As we will see, this is the stage we are currently in. We continue by looking at the visions shown when the fourth seal was opened, the fourth trumpet was sounded and the fourth cup of judgment was poured; and we trust God to explain them to us. Amen.
The opening of the fourth seal – Revelation 6:7-8
“7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” [KJV]
This vision speaks of a time when the spirits of death and hell have access to cause death of different kinds on earth. The word “hell” is from the Greek word “hades” which means a state of losing one’s body. As such, death and hell are names used to represent the spirits of darkness that cause physical death. We are told that power was given them to kill, not because God wants it so, but because sin in people’s lives and in the systems of men have given them access to carry out their wickedness. Stage 4 is therefore a time when death of different kinds is observed on earth: through sword [political, economic, racial and religious wars/conflicts], through hunger [famine], through death [sicknesses, diseases, earthquakes, tsunamis, natural disasters, homicide, suicide, terrorism, mass murders], and through the beasts of the earth [animals on land and in water]. These are things that we can observe going on around us today, in a way that has not been in human history. So we know that this is the stage we are currently in. We can learn more by looking at the sounding of the fourth trumpet and trust God to explain it.
The sounding of the fourth trumpet – Revelation 8:12-13
“12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. 13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” [KJV]
The emphasis of this vision is in the words “… so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.” It speaks of a time when a third of the world will experience darkness. Ezekiel 32 can help us understand the context of this darkness. Verses 7-15 reads:
“7 And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. 8 All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God. 9 I will also vex the hearts of many people, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known. 10 Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall. 11 For thus saith the Lord God; The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon thee. 12 By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude to fall, the terrible of the nations, all of them: and they shall spoil the pomp of Egypt, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed. 13 I will destroy also all the beasts thereof from beside the great waters; neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them. 14 Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord God. 15 When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country shall be destitute of that whereof it was full, when I shall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am the Lord.” [KJV]
From this passage, especially verses 7-8, 11-12 and 15, we learn that “darkness over a land” can be used a symbol to represent the destruction of that land through war. In the case of this passage in Ezekiel, the destruction of the land came through battle with the king of Babylon. Having this in mind, we can understand that when we are told in the vision of the fourth trumpet that a third of the world will experience darkness, it means that a third of the world’s landmass will be exposed to war. Looking into history, World War 2 seems to fit this description. It was a war that covered about a third of the world’s landmass [Europe and almost all of Asia]. This war marked the beginning of Stage 4 and the end of Stage 3. It marked the beginning of death’s and hell’s end time killing rampage. But we can learn more by looking at the vision shown when the fourth cup of judgment was poured.
The pouring of the fourth cup of judgment – Revelation 16:8-9
“8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.” [KJV]
This vision tells us that people will be burnt with fire. Ezekiel 5 can help us understand what this means. In verses 1-4, God gave Ezekiel an instruction. He said:
“1 And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair. 2 Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. 3 Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. 4 Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel.” [KJV]
Then in verses 12-17, God explained what it meant. He said:
“12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. 16 … I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread: 17 So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee: and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the Lord have spoken it.” [KJV]
From this explanation and the original instruction, we can understand the hair represented the people of Israel. The portion of hair that was burnt with fire represented the portion of the Israelites that were to die with pestilence [disease epidemics], famine and evil beasts.
With this, we can understand that when we are told in the vision of the fourth cup that people were burnt with fire, it means that people will die with pestilence [disease epidemics], famine, and wild beasts. These are the same things we are told in the vision shown after the fourth seal was opened. As such, it further confirms that Stage 4 is a period where the world will witness a lot of deaths through various means, just as we are witnessing in today.
Our Lord Jesus spoke of this period in Matthew 24:7-8. He called it the beginning of sorrows. He said:
“7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.” [KJV]
Just looking around and paying attention to all the news, we would agree that these things are already being fulfilled. We are currently in this Stage 4. But God, in merciful wisdom, is revealing these things [the seven stages] to us now so that we [His people] can prepare to be faithful in Stage 5.
Let’s go and see why.