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.
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:
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?
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.
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;
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.
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
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;
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:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
The four living creatures before the throne of God show John the processes in the otherwise invisible, spiritual world. All authority has got the history writing Jesus, who was – and is – and is to come, in receiving the scroll from the right hand of his father. In his unveiling many parallel passages can be found and must be used in the interpretation of the Holy Scripture.
First reported Zechariah 1 verse 8 of a nocturnal vision with four different horses, which were sent by the Lord to roam the earth. The purpose of the mission was to report the angel of the Lord about the fact that the whole earth is quiet and calm. The positive end of the angel’s message was the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the city of peace.
Exactly the opposite happened when the disciples were pointing out to Jesus the size and beauty of the temple in Jerusalem. Keeping the future in mind, the master proclaimed that no stone would remain on the other, what was fulfilled in the year 70 AD by Roman destructive frenzy.
Most detailed, this sealed events can be explained in the speech of Jesus about the Last Days. Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 echo for everyone free available the primary end time exposition in the highest numbers printed, most widely distributed book of the earth.
The first matching warning to the white rider is that many will come in his name, which lead many astray, saying, I am the Christ (anointed one – the legitimate ruler). Today we have the advantage that we can identify the historical figures that have acted like a saviour (white colour of purity) for almost 2000 years. But even before the earthly birth of Christ, there were triumphant chief commanders who intended to conquer the whole earth, like Alexander the Great, who in the Book of Daniel was foreshadowed before symbolically as leopard and big horn of a goat. Without the strength of the horse, the fastest means of transport at that time, his empire capturing triumphs up to India would have been impossible. The bow shows the desired direction and the tension under which those wars stood. In truth, invisible demonic forces make rulers believe that they need to occupy as many countries as possible, imagining to be an incarnated, earth saving god.
The seduction and temptation of Jesus was that Satan promised to give all the kingdoms of the earth if he worships him. What follows, if we believe this lie can be viewed at the second rider on the red horse, who is holding a huge sword. Bloodshed and wars were happening the whole human history, because target-orientated rulers wanted to wear victor’s laurels, to be worshipped in their relentless ego by the people. In contrast to the glorified Caesars on the streets of ancient Rome, the right hands uplifting “Heil Hitler” (who raises up his arms today?) resounds in a painful German seduction.
The direct result of wars is the scarcity and price increase of goods resulting in famine. The scale of the third black rider can determine not only the weight of the food, but is also symbolic (held in hand) for the justice in court. However, the distribution of food and luxury goods will never be fair or just. Even the with precious oil anointed Jesus told his disciples, who took care for widows and orphans, that they have the poor always with them, but him not. You don’t need to be an anarchist doomsayer or a left critic of capitalism to realize the darkness due to the huge gap between poor and rich. Some toil and moil as slaves for a penny for the whole day, just to get something to eat, and the others get richer without bending a finger by making mammon and employees working for them.
There are enough warnings about the accumulation of money which should not be idolised. This underlines the New Testament examples of the bigger barns building, foolish, rich grain farmer, or the rich young man who was not capable to follow Jesus by not selling his many possessions for the poor. Also in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, between whom was set a large gap, as well as the camel, which rather goes through the eye of a needle, than a rich man will enter heaven.
It is instructive that the rich, who cannot serve at the same time mammon and God, get no name assigned from Jesus in scripture, because they will not inherit eternal life. The exception was Joseph of Arimathea, who is well known by his earned rock tomb that he placed at the disposal for the corpse of his Lord.
He, who has already lost his life for God’s sake and diligently collects treasures in heaven, which moth and rust cannot corrupt, has not to be afraid of the fourth pale rider. The approaching green yellowish colour (Greek: chloros) of the horse bodes ill, since the horseman is trailed by death and the grave. Who would like to be unexpectedly torn by a wild animal or all of a sudden be smitten by a deadly plague. A quarter of mankind suffer from a cruel fate, as they are put violently to death through other people or live under worst circumstances such as hunger.
I remember well an unusual statement in the Gospel Forum by Bill Wilson (New York bus driver and pastor of Metro ministries, who lost an eye due to numerous attacks and survived a headshot) about the true life in Brooklyn, where children who visited the church were later killed and thrown in the dustbin. This incident does not fit in the Western theology of favour and prosperity that is constantly spread in U.S. television, but what do the history books teach? Normally we gladly put away the coffee-table book about the history of the 20th century, at the sight of the harrowing images of the deadly wars. The detailed reports of the Inquisition and the pestilence in the middle ages are equally hard to digest.
This is not for us. We reject this. The important thing is to do oneself well. That’s the reason why feel-good Christians don’t like to read the whole book of Revelation. But what does Hebrews already state about the Old Testament heroes in the ‘Faith Chapter’ 11 beginning from verse 36?
And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
In this context, the opening of the fifth seal is easier to understand. In heaven the sacrificed souls of this precious witnesses and faith heroes are visible under the altar. There they ask with one voice how long it takes until they get avenged. Having heard a lecture by brother Andrew of Open Doors about the current persecution of Christians, you can consider better how many souls are added daily.
The annual World Watch List of persecuted Christians shows that the bloody hunt shifted from the communist regimes (mostly red colour in the flags), to the Muslim countries (green colour of Islam). A characteristic of the true followers of the Lamb is that they don’t take themselves revenge with weapons for all suffered injustice. This is not an easy strategy for all those who are prepared according to Romans 12 to offer their bodies as a living, holy, acceptable unto God sacrifice, which is our reasonable service. As disciples, we should consider it as pure joy, and we shouldn’t be alienated, if we are unfairly treated and deprived of our goods.
Jesus’ prophecy was to all this: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”
The redeemed raise their heads like Stephanus did and see their Lord even in the stoning, but how terrible is it for people when the sixth seal is opened and they are exposed to the wrath of the Lamb. Recently, we have experienced the worst effects of a large earthquake in Haiti. A short time later there was a fire ring eclipse, which can induce horror when unprepared illiterates watch the cosmic spectacle. That the red moon, who actually stands for the darkness, pushes himself in front of the sun means nothing good for indigenous peoples. Of course, we are today enlightened enough to calculate even the way of huge meteorites, but how would we react in our information age when all these things happen at the same time? Would there be safe mountains or lonely islands, which could hide us before the face of God, when the sky is rolled up?
Isaiah 34, 4 gives an equally bitter taste for all the godless nations, like many other prophets, who have described the day of the Lord, but are no longer be taken seriously in our time. Or can the dear readers remember a sermon about it? We probably associate the theme of doom rather with one of the many apocalyptic Hollywood movies.
110 is for me the memorable “police psalm” for the outbreak of the wrath of God, and two, the number of decision, gives the hymn of praise, which is pathbreaking for the kings and judges of the earth: Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.
Psalm 2 also points to the opening of a royal seal, as it says: I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me.
When the Lord, who can not lie, makes an oath in the Psalms or for Abraham, it seems to be wise to trust him. I expect to be his inheritance and offspring, and I recognize his eternal priesthood as a child of God. God opposes all proud, but gives grace to the humble. Except ye become as little children, you can not inherit the kingdom of God.
It is a secret that the blessed who trust in him will not be afraid, in the great terrible day of vengeance. More contradictory and peacefully the following seventh chapter proceeds for the faithful ones.