Revelation 6:1-17 Part 3

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?”


We’ve reviewed some of the things that were previously covered and necessary for us to remember; and we spent extended time with the issue of “prophetic language”, which is the language of God, and how we must “think God’s thought after Him” from His perspective.

And we then took care to reiterate the “judgment and deliverance” focus of the Revelation.  God’s love for His “noble vine” and its fruit, and His “green olive tree”, is secured in the promise of, and the arrival of, the “Branch”.  Upon His arrival, all the prophetic Scripture comes to its “fullness”, and the prophesied judgment and deliverance takes place.  And the “voice” from the Throne (as John hears) commands that there be no “unjust injury” to the vine and the tree.

The prophetic language of God in the older Scripture is retained in the Revelation…; of course it is – since it IS the language of God.  So, what the prophets saw and heard is what John sees and hears.  Except what John sees and hears is the fullness of all the prophets….  It is its entirety and completion! 

So, the images and visions and direct inspirations of fifteen hundred years of the Law and the prophets come at us fast and furious.  This is, indeed, the “capstone” of all Revelation.  So thirty-nine books of Revelation in the older Scripture, and twenty-five books of Revelation in the newer Scripture, are all filled up right here in the Revelation text!  Now, that’s rather daunting, isn’t it?

We’ve witnessed God’s language in the creation itself being in the likeness of that which is in the heaven; then further in the creation of Israel and the city on the mount and the temple with all of its sacrifices – all in the likeness of God’s Throne room, for it was, indeed, “heaven and earth”, for God had created it for Himself following the destruction of the first one.

We’ve heard of lightnings and thunders, fire and smoke and coals, and throne creatures, and chariots with wheels, and beautiful colored stones, and trumpets and shakings and mountains and trees and rocks… and the “sea” with its imagery of pagan humanity.  And much, much more.

And, as we’ve seen before, another one of those “constructs of God’s perception” that is revealed to us by God through His prophets has to do with His creation in “fours”.  The creation is perceived by God as “four”.  It is dealt with by God as “four”.  In its “four-ness” it is in the likeness of that which is in the heaven.

There are four throne-creatures at the four corners of the throne of God; and four winds and four corners of the earth; His second heaven and earth – Israel – is also revealed in fours, with the temple and its implements constructed in fours, and Israel itself described in fours… all in the likeness of the throne room and the throne of God.

  The four throne-creatures are revealed in the prophetic Word to move upon the face of the “sea of humanity”, and four great civilization-ruling, culture changing nations (dominions) rise up through history in advance of the arrival of The Branch and His fifth (and eternal) Kingdom.  And when we come to the text itself here in chapter six, we’ll learn much more about the fullness of the prophetic “fours” as our Lord brings judgment against the nation with which He covenanted.

Now, for our insight into this text there is an additional confluence of prophetic language that will become very important to us as we proceed.  And it has to do with what Jesus said to His disciples upon being asked “What shall be the sign of Your Parousia and consummation of the age?”

And at the beginning of His answer, this is what He said:


“…but you are about to hear wars (fighting) and reports of wars; see, lest you be terrified; for it is necessary to occur.  But it is not yet the end.

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

And all these “beginning of travails”.


What does Jesus mean when He says to them that all of these things are beginning of travails?  We have to ask the question, because the context of His answer to His disciples is exactly the same as the context here in chapter six.  And, too, because this is our Lord using the same prophetic language that He spoke to the prophets!

To just gloss over that language as if it simply means some “troubles” is to miss it all!  But that’s what generally happens.  But why should anyone be satisfied with some knee-jerk, off-the-cuff explanation, when the entire older prophetic Word is available to us to read?  And upon reading it we find that in every case in which the word “travail” is used in the prophetic Word, it has to do with the labor and pain and anguish of childbirth!

As I read a passage from Jeremiah, listen for the “travail” of Israel as she is in anguish.  And while we’re reading this, please listen also to the prophet as he forthtells the horses, and the horsemen, and the bow – all of which we see here in chapter six of our text!


“My bowels, my bowels!  I am pained at the very heart.  My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.  Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled….”  “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it is without form and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.  I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved.  I beheld, and, lo, there was no man; and all the birds of the heavens were fled.  I beheld and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger.  For thus hath the Lord said, ‘the whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.  For thus shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken, I have purposed, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.  The whole city will flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks; every city forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.  And when you are spoiled, what will you do?  Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you bedeck yourself with ornaments of gold, though you cover your face with painting, in vain shall you make yourself fair.  Your lovers will despise you, they will seek your life.  For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, the anguish as of her that brings forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, bewails herself, spreads her hands, and says, ‘woe is me now!  For my soul is worn out because of murderers!’”


Remember now, our Lord in Matthew 24 tells His disciples of a fourfold “beginning of travails” (i.e., the pangs of birth).

The prophet Micah also prophesies with the language of God concerning Israel’s coming travail:


“…for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.  Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail….”  “But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travails has brought forth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return unto the children of Israel….”


And, in the fullness of those prophecies, who can ever forget (who has read it even once) John’s Revelation in God’s Own language (chapter twelve) – the woman in great travail, ready to give birth to the Son; and the dragon pursuing her in order to devour Him as He comes forth (Revelation 12)!

So there is no doubt whatever that, as Jesus speaks to His disciples there at the beginning of Matthew 24, he is speaking in the language of the prophetic Word of God concerning the “travail” of Israel in giving birth to the Son and to His Kingdom and to the New Covenant and the New Heavens and the New Earth!

And the “shaking” of heaven and earth, and the famines, and the pestilence and the great wars and battles in the world, are just the “beginning of travails” as there is labor in pain and anguish and tribulation to give forth the New Kingdom of God’s Son!

The point is here, that there is not just pain and sorrow and tribulation in the judgment of Israel, but there is birth!  The great tribulation which was about to occur (in Jesus’ words), “in this generation” was one of judgment and salvation!

But these four are just “the beginning of travails” Jesus said… the prelude to birth.

With the opening of every page of the Revelation we witness the absolute sovereignty of God – Father, Son, Spirit – over all His creation and all His creatures, as His every thought and command activate and animate all of history.  As we read His language in the prophets, and as we read and hear the fullness of the prophets in the text of John’s Revelation, we gather it all together in order to understand how He perceives His creation and how His will enlivens and invigorates and quickens it all… bringing it to pass as He wills to do.

And most assuredly that is what we find as we address what John records for us here in chapter six.  And, once again, it is not obscure; it’s not symbolic; it’s not mysterious….  It is the language of God with respect to His creation and how He perceives it.  He identifies it, apprehends it, comprehends it and observes it in His Own terms, because He spoke it to be, and it is.  And it is His!

As we continue to read certain portions of the prophetic Word, hopefully – over the course – we’ll be so saturated with God’s Word (rather than the thoughts of men) that we’ll begin to think with God’s thought.  And, to that end, we pick up right where we left off – with the prophet Zechariah’s encounter with Yahveh, which was during the second year of the Persian empire.  Listen to some of the first chapter:


8)    I saw in the night and, behold, a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle-trees that were in the bottom; and behind him there were horses, red, speckled, and white.

9)    Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the messenger that talked with me said unto me, I will show thee what these are.

10) And the man that stood among the myrtle-trees answered and said, these are they who Yahveh hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.

11) And they answered the messenger of Yahveh that stood among the myrtle-trees, and said, we have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.

12) Then the angel of Yahveh answered and said, O Yahveh of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years [70 years]?

13) And Yahveh answered the messenger that talked with me with good words, even comfortable words.

14) So the messenger that talked with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith Yahveh of Hosts: I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great zeal.

15) And I am very sore displeased with the nations that are at ease; for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the evil.

16) Therefore thus saith Yahveh: I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies; my house is built in it, saith Yahveh of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem.

17) Cry yet again, saying, Thus saith Yahveh of Hosts: My cities shall yet overflow with prosperity; and Yahveh shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.

18) And I lifted up mine eyes, and saw and, behold, four horns.

19) And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these? And he answered me, these are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.

20) And Yahveh showed me four artisans.

21) Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head; but these are come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.


This is, of course, worth reading many times.  But, for the time being, let me just summarize it for you.  As you heard, Zechariah is shown the four great “horns” of history – the four empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.  Take note that there are “four”, just as the four were shown to the prophet Daniel.  And please note that he was shown this Revelation while in the midst of the second one – the second horn of history – the Persian empire.  But he was shown all four!

With each of the four empires there was world dominion.  And during each, Israel was beaten down and ruled, so that “no man could lift the head”.  In other words, all of Israel was put under subservient conditions to the rulership and dominion of these great “horns” of history, all of which were raised up out of the sea of pagan, Gentile humanity.  And she (Israel) was shattered and scattered by each.

At the same time you’re contemplating these things, also remember that there are four cherubim at the corners of the throne-room/judgment seat of God in the heaven.  These throne creatures are the very mind and will and command of Almighty God as He rules His creation and commands His history.  And they are the very ones which brought forth the four civilization-changing, language-changing, culture-changing empires of God’s history from that “sea” of humanity.  They did not come forth by accident; they were brought forth at the command of God through His cherubim.  The four cherubim brought forth four world empires!

Zechariah was told, as recorded in His prophecy, that Israel was ruled and broken and scattered by these world empires.  God had used those wicked “horns” for judgment and chastening of Israel, Judah and Jerusalem.  But Yahveh would yet choose Jerusalem (referring to the fifth great kingdom yet to come).  For all of these things we’re now reading here in chapter six are the “birth-pangs” of deliverance – the “beginning of travails”.

Remember that our Lord told His disciples, there on the Mount of Olives just before His crucifixion that these terrible things that were about to happen to Israel were only “the beginning of travails”.  These are the pain and sorrow coming upon Israel leading up to a birth!  Warning His disciples not to be terrified, He said that there was to be labor and pain and anguish and tribulation – all a prelude to deliverance – a new birth!

A prelude!  These things were not the great tribulation – but a “beginning of travails”!  The beginning of the birth-pangs!

This is “necessary to occur”, Jesus said.  But it is “not yet the end”! 

Listen now to the beginning fourfold judgment upon Israel (characterized here as a complete ‘seven’, indicating the totality of these four judgments), prophesied by Moses, as recorded in Leviticus chapter 26:


14) But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;

15) and if ye shall reject my statutes, and if your soul abhor mine ordinances, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant;

16) I also will do this unto you: I will appoint terror over you, even consumption and fever, that shall consume the eyes, and make the soul to pine away; and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

17) And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be smitten before your enemies: they that hate you shall rule over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.

18) And if ye will not yet for these things hearken unto me, then I will chastise you seven times more for your sins.

19) And I will break the pride of your power: and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass;

20) and your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

21) And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.

22) And I will send the beast of the field among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your ways shall become desolate.

23) And if by these things ye will not be reformed unto me, but will walk contrary unto me;

24) then will I also walk contrary unto you; and I will smite you, even I, seven times for your sins.

25) And I will bring a sword upon you that shall execute the vengeance of the covenant; and ye shall be gathered together within your cities: and I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

26) When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.


A complete seven (full) judgment of plagues, pestilence, famine and sword (fourfold) is first promised to Israel should they not obey God’s covenant.  A complete “seven” of plagues; a complete “seven” of pestilence; a complete “seven” of famine; and a complete “seven” of sword!  Four complete sevens.

And this is fifteen hundred years before the coming of The Branch!  God’s complete, fourfold “beginning of travails” upon an idolatrous and unrepentant Israel.

And now listen to Ezekiel as he prophesies the Word of God.  And listen to the identical four-fold vision to that of John here in chapter six:


“A third part of you shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of you; and a third part shall fall by the sword found about you; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them….  Moreover I will make you waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about you, in the sight of all that pass by.  So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about you, when I shall execute judgments in you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes.  I the Lord have spoken it….  So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave you; and pestilence and blood shall pass through you; and I will bring the sword upon you.  I the Lord have spoken it.”  (5:12-17)


“He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remains and is besieged shall die by the famine; thus will I accomplish My fury upon them.” (6:12)


“The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within; he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him.” (7:15)


“For thus saith the Lord God; How much more when I send My four severe judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the wild beast, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?” (12:21)


And whoever has read this sixth chapter of the Revelation of St. John, along with the prophecy of our Lord in Matthew 24 must, indeed, recognize the four sets of judgments clearly written against that great harlot nation – Israel.  And they are the same four sets of judgments found in Leviticus twenty-six!  It is, in today’s vernacular, “the perfect storm”.  It is a full and complete “seven”.

But don’t be terrified, said Jesus to His disciples.  Don’t faint!  Be steadfast and faithful.  It is not yet the end.  Find my people and get them out, because, in answer to your question, these are necessary to happen.  These are the signs of My Parousia!

And as we read John’s record of what he saw, here in chapter six, he sees the four horses of Zechariah’s prophecy, sent by the four cherubim of the throne, to bring the four judgments of Leviticus and Ezekiel, as the beginning of travails of Matthew 24!

Lastly this morning, hear God’s Word again from the prophecy of Zechariah… this time in chapter six:


1)    And again I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.

2)    In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;

3)    and in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grizzled strong horses.

4)    Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?

5)    And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four winds of heaven, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

6)    The chariot wherein are the black horses goeth forth toward the north country; and the white went forth after them; and the grizzled went forth toward the south country.

7)    And the strong went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.


God’s perception of His Own creation includes the four winds as God’s chariots driven by His agents, who go back and forth patrolling the earth.  Following and imitating the work of Holy Spirit (as we saw in verse six of chapter five), they are God’s means of His sovereign determination of all of His history.  The “wings of the wind” are His four throne-creatures … the cherubim.

God sees His “heaven and earth” – Israel – as His four-cornered altar.  And His horses and wings of the wind and cherubim are described in wide-sweeping, national judgments of a fourfold nature.  The “horsemen” therefore reveal God’s means of beginning the judgment upon the disobedient nation.  It is the beginning which is revealed here.  The beginning of travails, which will issue forth in a great tribulation and a birth of a new heaven and a new earth; the birth of a new covenant in Christ Jesus.

So, as we begin to look at the loosing of the seals here in chapter six, the first four seals have to do with that fourfold “beginning of sorrows” (as it is also called in the prophetic Word)… the beginning of the pain and anguish of the labor to give birth to the “daughter of Zion”.

What will come forth at Jesus’ Parousia is an infant daughter of infinite worth.  Also the prophetic language of God concerning His Church, the “daughter of Zion”, is to be those “bought for God with His blood”.  They are of every nation, tongue and tribe, grafted into the root and stalk of God’s green olive tree.

The Churches in the nations, receiving this Revelation from John, would have been strengthened immeasurably by what John had seen and heard, for they had been witnessing what was happening in Israel for thirty-five years (at this point)… the famine and the pestilence and the starvation and the killings.  The Jewish Christians especially would have heard this prophetic language and recognized it as coming directly from the books of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms.  The Gentile believers would have had to be taught – as we have to be.

And although the Churches would have been terribly distraught at all the tribulation in their homeland of fifteen hundred years, and worried about friends and family who remained, our Lord, in the seven messages to them, had instructed them and charged them to be steadfast and faithful, for there was soon to be the dawning of a new day in which the gathering of Christ’s people would render joyful praise to the Royal High Priest of a new covenant.

There is also wonderful instruction for us, and for the rest of His Church, as we, in our time, enter a period of uncertainty about the viability of our own lifestyles and culture.  As it worsens (which it may); and as the foundations of our constitutional republic crumble, which they are already doing (and which may get worse), and as human depravity temporarily takes hold and advances into the moral fiber of our nation (which it has), the tendency is to be fearful and faint, forgetting what we’re learning here.  That our Lord Jesus Christ is God.  He is our Savior and our God.  And that He has all authority over His Own creation and its history.  Nothing happens in this entire creation that is not under His sovereign control.

We have read that; we have understood it; and we are convinced that it is so.  Therefore we will remain steadfast and faithful in doctrine and in practice.  We will continue to worship in celebration and joy, for He “takes away the sin of the world”, and He has “overcome the world”!

We will prepare ourselves for the evil that may come, for we can see and understand what is going on around us.  But we will not be terrified and faint.  For a “stone” was cut out without hands from Mt Zion; and it has crushed the four great kingdoms of the earth.  And it has grown into a great mountain covering the entire earth.  And He shall reign forever and ever!