Go to Verse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
In the seven seals of Revelation, as in the seven churches and seven trumpets, John was shown a delineation of conditions which would characterize the successive stages of the Christian era. By studying the outline given in these prophecies, we are able to see where we stand in the stream of time.
Verses 1 and 2
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
This is a description of the advance of the gospel in the first century. Through the missionary zeal of the early church the gospel "was preached to every creature which is under heaven" (Colossians 1:23). The white horse indicates the church in its original purity. The crown, or victory wreath, shows its conquest over the power of the enemy.
Verses 3 and 4
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
The second seal reveals a red horse. In this bloody scene, peace is taken from the earth, and many are killed with a great sword. From the beginning of the second century until Constantine's edict of A.D. 313, Christianity was illegal throughout the Roman empire, and Christians were terribly persecuted.
Verses 5 and 6
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
The opening of the third seal provides us a view of Christianity's status for the 200 years following A.D. 313. The horse, now black, reveals that the church had lost its original purity. Its rider holds a pair of balances. A voice is heard declaring that the amount of money which previously was equivalent to a full day's wage (Matthew 20:2), is now only worth a quart of wheat. What an appropriate illustration of how, through Constantine's efforts to blend it with paganism, Christianity had been cheapened. Previously, to declare yourself a "Christian" might cost you your life. Now the word had so lost its value that every vile pagan walking the street was a member of the church.
Verses 7 and 8
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
The opening of the fourth seal ushers in a pale horse. Here is a church that is lifeless and pale. Its rider is Death, and the Grave follows closely behind. This represents the period of the Dark Ages during which the spark of true godliness was almost entirely extinguished. "And Power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." The tribulation of those days was so terrible that Jesus said, "Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved" (Matthew 24:22).
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
When the fifth seal is opened, the figure changes. The cumulative deaths of millions of God's people through centuries of oppression are now pictured as crying out to God, calling for justice. "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" The answer is given that the dead must "rest yet for a little season."
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
The first five seals have brought us down to the mid 1700's. We now turn our attention to the signs of the end which would then appear under the opening of the sixth seal.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
"A great earthquake"
The most devastating earthquake in the history of the world occurred on November 1, 1755. Centered at Lisbon, Portugal, its convulsions were felt throughout much of Europe and north Africa. Historical information
"And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair"
Prophecies of the sun darkened
On May 19, 1780 the American colonies experienced the famous Dark Day. Historical information
"And the moon became as blood"
"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come." Joel 2:31.
In the intense darkness of the night of May 19, 1780, a dim moon, barely visible, appeared, the color of blood. Historical information
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
"And the stars of heaven fell"
This prediction was fulfilled on November 13, 1833 when all of North America witnessed the most spectacular meteor shower ever observed. Historical information
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
Verses 1-13 have all been fulfilled in their order. We are now living between verses 13 and 14 in the prophecy.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?