The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE FIFTH AND SIXTH SEALS ARE OPENED
- We saw in
chapter 5 that John saw a seven-sealed book in the hand of Christ (5:1), and
that only the Lord Jesus Christ was able to open that book
- In chapter 6,
the first six seals are opened with the resultant catastrophic events occurring
in the earth. In Revelation 6, the
tribulation has begun, and we are introduced to the four horsemen of the
- Many Bible
teachers and commentators believe the first six seals are a summary of the
judgments poured out by God during the coming
- They interpret
Revelation chapter 6 as a brief summary of what will occur in “the day of the
Lord,” up to our Lord's return.
- Last week, we
looked at the four horsemen, and tonight, Lord willing, we will look at the
fifth seal and the sixth seal.
- When the first
seal was opened, John in his vision sees a white horse on which a man is sitting
carrying a bow. The rider, to whom a crown is given, is pictured as going
forth conquering and to conquer.
- In Biblical
times it was customary for a conqueror to ride in triumph seated on a white
- This is the
antichrist, referred to elsewhere in the Book of Revelation as "the beast."
- The apostle
Paul calls him "that man of sin" and "the son of perdition" (II Thess.
- Daniel refers to him as "the little horn" (Daniel 7:8;
8:9), and "the prince that shall come" (9:26), who will head up the revived
Roman Empire and ultimately become the world ruler.
- The rider on the white horse will appear at the
beginning of Daniel's seventieth week. He is not the Lord Jesus Christ, but the
counterfeit of all that Christ is or claims to be.
- Some people mistakenly believe the rider on the white
horse is the Lord Jesus Christ, but this rider cannot be Christ, because His
return to earth will not bring war, famine, and strife in its
- And that is exactly what we see when the second, third,
fourth seal are opened (Rev. 6:3-8).
- The second rider represents war and bloodshed (6:3,
- The third rider represents famine (6:5,
- The fourth rider, on a pale horse (6:7, 8), is
yellowish-green, a sickly color of death. The pale horse
is a dramatic picture of divine judgment upon the
- Death is the rider and Hell is following.
Death is for the body of the unsaved, and hell is where
their spirit goes.
- According to Revelation 6:8, one-fourth of the world’s
population will be wiped out by warfare, murder, hunger, famine, pestilence,
plagues, loathsome diseases like AIDS, and so on.
- Our Lord said in Matthew 24:8 that this is only "the
beginning of sorrows." It will get
so bad that Revelation 9:6 says men shall "seek death, and shall not find
- I mentioned last week that if this prophecy
were to be fulfilled next year, 1,750,000 people would die (one quarter of seven
THE FIFTH SEAL IS OPENED
- In the fifth
seal the scene shifts from earth to heaven. John sees a vision of those who will
be martyred for their faith in Christ.
- As I said last
week, this corresponds to the Olivet Discourse (Matthew
- The martyred
saints are described as being under the altar. There are several references in the book
of Revelation to the temple in heaven, and to the altar (cf. 8:3-5; 9:13; 11:1;
- John hears the
martyrs crying with a loud voice asking why God has not judged their persecutors
- Since the book
of Revelation is in chronological order, this indicates that these believers
were martyred during the early part of the tribulation.
- The martyrs ask
for God's judgment upon "them that dwell on the earth," indicating that their
persecutors are still living (6:10).
- Since the
church has been raptured before the seals are opened, and the dead in Christ
have already been raised, those pictured here in Revelation 6 do not include the
martyrs of the church age.
the statement in verse 11, "until their fellow servants also and their brethren,
that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled," tells us that more
believers were still to be martyred during the
- In answer to
their question as to how long it will be, the reply is given in verse 11 that
there is still a little time required for the fulfillment of God’s program, that
other events must take place, that still additional martyrs would be added to
- The Bible teaches they are to wait until the second
coming of Christ. Then the Lord
will deal in judgment with "them that dwell on the earth" (cf. 14:9-20;
- The opening of the fifth seal reminds us that in the
coming tribulation it will be very difficult to publicly declare one’s faith in
the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Rev. 7:9-14; 13:11-18;
- It could very well be that the majority of those who get
saved during the tribulation will be put to death. Martyrdom will be commonplace.
- How much better to get saved now while there is
THE SIXTH SEAL IS OPENED
- "It would be
difficult to paint any scene more moving or more terrible than that described at
the opening of the sixth seal. All the elements of a great catastrophic judgment
of God are here present, namely, a great earthquake, the sun becoming black, the
moon becoming as blood, the stars of heaven falling like ripe figs, the heaven
departing as a scroll, and every mountain and island moving...Beginning with the
sixth seal God is undertaking a direct intervention into human affairs. The
judgments of war, famine, and death, and the martyrdom of the saints have
largely originated in human decision and in the evil heart of man. The judgment
described here, however, originates in God as a divine punishment inflicted upon
a blasphemous world" (John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus
- As is often the
case with confused and desperate men, instead of repenting of their sin, and
availing themselves of the grace of God, they attempt to hide from the wrath of
the Lamb (6:15-17).
- They will try
to hide and to seek escape in death (6:16, 17).
- However their
hope is futile. First of all, many
will not even be able to die (cf. 9:6).
- Secondly, death
will not be an escape but merely a change from one state of terror to
another. I often think of
those lost sinners who jumped from the WTC on September 11, 2001. They tried to escape the fire, only to
land into the eternal fires of hell.
- During the
tribulation, those who manage to escape the immediate judgment of God through
death will be destined for a far greater judgment at the great white throne.
- Today sinners
are indifferent to the Word of God, and so bent upon worldly pleasures, and
money, and luxury, and fame and fortune, that when the sixth seal is opened they
will be shocked in a way that is difficult for us to
- Our Lord said
in Luke 21:26, "Men's hearts failing them for fear,
and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers
of heaven shall be shaken."
- Revelation 6:15
says all levels of society will be judged for their unbelief -- great men, and
rich men, poor men and "bondmen" (slaves).
- Today they say, "Money talks," but in the coming
tribulation money will not do sinners any good.
- Success in the world will not help. No one will be able
to escape "the wrath of the Lamb" (6:16, 17).
- The sixth seal corresponds to the Olivet Discourse. Our
Lord warned of "earthquakes in divers places" (Matthew 24:7). Both earthquakes
and the sun becoming black are mentioned by Isaiah and Joel (Isaiah 13:6-13;
Joel 2:2, 10, 30, 31).
- The heavens departing as a scroll (Rev. 6:14) are
mentioned in Isaiah 34:4.
- Hosea 10:8 says, "They shall say to the mountains, Cover
us; and to the hills, Fall on us" (cf. Rev. 6:16).
- Isaiah 2:19 says, "And they shall go into the holes of
the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the
glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth" (cf. Rev.
- In Luke 23:28-30, our Lord said to the women He met on
His walk up Mount Calvary, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep
for yourselves, and for your children.
For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed
are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave
suck. Then shall they begin to say
to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover
THE DAY OF HIS WRATH IS COME
- This is not an
ordinary twenty-four-hour day.
- The Bible uses
the word "day" in various ways.
- "The day of His
wrath" is at the beginning of "the day of the LORD," that extended period of
time when God is going to deal directly in governing the entire
- Isaiah 2:12 says, "For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon
every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he
shall be brought low."
- Isaiah 13:6
says, "Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall
come as a destruction from the
- Joel 2:11 says,
"For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?"
(Cf. Rev. 6:17).
- The day of the
LORD is also mentioned by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, and
- It is referred
to in the New Testament by Paul and Peter.
- Second Peter
3:10 says, "But the day
of the Lord will come as a thief in the
- The day of wrath is the whole period of the coming
tribulation, when God will judge the world for its sin and its unbelief. The day
of the LORD will culminate with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and
- We are presently living in the day of grace. We know not how much time is
- The day of God's wrath is in contrast to the day of His
grace. God has always been, and
will always be gracious. Right
before God sent the flood upon this wicked, sin-loving world, we read these
words in Genesis 6:8, "But Noah found grace in the
eyes of the LORD."
- God in every dispensation deals graciously with
believers and saves them by His grace, the present age is supremely designed to
manifest the grace of God. It is
called "the dispensation of grace."
- John 1:17 says, "For the law was given by Moses, but
grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
- The day of grace will be followed by "the great day of
his wrath" (6:17).
- In contrast to the judgments which are inflicted upon a
Christ-rejecting world, believers in this present age are promised escape from
the judgment which the world greatly deserves.
- John 3:18 and 3:36 tell us that the person who believes
in the Lord Jesus Christ is not condemned, and has eternal
- By contrast, John 3:36 says, "he that believeth not the
Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on
- That hot wrath will soon be poured out upon the earth
(Rev. 6:16, 17).
"The close of chapter 6 of the book of Revelation
advances the narrative to a new high in the progress of the book. In some sense
chapter 6 is the outline of the important facts of the period of great
tribulation, and the rest of the events of the book of Revelation are
comprehended in the seventh seal introduced in chapter 8. Chapter 6 closes with
a pointed question: 'Who shall be able to stand?' The answer is obvious: Only
those who avail themselves of the grace of God, even though they suffer a
martyr’s death in this future tragic period. This is brought out in the next
chapter. The given revelation emphasizes the importance of partaking of the
grace of God in this present age with the bright prospect of the Lord coming for
His own" (Walvoord).