Revelation 6:1-17 Part 1


1)    And I watched when the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals; and I heard one of the four creatures speaking as thunderous sound: “COME”!

2)    And, LO!  A white horse.  And the One sitting upon it holding a bow, a crown having been given to Him.  And He did come out overcoming and that He may overcome.

3)    And when He did open the second seal, I heard the second creature speaking: “COME”!

4)    And another did come out, a red horse; and to the one sitting upon it having been given to take the peace from the earth, so that one might slaughter the other, a great sword having been given to him.

5)    And when He did open the third seal, I heard the third creature speaking: “COME”!  And, LO!  A black horse, and the one sitting upon it holding a scale in his hand.

6)    And I heard as it were a sound in midst of the four creatures, saying “a chaenix of corn for a denarious, and three chaenixes of barley for a denarious; and do not unjustly injure the olive tree and the vine”.

7)    And when He opened the fourth seal I heard a sound from the fourth creature speaking: “COME”!

8)    And, LO!  A pale horse.  And the one sitting upon it named “the death”, and “the hades” was following him closely; and authority was given them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword, with famine, with plague, and by the beasts of the earth.

9)    And when He did open the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the lives of those who had been slaughtered because of the Word of God and because of the testimony that they were holding.

10) And in a great sound they did cry out, saying “until when, holy and worthy Master, are You not judging and avenging our blood from those dwelling on the earth?

11) And a white priestly garment was given to each one, and it was spoken to them that they should rest themselves yet a little time until also their fellow-servants and brothers who are about to be killed even as they should be fulfilled.

12) And when He did open the sixth seal a great shaking did occur, and the sun became as black as sackcloth hair, and the entire moon became as blood,

13) And the stars of heaven did fall into the earth as a fig tree casts her winter figs upon being shaken by a great wind,

14) And the heaven was swept aside as a scroll being rolled up, and all the mountains and islands were moved out of their places.

15) And the kings of the earth and the great men and the princes and the chiliarchs and the wealthy and the powerful and every slave and free did conceal themselves into the caverns and into the clefts of the mountains

16) and saying to the mountains and the rocks, “fall upon us and conceal us from the Presence of the One sitting upon the throne and the wrath of the Lamb,

17) because the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”



Someday all of creation will acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.  Whether things in heaven, whether things on earth, or whether things under the earth, all flesh shall bend the knee and acknowledge Him as King.  And the knowledge of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

What we’re witnessing here as we read and hear John’s Revelation is the corroboration and fullness of the covenantal decree of Christ’s Kingdom.  He has come to the throne victorious; and as John sees Him, Jesus is proceeding to judgment and deliverance.  That which He had revealed to His disciples had already been taking place; and He would soon complete “that which is necessary to happen quickly”.

Deliverance – rescue – salvation had already begun for the peoples and tribes and tongues of the world; and, for all those peoples (including us), His Parousia was the “Dayspring” of salvation!  His Parousia is the bright Morning Star for the hope of the nations.  His Parousia is the Dawn of a New Day, and the creation of a new heaven and earth.  His Parousia is the constitution and establishment of His Kingdom over, and among, all flesh.

And as He and His prophets all prophesied, His Parousia was the beginning of the great Light shining upon all tribes and tongues, and which would gradually come to full, mid-day Sun!  And His Kingdom would fill the earth with the knowledge of God as the water covers the sea.

As we read, and continue to read, in the text, the “work” of the Lamb of God is complete.  And when the elect of Israel are secured, comes His Parousia – the Dawn of the New Day.  The fourth great kingdom of the world will be shattered and scattered; and the Fifth Kingdom established over all other kingdoms; and it will gradually grow into its fullness by the work of Holy Spirit “sent forth” by Father and Son.

In Daniel 2:31-45 the kingdom of Christ comes down to the earth as a stone smiting the world kingdom, which exists under a fourth imperial rule. As we read through the passage we learn that the kingdom grows to become a great mountain in the earth: "You watched while a STONE was cut out without hands” Daniel said, “which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces….  And the stone that struck the image BECAME A GREAT MOUNTAIN and filled the whole earth. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever".

"In Ezekiel 17:22-24 God promises to establish the kingdom as a small "sprig from the lofty top of the cedar." Then He will nurture it until it becomes "a stately cedar."

"In Ezekiel 47:1-9 redemption flows forth from the temple of God growing ever deeper. The waters of life coming out from under the altar come first "to the ankles" (vs. 3), then to the knees (vs. 4a), then to the loins (vs. 4b), then it "was a river that I could not fiord"

"In Matthew 13 the parables of our Lord concerning His Kingdom expressly speak of its increase in size and transformational influence. Matthew 13:3-9 portrays the kingdom as the scattering of seed that gradually grows to bear abundant fruit. Matthew 13:31-33 speaks of its growth as that of a mustard seed into a great tree; and as a little leaven that leavens whole bushels of meal. In Mark 4:26-29, the kingdom of God is said to begin as mere seed, then it puts forth the blade, then the head - the mature grain.

Truly His Parousia is the Dayspring of our deliverance; and His promise throughout His prophetic Word is our confidence and anticipation.  And as we grow in grace and knowledge, we will not allow ourselves to be discouraged when a temporary uprising of evil occurs… there have been many of those, only to be put down in due time.  For His Word does stand forever.  And men and women and children from every nation, tribe and tongue are flowing into, and will flow into, the New Jerusalem.

 As we noted previously, John the apostle hears the four throne-creatures and the twenty-four elder creatures sing the four-fold “new song”: “worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, for You were slain, and You did buy for God in Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and You did make them a kingdom, and priests for our God, and they will reign upon the earth”.

And the apostle John, also recorded for us in chapter five, hears the praise of all the creatures in the heaven as, all together, they proclaim the Lamb’s worthiness.  And they enumerate seven components of the glory and brightness which the worthy Lamb of God receives upon the completion of His work – the “seven” indicating the “fullness”, or “completeness”, of his inheritance.  You see, He is worthy to receive all things!

The Son of God, having put away all of this in order to be born of a woman, to take on humanity and be a perfect sacrifice for humanity, now has completed His work as sacrificial Lamb of God; and He has been deemed worthy to receive it all again, being victorious in all His work of taking away the sin of the world and overcoming the world.

“…worthy is the Lamb, the One slain, to receive the power and abundance and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise”.

All the creatures in the heaven shout His worthiness to be glorified with Father and Spirit – to receive again that which He had put aside for a time, His “sameness” with Father and Spirit having not been considered unjust.

And then everything in the creation – everything in the heaven, and all of the created cosmos - joins in the praise of the Lamb… even the entirety of God’s creation itself now crying out for its deliverance!  At every point the creatures in the midst of the throne say “Amen”.  And the elder-creatures around the throne prostrate themselves before the One worthy to receive His inheritance – all His glory which He had set aside in order to be that sacrifice – and in order to assume all authority in the heaven and in the cosmos itself.

He is, as John sees and hears, our Savior and our God.  He has the seven horns of absolute authority; He has the seven eyes, sending forth Holy Spirit into all the earth; He has glorified command of the four throne-creatures which are the four corners of the throne and the four corners of the altar in which and upon which he was sacrificed, and the four corners of Israel, and the four corners of the earth; the twenty-four elders prostrate themselves in worship before Him; the myriads of angel-messengers shout His victory; the four corners of Israel, and the four corners and four winds of the earth, are His complete command, as is the sea of humanity, for to Him has been given all authority over all that exists.

As the risen and bodily ascended God-man, He is Royal Priest of Church and Kingdom; and He is Executor of the Covenant, having all authority over the execution of the sanctions of the Covenant; and He has all authority over death and hades.  After all, these two, among all other things, belong to Him.

Truly this is the One Who is worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals to loose them, which is exactly what John sees and hears next.  He has now assumed His authority; and, having done so, He is ready to commence His further work.

And I thought I was frustrated at every turn, as we passed from verse to verse and chapter to chapter during the last twenty-one months in John’s Revelation.  Come to find out (full disclosure here), (Come to find out) entering chapter six, that I really didn’t know what frustration was!  Uplifted and stimulated – yes!  At the same time thinking that I hadn’t done enough!  So much to do… so much to explain!

While I was studying and preaching through the first five chapters, I found myself almost driven to stop and preach from certain portions of Daniel and from Isaiah and from Ezekiel, because there were valuable passages there, seeing that so much of clarity and understanding of the Revelation explicitly and implicitly depends upon having knowledge of the prophetic Word of the older Scripture.  And, of course, we certainly can’t leave out our Lord’s words to His disciples in chapters twenty-three through twenty-five of the Gospel of Matthew – and the other Gospels. 

And also I was almost compelled to preach from those prophets because I didn’t think that I could do John’s text justice without it!  But I thought, “no, we have to stay focused and remain in the text – even if there is an incomplete view of what the prophets foretold”.  So, we have just “read” appropriate passages from the prophets, and then made pointed comments about them in explanation of our text.  And we’ve also spent more time in Matthew as it’s been required.

But that frustration has come from the desire to do “enough” from the prophets to establish the foundation in the prophetic language – the language of God – and yet not leave you confused and disjointed.  It’s like having to preach from the whole Bible every Sunday.  This is the “Capstone” of Scripture, you see.  The Revelation brings it all together; and it does so from God’s perspective – AND in His language!

Now, as far as the new text is concerned, we’ve mentioned previously that there are over six hundred words, phrases and concepts directly referable to the older Scripture in John’s Revelation.  Well, that may be way low!  I’m finding out that that’s a conservative number!  Because a word or phrase or verse or concept may have reference to multiples of passages that must be brought to bear.

The prophetic language of the Old Testament (since it is God’s language) is the language that is used here in the heaven, as John sees and hears the “fullness” of that language of the Law and the prophets.  That means that the “fulfillment” of what the prophets said rests in the person of the glorified Lamb of God and what He has done and what He has said and what He is promising to do!  For John is experiencing the revealing of all that has been done, and all that is necessary to take place quickly!  And all that is to take place quickly is the “fullness” of all that is foretold in the Law and the prophets!

Everything in the Law and the Prophets points to the Christ; so how could anyone ever understand the Revelation of what the Christ has done and is about to do, here in the Revelation of St John, without referring to what Moses and the prophets foretold?  For the time is near!  What the prophets foretold is what the risen Christ told John was necessary to be done in quickness!

And of course we see, more and more as we go, that one can’t read, understand or preach from the Revelation as if it was all symbolic; and then, having jumped to that conclusion, make up what the symbols mean as one goes along!  That’s simply folly!  The Revelation is not symbolic; it is prophetic language brought to conclusion – fullness – in the Person of the Christ!

But to the eyes and ears of folks who read and hear, the damage done to them by treating God’s Word in that way (like it’s symbolic) is catastrophic – not only from what is said that’s not there, but also from what is not said that is there!  How one receives the Word of God is determinative of his faith and his lifestyle!  If one isn’t confident and anticipatory about what Jesus has done and what He’s promised to do, then how shall they then live in faithfulness and piety?

But back to the level of frustration for a minute….  And, by the way, I know your discomfort in trying to keep all of this together.  But I don’t know any other way to do it except word by word, line by line, and concept by concept, even though it causes you to have to hold huge amounts of information over long periods of time – not to mention understanding it and having it clarified!  And then, further, to be able to use it to minister to others in their faithfulness and lifestyles!

And the frustration is magnified at every advance in the text.  And it’s about to be more so.  I’m afraid it’s going to increase exponentially.

For example, there are fourteen chapters and two hundred and eleven verses in the prophecy of Zechariah alone; and that entire prophecy, from front to back, is filled up in chapter six (and beyond) of the Revelation.  And that’s just ONE prophetic book!  I’m having a struggle right now incorporating that entire prophesy (the prophesy of Zechariah) into the preaching of the Revelation, without stopping to preach from Zechariah!  And the level of difficulty in doing that, that is, making it all understandable and interesting, is frightening.

But, knowing this, you see, gives us great comfort – even in our frustration.  Because the prophetic language in Zechariah (language, by the way, directly from Yahveh the Word) is the very same language that John recorded for us!  And that’s the case because the sights and sounds that He recorded are as a result of seeing and hearing the fullness of Zechariah’s prophecy (among others) coming to pass!  So we don’t have to worry about making something up that sounds good from some arcane and impenetrable symbolism that reverberates so strangely in our ears.

And we don’t have to fear some cosmic cataclysm made up by fear-mongering revivalists.  We don’t have to worry that the plane we might be riding in could fall from the sky because the pilot is raptured.  And we don’t have to buy T-shirts with “WWJD” written on them (What Would Jesus Do?); although, knowing what the Revelation does say, you might want to order up some with different things on them if you wish.  You’d have to have at least two – wearing one after the other on alternate days.

One of them would read “WDJD” (What Did Jesus Do?); and the other would read “WDJS” (What Did Jesus Say?).  Then I suppose you could order a third, reading “WDJP” (What Did Jesus Promise?).

Hopefully, in a few weeks, you can get an additional shirt printed with “what really happened in chapter six?”  That might prompt some curiosity!  Anyway, we’re not going to preach through the text of Zechariah.  We’ll read from it and make comments on it in much the same way we’ve addressed the prophets heretofore.  And, of course, we’ll be looking at other prophecies as well.  But please pray for clarity as Holy Spirit works His will with us.

But, as we approach this chapter for the first time, let’s see, right at the beginning here, that this is a continuation from chapter five.  There’s no break between the last verse of chapter five and the first verse of chapter six.  So, John’s not standing around shuffling from one foot to the other, waiting for what’s going to happen next. 

The first guy who tried to make it easier for us to find things in the Scripture by chopping it all up into chapters and verses probably didn’t realize the “unintended consequences” of his sincere quest to make it easier for people to read the Bible.  He most certainly did simplify the search process; but we now have discontinuity of thought to overcome.  As long as you are all aware that The Revelation is “a” document, without chapters, without verses, and without paragraphs; and that it has words and actions and thought processes, all written in God’s language, without complete English sentences, and without properly punctuated English sentences; and that it is revealed to John, and written down by Him, in fulfilled prophetic language, then you’ll be okay!  And, fortunately (I guess) for us who read and hear in English, we don’t have to hear it as they did in the first seven Churches!  Because then it was read straight through as one letter on a scroll.  It was one, continuous, uninterrupted document, you see.

Okay.  That’s point one.  Point two is that this chapter six is most often read, preached, referred to, and understood as the chapter with the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”.  And when it is referred to and preached in that way, what “apocalypse” means is the catastrophic end times.

But, as we’ve explained previously, the Greek word (apokalupto) has nothing whatever to do with catastrophe; nor does it have to do with “end times”.  The word simply means “Revelation”.  The Revelation of John.  That Greek word, apokalupto, is the reason that the book is called Revelation.  And please remember that the word is singular.  It’s not “Revelations”. So, it’s not the “catastrophic end times of St John”….  It’s “The Revelation of St John”!

The fact is that folks have read the prophesied judgment in this book, have premillennially attributed it to the end of the world, and have named it “the apocalypse”!  And, therefore, the four horses and their riders are “the four horsemen of the apocalypse” – apocalypse, to them, meaning cataclysmic termination.  Well, we’re about to read and hear what the prophets prophesied, and what our Lord prophesied in Matthew 23 and 24, all of which is “Revelation”; but none of it is described by the forced and incorrect meaning of the word “apokalupto”.  Should one refer to the horses and their riders here in chapter six, then they ought to be called “the four horsemen of Revelation”.  Plus the fact that the Scripture itself proclaims the gradual, non-cataclysmic, growth of our Lord’s Kingdom until it fills the earth.

Thirdly, we continue to encounter “time” and “sequence” issues in the text of John’s book.  Remember please that our Lord, speaking directly to John, said for Him to write all of this and send it to the Churches.  This has to do with “that which is necessary to be done in quickness”; “for the time is near”.

But we’ll see very clearly that not everything seen, heard and written by John is yet to be done; and that not everything to be done is to be in the chronological sequence in which John writes it.  So, “that which is necessary to be done in quickness”, and “for the time is near”, will cover all things of prophetic significance all the way from the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the destruction of Israel – and beyond to the Dayspring of the nations!  The point here being that that which we’ve just read (and which we will be preaching and hearing) will include the events that occurred before John was called up into the heaven – all those things which were prophesied by the prophets, and which were prophesied by our Lord in Matthew chapters twenty three and twenty four during the thirty five years leading up to the revelation of this text!  It’s all included!  And he sees it all happening; and we read it as if it were happening at that moment!

So you have to adjust your thinking to include the time issues that we’ve heard previously, that that which John sees in the heaven isn’t limited by time; and that it is the fullness, or filling up, of the prophetic Word in the last days, and it is seen by John as a single event – even when it includes all that has already occurred!  There is much that John sees happening in the heaven that has, indeed, already taken place in the previous thirty-five years; and then much more that is about to happen quickly! 

We’ll be able to talk about this some more in the second hour if you need some clarity about it, but hopefully it will become clear that the prophetic Word (which John sees in its fullness) concerns the entire period from the Lamb Slain to His Parousia.  And it is not in some chronological order necessarily, but is viewed by John as one event.

Now, the next element of our Lord’s covenantal Word that we need to be concerned about here, and have some clarity brought back to memory, has to do with the significance of “fours” in the law and the prophets, and in the words of Jesus, and in the Revelation.  I’m spending some extended time with you on this because this subject is of foremost importance to our understanding of chapter six and beyond.

Our previous inquiry into the text of Scripture regarding “fours” was generated by John’s description of the four cherubim back in chapter four.  And we noted that the descriptions of the cherubim in the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel were virtually identical to John’s.

And we said how remarkable it was how many “fours” there are in Scripture with reference to the creation, as it is made corresponding to that which is seen in the heaven.  All through God’s Word, the creation is referred to in “fours”.

The instruction to Moses regarding the building of the entire tabernacle is in “fours”… the four corners, four sides, four cubits, four rings, etc.  And the furniture in the tabernacle is all built with reference to its “fours”.  In other words, a man-made earthly structure built specifically to God’s specifications to be the “likeness” of His Presence in the heaven, is built, by instruction from God, with dozens of “fours”, because the “fours” are correspondent to that which is in the heaven, including the throne itself and its four throne-creatures.

And we noted, too, that God’s Word also refers to the entire creation itself in terms of “fours”… the four winds, the four corners of the earth, etc.  And also the four corners of God’s “heaven and earth” – Israel!

As you may remember, we looked at the exegesis of the first ten chapters of Ezekiel by pastor John Calvin, in which the four Cherubim are discussed.  And his remarks were quite appropriate when he wrote that the creation moves and has its being in the power of the voice of Almighty God through these Cherubim.  They are ”four”, and the creation is “four”.

He goes on to say, “Hence we gather that the events of things are not accidental, nor excited in various directions by any blind impulse, but directed by the hidden power of God, and that too by means of (the cherubim).”  So the “throne-creatures” are the power of God Himself regarding His creation.  They are referred to as “angels” on occasion; but they are separate creatures from the angel/messengers, having to do with the very activation of all that God has created.  They are the “creation-creatures”.   The entire creation “proceeds” by them and through them at the very will and command of God.

As we move into the text of chapter six, we need to pay special attention to the “fours” – and to these creatures, for the creation looks like, and corresponds to, that which is in the heaven.  It’s the way God made it.  He made it all in the “likeness” of His Presence.  And passages such as the one I’ll read for you now are very instructive for us as we begin the record of John in chapter six.

This is the prophecy of Ezekiel as the four cherubim move upon the four corners of the “land” of Israel:


For thus saith the Lord Yahveh:  How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the evil beasts, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!

Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be carried forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings; and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it.”


There are four sore judgments to be sent upon Israel, according to the Word of Yahveh through His prophet.  And now we read in John’s Revelation of four horses and four judgments, called forth by four cherubim.  It is the “beginning of sorrows” – the “beginning of travail” – the “birthpangs” of judgment; and the “dayspring” of deliverance.