"THE BOOK OF REVELATION"
Chapter Six In this chapter the Lamb looses six of the seven seals on the scroll. The first four seals reveal four horses and their riders (cf. Zec 6:1-8), commonly referred today as "The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse". Notice what is said about the different riders: "...a crown was given to him..." (the rider on the white horse) "...it was granted to the one...there was given to him..." (the rider on the red horse) "...a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying" (the rider on the black horse) "...power was given to them..." (riders on the pale horse - Death and Hades) Who had the power to give a crown, to grant such authority? Who in the midst of the four living creatures might have spoken? Who had power to give to Death and Hades? When we consider that Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth (Re 1:5), that He has the keys of Hades and of Death (Re 1:18), and that He was in the midst of the four living creatures (Re 5:6), it seems clear that the answer is Christ! In other words, the horses and their riders were acting upon the authority and power given them by Christ. Therefore I suggest the following explanations for the first four seals (1-8):
The white horse and its rider - Represents military conquest, such as God used to bring judgment upon Assyria (Isa 10:5-7,12-13,15-16) and Babylon (Isa 13:17-20). The red horse and its rider - Represents civil war, in which people would kill one another, such as God used in His judgment against Egypt (Isa 19:1-4). The black horse and its rider - Represents famine, where necessities (wheat and barley) would be scarce, while luxuries (oil and wine) might be in abundance but of little interest to the hungry. God had used famine in His judgment upon Israel (Jer 14:11-12). The pale horse and its riders (Death and Hades) - Represents death brought about by the sword, hunger, death (pestilence), and beasts of the earth. Such severe judgments God had brought upon Jerusalem in the past (Eze 5:17; 6:12; 14:21). Some see the fulfillment of these things in the Roman advance on Jerusalem during A.D. 67-70, as described by Flavius Josephus in his book, The Wars Of The Jews (Bass, Gentry). With the fifth seal (9-11) we are told why God would bring such judgment. Souls have been slain for the word of God and their testimony, and when the time is right the wicked will be avenged (cf. Lk 18:7-8). Meanwhile, souls of the slain are comforted with white robes and rest. Who were these souls? Perhaps Christians who had already paid the supreme price for following Jesus, such as Stephen (Ac 7:54-8:2), James (Ac 12:1-2), Antipas (Re 2:13). The sixth seal (12-17) describes cosmic disturbances and the despair of those trying to hide from God's wrath. Is this scene depicting the end of time (cf. 2Pe 3:7-12)? The language is reminiscent of that describing God's judgment upon Babylon (Isa 13:1-22) and Samaria (Hos 10:7-8). Jesus used similar language to warn people of the impending destruction of Jerusalem (Lk 23:28-30). Therefore I believe it refers to judgment upon unbelieving Israel for persecuting God's people in the 1st century. The guilty would not escape the Lamb's wrath! Who would stand in that day? The answer is in the next chapter.
POINTS TO PONDER * The meaning of the four horses and their riders * The reason for the judgment and wrath described in this chapter OUTLINE I. THE FOUR HORSES AND THEIR RIDERS (1-8) A. FIRST SEAL - RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE (1-2) 1. The Lamb opens the first seal 2. One of the four living creatures says "Come" 3. John sees a white horse and its rider a. The man had a bow b. A crown was given to him c. The man went out conquering and to conquer B. SECOND SEAL - RIDER ON THE RED HORSE (3-4) 1. The Lamb opens the second seal 2. The second living creature says "Come" 3. John sees a fiery red horse and its rider a. The rider was granted to take peace from the earth, and for people to kill one another b. A great sword was given to him C. THIRD SEAL - RIDER ON THE BLACK HORSE (5-6) 1. The Lamb opens the third seal 2. The third living creature says "Come" 3. John sees a black horse and its rider a. A pair of scales is in the hand of the rider b. A voice in the midst of the four living creatures says "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine." D. FOURTH SEAL - RIDER ON THE PALE HORSE (7-8) 1. The Lamb opens the fourth seal 2. The fourth living creature says "Come" 3. John sees a pale horse and its rider a. On the horse sits Death, and Hades followed with him b. Power was given to them over a fourth of the earth c. Power to kill with the sword, with death, and by beasts II. THE SOULS UNDER THE ALTAR (9-11) A. THE FIFTH SEAL - SOULS UNDER THE ALTAR (9-10) 1. The Lamb opens the fifth seal 2. John sees under the altar those who had been slain a. For the word of God b. For the testimony they held 3. They cried with a loud voice: a. "How long, O Lord, holy and true" b. "Until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" B. THEIR CONSOLATION (11) 1. A white robe was given to each of them 2. They were told to rest a little while longer, until both their fellow servants and brethren would be killed III. COSMIC DISRUPTIONS IN THE DAY OF THE LAMB'S WRATH (12-17) A. THE SIXTH SEAL - COSMIC DISRUPTIONS (12-14) 1. The Lamb opens the sixth seal 2. Cataclysmic events occur: a. A great earthquake b. Sun becomes black as sackcloth of hair c. Moon became like blood d. Stars fall to the earth, like ripe figs shaken from a tree by a mighty wind e. Sky receded as a scroll when rolled up f. Every mountain and island moved out of its place B. THE REACTION OF MANKIND (15-17) 1. Great and small, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and rocks of the mountains 2. They cry out to the mountains and rocks: a. "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" b. "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The four horses and their riders (1-8) - The souls under the altar (9-11) - Cosmic disruptions in the day of the Lamb's wrath (12-17) 2) Who opens each of the seals in this chapter? (1,3,5,7,9,12) - The Lamb 3) What is seen when the first seal is opened? What was given to him? (1-2) - A rider with a bow on a white horse; a crown, who then goes forth conquering 4) What is seen when the second seal is opened? What was given to him? (3-4) - A rider on a red horse; authority to take peace from the earth, that people should kill one another; a great sword 5) What is seen when the third seal is opened? What is heard? (5-6) - A rider with a pair of scales in his hand on a black horse; "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine." 6) What is seen when the fourth seal is opened? What was given to them? (7-8) - Death riding on a pale horse, followed by Hades; power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth 7) What is seen when the fifth seal is opened? What are they saying? (9-10) - Souls under the altar who had been slain for the word of God and for their testimony - "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 8) How are they consoled? (11) - A white robe to each of them, told to rest a little while longer - Until the number of their fellow servants and brethren who will be killed is completed 9) What is seen when the sixth seal is completed? (12-14) - A great earthquake, sun becomes black, the moon becomes like blood, the stars of heaven fall to the earth, the sky is receded as a scroll, every mountain and island moved out of its place 10) What do the people on earth try to do? What do they say? (15-17) - Hide themselves in the caves and rocks of the mountains - "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" - "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"