Revelation 6: The 7 Seals

Posted on February 28, 2021

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By David Ettinger

What This Is
Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, I taught a Sunday school class verse by verse on the Book of Revelation. This series represents my notes for each class. (I have done some updating as some of my understandings have changed over the years.) I came across them recently and decided to post them. If you wish to use these notes as a study guide, the way to do it is as follows: Read the verse first in your Bible, then look at the corresponding notes here for commentary.

For some reason, I don’t have notes for Chapters 1-3, therefore this series begins with Chapters 4-5. Following the Chapter 4-5 study notes, each chapter will be presented individually.

Read Chapter 4-5 notes here.

Overview
* The 7 seals cover anywhere from 4½ to 5½ years in duration.

* It is important to note the seals are NOT the wrath of God, as the word “wrath” never appears in the Book of Revelation until Chapter 6, verse 16, which FOLLOWS the opening of the first 6 seals.

* We then read in 6:17: “For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” It can’t get any clearer than this! THIS is where God’s wrath begins – following the seals. God’s wrath will being with the trumpet judgments.

* Therefore, the Church is still upon the earth during the seals; the Rapture will not occur until following the 6th seal (4½ to 5½ years into the final 7 years).

* The Rapture of the Church – and the outpouring of God’s wrath – do not occur until 7:9.

Verse 1
* The Lamb is the only one who is worthy to open the scroll. Logically, He is the only One who can open the seals that give access to the scroll.

* The seals are on the outside of the scroll and they will be opened one by one.

* The Living creature is one of the 4 introduced to us in Chapter 4.

* “Come!” can be translated as, “Be coming!” or “Be going!” It is a command – a command of authorization.

* God commands all of the seals, though He is not the initiator of the destruction each is causing – that is humanity’s doing.

Verse 2: First Seal: World Conquest
* The first seal speaks of false teachers, false Christs (messiahs), and, primarily, the Antichrist.

* The white horse will be referred to again in 19:11. For now, though, this white horse, as is its rider, is a counterfeit.

* The crown is a sign of authority.

* The symbolism of a white horse in the 1st century represented a conquering military leader.

* A bow without an arrow: Probably becomes a conqueror without having gone to war.

* Timing of the first seal: The beginning of the final 7-year period of this age of human history (the 70th Week of the Book of Daniel).

Verses 3-4: The Second Seal: War
* The Lamb opens the second seal and the second living creature gives the command for it to be carried out.

* The next horse is fiery red, a color symbolic of blood.

* The second seal is designed to take peace from the earth.

* The opening of this seal will begin a time of war that will last throughout the entire 70th Week.

* There will be no peace during this final 7 years.

Verses 5-6: The Third Seal: Famine
* One of the results of war is famine.

* The black horse is symbolic of plague, pestilence, and death.

* The scales are to weigh out the price of food. They could also be used to “weigh” humanity’s iniquity (Daniel 5:27).

* A day’s wages then was approximately a denarius, or 16 cents.

* A quart of wheat would be sufficient for only 1 meal, yet it was selling at an exorbitant rate.

* You could buy enough barley for 3 meals, but would have nothing left for oil, wine, and other necessities.

* The oil and wine were staples of the day.

* We see inflation at its highest.

Verses 7-8: The Fourth Seal: Death
* “Pale horse” – according to the Greek, “pale” is sickly green.

* The rider, “Death,” is as horrifying as the horse.

* That Hades follows, indicates that this particular rider’s victims will go to Hades upon death.

* “Wild beasts of the Earth” – besides taking the literal view (which is always preferable), this could be a reference to the “Beast out of the Sea” and the “Beast out of the Earth” of Chapter 13 (the Antichrist and his prophet).

* However, the traditional view is that wild beasts will lose their fear of people and begin to attack them.

* “A fourth of the Earth” – the usual view is that a fourth of humanity will be destroyed. However, what the text is actually saying is that this rider’s sphere of influence by sword, famine, and plague will be limited to one-fourth of the earth. The text does not say that one-fourth of the world’s population will die.

* Today war, famine, and the sword (weapons) already affect more than one-fourth of the earth, but one-fourth of the world’s population is not dying.

* Following this seal we have the initiation of the Great Tribulation (the final 3½ years of this age of human history).

Verses 9:11: The Fifth Seal: Martyrs
Verse 9
* These are specifically the believers who were put to death for:

1) Maintaining the Word of God.

2) Maintaining their witness for Christ.

* These saints are given a special place under the altar, very near the Lord.

Verse 10
* What they are basically asking is: “How long will it be until Jesus returns to Earth and conquers Satan?”

* That God is “holy and true” proves His coming judgment is just.

Verse 11
* They are given white robes to wear – a symbol of purity – and are told to be patient.

* Be patient for what?

* There are more believers living on Earth destined to be martyred. This must come to pass before God begins to pour out His wrath.

A BRIEF COMPARISON TO MATTHEW 24

* Verse 5 of Matthew 24 corresponds to the first seal (false Christs).

* Verse 6 corresponds to the second seal (war and rumors of war).

* Verse 7 corresponds to the third seal (famine).

* Verse 8 corresponds to the fourth seal (death as result of the first three seals – and these are just the beginning “birth pangs”).

* Verse 9 corresponds to the fifth seal (martyrs).

* Verse 20 corresponds to the sixth seal (cosmic disturbance).

Verses 12-14: The Sixth Seal: Cosmic Disturbances
* Cosmic disturbances are the indicator that the Day of the Lord is about to begin.

* A great earthquake initiates the sixth seal and the consequences are destructive and far-reaching.

* The Old Testament Scriptures are replete with references to cosmic disturbances before the Lord’s return. See:

* Joel 2:1-2; 10; 30-31.

* Isaiah 34:4.

* Zephaniah 1:15-16.

Verse 15
* The most powerful men and women on Earth as well as the least powerful are all united in one cause: Escape.

* God makes no differential between people, whether great or small.

Verse 16
* The wrath of God has at last come.

* Things are so bad and so frightening that men and women are calling upon the mountains and rocks to help them. They are not summoning the mountains and rocks to kill them, but to hide them from God and from the wrath of the Lamb.

Verse 17
* It is now time for God to start pouring out His wrath.

* The question, “who can stand?” is more a statement than an inquiry. This is because the answer is clear: No one can stand.

OF NOTE

* The seals are NOT God’s wrath. They are the ultimate effect of humanity’s rebellion against God.

* 1 Thessalonians 5:9 refers to God’s wrath, not humanity’s.

* The word “wrath” occurs 8 times AFTER Revelation 6:17 (the Rapture) because the wrath will not be poured out until the Church has been raptured (see Revelation 3:10).

* The Day of the Lord is God’s wrath and it will begin with the Trumpet judgments.

* The seals are nothing compared to God’s wrath.