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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Revelation 6

 

 

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Verse 1-2

The First Seal: The White Horse - We read about the opening of the first seal in Revelation 6:1-2. This seal releases a white horse and its rider holding a bow in his hand.

1. The White Horse as Catholicism- Irvin Baxter, Jr. suggests that the white horse symbolizes the spirit of Catholicism. 67] The pope dresses in white and wears a tiara consisting of three crowns. The bow without arrows symbolizes the fact that the Roman Catholic Church appears to have power, but actually has none. We see the bow used symbolically of strength in Jeremiah 49:35. Some scholars make an issue over the fact that this horseman was not carrying any arrows. But the lack of any mention of arrows is not a relevant issue to argue; for it is assumed throughout Scriptures that the mention of a bow implies arrows also. The aim of the spirit of Catholicism is to bring all nations under the influence of its religion. It aims is to conquer any nation that is not under its influence and control. Thus, it will persecute the Church for not serving under the structure of the Pope and its cardinals and bishops. The fact that this horseman was given a crown emphasizes the ritual within Catholicism of coronations services, as the pope, cardinals, archbishops and bishops are continually crowned, or ordained, into these offices made by men.

67] Irvin Baxter, Jeremiah , A Message for the President (Richmond, Indiana: Endtime, Inc 1986), chapter 3.

Jeremiah 49:35, "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might."

2. The White Horse as the Antichrist- Hilton Sutton believes that the rider on this horse is the man destined to become the Antichrist. 68] Sutton refers to Daniel 9:24-27 for a description of how this Antichrist will come to power. He will make a covenant of peace between Israel and its adversaries for a seven-year period, referred to as "one week". But during the middle of this seven-year period he will break this treaty and set himself up as a powerful ruler and dominate Israel. Paul teaches us in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9 that this "son of perdition", this "wicked one", who opposes himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. However, he cannot be revealed until he that hinders is taken out of the way. This hindrance is the Church members who are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the rapture of the Church that will allow this antichrist to be revealed. When the Church is removed from off of the earth, Satan is free to bring his destruction upon mankind. This person who is destined to become the antichrist begins his campaign of conquering and ruling over nations.

68] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God's Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c 1984), 82-4.

Daniel 9:26-27, "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."


Verses 1-19

The Opening of the Seven Seals and the Sounding of the Seven Trumpets - Revelation 6:1 to Revelation 11:19 records the opening of the seven seals and the sounding of the seventh trumpet that accompanied the seventh seal.

The Purpose of the Seven Seals and the Seven Trumpets- The opening of the seven seals by the Lamb of God and the sounding of the seven trumpets by the angels serve as the testimony of Jesus Christ to the world that He is the Son of God. Just as Jesus Christ has testified to John the apostle in chapter one, and to the seven churches in chapters 2-3, He now speaks to the rest of the world in the only language that corrupt and wicked world will listen, which is through calamities and tribulation. This is why it is called the Tribulation Period. We see God's effort to bring people to salvation through these events because there are a number of verses in this section that say, "yet they repented not of their evil works" ( Revelation 9:20-21, Revelation 16:9-11). However, the bright side of this Tribulation Period reveals that a multitude of people will be saved during this difficult seven-year on earth.

The Message of the Book - The book that was in the right hand of God and taken by the Lamb contains a story. The opening of the book's seven seals reveals this story as a series of events that are coming upon the earth to judge mankind for its depravity, which depravity was most clearly revealed by the crucifixion of the Son of God, who is thus described here as the Lamb that was slain. In other words, God will use these events to judge the earth, which events are consummated by the Second Coming of Christ described in the opening of the sixth seal. Therefore, the opening of the first seal ushers in these judgments

1. View of the Sevens Seals Representing the Entire Church Age- One popular view is to interpret the seven seals as the sequence of events that will take place during the Church age leading to its consummation, which would begin during the time of the early church. For example, Michael Wilcox compares the order of events described in this passage of Scripture to the Eschatological Discourse of Matthew 24:1-31 by suggesting that Matthew 24and Revelation 6 are the same discourse, with Matthew's Gospel giving an earthly perspective, while the book of Revelation describes the same sequences of events from a heavenly perspective. 65] This view could be interpreted as such:

65] Michael Wilcox, The Message of Revelation: I Saw Heaven Opened, in The Bible Speaks Today, eds. J. A. Motyer and John R. W. Stott (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, c 1975, 1986), 74-77.

a) The First Seal ( Revelation 6:1-2) - The first seal reveals the first church age in which the Roman Empire, and the Catholic Church that emerged out of this empire, were the primary persecutors of the saints of God ( Revelation 6:1-2). It is symbolized by the crown, showing its intent to conquer and rule over all peoples and places. Unlike the sword carried by the second horseman, the bow symbolizes its purpose to conquer, but not kill, those whom it dominates. The white symbolizes the color of the papacy.

b) The Second Seal ( Revelation 6:3-4) - The second age of the Church saw the rise of Islam during the seventh century, with its symbol of the sword, showing its purpose was to kill men rather than to rule over them ( Revelation 6:3-4). This great persecutor of the Church initially targeted all Jews and Christians, as well as other peoples, but it has continuously killed its fellow Muslims throughout the ages. The red may symbolize the blood it sheds in behalf of its religion.

c) The Third Seal ( Revelation 6:5-6) - The third age of the Church is capitalism, with its purpose of controlling the world's economy by a few wealthy individuals ( Revelation 6:5-6). The scale represents its system of buying and selling to control men and nations. The black color is seen in the traditional black suit worn today by the leaders of businesses within this capitalistic system. This system arose with the rise of industrialization of western nations. All three of these systems, Roman Catholicism, Islam, and Capitalism, carry the spirit of anti-christ.

d) The Fourth Seal ( Revelation 6:7-8) - The pale horse, with its riders Death and Hell ( Revelation 6:7-8) represent the fourth age, which immediately precedes the Great Tribulation Period. This is the period in which the earth enters into travail as birth pangs, which Jesus called the "beginning of sorrows" ( Matthew 24:8). This period takes place about one hundred years before the world enters into the Great Seven-year Tribulation Period. Perhaps this period began with World War I. It is a time when the three world systems of Catholicism, Islam and Capitalism are working in full force, and in conflict with one another, but all having the common mindset of hating the Jews and the Christians.

e) The Fifth Seal ( Revelation 6:9-11) - The fifth seal reveals all of the saints slain during the Church age until its culmination, crying out for God's vengeance ( Revelation 6:9-11). Their role in this series of events is to intercede in behalf of one another to move God to avenge them and bring judgment upon the earth.

f) The Sixth Seal ( Revelation 6:12 to Revelation 7:17) - The sixth seal clearly describes the seven-year Tribulation Period upon this earth, which culminates with Christ Jesus returning to earth to conquer and to rule and reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years ( Revelation 6:12 to Revelation 7:17). It is during this period of Church history that many of the Jews will turn to Jesus Christ as their Messiah. God will seal them along with His saints to keep them during the Tribulation Period, described in Revelation 6:17 as "the great day of his wrath" and in Revelation 7:14 as "the great tribulation."

g) The Seventh Seal ( Revelation 8:1 to Revelation 11:19) - The seventh seal serves as a prelude to introduce the seven trumpets. At this time the prayers of the saints rises up before the throne of God and the angel casts fire from the golden altar down upon the earth in order to bring about judgment upon those who have resisted God and persecuted the saints.

2. View of the Seven Seals Representing the Events of the Last Days - Another view of the seven seals is to interpret them to symbolic the particular events that will take place during the period of time immediately preceding and including the Tribulation Period, rather spanning over a period of two thousand years. For example, John Ogwyn takes the sequence of events as a description of last days in Matthew 24and makes them parallel to the sequence of events in Revelation. 66] This view could be interpreted as such:

66] John H. Ogwyn, Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled (Charlotte, NC: Living Church of God, 2003) [on-line]; accessed 19 September 2010; available from http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/media/booklets/ru.pdf; Internet, 19-25.

a) The First Seal ( Revelation 6:1-2) - The opening of the first seal reveals a white horse and its rider that go forth with a bow to conquer. This event would parallel Matthew 24:5, which refers to the many false prophets that will go forth during the period before Christ's Second Coming to deceive the Church.

b) The Second Seal ( Revelation 6:3-4) - The opening of the second seal reveals a red horse and its rider that go forth to kill. This event would parallel Matthew 24:6-7 a, which refers to the many wars that will take place immediately before the Tribulation Period.

c) The Third Seal ( Revelation 6:5-6) - The opening of the third seal reveals a black horse and its rider that go forth with a pair of scales. This event would parallel Matthew 24:7 b, which refers to famines, pestilences and earthquakes in divers places across the world.

d) The Fourth Seal ( Revelation 6:7-8)

e) The Fifth Seal ( Revelation 6:9-11)

f) The Sixth Seal ( Revelation 6:12 to Revelation 7:17)

g) The Seventh Seal ( Revelation 8:1 to Revelation 11:19)

The Opening of the First Six Seals - Revelation 6:1-17 tells us of the Lamb opening six of the seven seals in the book of Revelation. The seventh seal will not be opened until Revelation 8:1. It is important to note that Jesus Christ is identified as a Lamb that has been slain. Within these seals are going to be released four spirits that will go across the earth and slay the saints of God. This is why the fifth seal reveals these martyrs under the altar of God.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - The first four seals that are opened in Revelation 6:1-8 describe the release four horses with their riders. These four horsemen are commonly referred to as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The number four signifies the work of man. Thus, these four horsemen represent four aspects of the antichrist to persecute the Church and bring destruction upon mankind.

We find a similar account of this same scene in Zechariah 6:1-8 in the Vision of the Four Chariots. In the account in Revelation there is a white, horse, a red horse, a black horse and a pale horse. In Zechariah there are red horses, black horses, white horses and grisled and bay horses. Zechariah 6:5 tells us that these horses represent "the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth." Thus, we can assume that the four horses in Revelation also represent these same four spirits that have been sent forth.

I discuss the views of several scholars below. Some scholars suggest that these four horsemen are to be sent forth upon the earth immediately after the Rapture of the Church. Others suggest that they have been sent out at different periods of Church history. My suggestion is to agree with this second view that these four horsemen represent four spirits that have been sent forth upon the earth during the last two thousand years of Church history. The white horse would represent the spirit of Catholicism, which began during the Christianization of the Roman Empire under Constantine. The red horse could represent the spirit of Islam, which began in the seventh century. The black horse would represent capitalism, which began after the Reformation when nations began to develop industry and strong economies; or the black horse could represent Communism, which had its roots in the teachings of Karl Marx and was instituted in Russia during the early twentieth century. The pale horse could represent the distress and travail that the earth will enter into prior to the Tribulation Period. All of these spirits have led to the persecution of the Church across the world. This is why the fifth seal reveals the martyrs who have been slain over this period of time. Note that the martyrs are crying out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" This suggests that they have not been slain since the start of the Great Tribulation, but perhaps during the last two thousand years of Church history.


Verse 3-4

The Second Seal: The Red Horse- We read about the opening of the second seal in Revelation 6:3-4. This second horseman comes forth on a red horse with power given to him to take away peace from the earth. The great sword that he holds represents great wars that will take place due to his powers.

1. The Red Horse as Islam- This could represent the second evil power that has manifested on the earth after Catholicism in the fourth century, which is Islam in the seventh century. This religion spreads its faith by conquering nations and killing all who oppose.

2. The Red Horse as Communism- Irvin Baxter, Jr. suggests that the red horse symbolizes the spirit of communism, which is known today as the "red" power. It is always accompanied with dictatorship. Today we have the countries under its influence called, "Red China, Red Russia, Red Romania, Red Yugoslavia and Red Poland". Revelation 6:4 describes this spirit as one that removes peace and causes people to kill one another. This spirit claims that a communistic form of government improves the lives of people. This is a clear description of how Communism spreads it power through an evil dictator. So the first horseman has gone forth to conquest while this second horseman follows and increases wars upon the earth. We can call this second horseman the man of war. 69] Communism brings the spirit of atheism. This spirit is also one that persecutes the Church because the two are not compatible in the same society.

69] Irvin Baxter, Jeremiah , A Message for the President (Richmond, Indiana: Endtime, Inc 1986), chapter 3.

Revelation 6:4Comments- The great sword symbolizes a great amount of death that this horseman will bring.


Verses 5-8

The Third Seal: The Black Horse- We read about the opening of the third seal in Revelation 6:5-6.

1. The Black Horse as Communism- This may symbolism the coming of communism, which promises everyone plenty of food and an equality of wealth for the society. Perhaps this equality is symbolized by the scales; the abundance of food is meant in the statement, "A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny"; and, equality of wealth is meant by the statement, "see thou hurt not the oil and the wine."

2. The Black Horse as Capitalism- Irvin Baxter, Jr. suggests that the black horse represents the spirit of capitalism, which is often coupled with democracy. 70] The color black is used to represent this spirit. He quotes the Dec 9, 1966 issue of Time magazine, page 34, regarding the union of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats being formed in Germany. It was called a union of "black and red." We see the black suit and tie identifying a businessman of capitalism. Or, we recognize the single most important commodity that drives a capitalistic economy, which is oil, also called black gold. Any developed, industrialized and modernized society today will find its greatest revenues in this black gold. We all know of "Black Friday," when the U.S. stock market crashed in October 1929. The description of "a pair of balances in his hands" ( Revelation 6:5) symbolizes how capitalism thrives on commerce. Nations under this influence declare that commerce improves the lives of people. Mr. Baxter interprets the cry, "A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny," as prophetic of the stock market structure that is found in such countries. The cry, "and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine," means that this nation is made strong when its economy is strong. Thus, the economy is always a key issue in the elections of such capitalistic societies. Capitalism brings the spirit of earthly wealth as its god to be worshipped. As a result, it too will persecute the Church for having a different view of material wealth.

70] Irvin Baxter, Jeremiah , A Message for the President (Richmond, Indiana: Endtime, Inc 1986), chapter 3.

Revelation 6:5 — "and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand" - Comments- If this black horse symbolizes communism, then the scales represented the promise that everyone in society would equally share the wealth.

Revelation 6:6 — "A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny" - Comments- Perhaps this statement means that there is a promise made that there would be plenty of food for everyone.

Revelation 6:6"and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine" - Comments- Perhaps this statement means that there is a promise that wealth would be equally shared by all society.

Revelation 6:6Comments- We have a similar verse in 2 Kings 6:25 when describing a famine in the land of Israel.

2 Kings 6:25, "And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass"s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove"s dung for five pieces of silver."

Revelation 6:7-8 a — The Fourth Seal: The Pale Horse - We read about the opening of the fourth seal in Revelation 6:7-8.

1. The Pale Horse as Travail upon the Earth- Perhaps the pale horse represents the travail of the earth leading up to the Great Tribulation period, when wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes will bring great distress upon the earth.

1. The Pale Horse as Islam- It is not unreasonable to see how the pale horse can represent the spirit of Islam. Islam is a religion that spreads and controls by fear, which is symbolized by the pale color of a person who is overcome with fear. This is the most recent spirit that has oppressed and persecuted nations on earth. This religion teaches that all people are "infidels" and are to be killed according to the Koran. It is the most violent of these four spirit, so it is characterized by death and hell.

Revelation 6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

Revelation 6:8 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.

Revelation 6:8Word Study on "pale" - Strong says that the Greek "pale" ( χλωρό ς) (G 5515) means, "greenish, i.e. verdant, dun-colored." BDAG says that it means, "yellowish green, light green (of plants)," or "pale as the color of a person in sickness or in fear." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 4times in the New Testament being translated in the KJV as "green 3, pale 1." Webster defines the word "pale" as "wanting in color; not ruddy; dusky white".

Revelation 6:8 — "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" - Comments- The personal pronoun "them" refers to the four horsemen: the white horse ( Revelation 6:2), the red horse ( Revelation 6:4), the black horse ( Revelation 6:5), and the pale horse ( Revelation 6:8). When it conquers a nation, those people suffer poverty, hunger and famine. It is a spirit that keeps nations in distress and darkness so that even the beasts begin to rule areas of these countries. This verse tells us that about one fourth of the world will be completely overcome by the work of these four spirits.

Satan cannot work out of his realm of stealing, killing, and to destroy. He is limited to this work.

John 10:10, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."


Verses 9-11

The Fifth Seal: The Cry of the Martyrs- In Revelation 6:9-11 we read about the opening of the fifth seal. All four spirits released by these four horsemen are against the children of God. They persecute the Church as well as the Jews. As each of these spirits gain strongholds in peoples and nations, the persecution of the Church increases. This fifth seal reveals the multitude of martyrs that have been slain throughout the centuries for their faith and testimony in Christ.

Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

Revelation 6:9 — "for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held" - Comments- This phrase has been used in Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:9.

Revelation 1:2, "Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw."

Revelation 1:9, " 1 John , who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."

Revelation 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Revelation 6:10Comments- All four of these spirits of the four horsemen have led to the persecution of the Church across the world. This is why the fifth seal reveals the martyrs who have been slain over this period of time. Note that the martyrs are crying out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" This suggests that they have not been slain just since the start of the Great Tribulation, but perhaps during the last two thousand years of Church history.

Revelation 6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.


Verses 12-17

The Sixth Seal - Revelation 6:12 to Revelation 7:17 describes the events surrounding the opening of the sixth seal. The opening of this seal brings enormous cosmic disturbances upon the earth ( Revelation 6:12-17). During this event, God seals the remnant of Israel ( Revelation 7:1-8). In the midst of these cosmic disturbances, multitudes of people will be saved ( Revelation 7:9-17).

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Sixth Seal Opened — Revelation 6:12-17

2. Israel is Sealed — Revelation 7:1-8

3. Those Saved in the Tribulation — Revelation 7:9-17

 


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Revelation 6:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/revelation-6.html. 2013.

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