What does Revelation 6: 1-8 mean to us now?

 

This passage warns us of what is coming in the daily sufferings of life and in the finality of end times. Be prepared, frugal, wise, and be ready for anything. This means that when times are tough and there is rationing, making sure one is a wise steward of their goods and services is important. This is a warning not to waste but get ready for food shortages that are common in war and tribulations. If Revelation has a late date, during this time Asia Minor was experiencing severe inflation because Dominitian took essential crop land away, and thus the food the people needed was not being produced. If Revelation has an early date, this was a prediction that John’s people would be facing this situation soon. 

Christ’s worthiness is proved and provided by His entering our human world as a baby first, then, as a man, lived a life on our behalf. He was killed and His blood spilled for us, for the covering of our sins. He paid the ransom for us all, regardless of nationality or position, for all who are unworthy (and all of us are unworthy). His salvation is for all who will receive His election, His payment for our sin so we can be clear and right before God. Christ pays the way for His Kingdom and our citizenship, participation, and reign in it. But, in receiving His election, we still have to take delivery of it. Hs grace is “irresistible,” but are we receiving, growing, and applying it? By His sacrifice, He became worthy to save us and now He makes us worthy before the Father. What stops us from receiving His acceptance? 

Questions to Ponder:

What needs to take place for lukewarm Christians, who are weak in their faith or too busy for Christ, to comprehend both His judgment and His grace? Do you see that in these heinous depictions His love is there玆His care is there, and He is protecting His saints? 

Do you think the horsemen are just symbols of judgment or literal angelic beings? 

Do you think it is worthwhile to spend significant time in debate over this? Does it really matter considering that the centrality and object of this passage is that God is pouring out judgment and we need to repent and be ready; the means is immaterial?

Do you have confidence in the status quo of the comforts of life or in His Sovereignty? 

What can your church do to educate people that their focus needs to be on Christ rather than on personal needs? How can your church show that Christ’s care is there, protecting? What would that look like?  

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

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The Four Main Views of Revelation 6: 1-8

 

The Preterist view sees this passage as nothing significant happening until chapter eight; this is just a “predatory show,” a seal玅breaking ceremony and introduction to what will take place soon, and thus, already has. Some see this as the Judgment of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as horsemen represent war and conquering by Rome. Others say these are the tribulations the seven churches faced (Luke 21:22). Some see the white horse as Christ and His victory. They see the second seal as a loss of peace from the land because of the fighting between the Jews and Romans and the slaughter of the Jews prior to the destruction of the Temple. In actuality, what Zechariah predicted is not necessarily about end times (Zech. 11:10-14). The black horse is the famine during the Roman siege (Deut. 28:53; Lam. 5:10; Luke 21:20-23; 23:28-29). They see the pale horse and third seal as pestilence, carnage, and death during the Roman occupation.

The Futurist view sees this passage as the state of the tribulation. Many see the while horse as Christ and His victory, but this contradicts their theory. Some see these as symbols of materialism, government, or a new world order rule in the last days. Others see this as representing the antichrist or a counterfeit leader. This is “isagesis,” or reading into the text something that is not there and taking Daniel 9:26; Luke 4:6; Rev. 13:2 and 2 Thess 2:8-10 out of context and/or sequence. The second and red horse and seal they see as war before Christ’s climatic return. Some commentators love to read the newspaper into these images and say that the red horse is Russia or Gorbachev or whoever the evil dictator of the day is. Further, the large sword is the battle of Armageddon or nuclear war, a bit of a stretch. The black horse is the famine, inflation, and calamity during the tribulation. They see the pale horse and third seal as pestilence, carnage, and death during the tribulation. “Fourth of the earth” means one quarter of the earth’s population will be killed (Matt. 24:21).

Idealist view: They also mistakenly see the white horse as Christ or the progress of the Gospel. Others see this as the universality of war, conquest, and the rise of empires that bring death and suffering, a process continually repeated throughout history (Prov. 17:11; Dan. 2:21). Others see this as the downfall of Rome. The second and red horse and seal are seen as general conquest and the propensity of man to wage war and, some say, Judgment (Amos 3:6; Matt. 26:52). Others have said the persecution of the church and application perhaps, but not what the passage means. The black horse represents the consequences of war, such as famine. Many see it as a drought (Ezek. 5:16). They see the pale horse and third seal generally as famine and death. They see these images as repeating throughout history, and when you study history, they are correct. However, this is an application, not necessarily the veracity of the meaning here in the text. They see “fourth of the earth” as a coming global catastrophe or as referring to the general woes of the world population as they live in a sinful earth. 

The Historicist view sees the white horseman as representing the period of Roman occupation and the evil of Domitian. “Peace,” in this passage, means the period of peace and prosperity that was from after the death of Domitian in 96 A.D. until after Aurelius in 180 A.D. The bow refers to the dynasty of Rome and the Cretians who were raiders and horsemen at that time. The breaking of the seven seals is considered the same view as that of the Preterist. Others say this passage represents the person and dignity of Christ, His mild judgments and grace and His triumph over all over paganism and evil. Others have said that the bow refers to the rapid spread of Christianity during this time. The see the red horse as depicting civil war and the second seal as the period 180 to 280 A.D.玆a period of many wars and unrest. “Take peace from the earth” means to deprive the Jews of tranquility; in addition, there will be further judgments. The black horse is the oppression imposed by many of the Roman emperors and the period of 218-222 A.D. when Caracalla granted citizenship to any man who could pay taxes. This caused heavy taxation and an economic depression with food shortages. They see the pale horse and third seal as the period of time from 268-248 A.D. that produced shame for the Romans because of the barbarian raiders and Rome’s inability to deal with them. “Fourth of the earth is viewed as the four Roman providences into which Rome was divided. Normally, this view is the more correct one; here, the historicists’ focus is only on the possible applications, missing the point and context of the passage.

Exegetical look into Revelation 6: 1-4

  • I watched. John serves as a witness, an important position in legal “testate” renderings then and now. A witness points to the validity of the contents of a document (Deut. 30:19; Psalm 50:4).
  • Opened the first of the seven seals. A document could not be opened until it was ready for the seals to be broken, such as in a will, the death of the testator, or the decedent (person who wrote or leaves the will). When all the seals are broken in chapter eight, then the contents are read. At this point, in chapters five to six, symbols and themes are used, pronouncing its power, scope, and coming judgment (Rev. 8:1). 
  • Come means a summons to come and see.
  • White horse. White represents conquest, and along with a horse, symbolizes the conquering king and subjugation. Some commentators argue that this represents Christ; others say the antichrist. However, these arguments are from human reasoning and not from Scripture. In ancient cultures, a white horse was a common symbol usually meaning dire subjugation, calamity, or something to be feared. The color white and/or a horse do not necessarily represent Christ in Hebrew thinking or in the Early Church. The white horse as Christ was a symbol from the Middle Ages. Many commentators from the mid 19th century and on mistakenly think of this as being Jewish or Roman, but it is not. “White,” in this context, meant “Judgment” in biblical times. White meant “purity” in midlevel times or referring to priestly dress in biblical times; this is a category mistake. It is also contradictory, as Christ is the One who opens the seal and is the Lamb. How can he also be the horseman? Also, in the fact that Christ’s reign brings peace, and not war or famine, understanding this as referring to Christ here is a major contradiction to His character and purpose. He conquers sin but does not bring pestilence (Zech. 1:8-17; 6:1-8; Rev. 19:11).
  • Held a bow was a symbol of conquest and war. This was an image of sheer terror as one is being conquered. Everything is lost, perhaps even one’s life. The biggest enemy to the Romans in Asia Minor then was the “Parthians” who were archers on white horses and invoked utter fear and chaos to the villages. Bow in the Old Testament was also a symbol of Judgment (Job. 30:11; Psalm 7:10-14; Isa. 21:15; 41:2; Jer. 6:23; 50:14, Ezek. 39:3; Zech. 10:4).
  • Conqueror…conquest proves the point that Revelation interprets Revelation. If you keep reading, observe the context, and know your Old Testament, it will tell you what the images mean, not a newspaper, a madman, or a false teacher!
  • Another horse … fiery red one. Red is a color that meant bloodshed and war, as Mars is the red planet and god of war (Zech. 1:8; 6:2).
  • Power to take peace, meaning the times will be harsh.
  • Make men slay. Chaos begets chaos; violence has the tendency to escalate itself.
  • Large sword was a symbol for judgment and war; large perhaps referred to its eminence and veracity.

Revelation 6: 1-8

Introduction 

 “The Four Horseman”   

And so it begins, Judgment from God’s throne, poured out on the world. The four horsemen embody the judgment and themes of conquest. They were symbols of an agrarian, warlike culture that engaged in war such as in the time of David when they were successful by their besieging of the enemy. These four horsemen encompass all of the most impacting judgments or sufferings a person or people could face¾that of war, famine, and death. Here, God is chastising a world that has disrespected and even forgotten Him. Its confidence is in the status quo, not in His Sovereignty. As humanity rises up against Him, He raises His Hand against those who would boldly defy Him. 

The theme for the last two chapters has been worship and how Christ is sovereign and worthy. Now, the attention turns to Judgment. This passage begins a series and is the first three of seven of judgments climaxing in chapters 8-9 and 16. The themes from this passage are also drawn from Zechariah, chapters one and six about the angelic horsemen who guard the earth and signify divine judgment. There is a sequence, first of conquest, then of bloodshed, followed by famine, and, finally, death. Such themes were common in ancient cultures and apocalyptic literature. 

How does it make you feel that God is pouring out His judgment to the world? 

What does it mean to you that Jesus is also Redeemer and Sovereign, exercising His love and protection? Are these ideas contradictory or complementary? 

Jesus is the Sacrifice for our redemption and reconciliation. He saves us, but if we reject Him, we bring judgments upon ourselves. He did more than He could or should for we who are wretched and undeserving!

What does Revelation 5: 8-14 mean to us now?

This is a picture of worship, as a congregation gathers to collectively praise and honor Christ and offer themselves to Him in sacrifice. John is actually calling his people, who are in dire straits, to forget their current struggles and picture themselves in a heavenly choir-worshiping Christ, surrounded by angels and breathtaking music, and receiving their reward and His love for their faithfulness. For the early church in persecution that was meeting in secret, fearing for their lives, this message came as a great comfort and reassurance that “doing” church and being a Christian community is meaningful, relevant, and important both for now and for eternity. The chorus we will be a part of in Him will be far greater than the “noise” we hear from our enemies and persecutors.

Did you notice that in the context of this passage, starting in chapter four, the praise for Christ grows and grows until is encompasses all that exists in the universe? Worship is what the Christian life is about. It is our goal, purpose, and call. It is where we start and finish and what we do in eternity. Heaven is a place of worship and our church is a mere shadow of this-a rehearsal that pales in comparison. Worship is our heart pouring out to His. True worship of Christ by our submission to Him with earnestness, sincerity, and serenity helps create our character and maturity, and prepares us for life both now and for eternity. It lines us up to Christ and away from our sin and agendas. We must allow our pride to yield to the necessity of being accountable to one another. The more mature people in the Lord must model and disciple the immature. All of us are equal in the Lord; however, we must never allow our maturity and growth to be a source of pride or use it to put others down! Remember, others have their eyes on us. If we stumble, others will, too. If we succeed, others will, too!

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What does it mean to your daily Christian life that Christ’s eternal power, authority, strength, and the completeness (the life He gave us) empowers us to live a life that is worthy? What would a worthy, spirit-filled, and empowered life be like for you?

  1. What is the sign of reverence and prostration that Christ asks of us? What must we do to worship Christ effectively and earnestly?

  1. How can the true worship of Christ by your submission to Him with earnest sincerity and serenity helps create character and maturity in you and prepare you for life now and for eternity?

  1. What does it mean to put Him first in all that we do in life? How do we maneuver our Church to be under His rule and kingship, rather than our committees and trends?

  1. How would you describe spontaneous and just worshipping Christ? What can you do to prevent your church’s worship from becoming a performance for themselves, for the members, or for a show of personalities? What can be done to do as we are called, that is, to be offerings of praise to the main and only audience-Christ our Lord?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 5: 8-14

Preterist view sees this passage as a start to the sentence of judgment as we will see in the following chapters. The Lamb invokes an outburst of extreme worship and introduces a new song to God’s praise and worth for our redemption. His old song refers to creation. The prayers refer to Christians pleading with God for relief in their persecutions, and their deliverance is made by destroying Jerusalem (I do not see how that spells r-e-l-i-e-f, or helps us now or in the future). They see the kingdom of priests as being the priests of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 and replaced by the Church in Hebrews 7-8. The new song is a response by the angels, counted in the millions, giving a doxology for God’s glory, for He is worthy. Then, the worship climaxes when the elders fall prostrate and say Amen.

Futurist view: sees this passage as the beginning of the end of the present age and the start of the new age and the coming of Christ. Prayer of the saints refers to “thy Kingdom be done” and the fulfillment of God’s will. The reign on earth is seen as the millennial Kingdom as the Christians will rule the earth with Christ. The worship of Christ by countless angels as in Psalm 19 and 68 indicates power/strength and is seen as His Second Coming. They see every knee as referring to angels and/or to animals, because they believe the Church will be “raptured” prior to this (even though there is no biblical support for this theory, no matter how personally appealing it is, or how hopeful I am for it!). It also ignores many other scriptures.

Idealist view: They see this passage as the fulfillment of Daniel 7:9-14, where the “Ancient of Days” is to have dominion. The incense means prayers, and the new song is the response of God to them. Also, it means the New Covenant of the God of our redemption. The reign on earth is seen as the royal priesthood of all believers. They see the worship of Christ by countless angels as mainly metaphoric because their scope of reason cannot contort enough to see that all of creation can do that, thus not taking into account the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. They do bring up a valid point that in the following passages, mankind is still cursing God and being judged. However, this vision is not limited to a time sequence or chronology. Since God lives outside of space and time, it is rather a prediction of what will eventually happen.

Historicist view: sees this passage as God being benevolent and merciful as our Redeemer and the universe rejoicing in profound adoration because of this. God’s providence depicts that Jesus is the only One who is worthy to save. The reign on earth is seen as the ascendancy of Christianity to the world in its influence and scope. Some argue that all earthy rulers will be Christians before the Second Coming, although this is a big stretch. Others say this is referring to the “a millennial” spiritual reign of Christians in our present time as we will no longer be slaves to sin.

Exegetical look into Revelation 5:12-14

This passage is also a picture of our faithfulness reaching to God’s awareness. The incense He desires is the love and trust we give to Him and to one another, and our obedience as we remain in Him. Our authenticity and closeness to Christ is what touches and resounds into eternity. These are the lyrics of the angel’s songs of what Christ has done and how we are responding.

  • Voice of many angels is the representation of a heavily choir worshiping our Redeemer and Savior as God’s great plan has been fulfilled and has succeeded (Gal. 3:13).
  • Numbering thousands upon thousands means indefinitely and countless. Those are not actual numbers, because “ten thousand” was the largest single number in the Greek then, but is a rhetorical phrase for “beyond counting.” Frequently, ancient songs would exaggerate numbers in battle such as the song of David killing “tens of thousands,” but here, it is no exaggeration (1 Sam. 18:7-8; Dan. 7:10; Heb. 12:22).
  • They sang. What starts in Heaven resounds through the entire universe, and that is the worship of Christ. This is not about style or ethnicity of worship; rather it is about how we are diverse, yet one in Him by our celebration of Christ.
  • Worthy is the Lamb is a picture of all peoples saved in Him, celebrating their redemption. All peoples, tongues, and locations are unified in Christ (Gen. 22; Ex. 12:3; Isa. 53:8; John 1:29; 3:16; 2 Cor. 8:9).
  • Receive power, as in praising the Lord, everlasting to everlasting (1 Chron. 29:10-19; Rev. 7:12).
  • Every creature in heaven and on earth. This infers that eventually, in the end times, all will submit to God. This is also an image of God’s sovereignty and how all things in the universe are submitted to Him now. He allows our pride and free will to lead us into thinking we are submitted to no one, and in refusing His election and grace, we judge ourselves in our defiance to His authority and love (Isaiah 45:23; Rom. 14:9; Phil. 2:10; Col. 2:3).
  • Said, “Amen.” Nothing can thwart God’s will and purpose. Satan thinks he can, and our pride makes us think we can, but God is totally sovereign. Our control is merely an illusion and a delusion to ourselves and others that He puts up with so we can eventually learn to surrender to Him and be trusting and obedient to Him (Gen. 18:18; 22:18; Isa. 60:1-5; Rev. 7:9-17; 10:11; 12:5; 13:7; 14:6-8; 15:4; 17:15; 18:3; 19:15; 20:3; 21:24-27).