Rev. 6 marks the starting point of the last and 70th seven of Daniel’s 70 seven prophecy(Dan. 9:27). Here the seals of the scroll which Jesus the Son of God took from the hand of The Father in Rev. 5 are being broken. Although Jesus The Christ is in sovereign control, because He has the scroll, the title deed of the Earth, because the Father has committed all judgement to Him, He is not directly responsible for the events of the first four seals. The events of the first four seals represent the wrath of Satan(Rev.12:12). It is clear that the first four seals are different from the final three, a distinction also recognized in the trumpets. In addition the breaking of a seal inaugurates the events of that seal. Therefore, what is the relationship of the Lamb to these events? Is the Lamb directly or indirectly responsible for these events? These are prophesied events of the future which God superintends to ensure fulfillment. All events on Earth are controlled by Heaven. The first four seals are broken in Heaven to allow the riders to ride on Earth. God allows evil but is never the author or the agent of it’s execution. The last three seals and the trumpet and bowl judgements represent the wrath of God. The wrath of Satan is against the saints of God and any one else who refused the mark of the beast for any reason whatsoever, whilst the wrath of God is against the antiChrist, the sea-beast and his minions who have the Mark Of The Beast.
The Emergence Of The antiChrist: The Beginning Of Sorrows(Rev.6:1-5).
The events of the first seal mark the starting point of the 70th seven of Daniel, and it’s first half, the first three and one-half years. This is also dubbed the beginning of sorrows or beginning birth pangs. And all these are the beginning of sorrows(Matt 24:8).
The 70th seven of Daniel, also called the 70th week, or the Tribulation period(pretribs) is a seven year period based on the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar is lunar. Each months consists of 30 days. Therefore each year is 360 days. The seven year period is divided into two equal halves. Each half consists of three and one-half years, 42 months or 1,260 days. The first three and one-half years is called the beginning of sorrows. The second three and one-half years, comprising the great tribulation and the initial part of the wrath of God is the real hard labour or travail. It is within this context and scenario that the events of Rev. 6 occur.
The First Seal: The White Horse And Rider, The False Christ(verses 1 & 2).
And I saw when the Lamb opened one the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, come and see. And I saw, 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.
As we explained in Rev.5, the seals are on the outside of the scroll. There are seven of them. Although the scroll is written within and without, it can only be opened and the contents revealed after the seals are broken. The Lord Jesus is in sovereign control of the breaking of these seals. The first four seals are administered by the four beasts. When the first seal is broken by the Lamb who has the authority to do so, as God’s representative in the earthly realm of universal kingdom, the revelator heard as it were the noise of thunder. One of the four beasts said, come and see. What he saw was a white horse. He that sat on it had a bow, but the bow was empty, it had no arrows in it. The rider also had a crown, implying he was a sitting and reigning king. Crown means authority or right to rule. That this was given to him indicted the rider does not take authority, but that it was given to him. This is an example of passive voice in which the subject is acted upon instead of doing the acting. In other words the subject receives the action. The giver is not explicitly identified in this context, but we know from Rev.13:2 that it is Satan. But ultimately however, it is God. There is no power but of God; all the powers that be are ordained of God(Rom.13:1). He went forth conquering, and to conquer. Biblical scholars are agreed that this first rider upon a white horse is the antiChrist. The Greek word “anti” means in place of and against. The antiChrist is not only against the true Christ, he is in His stead. He is the counterfeit Christ. Whatever the true Christ does, he copies and mimics. He is a copycat. When Christ comes at Armageddon, He shall ride upon a white horse. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war(Rev.19:11). The antiChrist shall come riding upon a white horse too. He has a bow but there are no arrows in the bow. This is subtle peace diplomacy. Like his prefigure, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, he shall try to conquer by flattery, political intrigue and outright deceit. He is the consummate politician. He is the false Christ, therefore everything about him is false. Subtle peace diplomacy shall lead him only so far before he switches tactics and strategy to war and brute force. Having earlier gained control of the three power base nations and subsequently formed a ten nation coalition, he resorts to political intrigue to gain control of the whole world.
There is a consensus of opinion amongst biblical scholars of the parallelism between Rev. 6 and Matt.24. Here the rider upon a white horse equals the emergence of false christs. Many shall come in my name, saying, I am The Christ, and shall deceive many(Matt. 24:5). In Matthew, the emphasis is on the religious aspect. There are many false christs but there is also the ultimate false Christ called the antiChrist. The antiChrist shall raise an army of false christs who shall go out to deceive. This is false religion personified in the antiChrist, the sea-beast who goes out to conquer by deception. On the other hand, in Rev.6, the emphasis is on the political aspect of the Man of sin. He shall attempt to conquer the World by subtle peace diplomacy.
The Second Seal: The Red Horse And Rider, War(verses 3 & 4).
“And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, come and see. There went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the Earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto Him a great sword.”
At the breaking of the second seal, a red horse and rider emerged. This is the same Beast-antiChrist. He is now riding on a red horse. Here also, as always, he tries to copy The True Christ. Red is the symbol of judgement and bloodshed. It also signals redemption. Power was granted unto him, an indication that a third party is controlling these events. When a judge changes to a red robe from retirement in his chambers when court is session, he delivers a death sentence. When The True Christ treads the winepress of the Earth, His white garment shall be stained red with the life blood of his victims. Here also the Beast-antiChrist plays judge and executor of wrath upon the insubordinate. He also acts as a false redeemer of the world. He rides upon a red horse. Subtle peace diplomacy has failed to win the whole world over to him. He has now resorted to brute force. He is no longer wearing an empty bow. He now has a sword, a great sword for that matter. But the sword was given to him, probably by Satan, the usurper, his overlord, who up to this time has the authority over the Earth. Therefore, there shall be wars and rumours of wars. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom(Matt. 24:6-7a). Remember that apart from the Eighth And Final Beast Empire, consisting of the ten nation confederation, there are other nations in existence on Earth at this time. The Beast-antChrist does not have control of all of them. Some of them are allies of his empire. Others are opposed, and a few are neutral. Therefore there shall be wars in diverse places as nations jockey for power and position and dominance. It was given unto him to take peace from the Earth. This suggests that the rider’s influence shall be worldwide. This does not however mean that all the nations of the Earth shall be at war, but the condition and climate of the Earth shall be one of warfare and unrest. That they should slay one another connotes violence and savagery. This does not mean that all nations will be at war, but that many will be at war and death will be brutal. A great sword is symbolic of authority to put to death(Rom.13:4). Here again the agency of the third party is required, proving once again that what Heaven authorizes, Earth executed.
The Third Seal: The Black Horse And Rider, Famine (5 & 6).
“And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see that thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
At the breaking of the third seal, a black horse and rider emerged. It is famine. War will naturally lead to famine. As cities and nations are destroyed, so also are businesses. The population is in motion. As refugees flock from one area to another, whatever is left is eaten up even as by locusts. And there is no time to farm. And there shall be famines, and pestilence, and earthquakes, in diverse places(Matt. 24:7b). The insanitary conditions resulting from war would lead to epidemics and pandemics of communicable disease. These will have their toll on human population and livestock. Wars can worsen climate change, create erratic weather patterns, leading to tsunamis, swelling of the oceans, excessive monsoon rain and flooding, and extreme temperature and extreme dearth. Food shall be so scarce that a man’s daily wage can scarcely put food on the table for the family. A pair of scales represents the dire situation that some will face on Earth. It indicates that weighed bread is a condition of severe famine(Lev. 26:26; Eze. 4:16,17). A balance scale will be used to weigh food only in severe famine. The word translated penny is “denarius,” which in the Roman Empire at that time was a man’s daily wage. With the current development in technology, any world war will devastate the Earth and lead to earth tremors and earthquakes and tsunamis. But there is a call not to hurt the oil and the wine. The statement, see thou hurt not the oil and the wine is difficult to interpret. There is no consensus of opinion as to its meaning. Wine and oil come from olives and grapes, the second of two harvests in the ancient Neareast. It may be that olives and grapes are spared destruction. However, since both oil and wine symbolize the Holy Spirit, it would seem here that God shall see and preserve His people through it all. The events of the third seal bring closure to the first three and one-half years.
The Second Three And One-half Years.
The events of the fourth seal mark the beginning of the second three and one-half years, the second half of the 70th seven, the great tribulation and part of the wrath of God.
The Fourth Seal: The Pale Horse And Rider, The great Tribulation(7 & 8).
“And when He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, come and see. And I looked and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him is DEATH and HELL followed with him. And power was given unto him over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
Precisely in the middle of the 70th seven Satan and his fallen angels are cast down to the the earth by archangel Michael and the angels of God under his command(Rev. 12:9). He was filled with wrath; for he knoweth that he has but a short time (Rev. 12:12). He enters the Beast-antiChrist, and gives him his power, seat and great authority(Rev. 13:2). At this point the Beast-antiChrist relocates his headquarters to Jerusalem. He makes his debut, and erects a statue of himself in the rebuilt Jewish temple on Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He demands worship of all mortals. He institutes the Great Tribulation. It is the time of Jacob’s trouble(Jer. 30:7). He had anticipated the famine that followed the war, and had stockpiled food and medicine and supplies. There probably would be agricultural and economic boom prior to this time. The war would lead to global financial crisis. Before anyone could buy or sell, engage in any business transactions, receive medical treatment or medical supplies or get health or other insurance, he must have the mark of the Beast(Rev. 13:17). Those who do not would be hounded, ferreted out and killed. The instruments of death would be sword, hunger and death itself. Sword is any weapon used in warfare. The methods of death could be summarily executions, decapitation, starvation even crucifixion. Even those who were not ferreted out, if they have not enough food stored away before hand could die of starvation. Saying they will be killed by death is somewhat redundant and tautological. But what does it mean to die by means of the beasts of the Earth? The antiChrist is the Beast. Besides instructing his worshippers to make images of him in gold, silver, bronze, precious stones and wood to keep, there would be enlivened images of the beast installed at strategic places empowered to identify those who do not have the mark of the beast and to cause them to be killed. These enlivened images are called the beasts of the Earth. In these days of computer and artificial intelligence, these things are not difficult to figure out. There would be too many demons on Earth at that time. Some of them would possess men, others inanimate objects. We haven not yet seen immorality and wickedness, just wait until the middle of the 70th seven. There would be no more refinement in wickedness, no restraint whatever. It shall be crude and of the vilest form.
The Fifth Seal: Martyrs Under The Altar(9-11).
“And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them who were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, how long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge our blood on that dwell upon the earth? And whites robes were given to everyone of them; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants, and also their brethren that should be killed as they were should be fulfilled.”
The fifth seal initiates a second series of seals that are unlike the first four seals. Gone are the horses and riders that initiate events. The fact that death reigns over the fourth part of the Earth makes the fifth seal a probable result. The relationship between seals five, six and seven is the wrath of God: seal five asks for it; seal six announces it; seal seven depicts it. The fifth seal is a heavenly scene, a reflection of the severe persecution of the saints going on here on Earth. These martyrs are described as souls under the altar. In other words, they are not resurrected saints. They have not yet received their glorified eternal immortal resurrection bodies. Therefore were they described as souls.
A definite altar is in view here. Two distinct altars are spoken of in the scroll of Revelation. The altar of incense(Rev. 7:5, 6:9 9:13), and the altar of burnt offering(Rev.11:1; 16:7). The altar of burnt offerings was located in the court of the priests. The altar of incense was located in the holy place before the curtain that separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies. It is likely it is the altar of incense that is in view, which may be the reason their souls cry out with a loud voice for vengeance. Why are these faithful souls kept underneath this particular altar? No explicit reason is given. These souls paid the ultimate sacrifice, physical death. This is the altar where God receives sweet aromas. They are symbolically kept in this place where their fragrant aromas ascend to God. Obviously God has great pleasure in these souls.
They called on God to avenge their deaths. They recognized that God is holy and true, and questioned how long it took Him to avenge their deaths. The phrase how long is not uncommon in The Scripture, particularly in the OT(Ps 6:3,4; 13:1,2; 35:17; 74:9,10; 79:5; 80:4). These martyrs cry out for vengeance. The question echoes the sentiment that too much time has passed between the deed and the punishment. This is very similar to the psalms which demand that God punish the evil doers(Ps 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 139). King David prayed such a prayer(2 Sam. 3:28,39), so did Nehemiah(Neh. 4:4,5). But God assured them He would do so as soon as the full complement of their brethren to be killed should be fulfilled. The number of those to be killed is not unlimited. Therefore death is not a sign of unfaithfulness, but a sign of faithfulness here. No doubt, some believers die because of their unfaithfulness, but these are killed for their faithfulness. Matt. 24:8, says then shall they deliver you to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. There is a certain number of saints to be martyred. God knows the number. It is not revealed to us. Once that number is complete, God will interrupt and put a stop to the the Great Tribulation. What is amputated is the Great Tribulation, not the 42 months allotted to the antiChrist.
The Sixth Seal: Cosmic Disturbance, God Amputates The Great Tribulation (Rev. 6:12-14).
“And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when it is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain, and every island were moved out of their places.”
God cuts short the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist with cosmic and celestial disturbances. By this He serves notices to the wicked living earth-dwellers that He is about to pour out His wrath on the Earth. The synoptic gospels are synonymous in their affirmation of the sign given in the sun, moon and stars before the great and terrible Day Of The Lord. After the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken(Matt. 24:29). But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars of the heavens shall fall, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken(Mark 13:24,25). And there shall be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring(Luke 21:35). Evangelist Luke describes the Great Tribulation as Distress of Nations. Cosmic and celestial disturbances preceded the Day Of The Lord, and they occur at the breaking of the sixth seal. The Great Tribulation is cut short, and ends before the end of the 70th seven of Daniel’s.
The Reaction Of The Living, wicked Earth-Dwellers To The Cosmic Disturbance(14-17).
“And the kings of the Earth, 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 of the rocks and in the mountains; 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: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand.”
The sixth seal announces the imminent arrival of the wrath of God in the form of earthly and celestial disturbances unparalleled in human history. The presence of God is beyond human appreciation unless man is holy. A wicked man in the presence of God is beyond human tolerance. They do not only want to die but to be out of sight, nonexistent.
The impact is obvious, men fainting from fear of those things that are coming upon the Earth. By the cosmic and celestial disturbances, the God of Heaven serves notice to the living wicked earth-dwellers that His wrath is about to be poured out on the them. The handwriting is on the wall, or is it on the sky for all to see? They know. They do not need to be reminded who is in charge. There will be no more lies and no more deceit. They do not need to be told anymore that God is, that evolution is scientific farce; that humanism, the apotheosis of man which reached its zenith in the deification and worship of the Beast-antiChrist is a delusion. They do not need to be preached to anymore. They suddenly become conscious of God and the imminency of His wrath upon them. There would be no more arguments which is the true God and Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. Therefore, they hide themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, and call to the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them and to hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the Throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. In that day the paraphernalia of all false religions shall not save anyone. They shall ditch their regalia to hide themselves in the rocks and in the mountains; for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand. On that day, the sun shall be ashamed and the moon shall not give its light, when God arises to shake terribly the Earth. Men shall enter into the rocks and hide in the dust, for fear of the Lord and the glory of His Majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. On that day shall men cast all the idols of gold, and silver which they have made for themselves to worship (the images of the Beast-antiChrist), to the moles, and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of The Lord and the glory of His Majesty, when He arises to shake terribly the Earth. Cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of(Is. 2:10-22).
Jesus is the eschatological judge(John 5:27; Acts 20:42; Dan. 7:12,14), the stone cut out without hand that hit the statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the foot and destroyed it totally. The wrath of God is the eschatological Day of the Lord.The cosmic and earthly disturbances darkened the heavens and froze the Earth. The appearance of the Son Of Man in the heavens dispels the darkness, and defrosts the Earth. But before God pours out His wrath upon the living wicked earth-dwellers, the saints shall be raptured, and the 144,000, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel shall be sealed with the seal of God. The appearance of the Son of Man in the heavens, the Glory of God which the children of Israel called The Shekinah in the OT, before the breaking of the seventh seal is related to the Rapture of the Church before the Day of the Lord’s wrath begins. God does not exempt His people from the wrath of Satan administered by man, but He exempts them from His wrath which is administered by His Son. Noah was asked to get into the safety of the ark before the deluge(Gen.7:1). Lot was asked to flee Sodom before God rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, Zeboim and Adamma, the cities of the plain(Gen. 19:12,13). God’s wrath begins with the breaking of the seventh seal, out of which emerge the seven trumpets(Rev.8:1). The cosmic and celestial disturbances introduced by the opening of the sixth seal, are preludial to the Rapture of the Church and the Day Of The Lord(Rev.7,8).