The Seven Seals

I. The Lamb is presented and takes the Scroll from the Presence on the Throne (Revelation 5:1-14).

A. The identity of Jesus Christ is unmistakable.

1. The Titles are those of the Old Testament titles from prophecies.

a. Lion of Judah (Genesis 49:9-10; Numbers 24:8-9)
b. Son of David (Isaiah 11:1, 10; Jeremiah 23:5-6, etc.)
c. Son of man given dominion (Daniel 7:13-14)

2. This is after His crucifixion (“as it has been slain” – verse 6).

B. The Lamb also has “7 horns and 7 eyes.”

1. The equation of the 7 horns and eyes is with the “seven spirits of God.”

a. “7” denotes perfection or completion when used figuratively.
b. “Horns” speak of great authority when used figuratively (Psalm 75:10; Daniel 7, 8; Zechariah 1:18-21).
c. “Eyes” portray knowledge when used figuratively (2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 34:15; Zechariah 4:10; 1 Peter 3:12).
d. “Horns” and the “eyes” may be the 7 angels under the authority of the Lamb.
e. Other references are in Revelation (1:4; 3:1; 4:5).

2. The Angels rise to praise the Lord Jesus (5:13-14) and then every creature in heaven praises the Lamb.

II. The Seven Seals are opened (Revelation 6:1 through 8:1).

A. The first Four Seals are opened and reveal four powerful riders with authority (Revelation 6:1-8).

1. The First is a Rider on a white horse.

a. The Rider wears a crown and carries a bow.
1) The “stephanos” is the victor’s crown (Revelation 14:14).
2) The “taxon” is a unique word – bow is a decorated symbol of war.
b. The Rider goes out to conquer.
1) “Conquer” is the same word translated, “overcome.”
2) The 7 church “overcomers” are promised blessings.
c. The Rider represents Christ’s overall role in the Kingdom.
1) The role of Christ is to “overcome the world” (John 16:33).
2) The color white designates righteousness throughout the Book of Revelation (1:14; 2:17; 3:4-5; 4:4; 6:11; etc.).
3) The return of Christ pictures him on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-14).
4) The Rider does not represent the Antichrist.

2. The Second rider is on a red horse.

a. This rider is commissioned to instigate war (6:3-4).
1) The rider carries a great sword.
2) The red represents the blood that will be shed.
3) The removal of “peace from the earth” is granted.
b. This rider appears to parallel the time of the White Rider.
1) The “wars and rumours of wars” as well as “nation rising against nation” will be common throughout history (Matthew 24:6-8).
2) The “wrath of men” will praise God (Psalm 76:10).
3) The promise that “all things work together” applies (Romans 8:28).
4) The “sword” is brought by Christ (Matthew 10:34).
5) The “powers” of this world are “ordained” and bear the “sword” of God (Romans 13:1-4).

3. The Third rider is on a black horse.

a. The rider is commissioned to bring scarcity and want (6:5-6).
1) The rider carries a pair of balances – trade and commerce.
2) The color black is often used to denote trouble and anguish.
b. The impact is outrageous prices for necessities and protected prices for luxuries.
1) Wheat and barley (basic food material) is sold at the rate of 1 ½ pints for a day’s wages – bare survival -- true for most of the world’s population for most of history.
2) Oil and wine (perfumes [fuel?] and intoxicants) are “not hurt” – protected and available for those who indulge.
c. The results of this rider’s efforts are common throughout history.
1) The lust for wealth drowns “men in destruction and perdition.” (1 Timothy 6:9)
2) The “poor shall never cease out of the land” (Deuteronomy 15:11) and will “always” be here (Matthew 26:11).

4. The Fourth rider is on a pale horse, followed by another.

a. The main rider is named “Death”, and “Hell” followed him (6:7-8).
1) Both riders are personified and both are ultimately cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14).
2) Both riders contain unsaved “dead” from the whole of history (Revelation 20:13).
b. The riders kill with violence, not by old age.
1) The killing is by famine (Ireland 1850’s; Africa today) and plague (the “Black Death” of Europe – nearly 50% of the population).
2) The killing is by “sword” (war, murder) and “beasts of the earth” (more in past history than today).
3) The “beast” is theerion, used 38 times in Revelation – all other times referring to evil rulers (Revelation 13:17, etc.).
c. The riders are given power over one-fourth part of the earth (6:8).
1) It is not clear if this reference is about territory/geography.
2) It is not clear if the reference is about population.
3) It is clear in history that huge numbers of people have died through famine, pestilence, and wars – but these violent episodes have been located in specific parts of the earth.
4) It is clear that history has had devastating events from early Egypt (10 plagues) through the Black Death in Europe, and the murderous inquisition of the Roman Church – not to mention the non-stop wars on every continent since ancient Babylon.
5) It is likely that the power of these two riders (Death and Hell) have indeed slaughtered ¼ of life on ¼ of the territory of earth during the time since the Second Age began (after the Flood – 2 Peter 3).

5. Note:  Although John was led to observe these riders in sequence, they appear to represent the conditions that prevail throughout all of the Kingdom of God after Christ’s resurrection and prior to Christ’s return (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).  There is the possibility that these riders also represent the work of the Godhead, led by the pre-incarnate Christ, during the Old Testament.

B. The visions in Zechariah are very similar to the “disclosures” of the horses described in Revelation.

1. The first vision (Zechariah 1:7-17) describes angelic horsemen reporting to the LORD about the condition of the earth.

a. The leader is on a red horse (1:8).  The other riders sit on “red, speckled, and white” horses.
1) They would correspond to 3 of the 4 colors in Revelation.
2) They are “missing” the black horse (the trade and commerce of Revelation).
b. The riders “walk to and fro” in the earth (1:10).
1) They report that the earth is at rest (1:11).
2) They are concerned that God was not helping Israel for the past 70 years (1:12).
c. The LORD responds that He will rescue and help Jerusalem (1:13-17).
1) The immediate context seems to stress restoration after the 70-year captivity.
2) The promises may well extend to the Millennium.

2. The second vision (Zechariah 6:1-8) describes four chariots driven by angelic riders.

a. The horses are the same colors of Revelation.
b. The “four spirits” are from “standing before the Lord of all the earth.”
1) The black and white horses go into the “north country” (probably Babylon).
2) The “grizzled” horses (same as speckled, or pale) go into the “south country” (probably Egypt).
3) The “bay” horses are sent to “patrol the earth.”  The word means “strong” – by elimination these are probably the red horses.

3. Note:  Although these particular visions seem to focus on the restoration of Israel after the 70-year captivity, much of the extended language (as well as several of the other visions) seems to apply to the time of the Millennium.  The parallel to Revelation chapter 6 seems to indicate that these “horsemen” are age-long angelic authorities that execute and implement God’s will in the earth.

III. The remaining three Seals appear to speak of an end to all things.

A. The Fifth Seal reveals the Martyrs under the Altar (6:9-11).

1. These appear to be all those who have died a martyr’s death over the centuries.

a. “From the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias…” (Matthew 23:35)
b. The nameless millions who “stopped the mouths of lions…and…were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword” (Hebrews 11:34, 37).
c. Nearly 50 million were killed by the Roman Church during the Middle Ages (4th through 16th centuries).

2. They are told to wait for “a little while” and are “given white robes” (Revelation 6:9-11).

a. They long for vengeance by the LORD on those who are evil.
b. They are told that “fellow servants” and “brethren” must be killed.

3. There are parallel passages that tell of future martyrs.

a. Revelation 17:6 – Babylon will kill many.
b. Revelation 20:4 – Many will be beheaded when Satan is loosed.
c. Daniel 7:21-25 – A “horn with eyes” will prevail against the saints.
d. Daniel 8:23-24 – A “King of fierce countenance” will destroy many.
e. Daniel 11:21-39 – The “Vile Person” will dominate and kill many.

B. The Sixth Seal brings destruction on earth and praise from the Heavenly Court (6:12-17).

1. There was a great earthquake – every mountain and island moved.

a. This is NOT just “the big one” – but the last one
b. Hebrews 12:26-27 – only one more “shaking” to shake everything
c. Haggai 2:6-7 – shake: heavens, earth, sea, land, nations

2. There will be a destruction of the heavenly bodies.

a. The sun becomes black and the moon blood (possibly from the awful dust explosions generated by the earthquake).
b. The stars of heaven will fall to the earth (possibly meteorites).
c. Heaven (sky) splits like a scroll when it is rolled up.

3. This is the “great day of his wrath” (Revelation 6:17).

a. This is the same language used by Jesus Christ in his answer about the “end” (Matthew 24:29-30; Mark 13:24-26; Luke 21:25-27).
b. This is the same language used by the Old Testament Prophets (Joel 2:10-11: 3:15-16; Isaiah 13:9-10; Zephaniah 1:14-18).

4. The court of heaven seems to see that is the final subduing of Earth.

a. The praise of the Heavenly Court and an uncountable number burst into praise about the beginning of Christ’s total rule (Revelation 7:9-17).
b. The praise of “every creature” in heaven and earth is reflective of the promise in Philippians 2:8-11 and in Psalm 148.

C. The Seventh Seal brings total silence in heaven (8:1).

1. Normal court etiquette in heaven is praise and worship (Revelation 5:9-14; Luke 15:7-10). 
2. This is very unusual – lasts for ½ hour.
3. Such silence would suggest an opposite emotion – instead of praise for God’s victories and rejoicing at the salvation of sinners – an awed silence at the coming final judgment of God.

D. The Seven Trumpets now follow – the “last trumpet” brings the end.

1. All of the trumpets are sequential, each bringing a more severe judgment.

2. The Seventh Angel, getting ready to blow the seventh trumpet, “sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” (Rev. 10:6-7)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ
ch. 5–6


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