“When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Revelation 8:1
If Revelation stood alone, I would conclude that the seven seals are all future as many commentators believe, but the rule of Scripture is that clear truth interprets obscure passages, and not the other way around.
I believe the first five seals of Revelation have already been opened by Jesus. The five seals correspond exactly to what Christ said would happen in their generation before the fall of Jerusalem. (Deception; wars and rumors of wars; earthquakes and famines; death; martyrdom) They were opened by Jesus in the first century; they were already opened when John wrote Revelation from Patmos in 95 AD; and they’re still open today.
The fifth seal is the martyrdom of those who were killed “because of the word of God and because of the testimony they maintained.” John is writing to people that are in danger of being martyred under Domitian’s rule. He writes to them as one who is a fellow partaker “in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus.” He is on the island because of “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus,” the same reason the martyrs were killed. (Revelation 1:9)
He is writing because the Lord’s coming is very near – He ends the book with the words of Jesus, “I am coming quickly.” After the fifth seal has been opened, John sees those who have been martyred and hears their question, “How much longer?” There has been a delay and they are waiting for the coming day of the Lord to avenge their deaths. The answer: “a little while longer until all those who will be killed like you is complete.” (Revelation 6:11)
The second coming is imminent but delayed. Then John sees the sixth seal opened and the very signs Jesus gave for the rapture happen before his eyes. The earth prepares for the wrath of God while the saints are suddenly found before the throne of God. Jews come to Christ as a Spirit of mourning comes upon every tribe when they see the One they had pierced. One Hundred forty-four thousand Jews become evangelists who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” (Revelation 14:4)
Those who were ready for the Bridegroom’s coming are kept “from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world,” (Revelation 3:10) while everyone else must endure it. Let’s live ready!