All of chapter 5 of Revelation is about “who is worthy to open the seals” of judgment that were to follow. In the Gospel of John, at John 5:22, it is written, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,” so it is not surprising that we find in this chapter of Revelation the following being declared by one of the elders in verse 5:
“But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’”
Then John continued to write, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign on the earth’” (Revelation 5:8-10).
The identity of the four living creatures is not clear, but the twenty-four elders certainly represent those who have been redeemed from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. It is the body of Christ, and in the fourth chapter we are told they receive crowns and then lay them at the feet of Jesus. It is an open testimony that the Rapture takes place before the beginning of the Tribulation.
As we look ahead to the judgment of the seals, it is established that this Lamb, this Redeemer, Jesus the Christ, is the only one worthy to open those seals. But in the trumpet judgments and the bowl judgments later in Revelation, He is not the one who opens them. Angels have been given that charge. That gives added credence to this concept that the seals are an overview of the remainder of the Book of Revelation. Let’s investigate that idea as Chapter 6 opens up with the opening of the first seal:
“Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked, and behold, a white horse. 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).
Perhaps some have thought of this series of seal judgments as taking place, all completed as they are presented, as I once did, without thinking about it. But there is no way for each of these four horsemen to do their thing, and then disappear in their dust of departure so that the next one can have its place in sequence. Not so, for we shall see how it is actually an overview of the coming judgments which are on the authority of the Lamb of God and Redeemer of many from the earth’s numbers.
Pictured here is someone riding, not sitting, on a white horse, who is intentional in “conquering and to conquer.” He is on a white horse and carrying a bow but no arrows, thus showing a false portrayal of peace. But he is bent on conquering, and as one follows him through to the final half of Revelation, it is clear that he is the one who sets himself up to be worshipped instead of God.
In Revelation 12 is a sidebar account of the pursuit of the Jewish people by a great red dragon who is identified as Satan. This one is cast to the earth from the heavens, having great raging anger because he knows his time is short. He is a disembodied spirit who must find some physical body to indwell. The one most closely identified with him is that one who has been riding the white horse and conquering. Thus he begins that final half of the seven years, starting at chapter 13 where he fronts his evil intent with that seven-headed beast, the one-world government shown as the seventh head.
In chapter 17 he is shown eliminating that seventh head and taking over as the eighth head with solitary authority and demanding that he be worshipped as God. This physical person, the Antichrist, is cast into the lake of fire, along with his associate, the false prophet.
The three following horses are symbolic of the warfare, famine and death—the red, black and pale horses. As these seals are opened by the Lamb of God, the activities they picture are evident in the continuity of the Revelation. It will not be unlikely that the identity of the rider on those three symbolic horses will be the rider of that first horse, the Antichrist.
The devastating effects of judgments—wars, famine, Mark of the Beast, destruction of life on the planet and of its vegetation and other turbulence of the elements of the world— greatly reduces its population by the end of the seven years. Some think there will need to be many people, mortals, left alive to repopulate the earth during the millennium, but it is not clearly so stated. For sure there will be that third of the Jews who have been hidden in the wilderness from Satan’s angry grasp, and that group could repopulate the planet in the thousand years. See Zechariah 13:8-9:
“And it shall come to pass in all the land,’ Says the Lord, ‘that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it. I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them.”
And Revelation 12:13-17:
“Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
“So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Those three are revealed as the second, third and fourth seals. The fifth seal is opened to reveal to John a great multitude of souls standing before God:
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed” (Revelation 6:9-11).
Here we can almost hear those who have declared that so-called “pre-wrath rapture position to be a fact, saying, “Aha, see! Those are the raptured saints, escaping the wrath of God coming in the sixth seal!” But note this: The raptured saints will have resurrected bodies, not shown as “souls” and being covered with white robes later on.
This seal appears to give us an overview of the first half of the seven years of tribulation. It is almost exactly what John sees before the throne of God after the 144,000 Jewish servants are ordained in chapter 7 and being identified as those martyred in the Great Tribulation, the final half of the seven years. No doubt that these are those who did not take the mark of the beast imposed on all people by the Satan-indwelt Antichrist.
Three major things happen in that first three and one-half years and are identified specifically as being within that period of time. Chapter 7 tells of the ordaining of 144,000 special servants of God from among the tribes of Israel. Then, John is shown a picture in the last half of that chapter, just like that in the opened fifth seal:
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” (Revelation 7:9-10).
Also appearing in that first half of the Tribulation are the two witnesses who take up a position in Jerusalem. They torment the earth dwellers with their testimony of truth for the three and a half years. They are then killed and left lying in the street of Jerusalem, then miraculously rise up and are resurrected into heaven (Revelation 11:7-13).
The seven trumpet judgments are accomplished during this three and a half years, but the overview of main events is made in the opening of that fifth seal.
The opening of the sixth seal at Revelation 6:12-17 reveals the wrath of God that causes the earth dwellers to cry out in anguish and want to hide under the rocks of the mountains from the face of God. It is a fitting response to the rage of that angry red dragon who is then loosed upon the earth as well.
This is the time of the bowl judgments of much heavier content than any prior judgments. It is the time of the forced requirement of the Mark of the Beast which produces that multitude of martyrs standing before the throne of God in chapter 7, who are described as having “come out of the Great Tribulation, a description of that last half of the seven years.
The final seventh seal is opened by the Christ in chapter 8; and thirty minutes of silence filled heaven, like the lull before the storm. Seven angels then appeared, having seven trumpets—trumpets of judgment. The angels are authorized to initiate these judgments, followed by the bowl judgments, as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” is fulfilled.
But why do the events of chapter 7 appear before the opening of that seventh seal? It clearly is an expansion of the view John has at the opening of the fifth seal, showing the redemption of the tribulation saints. In Matthew 24:14 Jesus said this:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
There is a difference between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, apparently. Jesus came, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (see Matthew 4:23 and 9:35), for the latter gospel had not yet been established. Those appearing before the throne of God in those views are not in their resurrected bodies, so they are not of the rapture. Will the message of the ordained 144,000 Jewish evangelists be the gospel of the kingdom, as Jesus seems to have indicated in that Matthew 24:14 prediction?
Revelation 6, then, is an overview of the Tribulation period, the four horsemen telling of the Antichrist on his symbolic white horse, pulling together his conquered nations of the world while constant and increasing warfare, famine and death “ride” along with him in his conquering journey. The fifth seal views the first half of the seven years, and the sixth seal portrays the last half of the period when the wrath of God reaches its highest level.
That wonderful New World Order the globalists are promising will be revealed for its deception and false hope. It will be the God of the universe whose authority is made known to all people. He is supreme.
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