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Revelation 6:1-8 “Opening The First Four Seals”

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SIH STSTA ICONTHE TEXT:

 

The Opening Of First Four Seals…

 

Revelation 6:1-8 KJV

(1)  And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
(2)  And I saw, and 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.
(3)  And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
(4)  And 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.
(5)  And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
(6)  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 thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
(7)  And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
(8)  And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

In chapter 6 we begin to see the seals being opened. All seven seals represent for us the events that will lead up to the  the Christian’s receipt of their eternal inheritance:

  1. Seals 1-6 reveal the events that take place before God’s wrath falls upon the earth.
  2. Seal 7 represents God’s wrath falling which prepares the way for His eternal kingdom on the New Heavens and Earth.
  3. Scroll opened reveals the eternal inheritance of the saints which will be received at His second coming.

 

Here is a brief outline of Revelation chapter 6:…

Opening Seals 1-4 (Revelation 6:1-8)

1.  1st Seal – White Horse – False Teachers/Christs 1-2
2.  2nd Seal – Red Horse – Wars and Rumors Of War  3-4
3.  3rd Seal – Black Horse – Famine and Scarcity  5-6
4.  4th Seal – Pale Horse – Death  7-8

Opening Seals  5-6 (Revelation 6:9-17)

5.  5th Seal – Persecution/Martyrdom 9-11
6.  6th Seal – Heaven’s Shaken – God’s Wrath Falling 12-17

 

In this lesson, we will see the opening of the first four seals which are commonly called the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”.  The symbolism of these four horsemen comes from Zechariah 6:1-8 (and perhaps Zech 1:8-11).

 

Color Of Horsemen Revelation 6:1-8 Zechariah 6:1-8 Zechariah 1:8-11
White 6:1-2 6:3a 1:8c
Red 6:3-4 6:2a 1:8a
Black 6:5-6 6:2b
Pale 6:7-8  (ashen light green) 6:3b (mixed ashen and light blond colored) 1:8b (light brown/tan/blond)

 

In both Zechariah 1: and 6: the horses and horsemen represent those who are deliverers of God’s judgment/consequences of sin:

 

Zechariah 1:15 –

“And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.”

 

Zechariah 6:8 –

“Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.”

 

Likewise, the four horsemen in Revelation 6: represents the consequences/judgment of sin in the world in which we live.

 

 

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

 

Revelation 6: –

 

(1)  And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals,

Following the Lamb’s receipt of the scroll and the saints’ praising Him for His worthiness to possess and control it, John’s sees the Lamb beginning to break the 7 seals which will lead to the opening of the scroll.

As we have seen in our previous studies, the opening of the seals is representative of the Lamb revealing the earthly events that must take place before the revealing of the eternal inheritance of the saints (which takes place at Christ’s second coming).

 

and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

As the seal is broken, John hears the noise of thunder.  This beast (lion) speaks with great authority and power as a representative of God.  He is inviting John to see the results of sin in this world.  The natural consequences of sin, and at times, God’s active judgment against sin as well.

Like this beast, as Christians, we should speak with power and boldness knowing that we have God’s authority behind us as we present the message of God’s coming judgment upon the world and the world’s need of a Savior.

This beast invites John to “come and see”, in other words he was to approach and perceive what is taking place. The idea of “see” not only involves seeing with their eyes, but also it involves coming to an understanding of what is being seen.

 

(2)  And I saw, and behold a white horse:

The first seal is shown to John.  This seal reveals a rider upon 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.

The rider is described as having a bow and a crown and is motivated to “conquer”.  The horse’s white color gives us the impression of purity and righteousness.  The bow is an instrument of death commonly used in warfare or hunting.  The crown pictures authority and reward.  We can see how easily this rider could be a picture of Jesus Christ as He comes to make warfare against sin, Satan, and death.

However, the context of this horseman is very important for us to consider:

  1. All the other horsemen (seals 2-4), as well as all the other seals (seals 5-7), picture events that are harmful enemies to the world (including the people of God). Christ is in no way harmful to His people.
  2. Also we have seen that this horseman comes from symbolism which is found in Zechariah 1: and 6:. In both of the Zechariah passage we saw this horseman was a result of sin falling upon man.  This cannot be describing Christ.  Although He does judge lost mankind against sin, He is, in no way, the natural result of sin in this fallen world.
  3. Nowhere in Revelation is Christ pictured as using a bow to do battle, but He is said to use the two-edged sword to do so (Rev 1:16; 2:12,16; 19:15,21).
  4. We will see in a later study (following Revelation 6: study) we will see that this series of seals is spoken of by Christ in Matthew 24:4-28. There we can see that the false teachers of this world who not only oppose the cause of Christ, but attempt to imitate and replace Christ.  They are commonly called “antichrists” (1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7)

False teachers are clearly in view here when we are told that he went “conquering”.  This Greek word comes from the same root as the term “Nicolaitanes” (Rev 2:15) which described false teachers who attempt to conquer the people of God.

Why would false teachers be symbolized similarly to Christ?  We are told in the Scriptures that false teachers appear like Christ seeking to confuse and mislead:

Matthew 7:15 KJV – “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV – “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

 

Throughout the years, from John’s day forward, the world has been plagued with false teachers and those who claim to be Christ Himself.  Satan, over and over again, has attempted, and will continue to attempt, to mislead the lost world and the people of God.  This is a sign of Christ’s second coming and the saint’s receipt of the kingdom.  As we see false teachers rise and fall always remember, it is to be expected and a reminder to the people of God that He is coming again!

 

(3)  And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

As the second seal is opened, John is invited to view its contents by the second beast (ox).  Once again, he is told to approach and perceive what is taking place.

 

(4)  And there went out another horse that was red:

John now sees a rider on a red horse.  This red horse represents bloodshed and death. We will see in the following verse that this rider and horse represent war.

 

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.

Notice that this rider is given. This rider was given allowance to take peace, harmony and unity from this earth.   The result was that mankind would kill one another.  He was given a sword which is an instrument commonly reserved for warfare.

Seal two helps us to understand that throughout the years, from John’s day forward, the world has been plagued with “wars and rumors of wars” and will continue to be so until Christ comes back.  Once again, it is important for us to understand that, as Christians, we should never be surprised at the many wars that are taking place around us.  They all simply confirm the truthfulness of Bible prophecy and the soon return of our Lord.

 

(5)  And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. 

As the third seal is opened, John is invited by the living creature with the face of a man to approach and perceive what is taking place.

 

And I beheld, and lo a black horse;

John sees a black horse.  This horse represents great shortages and famine.

 

and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

The rider of the black horse is carrying a pair of balances (scales).  The symbolism is that of the carful distribution of food and other goods by weight.  Since there is a great shortage of goods and food the scales are used to carefully distribute them.

 

(6)  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 thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

The voice in the middle of the four beasts seems to be the voice of the Lamb (Rev 5:6).  Remember, the four beats are surrounding the throne where God sat and the Lamb stood nearby. This voice further explains the purpose for the balances (scales) and the severe shortages that exist:

A measure was a unit of weight that was basically one days’ worth of food for one person.

A penny was a monetary unit that is equivalent to one days wages.

(Basically, the shortages are so severe that a man must spend all his daily wage to buy a daily supply of wheat and one days wage to buy three days’ worth of barley.  Once food was purchased, there would be very little money left over for any other necessity for living.)

 

The beasts go further and proclaim that no one was to injure or waste the oil and wine.  In other words, because of the shortage, they were supposed to be very careful not to harm any of the olive trees or vineyards, nor were they to waste any of the olive oil and wine as it was being processed.

Finally, please notice that necessities of life are exclusively mentioned.  Wheat, barley, oil and wine were all requirements that were used on a daily basis for food and other necessities for living.  Wheat and barley were used as food for man and animals; olive oil was used as food, medicine and fuel for their lamps; wine was used as a beverage and medicine.

Seal three reveals to us that shortages of goods, lack of necessities for living and famines have and will continue to take place until the coming of our Lord Jesus.  As Christians, we should understand that there will always be shortages of necessities upon this fallen earth.  This helps us to see the need to be prepared to help meet the spiritual and physical needs of those around us.  Also, as we see these great needs take place in our lives and the lives of others, we should recognize that they are proofs that God Word is true, the Lord is in control and He is coming soon to take us home to be with Him.

 

(7)  And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

As the fourth seal is opened the fourth living creature (eagle) invites John to approach and perceive…

 

(8)  And I looked, and behold a pale horse:

John now sees a fourth horse, one that is the color of a corpse, a very ashen, light green color.

 

and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. 

This name of this rider clearly tells us the meaning of this symbolism… “death”.  Please note this rider is accompanied with “hell”.  If we understand the meaning of these words, it becomes very easy to understand this rider and his companion.

  1. “death” is the Greek word “Thantos” (Hebrew – “Maweth”) – it describes the CONDITION OF THE HUMAN BODY without a spirit. In other words, it describes a corpse (a body after the act of death takes place).
  2. “hell” is the Greek Word “Hades” (Hebrew – “Sheol”) – it describes the CONDITION OF THE SPIRIT when it is separated from the physical body. In other words, it describes a disembodied spirit (a spirit after the act of death takes place).

 

From these definitions, we can easily see why they are seen together.  If you have a physical body without a spirit, you must have a spirit without a body and vice versa.  Both of these occur when death takes place. When the body no longer has the spirit within it, the spirit no longer has the body surrounding it.  One describes the condition of the body, the other describes the condition of the spirit, both are the results of physical death.

 

And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

This horse doesn’t simply represent physical death but, most importantly, it represents catastrophic death involving suffering, violence and pain.

Notice some examples of the types of death that this rider brings upon man:

  1. “kill with the sword” murders, wars, etc (deaths of violence/pain);
  2. “hunger” famines, starvation during imprisonment or war (suffering);
  3. “death” catastrophic deaths such as plagues, shipwrecks, earthquakes, etc (pain/violence/suffering);
  4. “beasts of the earth” eaten or mauled by beasts (pain/violence/suffering).

These horrible deaths are lumped together in this symbol of the fourth horseman. They are taken from Ezekiel 14:21.

The horseman is said to possess the authority/allowance to kill “the fourth part” of the earth.  It is important to know that “part” is not found in the Greek manuscripts.  This is simply saying “power was given to him over the four of the earth”, in other words… North, South, East, West.  There is no area of the earth that will not be touched by this type of devastating death.

Seal four reveals to us that the catastrophes that take place are the fulfillment of prophesies given to us by the Apostle John.  As such, we can rest assured nothing is taking place without the Lord knowledge nor His decree or allowance.  Although the reasons for such events is difficult to understand, we can rest assured He is still in control.

As we see the occurrence of these things, we can rest assured that He will come again and never again will we see these travesties take place.

 

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this section of John’s vision, we saw the Lamb (our Lord Jesus Christ) breaking the first four seals on the scroll one by one which reveals four different results of sin that fall upon mankind form John’s day until the second coming of Christ.

 

So what do we learn about Christ in all of this?

Keep in mind, it is Christ that breaks each of these seals… in other words, He is in control of all these things.  As the exalted Lamb who gave Himself for our sins, He exercises absolute control over these events allowing them to take place for His glory and the good of His people. Although we may not understand how all of this works, we can rest assured He is in control and only allows those things that are within His sovereign will to take place.

 

Are you touched by any of these catastrophes?  Accept them in your life knowing they are for your ultimate good and the Lord’s glory.  The Lord is not sleeping nor on vacation, things are not out of His control, He allowed this thing to take place and He will take it from you in His time.

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

As we looked at these four horsemen of Revelation 6:, we saw a continuing theme… the horrible results of sin in our world… false teachers/Christs; wars and rumors of war; shortages and famines; and horrible deaths.  They all are the result of living in a fallen, sinful world.  When we see these things take place, they should be a constant reminder of sin, the harm it brings into our lives, and mankind’s great need of a Savior.

May we all see the suffering and injustice that is taking place all around us, and commit our lives to love and help those who are touched by the results of sin.  Especially, may we see the need to share the gospel message with a lost and dying world in an effort to give them escape from the eternal results of sin that far outweigh the temporal results of sin that we see all around us.

 

May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.

 

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6 Comments

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Thank you for this devotional!

  2. […] Revelation 6:1-8 “Opening The First Four Seals”. […]

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