Revelation #09 7 Sealed Book part 1
This is our 9th message on Revelation. We are going to start reading chapter 6 today. I was a bit ambitious when I started studying today thinking we were going to get through the whole chapter but that’s not going to happen. We will get thru the first 4 seals today or at least I hope we will. That’s the plan. That will take us down thru verse 9 or actually, verse 8. Let’s read together. I am reading from the New International Version translation of the Bible.
“1I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals.”
Let me stop right there and let me catch you back up and remind you as they were in heaven there, we have a picture there of the 24 elders which are who? That’s the church. The 24 elders are the ‘raptured’ church, the caught-up church. That’s what I believe. Remember when we were talking about this I told you that’s what I believe. I believe there is scriptural basis to place that in Chapter 4 verse 1. Some people don’t see a rapture of the church at all and there is certainly room to disagree there if you’d like. I made mention as were talking about some of the different viewpoints that John MacArthur did not see a rapture happening in chapter 4 verse 1 and it made me kind of curious because from the rest of his writings it is obvious that he believes the church is gone. And so I wondered where he placed it. So I did some investigating and found that he actually places it further back in Revelation 3 verse 10 & 11 when it says they would not go through that time of trial. He sees that as a reference of the rapture and so by the time we get in chapter 4 verses 2 and following the church is already in heaven. So he basically agrees with what we’ve said he would just put it in a difference reference to when it takes place.
The four living creatures that are described as with the face of a lion, the face of a man, the face of an ox and the face of as eagle, we saw last week those four creatures, if we go to Ezekiel can tie those in to cherubim. We see them as servants of God but we also see them as representing all of creation. While the 24 elders represent all of the church collectively then those 4 cherubim represent all of creation. Those cherubim take on significance here as we see the four horsemen.
So when John was there a cry went out. There was something in the right hand of the Father. It was a scroll that was wrapped up with seven seals and no one was worthy except for the Lamb to open that up. The Lamb came, we know that was Jesus Christ, still with the marks of having been slain. And now we find ourselves in Chapter 6.
1I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" 2I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. 3When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" 4Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. 5When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures (notice it says ‘among’ the four living creatures), saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" 7When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" 8I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
So with each of these things and the passage as a whole, as I’ve done before, I’m going to give you the four major viewpoints and then what I think and why I think it. In general, talking about the scroll, I didn’t bring this up last week because I wanted to wait until we got here.
Remember there is a Historist viewpoint that sees all of Revelation as all of history being laid out in front of us.
There is the Preterist viewpoint, that would see the book of Revelation as taking place before AD 70. They believe that the book of Revelation was written before AD 70. Let me remind you that the major Christian leaders and writers of the 2nd century all point to this being written in 90-95, written during the reign of Domitian. So if that were the case this couldn’t have been written in AD 70. But the Preterists, they do believe this. Hank Hanigraf, the Bible Answer Man, is one of these that believes all of this happened before AD 70.
The Futurist viewpoint or Dispensational Futurist viewpoint would see this as something that is still to come down the road.
Then an Idealist or Spiritual viewpoint would see all of this as an allegory, picture, something to teach us a lesson, some of it to be real events and some of it to be general just to teach us a lesson.
1. The Scroll
So, the scroll itself, the 7-sealed scroll,
- A. a Historist viewpoint would say this contains God’s purposes and God’s plans for the world and for government. They would say of course that no one but Jesus could reveal these things in the future.
- B. The Preterist viewpoint would see this 7-sealed scroll, remember they see this whole picture as a court scene, they would see this scroll as the sentence being handed down on Jerusalem for shedding the blood of martyrs throughout history. Some of the Preterist writers see these seven seals as being laid on top of each other as opposed to being rolled up and sealed one at a time. They would see these as being laid side-by-side and so you can’t really see what’s in the book and the judgments can’t be handed down on this sentence until all seven of the seals are broken. So the Preterist viewpoint, those would say that until we get to that seventh seal and the trumpets that come with that, that none of the judgments begin, though we see the characters, if you will, up until that point. They would see that scroll as being a testament of the new covenant as opposed to the old covenant.
- C. A Futurist viewpoint on this would see the scroll itself as the deed to this world, and that Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain, is our Kingsman Redeemer. If you know Jewish law, Old Testament Law, in Leviticus 25:25, if you had a piece of land and you lost that piece of land through yourself being sold into slavery or some other reason you sold your land, a kinsman, one who was like you, of the same family of you, could come in and buy back that land as a kinsman redeemer. With that understanding, an angel or a spirit could not come buy this world back but only a man. And so Christ had to become man and pay the price in full and only then could he Redeem the land. So Jesus Christ is the only one who could become our Kinsman Redeemer. He’s the only one that was both God and man, the only one who paid the price in its entirety. Futurists would see that 7-sealed scroll as the deed to this world. By the way, in that vein, Roman law required a will to be sealed seven times. Ephesians 1:14 tells us that we have the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come and then it says, “until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” So the Holy Spirit is a down payment until Jesus Christ comes to redeem that stuff that belongs to Him and we are part of that. Futurists would see these 7 sealed books as the books that are accompanying the action. Let me say that in a better way. Futurists would see these books, it doesn’t say that what we’re reading right here is what is written in the books, as a matter of fact it says that the only one who can read what is written in the book is who, Jesus. He’s the only who can even look at it. But as each seal is broken certain events take place. It’s not necessarily saying that’s what is written in the book, it’s just saying that as the books are opened, as this 7-sealed deed to this world is opened, these things begin to take place. Finally,
- D. the Spiritualist view would not be much different from what the Futurist would see the of scrolls.
Let’s walk down thru these things one at a time.
2. The First Seal
This first seal. Jesus Christ opened the seal or broke the seal.
What are the things that he finds or what are the things that are revealed when he opens these seals?
What’s the first thing?
- A. White Horse
- 1. We’ve got a white horse and someone riding it. We’ve got a white horse rider and then what?
- 2. He has a bow and a crown given.
- 3. And what else, he’s a conqueror, he goes out to conquer. And he’s bent on conquest. Not only does he go out to conquer but that’s what he’s got his whole heart and mind and everything set on. Let me point this out. Jesus, while he was here on earth, says no man knows the hour or the day of the 2nd coming except the Father. Well know one knows the hour or the day except the Father, but no one knows what’s written in the book except the Son, if you will, because he’s the only one that can look on it. Isn’t that cool how that works together? And you say, now wait a minute, how can only the Father know? Jesus is God. I don’t know. I don’t understand it but Jesus said it so I believe it. And the Scripture says no one can know what’s in the book except the Son because he’s the only one who’s worthy, he’s the only one who’s paid the price. I don’t understand it, I’m just reporting it. Amen? I don’t hafta understand it. That’s the good news.
By the way, as we look at scripture I heard David Jeremiah say something on the radio that I kinda liked. He was talking about how to decide when something is literal or if it is symbolic. He said, “When the normal sense makes good sense don’t make any other sense, or you will make nonsense.” In other words when the way you read it, whether you understand it or not, just makes sense that that’s the way it ought to be interpreted then stop trying to make it into something else. Is that good enough? Alright, so keep that in mind.
Let me give you the four different views and then we’ll talk about it a little bit
- B. Viewpoints .
- 1. The Historist viewpoint would say that this is actually Roman imperialism and they give it a date. Remember they see the whole book of Revelation as history. So they would see this as taking place from Domitian AD 90 to Commodos which would be around 180 AD. During this time there were 5 good emperors and there were 2 (not clear on tape). They would note that during this dynasty, the Nervan dynasty, were Cretans and bowsmen by nature. They would put those two things together.
- 2. A Preterist viewpoint remember says all of this would have happened before AD 70. They would say that nothing really happens here, it’s just revealed. Until all seven of the seals are opened nothing really begins to happen in the way of judgment. They see this as a progressive work leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Some of them would see this rider on the white horse as Jesus Christ coming to war on Jerusalem for their sins.
- 3. A Futurist viewpoint of this seal would see that the tribulation begins, this 7-year period of the tribulation, begins somewhere with the opening of this 1st seal. They would see, even some Futurists would see this as being Christ. They would see this as Christ coming. They would take you to Revelation chapter 19 verse 11 where we see Christ on a white horse and they see his name being the Word of God. They would see Faithful and True being written on his thigh there in Revelation 19. And they would say, white horse, anytime you see a white horse you know it’s Jesus, it’s gotta be Jesus and they would put those two things together. And we’re going to talk about that more in a minute. Some would say, but if this is the reign of Christ coming in Revelation 6, would the reign of Christ be associated with war and famine and death. And that’s a question we need to answer. Most Futurists would see the white horse rider, instead of Christ, being the anti-christ going out to conquer. They would see him as getting his power from satan. satan has always see himself as having rule here on the earth so the antichrist that will come will be of satan and would want that same kind of rule and authority. satan definitely thought he had the authority to rule here on earth in Luke 4:6 when he tempted Christ. He said “if you just bow down to me I’ll give you all the rule and authority here on this earth.” So he obviously thought he had it. Most Futurists would see this white horse rider as in Daniel 9:26 as that prince that would rise up. Most Futurists would see this as the anti-christ, satan’s masterpiece counterfeit of Christ.
- 4. The Idealist or Spiritualist viewpoint, some would see this as Christ coming victorious with the gospel and putting the gospel into the world, others would see this as a sequence of world history. That the general rotating circle of history is conquest, followed by war, followed by famine, followed by death and then followed by conquest, followed by war, and so on. They would see this as a spiritual picture of what goes on and on throughout history.
- C. Who’s On the Horse
- 1. Let’s just compare this for a minute and try to decide who’s on this horse.
- a. In Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and Revelation 6 we see a similar picture. We see a false messiah in Matthew 24 both in verse 5 and verse 11. In Mark 13 we see it in verse 6. In Luke 21 we see it in verse 8 and I believe we see it here in Revelation 6 as well.
- b. War, we see in Matthew 24 verses 6 and 7. In Mark 13 we see it in verse 7. In Luke 21 we see it in verse 9. Where does the 2nd rider come up for us in Revelation 6, verse 4.
- c. We see famine in Matthew 24 verse 7. We see it in Mark 13 verse 8. We see it in Luke 21 verse 10. And where does that third horse come up here in Revelation 6, verse 5.
- d. Pestilence, there’s a couple of verses in Mark 24, pestilence or disease, where you could tie to that, but I don’t see it directly so I’m going to leave that out. We have the same thing in Mark 13. In Luke 21 you see it in verse 11 and here you see it in verse 8.
- e. Now you see this pattern that Christ described: false messiahs will come, war will come, famine, pestilence. Now we have said before that these patterns you see throughout history but also you definitely see them here at the end. But, I want you to see something else.
- 2. Let’s compare these two. Go to Revelation 19:11-16, we going to get there (in a couple of months) so when we get there it’ll just be review.
“11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
I want you to see this, because for me this settles once and for all who this is. Revelation 6 & Revelation 19.
- a. In both cases what are they riding? A white horse, so are they the same person?
- b. Let’s talk about the crown. They both have crowns on. He does point out that one was given and one was owned. Put that down. But we’re talking about English here and sometimes we miss stuff in English if we don’t know what’s there. So let’s write the Greek word down, and they’re not the same word. The Greek word in here in chapter 6 is stephanos and the Greek word there in chapter 19 is diadema.
- c. Now we’ve got a difference. Stephanos is a victor’s crown. You can run a race and get a stephanos. You can throw a shot-put and get a stephanos. You can win a wrestling match and get a stephanos. You can win a spelling bee and get a stephanos.
- d. Diadema is a crown of rule. That’s why it is written on his thigh was King of kings and Lord of lords. But it didn’t just say he had a crown, it said he had many crowns. Could I tell you he had all of them?
- e. The one in Chapter 19 is distinctive from the one in chapter 6. The one in chapter 6 has been given a laurel, one of those ivy things around his head, that’s what he’s got. The one in 19 has been given a daidema. And he owns it, thank you very much.
- f. What does they bring? This guy in 6 brings a bow, there’s something about the bow. What’s missing from the bow? There’re no arrows. He has a bow with no arrows, that is significant because he brings about conquest without firing a shot. He brings about peace, but when we find out about the rest of the story we’re going to find out that his peace is temporary. He brings temporary peace but he is followed by war, famine, and death. But He who comes in chapter 19 brings judgment followed by his people in eternity, followed by an eternity of peace for those who know him. So, one may start out in peace but he doesn’t end there. The other may start with judgment but leads to the peace forever for those who know him. I want to refer to this again. The company that this rider in chapter 6 keeps keeps is war and famine and death. As I was reading some of his writings, Dr. Criswell says, “that just doesn’t sound like Jesus to me.” He said, “I can’t see Jesus in the company of that kind of trio.” He said, “I don’t see Jesus in the company of war and famine and death.” He said, “I’ve seen Jesus with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.” He said, “I’ve seen Jesus with Peter and James and John. I’ve seen Jesus with those, but I don’t see Jesus with Ahab, Jezebel and Baal. I don’t see Jesus with war and famine and death,” he says. “I don’t see Jesus with Herod the Great who killed all of the babies in Bethelehem.” He said, “I don’t see him with Herod Antipas who took John the Baptist life. I don’t see him with Herod Agrippa who took James’ life. I don’t see him with war and famine and death. That’s not who I see Jesus with.”
So, these two can’t be the same person. Because you can tell people by the company they keep, by what they bring and by the crown they wear can’t you? I don’t think these are the same people.
- 3. The anti-christ is who I believe we see right here. This is satan’s great counterfeit. Isn’t that what he’s always done? Do you remember when Moses came into Pharoah’s court and he did he wonders? What did satan do through the Egyptians magicians? He tried to do the same thing. He threw his serpent down, they threw their serpents down. He made water turn into blood, they made water turn into blood. That’s what satan has always done. satan has always been a counterfeiter. He masquerades as an angel of light, the Scripture says. This is what satan does. He’s been doing it for about 7 thousand years. This is what he does. He’s really good at it. He is a masquerader. And so it’s not going to be any different when we get to the end times. That is the anti-christ in chapter 6, and then in chapter 19 this is The Christ, the Son of the Living God. There’s no doubt in my mind that’s who he is. Let me read something else to you that I read. Donald Grey Barnhouse says this,
“The counterfeit is detailed by comparison of the riders. One whose name is the Word of God, has on his head many crowns, the symbol of royalty and majesty, the word diadema. The horseman of the first seal wears no diadema. The false crown is but a stephanos whose diamonds are paste. It is the shop-girl adorned with jewelry from the ten-cent counter imitating the lady born and bred who wears the rich jewels of her inheritance. All that glitters is not gold and no amount of gaudy trappings can deceive the spiritual eye. Clothes do not make the man, in spite of the proverb.”
Isn’t that good? So I do believe that this first rider is none other than the anti-christ so let’s move on. Any questions about that before I move on?
Now if that is a deceiving tyrant, and I think he is, a deceiving tyrant never rides alone. A deceiving tyrant always has some folks with him and that’s what we begin to see in these other three horseman. A deceiving tyrant may have an empty bow but he’s always got someone coming along to do his dirty work. So let’s go to the second seal.
3. 2nd Seal
The bow is empty and that’s significant because the anti-christ, and I believe that’s who it is, will come in peace and he will deceive the world and the world will say, man this guy is great.” We’ll talk more about the anti-christ as we get on into the book.
By the way, each time a seal is broken a different part of creation, if you will, a different one of these cherubim cries out, “Come!” Who are they talking to? They might be talking to John, that’s one option. But they say, “Come!” They could be talking to the church. They keep saying, “Come,” and this word, one translation says, “Come and see” . It can also mean, “proceed”. The word is erchomai (er-khom-ahee) which means to come from one place to another, to come into being, to go and follow, to proceed. I don’t think he was talking to John because John was already standing there. You don’t have to tell John to look at this point because he’s looking. So the “Come,” is speaking to each one of these riders. Each one of these riders is saying, “It’s your turn, come on.” Somebody’s in charge. It’s not them. It’s the one holding onto the scroll now, the one who’s taking it from the Father, the Lamb who was slain, “Come, it’s your time,” if you will. So I want to make sure that we get that. I’ll refer to that again here in just a second.
So it says, “Come!”
And what’s this second horse?
- A. Red Horse
- 1. The second horse is what, is red. The first one was white. Now we have a red horse. What else do we see about this guy?
- 2. He’s given power. We wanna make sure we get that. What kind of power? He takes peace. So this red horse rider is war.
- 3. What else does he have? He makes men slay each other because he has a what? It says he has a large sword or a great sword. This word right here I think can be a little bit confusing for us when we understand it in our world, so again we’ve got to understand a little bit more about what that means. The Literal Translation says “that one another they may slay” … He has the ability to make men slay one another.
Let me break down some of the viewpoints on this guy for you.
- B. viewpoints –
Remember that I said the deceiving tyrant never rides alone. He may have had an empty bow but now he’s got someone to do his dirty work that has a sword.
- 1. The Historist would see this as Commodos from AD 180 to Diocletion of AD 284. During that time period, lots of bloodshed, lots of civil war, lots of battles going on.
- 2. The Preterist would see this as the beginnings of the loss of peace and stability in Judea especially around Jerusalem. Josephus even writes about that time that every city in the area was divided into two armies, that daytime was filled with bloodshed and night-time was filled with fear. Josephus, being a writer during that era. The Preterist would say that peace was taken from them because they rejected Christ, who brings peace. And so as Christ was taken from them, peace was taken from them.
- 3. The Futurist view would see this, again, at the end time and they would see this as war on earth, bloodshed, constant tension between nations. Some would get so specific as to name countries here. Some are placing this more toward middle of tribulation, with it escalating to a world war. And some would go so far as to say this ‘large sword’ is a nuclear bomb. Obviously Futurists would say our current technology could do more damage, even in a covert way, than anything in John’s day. The futurist would also see this as a time of civil wars, organized crime being rampant, waves of murder.
- 4. The Spiritualist or Idealist would see this as war in general, civil war in particular. They would say that the Roman empire, built by civil war was destroyed by civil war. And they would see that as repeated. They would see as while peace came with the first horse as God brought the gospel to the world, that they would see this red horse as the church persecuted.
As Christ calls, ‘erchomai,’ this second horse and each one of these horses to come, from one place to another, take your part, if you will, in this story. These companions of the white horse rider begin to bring about what is really at the heart of the white horse rider, this anti-christ. These companions, the red horse, the black horse and the pale horse.
Let’s talk about this sword for a minute.
- C. The Sword
- 1. There are a couple of words for sword. We would expect this word to be ‘romphaia’ which is a soldier’s sword. That’s what we would expect since we’re talking about war. But it’s not. It’s not the word that is used here.
- 2. The Greek word that’s used here is ‘machaira’. It’s a little different. This word would be a curved knife similar to a crescent, to an Arab knife but here’s what it is used for. Abraham had one of these knives. He took it up with him on the mountain. He was going to use it on his son. This would be used to slay a sacrificial animal, to cut their throat. It would also be used, as we’ve seen in some of these bad ‘B-movies’ set around the Arabian knights or whatever, that curved knife that could be hidden easily in your garments, for a murderer to use. An assassin would use it. So this knife, this sword would be a sacrificial sword. It would also be an assassin’s sword.
- 3. If you look at it that way, one that could be hidden in a cloak, if you take it that way, here’s what I think and this is just me talking to you, this is just Pastor Jim. This isn’t any deep theologian, it’s just me. I believe this war coming on the tale-end of world peace brought in by the anti-christ, I believe that this introduction of this red horse is going to catch the whole world by surprise. Just like a murderer catches one off guard from behind and slays them, just like the sacrificial lamb that never saw it coming. Do you think the sheep is going, “I know they’re gonna kill me.” No, they’re just going along like they’ve done every day, moving along and they’re like, “Oh, you want me to go over here? Ok. Oh, you want me to walk that way. Ok, I’ll go that way.” And before they know it here comes the knife. I think it’s going to catch this world off guard. Nobody’s going to expect it from the anti-christ because everybody’s going to love him. Nobody’s going to expect it. Nobody’s going to see it coming. I think the world will be caught off guard by government, by society, by murders, I do believe it will be a time where murders are more common than they’ve ever been before. It will begin a period of fear that this world has never known before, a period of suspicion. There will be more people die by the knife, if you will, will die by sword, will die by weapon than we’ve ever known before. But these wars and these things that are going to happen are going to catch us unaware. They are going to catch us off guard. Like a thief in the night, Jesus said, the night that Jesus comes for us. And just like a murderer that is never suspected, the anti-christ will come. I believe that. Now, that’s just my uneducated view.
Any questions about the second horse?
4. 3rd Seal
When the third seal is broken, we see another horse.
- A. Black Horse
- 1. This horse is black. This horse is famine.
If you read Jeremiah, Jeremiah talks about our faces black in the midst of famine.
- 2. What do we see about this horse, what comes with this rider? Scales or a balance. Scales, like you see on justice or something you measure something with, scales.
- 3. What else did we see there? There was a voice among the creatures. I’ll just tell you what I think. I didn’t see anybody in any of the references I read make any reference to this. But I’m going to tell you what I think in just a second. But what did the voices say? They didn’t say anything about the voices, just about what they said. What did they say? "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" Let me tell you why I think this is significant that it says a voice comes from among the creatures. Remember our understanding from last week is that these four creatures represent all of the earth. So they are man, domestic animals, wild animals and birds of the air. So this voice coming from among the creatures is literally the voice of the inhabitants of the earth crying out because it’s so bad. This is a voice coming from creation, because this famine that is pictured here is not going to affect just one part of the world. This is not going to be something that we have a “Live-Aid” concert for because Africa needs it. This is not something we are going to have a “Farm-Aid” thing because America’s farmland needs it. There will be no “We are the World Anniversary Recording”. This is something that’s going to affect all of creation. It’s not going to just affect man, it’s not going to just affect the very poor, it’s going to affect virtually everything in the earth. Man, beasts, birds of the air, wild animals – it’s going to affect the world. The primary reason that I believe that is this right here that the voice comes from the midst of the four creatures. The creatures symbolize the world and the voice coming out from the midst of them.
- 4. It says, “A quart of wheat for a day's wages.” A days wages as we know from the New Testament is what, a penny, which was a denarius. A days wages was a denarius. Think about what you make for a day, whatever that is. What would a day’s wage get you? You and I don’t buy a quart of wheat very often; a quart of wheat is one portion of what it would take to sustain a person for a day. We’re not talking about getting full. We’re talking about that’s the bare necessity to sustain one person for a day, not your whole house, one person. So you go out and you try to feed your family, we say that all the time, “I gotta work so I can feed my family.” You go out and you work all day and at the end of the day you go to the store and you’ve got enough to feed you. So that means you’ve got to make a decision every day, who eats today?
Now before I get ahead of myself let’s talk about the different viewpoints on this.
- B. viewpoints
- 1. The Historist would put this in the third century, taxation and use of grain even as commerce was prevalent in Caracalla’s reign, economic deprivation was serious. Galerius also known as Augustus, he taxed the land so high on produce that people began to burn their own crops so they wouldn’t have to pay the taxes on them. In the midst of that it is said that people wanted to destroy olive trees and grape vineyards.
- 2. the Preterist the scales represent portions measured out because of food shortages. Remember I told you that each city had warring factions, that Josephus writes that some of those warring factions hated each other so much, in spite of hating the Romans as well, that sometimes they would have their own food stores because Jerusalem had saved up great amounts of food so they could withstand this. But what was happening during this time it the fighting was so intense that one group would go and destroy the food store of the other group, just to spite them. And so before long, they were all running out of food. Josephus even records in this period of time and instance that he witnessed of a woman eating her own infant, during this time in Jerusalem.
- 3. A Futurist would view this famine as a result of the war that’s begun in the second seal here in the tribulation. Obviously we said one quart is one days basic need of food for one person, not one family. Henry Morris says he sees this as commerce as having the power to generate prosperity or calamity, to generate inflation or depression, to generate opulence or starvation. Opportunity will be taken during this time to control food, oil, money and all sorts of resources. He sees upheaval and famine. And yet at the same time many Futurists would see this part about the oil and the wine as a picture of the disparity between the rich and those that are not rich. That even in the midst of this famine that is going on amongst most of the world, there will still be those that are rich and have influence, that have everything that they need an then some; that they would have the luxuries of olive oil and wine while the rest of the world is starving.
- 4. The Spiritualist or Idealist would see this as a consequence of war, that when God sends famine it is a natural consequence of war that man starts.
Ezekiel talks about the four-fold destruction of God that comes, Ezekiel 14:21 and it’s these four areas that we’re going to see here in a minute actually in the fourth seal.
The word quart there actually means ‘a little bit,’ it’s the word ‘choinix’ – it means a little bit of wheat.
- C. Meaning?
I believe that this third seal, this black horse of famine is a picture of world-wide inflation. We think it’s bad now where for gas you almost have to take a loan. I’m waiting for the day when at the gas station instead of prices under unleaded it’s going to have a picture of an arm and under super it’s going to have a picture of a leg, because that’s what it is going to take to buy it, an arm and a leg. In Spanish they don’t say an arm and a leg they say the “eye of my face”. Did you know that in America today we throw away enough food in each of our houses every day to feed a family of six in India. Our pets have a higher protein diet than most people do in the underprivileged worlds. This time frame I believe is going to lead to scavengers who will kill for food. If you don’t believe that will happen look at the things that happened after Katrina, are happening in Haiti, things that happened I’m sure in Thailand after the tsunami. We will do whatever it takes, people that were good and wonderful people will do whatever it takes to get food. Yet the rich and influential will still have what they need at this point.
Let me just give you some stats if you don’t think famine could get that bad. As the world population increases and as resources decrease:
In 1850 there were a billion people (from the flood until 1850)
80 years later in 1930 there were 2 billion people
31 years later in 1961 there were 3 billion people
15 years later in 1976 there were 4 billion people
13 years later in 1989 there were 5 billion people
11 years later in 2000 there were 6 billion people
10 years later in 2010 there are 6.9 billion people
I signed on to website today called the world clock and it’s showing the population and there’s a counter there. The counter was going like this (click) and it was moving and in ten seconds 34 people were born. David Jeremiah says, ‘If we compare our resources to a tank-full of gas we have less than half a tank full of gas left and we are rapidly moving toward empty.’ Obviously this is impacted more through war and famine and we will talk about how those things work together.
Let’s go to that fourth seal.
5. 4th Seal
Fourth seal is a horse, it’s a pale horse,
- A. Pale Horse
- 1. Chloros - it’s the same word we get our word chloraphyl from. It’s a pale green, it’s the color of a leper is what they would say.
- 2. It’s a pale green, this is the horse of death. What do we see in this fourth horse, in this pale horse?
- 3. Death comes with him, it’s his rider. His rider is death but he has a follower. Which is what? Hades, or hell, or the place of the dead, or the grave, if you will. In other words the rider comes and takes them and following right behind to receive them is Hades or the grave. The body is affected by the rider and the soul is affected by Hades.
- 5. What else? They, they were given power to what? One-fourth of the earth to die - sword, famine, disease, and beasts.
- B. Viewpoints
Now, let me just give you the four views and let me try to wrap this up for you.
- 1. The Historist view would say this is the period from 248 AD to about 268 AD. There were five emperors, I think, during that time. They said that 5000 died a day in Rome during that time. Some translate that ¼ of the earth to being people from the 4 parts of the earth. That would be the way that the Historist would translate that so that it fits. Because if you say ¼ of the people die and then ¼ of the people don’t die, pretty much your whole system of interpretation falls apart.
- 2. The Preterist view would see this, since it affects Israel, they would see the earth meaning the Promised Land, so that’s how they deal with the ¼ of the earth. They would be talking about Israel. Pestilence and internal fighting would have resulted in this sort of picture, sword, hunger, disease and beasts. That’s what God says he sends as the four dreadful judgments on disobedient people in Ezekiel 14:21. Again, they would point us to AD 70 and that period of time. Josephus does say during that time period that famine so devoured the city that houses and the upper rooms were full of dying people, the lanes in the cities were littered with the dead bodies of the aged, that bodies were cast over the walls of the city into the valleys below such that when Titus, the Roman general came through that the putrification of the dead around the city of Jerusalem was more than he could stand.
- 3. The Futurist would see death and hell or Hades taking ¼ of the population, as literally ¼ of the population alive on the earth dying. They would see “the earth” as being the world, all the inhabitants of the earth, the human inhabitants of the earth. This would be the equivalent to everyone in Europe and everyone in South America dying. I told you we have 6.9 billion people in the world today that would be 1.7 billion people today that would die if this refers to literal people. That’s more people than there were on the earth in 1850. Think about that. That would be more people than were destroyed in the flood all dying in this time period. Some Futurists would see this as part of the Great Tribulation, which is the last 3 ½ years, I’m not sure I believe it’s going to be that late. I think it’s going to be before the first 3 ½ years is up.
- 4. Spiritualists would see this as an ever-repeating process; conquest followed by war, followed by famine, followed by death. They would see this being repeated over an over throughout history.
- C. Death and the Grave
- 1. But of course I fall in the literal category. This is death and the grave. This is death and Hades. This is a cause and affect. This is those cast off from the earth and received by death. Let me tell you what this is …
This is what the world looks like when the Restrainer is taken out. You remember we talked about even though Lot was not the best follower of God, Sodom and Gomorrah couldn’t be destroyed until he was taken out. When the church is taken out and the Spirit is no longer impacting the world as it does now with the church, this is what happens. This is what the world will look like when the church of Jesus Christ is no longer here. And it’s not surprising for me to imagine that it could look that way. Because we may think we’re not having an impact on the world right now but I’m guaranteeing that we are. The Holy Spirit in us is impacting this world and this is what the world will look like without the church in it. I believe that more than anything.
- 2. Imagine ¼ of the people of the world dying. Do you realize that they say that between 188,000-320,000 people died as a result of the Tsunami. People can die that fast.
In 1976, 255,000 people died in China in an earthquake, one time, one day.
On January 23, 1556, 830,000 people died in Shansi China in an 8.0 earthquake.
100,000-200,000 maybe more died in Haiti at that earthquake four weeks ago.
Yes, we’re talking about 1.6 billion people but when the natural translation of reading it makes sense I think we’ve got to take it. In the Black Plague during the Middle Ages, 1/3 of the population of Europe died.
- 3. How do you think this is going to happen? We are talking about a world-wide war. What happens during a war? Let’s talk about that for a minute.
- a. All the able-bodied men go to war, right? And in today’s age, most of the able-bodied women are going to be called up to go to war.
- b. Then that means farmers are leaving their fields. When farmers leave their fields then crops are not planted and the crops that are planted are not harvested and things die.
- c. When food becomes scarce, malnutrition sets in. When malnutrition sets in, disease sets in.
- d. When food becomes scarce and malnutrition and disease set in, guess what? The animals don’t have anything to eat either. Because they are not eating off of the leftovers of a lot of the stuff we leave behind and animals would naturally begin to come in an attack humans to get the food they need. Everything would change.
- e. Do you know that they say that more died from influenza and typhoid as a result of the other side of WWI than died in the actual fighting in WWI.
- f. So it’s not unreasonable for us to think after a world-wide war causing a world-wide famine that this stuff begins to happen.
Sword, famine, disease, wild beasts and ¼ of the earth are destroyed.
- 4. One other theory, talking about this term of wild beasts said it doesn’t have to be lions and tigers. It doesn’t have to be wild animals like we would think. What about rats? Rats are the most destructive animal known to man. Did you know that there are more than 100 species of rats and 1 rat has 5 litters a year with 8-10 offspring in each litter. You do the math. That’s one rat produces about 60 offspring a year. Did you know that over $1 billion of food is lost each year to rats. And the fleas of rats can carry the Bubonic Plague. It’s not unreasonable to imagine it could happen.
- 5. These things: war, false messiahs, famine, death are exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 24 are the ‘beginnings of sorrow’. We’re just getting started. We are just getting started.
Now let me close with this. You say, “Wow, thanks for the good news, I’m going to sleep well tonight.”
Who holds the scrolls? You see, every one of these horses had power . . . given.
Who gave it to them? Who holds the scrolls?
You see Jesus said, “All power has been given unto me in heaven and earth.” Matthew 28:18. Who knows what’s written in the scrolls?
Who is the only one who has read it all? Jesus.
Colossians 1:15, can I read that for you? Let me actually back up to verse 13.
13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
You see the reason that Revelation says ‘grace and peace to you,’ the reason that in Revelation, John says, there is blessing to all those who read this book, and put this book into practice, is because that there is hope in Christ Jesus.
There is hope in a relationship. None has to go through these things. None of us have to be in this Tribulation.
We can be above like John seeing the completeness of this rainbow that we saw at the throne.
You see the difference is which rider you bow to.
If you bow a knee to Christ, the rider in Revelation 19, you don’t have to bow a knee to the rider of Revelation 6. We don’t have to bow a knee to him.
We can bow a knee to Christ and when we bow a knee to Christ then we can say with Paul in I Corinthians 15:54, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
That fourth rider doesn’t scare me in the least.
Thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus holds the scrolls.
Jesus breaks the seals.
The Lamb is Worthy because the Lamb is trust-worthy.