As John starts chapter six, we will first see the 7 seals, then the 7 trumpets. If you remember in the last post, the only one who was worthy to open the seals was the Lamb of God. If you didn’t get a chance to read my last post, check it out here to get the background. I created a table below to summarize the main events and the critical actors in the 7 seals. It will be important to understand that John introduces the Seven Trumpets when he introduces the Seventh Seal. We won’t get to the trumpets this time. We’ll introduce them in the next post. The Great Tribulation: Events on Earth, Seen From Heaven, will guide you through several of these events.
The Seven Seals
|1||White Horse||Bow & Crown||Conquest & Pestilence|
|2||Fiery Red Horse||Large Sword||War/Bloodshed|
Pair of Scales
|5||Souls Under The Altar||The martyrs are each given a White Robe||Those persecuted and martyred for their testimony|
|6||Earthquake||– A seal is given on the forehead of 144,000 Jews (12,000 from each tribe)|
– The World is given ominous signs of God’s power * The sun turns black
* The moon turns blood red
* The stars fall
– 4 angels at 4 corners of the earth
|7||Silence in heaven (30 mins)||– 7 angels are given 7 trumpets|
– Another angel is given a golden censer with incense inside, along with prayers from God’s people
|More Earth destruction, a lot done by fire|
The Lamb begins opening the first of the Seven Seals! Where we looked at the “Scenes” in heaven in the last post, the central themes here are the Events that God has the angels initiate.
The First Four Events
Four Well-Recognized Horses (And the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)
Notice as we go through these actors and events that they are targeting mankind itself. God’s judgement will target the corrupted creation more in later events.
Event 1 – The First Seal Brings Conquest and Pestilence
The first seal brings a White Horse onto the scene. The rider has a bow and a crown as he rides out as a conqueror on a conquest. I read that some people view the rider as representing the Antichrist and his sweeping into power on earth. Others have speculated that it might be Christ starting his judgement on earth. Either one is speculation because John doesn’t tell us exactly who this is.
Event 2 – The Second Seal Brings War and Bloodshed
Much like the first seal, we see another horse. The second horse was fiery red and the rider takes peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. He carries a large sword and with it he brings war and bloodshed to humankind.
Event 3 – The Third Seal Brings Famine
When the Lamb opens the third seal, John introduces a black horse! Its rider carries a pair of scales in his hand. John shares a picture of people having to pay huge amounts of money for small amounts of goods. it’s a picture of demand that has far outweighed supply. He also shows a picture of people hoarding and protecting their staples to make them last as long as they can.
Event 4 – The Fourth Seal Brings Death (And In Fact Is Named “Death”)
When the Lamb opens the Fourth seal, we see a Pale horse whose rider, unlike the others, has a name. His name is Death, and he brings with him Hades in his wake. Death and Hades have the power to kill a fourth of the earth. His tools to kill are by the sword, famine, plague, and wild beasts. Here we see all forms of death but even the animals (Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!) are turned against humankind who was once given dominion over them by God back in Genesis.
From Global Condemnation To The Love Of God For His Martyrs
Once the Fourth Seal is finished and Death and Hades have brought death on the earth, the next event has a completely different tone. This event isn’t about the condemnation of people on the earth, it’s about the beauty of the relationship the Lamb has with those who have been martyred for Him.
Event 5 – The Fifth Seal Sees Martyrs Protected Under An Altar – Wait, There Will Be More?
When we get to the Fifth Seal, the nature of the events change. Suddenly, God is not pouring out His condemnation, but gently comforting His people and giving them gifts. We see those who have died for Christ’s sake protected under an altar. This is a special event where God, personally, marks his people who have paid the ultimate price for the Word of God and their testimonies. These saints actually cry loudly asking God how long He is going to wait (what’s the hold up?) before he judges the remaining people on the earth and avenge their blood. God gives them each a white robe and tells them to wait just a little longer because there will be more saints joining their ranks. More will die for God and their testimony and he won’t avenge them until they have all arrived.
“The Blood Of The Martyrs Is The Seed Of The Church”
Why are the martyrs so important in this passage? Because, as Tertulian (one of the early church fathers) said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”; meaning that, much like a tree, a seed is planted and dies so that the tree can grow strong and withstand the coming storms and forest fires, etc. Acts describes the beginning of the New Testament church. Scripture tells the story of Stephen who is the first martyr of the early church. Interestingly enough, the apostle Paul took part and even led in killing Stephen. Peter and Silus were jailed and suffered several beatings. Eventually they died for their faith. Almost all of the apostles where persecuted and slaughtered for their faith. There were many more too! People in other countries even now are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith.
I heard about a person recently who was in Vietnam. They stated that their obedience to Christ was more important to them than to stay away from persecution even the possibility of death. The sacrifices that the early Christians made and their obedience to God was important enough to them to be part of the church coming into existence and they believed in what the Church would become. God is honoring them for that in this passage.
Martyrs Even Today – Pray For Those Standing Strong In Their Faith
Some Philippine terrorists held a friend of my family, a missionary couple, hostage for over a year because of their faith. Several others died giving their lives to see people come to know Christ. Maybe you can listen to recent stories on Voice of the Martyrs radio and pray for those experiencing hardship now for standing for their faith. Here are two links for this: https://www.persecution.com/ and https://www.vomradio.net/. The souls of these strong believers will be under that very altar seen in the Fifth Seal; even people we know may one day be there.
Maintain Your Testimony
Those who died, had a testimony. So do we! It was because of the Word of God that they lived in obedience and maintained this testimony. We see, under the altar, the souls who were slain because of the Word of God and the testimony that they maintained.” They have a story that defines who they really are.
Acts 1:9 says, “You will be my witness”. Much like in a court of law, a person is on the stand to bear witness. The question for us is “what kind of witness will I be and what kind of impact will it have toward sharing the truth of Christ? It’s never about me, not someone’s politics (mine or someone else’s), not my feelings; it’s about Christ and my commitment to His gospel. My commitment to dying to self to grow the mighty tree of His Church.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”Romans 1:16, NIV
The World Begins to Fall Apart
Event 6 – Creation Quakes Under God’s Judgement
The Sixth Seal opens with a massive earthquake. Then the heavens react with dramatic imagery.
- First, the sun turns black like sackcloth made of goat hair
- As you might imagine, the reflection of the sun (the moon) turns blood red
- The stars in the sky begin to fall to the earth “as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind“
Think of what happens when you have a tree full of fruit and a strong wind gives is a really good shake. All the mature fruit starts falling off of it in massive numbers. Now think of that picture with stars in the sky. Suddenly all the stars start falling out of the sky. Pretty scary event. But couple that with an earthquake, the sun going dark and the moon turning blood red, it’s going to feel like the world is coming to an end even for people who don’t know the Lord, see the hand of God in it. I imagine a LOT of fear in people who experience these events.
Leaders React in Fear To This Event
So how do folks react to such and “earth-shattering” event? People around the world and of all classes hide in caves and among the rocks in the mountains.
- The Rich
- The Mighty
- And everyone else
Not only do they hide to caves, and their “safe places”, but they call to the rocks to fall on them because of their fear. They do so, not because of the stars falling or the sun melting down, but they call on the rocks to fall on them to hide them from “Him who sits on the throne” and to hide them from the “wrath of the Lamb”!
This says to me that they know they are dealing with the judgement of God. But it also tells me that they believe that they can gain relief from that judgement in death. In reality, they don’t humble themselves before God and The Lamb. Instead, they think they can hide from him. Where have we heard that before? Didn’t Adam and Eve try to hide from God when they were in the garden and realized they were naked because they sinned? We must humble ourselves to God and obey; running gives us no freedom or relief from our sin.
Applying What We Learned From Revelation So Far
You may have noticed that we didn’t cover the Seventh Seal in this post. I promise it’s coming and it will be fascinating, but we’ll start the next one with that as an introduction into the seven trumpets.
That being said, it’s hard to believe that the events we’ve been discussing will happen someday. The best thing that you can do is to have a personal relationship with Christ and bring others to Him as well! The application that is so important to catch in Revelation is what our faith and obedience means and how it makes a difference now and many years from now. We do not know the day or the hour that He will come!
“So I will go wherever He is calling meWhat Grace Is Mine (Chorus) By Keith and Kristyn Getty
I lose my life to find my life in Him
Give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart take up my cross and follow Him”
Even in the light of what we are studying in John’s Revelation, we must realize and be changed by what John wrote in his gospel
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:17, NIV
Those who end up hiding in caves and under the condemnation of God are the ones who choose not to accept His gift in Christ and the gift He came to give. Christ is not condemning them because that’s not why He came. Their own sin and rejection of His gift condemns them.
If you have never accepted His free gift, reach out to me and let’s talk.
Excellent commentary with very little speculation.
Just a note: “it’s a picture of demand that has far outweighed demand” should read “outweighed supply.” Good to note that you ARE human after all! 😉 Feel free to delete this comment after you correct it.
…lots to take in. I need to go back and review (again). You’ve been doing a lot of research and studying!
Thanks, lots of studying lately!
How wonderful! They seem to be looking at the camera!
Thank you again!!! So well explained. And I love how at the end you noted that one’s condemnation is in their own hands👍❤
Thank you! I hope that the gospel message spreads continually. That is how I believe the Lord wants to use me! It is a joy and an incredible encouragement to hear from you and several others, that this will make a difference in people’s lives!