The opening of the seven seals in the book of Revelation was
something that only the Lion from the tribe of Judah, The Root of David, or in
other words, the Lord Jesus Himself, could do. No one else in heaven or on
earth was found worthy to open the book or even look into it.
When John saw Him, He saw Him as the Lamb that had been slain.
6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Revelation 5:6-7
When Jesus came and took the book from His Father on the throne everyone
broke out in praise—the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, the
myriads of angels, and even every created thing in heaven and in, on, and under
the earth gave praise to both Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb (verses
Then John saw the Lamb open the seals.
There are various viewpoints as to what the seven seals are, what
they mean, and who the four horsemen are. Consider this:
Do the seven seals in Revelation speak of the ending of the “time
of the Gentiles” Jesus spoke of in Luke 21:24?
24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
There is a period of time between Daniel’s 69th and 70th
week (Daniel 9:24-27) which is between the first and second coming of the
Messiah. This is the period of time we are now in and what Jesus called “the
time of the Gentiles.” Paul also spoke of it when he referenced the “fullness
of the Gentiles.”
25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; Romans 11:25.
The opening of the seven seals is progressive and quite possibly the revelation of what unfolds during the time period between Jesus' first and second coming, or the church age. In John's revelation, the book and the Lamb appeared at about the same time, which would seem to confirm this thought that the book reveals the church era which began at His resurrection.
Jesus conquered the kingdom of darkness during
His first coming, and the proclamation of what He did began to be preached at
that time, and has continued since then. There has been much opposition and
attempts by the enemy to prevent it, weaken it, or undo it any way possible.
Let’s look at the opening of the seals to see how we might gain more insight regarding this.
THE FIRST SEAL: The White Horse
1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” 2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Revelation 6:1-2
From the perspective that these seals reveal the progression of
the church age, the rider on the white horse represents the preaching of the
gospel that began with the early church after His resurrection. This rider was
given authority, as Jesus had, to conquer the kingdom of darkness and establish
His kingdom in the earth. In that light, the rider represents those who preach
the gospel throughout the church age.
As this white horse has continued to circle the globe throughout
this time period, it has not been a smooth and easy road for Christians. Attacks
against the gospel have increased. The condition of the world has become less
favorable to the preaching of the gospel as the church age has gone on, even
more so as the effects of the next three horses increased through the age as
well. Yet the white horse rider has a bow and a crown, and continues to conquer, taking ground for the kingdom.
These other three horses—revealed in the next three seals—have continually followed
the white horse to try and prevent him from furthering the gospel. They try to
undo what was done, to keep it from taking root or becoming established, and
generally wreak havoc in or against the church.
THE SECOND SEAL: The Red Horse
3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” 4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. Revelation 6:3-4
The rider of the second horse takes peace from the earth and causes
men to slay each other. The gospel is the gospel of peace. It’s a message of
peace between God and man through Jesus Christ. It’s also a message of unity
between the brethren. Division in the church is a key strategy against it and the preaching of the gospel. It was granted to this rider to take peace, causing men to kill
each other, and he had a great sword—a weapon which both divides and slays.
But not only would this rider take peace from the church, but from the rest of the earth as well. Any and all types of division can be seen in his work, from the pettiest arguments to the most violent wars.
During times of war, the preaching of the gospel is hindered. Potential missionaries become soldiers, travel is more dangerous, and finances may be hindered.
The rider promoting war and divisions follows the preaching of the gospel.
THE THIRD SEAL: The Black Horse
5 When He broke the third seal, I heard
the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold,
a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And
I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living
creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and
three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil
and the wine.” Revelation 6:5-6
The rider of the black horse brings inflation and famine. If people are impoverished, fighting to survive themselves, they won’t be as apt to give toward the preaching of the gospel. Even living in adherence to the Word of God can be more challenging during these times. The temptation to become fearful and selfish increases.
During difficult financial times, those who are greedy for gain use various means of control to make profit for themselves at the expense of others. The love of money snares many. Lawlessness increases, and hope decreases, as people become desperate.
The rider causing financial disaster follows war, and they both are after the preaching of the gospel--to prevent or undo its power.
THE FOURTH SEAL: The Pale Horse
7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” 8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8
The rider of the pale horse had authority to kill ¼ of the earth with sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts. We’ve seen the sword and famine already in the second and third horsemen. Pestilence, disease, and overpopulation of wild beasts, typically follows war and famine. The determination of the rider is to stop the gospel at all costs, including death.
Any form of intended depopulation is included in his efforts. So we learn faithfulness until the end, and to sacrifice all, if necessary, for the gospel to reach the ends of the earth (before the coming of Hades).Jesus spoke of deception, wars, earthquakes, famines, and betrayal before His return. and then He said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:4-14.
These three riders have been using their tactics against the
preaching of the gospel throughout the church age. The enemy, the spirit of antichrist, will try anything
to stop the preaching of the gospel, or undo its results—including the killing of believers and
unbelievers alike. Hades followed this horse.
THE FIFTH SEAL: Martyrs
The first four seals reveal what was going on in the earth. Next
we see a heavenly perspective.
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Revelation 6:9-11
Results of the enemy’s tactics throughout this age are seen in the
opening of the fifth seal—martyrs. Those who were slain because of the Word of
God, and the testimony that they held, are seen under the altar in heaven.
THE SIXTH SEAL: Signs on Earth and in the Heavens
12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6:12-17
When the sixth seal is opened, there is such an effect in the heavens and on the earth, that people realize the wrath of God and the Lamb is upon them. They know they will suffer His wrath—the consequence of what has been happening. They try and hide from them. It's true that no one will be able to stand against their wrath when it comes. The natural response to an awareness of one's own fallen condition, guilt, and sin, which becomes obvious when confronted with God's presence, is to hide--like Adam and Eve did (Genesis 3:8).
However, a better response is to expose yourself to Him--to admit to and repent of your sin. This would be the response of those who had heard and accepted the gospel, but for those who rejected it, the presence of the Lord would be terrifying. The only hope would be to throw yourself on the mercy of God like David did (2 Samuel 24:10-14).
It's a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of a living God (Hebrews 10:31), but we each must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
This is not something that has happened yet. Of course there have
been earthquakes and some “signs” in the heavens, but none to the point where
everyone on earth hides from the presence of God knowing His wrath has come and
there is no escape. This is near the end, and we see the shift from the church
age to the 70th week coming.
The first six seals bring us near to the closing period of the
time of the Gentiles. Before the 70th week of Daniel begins, the 144,000
Jewish remnant from each tribe are sealed so they are preserved from what is to come. Revelation
The Multitude Before the Throne
At the end of the six seals we also see a multitude of saints before the throne. These are those who have come out of “the great tribulation” and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, making them white. These would appear to be those who come out of the great trouble of the end times, not just the "many tribulations" we're told about in Acts 14:22. If they have "come out of" the great tribulation then that means they were in it, at least to some degree. They didn't escape it completely.
This time of great trouble which we see beginning with the revelation of the wrath of God in Revelation 6:17 (at the opening of the sixth seal) picks up again in chapters 8 and 9 during the time of the trumpets. There will be countless believers from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, making their way before God during this time. Revelation 7:9-17.
THE SEVENTH SEAL is opened and the book is fully revealed. There is silence in heaven for half an hour. The time of the Gentiles is fulfilled and the time of the trumpet soon begins. God is preparing to respond to what has occurred on the earth. This appears to be the beginning, or soon beginning, of Daniel's 70th week.
From an earthly perspective, the transition goes from the sixth seal in Revelation 6:17 to the sounding of the first trumpet in Revelation 8:7 (and beyond through chapter 9 and the sixth trumpet) where a third of the earth, and eventually a third of mankind is destroyed.
The time to consider your spiritual condition, the reality of eternity, and who will ultimately enforce truth and judge unrighteousness, is now.