The Sinful Messiah: Seven Seals Key To Vernon Howell’s Power
The 11th hour, a symbolic representation of the nearness of Armageddon in Branch Davidian theology, was installed on the floor of Victor Houteffs headquarters in Waco .
Vernon Howell’s dominion over the Branch Davidians can be traced to two words: Seven Seals.
The Seven Seals are found in Revelation, the last book of the Bible. They herald the catastrophic events that mankind will go through in its last days, many Christians believe.
“The Seven Seals are the acid-test for who knows God and who doesn’t,” Howell said.
His followers believe Howell will “open” the Seven Seals, loosing the end time, but former followers like Marc Breault say that Howell merely uses his knowledge of the Bible to gain power over cult members.
A look into the future
The Seven Seals are written in apocalyptic language. It wasn’t until the 1800s that Christians began interpreting the Seven Seals and Revelation as a foreboding book into our future, said Professor Bob Patterson, a professor of religion at Baylor University.
“The traditional understanding was that it was a message from the author of Revelation as to what the church could expect in terms of the Roman Empire,” he said. “As the seals open, the Roman Empire is the loser. The church is the winner. It was intended to reassure the church.”
According to the Branch Davidians, he’s back.
His name is Vernon Howell.
Leading followers to heaven
Breault said Howell teaches that the Seven Seals lay out his powers.
Old-line Protestant views
The Sixth Seal Is A Nuclear Holocaust
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
This is Johns description of nuclear holocaust.
The earth rolls up like a scroll, is obviously a reference, from a first-century perspective, of what nuclear explosions will look like. In a nuclear explosion, the atmosphere literally rolls back on itself. A tremendous rush of air flows outward from the initial explosion creating a tremendous vacuum. It is the air flowing back into the vacuum which creates such destruction.
He writes, Stars fell to earth. The Greek word “stars” here describes a meteor. Meteors strike the atmosphere and glow fiery red. When they hit the earth, they pulverize dirt and other materials that remain in the atmosphere, shutting out the sun, for two or more years.
Nuclear winter results. No sunshine equals no crops. People starve.
His description may also apply to todays “fractional orbital bombs.” Nuclear-tipped missiles are fired simultaneously from orbiting satellites. These can strike several cities simultaneously. When these missiles streak through the air, they’ll look like meteors entering the atmosphere.
Look at the human reaction.
Every strata of society is affected.
A Scroll With Seven Seals
I was invited to contribute an article for a popular Christian magazine about reading the Bible better. I suggest What this verse means to me is can be a very poor way to start a Bible study discussion. It implies a verse can mean one thing to one person and something else to another. Rather, we should start with What did the verse mean back then? and then ask, How does that meaning apply to me today? If we do not intentionally think about their situation, we will unintentionally assume ours. This is the danger of musing about what a verse could mean instead of doing a bit of research.
In a heavenly vision, we are told:
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
When it was time to make the inheritance official, the heir and the executor had to be there and a majority of the witnesses. A papyrus from A.D. 325 actually describes the opening of a will:
The executor says to the secretary: In the presence of whom did you make out the will?
The notary answers: The signatories.
The executor asks, How many signatories are there?
The notary answers, Seven, and four are present.
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What Do The Seven Trumpets Mean
After the silence, angels sound the seven trumpets, the next septet of judgment.
The First Trumpet
Hail, fire, and blood will rain down on the earth and wipe out one-third of all plant life.
The Second Trumpet
A burning mountain falls into the sea, turns one-third of the ocean to blood, and one-third of all sea life dies.
The Third Trumpet
A star called wormwood poisons one-third of all the freshwater supply.
The Fourth Trumpet
One-third of the moon, stars, and sun darkens.
The Fifth Trumpet
Demon locusts with human faces, long hair, lions teeth, and the power of a scorpion sting plague and sting nonbelievers for five months. Those who are stung will wish for death.
The Sixth Trumpet
Four fallen angels are released and wipe out people from sulfur and fire pouring out of their mouths. They manage to wipe out one-third of mankind.
The Seventh Trumpet
Another break from the plagues, and onto the seven bowls of judgment, 24 elders in heaven declare its time to destroy those who destroy the earth. The temple in heaven opens, featuring the Ark of the Covenant.
The Fourth Seal: A Pale Horse
This is the vision of dark times: When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, Come and see. So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. .
Notice it is a pale horsethe very color of death. Notice the fourfold judgment: Power was given unto them…to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
This seal represents the Dark Ages, when the principles of religious and civil liberty were obscured, and leaders in both the political and spiritual realm were far from our present-day blessings of democracy and religious freedom.
This seal was marked by much cooperation of the political and spiritual powers and of religious wars and troubles. The history of those times is full of the sad record of intolerance, especially religious intolerance, and it was not limited to any one religion, or to anyone nation or race.
Catholics suffered, Protestants suffered, Jews sufferedand those of other religious views, and even those of no religious profession, suffered. It is said that many, many thousands were put to death for their faith in those sorrowful years. How thankful we can be for the religious freedom we enjoy today!Read more about the fourth seal
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The First Seal: The White Horse Rider False Peace
When the first seal is broken by the Lamb, one of the four living creatures in a voice of thunder tells John to come so that he might behold the vision of the breaking of the first seal
The voice of thunder is naturally symbolic of judgment as a coming storm. I was born and raised in Texas and spent many of my years of ministry there. It was not uncommon for us to have some pretty awesome thunder and lighting storms with heavy down pours of an inch or more within just a short period of time, but most of the time, we could hear the thunder long before the storm ever hit.
After the command to come John says, I looked and behold. This stresses the effect on John, He was startled and he exhorts us to behold what he saw so that we too may grasp its significance. What John saw was a white horse rider with a bow. A crown was given to the rider and he went forth conquering and to conquer. Each aspect of this is significant.
White is a symbol of peace and righteousness. For this reason some have tried to identify this rider as Christ, but white is the only similarity between this rider and the white horse rider of Chapter 19:11 which is clearly Christ.
Reasons this cannot be Christ
In Revelation 19 no more judgments follow. Christs own coming puts an end to the Tribulation judgments. Here, however, the judgments of the entire Tribulation have yet to unfold.
The Identity of the Rider
The Seventh Seal: The Wrath And Mercy Of God
The seventh seal, which includes seven trumpets, begins in Revelation 8. This seal, which is also called the Day of the Lord, is the predominant theme of the book of Revelation.
It represents both the wrath of the Lamb , which Christ will bring upon mankind because of disobedience to Gods laws, and the mercy of God, which will eventually come through the return of Jesus Christ to this earth to establish the Kingdom of God.
Prior to the beginning of the seventh seal, God is going to seal a group of 144,000 people and a great multitude .
Descendants from 12 of the tribes of the ancient Israelites will be included in the 144,000not just Jews, who are primarily of the tribe of Judah. It is also important to note that another very large group of peoplea great multitude which no one could numberfrom all nations will also be sealed .
The Greek word sphragizo, translated sealed, has the meaning of stamping or marking for security. This same word is used by Paul in Ephesians 1:13 to describe Christians who were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise and in Ephesians 4:30 to describe Christians who were sealed for the day of redemption.
Gods faithful people are thus going to be protected from the punishments soon to come upon the rest of mankind, people who are in rebellion against God.
For a more detailed explanation of why God is angry with humans, see the article Wrath of God.
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The Fifth Seal Describes The Martyred Believers Who Died For Jesus During The Great Tribulation
They are under the altar in heaven, crying out for God to take vengeance upon these mass murderers.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.
Who are these people? These are folks who have been martyredsacrificedfor their great loyalty to Jesus Christ. Many suggest that they are the great cloud of martyrs who have sacrificed their lives from all times.
The altar is a place of sacrifice and death. These saints are right where the blood was poured and sprinkled.
They cry out with a loud voice: How long until you get vengeance on these murderers?
Notice that these martyrs are not reprimanded for being so angry. We must remember what these men and women went through. We must remember the agony of the flames, the bloodshed in the arenas, the wild beasts, the beheadings, those skinned alive, and the sadistic torture which they suffered. So many lives and dreams are cut short. They are angry.
Then, they are given long, flowing robes and told to Rest a little while longer. They are rewarded and honored for dying the ultimate death.
The Fifth Seal: Souls Crying From Under The Altar
Next, the fifth seal is opened and we seeWhen He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? Then a white robe was given to each of them and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed .
Remember the story of Cain and Abel and that the Lord said to Cain, who had just killed his brother, What have you done? The voice of your brothers blood cries out to Me from the ground .
This is a picture of the martyred victims who were killed during the previous seal and up until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when the power of persecution for religious faith was restrained. During this time those who witnessed for the faith with their blood are shown as crying out to God.Read more about the fifth seal
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What Are The Seven Seals
The seven seals are a set of items referenced in the Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible. In Revelation, a lamb is deemed worthy to open a book or scroll closed with seven seals. Each seal precipitates an event of apocalyptic nature. For those who take the Book of Revelation as literal truth, these events and the opening of the seven seals signify the beginning of the final end for human life on earth. While some view this story as prophecy, there are also many historical, metaphorical, and otherwise less literal interpretations of the seven seals as well.
As the Christian Bible tells the story, in the time of Revelation there is a book or scroll held by the Lord, and this book is sealed with seven separate seals that must be opened by a worthy party. The Lion of Judah is determined to be worthy of breaking the seven seals that bind the book. This lion is actually a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes who was slain in sacrifice, still bearing the marks of that sacrifice. In some interpretations it is said that this lamb is Jesus Christ, and in others that he is simply a worthy prince.
First Seal: A White Horse
As the first seal was opened, the apostle John wrote: And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer .
Comparing the seals to the events Jesus Christ said would happen in His famous Olivet Discourse or Prophecy, this seal represents religious deception .
Note how our understanding of this seal is aided by comparing it to Jesus earlier teaching. Without this comparison, one might wrongly assume that this horseman was Christ, since He is also pictured in Revelation 19:11 as returning on a white horse.
Religious deception has been around for a long time. It began in the first century and will intensify prior to Christs return via the efforts of a man identified in Scripture as the man of sin,the Antichrist and a beast .
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The Seven Seals Of Revelation
The seven seals listed with commentary and also showing correlation with other Scripture.
- SEAL #1 / Revelation 6:1-2Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”
- SEAL #2 / Revelation 6:3-4When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another and there was given to him a great sword.
Matthew 24, Luke 21
- SEAL #3 / Revelation 6:5-6 “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius and do not harm the oil and the wine.”
- “And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles.”
- Luke 21:10-11 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
The Black Horse Rider Famine
The third judgment, and an aftermath of war brings famine to the world. The black horse speaks of suffering and death and the balances of the careful rationing of food because of its scarcity.
The denarius, as a Roman coin, in ancient times was a normal days wage. In New Testament times this coin would purchase eight quarts of wheat, or eight measures or 24 quarts of barley. Wheat was the better grain and barley was normally used only for livestock except in times of scarcity. During the Tribulation, however, one denarius will buy only one measure of wheat, or three meals of barley with nothing left. Of course, the larger the family, the worse it will be. But note the words, do not harm the oil and the wine. These were luxury items which will apparently be unharmed at this point. There will be plenty of luxury items but only the super rich will have them. The average man will spend all he has on the bare essentials. Barnhouse has an interesting comment from his own experience on this.
The picture here is scarcity in the midst of plenty. This will be accentuated in the times of the Antichrist, especially in the last half of the Tribulation via his buying and selling policies.
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