Bible Studies in the Book of Revelation Study 10

Revelation 6.7-17 The Seals 2    Pt 10

In the previous study we had seen the seals opened and three horses with riders had come out and caused different events to happen. The impact of these events became increasingly worse, from widespread deception to warfare and finally to famine. This could be seen as a sequential series of actions, the next being the logical next step from the previous situation. It was not complete yet; there were still four seals to open, so expect worse to come. The voice from the Living Creatures calls for the next action to begin, white, red, black and now a pale horse. The final horse of the Four Horses now comes out into the situation.

The fourth of the seven seals revealed a pale horse with a rider, named Death, and Hades who was given power over one quarter of the earth to kill by sword, famine, plague and wild beasts.

  • The Pale Horse. The pale [grey-green corpse colour] horse rider is clearly identified by John as ‘Death’ and he has a companion, ‘Hades’ or the grave; is given added weapons to cause catastrophe. These are plague and wild animals. If we look at conquest, warfare and famine then death will surely follow. One of the biggest threats to life in the developing world today is HIV and AIDS as well as other medical conditions, which could be seen in a similar light. [Recent news reports indicate a worldwide increase to epidemic proportions of diabetes, both in the affluent and poor countries.] In the context of the four horses and their impact, following the famine of the previous scene, we move to the natural consequences of famine and greed. The final rider was clearing up following the actions of the three previous horsemen. Death followed military disaster, then natural disaster that reflects the four dreadful judgments of Ezekiel 14.21. so we conclude the four horsemen, bearing in mind that ‘four’ in Revelation often represents the world, then we can see these as world-wide disasters but as always only as long as Christ, the only authority, permits them to happen.

We move away from the horses and riders and that sequence of events to a different set of pictures. The fifth of the seven seals revealed what is happening to Christ’s people between his first and second coming. He sees the souls of those who suffered for the Word of God and their testimony that is of Jesus. They are seen ‘under the altar’ giving a picture of their deaths as a special heavenly sacrifice. Persecution and martyrdom are often sees as the greatest enemies of the church of Jesus Christ. Yet if we look closely at the events down through the time from the early church to the current day, any attempts to wipe out the church has had the opposite effect. The church has become stronger, often through an under ground, hidden movement, still current today in some of the countries of the world. In fact the greatest enemy of the church is apathy from within and a failure to take the Bible truth as important and a serious message from God in a warning to the world. The martyrs asked for the judgment of those who persecuted the church. The answer: their judgment is sure and it will come. This is a common call from the OT where a number of the prophets made the same request, ‘How Long.’ The cry goes to the Sovereign Lord; the actual Greek translated by this title is ‘DESPOTES’ which means master or lord. [He is the Master of the Martyrs] It is someone with total authority, in absolute control and can act without restraint. [You can also recall that this is the root for the word ‘despot’ in our language.]     They also attribute holy and true to Him, this reflects the risen Lord as he is identified to the church at Philadelphia, ch 3.7. Their request or plea is for an end to the suffering of the church, later called the bride of Christ, not by removing them for the scene but by rightful  judgment on those carrying out the persecution and avenge their evil deeds with judgement. The initial response was to give them white robes, a sign of purity and sanctification, to be able to stand in the presence of God, but their number was not yet complete. They were told it would be a little longer before the wider picture of the events, including the persecution and martyrdom of the saints was complete. Here we see God’s mercy still being shown, as there was an extension of the day of grace.

The sixth of the seven seals revealed a great earthquake in which the world turned black and the moon turned to blood. This is the next judgment, where the powerful and rich of the earth are found hiding in caves and asking the rocks to fall on them. Look at the descriptions:

  • The Earth experiences an earthquake in an unspecified location with no mention of the death toll
  • The Sun is affected and turns black, black sackcloth is a symbol of mourning. [cf Isaiah 50.3 & Joel 2.31]
  • The Moon turns red, an extreme event reflecting the judgments
  • The Stars start to fall, we know that this is not normal but we can understand the concept of ‘shooting stars or meteors’ across the sky, again this reflects prophesies from Isaiah.
  • The Sky appears to have been shaken and is compared to ripe figs being shaken to fall from the trees at harvest by strong winds. [cf storms an our experience]
  • The Heavens appear as a scroll being rolled up, the stable landmasses are moved and symbolises a geological catastrophe of enormous proportions.

Meaning? The four horsemen show the judgments on mankind; these descriptions involve the earth and the cosmos. The end of civilisation, as we know it, will come about as God’s great plan is revealed. The picture is moving towards the end when all the seals are opened. Some put this chapter into the context of the church age, the period between the Ascension and the Return of Christ, and are pictures of the world and the events of the last 2000 years.  In some ways it could be accepted as the partial fulfilment of God’s promises, like prophecies for the day, the future and the end of time. However, as we move through the book, we shall see that this chapter forms part of the final and complete judgment of sin and sinful mankind and does not stand alone, it is part of an unfolding scene.

What is the humanities response to this?

  • Self-preservation, hide away from the disaster
  • Blame God, disaster occurs when God or the gods are angry!
  • Fear for more to come, they want to hide from
    • The one on the throne
    • The wrath of the Lamb [first mention of this] The wrath of God is a common phrase in the OT
  • Realisation that they cannot stand against his power, the end has come!

 


Page last updated: 16th April 2016 4:42 PM