REVELATION CHAPTER 6: THE BEGINNING OF JUDGEMENT
- Verse 1: “Come” is spoken by one of the living creatures. Some may think these creatures are an expression of some attributes of God, but it is more likely the creature is seen as a chief over the directive of the command to unseal the scroll. There is a pattern of “come.” It is also clear that the living creatures represent all of God’s Creation and serve Him… all Creation serves and worships God.
- White horse conquering: I take this to be the Gospel of Jesus going out over the face of the earth via the Church which is represented by the first horse and rider. The Gospel is sent out after the death of Jesus and is a conquering force. We think spiritually, but also unfortunately in other ways.
- The second horse takes peace away. See Matthew 10:34, 23:37, and 24:34. Peace is removed by means of the Gospel and many divisions develop in Jerusalem. Jesus Himself states peace is taken from Jerusalem and is a prediction of 70AD.
- The third horse is famine and we should look to Leviticus 26:26.
- The fourth rider is death. We should note that really all 4 horses are different forms of death. This vision shows the sentencing of the world and its people while later visions we will see the actual events (it progresses).
- Verses 9-11: God speaks to martyrs letting them know that patience (they will have to wait) is needed until things will be made right for them. Others will be killed as they have been because of the conflict the Gospel creates with those who reject Christ.
- Verse 11: The white robe is a wonderful symbol of the deposit of the coming reward for being faithful to Christ. Judgement will happen, but some who belong to the Lamb will be rewarded for faithfulness with a long white robe. This reward is now and also not yet fully fulfilled.
- Verses 12-17: These verses describe what comes with the horses from the previous verses. We should take note of Ezekiel 5:17 where similar language is used when God is speaking to Israel. These verses and description appear to be the same as in Matthew 24:29-30 which would also make it a time and place indicator. These events are taking place in Israel/Jerusalem and Matthew 24 and were fulfilled in 70AD. The idea is that these first 5 seals brought the tribulation of those days which Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24. They have a beginning then… and full fulfillment later.
NOTE: These verses show the beginning of the judgement. Revelation Chapter 19 (One riding on a white horse) speaks of these same events, but in more final terms as the sentence is acted upon. Chapter 14 (One coming on a white cloud) is part of this as well. When the judgement and harvest come, sometimes the ‘good side’ perspective is seen and sometimes the ‘bad side’ is seen. All people will endure this, but some will be judged while others are rewarded. All of it is under the Messianic fulfillment found in Christ.
NOTE: We should take note of parallels in Zechariah 6:11 when Joshua (son of the high priest) is crowned. This is a prophetic vision of Jesus who then reaches out to the whole world. We also find passages such as Joel 2:31 and Malachi 4:5 also play a part.
- Verse 16: The Lamb’s wrath is highlighted here as a time indicator. I think the language refers to Israel’s rejection of the king and then later the rejection of Jesus Christ. There is a harvest of believers and a release at judgment… hence the statement “soon to take place” of chapter 1.
KEEP IN MIND: As this vision unfolds, we see literal fulfillment at the same time as spiritual fulfillment. This chapter lays out the sentencing that happens (for Israel and then eventually the world). It can be seen that this chapter shows the pattern of death and hurt that happens all throughout history as the Gospel spreads, people reject it, and God sends judgement. This entire chapter outlines the spread of the Gospel message and the ‘fallout’ from that spread.
See the Wrath of the Lamb. As God deals with the disobedience of human beings, the ‘wrath of the lamb’ (verse 16) becomes more and more evident. Yes, Jesus came to bring life and peace and forgiveness, but sometimes salvation walks through the path of correction, judgement, and discipline.
In this passage we see the same type of hyperbolic language as in Isaiah 34 which was a divine pronouncement of God’s judgement on Edom. This was a nation devoted to destruction.