Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Revelation 6

August 21st, 2010 by Vic

August 22, 2010

“The rule of Christ has begun”

Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.  In chapter 5 He holds the title deed to all creation and God the Father rules through Him.  If a good King is on the throne why do the righteous suffer?

John explains that Jesus is sovereign over suffering and disasters.  Suffering does not occur randomly or by chance.  When Christ breaks the seals, suffering occurs.  Suffering is part of the process of establishing the rule of Christ.  Suffering purifies the righteous and punishes the wicked.  Just as Christ’s sufferings preceded His resurrection, so our suffering precedes the victory if we are faithful and overcome.

John 16:33  In the world you have tribulation.

Acts 14:22  Before we enter heaven we will pass through tribulation.

Mark 13:5-37

Many assume the first 4 seals occur sequentially, one after another.  But a closer reading suggests they are simultaneous.  When 1:8 says “they” were given power over a fourth of the earth, he is referring to the 4 horsemen as a group.  We will see that the 4 bowls and the 4 trumpets are parallel but different.

Ezek 14:12-23, Zech 6:5-8, and Jesus’ Olivet discourse about the end times suggest simultaneous sufferings.  Throughout history deceitful leaders have caused civil unrest which leads to famine which leads to death.  How does it change our understanding if the first 4 seals are broken at the same time?  There is no time line.

The purpose of trials is to punish the idolaters and purify the righteous remnant by testing their faith.  Leviticus 26:18-28 warns of 4 judgments to idolaters.  Matt 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 warn the disciples of deception, wars, strife, earthquakes, famines, persecutions, and cosmic changes.  These 4 horsemen were released when Christ was seated on the throne and opened the 4 seals.

In the midst of chaos and uncontrollable situations, Jesus always says, “Fear not.”  If you are hurting because you have been misunderstood, if you are suffering a tragedy or disaster, if you have to die for your faith, it may seem that satan is in control.  It may look like the world is in chaos.  But Christ is still on the throne.  When the beginning of the End comes to Oregon, we need to remember that the crucified Lamb of God is in control.  Catastrophes are not a sign of God’s absence.

REV 6:1‑2  There are 6 seals in this chapter.  We will find the 7th seal in chapter 8.  The 7th seal will introduce the 7 trumpets and the 7th or last trumpet will introduce the 7 bowls of God’s wrath.

Here John is describing the first broken seal.  There is a loud authoritative voice; (maybe sounding a little like the thunder of horses hoofs) calling a horseman that is like the authoritative voice of God in 4:5.  John does not tell us which creature begins the calling.  We are not told where the horses come from or the way they go.  Zechariah tells us that.

These horses come only after the throne attendants call them.  The call is made only after the Lamb breaks the seal.  These events are ordered and rapid, but not chaotic.  The beginning of the end is initiated from a worship service in the presence of God, not an angry argument with satan.

The sealed scroll reminds us that God controls the time for this call to come.  The horse suggests swift activity.  God’s judgment will come quickly.  Horses normally suggested war.  They were usually the property of kings.

But this first horse is white.  The rider has no arrows.  His conquest is peaceful.  The crown he wears is the laurel leaves of Rome, a victor’s crown not a jeweled royal crown.  This horse is given full authority to conquer with no limits.  The next 3 horsemen have limits.  His bow is a sign of authoritative power.  A broken bow would suggest powerlessness.

The paradox of this rider is that it is a bloodless military victory.  That means there have been some traitors and spies.  That means that brother has been against brother and child against parent.

Some believe this 1st horse is the gospel being preached to all nations.  The white horse would represent righteousness and the conquests are moral victories and great revivals.  Some would add that the rider is Christ himself because he has just been identified as the overcomer and conqueror in chapter 5.  And in Rev 19:11 Christ is said to be on a white horse.  White usually describes the holiness of God or the saints.  (14 times in Revelation)

But the context of these four horses suggests that this first rider is not good, but bad.  He is a deceiver.  He is a false prophet.  He is like the final anti‑christ and his rise to power.  He carries no sword or arrows and promotes disarmament.  He calls for peace.  He says if we follow him, nobody will get hurt.  Everyone will like him.

History has revealed many such false prophets and anti‑christs.  The cause of evil can be made to look like good.  Satan can appear as an angel of light.  This horse looks like the white horse that Christ rides on in chapter 19, but it is instead part of God’s judgment on a corrupt world.  God gives evil men their desire for power through peace.  They reap what their hearts sow (2 Pet 2:12).  But it becomes a curse when men get their desires, not God’s.

The Christian should not be deceived.  Christ never promised to bring peace on this earth, but peace in our heart.  In the world there is a horseman telling people what they want to hear.  Don’t be deceived; by their fruits you will know them.  When someone says it doesn’t hurt anyone so it must be OK, be careful.  When someone says it is OK if they are both consenting adults, be careful.  When someone says that guilt is caused by your family and cultural taboos, be careful.  Or they say you need to loosen up a bit, be careful.  When someone says, “if it feels good do it,” be careful.  When someone says, 10 million people can’t be wrong, be careful.  If you allow other people to set your laws and become your god, you will have to trust them in the judgment.  If you do your own thing now, you will be on your own at the judgment too.

Jesus told us that many would come saying “Peace, peace.”  This 1st horseman represents those deceivers that God uses to purify the faithful and judge the wicked.  This rider on a white horse will promote the attitude of compromise, white lies, white sins, and white wash jobs.  His activities will look good on the outside, no blood is shed, but evil is in his heart.  Mutual consent will not make it right.  God will judge sin by letting the wages of those doing wrong, be the fruit of their labors (2 Peter 2:13).  They are their own gods, a law unto themselves.

REV 6:3‑4  The white horse conquerors by deceit.  The consequences of every war are the next 3 horses.  The red horse has power to take peace from the whole earth.  God gives him power.  God permits him to cause calamity.  This is a worldwide situation.  This time Oregon will be involved.

He has a short sacrificial sword, but does not have to use it.  When men become their own gods, when peace and harmony are removed, men begin killing each other.  This is civil war: brother against brother, friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor.  There will be massive bloodshed, not of war, but of murder.  The sword in verse 8 is a war sword.  This sword is used by murderers.

When there is disharmony between people, each begins to read evil motives into the others actions.  Without peace there is bitterness, mistrust, and jealousy.  Anger erupts when my perceived rights are violated and murder is close at hand.  When I am insecure, I assume everyone is against me.

Farmers won’t be planting crops because they could not keep the neighbors out of the garden or vigilantes would take everything for their ‘good’ cause.

REV 6:5‑6  The 3rd horse is black.  When civil war is widespread, famine and hardship is close at hand.  The Jewish way to emphasize scarcity was to “eat bread by weight”.  To sell food by weight rather than measure was a sign of scarcity.  Someone burned your crops, so you burned his crops.  People get too busy protecting themselves.  They have no time to care for crops.

Some have suggested that the scales mean excessive taxation or unjust tax collectors.

Whatever the cause, the result will be that a day’s wage will buy enough good food for one person for a day or enough barley to feed 3 people.  This is about 10 times the normal price.  The olive trees and grapes do not need much care so they still produce oil and wine.

This is interesting.  Oil and wine were considered luxuries.  They represent the comforts of life.  This may mean that the rich won’t have any trouble buying food, or it could mean that people will have plenty of the luxuries, but not the necessities.  Everyone will have the latest technology, but no food or water.  Even today, many people on welfare have nice cars, homes, and color TVs.  What will happen when welfare is gone?  What will happen when those who lose their job, get nothing?  What will happen when all benefits are cancelled?  What happens when your pension is cut off?  What happens when the government collapses?

Some writers say the red horse represented the martyrs in the church and the black horse the Christians who lost their job because they refused to make a sacrifice to Caesar.

I don’t think John is making a distinction here between Christian and non‑Christian.  Unjust killing, famine, and economic hardship affect Christians and non-Christians alike.  The people of the whole earth are affected.  Many Christians are still dying of starvation.

REV 6:7‑8  The pale yellow‑green horse is the color of death and given a name.  He is also given limited authority.  Hades/hell follows him.  Wicked men that are slain are gathered by Hell.

When peace is gone, civil war follows.  Famine follows war.  Rats and plague follow famine.  Animals get braver, wilder, and fiercer. There is rioting and looting and death.  25% of the earth will die.  That will be 150 times as many as Hitler killed.  The overall impression will be that chaos is king.  But that impression will be false.  Christians will have to live by faith and not sight.

The woes of the horsemen affect both righteous and unrighteous like the first plagues in Exodus.  The suffering of the cross was redemptive and judicial: one thief went to Paradise with Jesus, the other went to hell.  God used wicked kings to purify His people Israel.

As with Christ the apparent defeat of Christians is their spiritual victory, if they do not compromise their faith in the midst of suffering and persecution.  God can use suffering for good.

This 4th seal reaches to the borders of things invisible.  The 5th seal takes us into the invisible world.  It reveals the church at worship in heaven.

REV 6:9‑11  Praise God!  Those who die in Christ, still live!  While Hell gathered his dead, the Christians found a place of rest just outside the Throne room, close to the presence of God.  They continue to see history from God’s point of view, but still sing a time question.  The songs  of Revelation summarize the themes of the preceding events.  Christians were being persecuted in John’s time.

The opening of this seal reveals a human response to suffering.  These had taken up their cross and followed Jesus.  Their blood had been poured on the Altar of Incense.  Their souls were secure under the altar.

The song of martyrs is often my song.  “Hurry up Lord.”  How long are you going to wait for justice to reign supreme?  Lord I want Your reputation to be corrected.  Lord demonstrate Your holiness and bring justice.  Lord I want to be understood.  How long will you wait before they understand that my heart was right and they persecuted me unjustly?  I know in my head that God is in control and that He can intervene at any time, but my heart often cries, “hurry up a little.”

The cry is not a cry for revenge but for understanding.  The martyrs want God to make clear to the world why they chose to die rather than deny faith in Jesus.

We often get impatient for healing.  We get impatient for people to change.  We get impatient for circumstances to change.  We get impatient for comfort.  We get impatient to be understood.

The answer is still the same, “In His time.”  Just like he tells the martyrs, He tells us, “Be patient until my plan is completed.”  God is in control.  The persecutors will someday see the righteous for who they really are.

Note the words:  LORD ‑ absolute owner;  HOLY ‑ God wants to clean things up.  He’s into recycling;  TRUE ‑ won’t be unjust or make any mistakes;  JUDGING ‑ Court is in session.

This preliminary hearing gave these Christians white robes.  But they were sequestered and told to wait because the plan of God is not completed yet.  There are still believers willing to die for their faith.  God has a complete group in mind.  He wants to give all a chance.  He is not willing that any should perish.

REV 6:12‑17  After the song of martyrs is sung, the 6th seal is broken and John sees the mounting tribulations.  In chapter 5 there was a crescendo of praise; in 6 there is a crescendo of tribulation.  The only other time creation flees the presence of God is the final judgment scene mentioned in 20:11.  The parallel indicates that these verses depict the final judgment.  In the beginning Adam and Eve tried to get away from God.  In the end sinful man will try to flee from God.

The forces of nature are loosed with the 6th seal and 6 objects of nature are mentioned, then 6 classes of frightened people are mentioned.  This seal brings a massive earthquake and a solar and lunar eclipse, which seems to affect the stars, which in turn puts a hole in the atmosphere.

Six events occur.  Six classes of people are mentioned.  This is the 6th seal.  Six is the number of man.  He was created on the 6th day.  The 6th seal brings judgment to man.  God will vindicate His reputation at the final judgment.  The people of the world will be asking, “Who can stand?”

For the Jew the ultimate chaos was a world of falling stars.  The proof and guarantee of God’s faithfulness was seen in nature and the heavens.  Take away the heavens and the light and there is chaos.  We use the phrase, “When all hell breaks loose.”

When the 6th seal is opened, all the satellites will fall.  All TV, commerce, communication and transportation will be terminated.  The heavens will be opened.  There will be one big hole in the sky.   Radio waves cannot be bounced around the atmosphere.  All of our trucks, ships and planes will be grounded without locators.

The heavens will be rolled back as a torn scroll.  It will be noisy.  Men may be able to see spiritual reality with physical eyes.  With the sky ripped open the sun will no longer be a friend.  Ultraviolet rays will burn the flesh.  Men will desire caves.

Verse 14 describes musical mountains and God is playing the tune.  The smug composure of man will be gone.  Self‑security will be shattered.  Men’s logic will dissolve.  Man will stand vulnerable before his Maker.  But rather than confessing his sin and repenting, most will try to run away from God.  Rather than pleading for mercy and grace, they will find it easier to commit suicide.

The rich will be powerless.  The beginning of the end will be obvious to everyone.

God has not changed.  He judged sin in the Garden of Eden.  He judges sin today.  He will judge all sin at the end.  The good news is that if we confess our sin He will forgive us our sin and remember it no more.  By faith in Jesus Christ we can stand blameless in the presence of God.

I don’t know who the deceiving white horses are today.  Don’t follow every fast talker.  Seek Jesus and Him only.  False christs promise peace, but deliver famine and death.  Make a choice right now to follow Jesus.  It will not be easy.  You will suffer but know real peace, now and forever.

If you want peace and protection throughout the last days don’t be deceived.  Make sure your relationship with God is up to date.  Jesus came, died, and rose again, just as the Scripture said He would.  By believing that in your heart, and committing your life to follow Him, God will forgive your sins and you will be able to stand in the last days.

Who can stand (6:17)?  Chapter 7 says, he who has the Holy Spirit in his heart.  Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  The Phoenician letter for the word “seal” is “T” or a cross.

How long O Lord?  Time is in God’s control.  He’s waiting for more to come to repentance.  The suffering you are experiencing is purifying you in preparation for eternity or punishing you and calling you to repentance to save you from hell.  God is on the throne and cares for you.

Have you seen any rapture yet in Revelation?

John 16:33  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

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