This will begin by giving you the scripture from the King James Version of the Bible, then will go into our description of what the verses mean. You will be able to read various additional information contained in more specific files under "Research Materials".
Revelation chapter 6 begins with the seals that represent the beginning of Christ's judgment of unbelievers on the earth during the Tribulation period. ( Tribulation - Judgment ) There is a close similarity between these judgments and the event predicted by Christ in Matthew 24 verses 4 - 31.
The purpose of the Tribulation period is to punish unbelievers for their sin and rejection of Christ and to bring the remnant to faith in Christ.
6:1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
The Lamb here is Jesus Christ, the only one worthy to open the seals. This noise as thunder indicates God revealing something to His people. Many times throughout the Bible, God's voice has been mistaken for thunder. Here one of the four beasts, or four living beings, says "Come and see". Of course, all of the four gospels say "Come and see". We are invited to look into the heavenly stage and see things never told upon the earth until now. We will see in the opening of this first seal, the triumph of Christ and His church.
This part begins what is called "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse". The four horsemen present the picture of man's inhumanity to man. They seem to be a divine prediction of the affairs of humankind that will cause much human suffering. This is not new, for those in control of the affairs of this world have a history of causing their fellow human beings much suffering, with false hopes of peace followed by wars, famines, and death.
One of the worst horrors of the Tribulation is the many plagues that will strike the world's people, particularly those who reject the Savior and refuse to have their name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. The judgments are started with the 7 seals.
The seals represent the beginning of Christ's judgment of unbelievers on the earth during the Tribulation period. There is a close similarity between these judgments and the events predicted by Christ in Matthew 24:4-31. The purpose of the Tribulation period is to punish unbelievers for their sin and rejection of Christ and to bring the remnant to faith in Christ.
6:2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
The First Seal: A White Horse (The first of the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse is white). The rider has a bow but no arrows, indicating that although he is militarily strong, in the beginning he does his conquering by diplomacy. Since he wears a crown, we know he is successful in his efforts. And who is the rider on the white horse? There can be no doubt that it is the Antichrist, who through deceit and clever maneuvering will bring a false peace to the world. ( Antichrist ) But that peace will not last.
6:3-4 "And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see." "And there went out another horse [that was] red: and [power] was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword."
The Second Seal: John writes of the 2nd horseman, "It was granted to the one who sat on the red horse to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword."
John is encouraged to "Come and see". We, too, may get a glimpse through the eyes and the pen of John. This red horse means war. This war could be twofold in nature. There is a constant attack of the devil and his demons on Christians, but I believe this goes much further than this. This red horse (in my opinion) indicates a large war.
This red horse also means the martyrs who died holding up the name of Jesus. Blood ran freely all throughout the Bible. Believers in some parts of the world are even being made martyrs now. War is on every side. In Israel and Lebanon these days there are many killed every day. Ireland has what they call a holy war going on. Even these are not the extent of what I believe this Scripture means. I really believe this red horse has to do with a global war of great magnitude. The Spirits of war.
We believe this seal represents a great conflagration we might call World War III. When Daniel's "three kings" oppose the Antichrist, he will respond in deadly fashion, swiftly crushing his enemies and bringing death to earth on a massive scale never before known. Only since the advent of the atomic age has it been possible to bring this kind of unimaginable, swift destruction to bear on widely scattered portions of the globe.
His purpose is to cause "mankind to slaughter one another" The Greek word that is used, and also the verb, means "to butcher, slaughter or massacre someone". This contains a purpose clause which reveals that peace is taken from the earth for the very purpose that mankind should butcher each other. And in the remainder of the Revelation's Seals, Trumpets and Golden Bowl Judgments, mankind does this to himself with ruthless skill.
We read in Zechariah about these four horses, and we can easily see what it is because the Bible tells us. Zechariah 6:1 "And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains [were] mountains of brass."
"Brass" means judgment. The number "four" means that this is a universal message. Zechariah 6:2: "In the first chariot [were] red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;" Zechariah 6:3 "And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grizzled and bay horses."
This is a vision of the same horses that we are reading about in Revelation. To understand the entire message, you need to read chapter 1 and chapter 6 of Zechariah. Zechariah 6:4 "Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What [are] these, my lord?"
When Zechariah asked the angel what this meant, this is the answer he got. Zechariah 6:5 "And the angel answered and said unto me, these [are] the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth."
We see again the spirit of war in this red horse.
6:5-6 "And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand." "And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine".
The Third Seal: A Black Horse - Rampant inflation - a common aftermath of war - Famine is suggested by John's words, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine."
Since in biblical days a denarius was a common wage for a day's work, and a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley are basically subsistence diets, John is indicating that a man will have to work all day just to get enough food to eat, with nothing left over for his family or the elderly.
In the parable of the vineyard, Matthew 20:2, a day's work was a penny. This "penny", in the verse above, means a full day's pay. I believe this means that a loaf of bread will be so inflated in price, because of scarcity of food, that it will take a whole day's wages of a man to buy one loaf.
We surely know that it is a "measure", which is a very small amount. Barley seems to be a third the cost, so perhaps a meager meal of barley for three could cost a whole day's wages.
The famine will be so great, that food will be weighed by the ounce and dispensed carefully. This famine will probably be as bad as the famine that was in Egypt in Joseph's time. Probably drought will trigger crop failures in many places. Only the very rich will be able to buy food. Personally, I believe, God will instruct Christians, who are totally sold out to Him. They will know when to plant and exactly what to do, as Joseph was told, of God, what to do.
This is run-away inflation to its worst possible conclusion. In many parts of the world inflation is already to that terrible extreme. I just read in some parts of Africa where the inflation rate is over 1200%.
When inflation is coupled with famine, we see a situation more horrible than we care to imagine. We must stay closely in tune with God. If He tells us to dig a very deep well, we must do that. If He tells us to plant a garden, we must do that. It is going to be very important to be able to take daily instruction from God. Not to question, just do it. I believe God is even now setting up places of refuge for Christians.
On the other hand, the call to not "harm the oil and the wine," are symbols of wealth, indicates that the rich will do just fine. Or it could mean something referring with Spirit-filled Christians. Oil and wine are symbolic of the Holy Spirit of God. That His Hand will be on the Tribulation Saints protecting them during the tribulation.
I cannot stress enough, that this famine may not be just physical but spiritual, as well. During this time, I believe, that many churches will teach false doctrines. Even now there is a terrible famine of truth in the church. Never before have so many denied: the virgin birth of Christ, the Red Sea parted, Jonah being swallowed by the large fish, God as Father. Jesus is God with us, "Emmanuel",
Many churches are ordaining homosexuals to preach. Secular Humanism makes man a god.
How much more famine of the Spirit can we take? Truly there will be a physical famine, as well. Stay tuned to the voice of God. He will see you through it all.
The third horseman of the Apocalypse, who rides out early in the Tribulation, will take a heavy toll in deaths and sickness. The black horse he rides is an obvious symbol of famine and disease, which often follow war.
This could be a message of hard times for all of mankind. "black" symbolizes:
famine, physical or spiritual
opposite of goodness
everything that opposes God
Christian Saints will be saved IN the famine and not FROM the famine. Noah was saved IN the flood, not FROM the flood. God can rain manna from heaven if necessary. I believe God will set up places of refuge where believers can run, so they can have physical and spiritual food.
God will not forsake the righteous.
6:7-8 "And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see." "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."
The Fourth Seal - A Pale Horse - This horse represents death.
John says the rider who sat on this horse "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." One quarter of the earth's population, well over a billion people, will die as a result of WWIII.
I believe that this has to do with wars, such as the one in Israel now, famine and drought worldwide, and death from hundreds of other things. An example is the plant in Russia, Chernobyl, which exploded. "Chernobyl" means wormwood. The Bible says a third of water will become wormwood, Rev. 8:11. I really believe this happens later in the scenario.
That Hades follows Death shows that those slain are unbelievers, for upon death believers do not go to Hades but straight to the Savior's side.
This "pale" here, means a sickly color, a sickly green color, as if sick to the death. "Death, and Hell" are grouped, meaning a termination of earthly dwelling. Death is inevitable for every one of us. Death of the body, that is. Hell does await some, but heaven awaits Christians. Hell is sometimes a word used for the grave. In that particular instance, Hell would follow death, because our bodies lie in the grave until resurrection day. Death and real hell is reserved for the lost.
I really believe this is a time in the end that is spoken of as a time when men's hearts will fail them for fear of things that are coming upon the earth, Luke 21:26. We have the capability to knock the earth off of its axis with the nuclear bombs. Fear is rampant, not only here in the U.S., but around the world. All it would take is for one crazy man to push the wrong button and total destruction would occur.
6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
When the 5th seal is broken, John sees "under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held."
Shortly after the beginning of the Tribulation there will be a great "soul harvest" in which millions will come to faith in Christ, Many as a result of the preaching of the 144,000 witnesses described in Rev. 7.
Most of these Tribulation saints will be killed by the forces of Antichrist. These martyred souls will cry out for God to avenge their deaths, but they will be told to "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.
Imagine! Despite the desperate evil of the Antichrist, despite the horrors of war and famine and pestilence and death, God is still so much in control of earthly events that even the number of believing martyrs has been fixed by divine decree.
God, as the apostle Paul reminds us: "It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thess. 1, v.6-8)
So many churches have forgotten that persecution comes to the true believer. Many teach that if you are not living prosperously, both physically and spiritually, that you are not in right standing. That's certainly just not so, quite the opposite is true.
We must be crucified with Christ. We must get our flesh under subjection.
In Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
The Christian has tribulation which makes him strong. We are no better than our Master. If He suffered, we will suffer. The difference in our suffering and His, is that our suffering is generally not unto the death.
6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
John did not see these souls with his physical eye, but saw them in the Spirit. These souls were waiting for the Judge of all the earth to interrupt the evil of the devil and his persecution of the saints who remained there. Their cry was the same, in a sense, as the Christians who say, come quickly Lord Jesus.
This is not a reprimand of the Lord, but just a pleading for it to all be over. These souls are not looking for vengeance, but are just crying out for the Lord to end all of it and set up His kingdom. Who better can sympathize with our generation of martyrs than the martyrs of the past? Some of the martyrs of today are not physically killed, but are persecuted by their peers.
6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.
These are the ones who were martyred during the tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." White robes are the uniform issued to all believers in the Lord Jesus.
When the fullness of time comes, the time that God has chosen, Jesus will appear in the clouds and blow the silver trumpet of redemption. He will gather all believers with Him in heaven. He will not come one hour early or late. He will be on time. It will be at the specific time He chose from the foundation of the earth.
These martyrs are our fellow servants. They arrived in heaven the same way we will, through their faith unto the death. The white in these "white robes" shows that these have been victorious over the problems in this earth.
6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
The Great Earthquake - The first four seals described judgments largely inflicted by man; the sixth seal describes a judgment clearly supernatural in origin. John tells of an earthquake so massive that "every mountain and island was moved out of its place."
Perhaps John is referring to enormous volcanic activity, for he says "the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood." Particulate matter scattered in the atmosphere after a volcanic eruption has often turned the sky black and made the moon seem to turn red.
The sixth seal brings natural disasters of various kinds (Matt. 24:7, 29). The earth and the heavenly bodies will go into convulsions. Joel 2:30, 31 predicts many of these judgments in nature as signs of the day of the Lord.
This terrible earthquake is told about in Isaiah 2:19, "And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth."
In Ezekial 32:7-8, we read about the darkness of the sun, moon, and stars. In Matthew 24:29, we read of this same thing in the heavens. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:"
6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
The fig tree (physical Israel) rejected Jesus and His Holy Spirit. In Acts chapter 2, we read of the sound as of the rushing mighty wind that came and filled them with the Holy Ghost. This mighty wind is of God. Many times when we read of the mighty wind it is a sign of the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit can be beautiful, as we read in Acts 2, or frightening to those who do not believe.
The Old Testament and the New Testament agree that there will be a time when the heavens will be shaken. Isaiah chapters 7, 13, 17, Matthew 24 and at least a dozen more chapters in the Old and New Testaments agree that there will be a day, just as this one spoken of that John saw, when the heavens will be shaken.
We read, also, of the spiritual shaking that will take place. We read that there shall be a great falling away in the church right before this occurs. II Thessalonians 2:3 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
As you can see, believers will be tried and many will fall away. In Luke chapter 21, we read how many will be betrayed by those of their own household.
Luke 21:25-26, we read again of the commotion in heaven. "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;" Luke 21:26 "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." You can easily see that this is prophesied, not just of John, but by dozens of pens throughout the Bible.
6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
This earthquake will be so strong that mountains will flatten out and islands will disappear. An earthquake of this magnitude would immediately put up a screen of smoke that nothing in the heavens would be visible. We read in Isaiah 34:4, a similar Scripture as above.
"And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine and as a falling [fig] from the fig tree." Whatever this is, it is of great magnitude.
I remind you again, that Revelation is not written in chronological order. The happenings in the verses above are long after the believers are in heaven. We, Christians, should not fear things we see happening that is in fulfillment of these passages. We should look up and rejoice at the beginning of any of these things, because our redemption draweth nigh, Luke 21:28.
6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
This really is the time when even silver and gold will not be able to save people from the Wrath of God.
Hiding in "dens and in the rocks" will be of no use because these openings will close up from the earthquake. Men will seek death, but death will not come, Rev. 9:6.
6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
The people of earth will clearly recognize these phenomena as coming from the hand of God, for they are said to cry out to the mountains where they take cover, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
Suddenly they realize who Jesus is, but it is too late. They have rejected Him
Now that it is too late, they realize their terrible mistake of rejecting Jesus as their perfect Lamb sacrifice. They would rather die right now, than face Him and be told of their eternity in hell that awaits them. They now even realize that Jesus sits on the throne. What a terrible awakening.
This that John sees is very much like a dream, in that the things he sees are not particularly in consecutive order.
6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
The answer to that is "no one". The thing we must do is make sure that we are not left here to face all of these horrors. The way to assure that is by selling out to Jesus NOW. Make Him Lord of your life NOW before it is too late.
As a result of these first six seal judgments, many unbelievers will want to die and to hide from God, but will be unable to. The great day of his wrath is the day of the Lord, the predicted time of God's judgment of the earth and its inhabitants ( Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31).
The day of wrath is contrasted to the present "day of grace." Is come means God's day of judgment "is here", it has finally arrived, having begun with the first six seals.
The "great day" spoken of in V-17, begins three and a half years of the worst things you could ever imagine. The last day has to be the last judgment. DOOM for the unbelievers.
Remember, Revelation is written to the church, the Christians. It encourages us to look forward to heaven. It, also, tells us the terrible things we will be saved from when the Wrath descends on this earth.
And it leads true Christians to witness to their friends and family while there is still time. Knowing what is coming, we certainly don't want to leave anyone behind.
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