2B.   The Great Tribulation In The World (6-18)

(6.1)    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 world.”

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.”[1]

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 the seals.

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:

22   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 Egypt.

23   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 of Egypt.

24   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 nation.

25   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:

1     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.

2     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.

3     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.

4     Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.

5     And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD.

6     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.

7      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.

8     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 Philistines.

9     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.

10   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.

11    And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.

12   Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

13   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.

5.   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 mankind.

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.

(6.2)    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.

1.   “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]

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. 24:3-5).

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:

4     And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.

5     Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

6     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 diadem, diadhma, is a crown of royalty, worn by a reigning monarch.[3]

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; Walvoord, Ford).”[4]

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.

[1] See footnote for Revelation 6.1, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2000.

[2] John Walvoord, The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), page 126.

[3] 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.

[4] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 826.

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