Revelation Chapter 6

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Revelation Chapter 6 

6:1 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.

6:2 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.

6:3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

6:4 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.

6:5 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.

6:6 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.

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

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.

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:

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?

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,

 

 

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until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.

6:12 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;

6:13 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.

6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

6:15 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;

6:16 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:

6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

C hapters 4 and 5 of Revelation reveal the throne room of God as illustrated in the Holy Places of the earthly sanctuary. God reveals Himself and His work in the sanctuary in heaven in these chapters. It is by beholding that we are changed. How important it is that we see Jesus and His work in our behalf at this time. The final stages of the investigative judgment are going on now. The investigative judgment began in heaven October 22, 1844 and continues up to our present day. This judgment continues until the close of probation which immediately precedes the second coming of Jesus. Revelation 6 reveals many details of the investigative judgment. It is written:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrews 9:27, 28

We need to understand that the judgment of God has three

 

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phases. The first phase is the investigative phase which began October 22, 1844. This phase closes with the close of probation when all living have morally matured in their decision for or against the offer of salvation. The offer of salvation is based on acceptance of Jesus as King and Lord of our lives. The issue of salvation hinges on whether we will "have this [man] to reign over us" (Luke 19:14) or not. When all have made a mature decision concerning Jesus as Lord to reign over them or not, probation closes and the second phase of the judgment begins. The second phase of the judgment is the judicial or decision-making. The issue in the judicial phase of the judgment is the degree of punishment or "double" that each should receive who have rejected the offer of forgiveness and pardon on condition of love, appreciation and loyalty to the King Jesus. What is the least "double" (equal to satisfy justice) for each who "will not have this [man] to reign over us". God asks the redeemed to make this determination! This takes place during the millennium in heaven. This is when the "saints shall judge the world" 1 Corinthians 6:2 The third phase of the judgment is the executive judgment when the "reward" or "wages of sin" (Romans 6:23) that the saints who were redeemed from this earth have determined is meted out for those who "have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15). This takes place at the end of the millennium on earth. It is now, at this time, that we have the day of salvation to see and value the goodness of God and desire Him to be our God and King. It is in this life that we have opportunity to see how bad sin is and learn to hate and shun it by God’s grace and to His name’s honor and glory. The significance of our choice and actions go far beyond our own lives. God is also on trial! His judgment is involved in ours! The issues of the great controversy are highlighted in the following two quotations:

"Satan declared that it was impossible for the sons and daughters of Adam to keep the law of God, and thus charged upon God a lack of wisdom and love. If they could not keep the law, then there was fault with the Lawgiver." (Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896 par. 2)

 

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"Every soul that develops a righteous character and withstands the power of the wicked one is a testimony to the falsehood of Satan’s charges against the Divine government. Through the eternal ages the exaltation of the redeemed will be a testimony to God’s love and mercy." (17Manscript Release 338.2)

This is the background for the investigative phase of the judgment which Revelation 6 builds to the climax of the closing of probation which is in our future.

The first four seals are introduced with one of the four living creatures inviting to "come and see." The judgment involves the whole human race (as well as the whole universe in terms of interest). There are four possibilities for every individual’s classification in the judgment based on the profession of each of the two groups of humanity, believers and unbelievers—the sheep and the goats. Profession of faith in Jesus and denial of faith in Jesus can be true or false. This gives four groups. The first four and the last three seals are dissimilar as are the first four trumpets and the last three trumpets (woes). The first four seals can be understood to represent two different, but compatible meanings. One understanding is that the four horses seen under the first four seals represent four periods of time during the history of the Christian church from the days of Jesus up to the end of time. Another understanding of the four horses seen under the first four seals, is that they represent the four possible groups of people on earth in relation to the Kingdom of God. Both of these understandings are valid representing two different aspects of the everlasting gospel.

There is seen a development of corporate character of the church over time. The horses represent God’s leaders (the house of Judah, a goodly horse in the battle. Zechariah 10:3). The white horse represents the Apostolic church in its purity. The white horse with a crowned Rider conquering is seen on opening one of the seals. On opening the second seal, a red horse was seen with the rider having a great sword and peace was taken away with people killing each other. Under the third seal the horse

 

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was black and the rider had a balance in His hand. The fourth seal showed a pale horse with the rider named Death with Hell following. These representations suggest a radical corporate church change in character from the days of Jesus and the apostles to our present time. Jesus is the Rider of His corporate church in apostolic times. However it appears that the fourth church pictured has changed leaders and Death and Hell following appear to be controlling the corporate church! Regardless of this possibility, God’s promises stand sure. Isaiah 55:11, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it." Even though Satan was in control of the leadership of the corporate church in the time of Christ, this did not prevent the accomplishment of God’s plans for His only begotten Son! The possibility of Satan controlling church leadership begs us to focus on Jesus alone, and not to any man or group of men or any church that God has organized. Jesus is still the Good Shepherd. Should appointed leadership fail, God will take the church reins into His own hands. (See Jeremiah 23:1–4; Ezekiel 34:1–14) God does have a remnant in the church that He has established in truth and righteousness. We must be loyal to God first and do all in our power to cooperate with Him in the purification and reformation of His church where it may have become lukewarm.

There is, however, another understanding of these four horses seen in the first four seals that is completely different, but not incompatible or mutually exclusive with the representation of four time periods of corporate church history unfolded in the judgment under the symbols of the first four seals. Each stage of development during the investigative judgment also illustrates the four possible classes of people in relation to the Kingdom of God. Two of these four possible groups are those who profess to be Christians or who profess not to be Christians. Each of these two groups are further divided into two sub-groups. The two sub-groups are those who are and those who are not indeed what they profess. This makes four possible groups of people on earth

 

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in relation to the Kingdom of God. The class of true believers is illustrated by the white horse guided and ridden by Jesus. Those who profess to be Christians and are not, are represented by the red horse. The rider is a false Christ. "And there was given unto Him a great sword." Revelation 6:4. Here is seen a fulfillment of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." A religious war is the worst kind of war. Both sides believe they are doing what they are doing "for God’s sake". The black horse represents those who, like the son in the story that Jesus told, said "I will not: but afterward he repented, and went." Matthew 21:29. God pleads for church members associated with this group who are represented by the oil and the wine.

"How carefully should brethren and sisters in the church guard every word and action lest they hurt the oil and the wine! How patiently, kindly, and affectionately should they deal with the purchase of the blood of Christ! How faithfully and earnestly should they labor to lift up the desponding and the discouraged! How tenderly should they treat those who are trying to obey the truth and have no encouragement at home, who have constantly to breathe the atmosphere of unbelief and darkness!" {5T 614.2}

The pale horse ridden by Death and Hell following represents those who claim to be unbelievers and in fact, either through neglect or persistent rebellion, are unbelievers or those who by choice, having been willingly deceived, knowingly follow Satan. These four horses demonstrate a marked change in character from the first to the fourth. This change suggests a progression in character development over all time since the creation of the earth. This is particularly applicable during the investigative judgment that is going on during our day.

The judgment scene continues with focus on special groups. The next group contains the martyrs who are dealt with under the figure of the 5th seal.

"When the fifth seal was opened, John the Revelator in vision saw beneath the altar the company that were slain for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. After this came the scenes described in the eighteenth

 

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[chapter] of Revelation, when those who are faithful and true are called out from Babylon [Rev. 18: 1-5 quoted]" (MS 39, 1906). {7BC 968.5}

What this is telling us is that there are more martyrs to join this illustrious group. Revelation 18 that follows the future time of the martyrs, describes the scenes under the closing up of the everlasting gospel work on earth. Before the close of probation, as the everlasting gospel swells to a tremendous crescendo, there will be many martyrs. In addition to this Scripture, we are also told by God’s messenger, that there will be many martyrs in the future.

"The best thing for us is to come into close connection with God and, if He would have us be martyrs for the truth’s sake, it may be the means of bringing many more into the truth."—( 3SM 420, 1886). {LDE 149.5}

"Many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ’s sake in standing in defense of the truth."— (3SM 397,1889). {LDE 150.1}

The sixth seal highlights the last faithful generation, those who will stand true to God and live until the end. The sixth seal also presents future events that will take place when Jesus comes again in great power and glory. While many signs of the nearness of the second coming have already occurred, the opening of this seal tells us that much more is to come in the future compared to the signs that have already been fulfilled. Examples of some of the signs that have occurred in the past that let us know that we are living in the "sealing time" just before the second coming of Jesus can be cited. They include the Lisbon earthquake of November 1, 1755,the dark day of May 19, 1780, when the moon appeared red as blood that night. The falling of the stars November 23, 1833 belong in this group. The Revelation 6:12 phrase, "black as sackcloth of hair," (which is the only place in scripture this phrase is found) is picked up by Ellen White, and she associates with this phrase the seals with the plagues in this quotation.

"I thought of the day when the judgment of God would be poured out upon

 

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the world, when blackness and horrible darkness would clothe the heavens as sackcloth of hair. . . . My imagination anticipated what it must be in that period when the Lord’s mighty voice shall give commission to His angels, "Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.…" {Mar 284.4}

Probation closes before the second coming of Jesus. The second coming of Jesus is pictured at the end under the opening of the sixth seal. May we be faithful to be fitted by the indwelling Holy Spirit to be able by God’s mighty grace to stand in that day. The question is asked, "Who shall be able to stand" in the great day of the wrath of God? This question is answered in the next chapter.