Revelation 6:1-17 Part 2


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?”


As we approach the text here in chapter six, it is an honor and a privilege to do so.  And it should also be with utmost reverence that we are privileged to do so.  I judge myself incapable of preaching it in the way it ought to be preached (due to the level of difficulty previously mentioned); but what we learn here, by Word and Spirit, must cause us to be humbled.  And, at the same time, it must give us great joy and contentment, for God’s justice and His grace are both marvelous in our sight.

I just read a review of a new book called “48 Hours of Kristallnacht”.  It is an in-depth look at the beginnings of the holocaust.  During a two-day siege orchestrated by the German government, there was nationwide rioting against Jews.  Their businesses were looted and destroyed; their homes were broken in to; many were beaten and some murdered; and numbers of the men were removed from their families - most never to be heard from again.  The German word “kristallnacht” means the night of broken glass, recalling the glistening broken windows of Jewish businesses strewn over the streets of Germany.

During all of the mob violence, the German government was to confiscate all valuables… gold, silver, art, antiques… from the businesses and homes of Jewish families.  And Jewish men were soon to be shipped off to concentration facilities.  And, as we all know, the women and children were soon to follow.

As I mentioned, this was just the beginning of about seven years of horror as people of Jewish ancestry were systematically eliminated and all of their valuables confiscated.  It was the worst example of “ethnic cleansing” in modern history.

What we’re about to read and hear, in chapter six and beyond, isn’t the worst example of genocide in modern history; it is the worst in all of history!  And it wasn’t “ethnic cleansing”; it was “covenantal” cleansing.  And it wasn’t an act of elimination of an ethnic group, but an act of judgment and deliverance!  For out of it came the dawning of a new day for all of God’s creation.

The fact that God judged His Own “heaven and earth” for its rebellion (while saving some of them) was the means by which our Lord saved many throughout all the nations, and the means by which He is still saving many in the nations… all of whom were estranged from God from the beginning!

The horror about which we are to read and hear in this text is never to cause us to gloat.  Neither is it to make us seem superior to others.  And even when we cry out in anguished prayer for God to judge His enemies (which we should do often), it is still not cause to celebrate the pain, and exult in the pain, of others, nor preach condemnation as if we were even equal in value.

We are not the olive tree; we are not the vine.  We are the “dogs” and the “outcasts” of the pagan nations – saved by the grace of God.  We are the “un-natural” grafted into the “natural”.  And what we’re about to hear should cause us to be humbled – even mortified – that we should be rescued and made to stand with Christ as His vice-priests in His Church, and vice-kings in His Kingdom… that we should be made to sit with Him on His throne and judge the world.

That’s the very basis for Jesus’ teaching in the first of (what we call) the beatitudes, isn’t it?    “Blessed are the poor in spirit….”  The “poor in spirit” are those who see and acknowledge their own sin, and “mourn” it; and that our Lord destroyed His Own “heaven and earth” – the land and people who He loved, and with whom He had covenanted - and graciously rescued for Himself a people from among the Gentile nations.

And the human tendency is to look at all these things that He has done, and say, “they had it coming to them”.  Well, I have news for you:  so did you… have it coming to you.  And I. 

Our Lord destroyed one people (except for a remnant) – a people that He had set aside for Himself – one that He had made in the likeness of the heaven, and had loved for fifteen hundred years; and He delivered another – one which “knew Him not”, and who had lived in the satanic-infested wilderness of the world from the beginning….

Are you starting to see now what humility is?  What poverty of spirit is?  Meekness before God?

We were not the “chosen”.  We were not the ones created “heaven and earth” in God’s “land of milk and honey”.  We were not from the tribe of Judah and the loins of David.  We were not given the Word of God and the Law and the Sacrifices.  We were not the “olive tree” and the “vine”.


“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig tree at her first time (to bear): but they went to Baalpeor (idols), and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.”  (Hosea 9)


Israel was likened by God as a fig tree. (Remember our Lord Jesus cursed and withered a fig tree as a sign of that which was to come to pass for the nation of Israel.)

Israel was beloved of God and called His “vine”, removed from Egypt and planted in heaven and earth, and sank its roots deeply into the land – but it did not bear good fruit.


19) …know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

20) For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.

21) Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?   (Jeremiah 2)


That’s how our God saw her; He named her His “noble vine”.  She was “planted” as His vineyard.  That’s what she was to Him; so that’s what she was… a vine – to bear clusters of noble fruit.

And what was it that Jesus said to the pharisees about His vineyard and its vine?  Listen to it in Matthew 21:


33) There was a man that was a householder, who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into another country.

34) And when the season of the fruits drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, to receive his fruits.

35) And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

36) Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them in like manner.

37) But afterward he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

38) But the husbandmen, when they saw the son, said among themselves, this is the heir; come, let us kill him, and take his inheritance.

39) And they took him, and cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him.

40) When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

41) They (the pharisees) say unto him, He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

42) Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; This was from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes?

43) Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.


Israel was “the vine”… the “noble vine”.

 God had also called Israel His “green olive tree”.   That’s the way He saw her; that’s what she was!  Listen in Jeremiah 11:


15) What hath my beloved to do in my house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoice!

16) Yahveh called thy name, “a green olive-tree”, fair with goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

17) For Yahveh of hosts, who planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, because of the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have wrought for themselves in provoking me….


And what did the apostle Paul say about Israel – God’s olive tree?

15) … if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

16) And if the first-fruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17) But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, and didst become partaker with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree;

18) glory not over the branches: but if thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee.

19) Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

20) Well!   By their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by thy faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21) for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee.

22) Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God's goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23) And they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

24) For if thou wast cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?


We’re going to read many things about fig trees and olive trees and vines with their noble clusters of grapes in John’s Revelation; for they are central to what John saw and heard.  They are at the essence of how God views His creation, and how He planted His covenant people in the land of milk and honey; and how he created Israel a new heaven and earth.

Israel and Jerusalem and the temple is at the very earthly center of that which is in the heaven, with our Triune God upon His throne.  The temple, adorned with clusters of fruit, and its implements adorned with olive trees, Israel was planted as the earthly substance of that which was in the heaven.  Israel was His love, for it was created in His “likeness”, you see.

And please remember, all through this letter to the Churches, that God’s promise to Israel has been fulfilled… and will be fulfilled, for a remnant from Israel was rescued – was being rescued (as John looks on).  The remnant is the natural root and stalk.  They were the ones who, when they were found, welcomed Jesus’ disciples; and who recognized Messiah when they were told of Him, and who had not bowed the knee to Israel’s idols.

And, too, Paul prophesies the engrafting of elect Jews back into the root and stalk of God’s own green olive tree – the “natural” branches.  This has been happening to some small degree through Church history; and it will happen in a much more substantial engrafting as our Lord’s Kingdom progresses and grows!

And it will be, as Paul says, “all Israel shall be saved”.  The engrafting of the wild olive tree into the root and stalk of God’s “green olive tree”, plus the engrafting, through history, of good branches into their original root and stalk, all of us true Jews in Christ, all of us heirs of our father Abraham, all of us growing from the root and stalk of God’s “green olive tree”, and all Israel shall be saved.

All this to say, once more, that we must be fearful of God, meek in our approach to Him and our obedience to Him, and supplicatory for His grace and mercy; and never to be boastful and prideful and braggadocious.  And we are not – ever – to flout or mock or show contempt for Israel’s condition and status, nor delight in it, as she suffered the consequences of her idolatry and harlotry… all the while knowing that the true green olive tree was being rescued as our Lord had commanded His disciples.

That doesn’t mean that we are to permit, or suffer, or put up with judaism’s continued folly.  That, you remember, was Jesus’ condemnation of the Church at Ephesus in His message to them.  That Church had “suffered” its first love; it had “put up with it” in its midst.

Judaism is a false religion.  Its “falseness” is equal to, or greater than, the falseness of any other idolatrous religion.  So we are never to allow it in our midst nor suffer its peaceful overtures.  Neither are we to show them that their religion is, at the least point, acceptable to us – for it is not acceptable to our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Judaism is the “tares” oversown in God’s field – only to be gathered and burned in the day of reaping.

But our God is the same… yesterday, today and tomorrow.  And He is always faithful and just – faithful to all His promises.  The vine is always “the vine”; and the green olive tree is always His “green olive tree”.  They are part and parcel of His holy temple in the heaven.  They are in His likeness.

The root and the stalk is Israel – planted as God’s “heaven and earth”.

A generation – thirty to forty years – is the time period after the crucifixion of Jesus that was required to locate and move a significant number of the remaining root and stalk into the nations – those who had not knelt before judaism’s idols.  And that having been done, His promise to Israel was discharged and brought to reality.  He had promised to save Israel – His “noble vine” and His “green olive tree”.  And He did.

In the midst of the birth-pangs; in the midst of the dawning of a new day; in the midst of the beginnings of a new heavens and a new earth, God’s saving mercy toward Israel, as promised, was accomplished; and the New Jerusalem was filled up with His vine and His green olive tree.  And attached to that root and stalk would be many from the nations.  Judgment and deliverance!

You see, all of this comes from that little innocuous statement (seemingly innocuous) in verse six of our text: “do not unjustly injure the olive tree and the vine”.  That command was a voice from the midst of the throne.  It was the voice of our Savior and our God, for Israel was “planted” in the likeness of the throne-room in the heaven.  “My green olive tree” is not to be injured; My “vine” is not to be injured.”

Even from the beginnings of our Lord’s earthly ministry, He and His disciples were overseeing and administering the covenantal protection of, and the extradition of, God’s elect in Israel.  He, Himself, said that He had been sent to seek and to find His lost sheep. And even after His resurrection and ascension the disciples were to continue house to house in all of Israel, finding them, and supervising and assisting their exodus from Israel into the nations.  God’s “noble vine” – His “green olive tree” – was to be extradited – emigrated – every last one.  And all of this during the “beginning of sorrows” as Jesus warns His disciples.  Listen to it in Matthew 24: 6-8:


6)    but you are about to hear battles and reports of battles; see, lest you be terrified; for it is necessary to occur.  But it is not yet the end.

7)    For there shall be raised up a nation against a nation, a kingdom against a kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes from place to place,

8)    and all these, “beginning of travails” (birthpangs, sorrows).


Jesus goes on to warn of pestilence and strife and roaming bands of terrorists and false prophets and christs – all of these things being the beginning of sorrows, not the end – the birthpangs of the coming deconstruction of the old and the dawning of the new.  And, as we’ll see, they fall into four primary categories, which we clearly see in the text of chapter six, and which we previewed last Lord’s Day.

But before we even get to this text, the language of the prophets has to be recognized for what it is.  And I want to just read for you some of that language.  And as we read, please listen carefully for the language found in our Revelation six text here.

This is the prophecy of Habbakuk in chapter three of the prophetic Word of God:


2)    O Yahveh, I have heard the report of thee, and am afraid: O Yahveh, revive thy work in the midst of the years; In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.

3)    God came from Teman, And the Holy One from mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.

4)    And his brightness was as the light; He had rays coming forth from his hand; and there was the hiding of his power.

5)    Before him went the pestilence, and fiery bolts went forth at his feet.

6)    He stood, and measured the earth; He beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills did bow; His goings were as of old.

7)    I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.

8)    Was Yahveh displeased with the rivers? Was thine anger against the rivers, Or thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thy horses, upon thy chariots of salvation?

9)    Thy bow was made quite bare; the oaths to the tribes were a sure word. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.

10) The mountains saw thee, and were afraid; the tempest of waters passed by; the deep uttered its voice, and lifted up its hands on high.

11) The sun and moon stood still in their habitation, at the light of thine arrows as they went, at the shining of thy glittering spear.

12) Thou didst march though the land in indignation; thou didst thresh the nations in anger.

13) Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, for the salvation of thine anointed; thou woundest the head out of the house of the wicked man, laying bare the foundation even unto the neck.

14) Thou didst pierce with his own staves the head of his warriors: they came as a whirlwind to scatter me; Their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly.

15) Thou didst tread the sea with thy horses, the heap of mighty waters.

16) I heard, and my body trembled, my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entereth into my bones, and I tremble in my place; because I must wait quietly for the day of trouble, for the coming up of the people that invadeth us.

17) For though the fig-tree shall not flourish, neither shall fruit be in the vines; The labor of the olive tree shall fail, and the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18) Yet I will rejoice in Yahveh, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19) Yahveh the Lord is my strength; and he maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and will make me to walk upon my high places.


Parousia; horses; pestilence; famine; sword; shaking.   The vine; the olive tree; decreation; the sea of humanity lifting up its hands in joy.

All of this in this one chapter of the prophecy of Habakkuk.  It is the language of God, you see.  It is prophetic language.  It’s a language that we must learn, for it is the language of God.  It is how God sees it.  It is how God understands it.  It’s how He made it.

And when we hear it, we must understand it as He spoke it, for we must think God’s thoughts after Him… to the extent that He has revealed them.

Lastly this morning, here’s one more from the prophetic language for you, from Isaiah chapter four:

In that day shall the branch of Yahveh be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

And another, from Isaiah 60:


19) The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but Yahveh will be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.

20) Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for Yahveh will be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

21) Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified….


And once more, from Zechariah chapter three:


8)    Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee; for they are men that are a sign: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.


Our Lord Jesus Christ is the root and stalk of the vine, and the true Branch of God’s “green olive tree”.  And all of us in Him are planted in our Lord’s “new Israel”, in the “new Jerusalem”.  And the command has gone out from the throne, to all of His creatures in the heaven, that God’s green olive tree is not to be injured.