Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation
Revelation Chapter 6 Seals - The Countdown to Jesus' Coming
by I Gordon
- The situation after the rapture - what are the general conditions on earth when the Church is removed?
- The opening the seven sealed scroll - what impact do the four horsemen have on earth?
- The great sixth seal - how does it link in with what the prophets and Jesus Himself saw for the end of the tribulation?
- The dramatic climax - Why does God turn all the lights off in the 6th seal? And what will mankind see when the sky is rolled back like a scroll?
This will likely be a longer study than normal so no dilly-dally!
- Firstly there will be a great void. People will be incredibly frightened wondering what has happened. Everyone will know people that have suddenly gone. They will be anxiously looking for answers and reassurance and into that void will step a man with a plan for world control. Never let a good crisis go to waste right?
- With the Church removed. the salt and light of this world is gone. If you think it is bad now, what about when there is little to no counter-voice or constraint on the wickedness of the day? (Matt 5:13-16).
- In connection to this, the Holy Spirit will no longer restrain lawlessness or prevent the coming of the Antichrist and his deceptive satanic signs (2 Thes 2:6-12).
- Satan himself will now know that his time is short as he is permanently banished from any access to heaven, down to the earth. It is likely that as we go up he comes down (Rev 12:7-12).
- God Himself will now be directly judging this world. The day of grace is over and the day of His vengeance has begun. You will note that all of the seals, all of the trumpets, and all of the bowl judgements, originate in heaven and are directly from God. Together they constitute His wrath upon this earth. The seals bring forth various judgements as we shall see and the Lord Jesus is the One, the only One, that has the right to break these.
- To judge sin and put an end to wickedness (Isa 13:9-11)
- To force everyone on the earth into a decision with only two choices - will you follow Jesus or Satan? This decision leads to a tremendous number of souls saved throughout the whole earth as seen in Rev 7:9-17.
- To break the power of the holy people, Israel, forcing them to finally acknowledge and call upon Jesus, the One that they pierced! (Dan 12:5-7, Zech 12:10) In other words, a main purpose of the tribulation is for the salvation of the Jewish nation.
- To enthrone the true King! The events of the tribulation will build until reaching its crescendo with the return of the King! We shall be given a glimpse of that at the end of this chapter before us today. (Rev 6:14-16, Rev 11:15, 19:11,16)
"The ancient books of Israel were generally sheepskin rolls. When we are told that this book was sealed with seven seals, we are to understand that the book was rolled up to a certain point, and there a seal was put on the edge so that it could not be opened until that seal was broken. It was rolled up a little farther and another seal put on, and so on until there were six seals on the edge of the book and one seal closing the entire scroll. When the first seal was opened a certain portion of the book was exposed to view and so with each one following. When the seventh was broken then the entire book would be unrolled."
- Firstly that Revelation has different layers and themes running through it and it is not all consecutive. I believe Revelation 6 is one layer and theme giving an overview of the entire tribulation period from start to end. Once all the seals on the scroll have been broken, the true ruler of this world will take possession of this planet1. And no prizes for knowing that is Jesus!
- Secondly it is important to note that while the seals have not yet been opened, their nearness cast shadows that we can see today. For example, the deceptions, wars, famines, earthquakes and plagues that will be unleased in the future have relevant foreshadows in the here and now. We see deception running wild. We see wars and hear of rumors of wars. We've recently been involved in global plague/pestilence with Covid19 and experienced how the Governments of this world used this time of crisis for their own control, power and agenda. So we are already seeing foreshadows of what is to come... but it will be in far greater strength and frequency in the tribulation period.
So let's look at what each seal brings forth.
Analysts say that the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine could easily go global leading to WWIII.
The current financial crisis has seen more bank wealth lost than in the 2008 banking disaster... though, fearing a bank run making it worse, the media is strangely silent about it.
We have just gone through one pandemic and are already receiving threats from the World Health Organization (WHO) of a worse one coming. Though in a vote that wouldn't possibly be related to this : ) the WHO is currently voting (May 2023) on whether their health dictates will be globally binding, potentially even trumping the laws of your nation.
National debt levels have increased greatly while world leaders speak about doing away with cash and going to a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)... which, unsurprisingly, will give them total control over the people and what can be bought and sold.
Inflation is increasing, more people are homeless or struggling financially, while AI advances have been predicted to take up to 300 million jobs in the near future.
Our youth are taking their lives in higher numbers as some count the years until the world ends through so called climate change. And this goes on in the midst of the ever increasing sexualization of our children.
"A day’s wages” refers to a silver coin, the Roman denarius, worth about 15 cents, which was the normal wage for a worker for an entire day. So this passage is saying that in that food shortage an entire day’s work would be required to buy either a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley. If one bought wheat, it would be enough for one good meal; if he bought barley, it would be enough for three good meals but nothing would be left for buying oil or wine. Famine is the inevitable aftermath of war. This will be a major cause of death in the Great Tribulation. The black color of the horse speaks of famine and death."
The Greek word from which the English word chlorophyll comes describes the pale, ashen-green, pallor characteristic of the decomposition of a corpse. God grants this horseman the authority to bring death to twenty-five percent of the world's population.
So those are the events surrounding the riding of the four horsemen. But a new aspect of the tribulation is seen next in the 5th seal.
- First seal - rider on white horse (deception). The first sign Jesus gave was deception: Mat 24:4-5 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many.
- Second seal - rider on red horse (war). The second sign Jesus gave was war: Mat 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
- Third seal - rider on black horse (famine). The third sign Jesus gave was famine & earthquakes: Mat 24:7 ...And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
- Fourth seal - rider on pale green horse (sword, famine, plague). In this same verse, Mat 24:7, Jesus also mentions plague/pestilence.
- Fifth seal - martyrdom of believers. Jesus next spoke of the martyrs. Mat 24:9-10 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
All of these are steps leading to the all important 6th seal at the end of the tribulation. And, not surprisingly, this seal was spoken about by Jesus as well.
“It would be difficult to paint any scene more moving or more terrible than that described at the opening of the sixth seal.”
John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ
- The first question that came to mind was why are unbelievers speaking about the throne in heaven and the face of Him who sits on that throne? What do unbelievers know about that?
- This led to a similar question - If they are also petrified that the wrath of the Lamb has come, what do they know about 'the Lamb' or His wrath?
- If God is turning off all the lights with no sun, moon or stars, why does He want this scene to be in the dark?
- If the sky and the heavens were rolled back like a scroll, what would that look like and more importantly what could people on this earth possibly see?
- With the detailed comments about the throne and fearful actions of the unbelievers, what have they seen? Do they see something in heaven when the sky itself is rolled back?
As mentioned previously, I believe that the 6th seal occurs at the very end of the tribulation period and what they have seen when the sky rolls back like a scroll is the throne of God Himself. And the King of the Universe sitting on that throne! That explains why they are petrified concerning the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. The veil between heaven and earth is removed I believe, at least in part, and they see the One they have hated and rejected. They now know that it doesn't matter who they know because they are not known to Jesus. The realise that no amount of contacts in high places can help them because they they don't know the One in the true high place. They know that their money means nothing as the One on the throne cannot be bought. They realise that they now face the judgement of the One they hate and nothing will stop that.
Isa 2:19 Men will go into caves of the rocks And into holes of the ground Before the terror of the LORD And the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble!8
Mat 24:29-30 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (30) Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
In other words all the celestial lights are turned off so that in the pitch darkness, after a short period of fearful silence, the sign of Jesus will be seen and His glory will fill the sky. This is the greatest sign for those believers on earth at that time, who are waiting and longing for Him. But it is the most fearful of signs for those that have rejected and hate Him.
And for those on the ark, do not let fear grip your hearts because we have a far better hope. Jesus and His coming for His bride, is our hope. So remember His words that 'When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.' (Luke 21:28) And 'be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man,' (Luke 21:46)
Those that think that the seals lead directly into the trumpets and then into the bowls thus have to have the seals only lasting part way through the tribulation. A result of this in that they tend to gloss over the 6th seal and not see it for what it is - the events immediately proceeding the return of Jesus! If interested, I have written more about this here: https://jesusplusnothing.com/series/post/chronology-of-revelation
Others have also seen that Revelation chapter 6 is a panoramic view of the entire tribulation period. One such example is Bible teacher and Pastor David Guzik who writes:
There are many different opinions, but it seems best to say that the seals, trumpets, and bowls that will be described later are not strictly sequential events. Chronologically, the trumpets do not follow the seals and the bowls do not follow the trumpets. The first six seals are "a summary of the judgments distributed over the whole book; a brief summary of what will occur in 'the day of the Lord,' up to the time of His actual Apocalypse or Unveiling in chapter 19." (Bullinger) That span begins with the revelation of the Antichrist (the first seal) and it concludes with the revealing of the face of Him who sits on the throne (the seventh seal).
Also, a useful discussion can also be seen here if interested: https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/16/16-3/16-3-pp149-158_JETS.pdf
As well as some thinking that the rider in the first seal is Jesus, I recently heard someone say that it was the church going forth from the day of Pentecost. This seemed to be based on the fact that the word for 'conquer' in Rev 6:2 is the same Greek word spoken to the churches earlier in Revelation where it is translated 'overcome'. It is the same word, but this word is also used of the Antichrist in Rev 13:7 where he will 'conquer' or 'overcome' the saints. There are other reasons why it is not the church. Revelation 6 is yet future, after the Church age, according to Rev 1:19. Also the rider in the first seal has been given a 'stéphanos' crown. If this was church age believers, when did we get our crowns? Because no one in the church receives their crowns and rewards until the judgment seat of Christ AFTER Jesus returns (2 Tim 4:7-8, Rev 22:12). So no one has got their crowns yet. Also, if it was the church why use symbolism of going forth with a bow instead of a sword? The only weapon that the church went forth with, is the two-edged sword - which is the word of God (Eph 6:17, Heb 4:12). So no, it isn't the church. It is someone much darker - the Antichrist.
"The absence of arrows implies that this victory is a bloodless one—a peace won by covenant and agreement, not by war... Antichrist becomes king, elected by the world's inhabitants regardless of the cost, and will conquer the entire earth in a bloodless coup."
The idea of a satanic dictator over men goes back all the way to Nimrod, the ruler over Babel in Gen 10:8-14, where it says he was a mighty hunter before the LORD. This has the sense that he was a mighty hunter of men, and that he did this offensively in the face of God.
Some see this seal, and even the earlier seals, as the wrath of man or Satan and not as judgements from God. Yet we see in scripture that all four methods of death seen in this seal are said to be God's judgements. He has used them all before. In the book of Ezekiel we read:
Eze 14:21 For thus says the Lord GOD, "How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it!
These are all opened in Heaven and sent from God even if man, beast and plague is involved. God uses all of these in theTribulation.
To this we could also add these from Joel:
Joe 2:10-11 Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. (11) The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?
Joe 2:30-32 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. (31) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. (32) And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
In fact this event of the nations hiding in the rocks from the wrath of God is mentioned three times in this one chapter, Isaiah 2. It shows what a big deal it is. And note that they go into the rocks to hide from the splendor of his majesty! This again shows that they have seen Him and places it at the end of the tribulation with His coming:
Isa 2:9-11 So man will be brought low and mankind humbled-- do not forgive them. (10) Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty! (11) The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
Isa 2:19 Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.
Isa 2:21-22 They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (22) Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?