Outline and Questions for Reflection for October 26 & 27, 2011

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Outline and Questions for Reflection for October 26 & 27, 2011

Rev. Dr. Carey Anderson Rev. Dr. Tom Carpenter

Senior Pastor Facilitator

Reading: Revelation Chapter 5 and Notes Below


In Ch 4 & 5, when John was caught up into Heaven, he was transported forward in time to that future momentous day when Christ will receive the authority for his kingdom from the hand of his Father. Finding himself standing at that unparalleled event, Ch 6, the Lamb begins to open that scroll by breaking off each of its seven seals. As each is broken away, the amazing drama of its unique, future, preordained event or events unfolds. This is the coming of the Tribulation.

The Bible prophesies that the Tribulation will last for seven years. It is divided into two parts, each consisting of three and a half years; the latter half being called the Great Tribulation. During the seven year Tribulation, three great series of judgments will come upon the Earth as the Lamb breaks the seals off his scroll. These three groups of judgments are called the Seal, the Trumpet and the Bowl judgments. Each one consists of seven judgments. And, the last judgment of each series introduces the first judgment in the next series. So, the breaking of the seventh Seal introduces the first Trumpet judgment and the blowing of the seventh Trumpet introduces the first Bowl judgment. After the pouring out of the seventh Bowl, Christ will immediately return to Earth with great power and glory and rule and reign here for a thousand years.

When Christ breaks the first seal, the seven year Tribulation begins. The removal of the first five Seals each result in indirect judgments on the Earth. When these judgments occur, the world may not realize that they are of supernatural origin or from Christ. People may assume that the terrible things they are experiencing are just due to fate or circumstance. The sixth Seal, however, will be the eye-opener. It is the first in a series of a series of direct judgments from the Lamb. During the spectacular judgment of the sixth Seal, we arrive at the beginning of the second half of the Tribulation, called the Great Tribulation. The first six Seals cover the first half of the Tribulation and they are all found here in Rev 6.

The gospel accounts that contain Jesus’ words about the coming Tribulation are found in Mt 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 17 & 21. The material those scriptures portray exactly parallels the much expanded versions of Rev 6-19. The coming Tribulation is referred to by: Daniel, as the 70th week (Dan 9:26); Jeremiah, as the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7); Joel, as the great and terrible day of the Lord (Joel 2:31); Jesus, as great tribulation (Mt 24:21); Paul, as the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Rom 2:5).

THE FIRST SEAL BROKEN, THE WHITE HORSE RIDER Rev. 6:1-2: When the Lamb broke the first seal of his scroll; John saw the first of the famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride forth down upon the earth. The scene has now shifted from Heaven to earth but the event itself was triggered from above. The Lamb's first Seal judgment came forth in the form of a man. In symbol, John saw him ride forth on a white horse carrying a bow (as in bow and arrow) and he received a crown, after which, he immediately went out conquering and to conquer. Notice there is no explanation as to this man's identity. The reader is expected to understand his symbol based on his or her previous knowledge and study of the Scriptures. So who is he? He is the symbol of a future person (and events related to him) that is predicted in the Bible in several places. The symbol itself is an oriental one, depicting a military conqueror. In chapter 19, we will see Christ himself riding a white horse, but that is the only similarity between these two. This rider is not Christ for the following reasons: (1) it is Christ who sends this rider forth; (2) this rider appears at the beginning of the Tribulation; Christ will appear at its end; (3) this rider uses conventional weapons, a bow; Christ will fight with the sword of His mouth (19:15); (4) This rider wears a victor’s crown, when Christ appears, he will be wearing many diadems, (19:12); (5) This man initiates wars; Christ will end them; and (6) This man goes forth unnamed; but, when Christ appears, he will be wearing his name for all to see: King of Kings and Lord of Lords (19:16).

Who then is this rider on the white horse? If we look at his description and placement here in Revelation, he is among other names in the Bible, Antichrist. Early in the Tribulation, at the breaking of the first seal, Antichrist will begin his rise to power by means of military might and will ultimately conquer the world, becoming its undisputed ruler and dictator. Some scriptural references that foretell the coming of this powerful, future world ruler include: Dan 8:23-27; 11:36-39; 2 Thess 2:8; 1 John 2:18; and Rev 13:4. These scriptures prophesy the coming of Satan’s man, Antichrist. His rise to power will be the first terrible indirect judgment of the Lamb on an unbelieving world who has consistently and stubbornly rejected Christ's own lordship.

THE SECOND SEAL BROKEN, THE RED HORSE RIDER  Rev. 6:3-4: When the Lamb broke the second Seal from his scroll, another indirect judgment began to unfold on Earth. John saw a rider come forth who was mounted on a fiery red horse who would take peace from the earth. This symbol is pretty straightforward. It is a symbol for war. Upon the rise of Antichrist, every nation on Earth will quickly become embroiled in red war. This is the logical and sure result of the rise of the warrior, Antichrist, who was loosed by the first Seal. Jesus, commenting on this judgment in Mt 24:6-7, said, And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

Early in the Tribulation, multiple and devastating wars will break out on the Earth as a result from the Lamb's breaking of the second Seal. Is this World War III? Yes, if you wish to call it so. Whatever its actual number will be, however, when the Lamb breaks the second seal from his scroll the whole world will become embroiled in war and, ultimately, not even the military might of the United States will be able to stand against the Antichrist! [More on this when we get to Revelation 13.]


THE THIRD SEAL BROKEN, THE BLACK HORSE RIDER Rev. 6:5-6: Again, the symbol is a straightforward; famine will cover the earth after Christ breaks off his third Seal. In Mt 24:6, Jesus also said that famines would follow the wars and rumors of wars. Famine is typically the result of war. We see its ugly head all across the world today where wars are raging. Darfur, Somalia, and wherever men are engaged in fighting, there is no time for planting and harvesting.

This specter of the black horse rider is a graphic one. He rides forth clutching a set of food scales and, as he rides, the Father speaks from the midst of the four living creatures, decreeing the exact conditions of this worldwide famine by saying, A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine. With these words, the Lord insures a great scarcity of food on Earth during those days. You see, what the Father decrees in heaven is always a done deal. A denarius was a whole day’s wage in Jesus’ time. During the days of the black horse rider, a whole day’s wages will only buy enough food for one person. God commands no one harm the oil and the wine which accentuates the thought that these usually abundant items will become so rare and precious that special care will have to be taken to handle them.

THE FOURTH SEAL BROKEN, THE PALE HORSE RIDER Rev. 6:7-8: When the Lamb broke the fourth Seal from his scroll, John saw the personification of Death itself ride forth. It was seen riding a sickly yellowish green horse. The Greek word here translated pale is cloros (from which we get chlorine, a pale greenish chemical). Notice that Death was closely followed by Hades, the holding place of all the wicked dead. I heard Death never travels alone. Heaven or hell is always on its heels. This was a terrifying apparition indeed; Hell, loping along behind Death, eagerly gobbling up all those who Death was destroying! As spiritual beings made in the image of God, all human beings will live somewhere, for all eternity, the question is, Where? Our text says, And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill… One quarter of Earth’s population will perish following the Lamb breaking of the fourth Seal. We are told here, that death will come from one of four quarters: the sword (war); hunger (famine); death (includes all other sources of death: sickness, heart attacks, old age, accidents, etc.); and wild beasts. Wild beasts are notorious for becoming ferocious when they have fed on human flesh. Ezekiel spoke of four elements of judgment that came upon wicked Israel in his day. (Ez 14:21).

In summary, after the Lamb has broken the first four Seals off his scroll, the results will be the worst decimation by war and its by-products the world has ever seen. If it were to take place today, over a billion and a quarter people would lose their lives. These judgments are not merely designed to carry out the vengeance of God on a wicked and unbelieving humanity. They will also be sent to awaken the consciences of sinners.

One of the terrible things about this age of grace, in which you and I are presently living, is the fact that multitudes of people slip away each day into a Christless eternity. They live out their lives blithely unaware and uncaring of the eternal doom that awaits them just around the corner. Christ is really going to turn up the heat on mankind during the opening days of the Tribulation with his four Seal judgments. Many sinners may reconsider and turn to Christ. Jude 23 speaks of this method of reaching people. …but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. 

THE FIFTH SEAL BROKEN, TRIBULATION MARTYRS ARE REVEALED Rev. 6:9-11: At the breaking of the fifth Seal, the scene shifts back from Earth to Heaven where throughout the first three and a half years of the rise of Antichrist, murdered saints have been continuously arriving from down below. These saints were murdered because they were considered a nuisance. But, up in Heaven, John sees them under the altar, which speaks of the fact that God views them as sacrifices.

This is our first encounter in Revelation with Tribulation saints. It will be costly to believe in Christ during the rise of and under the reign of Antichrist. Many are Christians today because it costs them nothing. In that day it will cost people everything. 2 Thess 2:6-7 tells us that in that day the restraints on sinful man will be lifted. That being the case, men will be crueler and more pitiless than ever, as cruel as their depraved natures will allow. It will be Satan and his Antichrist's day. Both Daniel and Jesus prophesied that the saints would be given into Antichrist's hand in that day (Dan 7:21, 25 ; Mt 24:9).

God’s saints are being killed and those who are doing the murdering of God’s people are storing up for themselves vengeance against the day of vengeance (Rom 2:5). As Christ's murdered Saints continue to swell in number in Heaven, the wrath of God will be continuing to swell up above as well. Psalm 9:12 says, When he avenges blood, he remembers them; he does not forget the cry of the humble. Having suffered the horrors and executions by Antichrist, John heard the Tribulation martyr's cry out to their Lord for vengeance. Their cries resulted in the handing out of white robes to each one, followed by the Lord's words to them, that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. Our Lord is a longsuffering God that even in that awful day, when his own beloved people are being slaughtered by the score; he will continue to delay his wrath for his great mercy’s sake.

THE SIXTH SEAL BROKEN, HEAVEN IS OPENED Rev. 6:12-17: We come now to the breaking of the Sixth Seal that will open the door to the Great Tribulation. The judgments of the sixth Seal are the first direct judgment and their nature fits like a glove with all the other judgments that are prophesied to occur during the Great Tribulation. We live in the Age of Grace that began at the cross, ended the Old Testament dispensation of the Law, and continues on to this day. During this Age of Grace, direct supernatural judgments from God are unheard of. It has been well over two millennia since mankind has witnessed any direct supernatural judgments from God on Earth. Today, the only sin God is holding mankind accountable for is unbelief. (2 Cor 5:19). This is a horrendous sin that has not yet brought direct judgment on mankind, but one day will. At the end of the Age of Grace, it will come (2 Thess 1:7-9; John 3:36).

God has directly intervened in judgment on the earth in ages past. Before the Law was given, he judged mankind in Noah's day leaving only nine people alive on the earth. During the age of the Law, God intervened many times in judgment during Moses and Joshua's day and during the days of the prophets. However, from those times up to today, his judgments have been silent. That will dramatically change when Christ breaks away the sixth Seal from his scroll. God will intervene directly in judgment here on Earth for the first time in nearly three thousand years.

Jesus was also speaking of this judgment of the sixth Seal when he said in Luke 21:11, And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. The judgments of the sixth Seal will fulfill Jesus’ prediction of fearful sights and great signs in heaven. When Christ breaks the sixth Seal off his scroll in Heaven, things will occur around the globe like nothing ever before recorded in human history. They will come as: (1) a world-wide earthquake, (2) a total darkening of the sun, (3) a change in the nature of the moon that will cause it to give light all by itself, glowing with the hue of red blood, (4) a change in the universe above that will witness actual stars falling to the Earth like overripe figs, (5) the displacement of every mountain and island from their present geographic locations, (6) and (the finale) the rolling back of the sky above, revealing God Almighty and His Lamb seated upon their Throne for all to see.

It is scientifically impossible for there to be a worldwide earthquake. A total darkening of the sun is scientifically impossible. The reversal of the sun’s light to the moon is scientifically impossible. Stars, falling down to the earth, is scientifically impossible. The shifting and relocation of every mountain and every island is scientifically impossible. Finally, the rolling back of the heavens above like a scroll is scientifically impossible. But it will occur. With God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37). Do you really think that he who holds the whole universe together by the Word of His power (Heb 1:3) could not do the things described in the sixth Seal judgment? Jer 32:7 says, Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me? We don’t need scientific proof for all of this, we just need to believe the Word of God whether it makes sense to us or not. These events will be a powerful blow to proud, haughty, scientific man. At the breaking of the sixth Seal, it will all come to pass.

In vs 15-17 we see the profound results that these events will have on earth-dwellers in that day. Hiding in caves from the abject panic and utter bedlam this judgment will cause. Isaiah also prophesied of the chaos that the sixth Seal will bring in Is 2:10-21. Notice that when this actually will occur, men will not simply stare curiously up at God Almighty and the Lamb above them. Rather, they will attempt to do everything in their power to get away and hide themselves from the presence of God and his Lamb. Anyone who thinks that they can look upon Holy God and his Lamb apart from the spiritual protection which the imputed righteousness of Christ provides (1 Corinthians 5:21) is very sadly mistaken. Sinners cannot stand in the presence of Holy God and his Righteous Lamb unless they have been specifically prepared for it by being born again (John 3:3). We sinners must be re-made into a new creature, having our sins washed away by faith in Christ and having received the very righteousness of Christ himself by imputation (Rom 4:20-24). This alone prepares a man or woman to be able to stand unharmed and unafraid before Holy God. Any other scenario or scheme of man to prepare to meet his Maker will inevitably result in abject panic and ultimate destruction. Jesus alone can make you ready.

How long will the judgment of the sixth Seal last? It doesn’t say here, but probably of brief in duration, especially when the heavens are rolled back for unregenerate men to see God and his Lamb above. The events of the sixth Seal are critical to the understanding of the rest of Revelation. At the end of the sixth Seal judgment, when the heavens are rolled back like a great scroll, humankind will have historically arrived at the halfway point of the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation will have begun. Joel 2:30-31 applies here. At the beginning of the sixth Seal judgment, Joel's words, The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood will be fulfilled. Note that he prophesies that these things will take place before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. The great and the terrible day of the Lord refer to the Great Tribulation. When we read that the sun was darkened and the moon turned to blood in verse thirteen, we are still in the first half of the Tribulation. But, when the sky is rolled back like a scroll, in verse fourteen, we have entered into the second half of the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation … Joel's great and terrible day of the Lord. Therefore, the words cried out by men at the sight of God's throne and the Lamb here are eschatologically (doctrine of end time things) right on. They cried, For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Although they will not be thinking of the timing of these end-time events, they will have hit the nail on the head, for the great day of his wrath will have come indeed. And, although they will assume that they are toast, as the saying goes, it will not be the case. For just as suddenly as it all began, everything will become quiet again and they will crawl out from their holes and hiding places to find that things are relatively back to normal, except for a good number of the stars of heaven that will be conspicuously absent. And, a good deal of the world’s topography will have been changed as well.

Now, let's think for a moment about the effect that these things will have on the Jews who will be living at that time. I believe that the events at the breaking of the sixth Seal will result in the conversion of thousands of Jews in that day. Along with the rest of mankind, they too will climb from their holes having visibly seen their God and his Christ on the throne in Heaven. It will be very difficult, after that point in time, for a Jew to deny Christ is his Messiah and the King of Israel. The breaking of the sixth Seal will be the turning point, in my opinion, for many Jews and a certain 144,000 in particular, who we will shortly meet just a few verses from now.

In closing, let me say again that you and I currently live in a very stable and relatively predictable world today. God's natural laws have been unchanging and consistent for a very long time. So much so, that men have almost universally adopted an uniformitarian (defined as the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now, have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe) and secular mind set today and have taken it upon themselves to define the universe and world in which they live and, often, even the existence of God himself. They proudly declare that nature operates apart from God. At the breaking of the sixth Seal, God will dramatically confront them with the error of their thinking.

Questions for Refection:

  1. How do each of these scripture deal with the coming Tribulation? Dan 9:26; Jer 30:7; Joel 2:31; Mt 24:21 and Rom 2:5

  1. Who is the rider on the white horse? What does he symbolize? What is his significance for us today?

  1. Who is the rider on the red horse? What does he symbolize? What is his significance for us today?

  1. Who is the rider on the black horse? What does he symbolize? What is his significance for us today?

  1. Who is the rider on the pale horse? What does he symbolize? What is his significance for us today?

  1. In the 5th Seal, why are the martyrs “underneath” the altar? Why were they slain? What question did these martyrs have on their mind ? What should our attitude be toward those who persecute us? Should we forgive and forget, or should we say, “Get ‘em, God!” What happens to those who are martyred?

  1. How much of the pain you have experienced in life has been due to things within your control, and how much outside of your control? Why does God allow His loved ones to be persecuted? Is all the pain in our lives God’s will? How would you respond if a skeptic asked you this question?

  1. What groups of people constitute the seven classes of society (6:15)? Why does John include this list? What is the overarching principle in this verse? What is the response of the earth-dwellers to the cosmic catastrophes in verses 12-17?

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