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 will suffer.
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.