Thus far in our study in the book of Revelation we have been through two of the three divisions of the book. At the risk of being perhaps overly repetitive, I call your attention once again to Revelation 1:19. John the Revelator writes, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” [Rev. 1:19KJV] This is the three-fold division within the book. Chapter 1covered the things John had seen, his vision of the resurrected, glorified Christ. Chapters 2 and 3covered the things that were occurring in John’s day as it regarded the seven churches. We know there were more than seven churches located in the Roman province of Asia Minor during this time period. As we have stated, these seven were chosen very specifically because things happening in them corresponded to seven distinct periods of Church History. They have a prophetic aspect to them, and give the reader a panoramic overview of the entire Church Age all the way from the Apostolic church, to the Apostate church present on the earth at the time of the resurrection of the just, and gathering together in one of all living saints.
As we look at chapters 4 and 5the scene has changed from earth to Heaven, as the Church has been caught away and resides now in Heaven. The Church will not be present on this planet during the event described by Jesus as Great tribulation. I know there are those who disagree with me, and that is your right and privilege. However, in my study of the prophetic Word over these many years now, this is the scenario that I see. There will be many who are born-again during the Great tribulation. These are the tribulation saints described in chapter 7. This is a different group than the company of the redeemed who will be present on the earth at the time of the harpazo, or catching away of the Church. We see more concerning this group a bit later.
In chapter 5we saw a scroll sitting upon the right hand of the Father as He sat on His Throne. This was a scroll that contained writing on both sides, sealed with seven seals. As we stated last time, we see many documents of this type in Jewish history. They are deeds to a piece of property. When one found writing on both sides, it was indicative of the fact the property owner had defaulted on his financial obligations, which were listed on the back side of the deed. If at anytime during the ensuing seven years the property owner was able to pay the debt, the seals would be removed, and the property would be returned to him. This seven-sealed scroll is the title deed to planet earth. The seven seals in this case represented man’s sin debt. Earth was originally given to God’s man, the first man, Adam. Through Adam’s overt act of rebellion and disobedience, control of the earth was transferred to Satan, who has wreaked havoc now for almost 6,000 years.
The time to redeem the earth from the curse has come by the time we get to chapter 5. A search is made for some man to open the scroll and break the seals, thus signifying the debt has been paid. As we see, no man is found worthy to open the scroll and to loose the seals. This causes John to weep with convulsive sobs, the thought of a fallen; outlaw spirit, Satan, ruling the earth forever was overwhelming. At this point one of the elders steps forward with some glorious news! We read, And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.[Rev. 5:5KJV]
We see something interesting in verse 6. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.[Rev. 5:6KJV] “Lamb” here is the Greek word, arnion; which is best translated as a young lamb, a lambkin, or littlelamb. There is a great truth that we dare not miss here. Notice the verse says, as it had been slain. So important is the sacrificial offering of Christ in the sight of God that he is still represented as being in the very act of pouring out his blood for the offenses of man. What a glorious truth!
says that the Lamb, came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. Let’s jump ahead to chapter 6. Verse 1 says, 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.Here with the opening of the first four seals we are introduced to the infamous, Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse. The opening of the first seal signals the beginning of the worst period of time the world has ever known, in fact Jesus said such a time would never be seen again. [See Matt. 24:21] I speak of course of the seven-year period of the Great tribulation, the result of the rebellion and sin of mankind.
says, 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. chapter 19, we see a man on a white horse, who is clearly the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. This rider in chapter 6has been wrongly identified as Christ, but we know by the company he keeps that he is certainly not Jesus. He is an impostor, the last in a long line of false messiahs. Please notice what is in his hand, and that which is on his head. In his hand we see a bow. A bow typically conjures up images of a bow and arrow. That may be the thought here. However, I would like to suggest another possibility. The first time a “bow” is mentioned in scripture, it refers to a rainbow. The rainbow of course is the token of God’s promise that He would never again destroy the world with a flood. [See Gen. 9:13]
Let’s think about this for a moment. Right after the Church is caught away (raptured), Daniel says a man will come, making a covenant with Israel, a seven-year peace treaty. The whole world will aaplaud! At last, someone has solved the problem of Jerusalem. There is peace between the Israeli and the Palestinian, between the Arab and the Jew. Thus, this bow could be the same type displayed to Noah – a rainbow; a symbol today of peace.
How about that which is on his head? The Bible says, and a crown was given unto him…Greek word translated “crown” is stephanos. A diadem is a permanent crown. A stephanos, on the other hand, is a wreath made of olive branches that only lasts a little while. So, how will this one riding a white horse, carrying a bow, and wearing a crown of olive branches conquer? As a peacemaker. [See Dan. 8:23 – 25] That is exactly what Jesus prophesied when He proclaimed, I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.[John 5:43KJV]
Following closely behind the rider on the white horse, is the rider on the red horse. 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.[Rev. 6:4KJV] Verse 3 us, And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. clearly shows that Christ Himself is orchestrating these Tribulation events. God is not sitting by passively and just watching things unfold. Such omnipotence and omniscience will be and is certainly involved in the affairs of man.
The white horse symbolized peace obtained through negotiation and covenant. The antichrist will come with a facade of peace. The red horse symbolizes war. The facade of peace is dropped at this point. The most brutal conquering of nations begins to take place at this time. The fact that this rider is given a “great sword” lets us know that the Lord allows all of this. The true intentions of the antichrist will be revealed at this time. The evidence seems to suggest that he will first attack Egypt, and Israel will come later, as he turns on her with fury. The Bible says, and many nations shall be overthrown.[See Dan. 11:40 – 43] More people will be killed during the Great Tribulation than at any other point in history. Conceivably, there could be as many as three billion people killed during this period of time. They will die from war, pestilence, disease; but it would seem that the majority will be as a result of war. That’s why Jesus said, For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.[Matt. 24:21 ]
Next time we will look at the other two riders, and the stark implications for the world’s not too distant future.