The Revelation - A Book With 7 Seals ?
/ Ewald Frank
7. Chapter 6 - The opening of the seals, The unveiling of the power of the antichrist, A general view
- Chapter 1 - Introduction, The Day of the Lord, Origin and significance of the prophetic word
- Chapter 2 - The seven messages of the resurrected Lord, First message, Keep the first love
- Chapter 3 - The fifth message, The Reformation Age, Strengthening the weak in faith
- Chapter 4 - A glimpse into heaven
- Chapter 5 - The mysterious book with the seven seals
- Chapter 6 - The opening of the seals, The unveiling of the power of the antichrist, A general view
- Chapter 7 - The sealed from the Jews
- Chapter 8 - The seventh seal, The silence in heaven, Mercy seat becomes judgement seat, Introduction to the seven trumpet judgements, The first four trumpets
- Chapter 9 - The incomparable torment, The fifth trumpet the first woe
- Chapter 10 - An intermediate vision The open book, The Lord as the Angel of the covenant
- Chapter 11 - The second intermediate vision, The measuring of the temple and the ministry of the two witnesses
- Chapter 12 - The woman clothed with the sun, Christ and His Own, Satan the red dragon and his followers
- Chapter 13 - The visions of Daniel in review of and in connection with the Revelation
- Chapter 14 - The Lamb and the sealed 144,000
- Chapter 15 - The seven bowl judgements and the multitude at the crystal sea
- Chapter 16 - The seven bowls of wrath, The final judgements of Gods indignation
- Chapter 17 - The woman riding on the beast
- Chapter 18 - The destruction of the great Babylon
- Chapter 19 - The rejoicing in heaven over the destruction of Babylon, The marriage of the Lamb
- Chapter 20 - Binding of Satan, Completion of the first resurrection by the martyrs, The Millennial Kingdom
- Chapter 21 - Announcing of the new heaven and the new earth, The glory of the New Jerusalem, The terrible fate of the lost
- Chapter 22 - The river of life and the trees of life, The paradise-like condition during the Millennial Reign
- Appendix - The 70 weeks of Daniel and the current events with Israel in the light of Bible prophecy
In chapter six we find the description of the first six seals. In the book «The Revelation of the Seven Seals» they are dealt with thoroughly. We therefore shall only briefly touch on them as we have done with the seven church age messages.
In the first four seals, a rider is shown on a horse, but each time the horse has a different colour. It is noteworthy in this connection that the four living creatures stand on God's side before the throne, and these four riders are on the opposite side serving the adversary. Since time began a horse has always signified the declaration of war. Here we see the adversary of Christ who started his religious campaign against the victorious campaign of our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth.
The Prophet Zechariah speaks of four horses which later were shown before four wagons (Zech. 2 + 6). The same colours are seen with the four horses in the four seals. In Zechariah it deals with the dispersing and persecution of the Jews, and the book of Revelation deals with the persecution and war against the true Church. The demonic powers which served in the Roman Empire to destroy and persecute Israel, are the same ones persecuting the New Testament Church from the very beginning. The imitator of Christ rides on the four different horses. The colour always speaks of the developments during a certain period.
The Prophet Joel saw these destroying forces, the antichrist powers, as four different insects: the palmer worm, the locust, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar (Joel 1: 4). The New Testament Church represents Christ in His fullness. He is the Fruit Tree, the Tree of Life, and we are in Him. He is the Vine, and we are the branches (Jn. 15). The adversary has tried to destroy this divine Fruit Tree in four stages through the four horse riders, but God promised by the same prophet to restore this Tree (Joel 2: 25).
The first three seals are already history; the fourth seal extends right to the end of the New Testament Church. The fifth seal concerns itself, as we shall see, with the Jews. The sixth seal has to do with the space when all the judgements of wrath will fall. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpet judgements which fall into the time space of the 6th seal.
As the Lamb was about to open the first seal, one of the four living creatures cried with a voice of thunder, "Come!" John then records what he saw and heard: "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." (6: 2).
Behind this picture no one can suspect something evil unless it is revealed by the Holy Spirit. This was the beginning of the power of the antichrist in its first insignificant stadium. The white colour of this horse shows that at first this spirit was an innocent doctrine and not yet stained with blood. It was not yet able to be so, because in the beginning it did not possess the worldly power. At first this movement presented itself in a religious and Christian-like manner. The rider however was then manifested as a deceiver. He had a bow but no arrow and therefore, he was only a bluffer. Contrary to Christ Whose name is "The Word of God" (Rev. 19: 13), the adversary has no name, only titles.
Paul already spoke of these men, who would come up with strange doctrines and draw disciples after themselves (Acts 20: 29-31). This religious movement obviously soon preached another Jesus, another Gospel, and was under the influence of another spirit (2 Cor. 11: 3-4). This faction is outside the Word and the Gospel of Christ, and therefore under a curse (Gal. 1: 6-9). There is no need to make claims to be an apostle, or even to act in the place of Christ (2 Cor. 11: 13-15). The true Church, founded in God's Word, has always examined this false movement, comparing it with the message and practice of the first apostles, and therefore found these false teachers to be liars (Rev. 2: 2, a. o.).
As the development took its course, the unscriptural teachings of the Nicolaitans and whatever they practised was then vested in the one head, who was to represent this first organised Christian religion. Only thereafter he received a crown. Doctrines and deeds cannot be crowned, only a person by whom they are represented. This man of the false system went forth to fight and conquer the true believers.
The development described in the first seal extended into the first centuries. On all levels this movement which deviated from God's Word made headway, until it finally became the recognised state church with the privilege of earthly power since the time of Constantine. From then on the church was serving the state and the state was serving the church. The first seal covers about the space of the first three church ages.
From the very beginning this antichrist power existed parallel to the true Church of Jesus Christ. It started as a very insignificant doctrine of the Nicolaitans (2: 6). John referred to this branch as he wrote, "They went out from us, but they were not of us " (1 Jn. 2: 19). Those who seemed to be believers were deceived by the enemy after they were separated from the biblical church and went astray. Later they became prey to the teachings of Balaam (2: 14), which brought spiritual death, and finally suffered the woman Jezebel who was a false prophetess (2: 20) to be their spiritual leader.
At the opening of the second seal, the second living creature cried, "Come. And there went out another horse that was red; and power was given to him that sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword." (6: 4).
John did not see as in the first phase a white horse but rather a red one. The time of the peaceful co-existence of these two movements was now over for ever. The spiritual-religious movement which was antichrist in word and deed was now having worldly power and therefore, the persecution of the true believers began and the sword was being used. As all should know from church history, much blood was shed by organised fanatical religion.
This rider did not have God's Word as the Sword of the Spirit, but rather was using a worldly sword by worldly power. Peace was taken from the earth, nations and tribes fought one another in the name of religion. In the second phase this religious but antichrist power was symbolised by this rider. That period speaks of the time of persecution. This fact is shown by the red colour of the horse. The blood of the martyrs was shed. The second seal falls into the time when people were forced to accept the Catholic state-religion and extended right into the Dark Ages.
At the opening of the third seal the third living creature cried, "Come. 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 living creatures say, A
measure of wheat for a denarius, and three measures of barley for a denarius,
and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine."
After the time of subduing those who believed in a great way, a period of terrible suffering set in. Death took its prey in one way or the other richly. The Dark Ages are symbolised by the black horse. The rider is the one who has assumed power, for he is holding the scale in his hands. Now everybody was depending on the welfare of this man and the system he represented. He decided who would or would not receive some thing. Those who did not submit to him had to suffer. They were actually a great number, and therefore death followed his campaign.
As the description shows, there was a time of natural shortage, "A measure of wheat for a denarius, and three measures of barley for a denarius". Oil and wine however could not be hurt. In a figurative way of speaking, in the spiritual realm oil symbolises the Holy Spirit and the revelation of the Word of God given by the same. And wine speaks of the stimulation a person receives through a true revelation received from the Spirit of God. In any case the true believers were deprived of the natural privileges.
The third seal extends through the Reformation period into the eighteenth century, which is known as the Age of Enlightenment whereupon the separation of church and state followed, which led to a limitation of the religious power.
At the opening of the fourth seal the fourth living creature cried with a loud voice, "Come. And I looked and, behold, a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hades 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." (6: 8).
In this fourth stage, the outward religious and Christian power is in reality a worldly super-power, and will last to the end of the present church age.
In the last and fourth stage of development which exists now, the first three colours are merged. If one mixes the first three colours together, we then have the fourth one. There is nothing seen of the white which started innocently at the beginning; also nothing of the blood-red in its second stage; again we cannot see exactly the third stage represented by the black horse. At the end, all these colours which signify the actual state of certain periods cannot be identified. It is a pale colour represented by the last horse and its rider. This rider is called "Death". No wonder the Scripture says, " and Hades followed with him." As certain as divine life comes through Jesus Christ, spiritual death comes through the antichrist and his system.
In this fourth rider, we see the constellation describing the end-time, as we now see it with our own eyes. Humanity does not even think that this world institution is being spoken of in the four seals. Everything is united therein. Sometimes it looks and talks like a lamb, then there are persecutions and the masses are being ruled. The pre-eminence is seen on all levels. There is still a form of religion left, but no trace of God's power is found therein. The actual goal is the executing of worldly power under a religious cloak. This is made plain by the proud rider on the horse.
The first four seals uncover the antichrist developments right from the beginning of the New Testament. The four stages were already mentioned by the Prophet Joel, who spoke about the four insects trying to destroy this fruit tree of God (Joel 1: 4). The Prophet Zechariah mentioned these developments by referring to the four horses (1: 8 and 6: 2-5), also being symbolised by the four horns (1: 18-22). The antichrist himself is the head of this world institution and is represented in each of the riders holding the reins in his hands. That is to say, the religious power is ruling and subduing the earthly power of which he is making use.
At the opening of the fifth seal there is no more cry of a living creature. This is not possible, because this seal is not in connection with the New Testament Church. The fifth seal falls partly in the time of grace as touching the Jewish martyrs of the past, and the second part will be fulfilled after the Bride Church is taken to Glory. The fullness of the Jewish martyrs will be in the great tribulation. Those who belong to the New Testament Church go into paradise after leaving this earth. The souls of the Jewish martyrs are under the altar. They cannot as yet enter the Glory of God, because they did not accept the reconciliation in Christ.
"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.
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 fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (6: 9-11).
Those Jews who were martyred in the past 1,500 years, including the 6 million being killed during the twentieth century, did not have the testimony of Jesus Christ. They had the testimony of God's Word as entrusted to Israel. They are calling for vengeance, crying out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ are reconciled with God and do not cry for vengeance, but rather pray for those who persecuted them as did their Redeemer in saying, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Lk. 23: 34). This was exemplified by Steven's prayer when he was stoned by his enemies, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." (Acts 7: 60).
The souls under the altar were murdered because of the Word of God, and the testimony they had as Jews. They waited for the coming of the Messiah. As already mentioned, they did not have the revelation that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was their Messiah. Therefore, they are not part of the Redeemed of the New Testament Church. God has a special way with His people Israel, according to His plan of salvation that He laid down from before the foundation of the world. The people of Israel are predestined to be God's true witness since He made a covenant with them. They are to bear witness of Him, the only true God.
Renowned church history experts have taken the view that Israel was put aside by God and the Church is taking its place. That is totally unscriptural. God hardened Israel and blinded them for our sake so that our eyes could be opened that we might partake of His salvation. God's callings and gifts with Israel cannot be taken back. They are irreversible and God does not repent of any decision He made (Rom. 11). The Jewish martyrs are saved although they did not experience a conversion to Christ. This is because they believed with all their heart and were convinced of the coming of the Messiah and waited to see His day.
In the second part of the text pertaining to the fifth seal we are clearly told that these martyrs have received a white garment, but should wait for a little while until their fellow servants and brethren have also been killed as they were. Those belonging to the New Testament Church are always referred to as "sons and daughters". Those from Israel are called "servants and handmaidens". This terminology is found distinctly in Acts 2: 17-18 in connection with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which takes place on both, first upon sons and daughters, then upon the servants and handmaidens.
The sixth seal has to do with the end phase of the great tribulation when the Day of the Lord is ushered in. To understand the successive order of the predicted events, they are as follows: First the Bride Church will be taken into Glory. About that time the covenant between the Vatican, Israel, the PLO and the Arab neighbouring states will be made, and the three and a half years ministry of the two prophets in Jerusalem will commence. After the completion of their ministry, the 144,000 Jews will be ready on Mount Zion. The covenant will be broken and the two prophets will be killed. Then the three and a half year period of the great tribulation and persecution especially upon the Jews (Dan. 7: 25) and the power of the antichrist all over the nations will be experienced (Rev. 13: 5-7).
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken" (Mt. 24: 29). During that short space of time many world-wide catastrophes and global changes will take place. During this time also will be the seven trumpets and seven vials. In the sixth seal, heaven and earth will be shaken, and undergo a purifying process. Then will happen what is being feared now: meteorites will fall down, the whole universe will be shaken.
"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 like blood;
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 heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." (6: 12-14).
At that time there will be terrible confusion and distress on earth. What people never imagined of will suddenly come upon the whole world. That is when the time of the Gentiles who have trodden down Jerusalem is finished (Lk. 21: 24). "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." (vv. 25-26).
In the following verses the despair is being expressed, "And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, 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?" (Rev. 6: 15-17).
The teaching about the Rapture taking place after the great tribulation is unscriptural. We are told that Jesus comes to deliver " us from the wrath to come." (1 Th. 1: 10b). "For God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Th. 5: 9 a. o.).
The grace of God which was given to all humanity through reconciliation and forgiveness is then over for ever. The throne of grace turns into the throne of judgement. The meek Lamb will then become the sovereign Judge. The wrath of God breaks forth at the beginning of the Day of the Lord and includes all the preliminary judgements and the cleaning up, before the Millennial Reign commences. "For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6: 17). Many Bible references throw light upon these last events and also show the connection wherein they are to happen. As predicted by the Prophet Isaiah, the earth then will move to and fro:
"The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is thoroughly dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a booth; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again." (24: 19-20).
In this text we are told what will happen at the end of this age, but as other Scripture passages show forth, thereafter the whole creation will be placed back into a most glorious state and participate in the Millennial Reign. Whatever cannot stand in God's presence will have an end, and whatever is pleasing unto Him will take its place. All will be fine again.