*Below is a copy of Andrew’s sermon notes and outline.
-Last week we entered the majestic throne room of God. Here John was given a vision of the day where Christ was slain and rose. We saw the celebration in heaven as the slain lamb took the throne alongside the Father. We saw the whole of the cosmic throne room break out in worship.
-We saw the momentary silence as the Sovereign plan of God was stretched out and awaited the savior to rise and claim it. What is interesting to note is this scroll was not a new scroll; it was not a new addition to the text of scripture here in revelation, rather it finds it’s beginning in Daniel 12. Daniel is command in the end of his vision to seal up the text until the time when it is to be revealed. When the redemptive plan of God is to come to fruition. In our text last week, we saw that day. The day Daniel long to see, the taking of the scroll, and in today’s text we will the opening of the book. We will see the redemptive plan of God unveiled.
What is important for us as we come to the text today is to see that these are not isolated visions but a part of everything that has gone before and will come after. The visions we saw last week as a direct comfort and help to the seven churches of God, and today’s text will be no different, and since it would bring comfort to them, we will see that it will likewise bring comfort to us. for it will open our eyes to the majestic glory and sovereign work of God.
So, let us begin by pondering something:
Where was God during the Holocaust, where was God during the black Plague, where was God during the Russian Revolution, where was God when Ghangus Khan was slaughtering Asia, where was God during the great Depression, where was God during the great African famine.
You have probably heard these questions or something like it. You may have pondered these very things yourself. Our text today answers this and more. It will reveal a God who is not standing on the sidelines, but rather is suing the sinfulness of mankind to bring about his glorious purposes that is the redemption of His bride and the Glory of is name.
So, as we turn to our text, we are to be reminded that Christ is Sovereign.
I. Christ is Sovereign over the World (1-8)
Revelation 6:1–8 ESV
Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!” When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
A. The 4 Creatures and the 4 Horsemen
The first thing we come to when the first four seals are opened is a very common picture the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.
Zechariah 1:7-11 & 6:1-8
So, before us we have the reality not of the horseman of the apocalypse as has become so common in our modern vernacular, but rather the horsemen of God’s wrath and judgment throughout all time. Each of the four represent continual pains that are experienced from generation to generation:
Matthew 24:4–14 ESV
And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
B. War and Conquest against the church
2 main views:
- Jesus Himself and the advancement of the Gospel
The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation Old Testament Background
(1) It may be an allusion to Ps. 45:3–5 (MT), where the rider is an Israelite king who defeats his enemies with arrows as he “rides on victoriously” (Ps. 45:6 is understood by Heb. 1:8 as a messianic prophecy). (2) In Rev. 19:11–16 Christ, who has diadems on his head, rides on a white horse and defeats his opponents. (3) Similarly, in 14:14 a scene of judgment is introduced by Christ, as “Son of Man,” sitting on a “white cloud,” wearing “a golden crown on his head,” carrying a weapon in his hand and being commanded to do something by an angelic being. (4) Christ also “conquers” elsewhere in the book (νικάω, 3:21; 5:5; 17:14). (5) Part of the Synoptic discourse tradition (Mark 13:10) places the universal preaching of the gospel before the beginning of some of the messianic woes and before the Son of man’s coming in judgment. (6) “White” is used without exception elsewhere in Revelation (14 times) in a good sense in descriptions associated with the holiness of God, Christ, or the saints. (7) The first horseman is different from the others in a positive sense because there is no clear woe linked with him.
- Malicious figure conquering the nations with falsehood
The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation Old Testament Background
(1) The language of “conquering” is used elsewhere of the beast oppressing the saints (11:7; 13:7). That “conquer” (νικάω) is used in 6:2 without an object, as in 5:5, but has an object in 11:7 and 13:7 when referring to the antichrist, does not necessitate that the first rider be Christ, since Christ’s and the saints’ “conquering” also has an object elsewhere in the book (so 12:7; 17:14).
(2) In Zech. 1:8–15 and 6:1–8 the horses are identified together as being the same in nature, and this must also be the case in Rev. 6:1–8, since Zechariah 1 and 6 are an influential model in the author’s mind (Targ. Zech. 6:1–8 identifies the horsemen as the evil angels of the four pagan kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7; cf. Targ. Zech. 4:7).
(3) Revelation 12–13 portrays Satan and his minions as deceiving by imitating Christ’s appearance.
(4) The prophecy of “false Christs and false prophets” who will come in Christ’s name and “mislead” is mentioned as the very first of the woes preceding Jesus’ parousia in each of the versions of the Synoptic apocalypse (Mark 13:5–6; Matt. 24:4–5; Luke 21:8). This may confirm the identification of the first rider as satanic, since it is generally acknowledged that John has partly patterned his plagues after the woes of the Synoptic apocalypse. “War” is the second woe in all three Synoptics, and the following two woes of famine and pestilence are found closely following in varying order, although pestilence appears only in Luke.
(5) The horsemen form a quartet to be distinguished literarily from the remaining three seals, like the first four trumpets and bowls with respect to the remaining trumpets and bowls. Since the first four trumpets and bowls represent parallel judgments, the same parallelism is probably present with the horsemen. The shared identity of the horsemen is evident from the following literary parallels presented in the same order: (a) the same introductory visionary and auditory formula is in each case connected with the lamb’s opening of a seal, followed by (b) a “living creature” ’s command to “come” and (c) a horse and rider appearing in response to the command; (d) the color of each horse and the object carried by the rider connote the kind of woe that he brings; (e) the same clause of authorization—ἐδόθη αὐτῷ (“was given to him”)—is used of the first two horsemen (v 2; twice in v 4; cf. v 8).
(6) As is sometimes suggested, it might be awkward to have Christ open a seal that contains a vision in which he is also the subject, although the paradoxical nature of visions could account for this (cf. on 5:1–6).
(7) If it is correct to understand the fourth horseman of “death” as a summary of the previous three, then the first must be evil.
(8) As in 6:2, in 9:7 demonic agents of judgment are likened to “horses prepared for battle,” have something like “crowns” on their heads, and are addressed with an authorization clause (cf. 9:3, 5: “it was given to them”). In this regard, many have suggested that the first horseman in ch. 6 is at least partly an allusion to the Parthians of Asia, who were noted for their success in battle because of their horsemanship and skill with the bow.
Matthew 10:34 ESV
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
This text is an encouragement to believers to not see their persecution as a judgment against their faith, but as a result. It is a joyous price that in Christ finds fullness of life.
-Peace on earth is not the reality for the bride of Christ
The scales symbolize the doling out and measuring of rations.
-the famine does not kill but stifles, an event that would push Christians faith as they must choose to stand for Christ.
-Christian will suffer economically for the we must sacrifice our sinful desires and opportunities for the cause of Christ.
E. Death & Hades (Summary)
. Back on the scene Death and Hades ride (the personification of that which we have already seen Christ victorious and sovereign over)
Revelation 1:18 ESV
and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
-Here we see the fullness of the work of destruction summarized. This is not a new judgment, but rather the full summarization of what has transpired around the earth.
The irony of the work of the Horsemen is that their aim is destruction, while Christ aim is to purify and establish His bride through them. Their hand will destroy nations and ravage the church, but the church will remain in Christ untarnished by the harm around them, but rather strengthen in the faith.
The work of the horseman was evident in the 7 churches that opened our book, and, in each case, we see the Lord reminded them to conquer and not be conquered. to strengthen their faith and follow Him.
II. Christ is Sovereign in persecution (9-11)
Revelation 6:9–11 ESV
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
A. He Hears the Cries of His Saints
From the Horsemen the earth is filled from every generation with persecution that has not ended, which may lead some to believe that God is absent. However this far from the truth, As the text continues, we are drawn back to the Throne room of God and introduced to the Saints who are slain (debate on whether this means physical death or persecution in general). Here We see the Saints Cry with a Loud voice to God with a request for action. (this is not a desire for vengeance but justice)
There are two keys to this cry one we see in Zechariah the other the Psalter: In Zechariah following the Horsemen an angelic cry is reveled:
Zechariah 1:12 ESV
Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’
The same cry was first echoed as well in the Psalter:
The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation The Fifth Seal: The Appeal to God by Persecuted and Glorified Christians to Demonstrate His Justice by Judging Their Persecutors Will Be Answered When All His People Complete the Suffering that He Has Determined for Them (6:9–11)
Pss. 6:4; 12:2; 73:10; 78:5; 79:5; 88:47; 89:13; 93:3;
Psalm 74:10 ESV
How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Psalm 79:10 ESV
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!
-The Saints before the throne offer to the Lord their prayers that His name may be magnified over the face of the earth. their desire is that God will be seen as God and the mockery of Hos name put to rest. these are not prayers seeking their own revenge, but rather the magnification of God.
It is important for us again to see the saints praying diligently: the great and mighty day of the Lord is still to be seen and as such they saints are wait for the full glory of God to be reveled and they ask as we ask how long. And As we see the Lord is not absent, he has not abandoned his own, rather he has been active through the whole purifying them, making them more into his own image, preparing them for a live eternal with him. The fact that the saints are pictured here before the throne of God is itself a comfort. They were not lost to eternity they were preserved. The lord keeps them safe in himself. He has not only granted them access to his throne their prayers themselves here are pictured as an offering unto Him.
Their lives and prayer are worship. and the Lord Hears them:
Not only Does he Hear them He responds:
B. He Response to their Requests
So, as they have cried the Lord has heard and here, we see the response:
They are given the White robes promised those who trust the Lord:
Revelation 3:5 ESV
The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
But in that moment the receive their reward and are commanded to be patient for there is more to come. The whole of the assembly has not yet been called. This is a gracious moment. He reveals to the saints that have gone before that there is more to come. He will not allow any of His saints to perished he is still working for their good and for His glory.
Zechariah 1:13 ESV
And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.
Here the Lord reminds them that His timing is not the worlds, and His aim is the salvation of His chosen ones, from every tribe and generation.
Peter makes a similar point:
2 Peter 3:9–10 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Just as peter concludes with the end: here to the vision moves. The sixth seal is the conclusion of History. It is the great and awesome day of the Lord that has been traced throughout the scriptures and awaited for by His saints:
The 5th seal also sets up the reality there are only two types of people in the world: Believer and unbeliever
-Those who dwell with Christ in Heaven and those who dwell on the earth, and as chapter 7 concludes we see that there will be a day when he will execute his plan against those who dwell on the earth.
III. Christ is Sovereign to the End (12-17)
Revelation 6:12–17 ESV
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
A. Final Judgment has Come
The final judgement begins with the picture of Cosmic Upheaval and the judgment against unbelievers.
The Lord show us first that the judgment stems from Idolatry as the natural world’s destruction symbolizes the destruction of all that the world has put its hope in.
In the Old testament the signs of cosmic judgment were often connected to either the final judgement or to the temporal judgment against a sinful nation such as Edom or Babylon.
6 Natural objects are Destroyed:
Earth, Sun, Moon, stars, heaven, and the “Mountains & Islands”
The securities of the earth will be stripped away
B. No One will Escape His Wrath
Not only do we see the judgement begin against creation, we see the fullness of it poured out on the unbelieving world:
6 Groups of People are seen:
Kings, Great Ones, Generals., the rich, the powerful, Every slave & free man
No one will be able to escape the judgement of God against unbelief
What does this mean for us?
- We as the people of God should not be surprised when trials and persecution come. We cannot be surprised by the reality of sin all around us, for that is the very nature of a fallen and wicked world.
- Also we should not begrudge the fact that the Lord lingers for each day he lingers means more have come to know Him, we may long for his return but we must not wait ideally by, as people who know the truth we must be willing and motivated to be the light of the Gospel to those around us. The lord has stated that the numbers are not filled and as such we must use our time to that end.
- God is sovereign over all that we see and experience nothing is beyond his purposeful will. trust in him in the darkness and look to him for the light.