So now we come to it. Christ has revealed Himself as Lord of the Church and has delivered His 7 Messages to them. We have seen Him as the Lamb who is also the Lion and, now, we see Him opening the Book of the 7 Seals and giving perfect justice. We will see that He came to save and He is coming to kill. Those who refuse to repent, who continually reject Christ, who blaspheme the Father now get what is coming to them in the form of the Wrath of the Lamb….
Text: Revelation 6
From this point forward, we are dealing almost entirely with judgment. However, in the midst of the destruction that has now come from the Day of Wrath, we will see God’s infinite mercy on display in the sealing of 144,000 Jewish Witnesses to Christ, the salvation of Israel following the purging of the obstinately unfaithful, and at least one parenthetical look at Redemptive History as God the Father pours out His wrath, the Divine Son serves as the Father’s executioner, and the Holy Spirit seals and protects those saved out of the Tribulation. Indeed, we shall see the entire Trinity is active in the Final Judgment and the Final Redemption.
6:1 the seven seals. In chapter 5, we noted that Christ was the only One found worthy to open the little scroll, the book which contains both the title deed to the earth as well as the proscriptions for the culmination of Redemptive History. As He breaks the 7 seals that secure the scroll, each seal unleashes a new demonstration of God’s judgment on the earth in the future tribulation period. These seal judgments include all the judgments to the end. The seventh seal contains the 7 trumpets; the seventh trumpet contains the 7 bowls. If you will remember, 7 is the number of completion in the Bible and so each set of judgments echoes the completion and finality of judgment
6:2 a rider on white horse. The animal represents an unparalleled time of world peace—a false peace that is to be short-lived. This peace will be ushered in by a series of false messiahs, culminating with the Antichrist (Matthew 24:3-5). Some of these false messiahs will, doubtlessly come from within the Church herself in a partial fulfilment of Matthew 24:24. (Those coming from within the Church will precede the Rapture and the false messiahs will continue to come until the final Antichrist) The true Church, however, will resist because it will not be possible to completely deceive the Elect.
he who sat on it. I agree with John MacArthur, the 4 horses and their riders do not represent specific individuals, but forces. Many solid teachers identify this rider with Antichrist, and, although he will be the leading figure, John’s point is that the entire world will follow him, being obsessed with pursuing this false peace.
bow. We know that the bow is an instrument of war, but notice the absence of arrows; This is a bloodless conquering since the world will have grown weary of war. The war tired world will follow the Antichrist in his promise of peace (Daniel 9:24-27).
crown. This word is stephanos. Here is what Strong’s Dictionary tells us: 4735 stéphanos – properly, a wreath (garland), awarded to a victor in the ancient athletic games (like the Greek Olympics); the crown of victory.
It “was given to him.” Antichrist thus becomes king, elected by the world’s inhabitants regardless of the cost, and will conquer the entire earth in a bloodless coup.
6:4 another, a red horse. A blood red horse testifies of the holocaust of war (Matthew 24:7). God will grant this horse and its rider the power to create worldwide war. Antichrist will find his “peace” to be very short lived, but as horrible as this judgment is, it will be only the “birth pangs,” the beginning pains of God’s wrath (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:7, 8; Luke 21:9).
men would slay one another. Violent slaughter will become commonplace.
sword. This is not a long, broad sword, but the shorter, more easily maneuvered one that assassins often used and that soldiers carried into battle. It depicts assassination, revolt, massacre, and wholesale slaughter (Daniel 8:24). It seems as though intrigue will abound along with plotting, counter plotting, and a wholesale killing that even the most treacherous despot would not imagine in his wildest fantasies.
I would like to suggest, at this point, that we begin to see what Total Depravity actually looks like when unfettered by the Holy Spirit.
6:5 black horse. Famine. (Lamentations 5:8-10). Worldwide war will destroy the food supply which spawns global hunger. pair of scales. The common measuring device—two small trays hung from each end of a balance beam—indicates that the scarcity of food will lead to rationing and food lines.
6:6 quart of wheat. The approximate amount necessary to sustain one person for one day. denarius. One day’s normal wage. One day’s work will provide enough food for only one person. three quarts of barley. Usually fed to animals, this grain was low in nutrients and cheaper than wheat. A day’s wage provides enough for only a small family’s daily supply. oil and the wine. Although the point could be that these foods will not be affected by the famine, a more straightforward meaning is that bare staples—oil was used in the preparation of bread, and wine was considered necessary for cooking and purifying water—suddenly will become luxuries that have to be carefully protected.
Note well, that the famine causes inflation to skyrocket. Later, as the final days draw near, men will literally sell their souls, taking the mark of the beast, to be able to have bread.
6:8 ashen horse. “Ashen,” is the Greek word, chloros, from which the English word “chlorophyll” comes. It describes the pale, ashen-green, pallor characteristic of the decomposition of a corpse. God grants this horseman the authority to bring death to 25 percent of the world’s population.
Many people think the rider is Death but this ashen horse is, without doubt, Pestilence; famine and pestilence usually come together. It would not be a stretch to think that the global famine will be so terrible that people will eat anything that could pass as food, including rats and other disease ridden animals. Side note: in its definition of pestilence dictionary.com says that the definition specifically connotes bubonic plague and, perhaps it is an antibiotic resistant strain which travels around the world.
Word Study: Hades (Nelson Study Bible)
“(Gk. hades) (6:8; 20:13, 14; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31) Strong’s #86: The Greek term means “the place of the unseen.” It designates the invisible world of the dead, as does the Hebrew word sheol. All people who die go to Hades because all pass from the visible world to the invisible. The association between Death and Hades is therefore a natural one. Unfortunately, this word has often been associated with hell, a place of eternal punishment. But there is a different Greek word for hell; it is gehenna (see Mark 9:43–45). We cannot avoid Hades, but we can avoid hell, by believing in Jesus and receiving eternal life.”
6:9 fifth seal. The fifth seal focuses on martyrs slain for standing for the word of God and Christ’s testimony, the very reasons John was exiled to Patmos (1:9). These martyrs’ souls are under the altar because sacrificial blood was poured beside the base of the altar in the temple (Exodus 29:12). The martyrs are impatient for the Lord to avenge their blood and to judge all those who are not among His redeemed (5:9). This vengeance will not be carried out completely until 19:2. Its events will begin in the first half and mark the mid-point and events following, in the 7-year period, which is called the Great Tribulation (2:22; 7:14; Daniel 9:27 Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4). The second 3½ year period (11:2; 12:6; 13:5) features the Day of the Lord, in which God unleashes His judgment and wrath on the earth in intensifying waves.
6:11 white robe. Each martyr is given the white robe of the overcomer (3:5) and told to rest until God’s appointed time. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord (see Deuteronomy. 32:35; Romans. 12:19); it will come in His perfect timing.
rest for a little while longer. God will answer their prayer for vengeance, but in His time.
until the number… would be completed. God has predetermined the number of the righteous whose death He will allow before moving to destroy the rebels.
6:12 sixth seal. The force described in this seal is overpowering fear (cf. Luke 21:26). While the first 5 seals will result from human activity God used to accomplish His purposes, at this point He begins direct intervention (Matthew 24:29; Luke 21:25). It is now time for God to unleash the full fury of His indignation.
The previous 5 seals will be precursors to the full fury of the Day of the Lord which will begin with the sixth seal (v. 17). The events described in this seal unleash the seventh, which contains the trumpet judgments (chapters 8, 9; 11:15) and the bowl judgments (chap. 16). There is essentially a shift, here. While there will be more and more people saved, mercy has run its course and can bring no relief from the escalation of God’s judgments; In a very real sense, at the 6th seal, mercy is no more.
great earthquake. There have been many earthquakes prior to this (Matthew 24:7), but this will be more than an earthquake. All the earth’s fault lines will begin to fracture simultaneously, resulting in a cataclysmic, global earthquake. It is hard to convey the destruction that this event will cause because it is nearly impossible to imagine. To say that this earthquake causes unparalleled destruction would be no understatement. We should also note: An earthquake previously announced the terrifying arrival of the Lord in His glory (Exodus 19:18; Psalm 97:5; Ezekiel 38:19–20), but His final coming will shake both earth and heaven (Haggai 2:6; Hebrews 12:26–27).
moon became like blood. Accompanying the earthquake will be numerous volcanic eruptions; and large amounts of ash and debris will be blown into the earth’s atmosphere, blackening the sun and giving the moon a blood-red hue (Zechariah 14:6, 7). In my lifetime, as recently as 2014 and 2015, there was a lunar tetrad with “4 Blood Moons” and many, who do not know the Scriptures well, thought that this portion of the prophecy was coming to pass or that the moons portended to some other apocalyptic sign. You can be sure, though, that when we finally reach the point spoken of in this verse, there will be no question that it is being fulfilled as it will come on the heels of terrible destruction.
6:13 stars of the sky fell. The word “stars” can refer to any celestial body, large or small, and is not limited to normal English usage. Most probably this is a meteor shower of some form. There are times in the Bible when angels are referred to as the stars of heaven but I do not believe that angels are in view here.
unripe figs. Winter figs that grow without the protection of leaves and are easily blown from the tree.
6:14 sky was split apart like a scroll. it actually reads as receded in in the ancient language. Receded is apechōristhē . The term is used to describe the parting of Paul and Silas from Barnabas and Mark (Acts Acts 15:39). The sky receded causing it to be “split apart” (NASB). At the appearance of the Judge at the Great White Throne Judgment, “the earth and heaven fled away and there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11). The psalmist predicted a time when the heavens would “grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them” (Psalm 102:25).
It is easy to read a verse like this and be tempted to go to a symbolic interpretation but I would caution against that. There is no reason to assume a symbolic interpretation; the entire created order is, quite literally coming apart at the seams during God’s judgment.
every mountain and island were moved. Under the stress created by the global earthquake, great segments of the earth’s plates will begin to slip and shift, realigning whole continents. I would not be surprised, in the least, if entire mountain ranges suddenly found themselves flattened.
6:16 wrath of the Lamb. Earth’s inhabitants will recognize for the first time the source of all their trouble. Incredibly, prior to this they will be living life as usual (Matthew 24:37-39).
“In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding on the source of these disasters, God will open the heavens for an instant, and the people on earth will be given a glimpse of God and the Lamb on their thrones (6:16). Suddenly, earth can peer into Heaven as Stephen did in Acts Acts 7:56. Man sees Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. Men will know they are experiencing the wrath of God, and this knowledge will be even more fearsome to them than the great natural catastrophes they will have endured.” Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987),
The true terror of this particular verse is the fact that men realize this judgment is coming from God yet they do not repent of their sins and neither do they try to appease God.
6:17 great day. The 6th seal commenced the arrival of that great and terrible day, the Day of the Lord, which is also called the Day of Vengence.
There is no more turning back. Sin must be paid for and for those who have rejected Christ again and again, the judgments in Revelation are a down payment on the wrath to come in the Lake of Fire.