First Seal: Rider on a White Horse
This section of the Revelation is familiar to most because of its use in popular culture. Ironically, unlike some other oft-referenced passages, popular culture, at least, gets the timing somewhat correct. However, let's just look to the text itself and see what we can glean.
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the [seven] seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
The rider here has a bow, but no arrow. He has a crown indicating political power. This is the leader who "by peace shall destroy many" (Dan 8). The world is desperate for peace, especially Israel, and many will fall for his offer of peace.
Second Seal: Rider on a Red Horse
When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.
Here we have the loss of peace on the earth. I want to pause here to say that I haven't yet concluded exactly what "earth" or "land" represents in every occurrence in the Revelation. In some places it seems more obvious than others, but let me suggest three possibilities:
- The Land of Israel
- The Entire Earth
- The Known Inhabited Earth of the Prophetic Word (Spain to the Indus River)
Summation of Seals One Through Six
At this point we remember not only the important passages in the prophets which we have seen, but the Lord's own words in the Olivet Discourse concerning the end of the age (Matt 24-25). Feel free to compare and contrast these with that portion of Matthew.
24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. [First Seal: White Horse]
24:7a For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. [Second Seal: Red Horse]
24:7b And there will be famines, pestilences [Third and Fourth Seals: Black Horse and Pale Horse]
24:9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.[Fifth Seal: Martyrs crying out for justice]
24:7b and earthquakes in various places [Sixth Seal: great earthquake and signs in the heavens]
24:13-14 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
We will return to Matthew 24 as we look at the other sets of 7 judgments as well.
So, we jump to the conclusion from Matthew 24: "he who endures to the end shall be saved." Here the word "saved" is not used in the sense of granting immortal life. It is a reference to rescue and deliverance. We looked at the Rich Young Ruler's pursuit of "eternal life." We note that Paul states, from prison, that he hoped the prayers of believers would lead to his "salvation" (Phil 1:19). He meant that the "the supply of the Spirit" would succor him in prison (or he meant simply, deliverance from prison). We need to be careful with words and how they are used.
That carries through six of the seals, which leaves one. We see the seventh seal in Chapter 8. We will deal with it in due course, but between the six seals of Chapter 6 and the seventh seal of Chapter 8, we have the 144,000 called of Israel who we will see again in Chapter 14. We will deal with them next study.
There are visions of horses and chariots in Zechariah which we will also look at in a future study.