In my last blog we began in the sixth chapter of Revelation. This chapter begins with a scene in heaven. We see the lamb take the “seven sealed book” and begin to open its seals. With the first seal open, a white horse comes forth. The rider of this horse is the Antichrist, as discussed in the last blog. (If you did not read last week’s blog, please do so.)
Second Seal, The Red Horse
It has been estimated that there will be a period of peace before the breaking of the second seal. Some say that peace will go on for as long as 18 months. Soon however some of the nations will begin to grow tired of the control of antichrist. Not everyone will approve of his policies. This leads up to the breaking of the next seal.
When the second seal is broken John hears the voice of the second beast, or the calf like beast, say “Come.” As this rider comes forth the symbolism is clear. Red, the color of the horse, is the symbol for blood, and the sword is the symbol of war. This tells us that the peace the first rider gives is taken away now by the second rider. No doubt there will be wars according to Matthew 24:6-7, where our Lord said,
“Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.”
“When they shall say peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 1 Thess. 5:3
While war does come, eventually antichrist will prevail. It is prophesied and plainly told that he will rule over the nations. Some will rebel but will not succeed. Many will be left dead, towns and cities will be destroyed but antichrist will prevail over those that rise up against him.
Third Seal, The Black Horse
Again when the seal is broken one of the four beasts spoke. This time it is the manlike beast that commands the rider to “come.” Not only does John hear the living creature, but he also hears an invisible voice in the heavens say “a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny, and see though hurt not the oil and the wine.”
This black horse represents famine, and the rider is the one who conserves food. This is reasonable, for if you think of all the men that will be drafted off to war in addition to the millions who have been taken in the rapture famine is sure to follow. This famine will be so great that it will take one day’s wages to purchase 2 pints of bread. In Bible days a man would work for a denarius (penny) or one day’s wages.
Ezekiel long ago prophesied this terrible famine.
“And thy meat which thus halt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.” Ezekiel 4:10-11
“Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment:” Ezekiel 4:16
Again hear the words of James in chapter 5:1, 3.
“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” James 5:1-3
Fourth Seal, Pail Horse
Now the voice of the, eagle like beast, command “come.” Note the corpse like color of this horse. This horse is different in that it has two riders. Their names are death and hell, or the grave. The first three horse riders were not named but these two are personified. As “Death” goes forth “Hell” follows after waiting to consume those that “Death” destroys.
After war and famine you will find pestilence cover the earth. In this time there will be dead that have been left unburied and this results in this pestilence. This judgment will be so great that it will destroy ¼ of the earth. In 2011 it is estimated that the world population will reach 7 billion. We are not sure how many will be raptured, but imagine 1.75 billion people dying. Let me put this into perspective. The population in American is just over 3 billion. This means that the equivalent of over half of the population of American will die under these judgments.
This seems terrible, and it is, but this is only the beginning of sorrows. By the time the tribulation is finished ¾ of the world’s population will be eliminated.
Fifth Seal, Martyred Saints
I would like to point out that these are not martyrs from the church. If you believe that, then you should go back and reread chapter four. The church is in heaven. These are the believing remnant made up of Jew and Gentile who have turned to Christ after the rapture of the church.
You must not forget that God will seal 144,000 Jews who will go forth and preach the gospel of the kingdom under which many will be saved. Some have said that there will not be souls saved during the tribulation. This is not supported by the scriptures. In fact many speculate that there will be more that 200 million saved during the tribulation. (I will explain this further when we study chapter seven.)
This will be a hard time, for in the tribulation time when a person turns to Christ and accepts Him as Lord they will lose their life for that testimony. They will be forced underground and in hiding if they are going to survive. This sounds harsh but many of us would not have to worry even if we were in the tribulation hour.
Notice also that these dead saints cry out. What is their cry? It is a cry for blood. This may sound confusing but you must remember that these are not those saved under grace, which was a covenant of love. You will remember when Stephen was being killed he cried out “lay not this sin to their charge.” This is however a different dispensation. They also have a mind and know that prophecy is being fulfilled and wonder how much longer their loved ones will have to suffer. The Lord urges them to have a little more patience.
Sixth Seal, Physical changes
This is one of three earthquakes that we find in the book of Revelation. Many try to make these verses figurative, but you cannot logically do that. You must take them just as they are, literal. If you study the scriptures you will find that earthquakes accompany the judgment of God throughout the Bible. At this time the earth is quaking so greatly that the stars begin to fall from heaven. No doubt there will be strong wind and possibly even tornados, devastating mountains, and causing them to be moved.
“I will shew wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” Joel 2:30-31
This is so terrible a sight that it causes great men and kings, rich men as well as all free men with them, hide in the caves of the earth for safety.
In fact the scriptures tell us that the time is so devastating that men cry out for death. They plead for the mountains and rocks to fall on them. This is a sad condition for it shows us how wicked mankind is. They are so wicked in their sin that they would rather call on the rocks to fall on them and die, than to turn to the Lord for salvation.