The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE FIRST FOUR SEALS ARE OPENED
- We saw last
week that in chapter 5 John saw a seven-sealed book in the hand of Christ (5:1),
and that only the Lord Jesus Christ was able to open that book
- Here in chapter
6 the first six seals are opened with the resultant catastrophic events
occurring in the earth. In
Revelation 6, the tribulation has begun, and we are introduced to the four
horsemen of the Apocalypse.
- This evening we
will look at these four horsemen, and then next week, Lord willing, look at the
fifth seal and the sixth seal.
- Many Bible
teachers say the tribulation will begin when the antichrist, referred to in
Daniel 9:26 as "the prince that shall come," makes a covenant (a peace treaty)
with the nation Israel.
- That covenant
is not referred to in the book of Revelation, but the antichrist is seen here in
Revelation 6:2 as the rider on a white horse, going forth conquering, and to
- The antichrist
appears when the Lord Jesus Christ opens the first seal (6:1). The opening of
the seven seals ushers in the seven-year tribulation period, the terrible
judgments that will fall upon this earth after the Church has been raptured (cf.
- It is
significant that the church, which is very prominent in chapters 2 and 3, is not
mentioned again until 19:7-9, where we see the church pictured as the bride of
Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
- The marriage
supper takes place at the end of the tribulation.
- The rapture of
the church takes place between Revelation 3 and 4.
- There is a remarkable similarity between the prophesies
of Revelation chapter 6 and the those given by our Lord in the Olivet
- Matthew 24 parallels the events described here in
- In both Matthew 24 and Revelation 6, the order is
- false christs (Rev. 6:1, 2;
Matt. 24:4, 5, 23-25)
- war (Rev. 6:3, 4; Matt.
- famine (Rev. 6:5, 6; Matt.
- death (Rev. 6:7, 8; Matt.
- martyrdom (Rev. 6:9-11;
Matt. 24:9, 10, 16-22)
- the sun darkened, the moon
darkened, and the stars falling (Rev. 6:12-14; Matt.
- a time of divine judgment
(Rev. 6:15-17; Matt. 24:32--51).
THE FIRST SEAL (6:1, 2).
- As the first
seal is opened, John in his vision hears "the noise of thunder," symbolic of a
- John Walvoord
says, "On a warm summer day one can hear thunder in the distance even though the
sun is still shining where he is. The approaching dark clouds and the roar of
the thunder presage the beginning of the storm" (The Revelation of Jesus
- The book of
Revelation is in chronological sequence, and the events given here indicate a
succession of events.
- The six seals
unfold successively in a chronological pattern. Out of the seventh seal will
come the series of seven trumpets, and out of the seventh trumpet will come the
seven vials of the wrath of God.
- John Walvoord
points out that, "Different actors are prominent, namely, the Lamb opening the
seal, the angels sounding the trumpets, and God Himself pouring out the vials.
Actually, however, the seven seals comprehend the whole, as all the trumpets and
all the vials are comprehended in the seventh seal. The seven-sealed book
therefore is the comprehensive program of God culminating in the second coming
- In verse 2,
John sees a white horse on which a man is sitting carrying a bow. The rider, to
whom a crown is given, is pictured as going forth conquering and to
- In Biblical
times it was customary for a conqueror to ride in triumph seated on a white
commentators, especially those who follow the "historical" method of
interpretation, believe this rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:2 is the
Lord Jesus Christ. Commentators who
follow the "historical" method of interpretation regard the book of Revelation
as history rather than prophecy.
- However, some
who take the historical position regard these prophecies as future and interpret
Revelation 6:2 as a picture of Christ as the conquering King of kings and Lord
of lords (cf. Rev. 19:11-16).
- The correct interpretation is that the rider on the
white horse is actually the “prince that shall come” of Daniel 9:26, who will
head up the revived Roman Empire and ultimately become the world
- The rider on the white horse will appear at the
beginning of Daniel's seventieth week. He is not the Lord Jesus Christ, but the
counterfeit of all that Christ is or claims to be.
- This is why he is seen in the role of a conqueror,
riding on a white horse. Our Lord
said to the Jews in John 5:43, "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."
- When we go out into the neighborhood to give out tracts
and preach the Gospel, most people slam the door in our faces. But when the antichrist comes riding in
on his white horse, these same lost sinners will jump for joy.
- The antichrist is referred to in the Book of Revelation
as "the beast." Revelation 13:4
says, "they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is
able to make war with him?"
- The whole world is being prepared for beast
worship. And devil worship too, for
that same Scripture says, "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto
the beast: and they worshipped the beast..." (13:4).
- This rider on the white horse cannot be the Lord Jesus
Christ, because His return to earth will not bring war, famine, and
strife in its train.
- The first rider, like the three other riders, is a
personification of a judgment to be sent upon the
- By comparing Revelation 6:2 with prophecies in the book
of Daniel (7:8, 20; 8:9; 11:36-43), we see that the antichrist will conquer the
world by warfare.
- Today the stage is being set for the Battle of
Armageddon, and sinners are being programmed to receive the
- They are being programmed by the politicians, by the
United Nations, through the public schools, through the liberal churches, and so
- Listen to this quote from P.H. Spock, who was the
premier of Belgium: "The truth is that the method of international committees
has failed. What we need is a person, someone of the highest order or great
experience, of great authority, of wide influence, of great energy. Let him come
and let him come quickly. Either a civilian or a military man, no matter what
his nationality, who will cut all the red tape, shove out of the way all the
committees, wake up all the people and galvanize all governments into action.
Let him come quickly. This man we need and for whom we wait will take charge of
the defense of the West. Once more I say, it is not too late, but it is high
- Notice Mr. Spock said his coming superman "will take
charge of the defense of the West." According to the book of Daniel, the
antichrist will emerge as the head of the revived Roman Empire, i.e. the united
states of Europe.
- Let me give you a couple more quotes and then we will
move on. One of the leaders of the European Common Market, a man by the name of
Henry Speck, has said: "We don’t need another committee. We want a man of
stature to hold the allegiance of the people and lift us up out of the economic
morass we have gotten ourselves into…Send us a man, whether he be God or a
devil, send him!"
- The historian, A.J. Toynbee said: "By forcing on mankind
more and more lethal weapons and at the same time making the whole world more
and more inter-dependent economically, technology has brought mankind to such a
degree of distress that we are ripe for deifying any new Caesar who might
succeed in giving the world unity and peace."
- "Unity and peace" are what the world is looking for and
the antichrist will give them what they want. First Thessalonians 5:3 says,
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden
destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall
THE SECOND SEAL (6:3,
- John observes a
second horse described as red and bearing a rider to whom power is given to take
peace from the earth and to cause men to kill one
- The second
rider is given "a great sword." The first seal signifies a period of peace (a
false peace), but when the second seal is broken, warfare breaks out and peace
is taken from the world.
- Our Lord said
the days leading up to His second coming would be characterized by "wars and
rumours of wars" (Matthew 24:6).
- Everyday we
read in the paper about turmoil in Israel, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, and
other places all over the world.
- This constant
tension among nations and the ambitions of dangerous men will culminate in the
Battle of Armageddon.
- The other day,
President Obama announced that he’ll deploy 2,500 Marines in Australia. Our
Asian allies were happy, but China and Indonesia responded with negative
- China has been
a menace to our allies in Asia.
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the
- The president
said that America intends to “project power and deter threats to peace” in the
- Consider how
rapidly things will change after the rapture.
- The hope of
permanent peace by the United Nations and other human organizations is doomed to
THE THIRD SEAL (6:5,
- In verses 5 and
6, the aftermath of war is seen and a great famine is
- John sees a
black horse and one sitting on the horse with a pair of balances (scales) in his
hand, indicating a careful rationing of
- A voice is
heard from the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A measure of wheat
for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the
oil and the wine.”
- There will be a
worldwide famine during the tribulation, and this will include the
- A penny
(literally a "denarius") was a day’s wages at the time John wrote the book of
- Our Lord said
in Matthew 20:2, "And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny (a
denarius) a day, he sent them into his vineyard."
- Revelation 6:6
is saying that it will cost a day’s wages for a measure of wheat. In other
words, a man will have to work all day for a loaf of bread or for a bowl of
barley soup. One can only imagine how difficult it will be to put gas in your
car or pay rent or purchase the basic necessities of
- The end of
Revelation 6:6 says, "and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." Working class
people will not be able to make ends meet. The hard-working family man will find
it extremely difficult to provide for his wife and children. But the rich will
still have their luxury items and their wine.
- This indicates
that the very rich will not be affected right away during the beginning of the
tribulation period, but eventually they will be driven to desperation and
madness (cf. 6:12-17).
THE FOURTH SEAL (6:7,
- The pale horse
is yellowish-green, a sickly color of death. The pale horse
is a dramatic picture of divine judgment upon the
- Death is the
rider and Hell is following. Death is for
the body of the unsaved, and hell is where their spirit
- Both body and
soul will be reunited to be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev.
- According to
the Bible, one-fourth of the world’s population will be wiped out by warfare,
murder, hunger, famine, pestilence, plagues, loathsome diseases like AIDS, and
so on (6:8).
- Wild beasts
will roam around unrestrained at this time and will attack and kill anyone who
gets in their way (6:8b).
- This will
probably include vermin such as rats since they will be widespread with all of
the poverty, famine, diseases, pestilence, and so
- Our Lord said
that this is only "the beginning of sorrows" (Matt. 24:8). It will get so bad
that Revelation 9:6 says men shall "seek death, and shall not find
- John Walvoord
said, "If one-fourth of the world population is destroyed in the fourth seal, it
would represent the greatest destruction of human life ever recorded in history.
The population of the human race in Noah’s day undoubtedly was far less than the
figure here cited as dying" (The Revelation).
- If this
prophecy were to be fulfilled next year, 1,750,000 people would die (one quarter
of seven billion people).
- These prophecies are terrible and awful beyond any
words, yet worldly people scoff at them or ignore them.
- It will be a period without precedent in its character
and extent. Far worse than WWI and WWII and all of the other wars
Again, I will quote John Walvoord, "From this
introduction to the judgments portrayed in the book of Revelation, it should be
evident that the world is facing a time of trouble such as man has never known
before. The dream of the optimist for a world becoming increasingly better
scientifically, intellectually, morally, and religiously does not fit the
pattern of God’s prophetic Word. The ultimate triumph of God is assured; and as
the book of Revelation makes plain, Christ will reign over the earth and bring
in a kingdom of peace and righteousness after the time of trouble has run its
course. First, however, there must be the awful time of the great tribulation