Three things stick out to me in this section of the Bible (commonly
called “the interlude” between the sixth and seventh seals).
First—there’s a warning to the church. The substance of that warning?
Things are only going to get worse. The more closely you cling to
Christ, the more greatly you will suffer. The world hates him, and hates
those who love him. In this clash of kingdoms, those who stay faithful
Second—there’s an assurance given to the church. The basis for that
assurance? You’ll get through it. You won’t get through it unscathed.
You may die. But you’ll come through this incredibly miserable season of
life and out into something better on the other side. The “other side”
may involve resurrection, however; so don’t think for a minute that this
is going to be easy. But neither should you lose heart.
And why not?
This is the third thing that sticks out. You have been sealed with
the mark of Christ, and he will give you the strength to suffer well.
John holds out a promise to all those who endure that everything will be
worth it in the End.
If that seems trite to you, or glib somehow, then I suggest you hold
off on your judgments. We’re early in the book. We’ve still got one more
seal, seven more trumpets, two sets of unnumbered visions, a dragon,
two beasts, a harlot riding a third hideous creature, the ultimate
dissolution of evil, the recreation of the world, and the pressing
presence of God Almighty dwelling with, in, and among his people in a
heavenly city transported to earth.
The promise of reward only seems glib when we don’t know what will be required for us to receive our inheritance.