REVELATION 6:3-17 THE GREAT TRIBULATION BEGINS: THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE

February 2011

Dear Friends,

Our Lord tells us in Matthew 24:37-39 that in the days of Noah, when storm clouds of judgment were everywhere, people were oblivious to them and went about life as usual and did not repent and get in the ark (a picture of salvation). He said His second coming would be just like this, i.e., people would be oblivious to all the signs of judgment and His soon return, and likewise perish. Most of the signs He speaks of in Matthew 24 are occurring in our world today and the book of Revelation reveals the plight of those who ignore them and are left behind – i.e., the unsaved who are not raptured (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people's hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong." (Eccl. 8:11) Contrast this verse to Galatians 6:7: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows" – in this life or the next. The book of Revelation helps us see that there is a day of reckoning for the unrepentant (Rev. 20:11-15) and a day of reward for the faithful and obedient. (1 Cor. 3:10-15) "So you also must be ready." (Matthew 24:44)           

What do the four horsemen of the apocalypse represent as seen in Revelation 6? Last month we saw that the rider on the white horse represented the Antichrist bringing a false peace. Now let's look at the next three. "When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power (from God) to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword."  The red horse represents war and bloodshed and the great sword indicates war will occur throughout the entire world. Steve Griffith (http://revelationalive.net/about-us/) and other commentators believe that this is the beginning of the Great Tribulation and the second    3 ½ years.  The false peace is broken and, with the rapture/removal of the church and its spiritual influence, and the removal of the restraining power of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:7-8), along with the unchecked evil of man combined with the evil power of Antichrist (and all these things under God's authority/wrath; see vv. 16-17), all hell will break loose.                                                                                 

"When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" The black horse represents famine and the scales symbolize commerce. ["Prices for the wheat and barley are extraordinarily high, as they would be in a time of extreme drought and famine. It will take a day's wages for one person just to feed himself much less a family. One can get three quarts of the less expensive barley (the food for cattle and horses). These are starvation conditions which often follow after war. The oil and wine are luxuries for the rich who at this point will still get whatever they want." Steve Griffith]                                                         

"When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." The pale (ashen) horse (the color of a corpse) represents pestilence and death, both physical death and spiritual death (Hades/Hell) as seen in the rider's name. Through war, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts, a fourth of the earth's post-Rapture inhabitants are killed. [‘When in human history have we ever seen such carnage? The vast number of dead bodies will not allow for many to be buried and pestilence from decomposing bodies will spread and kill even more people. Evidently the wild beasts will attack the maimed and helpless and kill them." Steve Griffith]                                                                                

The judgments seen here are the similar to the judgments that God used to bring the nation of Israel to repentance (see 1 Kings 8:33-39; 1 Chron. 21:12) and the judgments Jesus predicted in Matthew 24. Many do come to repentance in the Tribulation, both Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 11:26; Rev. 7:9) but many refuse to repent and cry out for salvation even in the midst of unimaginable pain. (Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9, 11)                                                               

"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood? (The underlined phrase refers to unbelievers who look upon the earth as their home.) Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed." Some commentators say that though this is not a judgment itself, it is a prayer for God's judgment and is answered by Him as seen in the next seal. The white robes represent the imputed righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21) and the imprecatory prayers are not for personal vindication but for God's vindication. But the Lord has more to save (who also are martyred) so He waits to avenge these in heaven and glorify Himself (through His judgments) until His saving work is completed. "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 3:9)                                              

"I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.  Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" It helps here to step back and get the big picture of what has taken place since the Tribulation began. The Antichrist is at the zenith of power and has been allowed by God to be an instrument of His wrath on unrepentant people. (Even as God used Babylon to punish the Jewish nation for disobedience; – See Habakkuk.) So far God has not directly judged people. But now God unleashes His power and shows Antichrist and all the unrepentant (the rich and the mighty, etc.) Who is the Boss.  Again, nothing like this has ever occurred in human history. A worldwide earthquake affects every fault line on earth and stars (meteors?) fall from the sky. No natural phenomenon can explain these supernatural events, even nuclear bombs. But notice that no one repented and they preferred to be crushed by falling mountains and rocks than to endure the judgment of God and the wrath of the Lamb. 

Let's look at the other significant events that are taking place at this time. Steve Griffith and other commentators say that to understand the book of Revelation we must see the parenthetical events that are going on in the flow of the chronological events.   First of all we see that God places His two witnesses in Jerusalem to prophesy during the last half of the Tribulation. (Rev. 11:3) Also at this time the Antichrist moves armed forces into Israel to eradicate all Jews. (Dan. 11:36-45; Rev. 12:13-16; Joel 2:1-8) It is at this time that the Antichrist will require all people to worship him and show their allegiance to him by receiving the mark of the beast on their right hand or forehead in order to buy or sell. (Rev. 13:16-17) This will lead to famine and death for those who refuse to take the mark. In addition to death by starvation the Antichrist will seek to kill all who refuse to worship him and refuse the mark particularly most Muslims, most Jews, and all post-Rapture Christians including the "harlot," the one world religion (the apostate church – Rev. 17:16) but mainly post-rapture Christians (Rev. 20:4). Some Muslims and some Jews will likely follow the Antichrist; true post-Rapture Christians will not. "As God's partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God's kindness and then ignore it. For God says "At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you."  Indeed, the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:1-2; See Romans 10:9-13)        

Until He comes,

Len and Kristen

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