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Bible Study: The Book of the Revelation – LESSON 5 THE SEAL JUDGMENTS

Calvary Bible Church Bible Study

The Book of the Revelation




Chapters 4–5 were occupied with heaven; in chapter 6 events of the earth, with which most of the Apocalypse deals, come before the reader. The method by which the truth of chapter 5 is carried out is presented here: Christ’s entering in upon the purchased possession.  The fulfillment of Man’s rebellion against God and His people, and God’s pouring out of His judgement (in the vial or bowl judgments) is seen starting here.


The First Seal: The White Horse. 6:1–2.

vrs     1                  The Lamb opened one of the seals. At this point it is important to make an important distinction. The period COMMONLY referred to as “the Tribulation” is all the Seven Years of Daniel 9:27.  However, reference to Matthew 24 (the words of Christ) plainly shows that He referred to Tribulation ONLY AFTER THE REVELATION OF THE ANTI-CHRIST AT THE MID-POINT OF THE SEVEN YEARS.  Thus we need to be perfectly clear, and keep in their proper order, the distinction between the “Seventieth Week Of Daniel” (which is the full seven years), and the “Tribulation” (which begins at the mid-point of the Seventieth Week).  The opening of the seals occurs during the first part of the Seventieth Week, at an unknown interval (since we don’t know how close together they come).  The first four seals are broken in connection with the four living creatures, but it is the Lamb who has the power and authority to break the seals. As He does so, more of the contents of the scroll are brought into view.


vrs     2                  The rider on the white horse has been identified with many individuals throughout history, as people attempted to identify the Anti-Christ.  At this point in history, it is not possible to directly identify who this conqueror is, but several items are worth noting:

A)   The symbolism here seems to indicate a political/military

conqueror, as opposed to Christ, who entered Jerusalem on

a donkey’s colt (Matthew 21:1-5).

B)   The number and appearance of the 4 horsemen is

reminiscent of the 4 horsemen of judgment against Israel in

Jeremiah 15:3, Ezekiel 14:12-20, and Zechariah 6:2-3.

C)  Many have interpreted this horseman to mean the

development of a “world government”; and it is interesting to

note that the symbol chosen for European Union (a

prototype “revived Roman empire”) is a man with a bow on a

white horse.  Also, the United Nations, at its’ “Millennium

Summit” in 2000 passed a number of “world control”

aspects of their larger agenda, bringing them closer to being

an all-encompassing world government.

D)  There are several political figures in the world today who

seem to have the proper “qualifications” (including bloodline,

political influence, religious stand, and so on) to be the Anti-

Christ.  Which one (if any of these) will eventually come

forward and take his place is yet to be seen.  Some of them

(such as King Juan Carlos of Spain) are very public, and are

considered by many to “in the running”.  However, there are

others (such as Prince Charles of England) whose

qualifications” are actually better, but who are not considered

because they are not as “public”.



The Second Seal: The Red Horse. 6:3–4.

vrs     3–4              The second beast or living creature is connected with the breaking of the second seal. Unquestionably, this seal speaks of war and bloodshed. There went out another horse that was red (literally, “fiery colored”).  Man’s attempts at world peace have failed miserably and carnage is the result . The great sword indicates that war’s ravages will be let loose on a universal scale throughout the earth, as well as a universal “spirit of violence” that will result in widespread individual violence and bloodshed.


The Third Seal: The Black Horse. 6:5–6.

vrs     5-6              A pair of balances in his hand. The rider of the black horse is holding a symbol of commerce. Too, when there is abundance, there is no minute weighing of common articles of food (Leviticus 26:26, Ezekiel 4:10, 16). Worldwide war is followed by worldwide famine.  The scarcity of the time is underscored by the inflated price of necessities. One man’s measure of wheat will take a day’s wage; in today’s measurements (based on a minimum wage of $7.50) a loaf of bread only large enough to feed ONE person for ONE day would cost approximately $60.00!  Three measures of barley (the food for cattle and horses) can be bought for a day’s wage. These are starvation conditions. Wheat and barley are necessities of life, but why the mention of oil and the wine? They are luxuries (Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 21:17) for the rich. The wealthy will apparently not be touched at the first, but ultimately they will undergo suffering as well.  If you think that this is impossible, you need to remember that there have been several instances of “hyper-inflation” in various countries within the last 100 years; including Germany in W.W.I and W.W.II, where at one point it took a WHEELBARROW full of bills to buy a loaf of bread; several South American countries in the 50’s and 60’s; Zimbabwe just a few years ago, and some parts of Korea even today.


The Fourth Seal: The Ashen Horse. 6:7–8.

vrs     7–8              The livid or pale horse clearly speaks of death, probably by pestilence and plague. Death is the place of the body of the departed and is synonymous with the grave; Hell is the abode of the departed spirit (Ezekiel 14:21; see Matthew 24 for the same order as in the horses). Notice that one-fourth of the earth is involved, which at current world population would be at least 1.8 BILLION people.  This is a culmination of the first three horsemen; since political turmoil, war, and famine always leave death in their wake.  There is also apparently some form of ecological turmoil as well, since the “beasts of the earth” (both domesticated and wild) have a part in the spread of the death.  Possibly a combination of things such as food borne diseases (“mad cow” disease, E. coli, etc.), and actual violent attacks (rabies, competition for food supply, etc.) by animals are meant here.  Also, the possibility of a “problem” with genetically modified food plants and animals could have a devastating effect as well.


The Fifth Seal: The Martyrs. 6:9–11.

In verses 2–8 of this chapter the first four seals are grouped, and the remaining seals are conceived of as united. The occurrences of verses 2–8 have been seen in other ages also, but not with such severity as in the age of judgment under consideration.


vrs     9-11            The scene is now in the Temple in Heaven (which the Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem were patterned after).  The altar was the appointed place of sacrifice, because these martyrs had been slain as burnt offerings for the Word of God and their testimony. John on Patmos could understand something of their experience. The word in the Greek text for “witness” is “marturia”; from which is derived the English word “martyr”.  Thus these souls are of people who have died for their faith.  Their cry for vengeance is in keeping with an age of judgment. “How long” is the well-known prayer of Jewish saints, so often found in the imprecatory and other psalms, and indicates that they understand that it is NOT appropriate for humans to seek their own vengeance, but that the proper avenger is God (see Romans 12:19).  These souls are not unredeemed, crying out for revenge on their persecutors. White robes were given to each. This indicates they are justified and accepted by God. Then they are told something of God’s counsels. They are to rest a short while longer until their fellow servants also and their brethren of the last part of the Tribulation Period will have been slain. In grace God desires the witness of other martyrs to be added to theirs.  This also indicates that there will be deaths of the righteous during this Seventieth Week.


The Sixth Seal: Upheaval in Nature. 6:12–17.

Although many liberal interpreters state that the events of this seal are only symbolic, we need to remember that all of creation groans and labors under the impact of sin, and will be involved in its’ judgment (see Romans 8:22).  Also, God has used physical phenomena in judgment on a number of occasions recorded in the Old Testament (see Numbers 16:30-34 for example).


vrs     12-14                    “Earthquake … the sun became black … the moon became as blood.”  Our Lord had predicted earthquakes (Matthew 24:7); Isaiah had foretold the darkening of the sun (Isaiah 50:3); and Joel had prophesied the change in the moon (Joel 2:30-31).   “Stars of heaven fell unto the earth.”  The Olivet Discourse mentions the falling of the stars (Matthew 24:29 with Isaiah 34:4).  “Every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”   All together, it looks as though this section is describing a world-wide earthquake, with associated volcanic activity (where the smoke darkens the sky) and a simultaneous meteor/comet/asteroid shower (with all of their associated damage). With such comprehensive upheavals in nature, no part of the physical world could remain untouched.


vrs     15–17                   How could society go on in an orderly manner? There will be unsettling religious and social forces erupting in fanaticism and violence. Human life will be in chaos and turmoil.  Notice that the cause of the miseries is not lost on those undergoing them. Everyone understands that the trials of this period are sent from God.  Notice though, that they do NOT cry out in REPENTANCE; but instead only cry out for an end to their misery.  The hardness of their hearts is greater than that of Pharaoh in Egypt, who would not relent in the face of the plagues sweeping his people and his own household.