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.
So, the scroll itself, the 7-sealed scroll,
Let’s walk down thru these things one at a time.
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?
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
“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.
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.
“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.
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?
Let me break down some of the viewpoints on this guy for you.
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.
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.
Any questions about the second horse?
When the third seal is broken, we see another horse.
If you read Jeremiah, Jeremiah talks about our faces black in the midst of famine.
Now before I get ahead of myself let’s talk about the different viewpoints on this.
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.
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.
Fourth seal is a horse, it’s a pale horse,
Now, let me just give you the four views and let me try to wrap this up for you.
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.
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.
Sword, famine, disease, wild beasts and ¼ of the earth are destroyed.
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.