A Study of the Book of Revelation
This chapter is a summary of the Revelation and of the Tribulation. Immediately following the rapture of the church there will be the seven years of Tribulation.
The Holy Spirit will be gone from the earth in the church capacity at the rapture, and He will no longer be holding back the coming of the anti-Christ (2 Thess. 2:6-9). The anti-Christ will arise after the rapture.
So the question is: how long will the Tribulation last? We can read Daniel 9:24-27 for this answer. In verse 25, the first 69 weeks of Daniel’s 70 weeks are divided into two parts “seven weeks, and three score and two weeks” for a total of 69 weeks.
The word for week is hebdomads and means seven.
The week of years was known as sabbatical week of seven years.
One week represents seven years, thus seven weeks would be 49 years. Every 50th year, the Jews celebrated the year of jubilee, 69 weeks would be 483 years.
God promised the Jews 70 weeks in the land or 490 years. This was cut short 7 years by the cross of Christ. 69 weeks have already been fulfilled and the 7 years of Tribulation will complete the 70 weeks.
The 7 year Tribulation is the last period of Jewish history. Prior to the Jews being in Babylon for 70 years, they were to observe the sabbatical year in their land, but failed to do so.
God let them cool their heels in Babylon for 70 years. This was God’s way of getting His time, this was for the time prior to captivity. He had promised them 490 years in the land.
After the captivity, God gave them another 490 years in the land. It was cut short by the cross, and God will tack the remainder on at the last and the period will be called seven year Tribulation.
The last week of 7 years is divded into two halves (Dan. 9:27).
In Daniel 7:25, the last half is called a time, times and the dividing of time.
In Revelation 11:2 and Revelation 13:5, it is called 42 months.
The anti-Christ will be revealed after the rapture and will have world power. In the middle of the Tribulation, he will set himself up in the temple in Jerusalem and demand the world to worship him. In the last part of the Tribulation (42 months), he will have total power.
In Revelation 6:2 the rider on the white horse is not Christ, but the anti-Christ.
This is the only chapter in Revelation that deals with the first 3 ½ years of the seven year Tribulation.
The remaining chapters deal with the last 3 ½ years of the seven year Tribulation. Chapters 7 – 11 deal with it from a Gentile standpoint and Chapters 12 – 18 deal with the same period from a Jewish standpoint.
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.
At the opening of the first seal by the Lamb of God, the first of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse is revealed to John. The rider held a bow, wore a crown, and went forth as a conqueror.
Lamb – Jesus opening the seals. This is the sealed book in Revelation 5:1.
Noise of thunder – warning of the coming judgment.
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.
The appearance of the white horse makes one think of the white horse in Revelation 19:11. But the rider revealed by the first seal cannot be Christ, for He is the one who holds the scroll and opens the seal. No this is not Christ, but one who comes in the name of Christ (Matt. 24:5), masquerading as the Christ. He is the Antichrist and therefore comes saying, “Peace, peace,” offering a plan of world peace and promising a false Millennium. But remember that Paul said, “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape (I Thess. 5:3). This false Christ (II Thess. 2:3-12) is the Man of Sin, the covenant-making prince of Daniel 9:26.
White horse – Roman dictators always rode white horses. This was a sign of victory.
He that sat on him – This is not Christ. Christ is in Heaven opening the seals. This is the dictator of the revived Roman Empire.
Bow; and a crown – No arrows, just a bow, the crown is counterfeit.
Conquering, and to conquer – This is the dictator bringing the world together with internationalism.
The four beasts are the four living creatures.
Notice the crown was given to him. Christ earned His crown.
3. ¶ And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
With the opening of the second seal a red horse appears. This signifies the second phase of the reign of the Antichrist. Having come in peace, he soon plunges the whole world into bloodshed. The peace plan offered by the Antichrist, and so readily accepted by the nations of this world, will now be withdrawn, and he will cause worldwide war and bloodshed.
Here Christ opens the second seal.
Second beast – another of the same kind.
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.
Red horse – This is bloodshed and war. The one on the red horse is the principle of war.
Take peace from earth – There will never be peace until Christ comes.
Kill one another – bloodshed world wide.
Great sword – speaks of war equipment.
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.
When the third seal is opened a black horse appears and its rider has a pair of balances in his hand. Following closely on the heels of war will be famine and starvation. The balances suggest that a system of rationing will be enforced (Rev. 13: 16-17).
In the New Testament times a denarius or penny was one day’s wages and bought only enough for one person (Matt. 20:2,9). Because of the devastation of war, the production of grain will be greatly curtailed and the whole world will have to ration its food. It is evident that we are rapidly heading for the program even today.
Here Christ opens the third seal.
Black horse – speaks of famine. He that sat on the horse is the principle of hunger.
Balances in hand - to lack of food.
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.
A measure of wheat for a penny – A measure is less than a quart and a denarius is a day’s wage. Penny is 18 cents.
Three measures of barley – This speaks of world wide hunger, starvation and famine.
Hurt not the oil and wine – food for the leaders and the wealthy. Poor get poorer and rich get richer.
7. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
Here the Lord opens the fourth seal. Remember the book containing the seals was taken by the Lord Jesus back in Revelation 5:1.
Voice of the fourth beast – one of the living creatures.
Come – John was invited to see the happenings.
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 last horseman of the Apocalypse rides a pale horse, and the rider’s name is Death. Actually the word “pale” (Gr chloros) means green-like, as a corpse.
This rider, Death, will exterminate those living on the earth by four means:
(1) the sword (war)
(2) hunger (famine)
(3) death (plagues which accompany famine)
(4) wild beasts (which will roam unrestrained in that day of destruction)
John is going to see the opening of the fourth seal.
Pale horse – death. Death and destruction follows this seal.
¼ of the world destroyed – millions and millions.
Sword – speaks of war.
Hunger – famine.
Notice the power he had, was given to him.
Beasts here speaks of wild beasts.
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:
The fifth seal depicts the souls of those slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. These cannot be the martyrs of the Church Age, for they were raptured before the holocaust of the opening of the seals.
They must be those martyred for their faith during the first months of the Tribulation. Their being under the altar is symbolic of the fact that these people have been purchased by the blood of Christ.
Here Jesus opened the fifth seal. Notice the picture changes.
Here we come to believers, the martyrs.
In the first four horses only unbelievers were killed.
Here, these are killed for the Word of God and for the stand they had taken.
The altar in this verse refers to the cross.
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?
When those who have been slain for the Word of God inquire how long it will be until the Lord avenges their blood, they are told to rest with their fellow servants and brethren, for many more will yet join the ranks of the slain.
Here we find the prayers of the martyrs.
And they cried with a loud voice – They are the saints of God praying.
The prayer was in a question form.
Judge and avenge our blood – Fulfillment of the kinsman redeemer.
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.
Here the saints are killed and given a white robe.
White robes – speaks of purity.
Rest for a little season – they were with Christ waiting until God’s plan unfolded.
Fellowservants also and their brethren – the rest of the saints would be killed.
This is during the last half of the 7 year Tribulation.
12. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
With the breaking of the 6th seal havoc is unleashed on the earth and the Lord’s wrath brings cataclysmic judgment. Six literal, catastrophic events will occur:
1. a great earthquake
2. the sun becomes black
3. the moon becomes reddened like blood
4. a universal meteor shower of stars falls to earth
5. the heavens part as a scroll revealing God on His awesome throne
6. every mountain and island are moved when the heavens roll back.
The result will be panic and fear.
In Daniel 9:24-27 God had promised the Jews 490 years in the land. This time period was cut short by the cross seven years. The seven years Tribulation is the 70th week of Daniel. This is the last period of Jewish history.
In the first 12 verses of Chapter 6, we have 6 seals opened. Verses 1 & 2 is the first seal. This is the dictator riding the white horse and here politics reaches its maximum.
The king of the west is a ten nation confederation eventually ruled by one dictator that was riding the white horse.
Then we have the king of the north and he is the ruler of the Russian block.
The king of the south represents the Arabs and Africa, the king of the east represents the Oriental block.
In verses 1 & 2, the rider of the white horse is the dictator of the revived Roman empire. He is talked about in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13:1-10 and again in Revelation 17 and in parts of Daniel 8 and 9.
He has a bow and a crown and will conquer through warfare. The crown he is wearing indicated his coronation by Satan.
This crown is the one Satan offered Christ in the temptation and Christ refused it.
In verses 3 and 4, the second seal – this is the rider of the red horse. This is warfare, man cannot maintain peace, the only one that can is Jesus Christ.
In verses 5 and 6, the third seal – the black horse and this is famine. Balances and scales are for weighing grain. This speaks of hunger.
In verses 7 and 8 – the fourth seal – the pale horse speaks of death. Death of unbelievers, one fourth of all unbelievers in the earth will be killed.
In verses 9 through 11, the fifth seal – this is the killing of believers. These are gentile believers.
Remember six is the number of man. Now we have the opening of the sixth seal.
Here the great earthquake comes.
During the Tribulation, it will be a radical change in nature. (Mark 13:8; Matt. 24:7, Rev. 8:5; 16:18).
God is using nature to judge here. God will blot out the sun and the moon will become as blood.
It may be because of the earthquake and volcanic ash that will fill the heavens.
13. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Here we see the judgement of God in nature.
Stars falling like figs from a tree.
Stars here refer to celestial bodies.
14. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
Here we see great turbulence in the heavens. God is demonstrating His great power in the earth as moving mountains and islands out of their place.
Great fear now fills the earth.
This may be some nuclear activity.
This is right at the end of the seven year Tribulation.
15. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
Here we see the reaction of the people on earth.
Men can’t use political power to stop this judgement.
Rich men cannot bribe their way out.
Here is the largest prayer meeting service to ever gather.
There are seven classes of men gathered here:
Kings of the earth – that is rulers
Great men – those are political men – men of influence.
Rich men – money hordes of the world.
Chief captains – they are the military leaders of the world.
Mighty men – these are men of great physical strength.
And every bondman – this is the working class of the world.
And every free man – this is the white collar class.
16. And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
And said – this is the prayer they will pray
This is right at the end time.
This is the second coming of Christ. It is described in detail in Revelation 19.
Christ came the first time in the spirit of salvation.
Christ will come the second time in the spirit of wrath.
Here is the judgement of Christ, the Lamb. The only two New Testament writers to refer to Christ as the Lamb were John and Simon Peter.
Great day because of the terrible judgement of God.
Who shall be able to stand? No one!
So there will be a seven year Tribulation and at the end of the Tribulation, Christ will come and history will come to an end. Christ will set up his 1,000 year reign.
Chapter 6:13 – a summary of the Revelation and beginning in chapter 7, the details are filled in.
Before the opening of the 7th seal some additional information about this period of tribulation is provided for us in Chapter 7. The narrative is not advanced; supplementary material is simply added.
Here John sees four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth.
The activity of these angels does not follow the opening of the the 6th seal but rather begins before the opening of the 1st seal.
Therefore Chapter 7 provides information about the whole of the Tribulation Period. This information is provided from the perspective of salvation, not history.
Thus far, 6 seals have been opened and the 7th seal is opened in chapter 8.
Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.