As Jesus begins to unseal the scroll given to Him by the Father, John is introduced to the most important (yet-unfulfilled) period of time ever promised by God to the nation Israel—their “seventieth week”. The Church knows it as the Tribulation.
v.1 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”
This is the beginning of what most Christians know as the Tribulation – a seven-year period filled with calamity and chaos unlike anything the world has ever experienced. And as we will see, it unfolds in response to three specific judgments orchestrated by God—the seven-seals, the seven-trumpets, the seven-bowls—and then ultimately consummates with the Second Coming of Christ. One commentator says it well when he suggests a three-fold purpose for the Tribulation: to wake up a nation (Israel), to shake up the heathen (in order to save), and to make up a Kingdom (in which Jesus Christ will rule). Hang on, dear ones; it’s a sobering and solemn ride until the nineteenth chapter.
As Jesus peels back the first seal John hears the loud and thunderous voice of one of the four cherubim say, “Come”. Though many Bible versions include the words “…and see” (giving the impression that the call is made to John) many commentators feel the correct rendering is simply “Come” or “Go”, thereby concluding that the call is not made to John but to Satan; a call he has waited to receive from God for the past six thousand years.
Satan has always had one objective: to rule over the earth with absolute and unrestrained power, having all men be made to worship him as God. He has not succeeded because God through the restraining power of the Holy Spirit has prevented it. But he does seem to know a day is coming when the restraint will be lifted and he will be free to unleash his terror upon men. And he plans for it.
“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed…” (2Thess.2:7-8)
Whether or not the commentators are correct that Satan is outwardly told he can come or the event is less-noticeably triggered at the rapture of the Church, one thing is clear. That Satan is given the “green light” to proceed with his plan the earth is about to encounter “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation” (Dan.12:1), the Jews are about to endure a severe persecution known as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer.30:7), and John is about to record it.
Okay, but first we must understand the purpose of the Tribulation. Some believe that it’s for the purification of the Church and therefore argue that the Church will not be raptured and thus made to endure it. I don’t accept that view. I believe that the Tribulation is, as some commentators note, the fulfillment of Israel’s “seventieth week”.