James J. Barker

Lesson 12

Text: REVELATION 6:1-17


  1. We saw in chapter 5 that 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 (5:2-5).
  2. 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.
  3. Many Bible teachers and commentators believe the first six seals are a summary of the judgments poured out by God during the coming tribulation.
  4. They interpret Revelation chapter 6 as a brief summary of what will occur in “the day of the Lord,” up to our Lord's return.
  5. Last week, we looked at the four horsemen, and tonight, Lord willing, we will look at the fifth seal and the sixth seal.
  6. When the first seal was opened, John in his vision 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 conquer.
  7. In Biblical times it was customary for a conqueror to ride in triumph seated on a white horse.
  8. This is the antichrist, referred to elsewhere in the Book of Revelation as "the beast."
  9. The apostle Paul calls him "that man of sin" and "the son of perdition" (II Thess. 2:3).
  10. Daniel refers to him as "the little horn" (Daniel 7:8; 8:9), and "the prince that shall come" (9:26), who will head up the revived Roman Empire and ultimately become the world ruler.
  11. 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.
  12. Some people mistakenly believe the rider on the white horse is the Lord Jesus Christ, but this rider cannot be Christ, because His return to earth will not bring war, famine, and strife in its train.
  13. And that is exactly what we see when the second, third, fourth seal are opened (Rev. 6:3-8).
  14. The second rider represents war and bloodshed (6:3, 4).
  15. The third rider represents famine (6:5, 6).
  16. The fourth rider, on a pale horse (6:7, 8), is yellowish-green, a sickly color of death. The pale horse is a dramatic picture of divine judgment upon the world.
  17. Death is the rider and Hell is following. Death is for the body of the unsaved, and hell is where their spirit goes.
  18. According to Revelation 6:8, 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.
  19. Our Lord said in Matthew 24:8 that this is only "the beginning of sorrows."  It will get so bad that Revelation 9:6 says men shall "seek death, and shall not find it."
  20. I mentioned last week that if this prophecy were to be fulfilled next year, 1,750,000 people would die (one quarter of seven billion people).



  1. In the fifth seal the scene shifts from earth to heaven. John sees a vision of those who will be martyred for their faith in Christ.
  2. As I said last week, this corresponds to the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:8-22).
  3. The martyred saints are described as being under the altar.  There are several references in the book of Revelation to the temple in heaven, and to the altar (cf. 8:3-5; 9:13; 11:1; 16:7).
  4. John hears the martyrs crying with a loud voice asking why God has not judged their persecutors (6:9, 10).
  5. Since the book of Revelation is in chronological order, this indicates that these believers were martyred during the early part of the tribulation.
  6. The martyrs ask for God's judgment upon "them that dwell on the earth," indicating that their persecutors are still living (6:10).
  7. Since the church has been raptured before the seals are opened, and the dead in Christ have already been raised, those pictured here in Revelation 6 do not include the martyrs of the church age.
  8. Furthermore, the statement in verse 11, "until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled," tells us that more believers were still to be martyred during the tribulation.
  9. In answer to their question as to how long it will be, the reply is given in verse 11 that there is still a little time required for the fulfillment of God’s program, that other events must take place, that still additional martyrs would be added to their number.
  10. The Bible teaches they are to wait until the second coming of Christ.  Then the Lord will deal in judgment with "them that dwell on the earth" (cf. 14:9-20; 19:11-21).
  11. The opening of the fifth seal reminds us that in the coming tribulation it will be very difficult to publicly declare one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Rev. 7:9-14; 13:11-18; 20:4).
  12. It could very well be that the majority of those who get saved during the tribulation will be put to death.   Martyrdom will be commonplace.
  13. How much better to get saved now while there is time!



  1. "It would be difficult to paint any scene more moving or more terrible than that described at the opening of the sixth seal. All the elements of a great catastrophic judgment of God are here present, namely, a great earthquake, the sun becoming black, the moon becoming as blood, the stars of heaven falling like ripe figs, the heaven departing as a scroll, and every mountain and island moving...Beginning with the sixth seal God is undertaking a direct intervention into human affairs. The judgments of war, famine, and death, and the martyrdom of the saints have largely originated in human decision and in the evil heart of man. The judgment described here, however, originates in God as a divine punishment inflicted upon a blasphemous world" (John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  2. As is often the case with confused and desperate men, instead of repenting of their sin, and availing themselves of the grace of God, they attempt to hide from the wrath of the Lamb (6:15-17).
  3. They will try to hide and to seek escape in death (6:16, 17).
  4. However their hope is futile.  First of all, many will not even be able to die (cf. 9:6).
  5. Secondly, death will not be an escape but merely a change from one state of terror to another.   I often think of those lost sinners who jumped from the WTC on September 11, 2001.  They tried to escape the fire, only to land into the eternal fires of hell.
  6. During the tribulation, those who manage to escape the immediate judgment of God through death will be destined for a far greater judgment at the great white throne.
  7. Today sinners are indifferent to the Word of God, and so bent upon worldly pleasures, and money, and luxury, and fame and fortune, that when the sixth seal is opened they will be shocked in a way that is difficult for us to comprehend.
  8. Our Lord said in Luke 21:26, "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."
  9. Revelation 6:15 says all levels of society will be judged for their unbelief -- great men, and rich men, poor men and "bondmen" (slaves).
  10. Today they say, "Money talks," but in the coming tribulation money will not do sinners any good.
  11. Success in the world will not help. No one will be able to escape "the wrath of the Lamb" (6:16, 17).
  12. The sixth seal corresponds to the Olivet Discourse. Our Lord warned of "earthquakes in divers places" (Matthew 24:7). Both earthquakes and the sun becoming black are mentioned by Isaiah and Joel (Isaiah 13:6-13; Joel 2:2, 10, 30, 31).
  13. The heavens departing as a scroll (Rev. 6:14) are mentioned in Isaiah 34:4.
  14. Hosea 10:8 says, "They shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us" (cf. Rev. 6:16).
  15. Isaiah 2:19 says, "And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth" (cf. Rev. 6:16).
  16. In Luke 23:28-30, our Lord said to the women He met on His walk up Mount Calvary, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.  For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.  Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us."



  1. This is not an ordinary twenty-four-hour day.
  2. The Bible uses the word "day" in various ways.
  3. "The day of His wrath" is at the beginning of "the day of the LORD," that extended period of time when God is going to deal directly in governing the entire world.
  4. Isaiah 2:12 says, "For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low."
  5. Isaiah 13:6 says, "Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty."
  6. Joel 2:11 says, "For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?" (Cf. Rev. 6:17).
  7. The day of the LORD is also mentioned by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah.
  8. It is referred to in the New Testament by Paul and Peter.
  9. Second Peter 3:10 says, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night."
  10. The day of wrath is the whole period of the coming tribulation, when God will judge the world for its sin and its unbelief. The day of the LORD will culminate with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory.
  11. We are presently living in the day of grace.  We know not how much time is left.
  12. The day of God's wrath is in contrast to the day of His grace.  God has always been, and will always be gracious.  Right before God sent the flood upon this wicked, sin-loving world, we read these words in Genesis 6:8, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."
  13. God in every dispensation deals graciously with believers and saves them by His grace, the present age is supremely designed to manifest the grace of God.  It is called "the dispensation of grace."
  14. John 1:17 says, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
  15. The day of grace will be followed by "the great day of his wrath" (6:17).
  16. In contrast to the judgments which are inflicted upon a Christ-rejecting world, believers in this present age are promised escape from the judgment which the world greatly deserves.
  17. John 3:18 and 3:36 tell us that the person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ is not condemned, and has eternal life.
  18. By contrast, John 3:36 says, "he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
  19. That hot wrath will soon be poured out upon the earth (Rev. 6:16, 17).



"The close of chapter 6 of the book of Revelation advances the narrative to a new high in the progress of the book. In some sense chapter 6 is the outline of the important facts of the period of great tribulation, and the rest of the events of the book of Revelation are comprehended in the seventh seal introduced in chapter 8. Chapter 6 closes with a pointed question: 'Who shall be able to stand?' The answer is obvious: Only those who avail themselves of the grace of God, even though they suffer a martyr’s death in this future tragic period. This is brought out in the next chapter. The given revelation emphasizes the importance of partaking of the grace of God in this present age with the bright prospect of the Lord coming for His own" (Walvoord).

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