David continued our exciting series in Revelation on Sunday. We have reached chapter 6! The chapter ends with a BIG question:
David left that question hanging while he took us through the rest of the chapter. In verse one the Lamb begins to open the seven seals, one by one, and John tells us what he sees. These visions help the first readers and us to see into history. They show the reader what has happened and what will happen. David is constantly reminding us that Revelation is a discipleship manual, it is pointing us to Jesus to help us know him and follow him better.
The scroll that is sealed contains God’s plan for human history and the only one worthy to open it is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one sitting on the throne and nothing happens outside of his authority. We can see clearly in the text that he is the one who gives permission and authority in the visions. Chaos does not reign. However dark and confusing the events may seem, God is always on the throne and His purposes are always being unfurled.
The first four visions are similar. John sees four coloured horses and their riders.
- A white horse – the rider has a bow, a crown and comes out conquering – a symbol of military conquest and war.
- A red horse – the rider carries a sword – a symbol of conflict.
- A black horse – the rider holds scales in his hands – a symbol of poverty, hunger and famine.
- A pale horse – its rider is called death – is given permission to ‘take out’ a quarter of the earth.
These disasters all occur simultaneously, and all happened both in the first century and right up to the twenty-first century. They are a sign of the end times, the time between the first and second coming of Jesus. Jesus taught us this:
We shouldn’t be shocked by what we see all around us. As Christians we will be saved from all suffering and death completely someday. However, in this present day we face this harsh reality.
The fifth vision is very different. John sees the souls of Christian martyrs under the altar in heaven. They are as if a sacrifice. They have been slain, reminding us of the Lamb who was slain. They are crying out to God.
God responds to this cry by giving them a white robe, a sign of victory, He recognises their sacrifice. Then they are asked to wait until their number is complete. Persecution will be with us.
The sixth vision is one of cosmic disruption, the end of the known world. This is the point of judgement, of God’s wrath. Those who have never repented will cry out in desperation.
David brought us right back to the question: “Who will stand?” The answer will be revealed next week.
The sound of the horses’ hooves and the cries of the martyrs give us much to think about.
- How do the newspaper and TV headlines make us feel? Do we have a good vision of the Lamb on the throne? Does the picture of the Lamb conducting history comfort us?
Spend some time asking the Lord to grow your vision of his sovereignty. Remind yourself daily that nothing is outside of his control. When you speak of disasters and hardships in these last days acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty.
- Can we hear the cry of the martyrs? Are we even aware of it?
Go to https://releaseinternational.org/ and read about those who are suffering for their faith. Pray for them. Ask the Lord to prepare you to live for him in the face of persecution.