Revelation 6:1-17 The Seal Judgments

by | May 10, 2023 | New Testament, Revelation

I. Four Horsemen/First Four Seals/Events On Earth Vs. 1-8

A. The First Horseman Vs. 1, 2

1. V. 1- The Lamb opened- As the Lamb, Jesus is known as the sacrifice for our sins.

a. But we must also realize that as the Lamb, He initiates the eventual judgments of God.

b. Leon Morris- It may well be that we are to understand Christ’s saving work as including an element of judgment. Christ’s death was not only salvation from sin but condemnation of sin.

c. NIV, ESV- “Come”, as if speaking to the horsemen, as opposed to “Come and see”, as if speaking to John. The result is the same, the horsemen come, and John sees them.

2. V. 2- We see a horseman whose intention it was to conquer.

a. He has a bow, which is a weapon of war. (Psalm 46:9; Zechariah 9:10)

b. A crown was given to him; he didn’t gain it himself; God allows him to have victory.

c. The crown is the victor’s crown, not the crown of royalty.

3. In Revelation 19:11, we see another rider on a white horse.

a. In Revelation 19, it is easy to see that that rider is Jesus Christ. The distinction is clear.

b. Some say this rider emulates Jesus & may be the Antichrist. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12)

c. He goes out to conquer, and his actions bring death to ¼ of the world’s population.

d. Based on the results of this rider’s actions, we see that this cannot be Jesus Christ.

e. Futurist commentators see this as Antichrist & the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

B. The Second Horseman Vs. 3, 4

1. V. 4- “And it was granted”- whatever happens with these horsemen is granted to them by God’s sovereign purposes. The power to conquer is not resident within them.

2. Kill- Butcher one another, slaughter one another.

3. The distinction between the first two riders seems to be this:

a. The first goes out to conquer and is successful. Perhaps he is the initiator of war.

b. The second one goes out to take peace away, and people kill one another.

4. A great sword- The 2nd horseman takes away peace, & men naturally start killing.

C. The Third Horseman Vs. 5, 6

1. V. 5-This horsemen brings famine- Scales used for rationing food. Runaway inflation.

a. Quart of wheat- One day’s ration for one person. Barley- cheaper (feed a family)

b. Denarius- a day’s pay for a laborer. One day’s pay for one day’s food.

2. Do not harm the oil & wine- The olive and grape crops are protected from the horseman.

a. The luxury items for the rich will be available, but the necessities for the poor won’t.

3. First there was an initiator, then war/civil unrest, then food shortages w/high inflation.

4. Life is much harder; not a total famine. Food is scarce and extremely expensive.

5. This kind of scenario causes people to be desperate for governmental solutions.

D. The Fourth Horseman Vs. 7, 8

1. V. 8-Pale- chloros- yellowish green, the color of a corpse.

2. No rider is seen, but Death and Hades are personified.

3. The first three riders had emblems signifying their business, but death has no emblem.

4. Power was given- Again we see the Sovereignty of God, God is in charge of these events.

5. Those not killed in war, civil unrest, or food shortages were killed by Death and Hades.

6. Even death is under the control of God, via war, civil unrest, lack of food, wild beasts.

7. Matthew 24:21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

II. The Fifth & Sixth Seals/Events In Heaven Vs. 9-17

A. The Fifth Seal Vs. 9-11

1. V. 9- These are not mere casualties of war, but Christians killed because of their faith.

a. This has happened throughout the age of the church and will until the end.

b. These souls are not asleep, but conscious and in fellowship with God.

2. V. 10- These martyrs ask for justice against those who killed them.

a. Holy and true- They recognize God for His holiness and truth.

b. His forthcoming justice will be appropriate and right in every way.

c. Leon Morris- It is not a plea against individuals but a call for the reversal of the world’s judgment on God’s people. The cry is intelligible only on the basis that the supreme power in the world is God’s power and that he exercises it in a moral way.

d. In calling for the justice of God, it is also a calling for the end of murdering saints.

3. V. 11- These martyrs struggled with what so many Christians and saints struggle with: the continuance of evil and the delay of justice.

a. Habakkuk 1:2-5  2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.           3 Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife,                  and contention arises. 4 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the                          righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds. 5 “Look among the nations and watch– Be utterly astounded! For I will              work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.

b. These martyrs needed to be patient; God’s justice would surely come.

c. The outworking of God’s plans are neither hastened or delayed. It is as He wills.

d. It is a double-sided coin that the Christian experiences.

i. We pray for people to receive the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.

ii. We also look for the justice and judgment of God upon all evil.

iii. Remember: It is the Sacrificed Lamb who is initiating these judgments.

B. The Sixth Seal/Natural Catastrophes Vs. 12-17

1. Vs. 12-14 Great terrestrial & cosmic disturbances eventually take place.

a. Jesus spoke of such things. Matthew 24:29-30; Luke 21:25-27.(Also, Hebrews 12:25-29)

b. Some commentators suggest the Revelation 6 is an overview of Revelation 6-19, and that these natural catastrophes occur just prior to the physical return of Jesus.

c. John’s words describe real events, but not technically. He uses poetic phrases.

2. Vs. 15-17 We see the responses of those upon the Earth when these catastrophes occur.

a. No one is protected from these occurrences, which are part of God’s judgment.

b. The people know that this is the judgment of God, and they believe that physical death will grant them a release from God’s judgment.

c. There is no repentance, even with full understanding that this is God’s doing.

d. Torrance-“It is the wrath of love, the wrath of sacrificial love which, having done the absolute utmost for us and our salvation, tells us as nothing else could the certainty with which evil awaits its doom at the hand of God.”

3. Revelation speaks of the wrath of God, or the wrath of the Lamb, 10x’s.

4. God must judge sin; His nature demands it; He cannot overlook it.

5. Leon Morris- In no place in this section is John trying to terrify the saints. He is using familiar apocalyptic imagery to reassure them, and to give them the certainty that their God is over all. God is bringing his purposes to pass, and he will do so though it means that this world order, and indeed this whole mighty universe, pass away.