REVELATION CHAPTERS SIX AND SEVEN:
Chapter Six: INTRODUCTION
- To “open” a seal is to release to all that which heretofore was unknown. (Examine Eph. 1: 9 – 10; 1 Pet. 1: 10 – 12).
- As we study the book of Revelation, the clarity of this “sealed book” and its content becomes evident: it is God’s grand design of redeeming man from sin! Its content includes VICTORY, PROMISE, HOPE, AND GLORY for all who obey and eternal damnation for those who refuse obedience.
- We must accept the fact that each seal reveals another symbol regarding this marvelous plan. We will need to use much more study and reason to determine the accurate description of each symbol. Further, though many wish to place specific names, dates, and places to these symbols, it is more vital to our understanding that we retain “the things which much shortly come to pass” (1:1) as the reason for this letter. While we accept the repeating of various onslaughts of wickedness against Christ and His church, the letter of Revelation was for the immediate protection of these seven (COMPLETE) churches of Asia (1:11).
- The student must remember the visionary aspect of this Revelation. Seven seals keep the book from its complete opening. Yet, with each separate seal, the reader is presented a glimpse of the content. While in real life, this is not possible, in the visionary narrative it is simply understood.
1 – 2 FIRST SEAL –
A white horse with the rider having a bow. He is crowned and goes forth conquering and to conquer. See Zech. 10:3. The white horse shows purity of this conquest. The idea is a victorious rider with the ability to conquer with purity (Ps. 45:5)
3 – 4 SECOND SEAL –
A red horse with the rider empowered to remove peace from the earth via killing one another. His weapon was a great sword (see Matt. 10:21 – 39) and in Greek was a sword of “butchering” rather than one of war. While the rider on the first horse conquers from sin (making pure) the second horse and rider remove this for the sake of retaining MAN’S desire instead of God’s. this is REVELATION of how God’s Word works among souls who have heard and obey and those who hear and do not obey. (Compare Acts 2 and Acts 7).
5 – 6 THIRD SEAL –
A black horse with its rider holding a balance (i.e., a set of weighing scales) in his right hand. Black can indicate famine (Lam. 5:10) or grief. By examination of the fifth seal (vs. 9 – 11), we find the sorrow and mourning expressed. In the sequence of events from “conquering and to conquer” to persecution from kinfolk, it naturally follows that grief and sorrow follow. (Jer. 4:28; 14:21) With the balance, we know these persecuted saints lacked the staff of life (bread from wheat/barley) (Ezekiel 4:16). The penny (denarii) was approximately a day’s wage for a common worker (Matt. 20:2). The “measure” was a portion equal to the average man’s daily need for food. Thus, all the pay went for all the food. Since barley was a lesser value, the poorer folks could survive as one gained three times the measure for the same price. The oil and the wine suffered no hurt since these were luxuries – not well gained by the poor. It indicates the hardship of remaining faithful amid a pagan society (compare the paganism at Thyatira (2:18), the emperor’s image at Pergamus (2:12), and the Jewish influence at Smyrna (2:8).
7 – 8 FOURTH SEAL –
A pale horse whose rider is named Death. Hell (the grave) follows with him. They held the power to kill with sword, hunger, death, and beasts. In the Revelation letter, each time one reads of HELL (Hades, torment, grave) he finds DEATH associated. It appears even more persecution toward those of the Truth via their rejection of paganism. Death had four “powers”/ways to destroy: sword (war sword), hunger (famine), death (pestilence/disease), and wild beasts (who would come and gather the spoils they could find of the former three.) Thus, this seal shows the greater bloodshed yet upon those who would serve the Master. Yet, THESE EACH DIE IN SERVICE TO THE MASTER!
*This sword differs from the one in verse 4. The first was a butchering type of sword (machara) and this one is one of war (rhomphia). It is so used in the rest of Revelation. See 1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:15 – 21. It is comparable to Hebrews 4:12 therefore we conclude it is the WORD OF GOD. God has frequently used war between nations to execute His will. Throughout the Old Testament, the nations that did not honor and serve God were brought to destruction (even Israel and Judah) and many died by the “sword” (i.e., word of God) when rejecting His commandments.
SUMMARY THUS FAR:
- The putting forth of Christ in the gospel; the word of Truth by which the message of redemption is spread.
- The persecution of saints following the preaching of and obedience to the gospel. Such brought Christians into conflict with their own families.
- Discrimination in labor and business added suffering and hardship to Christians.
- Judgment falling upon societies as a result of pagans rejecting TRUTH.
9 – 11 FIFTH SEAL –
The alter is a place of sacrifice. Since all things are naked and opened before the eyes of God (Heb. 4:13) God is keenly aware of the sacrifice these saints made for the word of God and the testimony (proclamation) of this truth. Jesus had given His life for the many (Matt. 20:28) and these saints “loved not their lives even unto death.” (Rev. 12:11). Their question is not one of frustration, but a “constant reminder” and request for God’s attention. God would do all in time (Eccl. 3:10 – 14; 2 Thess. 2) These were given white robes (purity) as well as rest (comfort). Yet, they must patiently wait until their fellow servants had finished their course (2 Tim. 4: 7 – 8).
While it seems cruel to Christians, notice the whole picture! These may have lost their physical lives, but not their spiritual lives (Matt. 16:24 – 28). They ARE victorious, yet the eternity of Heaven had not yet come to them.
12 – 17 SIXTH SEAL
“Earth” always depicts an earthly kingdom or domain – not one of righteousness. “Heaven” depicts the church. “Stars” being lights indicate those with their own light (Matt. 5:16) but with less light than the sun. The moon reflects the light of the sun and is always a lesser light than the sun, but always a greater light than stars. Therefore, it indicates the church as well; that is, the moon (church) seen as a local church (or churches as in Galatia) within the completeness of the kingdom (heaven) of God. The sun is always the greatest light and would indicate Christ Jesus (John 1:1 – 4). In times of trouble, sinners seek refuge in that which is strong and not defeated. Note now the scenario:
- (vs. 12) The earthquakes – God’s wrath (judgment, but not ETERNAL judgment) is upon the evil oppression of His people. Because of the wrath of God, and the sight of such avenging, the Sun (true light) is darkened, but not extinguished. (Joel 2:10; Matt. 24:29 – 31; Acts 2:40) The moon also is darkened as blood – persecution toward the truth is severe!
- (vs. 13 – 14) The stars fall from heaven and the heaven is rolled up as a scroll. Thus, the light of Christians does not affect this wrath of God; yet they are protected from the death given to the wicked. All places great and small (mountains and islands) are affected.
- (vs. 15) Those of the earth seek refuge in their places of security and cry for them to fall and engulf them from God’s wrath. “Hide us, fall on us,” yet these trust in uncertain securities (compare 1 Tim. 6:17). They realize the power of God but refuse to submit (Rom. 1:18 – 32) and thus know they cannot stand!
CHAPTER SEVEN –
This is an “INTERLUDE” – A TIME SEPARATING THE FINAL SEAL AND THE BEGINNING OF A NEWER VIEW OF CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH. As we stated in the introduction of this study, Revelation contains three “acts” or “revealings” of Christ and His church. We are nearing the first of the three. This interlude permits John a closer examination of the former things combined with a remarkable reality of VICTORY, HOPE, PROMISE, AND GLORY for the saints.
1 -- John sees four messengers of God restraining the four winds from imposing their force upon the earth, sea, and trees. “The four corners of the earth” mean the entirety of the world (Isa. 11:5; Matt. 24:31). The four winds are scattering winds (Jer. 49:36). Earth means those not obedient to God. Sea is turbulence and instability. Trees are the great men of the earth – the powers of man.
2 – Another messenger (thus a fifth angel) comes from the east. Note the similar situation of God’s going INTO the east when destroying Israel and Judah and coming FROM the east when delivering His people from the bondage (Ezekiel 11:23; 43:2) The rising of the sun (east) is indicative of God’s return of light. The seal is God’s approval upon this angel who cries …
3 – “Hurt not the earth, sea, or trees until we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads (minds). See 2 Timothy 2:19. See also Ezekiel 9: 1- 11.
4 – 8 – 144,000 = 12 X 12 X 1000 or a completeness of the complete! It signifies the saints yet living upon the earth at any one time. See also Rom. 9:6; Gal. 6: 15 – 16; Rom. 2:28; Phil. 3:3)
9 – Such a number “as no man can number” because it is known only to God. These stand before the Lamb and before the throne with white robes (purity) and palm leaves in their hands (humility, peace, and praise.) See Lev. 23: 26 – 32, 39 – 44; John 12:13.
10 -- These shout “Salvation to God and to the Lamb.” God’s plan brought to fruition through Christ Jesus is the blessing received by these souls when they obeyed Him. (1 Pet. 1:3 – 21)
11 - 12. The angels, the twenty-four elders, and the four living creatures fall in homage to God. Note the items of praise. There are seven: BLESSING, GLORY, WISDOM, THANKSGIVING, HONOR, POWER, MIGHT.”
13. One of the elders asks rhetorically, fore he also provides the answer: “Who are these, and from where did they come?”
14, John respectfully addresses him in a manner desirous of the answer: “Sir, thou knowest.” The answer is, “These are they which have come out of great tribulation (sin – John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12) and washed their robes (souls) in the blood of the Lamb (Rom. 6: 1- 6; 1 Cor. 6:9 – 11; 1 Pet. 1:10 – 25)
See also these passages: Rom. 10:8 – 10; Acts 17:30; Romans 6:3; Acts 2:38; 22:16.
15. Their presence before God is continual (Heb. 4:13) and their service is likewise continual (Col. 3:1 – 17). Day and night in His temple is our bodies (1 Cor. 6: 19 – 20; 2 Cor. 6:14 – 18).
16. They are fed the TRUTH (Matt. 5:6) and enlightened by the light of Christ/God (1 John 1:5 – 10).
17. All their sorrows are gone; they are protected by the Lamb of God (Ps. 23). It is proof of Hebrews 13:5 – 6.
***That this chapter is NOT a description of heaven eternal has but these two facts:
- This is an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals. The COMPLETENESS of the Revelation is not yet fulfilled.
- The vision is one of LIFE IN THE BODY (“serve Him … in His temple”). The idea of VICTORY, HOPE, PROMISE, AND GLORY for the Christian is the message of this book. Though suffering is a part of that life, it is not eternal suffering and therefore encourages continued FAITHFUL service to obtain the eternal reward (see 8:18)