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The Lamb Opens The Seals – Revelation 6: 1 to 11:19

The main action of the book of Revelation begins with this vision.
The remainder of revelation is in reality an explanation of the seals of the little book of destiny.
Back of all history is God in Christ.
In this book we see the hand of Christ opening the sealed book of God's dealings with men.

The seal was a sign of ownership.
Only an official representative could open one's seal.
Here Christ is God's official representative, and He is qualified to open the seals.

First Seal, White Horse: Conquest, 6:1-2

The Lamb opened the first seal.
One of the four living creatures said in a thunder-like voice, "Come."
"Come" is a signal for the horseman to ride across the stage of activity.

There are no lines and no action other than the riding of the horse across the path of vision.
From the color of the horse and the description of the rider, we must identify him.
There are two main views as to his identity.

Some have the defined as the man on the white horse representing Christ, or perhaps the cause of Christ.
They would say that the color of the horse would suggest heavenly purity; with the crown representing loyalty;
the bow representing his means of overcoming his enemies, and that He goes forth
to a continued victorious march for God.

They would say that the victorious rider on the white horse represents the victorious course of the gospel.
This theory has much appeal, but there appear too many things against it.
From all appearances the white horse marches the same way as the others.
This would not be true if they were opposed to one another in vital conflict.
Also, it is rather crude to picture Christ as the Lamb drawing back the curtains,
and changing quickly to the uniform of a Persian soldier and riding a horse across the stage.

The better theory seems to be the one on the historical reflections in the picture.
The first horseman represents conquest, militarism, armed strength ready to subdue some new foe.
The white color of the horse represents victory.
A white horse was always ridden by a conqueror in a triumphal march.

This horse symbolized, along with the others, one of the forces which was to bring about
the downfall of the Roman Empire.
The Christians were to see in it a token of victory.
And the horsemen is not a Roman cavalryman who was the most dreaded enemy that Rome had.
The Roman warriors did not use a bow, but it was the favorite weapon of the Parthians.
Roman rulers never wore a crown.

This is pictured to the Christians that victory is coming.
Mighty Rome is not always to stand.
Outside conquest will be a part of the method of her destruction.
God held in His hand the means of deliverance for his people.

Second Seal, Red Horse: War, 6:3-4

When the Lamb opened the second seal, John heard the second living creature say, "Come."
At His summons a man on a red horse rode across the stage.
The man speaks no lines.
He rides, and lets the color of his horse identify him.
His horse is red, and to him is given "to take peace from the earth"
and cause men to slay one another.
He carries a great sword which, added to all the other details, identifies him as War.
War was the bloody means of caring out conquest, so it was natural that the red horse
should follow the white one.

Third Seal, Black Horse: Famine, 6:5-6

The third seal is opened, the third living creature speaks his summons,
and a man on a black horse rides silently across the stage.
The man on the horse carries a balance in his hand.

A voice off stage, from the midst of the four living creatures, said,
"A measure of wheat for a shilling; and three measures of barley for a shilling;
the oil and add the wine hurt thou not
."
All this identifies the third horseman as Famine.

In times of war, food became scarce and was weighed out to families.
In times of war it would it would cost 12 times the normal price for the items mentioned above.
Famine always follows in the wake of war.

Fourth Seal, Pale Horse: Pestilence, 6:7-8

At the opening of the fourth seal and the bid of the fourth living creature, a very gruesome sight took place.
John saw a pale, livid horse riding across the stage.
His name was Death and Hades, the Region of the Dead, followed behind him to gather up his prey.
To them was given authority over a fourth part of the earth to kill with every conceivable means.
It is here that we see the dread effects of pestilence which always follows war and famine.

Pestilence had swept Asia Minor many times and could easily destroy more than conquest, war, hunger,
and evil beasts put together.
It was a ready instrument of retribution in the hands of divine justice.
This judgment is only partial.
It touches only a "fourth part" of the earth, but it gives the needed impression of horror
as we see a horse the livid color of a corpse ridden by Death with the Grave running along
greedily gathering up fallen bodies.

All the above – military conquest, war, famine, pestilence – are forces which God can use
to destroy the oppressors of His people.
His Christians are to take courage for their cause is definitely not lost.

Fifth Seal, Martyred Saints, Persecution, 6:9-11

When the Lamb opens the fifth seal, the symbolism changes.
Up to this point, we have observed the means of judgment.
Now we see before us the reason for judgment.

Underneath the altar John sees the "souls of them that had been slain for the word of God,
and for the testimony which they held
."
These can be no other than the martyrs of the Domitinic persecution.
John names one of them,Antipas, in this book (2:13).
Historians record the death of many others.
Here, symbolically, they cry out that their blood be avenged.

This paragraph reflects the moral necessity for judgment.
God could not be a righteous God and allow such evil to go unavenged.
The chief reason for God's judgment on the Roman Empire was their persecution of God's people.
The martyred saints know that judgment is coming, and they do not understand why God is waiting so long.
Each one of them was given a white robe, symbolical of their victory and purity,
and they were told to be patient.
The time was not ripe for God's retribution.
There were others in the churches who were to suffer, but in the end certain victory
would be realized for judgment was on its way.

Sixth Seal, Earthquake: Judgment, 6:12-17

When the sixth seal was opened, John saw a great earthquake, with all its terrible horrors.
The sun was turned to darkness; the moon was blood-red; stars fell like figs before a great wind;
the heavens rolled up like a scroll of paper; mountains and islands disappeared.

People of every class and condition hid themselves in caves and cried for the mountains to fall upon them
and hide them from the wrath of the One on the throne and of the Lamb;
"because," they said, "the great day of their wrath is come; and who is able to stand?"
The swift agony of being crushed to death was preferable to being left to face with an angry God.

There are several different theories concerning this passage, and you might study them from
from the book "Worthy is the Lamb."
But Summers believes the view which look upon these visions as complete within itself
and covering the field of activity.
He holds the view that this symbolizes final judgment to be consistent.
He said that he is strongly moved to be inconsistent because of a strong feeling
that this does not represent final judgment but that it represents natural calamity
as an instrument of judgment in the temporal affairs of men.

He goes on to say that under any condition this part of the pageant symbolizes God's destructive power
against those who reject Him and His plan of salvation.
As these forces — conquest, war, famine, pestilence, natural calamity – rage,
"Who and shall be able to stand?"

This question is answered in chapter 7 of the book.