, the Romans used psychological warfare to intimidate their enemies. They would parade their best warriors and best weapons in front of the city walls to strike fear in the heart of their opponents.
I have attempted to outline for you the Preterist View of the book of Revelation. I do not agree with all of their conclusions but I do think they do a good job trying to examine history and practice good Biblical hermeneutics. Their presupposition that Revelation was written before 70 A.D. forces their interpretation at times. What do you think?