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Text: Revelation 6:1-14
Date: 02/25/18 File name: Revelation_14.wpd
ID: Number:
Theme: The Christ of the Scriptures is Lord over history—even the evil that occurs in history is under His control.
In chapter five, the Apostle John is given a sneak-peak into heaven, and he see the glorious worship that takes place.
The Lion of Judah, who is also the Lamb slain since before the foundation of the earth, is found by the entire created order, to be worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll that God holds.
The scroll details God’s final redemption of His Elect, His judgment of rebellious men and nations, the Millennial reign of our Christ, and the establishment of God’s eternal Kingdom.
But before all of that begins, Jesus must break the seals that guard the contents of the scroll, and as each seal is broken, they each unleash a series of events that must take place before the end comes.
Today’s readers of Revelation must remember that the message was given to Christians at the end of the 1st century, many of whom were beginning to feel the heavy hand of persecution by the State.
They needed reassurance, and Jesus gives it to them in this revelation.
As mysterious as some of this book is, it is—above all—a reminder that the Christ of the Scriptures is Lord over history.
Even the evil that occurs in history is under His control.
While evil people and evil systems appear to dominate, Christ unfolds a future in which he will triumph over every enemy.
“They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.””
(Revelation 17:14, NIV84).
For Christians, it’s meant to be a comforting revelation, not a frightening revelation.
It’s a book that encourages us to remain faithful in our daily walk, and to defend the faith delivered to the saints.
The question of the hour is, “What do these seals represent, and how do we interpret them?”
Let me tell you plainly what I think.
The breaking of the seals is preliminary to the actual opening of the scroll.
They picture forces and events that are operative throughout history as the Church waits for the consummation of God’s Kingdom.
They do not describe the Great Tribulation—as so many believe—put are preparatory to it.
The first five have already been broken open—the horsemen are loose upon the earth even now.
It is only when the sixth seal is broken that the peoples of the earth find themselves on the threshold of the end, facing a terrible tribulation.
“I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals.
Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!”” (Revelation 6:1, NIV84)
1. in chapter four there is lamentation in heaven because no one is found worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll that God holds in His right hand
a. but then the Lion of the tribe of Judah steps forward, takes the scroll, and all of heaven breaks out in rapturous worship
2. Jesus breaks the first seal and immediately the Apostle John hears a booming voice, that he compares to thunder, call out, “Come!”
a. this will happen with each of the first four seals
b. the most natural interpretation is that each Living Creature—one of God’s Cherubim—is summoning forth the four horsemen to do the bidding of God
When you hear thunder, you know that a storm is coming.
And here in chapter six the spiritual barometer is beginning to drop.
Storm clouds are beginning to roll in, and there’s distant thunder.
It means the storm is almost upon us.
3. the New Testament clearly points out that we are living the Last Days of God’s created order
a. these Last Days began with the redemptive work of Jesus, his resurrection and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the Church
“ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
(Acts 2:17, NIV84)
1) this promise took place on the Day of Pentecost shortly after the resurrection of our Savior
2) we’ve been in the Last Days ever since
b. the Apostle Peter clearly tells us that the end is near and our redemption draweth neigh
“The end of all things is near.
Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”
(1 Peter 4:7, NIV84)
1) yes, you’re correct, that was two thousand years ago and the Church is still waiting for the end of all things
2) don’t be dismayed that we are still waiting for the Lord to come!
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8–9, NIV84)
In June of 2017, well-known physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking theorized that humans may only have 100 years left on earth before facing extinction.
He warned that humankind faces extinction from a slew of threats ranging from climate change to destruction from nuclear war and genetically engineered viruses.
His solution?
We all need to move ... off the planet!
He suggests that we seriously think about colonizing the moon by 2020, and Mars by 2025—as if they’re such lush and lovely places.
4. Hawking is right about one thing, the end of the earth as we know it is coming, but the demise of earth won’t transpire because of its waning ability to sustain life; instead, the end will come with the long-awaited return of Jesus Christ
a. the clear, and loud, and distinctive command “Come!” is an angelic summons to four horsemen to begin their long journey
1. the dominant interpretation of this chapter is that the seals remain as yet unbroken
a. their breaking will commence shortly after the rapture of the Church, and their breaking begins a period of world history the bible calls The Tribulation
2. I think that’s a faulty interpretation of the text
a. the breaking of the first five seals has already taken place, and they are the birth pangs that Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:8
“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately.
“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.
Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
(Matthew 24:3–14, NIV84)
3. what you’re going to notice as I go through the breaking of the seals is a remarkable similarity between what Jesus says in Matthew 24 and what John sees in Revelation 6
• “I looked, and there before me was a white horse!
Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.”
(Revelation 6:2, NIV84)
• “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”
(Mark 13:10, NIV84)
1. let me begin by saying that the identities of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th horsemen are not debated
a. the second is war, the third is scarcity, and the forth is death
b. but the identity of this 1st horseman is widely disputed
1) some believe the rider is Christ, himself
a) the 2nd century theologian Irenaeus taught this
b) in Rev. 19:11 we see a rider on a white horse whose name is called Faithful and True—it is obviously our Christ
c) Irenaeus identifies them as the same and many Christians agree with him
2) some believe he rider is the Holy Spirit
a) the first Horseman represents the sending of the Holy Spirit by Jesus
3) some believe the rider is pestilence and infectious disease
This view was popularized by Spanish novelist Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, in his 1916 novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that was subsequently turned into two motion pictures.
Ibanez writes, "The horseman on the white horse was clad in a showy and barbarous attire.
[...] While his horse continued galloping, he was bending his bow in order to spread pestilence abroad.
At his back swung the brass quiver filled with poisoned arrows, containing the germs of all diseases."
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