In chapter five of Revelation, John has been privileged to enjoy a worship service like none other. So grand was this celebration that four heavenly worship leaders were required. This service included standing, kneeling, giving, praying and singing with instrumentation. It was loud, reverential, enjoyable and Christ-centered. It was a mega-church worship service like none other.
Christian friend, such are the attributes of a great worship service today. I guess it might be fair for me to play the part of a pastor and ask the question, “Did you attend your worship service yesterday, or did you have something better to do?
Well, back to our study of Revelation and specifically chapter six. God is on his throne. Jesus is on his feet, and twenty-four elders have found their knees. After much pomp and ceremony, Jesus begins to open the sealed scroll. However, in order to do so, he must first remove seven seals. Perhaps one can imagine Jesus standing on a worship platform, slowly removing a seal from the scroll, and while he does so, a sacred power-point presentation is revealing truth in the background. Or perhaps one is more comfortable with Jesus Christ standing behind a pulpit and having a seven-point sermon. Either way, it is my assertion that each of these seals represent what God is doing on earth while his victory celebration currently takes place in glory.
Jesus opened the first seal, and when he did an armed, regal, crown-wearing rider appeared on a white horse. He was one who had already conquered something, and he was ready to go and conquer more. Some believe this to be the Antichrist who was mimicking Jesus Christ. I do not believe this to be the case. Jesus is the one associated with white throughout Revelation. Jesus is the one wearing the golden crown. Jesus is the one who has conquered death and hell, and is busy conquering the hearts of sinners through his Church and his Gospel. Therefore, while Jesus is being worshiped in heaven, he is going to war for the souls of men on earth. However, while the knight on the white horse rides on in victory, chaos is very present. (Revelation 5:5; 12:11; 17:14; 19:11; John 16:33; Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 1:8 interprets Psalm 45)
The second seal revealed a horse who was red, and this rider was responsible for removing God’s restraining common grace and allowing men more liberty to harm one another. Some understand the next three horsemen to be agents of the Antichrist. However, the text does not mandate this interpretation. Whoever they are, they are sent by God. Additionally, in Zechariah 1, such horsemen are clearly proclaimed to be agents performing God’s work. One needs to recognize at this point that Christians are not rescued from such tragedy. In John’s usage of “slaughter”, one time it refers to a beast (13:3), but seven times it refers to Christ or Christians (5:6, 9, 12; 6:9; 13;8; 18:24). Additionally, in the fifth seal we still see that believers are on the earth and suffering greatly. Therefore, while we wait for the rapture, we are not given reason to believe we will escape this horrible tribulation. Again, while the knight on the white horse rides on in victory, persecution escalates as well. (Matthew 10:34)
The third seal was then opened by the Lamb. This time the horse was black, and the rider resembled a judge holding scales in his hand. He was responsible for economic disaster. A whole day’s wages would be required to purchase bread. Some, especially Christians, would be harmed by incredible famine and inflation. However, while some starved, others enjoyed the abundance of oil and wine. Economic poverty and injustice would be experienced.
Jesus then removed the fourth seal, and a pale horse arrived on the scene. Death and Hades were given the right to own twenty-five percent of the human race. Hades is used to describe after-life existence away from the presence of God. However, the term “natural disaster” is interesting, for it is clear that such was a “supernatural disaster” planned by God of nature.
When the fifth seal was removed, John’s attention was drawn to the souls of Christian martyrs. They were given white robes of righteousness to replace their filthy rags of unrighteousness. While recognizing the long-suffering patience of God, they were hungry for righteous vindication. It pained them to see the unrighteous prosper and flaunt their rebellion before the face of God. Such were the prayers of men like James, Peter, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Stephen and Paul. All of these had given their lives for the Gospel. However, they were told to be patient. Their suffering was finished, but more suffering was to be experienced by saints on the earth. The final number of Christian martyrs had not yet been reached.
Then came the sixth seal and it focused on the “wrath of the Lamb.” Using Old Testament apocalyptic symbolism, John described the final judgment. (Ezekiel 38; Joel 2; Isaiah 13; Isaiah 34; Olivet Discourse) William Hendriksen makes a great point, “It is interesting to observe that this final outpouring of divine wrath upon mankind is described under the sixth seal — six … being the number of man — and is represented as affecting six objects of creation; and as distributed among six classes of men.” (More Than Conquerers, 107) at God’s final judgment, he is no respecter of persons, and those rebels who deny the son will experience the full brunt of the Adamic Curse. Therefore, at the end, while hymns of “worthy is the Lamb” are being sung to God in heaven, hymns of woe will be sung to mother earth by those who are rebels. They will sing” 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?” Instead of longing for glory, they fear death. Instead of running to God, they hide from his face. Instead of seeing the Lamb as their friend, they see him as their enemy. Such will be the lot of all who will not willingly bow the knee to Jesus Christ.
Friends, are you hurting? All the chaos you are experiencing is under the hand of the Almighty God. He who loved you enough to die, watches as you suffer due to his sovereign choices. He is responsible for economic disaster. He is responsible for governmental injustice. He is responsible for persecution and martyrdom. He is responsible for disease and natural disaster, and he can stop the chaos at any time; and he will some day. However, for now, despite the pleas of the martyred saints on your behalf, he chooses to allow great tribulation.
Friends, my encouragement for you is three-fold:
First, do not believe the lie put forth by Satan. He would have you believe he is on the winning side. He would have you believe you can sin, rebel, and prosper. Friend, this is not the case. Judgment is coming, and all those on the side of Christ will spend their days in bliss on the New Earth. Those who rebel will be singing another eternal song — one of woe.
Second, it appears that God is waiting to finally judge because all those with reservations to heaven have not arrived. Therefore, be busy in evangelism. There is still time for your friends and loved ones to bow the knee to Jesus Christ.
Third, do not believe the lie put forth by many televangelists and mega-church pastors. Earthly health, wealth and prosperity are not intended by God for all believers. Joel Osteen, this is not your “Best Life Now.”