Lesson Ten • Tribulation
Devotion 5: Seven to Heaven
Most people fall on either one side or the other when it comes to discussions of end times. Either they are fascinated and cannot read enough, or the idea of the end times gives them extreme anxiety and they prefer to not talk about it. For me, I always seem to find new things or a differing idea that really gets my mind going. As far as what we read, God has only given this vision to one man, John. John, in turn, was tasked with transforming these visions into words and detailing what kind of expectations we should have for the future. Now, I am sure if you were to ask a hundred people about the Tribulation, you would get a hundred different answers about all the who’s, what’s, when’s, and how’s. That is the fascinating part for me. There is no right or wrong thought to answer those questions, leaving us a significant amount of room to discuss what may happen or when.
One of those wild things that stands out to me is the number seven. Some have referred to it as the number of completion or perfection. If we go all the way back to the beginning, Genesis 2:3 says, “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Matthew chapter 18 gives another example when talking about forgiveness. Peter asked Jesus how many times they should forgive. “Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Matthew 18:22). These couple of instances are obviously from a much lighter context, compared to the seven seals. Much like every story we read, we want to build and build to the climax. So we have John reveal as each seal is broken, each step of the process is more intense and something worse than its predecessor.
Then we get to Revelation 8:1, “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Can you imagine this? Most descriptions of Heaven talk of singing, shouting, and praise. How you would go from that image to dead silence sounds wild. I think of my own home, with our family of six and all the animals, it can get rather loud fairly quickly. When it all gets quiet, that is when things get a little more nerve-racking. It is like the calm that is experienced in the eye of a storm.
Are you able to say that you have felt that kind of peace? Maybe it only lasted briefly like that or maybe it was a little longer. From my experience, it was like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. Regardless of your stance on the Tribulation, do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that one day you will be spending eternity in Heaven? If you cannot say definitively yes, make today will be that day. Romans 10:9-11 says, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’”