Revelation 6

Revelation 6

The Seven Seals

Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.

When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”

When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”


Revelation 6 Commentary

 by Brad Boyles

Continental Divide

I grew up in Berne, Indiana which sits directly on top of the continental divide. If you are not familiar with the continental divide, it is an area of raised terrain that separates a continent’s river systems. Precipitation will flow to different basins depending on where the water falls with the divide.

In Berne, the divide (specifically the St Lawrence Continental Divide) runs directly through the park as well as the baseball diamonds. As a kid, when I played little league baseball on that diamond, my grandpa used to tell me that if I spit on the first base side, it would flow to the Great Lakes and if I spit on the third base side, it would flow to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an interesting fact, but what does it have to do with Revelation?

Well, for many believers, Revelation 6 is the Continental Divide – meaning, from this point on in the book of Revelation, there are different theological perspectives as to how the end times will unfold. Over the last several thousand years, some of the most brilliant Christian minds have dissected these verses and still landed on different interpretations depending on which side of the “divide” they fall on.

Practical Focus

  1. What is the clear and practical message that Revelation 6 is speaking?
  2. What should we (as modern believers in a modern context) do about it?

I think a common mistake that many people fall into with interpreting Revelation is to impose a modern context when interpreting it. Revelation contains a lot of Old Testament quotations and we are told directly in the book that it is a prophecy. Peter, in 2 Peter 1:20 writes “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation of Scripture.” In other words, it is part of a bigger picture and it must fit in with that bigger picture.  

“‘And I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend my arrows on them;  24  they shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured by plague and poisonous pestilence; I will send the teeth of beasts against them, with the venom of things that crawl in the dust. 

Deuteronomy 32:23-24 ESV

Famine and hunger. Plague and pestilence. Here in Deuteronomy, God is speaking to Israel, but, again, the language is similar to what we read in Revelation 6. God is allowing for calamity and judgment to come which will ultimately glorify His Name both in grace (when believers repent and are saved) as well as truth (when the enemies of God are judged). Why did he do this with Israel? Why is it mentioned again in Revelation? Let’s look at another passage…

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  [29]  Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.  [30]  “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  [31]  The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.  [32]  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Joel 2:28-32 ESV

Joel is describing an event that is documented all throughout Scripture. The Day of the Lord. It is a specific period of time when God will personally and directly intervene in order to accomplish His plan and glorify His Name. Hmmm….. I think we’ve seen God do this before…

Again, notice that in this prophecy from Joel, he is describing the current era! It is a time in history when the Holy Spirit is poured out on all the sons and daughters of God – that’s today. God gives us the most important aspect of the “why” behind it all… everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

God is using famine, plagues, war, etc. to execute judgment on the ungodly but to also to bring his people back to Him. Justice and repentance! I said this idea was scattered throughout Scripture. Ezekiel 5 contains the same message. Ezekiel 14 contains the same message. Jeremiah 15 contains the same message. We could go on and on. In all eras of human history, whether you are talking about Israel in the OT or America today and everyone in between, humans have played the role of harlot by prostituting themselves to the systems of this world instead of loving God and because of that, judgment will come.

However, we are constantly reminded in Revelation, that the Lamb (looking as it was slain) has conquered sin and death and through repentance, we can bring glory to God. Yes, Judgment is coming, but you can choose life today! You can repent and choose Salvation right now!

This is not an accidental choice. Either you worship God and follow Jesus or you don’t. No one is going to be able to say, “Wait, I didn’t know,” “God never told me,” or “I misunderstood.” There will be no excuses. In the same way that Israel was carried off to captivity, this world will destroyed. The signs are obvious and clearly seen in our world today!

Do you realize we are living in a time of grace? God should have executed justice in the garden not to mention so many other times in human history but Revelation makes it clear – the day is coming when every wrong will be made right and every evil act will be punished. God is giving fair warning as He always does and He is calling people to make a decision.

Expiration Date

But, that decision to follow Him with complete allegiance has an expiration date.

Imagine buying canned goods from the store and when you look at the expiration date, it just says, “Consume today – will expire soon.” Would you put that can in your pantry? Of course not. It’s going to expire soon and you don’t know exactly when, so wisdom tells you to consume it now. That is a major theme of Revelation. Judgment is coming at the expiration date and no one knows the exact day or hour. Remember the Snickers commercial, “Why wait?” Revelation is asking the same question to believers today who continue to stock their pantries with rows and rows of canned goods.

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  [3]  While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  [4]  But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.  [5]  For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.  [6]  So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.  [7]  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.  [8]  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.  [9]  For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  [10]  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.  [11]  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-11 ESV 
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