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Bible: What Does Revelation 6 Teach Us About the First Six Seals?

Updated on August 21, 2016

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

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The Identity of the First Horseman

Do you believe the first horseman is Christ or the Antichrist?

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Revelation 6: The Lamb Removes the First Six Seals

The Appearance of the Antichrist: The Conqueror on a White Horse

As the Lamb removes the first of six seals in this chapter, John obeys the thunderous voice of one of the four living ones which commands him to observe what occurs (v. 1).

The apostle witnesses the triumphal expedition of a royal conqueror riding a white horse; it makes sense to identify this person as the Antichrist, the Roman prince who is to come (Dan. 9:26-27a) who accomplishes great diplomatic exploits without openly waging war (v. 2).

[To see this man on a white horse as Christ would introduce confusion into the narrative. The Lamb (Jesus Christ) cannot be both this man and the One who unleashes these disasters upon the Earth by removing the seal.]

Bloody Conflict: The Warrior on the Red Horse

The second seal opening brings forth another living one to summon John to see a sword-wielding warrior riding a red horse and being successful in fomenting international conflict (vv. 3-4).

[Perhaps an abominable event foments this worldwide conflict. The Antichrist’s declaration of his divinity in the rebuilt Temple and his subsequent persecution of the Jews will escalate into widespread bloodshed (2 Thessalonians 2: 3-4; Matthew 24:15-22)].

Worldwide Famine: The Figure on the Black Horse

The third living one calls the apostle to note the consequences of the opening of the third seal: worldwide famine.

While a third figure bearing a pair of scales rides upon his black stallion, “a voice in the midst of the four living creatures” indicates severe shortages of basic necessities (vv. 5-6).

[Great famines often occur where war breaks out, and an unimaginable loss of life from both usually result].

Death: The Rider on the Pale Horse

The opening of the fourth seal elicits the same command from the fourth living one as from the others: “Come and see” (v. 7).

John surveys Death’s ride upon a pale horse; accompanied by Hades, Death slays a quarter of the world’s population with war, starvation, and wild beasts (v. 8; cf. Jer. 15:2ff; Ezek. 5:12, 17).

[The divine judgment upon the Jews that occurred during the Babylonian Captivity prefigures the torments the Beast will perpetrate during the Great Tribulation period.]

Identity of the Tribulation Martyrs


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The Fifth Seal: Tribulation Martyrs

With the fifth seal removed, the scene shifts from showing devastation on the Earth to viewing the long-suffering souls of tribulation martyrs located “under the altar,” who wonder aloud when their holy and true God will avenge their cruel murders (vv. 9-10).

[A golden altar stands before the throne (8:3); these disembodied saints somehow reside beneath it].

Angels presumably clothe these spirits in white robes (symbolic of righteousness), and tell them to rest until the “beast” kills the rest of their fellow witnesses (v. 11; cf. 7:9, 13-17).



[The text of Revelation 7 reveals that the Roman beast will order the executions of a great multitude of believers during the Great Tribulation.

God's sovereign "removal" of the Restrainer (the Holy Spirit) from His control over the Antichrist will not prevent the Lord from saving millions of people during this horrible period in human history (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:7].

Mega-Earthquake

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The Sixth Seal: Earthly and Heavenly Disasters

The sixth seal triggers several frightening events to occur both on the Earth and in outer space: (1) a mega-earthquake;

(2) the darkening of the sun and reddening of the moon (v. 12);

(3) a heavy meteorite invasion (?) [“the stars of heaven fell to the earth”] [v. 13];

(4) the disruption of the upper atmosphere; and

(5) the worldwide displacement of mountains and islands by tsunamis and tectonic plate shifts (v. 14).

[Some biblical authorities believe the event of the "stars of heaven" falling to the earth symbolizes the release of divine control over the universe's physical laws, so that the planets and solar systems "run amok." ]

Everyone—from the rich and powerful to their slaves—seeks refuge in caves, and pleads that the mountains might protect them from the wrath of the Father and the Lamb.

They recognize that no one can withstand Their fury now that the time of judgment has finally come (vv. 15-17).

© 2013 glynch1

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