Great Tribulation In The World (6-18)
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.
1. We have proven, over and over
again, that the Lamb John refers to is the Lamb of God, which is the Lord
Jesus Christ. This, of course, takes us back to John 1.29, where John the
Baptist declared Jesus to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the
2. “As he breaks the 7 seals that
secure the scroll, each seal unleashes a new demonstration of God’s
judgment on the earth in the future tribulation period. These seal
judgments include all the judgments to the end. The seventh seal contains
the 7 trumpets; the seventh trumpet contains the 7 bowls.”
3. What might be the significance
of the phrase “noise of thunder?” Surely, the beast did not have to yell to make
himself heard by John. There must be some symbolic significance for the
beast to have spoken that loudly just as the Lord Jesus broke open one of
4. Exodus 9.22-25 and First Samuel
7.1-13 are typical examples that will show us how the Bible student should
think of thunder as he studies God’s Word:
a. Exodus 9.22-25:
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward
heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and
upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of
And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD
sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land
So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous,
such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a
And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was
in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the
field, and brake every tree of the field.
b. First Samuel 7.1-13:
And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD,
and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified
Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the
time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel
lamented after the LORD.
And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do
return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods
and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he
will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and
served the LORD only.
And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for
you unto the LORD.
And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it
out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have
sinned against the LORD.
And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
And when the Philistines heard that
the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the
Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard
it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto
the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the
And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering
wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.
And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines
drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great
thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they
were smitten before Israel.
And the men of Israel went out of
Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and
called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD
So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the
coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines
all the days of Samuel.
With the mindset of a Jewish person, or a Jewish Christian, which
John and most of his first readers were, it is easy to understand how
thunder would normally be associated with divine judgment against the
enemies of God’s people. This sounds logical, since the book of
Revelation is a book that records God’s future judgment of unsaved
6. But what was John called to come
and see? Remember, he saw the Lord Jesus break open the seal. So, the
beast was not calling him with a loud and thunderous voice to see what he
has already seen.
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.
“No explanation is given of this vision. In many cases the reader
of Revelation is not left to his own ingenuity but is given the meaning of
what is beheld. Here as in many other instances, however, the appeal is to
a general knowledge of Scripture. In this instance, because there is no
specific interpretation of the vision, more diverse explanations have been
given of verse two than probably any other portion of the entire book.”
2. “And I saw, and behold a white horse”
a. This is what John was called to
view. “The animal represents an unparalleled time of world peace - a
false peace that is to be short-lived. This peace will be ushered in by a
series of false messiahs, culminating with the Antichrist (Matt.
b. The identity of the rider of
this horse is of extreme importance for a proper understanding of Biblical
prophecy and this particular book of the Bible. Remember that,
chronologically, we are at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, which is
the seven-year period of tribulation, which comes after the Rapture and
before the Revelation of Christ to set up His millennial kingdom.
3. “and he that sat on him had a bow”
a. Some are of the opinion that the
rider of this white horse is the Lord Jesus Christ. I, however, am of the
opinion that this rider cannot be the Lord Jesus. After all, why would
John be called to come and see the Lord, Who he was at that time watching
break the first seal? Yet, there is an even more formidable consideration.
b. It is true that a white horse is
symbolic, in God’s Word, of a victorious king, which the Lord Jesus will
be when He returns to earth to set up His kingdom. But remember that there
is also a rider of a white horse in Revelation 19.11. The rider in
Revelation 19 is clearly the Lord Jesus Christ. Could Christ also be
referred to in Revelation 6.2?
c. Allow the Word of God to supply
the answer. Turn to Psalm 45.4-6:
And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and
righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is
a right sceptre.
d. Do you notice something
different about the rider of Revelation 6 and the Lord, in Psalm 45? Maybe
you have noticed a difference in equipment. Folks, the rider in Revelation
6.2 has no arrows. The rider of Revelation 6 is, to the point in time this
passage deals with, a bloodless conqueror. That is important.
4. “and a crown was given unto him”
a. This crown is a “stefanoV,”
not a diadem. Remember that a “stefanoV” is a crown that is awarded for one reason or another, while a
is a crown of royalty, worn by a reigning monarch.
b. It just so happens that in
Revelation 19.12 the Lord Jesus Christ is wearing diadems.
5. “and he went forth conquering, and to conquer”
a. So, even though the rider in
chapter 6 goes forth conquering, and to conquer, he is not the Lord Jesus
Christ. Who do you think he is? I think he is the antichrist. I think he
is the one who tries to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ in the eyes of men,
and who tries to usurp the place of the Lord in the hearts of men.
b. Rienecker comments: “Although
some have felt that the rider on the white horse is Christ Himself (Zane
Hodges, ‘The First Horseman of the Apocalypse,’ Bib Sac 119 [Oct.
1962], 324-334), it is better to view this one as the Antichrist, i.e.,
the ‘man of sin’ (s. Rissi, 407-418; s. also the discussion by Mounce;
6. “Is it really important who
this rider is, pastor?” It is if it is important whether or not God’s
children will suffer and be persecuted before or after Christ’s visible
return. You see, if this rider is Christ, then He is apparently unable to
deliver His Own from famine, from martyrdom, from persecution and from
oppression, as it happens under His nose. However, if this is the
antichrist, all of the horror occurs before the Lord comes, and when He
comes, He puts a stop to it once and for all. So, yes, it is important who
the rider is. It is important what you believe.
And when he had opened the
second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 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.
1. “And when he had opened the second seal”
Who is the
person who opens the second seal? It is the same one who opened the first
seal, the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, He is the only one who is worthy to
take the book and to open the seals, according to Revelation 5.9.
2. “I heard the second beast say, Come and see.”
John is again
invited to observe the events that unfold.
3. “And there went out another horse that was red”
What do you think the red stands for, in the Bible? We basically
have a choice of either sin or bloodshed being represented by the red
horse. What has happened here is this, as I understand Scripture: For
three and one-half years, as we shall learn later, the antichrist will
preside over a false peace on the earth. However, when this second seal is
broken the attempts to have peace without the presence and the rule of the
Prince of peace fail miserably.
“The White Horse symbolizes bloodless victories, the Red Horse
speaks of slaughter and bloodshed.”
4. “and power
was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that
they should kill one another”
Peace on earth will end and violent war and bloodshed takes its
place. There will be a tremendous amount of bloodshed and an unbelievable
loss of human life, but the war that occurs will not be war between
countries, primarily. At least that is not what is referred to here, even
though the Lord did say that nation shall rise up against nation.
“…God gave him power to bring sorrow and distress upon man
because of his sin. The wickedness of men has been so great that God
allows a leader among them to carry out his judgment upon them.”
5. “and there was given unto him a great sword”
mentioned here is the kind of sword that a Roman soldier would take into
battle, a macaira.
What John is describing for us is wholesale carnage.
If you think carnage on a large scale does not really happen,
remember that things very similar to this have already happened. Examine
the carnage that took place following the French Revolution. Investigate
the mass murders that took place when India gained her independence.
6. Just think of how evil men will
be, and how reckless will be their actions, when the restraining influence
of the Holy Spirit has been withdrawn, which is one of the consequences of
the Rapture, according to Second Thessalonians 2.6: “For the mystery of iniquity
doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out
of the way.”
7. “If the first seal is a period of peace, as some have held, though this
seems to be contradicted by the fact that the rider of the first horse
conquers, in any case when the second seal is broken, military warfare
breaks out and peace is taken from the world. The constant tension among
nations and the ambitions of men have their climax in this period before
Christ comes. Though ‘wars and rumours of wars’ (Matt. 24:6) are
characteristic of the age, it is evident that warfare occupies a large
place in the consummation of the age with a resultant great loss of life.
There apparently is a series of wars, the greatest of which is under way
at the time of the second coming. The hope of permanent peace by means of
the United Nations and other human efforts is doomed to failure.”
And when he had opened the
third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and
lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his
1. “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the
third beast say, Come and see.”
a. The third seal is opened by the
same One Who opened the first two seals, the only one qualified to open
the seals of this redemption scroll, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He, to
remind you once again, is the qualified kinsman-redeemer, who is near kin,
who is able to redeem, and who is willing to redeem.
b. In Revelation 4.7, this third
beast is described with these words: “the third beast had a face as a
This description has led some Reformed theologians to suggest that this
third beast symbolizes “the
ministers of the Gospel.”
I do not agree, seeing no reason why this third beast cannot be who John
says it is, one of the four living creatures surrounding the throne of God
As before, John is invited by this third beast to “Come
2. “And I beheld, and lo a black horse”
a. What does black represent in
God’s Word? Well, what usually and logically follows war? What happened
in Germany following World War I?
b. When Jerusalem was ravaged by
war with Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah described the nightmarish scenes in
Lamentations. In Lamentations 5.10 he wrote, “Our skin was black like an
oven because of the terrible famine.”
c. Then the Lord said, in Matthew
24.7, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against
kingdom: and there shall be famines . . . .” By the way, the word “nation” translates the
Greek word “eqnoV.” Anyone know what common term comes from that word? Right. Ethnic.
The Lord Jesus tells us, in this day when nations are increasingly
comprised of multiple ethnic populations, that there will be ethnic
warfare, warfare between kingdoms, and famines.
d. If the black horse in this verse
symbolizes famine, let us be clear that we understand what is meant by
famine. Webster’s New
Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines
famine in this way: “extreme and general scarcity of food, as in a
country or a large geographical area.”
And how far will people go to feed themselves when faced with the
starvation caused by such a scarcity of food? Look with me to a verse in
Lamentations, and then in passages that predicted what we read of in
Lamentations 4.10: “The
hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their
meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.”
Leviticus 26.29: “And
ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall
And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of
thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD
thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith
thine enemies shall distress thee:
So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil
toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the
remnant of his children which he shall leave:
So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his
children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege,
and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all
The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure
to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and
tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and
toward her son, and toward her daughter,
And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and
toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want
of all things secretly in the
siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy
3. “and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his
a. Who is sitting on the black
horse in Revelation 6.5? I know of no speculation of the rider’s
identity which sounds credible to me.
b. The balances mentioned here seem
to be confirmation that there will be famine. During the great depression
in Germany following World War I, everything that was sold was sold by
weight. Loaves of bread sold for wheel barrels full of cash.
c. Verse 6 confirms the tragic
situation that will exist in the not too distant future.
And I heard a voice in the
midst of the four beasts say, 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.
1. “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts
a. Whose voice is spoken of here?
Is this the voice of one of the beasts? I do not think so, since the voice
comes from the midst of the four beasts, who seem to be circled about the
throne of God and around the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has taken from the
Father the redemption scroll whose seals are now being opened.
b. John seems to be purposefully
indistinct here, intentionally not clarifying for us whether the voice is
the voice of God or the voice of the Son of God. My inclination, since
this book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the unveiling
of Jesus Christ, is to think that the Lord Jesus is the One Who is now
c. What does He say?
2. “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of
barley for a penny”
a. The word “penny”
here is translated from the word “denarius.” That amount of money was
the standard wages for one full day’s work.
b. A “measure,”
approximately a quart by volume, was the approximate amount of what that
would satisfy the nutritional needs of one adult male. Do you see the
great problem here?
c. A man will work all day and have
only enough money to feed himself, if he eats wheat, or just enough to
feed himself, his wife and one child, if he eats barley. But, my friend,
the average household has more than one child. And what about the elderly?
So, you see that famine, starvation on a massive scale, is what is in
store for the human race in the not too distant future.
3. “and see thou
hurt not the oil and the wine”
a. The oil and wine are products,
which, historically, only the wealthy classes could afford to purchase and
consume. Is it not interesting that the consumer goods normally purchased
by the wealthy will not be affected by the runaway inflation associated
with the coming famine?
b. This suggests a runaway
inflation that is manipulated by the wealthy classes. If you think that it
cannot happen, just remember when the prime interest rate was past 20%,
during the Carter administration, which is approaching the Latin American
type of inflation.
c. I am no economist. However,
while an undergraduate at Oregon State University, I was enrolled in an
economics class taught by a professor who informed the class that
virtually every known economist in America was forecasting runaway
inflation in the USA sometime in our future. They do not publish these
expectations outside their professional journals, he said, for fear of
creating a panic that would end in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
d. They also point out, I was told,
that there has, historically, been only one way of bringing a halt to this
kind of wild inflation once it was started; WAR! Either a civil war, so
you can start over from scratch, or a war against another nation.
4. My friend, Bible prophecy is as
current as tomorrow’s paper. When the Rapture occurs and the church age
believers are removed from the scene by the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit
in His ministry of restraining sin, a false Christ will come on the scene
and establish a false peace. When the false peace falls apart there will
be war such as this world has never before seen. The carnage will be
unbelievable. In addition, following the war will come mass starvation of
such severity that the imagination staggers at the contemplation of it.
And when he had opened the
fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ opens the
fourth seal and John is summoned to “Come and see”
yet another horseman.
2. This fourth summons comes from
the beast that “was
like a flying eagle,”
according to Revelation 4.7. The significance of this description?
3. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
makes this statement about the fourth beast: “The fourth living
creature, who was ‘like a flying eagle,’ introduces this seal;
implying high-soaring intelligence, and judgment descending from on high
fatally on the ungodly, as the king of birds on his prey.”
And I looked, and behold a
pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell 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
“And I looked, and behold a pale horse”
This is the last of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. He is
riding upon a “pale” horse.
This word “pale” translates the Greek word “cloros,”
from which I suspect our words “chlorine” and “Clorox” are
derived. The word refers to the color of a corpse or the color of a person
whose color has been blanched by terror.
The footnote on this verse in The
MacArthur Study Bible
reads: “’Pale,’ the Gr. word from which ‘chlorophyll’ comes,
describes the pale, ashen-green, pallor characteristic of the
decomposition of a corpse.”
“and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed
The rider is named Death, and Hell followed with him. Death is the
keeper of our physical bodies and Hell is the keeper of lost men’s souls
. . . for a time.
This is the first time a rider of one of these four horses is
named. What are we to conclude by this? Is Death a person to be named?
No. What we see here is a type of symbolism called personification,
wherein a personal nature is attributed to an inanimate object or an
The fact is, these four horses are not literal horses, and neither
Death nor Hell possesses any of the characteristics of personality. These
are literary devices that have been employed for effect. The horses are
symbols of war. Death and Hell, though impersonal in fact, are
personalized in the Revelation to impress upon the reader the fact that
they are our enemies.
“And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the
Notice that “power,”
literally authority, was given unto them, unto these two, Death and Hell.
Where does the “power”
they are given come from?
Hearken back to Matthew 28.18, where the Lord Jesus Christ said,
“All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and earth.”
It comes from the same Jesus Who is opening the seals of this book.
What is the result of this authority being given to Death and Hell?
One fourth of the human race will die by various means. And by what means
will so many people die? Read on.
“to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with
the beasts of the earth.”
Let me read William R. Newell’s comment on this verse: “But
under the fourth seal we see death and Hades given authority over the
fourth part of the earth to kill; and that with God’s four sore
judgments of Ezekiel 14:21, ‘sword,’ ‘famine,’ ‘pestilence’
and ‘wild beasts.’ People say, ‘Peace,’ but the sword is coming.
People cry, ‘Prosperity and plenty,’ but famine is coming. People
boast of conquering disease by medical science, but pestilence is coming.
Hunters complain of the disappearance of beasts to hunt, of game to
pursue; but wild beasts will (by and by) multiply again, even in America,
to the slaying of thousands upon thousands! We must remember that a fourth
of the population of the earth is given over to these four judgments
alone. And let us also remember that the plagues hurled directly from
heaven, as in chapter 16, have not yet begun, under the four seals, not
even the locust plague of chapter 9, nor the career of the wild beast of
chapter 13. These come later. But the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild
beasts, take a quarter of earth’s population.”
The thrust of what this fourth seal represents is carnage on a
scale that is unprecedented in human history, except for the Flood.
5. Upon opening the fourth seal,
the way is now open for the destruction of one fourth of the human race.
Think about that. If Jesus comes for us today, when the population on this
planet is more than 6 billion, then power will be given for these horsemen
to slay more than 1˝ billion men, women, and children. That is more
people than were slain when God brought the Flood during Noah’s time.
6. This is only the beginning of
such carnage as man has never seen or imagined. In addition, the greater
tragedy is that even those unsaved people who escape this beginning of
horrors will face more. You see, even if they evade these horrors, and
somehow survive the horrors that we will soon read about, the lake of fire
still awaits all them who survive to the second coming of Jesus 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
1. There are a number of thoughts
provoked by this verse. First of all, notice that no one summons John to
as when the previous four seals were opened. Second, with the opening of
this seal the scene shifts from earth to heaven.
2. Examine the diagram that I have
provided for you (See Handout #6). To refresh your memories, there are two
resurrections referred to in the Bible. By resurrections, I am not
referring to anyone who is raised from the dead in a normal physical body,
such as when Jesus raised up the daughter of Jairus
or Lazarus. Both Jairus’ daughter
and Lazarus subsequently died natural deaths a second time, because theirs
was not a resurrection to eternal life. Let us limit our focus on the
resurrection that prepares for eternity.
3. Turn to Revelation 20.6, where
we read, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first
resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be
priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
4. All the saints, whether they are
Old or New Testament believers, take part in the first resurrection, while
the damned actually take part in what is referred to as the second
resurrection, at which time they will stand before Christ at the White
Throne judgment, after which they will be cast in the lake of fire, which
is the second death.
5. Back to the first resurrection.
You might remember from my preaching in First Corinthians chapter 15, the
definitive chapter on the first resurrection in the Bible, that I
previously stated that the first resurrection, the resurrection of the
saved, takes place in three stages. First, there was the resurrection of
Christ to a glorified body (the beginning of the church age on your
handout), followed by the Rapture in which the church age saints are
resurrected to glorified bodies (the beginning of the Tribulation Period
on your handout), and then, after the seven year tribulation which falls
between the Rapture and the Revelation (which is the second coming of
Christ), the Old Testament saints (at the conclusion of the Tribulation
Period on your handout). It needs to be pointed out that the first
resurrection actually includes the Tribulation Period saints, which are
resurrected at the time of Christ’s second coming.
6. Notice that in verse 9 John
sees, not the saints under the altar, but “the souls of them slain for the
Word of God, and for the testimony which they held”
under the altar. The phrasing of John might indicate that those he sees
under the altar have not yet received glorified bodies, but are the saints
of the tribulation period who are awaiting their resurrection and their
glorified bodies. This would fit into the pre tribulation Rapture picture
that is illustrated for you in the handout.
7. Another observation at this
point is that being under the altar is “in keeping with the fact that
the blood of the sacrifices of the Old Testament was poured out under the
altar (Exodus 29:12; Lev. 4:7).”
But which altar is referred to here, since there are two altars, the altar
of sacrifice and the altar of incense? This is “Probably a reference to
the altar of incense, which pictured the saint’s prayers ascending to
God (5:8; cf. Ex. 40:5).”
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?
1. Before we do anything else
related to this verse, please note this second of eight total times in the
Revelation that we find the phrase “them that dwell on the earth.”
Of course, this is a technical phrase used by John to describe those who
are unconverted. For the saved, this old earth is as bad as it will ever
get. But for you who are lost, this world is as good as it will ever get
for you, because after this earth there will be only God’s wrath
2. In this verse also, we have
additional evidence that points to these being tribulation saints,
specifically Jewish believers who have been martyred. Several things to
notice about the events in heaven, keeping in mind that there is carnage
taking place on earth, with half the population of the earth being slain
as we approach the midpoint of the Tribulation Period:
3. First, notice that they are
crying out for vengeance. Have you ever noticed, in your personal Bible
study, that godly Old Testament saints cried out to God to pour out His
wrath on their enemies and to avenge them, while church age saints are
instructed to pray for them who despitefully use us, to turn the other
cheek to those who smite us, and to meekly endure persecution?
4. Truly, has God instructed His
saints to act and react differently under different dispensations, as a
reflection of different aspects of His Own nature are emphasized in the
different dispensations. Spirituality, in either era, is determined by
adherence to the revealed will of God, whatever that will might be. Amen?
For a Christian during this era in which we live, the principle is found
in Romans 12.19: “Vengeance
is mine; I will repay, saith the
5. Let me now give you another
reason for believing that these are unresurrected tribulation saints who
are crying out to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are crying out for Christ to
judge and seek vengeance against people still alive! That they are crying
out for vengeance indicates that they are not church age saints, and that
their enemies are still alive indicates that they are not Old Testament
saints. These must be tribulation age saints! In addition, none of this
information would fit into any system of prophecy besides the
pretribulational pre millennial system illustrated by the drawing I have
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 fellowservants also and their
brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
1. My friends, there are some
perplexing statements made in this verse.
2. First, what about those white
robes? I do not really have a problem with white robes, which are given to
believers to wear and which represent the righteousness of Christ. But,
how do you wear robes when you do not have a body? These souls do not have
a physical body, because their dead physical bodies are back on the earth
and either rotting or incinerated. They do not yet have glorified bodies.
The alternative proposed by some Bible scholars is that when someone dies
and goes to heaven, God gives them a temporary habitation for the soul to
dwell in until the resurrection occurs in which they receive their
glorified body, in which they dwell for all eternity. Something to ponder,
but not a weighty matter.
3. Second, these souls were told to
wait. Wait until other believers are killed. You see, even when things go
completely against you and you think everything that is happening is
wrong, it is actually right. There will be multiplied thousands of
Christ’s Own killed for Him during the tribulation. Does that disturb
Him? Is that a surprise to Him? It certainly shakes up His followers, at
least until He calms them down. But remember, Christ is still on the
throne. These horrible things are happening to God’s children because
these things are supposed to happen. It is all a part of God’s plan, you
4. But, then, that such apparent
tragedies are part of God’s plan is much easier to see when it is
happening to others than when it is happening to you. Amen?
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 as 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.
And the kings of the
earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and
the mighty men, and every bondman, 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?
Note: This passage, which closes out the sixth chapter of John’s
Revelation, begins John’s observations on two different planes. First,
in verses 12-14, John records what happens in the realm of the physical
universe, whether in space or on the earth. Then, in verses 15-17, he
records the reactions of lost mankind on earth. Let us look at these
different phenomena individually.
1. Verse 12: “And
I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal . . . .”
a. At this point, the scroll is
almost opened, for there are only seven seals. One more to go after the
opening of this seal. Something to mention before proceeding. In the Greek
language of the New Testament, there are two common words that can be
translated “I saw” or “I beheld,” as we have seen since John’s
translation to heaven in Revelation 4.1. The word “blepw” tends toward the more physical aspect of our idea of seeing or
observing. However, the word “eidon,” which we have seen exclusively since Revelation
4.1, when John writes, “I saw” or “I beheld,” refers more to perceiving something, with less emphasis on the
actual physical use of the eyes. This is understandable in light of the
fact that John’s experiences in heaven are not physical experiences.
Remember, John is “in the Spirit” according to Revelation 4.3.
“The force described in this seal is overpowering fear (cf. Luke
21:26). While the first 5 seals will result from human activity God used
to accomplish His purposes, at this point He begins direct intervention
(cf. Matt. 24:29; Luke 21:25). The previous 5 seals will be precursors to
the full fury of the Day of the Lord which will begin with the sixth seal
(v. 17). The events described in this seal unleash the seventh, which
contains the trumpet judgments (chaps. 8,9; 11:15ff.) and the bowl
judgments (chap. 16).”
2. “. . . and lo, there was a
great earthquake; . . .”
a. Some Bible expositors do not
believe that a literal earthquake is being referred to in this verse.
Harry Ironsides, for example, was of the opinion that John was referring
to the breakup of the political and governmental system in power at this
b. But ask yourself a question or
two: First, is there a compelling reason for believing that John is not
using literal and normal language here? If not, we ought to seek no forced
or strained sense in attempting to understand John’s prophetic record.
Second, of those Biblical prophecies which have been fulfilled to date,
were they fulfilled literally or symbolically? An honest and thorough
Bible student would readily admit that prophesies are fulfilled literally.
The answers to these two questions, then, lead me to the conclusion that a
genuine earthquake is referred to here, as are the other physical
c. “There have been many earthquakes prior to this (Matt. 24:7), but this
will be more than an earthquake. All the earth’s faults will begin to
fracture simultaneously, resulting in a cataclysmic, global earthquake.”
d. If these earthquakes are real,
what is their significance? What do they mean? What message is
communicated by this catastrophe? Turn with me to Jeremiah 10.10-16:
But the LORD is the true
God, he is the living God, and
an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations
shall not be able to abide his indignation.
Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the
heavens and the earth, even they
shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world
by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
When he uttereth his voice, there
is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to
ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and
bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for
his molten image is falsehood,
and there is no breath in them.
They are vanity, and
the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is
the former of all things; and
Israel is the rod of his
inheritance: The LORD of hosts is
read Matthew 24.3-8:
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him
privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall
be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not
troubled: for all these things
must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers
All these are the
beginning of sorrows.
and other verses associate massive earthquakes with the judgment of God.
But note, the association of earthquakes with the judgment of God is an
association that applies during the tribulation only. In other words,
these signs come into play, really, only after the Rapture and the
beginning of the 70th week of Daniel, the seven years of Great
3. “. . . and the sun became
black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; . . .”
a. “Accompanying the earthquake will be numerous volcanic eruptions; and
large amounts of ash and debris will be blown into the earth’s
atmosphere, blackening the sun and giving the moon a blood-red hue (cf
b. Turn to the Old Testament book
of Joel and let us read some selected verses from Joel chapter 2:
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy
mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the
cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick
darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a
strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after
it, even to the years of many
The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the
sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their
And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp
is very great: for he is strong
that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great
and very terrible; and who can abide it?
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and
fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
things need to be mentioned at this point in our study:
c. Acts 2.16-20:
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour
out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall
prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those
days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth
beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
Christians are of the opinion that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the
day of Pentecost, when Simon Peter referred to it. Others are convinced
that Joel’s prophecy was partially fulfilled. Neither opinion, however,
is born out by a careful consideration of the actual prophecy.
d. When Simon Peter stood and
referred to Joel’s prophecy on the day of Pentecost, he was not
indicating that Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled, either in whole or
in part. Instead, he was pointing out that the sound of a mighty rushing
wind, the cloven tongues of fire, and the gift of tongues had a distinct
parallel to Joel’s prophecy. What was the parallel? The outpouring of
the Holy Spirit.
e. This can be seen by examining
Joel’s prophecy and the book of Revelation carefully. Joel’s prophecy
will be fulfilled when the Day of the Lord, or the Day of Jehovah,
actually begins. This is very clear from the verses in Joel we just read.
Did the Day of Jehovah begin on the day of Pentecost, or will it commence
at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, after the Rapture?
f. Let us look at the two
possibilities. In the Word of God, does a day begin with light or
darkness? The Day of Jehovah, will it begin with the dawn of a new day, or
will it start off as darkness, with the light of day coming later?
Obviously, the later is the case in God’s Word.
g. Look at it another way. On the
day of Pentecost, was the sun darkened? Did the moon become as blood? No.
Want to know why these things did not happen? Because the Day of Jehovah,
the Day of the Lord, did not begin with Pentecost, that is why. The Day of
Jehovah will begin with the darkness of great tribulation, following the
h. Peter referred to Joel’s
prophecy, not to indicate that it was being fulfilled, but to indicate
that as the Holy Spirit’s ministry at the fulfillment of Joel’s
prophecy would be significant, so the Holy Spirit’s ministry on the day
of Pentecost was responsible for the signs and wonders, which those Jewish
men observed and heard. For any other understanding to be true, you must
abandon your commitment to a literal interpretation of Biblical prophecy.
This is absurd in light of the fact that all prophecies that have been
fulfilled have been literally fulfilled.
4. Verse 13: “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.”
a. “Oh, pastor. Surely, you do
not think that an actual star can fall to the earth. Why, our sun is a
star, and is much larger than our whole planet.”
b. Oh? Have you ever measured the
diameter of a star? Are you certainly sure and positive that the twinkling
lights in the midnight sky are giant fireballs that are larger than our
c. “But pastor, scientists have
made measurements of the size of these stars. And it is quite certain that
they are enormous.”
d. My friend, I am convinced that
the Bible is to be trusted for its accuracy and its reliability more than
the measurements of any scientist whose professional reputation is at
e. If the Word of God says stars
will fall to the earth, then I will assume that several things are true:
First, I will assume that the earth is large enough for the stars to fall
onto it. Second, I will assume that the stars are small enough to fall
onto it. Finally, I will assume that science is wrong and that the Word of
God is correct whenever there is any disagreement. Is my position clear?
f. Besides, “The
word ‘stars’ can refer to any celestial body, large or small, and is
not limited to normal English usage. The best explanation is a massive
asteroid or meteor shower.”
5. Verse 14 begins: “And
the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; . . .”
a. What does Isaiah have to say
about this phrase? First, we look to Isaiah 13.6-14:
Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall
And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of
them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be
amazed one at another; their faces shall
be as flames.
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with
wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the
sinners thereof out of it.
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not
give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the
moon shall not cause her light to shine.
And I will punish the world for their
evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of
the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the
golden wedge of Ophir.
Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out
of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of
his fierce anger.
And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man
taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one
into his own land.
we look to Isaiah 34.4:
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens
shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down,
as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig
from the fig tree.
b. Rather seems to me as though
Isaiah agrees with the literal coming down of the stars (here described as
and the rolling up of the heaven. Would you not agree?
c. How many of you have ever heard
of a hologram? It is a way of producing an image on a flat surface that
has the characteristics of being three-dimensional. As you change your
location, what you see gives the impression that what you are looking at
is a solid, when in reality it is on a flat plane.
d. Might explain the heavens being
rolled up like a scroll. Would it not be mind boggling to get to heaven
and discover that in creating His universe God made use of some physical
phenomena that produced a holographic effect? And that this holographic
effect caused astronomers and cosmologists to draw innumerable conclusions
about the physical universe that are just plain wrong?
e. I am not a scientist. I am
certainly not a cosmologist. I only know that every single time science
has advanced we have been shown that what primitive science thought was
impossible according to the Bible advanced science has shown that what was
declared in the Bible was true. Here, as in other difficult to understand
passages in God’s Word, I will stick with the Bible over any seeming
impossibilities that cannot be explained by contemporary science.
6. Continuing with the second half
of verse 14: “. . . and every mountain and island were moved out of their
a. This is not at all hard to
imagine. Geologists have known for years about the several tectonic plates
that account for continental drift on the earth’s crust. It is the
sudden shifting of portions of these tectonic plates, which bear up
against each other, which account for earthquakes and tsunamis, or what
used to be called tidal waves.
b. John just sees that this drift
of tectonic plates will occur very rapidly in the future, instead of
occurring very slowly as it does now.
7. To step back and reconsider for
a moment, some people try to explain verses 12-14 as symbolism. However, I
do not believe they are symbolic at all. You see, symbols are used, in
Scripture, to explain things that cannot otherwise be understood. But
there is no problem understanding what John is dealing with here. Thus,
there was no reason for John to express what he sees using symbolic
8. In Luke 21.25-26, the Lord Jesus
Christ predicted the things that John writes of here, and there is no
indication that symbolism was being used. Turn there so we can read those
two verses together:
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
these are not symbols. This stuff will really happen, and it will happen
just as the Bible says it will happen.
9. Moving along, we see that in
verses 15-17, John records the reactions of those who must endure the
great calamity we have just read about:
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men,
and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, 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
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to
do we see?
a. First, we see that God is no
respecter of persons. From John’s account of future events, we see that
everyone will be afraid, from the highest stations of life to the lowest,
from kings of the earth to bondmen, from the great and mighty and chief
men to the free men. No one will escape the catastrophes of that day. That
means you will not escape those catastrophes if you are unconverted at the
time of the Rapture.
b. Next, we see just how the
depraved act. What do they do? They run from God. They are hiding in the
dens and the rocks of the mountains. Except for the fact that there were
no dens and mountain caves for them to hide in, this is exactly what Adam
and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.
c. Lost folks always, and
Christians, far too frequently, run from the One Who can help them. Folks,
these people actually desire that mountains and rocks fall on them, in the
vain hope that they can escape facing the Lord Jesus Christ.
10. Finally, notice in verse 16 and
in verse 17, the character of the period of time in which these folks
live. Verse 16 refers to this period of time, which is the tribulation
period, as “the
wrath of the Lamb.”
In addition, in verse 17, it is called “the great day of His wrath.”
a. Pause with me for just a second.
This period will be a time of the outpouring of the Lord Jesus Christ’s
wrath. Is that not correct? “The
sixth seal will commence what the prophets call ‘the Day of the
This prophetic day will begin with great wrath.
b. But what does Romans 5.9 and
First Thessalonians 5.9 say about wrath? Romans 5.9 reads, “Much
more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath
First Thessalonians 5.9 reads, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain
salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
c. Unless my logic is faulty, for
these two verses to be true, and for the seven years of tribulation to be
a time of poured out wrath, as we see here in Revelation chapter 6,
Christians simply cannot be on the earth during that period because we are
saved by Jesus from wrath.
d. Friends, it is a good thing that
Christians will not be here during that period. Want to know why? Just
read the last phrase of verse 17 again: “. . . who shall be able to stand?”
e. What a question that is. “Who
shall be able to stand?”
No one. It is a wonderful thing to know that I will not have to stand,
because I will be in heaven. Can you say the same?
“The book of Revelation discredits those who hold that God is so
loving and kind that He will never judge people who have not received His
Son. Though the modern mind is reluctant to accept the fact that God will
judge the wicked, the Bible clearly teaches that He will. The Scriptures
reveal a God of love as clearly as they reveal a God of wrath who will
deal with those who spurn the grace proffered in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The passage before us is a solemn word that there is inevitable judgment
ahead for those who will not receive Christ by faith.
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
 See footnote for Revelation 6.1, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2000.
 John Walvoord, The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), page 126.
 See footnote for Revelation 6.2, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2000.
 Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 943-944 and page 227.
 Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 826.
 L. Sale-Harrison, The Remarkable Revelation, (New York: Sale-Harrison Publications, 1930), page 79.
 Walvoord, pages 128-129.
 John Gill, The John Gill Library, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000)
 Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 696.
 Walvoord, page 129.
 See marginal note for Revelation 6.6, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2000.
 See footnote for Revelation 6.8, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2000.
 Webster’s, page 1446.
William R. Newell, The Book Of The Revelation, (Chicago,
Illinois: Moody Press, 1935), page 106.
 Luke 8.51-56
 John 11.32-44
 Walvoord, page 133.
 See footnote for Revelation 6.9, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2001.
 See footnote for Revelation 6.12, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2001.
 See footnote for Revelation 6.13, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2001.
 See footnote for Revelation 6.17, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2001.
 Walvoord, page 138.