The seals and the sealed
Revelation 6 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The First Seal—Rider on White Horse
Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” 2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
The Second Seal—War
3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” 4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
The Third Seal—Famine
5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
The Fourth Seal—Death
7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” 8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
The Fifth Seal—Martyrs
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
The Sixth Seal—Terror
12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
It’s not my intention to try to interpret the meaning of the visions John saw. Many scholars have spent countless hours trying to better understand and interpret the meaning of these verses. Even with that, these scholars, end up having multiple opinions about the meaning and application of these images. It seems clear that the prophetic vision John saw was and is about a time which will be a difficult and fearful time for those opposed to God. My reasoning for not concerning myself with a deeper understanding of these things is rooted in several things Jesus Himself says about the end times of this age and His return.
Jesus speaks of these times in Matthew 24, in verses 35-36 He says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Much of the focus and attention which is given to the interpretation of end time prophecy and scripture is rooted in a desire to know the time of Jesus return and to attempt to align the circumstances of our time with these times. Why would we spend so much energy and effort trying to know something that Jesus says we can’t know? Jesus continues in verses 42-44 saying: “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
Much of the focus and attention on end time scripture is really based on fear. Even as believers many people fear what is to come in those days. In Mark 13 Jesus also is speaking of these times. In verses 9-13 He says: “Be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Indeed these times could be fearful times for those who don’t know Jesus as Lord. But for those who believe, we have been given, are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who abides with us and in us, who guides us and teaches us all things. We should not live in fear of what may or will come, but rather walk in faith and confidence of knowing the one who is with us, the one who will never leave or forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31:6) the one who will be with us always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
We can neither know nor predict the day of the Lord’s return and we should not worry about what will happen. In Luke 12:25-31, Jesus says: “Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Rather than worrying about Jesus return and the last days, we are to seek His kingdom. In fact Peter says that we should not only seek the kingdom, but that we should live so as to hasten the coming of the Lord. In 2 Peter 3:10-14, he says: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God! … according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.
The term “end times” is itself misleading. Time cannot end for an eternal God or His eternal kingdom. What we really have in store is not the end of time, something to be feared but rather the end of this age, the end of the time when the devil, through sin has influence in this world. When Jesus returns it will be to forever reign and rule in righteousness and justice. That day will come, the day when: at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11) Rather than worry about that day, Jesus says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) He says: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13)
Many of the words and images of Revelation are difficult to interpret and understand. But the final words are: The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Amen.