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Chapter 5=    =Chapter 7


:1 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beast saying, Come and see.

: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.

:3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

:4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, that people they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

:5 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.

:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beast 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.

:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

:8 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 beast of the earth.

:9 And when He 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:

:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, doest thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"

:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said to them; that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

: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.

: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.

:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island was moved out of their places.

: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;

: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:

:17 For the great day of his wrath has come; and who shall be able to stand?


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Statement of Faith

Revelation of Jesus Christ


Opening the Seven Seals

Beginning in this chapter, the seven seals of the scroll are loosed one at a time, each revealing only a small portion of its contents. It is as though each seal, when opened, rolls off a single strip of the scroll, allowing John to see only that part without giving away what is hidden under the remaining sealed strips. We may think of these as being like seven fingers and the body of the scroll as the palm of a hand. When the seventh seal is loosed, then the scroll begins to open into the main body of the prophecies contained in it, which culminate in the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The seals represent an overview of events of the tribulation period and, one by one, depict events of that period as told by Jesus in the Gospel accounts (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). In those accounts, all are in agreement that false messiahs will come first (1st seal). This is followed by wars and rumors of war (2nd seal), famines and pestilences (3rd seal) which produce widespread death (4th seal).

These four things are referred to as the "beginning of sorrows" {Matt. 24:8 ; Mark 13:8} and are followed by the "great tribulation" and the persecution of the faithful (5th seal); ending with the sun, moon and stars being darkened (6th seal), and finally, the revelation of Jesus Christ (7th seal).

A very clear parallel can be observed between the Gospel accounts and the Seals of the Book of Revelation. There is somewhat of a hint that the four horsemen of the first four seals may be angelic beings. The fact, that the name of the fourth horseman is "Death" (Rev. 6:8), is one such clue. Other angels named in the Book of Revelation are: "Wormwood" (Rev. 8:11), meaning "bitterness"; and Abaddon, or Apollyon (Rev. 9:11) meaning "destruction" or "destroyer".

With the opening of each of the first four seals of the scroll ("the beginning of sorrows"), John is summoned, in turn, by the four beast to "...come and see..." what the opening of the seals reveal.

Starting with the fifth seal however, John appears to be in the immediate area of the Lamb and the scroll, and begins viewing events which pertain to his fellow servants and brethren; without the call to come and see, as before.


First Seal

When the first seal is opened, John sees a white horse having a rider with a bow in his hand. The rider is given a crown and goes forth "...conquering and to conquer." The "white horse" may symbolize hope and security for the future. Unlike the hope and security brought by the rider of the white horses in Rev.19:12 (Jesus); this rider brings a false hope and sense of security to the world, which will end in total disaster for those who embrace it.

Here we see one who comes in the spirit of Nimrod, the mighty hunter/ king (Gen.10:8-12), who is reputed to be the inventor of archery and a master of breaking horses. Verses 10-12 of that chapter state that Nimrod was the builder of eight great cities including Babel (Babylon) where the tower of Babel was built.

Ironically, the one who comes in the spirit of Babylon's founder (the Antichrist), will ultimately be the one who leads the forces which will destroy that rebuilt city (Rev. 17:16).

The name, Nimrod, means "subdue the leopard". This points to the Antichrist of Rev. 13, as the body of the kingdom which he will control is likened to that of a leopard (Rev. 13:2). The Book of Daniel (chapter 7) makes it clear that the Antichrist will indeed subdue that kingdom.

"...crown was given unto him..."

The crown given to this rider is not a kingly crown (dee-ad'-ay-mah), but rather a garland or wreath (stef '-an-os) which was worn upon the head.

As stated earlier in this study, in ancient times, a garland of this sort was given to the victor in public games which were usually played before the King. The garland was a symbol of excellence and signified that the person who wore it had prevailed over all of the competition. A modern day example of this type of commendation would be the winner of gold medal in the Olympics. The Apostle Paul made mention of this type of crown in I Cor. 9:24-25. In that passage, the race (game) was ran with the understanding that only one received the prize (the crown). The crown there is the garland of victory (stef '-an-os), not the diadem of a ruler.

This point is consistent with the idea put forth by Jesus stating, that at the beginning of the tribulation period many false christ would appear {Matt. 24:5}. There is however, one coming among them who is so skilled in his craft that all competitors are paled by comparison. Though not specifically stated, it is implied that a kingly crown (diadem) will be presented to the Antichrist in Rev. 13: 2, when the dragon gives him the throne upon which he himself had previously sat.

Because the rider of this horse has proven himself to be the undisputed master of certain crafts, he is properly fitted to go forth "...conquering and to conquer." Of what crafts is he the master? Deception and Warfare.

One of the principal tenants of military tactics is to probe for the weaknesses of the enemy. Once a weakness is detected, then things are set in motion to draw the enemy into that place of vulnerability so he can be succesfully attacked.

One attacks his enemy at his weak point, not his strong point. These are referred to as "flanking maneuvers". The more you successfully attack the weak points of the enemy, the more you erode his strong points.

Divide and conquer is also a primary point in military tactics. If the enemy you are facing is too big or strong to meet head on, then isolate the weaker parts and attack that. By attacking the peripheral elements of the enemy, which serve as a sort of barrier of protection; one can strike at, and weaken the core of the enemy's power, because the enemy is forced to draw out of that power to compensate for his losses. When his losses become substantial enough, and the core strength has diminished sufficiently, he can be attacked successfully head on.

The beseiged are usually at a disadvantage with those who lay seige, unless those who lay seige miscalculate their enemies strengths, resolve, ect. Jesus stated that believers should be "...wise as serpents." {Matt. 10:16}. In other words, we are to be aware of the tactics which Satan employs against us. The Antichrist will be the undisputed master of these tactics.

The picture of such a rider and his army of horsemen is also portrayed in chapter 38 of the Book of Ezekiel; with the invasion of Israel by one known as "Gog". In Ezekiel 39:3, God states that He will knock the bow out of Gog's left hand. In chapter 12 of this study, the possible connection between the rider of this white horse, Gog and the Antichrist will be futher examined.


Second Seal

"...take peace from the earth..."

The opening of the second seal, by no means, ends the mission of the first horseman. To the contrary, the successes which he is enjoying leads to strong opposition arising in the earth. "Wars and rumours of wars" (Matt. 24:6) are an immediate consequence or response to the one who goes forth "...conquering and to conquer." The "red horse" denotes anger and jealousy towards those who challenge the status quo with success. The opening of this seal also appears to refute the notion, of many, that the first half of the tribulation period, under the presence of the false prince of peace (the Antichrist), will be one of relative peace and safety. It's the beginning of sorrows, not the beginning of peace that's portrayed here.

"...that they should kill one another..."

When Jesus said, "... nation shall rise against nation..." at the beginnning of the tribulation period (Matt. 24:7), He wasn't saying that immediately one country would fight against another. The word "nation", as used there, comes from the Greek word "ethnos" from which we get the word ethnic. Every country is comprised of certain ethnic groups. This is more pronounced is some countries than in others. The situation in Bosnia, or the Kurds of northern Iraq are perfect examples of this.

Jesus was saying that in that day, ethnic groups within the countries will begin to fight with each other. Ethnic groups, as a rule, are very sensitive to any attack or perceived attack made upon their culture, custom, traditions or right to exist. When one group, usually a traditional rival, insults or belittles the other, tensions arise. The longer the tensions exist, the more likely it is that it will escalate into violence.

Groups or communities who had formerly lived in peace, with their neighbors, will begin to fight and kill each other. This, in turn, will lead to a polarization of kingdoms (countries) out of which the various ethnic groups came forth. So what had began as a local or regional conflict, will escalate into a global problem. Now, countries too which previously had friendly ties, will be at odds with each other. The strife going on between the nations (unleashed by the rider of the red horse), appears to set the stage for the Antichrist to come in and quickly gain control of the peoples involved.

In that day, ethnic unrest and violence will rise to unprecedented levels, resulting in serious threats to global security itself.

As we get deeper into this study, it will become quite apparent that there shall also be an economic polarization among the countries during most of the tribulation period. The world will be divided into two primary camps, neither of which are righteous before God. These two opposing parties will be: the Beast (Antichrist) with ten kings {Rev. 17:12}; and Babylon and the "Kings of the Earth" {Rev. 18:9}.

Contrary to what many think, Scripture does not teach that there shall be a single world economic system during the tribulation period: at least not for the greater part of it.

Babylon will control the wealth of the world during most of the period (Rev. 18). She will be exhalted and protected by the kings of the earth. This is the barrier which the Antichrist must overcome before he can have full unchallenged control of the earth. With the destruction of Babylon, near the end of the tribulation, the bewildered kings of the earth will be easily deceived (Rev.16:13-14), and fall into line with his plan for the world.

The superficial notion of a Utopian world with him as its king (and Satan as its benevolent god), is simply a deceptive cover for the real plan: eternal enslavement of mankind with forced servitude and worship. This is the total opposite of God's plan for the peoples of the world.


Third Seal

With the opening of this seal, the ravages of war are manifested. Not only does it wreak havoc with peoples lives, but it interrupts the agricultural cycle of food production. This results in widespread scarcity of basic food stuffs, causing rampant inflation and poverty to ensue. A days wages (a denarius) buys only one a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley. Manufactured goods (i.e. oil and wine) however, are still in adequate stock. Money will be virtually worthless, at this point.

The black horse represents a time of uncertainty and despair. Hopes and aspirations, which may have been pinned on the appearance of the white horse, seem far removed. Now there is no sense of security concerning the future. It is also a time when the economic boundaries of the tribulation period begin to take shape. Babylon, Nimrod's mighty city of old (Rev.17:5,18), is again on the rise to establish her dominance in the world; and the beastly Antichrist (yet unrevealed) is concurrently adding the finishing touches for his economic control system (the mark: Rev.13:16-17).


Fourth Seal

In I Cor. 15:26, death is personified as our enemy, and is the last enemy which will be destroyed. The death spoken of there is the same death spoken of here in Revelation (the physical death of individuals). In the future, all individuals, in the grave, will be resurrected from this death, whether they be righteous or wicked. The righteous will inherit eternal life, the wicked however, will be subjected to "the second death" (Rev. 20:6) from which there is no resurrection or hope.

In Rev. 1:18, Jesus stated that He has the "...keys of hell and of death." With the opening of the fourth seal, we see a pale (yellowish-green color) horse appear, upon which sits a rider identified as Death.

Here, death is presented as a sort of conquering king who goes forth seeking and selecting subjects to fill his kingdom, which is called Hell (Hades, or the grave).

In looking back at chapter 1 however, it becomes clear that while death has power to put mortals of the earth in the grave, Jesus has the power to open the graves and bring them forth again. Scripture states, that "...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).

At the appointed time, Jesus will give the call which shall open every grave, and all of the dead in them will arise. Some will rise to eternal life, but most will rise to eternal damnation.

Some interpret this to mean that there will be a common resurrection in which both righteous and wicked are raised simultaneously. Scripture however, gives more evidence that there shall be seperate resurrections for the two groups; with multiple resurrections occuring in the group of the righteous; just as there are multiple harvest in the Jewish agricultural cycle, which is a Scriptural type of the resurrection {John 12:24}.

The one who sits upon this horse, will have no power or authority to hold captive those who have been summoned forth by Jesus Christ: not even the wicked can be restrained, by him, from the resurrection.

Death may be reckoned as a dark restraining force, or vacumn, from which one cannot, of his own power, break free. Here it appears to be personified as an angelic being, who is given extensive power over mortality.

Scripture however, makes it very clear that in the future, after the great white throne judgment (Chapter 20), death itself will be cast into the lake of fire. Then, it will be given total dominion over all those who are found there, because they were judged worthy of damnation by God.

This condition is called "the second death", from which there will be no escaping its eternal grip. This is the fearful thing which all mortals are faced with considering. There is however, good news concerning this: Jesus, who submitted Himself to its control, succeeded, from the other side, in showing that He has total dominion over it; and posesses the key of deliverance for every one who puts their trust in Him. The greatest accompolishment of history: death has been conquererd! He, who raised the dead, subjected Himself to it, that He might show that He has total power over it. What a great and mighty friend, and Saviour, we have! For us, He did that!

"...the fourth part of the earth..."

In verse 8 we are told that Death and Hell are given power over the fourth part of the earth. Their normal authority in this matter has now been increased and the death rate dramatically rises, at this time, in that part of the earth.

Killing by the sword (war), hunger (starvation resulting from war), death (probably the accompanying diseases that are generated by insufficient food and poor sanitation), and by the beast of the earth (increased attacks upon people who have destroyed their natural habitat through warfare).

It will be a horrific time in the history of the world, all generated by unrepentant sinners, who have excluded God, and made the affairs of this world the whole of their life.


Fifth Seal

"...under the altar..."

Martyrs have a special place in heaven. They have been sacrificed for the cause of God, just as their Saviour.

"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter..." (Acts 8:32; Isa. 53:7).

"For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (Romans 8:36 ; Psalm 44:22)

In the temple of God in Jerusalem, there were two altars. The larger (altar of burnt offerings) was inside the temple near its entrance. Upon it sacrificial blood offerings were made before God, on behalf of the people, by the priests. Its fire was miraculously kindled and burned continuously.

The second altar (altar of incense) stood at the opposite end of the temple, immediately before the entrance to the Holy of Holies, where the very presence of God dwelt. The Ark of the Covenant, with the mercy seat were located inside the Holy of Holies.

Throughout the year, prayers were offered up to God on behalf of the people upon the altar of incense. Only one time a year (on the Day of Atonement) was the High Priest allowed to enter the Holy of Holies on behalf of the people; at which time he sprinkled the sacrificial blood upon the mercy seat.

During Passover each year lambs were sacrificed and their blood flung against the base of the altar of burnt offerings. When Jesus died (as the Lamb of God) His blood was applied to the same altar in heaven; not to cover the sins of the people, but to cleanse them.

Those seen under the altar in verse 9 were under a cleansed altar of sacrifice in the temple in heaven. Previously, the sins of the people were covered before God by the blood of animals sacrificed upon the altar.

When Jesus was sacrificed, His blood removed the sins of those who put their trust in Him. No longer would the sins of the people be hidden from God's sight by animal sacrifices. Now the sins of all people are in full view before Him. Only those who have professed their faith in the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, have their sins removed from God's sight.

Because of their love for the Word of God, and their testimony of Jesus Christ, the lives of those seen under the altar, have been sacrificed.

Again, we go back to the Gospel accounts of the tribulation period (Matt. 24:9-10; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:16-17) and see the results of the betrayal of the saints: even by family members who seek to save their own lives at the expense of relatives and friends who hold Scripture as sacred and Jesus as their saviour. It becomes a sort of sacrificial offering to appease Satan. The souls of the slain however, are taken up to the altar of sacrifices in heaven.

Those seen under the altar by John, represent the faithful who are the first martyrs of the tribulation period. It also becomes clear from the Gospel accounts that these are, at least initially, Jewish believers. For the Gospels state that they would be delivered up to the Synagogues (Jewish Houses of worship) to give an account for their faith.

Such a thing points to the idea of a restored religious order in Israel which will persecute the faithful for their beliefs, just as they did in the days of the early church. These saints however, are here distinguished from their "fellow servants and brethren" (verse 11) who are to be killed during the "great tribulation" (the last half of the seven year period).

We see these crying out to God for vengeance against the perpetrators of their deaths; unlike the martyr Stephen, who called out that God would not charge those who killed him, with his death (Acts 7:60).

The persecution and death of the saints during the tribulation period begins with the House of Israel and continues with the martyrdom of those who become believers during that time.

"...rest a little while longer..."

Those under the altar are given "white robes" and told to rest until their "fellow servants also and their brethren" were killed as they were. Since in Scripture, there is no distinction made among believers between "Jew and Greek" (Romans 10:12); this indicates that all of the future martyrs referred to here, will be both Jew and non-Jew. Scripture concerning these future martyrs begins in Rev. 7:9.


Sixth Seal

The sixth seal, which is now to open, has a definite time stamp on it. This is the only place in the entire Book of Revelation where the description of the darkening of the sun and moon, and the stars falling from heaven echoes the Gospel accounts (Matt. 24:29-30; Mark 13:24-26; Luke 21:25-27). This seal presents a preview of the very end of the tribulation and conveys the judgment to be executed upon the wicked; particularily those who have persecuted and killed the saints shown under the 5th seal.

"...a great earthquake."

Earthquakes are a continuing sign of God's power over the earth. Here we are seeing God violently shake the whole earth and moved out of its place. Probably not the results of a natural earthquake, but a supernatural occurance whereby God Himself shakes the earth.

The earth may momentarily tilt off its normal axis causing a shift in the sun's coverage of the earth (sun and moon darkened), and temporarily giving the appearance of the stars falling from heaven. Isaiah 24:20 states that, "The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard". Universal panic will ensue.

Those who have killed His servants (Rev. 6:9-10) will seek to hide themselves, until the wrath of Almighty God and the Lamb has passed by; but it shall not pass by this time.

These are those who know about Him who sits upon the throne, and about the Lamb and the coming wrath: because of the testimony which was delivered to them by those who are under the Altar before the throne of God; the ones they killed.

"...sun became black as sackcloth...moon became as blood."

In Joel 2:30-31 it is stated,

"And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."

Here is a message to those who dwell on the earth: that just as the moon resides in heaven, so do the souls of those slain for the word of God and the testimony which they held. In Heaven their blood cries out for revenge against those who dwell upon th earth.

God is serving notice on the wicked of the world that judgment day is here; and that His wrath is kindled against them, especially against those who have killed His servants.

The actual judgments against the inhabitants of the earth are not unleashed by this seal, but prior notice is hereby given that God has heard the cries of the servants before Him (Rev. 6:10 and Rev. 8:3-4), who have been slain in the earth and judgment is pending.

The final judgment will begin when the rest of the fellow servants of those under the altar are killed (Rev. 6:11) as they were, with the Revelation of Jesus Christ to take vengeance upon the wicked of the earth..

 


CHAPTER SUMMARY

This chapter covers the opening of six of the seven seals of the scroll of chapter 5. They are opened sequentially and parallel the tribulation judgments which are found in the Gospel accounts of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

The first four (the four horsemen) are comparable to what is called, in the Gospels, "the beginning of sorrows". The first seal deals with the coming of false messiahs. Seal number two with ensuing wars. Seal three reveals the effects of war, with famines and pestilences. This produces an elevated death toll as protrayed by the rider of the fourth horse, named, "Death".

The fifth seal leads into the time period known as the great tribulation where saints are persecuted, and even killed for their faith in Jesus {Rev. 7:14}. The chapter ends with sixth seal previewing the coming final judgment of the wicked.

 

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