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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

June 4, 2014

Revelations 6:1-17

  1. Recapping from the last few chapters, John is having a vision of the throne room of God. He has seen the majestic image of God on the throne with angelic beings surrounding him serving him and singing his praises. John also saw the Lord as a Lamb at the throne receiving a scroll from the hand of the one who sits on the throne. The picture of the one on the throne handing out a scroll is an ancient image of a king handing over a will to be read. We studied last week that wills and last testaments in ancient times were sealed with seven seals. Wills could only be unsealed and read after the death of the one who wrote the will. A will could only be opened by certain people who met certain criteria. John sees the lamb that was alive but looked slain take the scroll (will) because he was the only one found worthy in the entire world to open the seals and read the scroll. The picture is really a vision of God declaring how he would give rewards to the faithful and judgment to those who have rejected him. At the point of chapter five we only know that there is only one who can unseal the scroll. In chapter 6 we will see what happens as the seals are opened. We will only see what happens when the first six seals are opened. Let's also remember that these are signs and symbols. The message here is not about scrolls and seals, but about the idea that God had not forgotten his people, and that as a great king above all kings, and through the salvation of Jesus Christ, the people of God would get a reward and those who rejected God would deal with judgment.

  2. Verse 1-2. The Lamb, who is Christ, opens the first of seven seals. As the first seal is opened one of the four living creatures that stood around the throne of God calls out ”Come” as to summon someone or something. The person that comes during the opening of the first seal is a rider on a white horse, holding a bow from a bow and arrow in his hand. This rider is given a crown and rides out into battle. This rider has all the elements of a victorious warrior. The bow and the crown are symbols of victory in battle. The first horseman brings victory with the opening of the seal. We can only speculate how the victory comes about, but the point we should take is that the first thing revealed is victory. This could also be the same picture of Christ as victor from Revelations 19.

  3. Verses 3-4. The second seal is opened and another living creature from around the throne says “Come.” This time the horse is fiery red and the rider has been given a sword to take peace from the earth. A sword is symbolic of what it can do and that is separate. Jesus often used the sword as a symbol of division. This rider brings discord as a judgment to the earth. This discord would bring about violence. One of the ways God would deal with the enemies of the people of God is to cause them to go into confusion and kill each other (see 2 Chr. 20, 2nd Kings 7:5-7). In the first two seals there is a promise of victory and an assurance of the fact that God would defeat his enemies.

  4. Verses 5-6. The third seal is opened and once again one of the living creatures calls forth another rider. Understand that the riders and horses are just pictures of God’s hand of judgment. Horses were symbols of strong armies. The third rider is riding a black horse holding a pair of scales. The scales were a sign of business transactions. John says that he hears one of the living creatures declare that a day's pay would only buy a day's supply of food, and that the supply of oil and wine was in such limited supply that one had to be careful not to ruin any of it. This is the sound of terrible economic times. If your pay could only take care of your daily food supply how could you afford to have housing and pay for anything else? John sees discord, violence and economic trouble in these second two seals.

  5. Verses 7-8. The fourth seal is opened and the call to come forth is given to the fourth rider. This rider is riding a pale looking horse. The color is symbolic of death. The rider has the name death and the grave (Hades) is following close behind him. The role of this rider brings all sorts of calamity from sickness, sword, wild beast, and famine to a fourth of the earth. The picture is basically a vision of utter chaos. When man's systems are not in place there is no protection, no healthcare, and no organized food supply. This rider demonstrates a period of utter chaos.

  6. Verses 9-11. When the fifth seal is opened there is a different set of occurrences. In the first four seals riders came forth and went out into the earth. When the fifth seal is opened John sees souls under the altar of God crying out. Remember this is symbolic. John is shown a picture of the saints waiting until the fulfillment of time. The saints were given white robes. White robes are symbols of redemption. What John hears is a comforting vision that the saints who were slain are at peace waiting for the fulfillment of time. The fifth seal is a word of comfort to wait on God's appointed time. The fifth seal explains that God is going to do it, but in his perfect time. God would bring justice, but not until the right time of his divine plan.

  7. Verses 12-17. The sixth seal is opened and many things happen. This seal will bring great cosmic calamity. The earth will shake, the sun will turn black, the moon will turn red, the stars (meteorites) will fall from to the earth, and the clouds in the sky will look violent. The earth will be shaken and mountains and islands will not be in their original place. John envisions a time of cosmic calamity that causes all the people of the earth, the mighty and the weak to run and look for safety. The point is that no one will be able to find a place of safety from this destruction. At this point john sees the people of the earth acknowledging that God is bringing his wrath to the earth. Prior to this seal being opened, there is no describing the inhabitants of the earth acknowledging God’s wrath and judgment. In the fifth seal, the people of God wanted to know how long they had to wait. In the sixth seal they get their answer.

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