Revelation 6 … Now we come to the more challenging part of the Revelation. The writing is filled with symbolism that requires interpretation. Over the centuries, scholars have taken different positions on how to view the revelations given in this great book. There are basically four positions of interpretation. The first is called “Preterist” and takes the view that Revelation depicts early conflicts that have already taken place. The next is the “Idealist,” a non-literal view holding that the Revelation is a symbolic representation of the conflicting principles of good and evil. The third view is the “Historical” view holding that the events represent on-going history from the first century.
The last interpretive view is “Futurist” and is arguably the most widely held and that’s what we’ll present here. It consists of viewing end-time events as something yet to come, consisting of a Great Tribulation and a Millennium, both of which don’t begin until Christ comes to take the Church (those who have accepted Christ as Savior) out of the world in what is called the Rapture, depicted in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. When that event occurs, Christian influence will have been visibly removed from the earth and the result of that will not be pleasant. And that’s what we’ll observe for the next few chapters in Revelation.
Revelation 6 begins what the prophecies of the Scripture have called the great and terrible “Day of the Lord.” This time has been foretold since the early days of God’s covenant relationship with mankind and is what we have referred to as the “end-times.” Hebrews 1:1 tells us that in the former days, God spoke through the prophets and in these last days through His Son. In fact the definition of a prophet is one who has been given words to speak for God. Sometimes they spoke of current events, and sometimes of future events. Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would reveal His Word to them and instruct them as they grew in Him. So it’s from the preceding books of the Bible that we gain the expectation of these events and the explanation for them.
In the unfolding events of the end-times, the rapture of the Church takes place first. (Rapture means “catching away.”) Next will come the Great Tribulation of seven years (also called the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy), then the Second Coming of Christ to earth to reign for 1000 years, and then, a new heaven and new earth. That’s what’s ahead in this book as chapter 6 opens with the opening of six of the seven seals, the starting events of what’s called the Great Tribulation, when the Church with its beneficial influence has already been taken to heaven.
The first four seals announce a succession of four horses and their riders, white, black, red and pale. The white horse and rider is not the Lord, but is the Anti-Christ, an imposter and agent of Satan. The red horse is war and the black horse is famine. Revelation 6:6b indicates there won’t be enough food, but that luxuries will be available. The pale horse represents death and Hades. Hades is a holding place for the condemned until the final judgment. The fifth seal represents those who professed faith in Christ during the Tribulation, who were martyred for their faith (6:9), and who are in heaven awaiting further martyrs (6:11). The sixth seal is a breakdown of social order accompanied by natural calamities. The last seal is yet to come, but even now, the oppression of the Tribulation is intense (6:16). By most interpretations, the first half of the Tribulation concludes with Revelation 6:17. We certainly don’t have all the details, but we have enough to know that this is a terrible, terrible time.
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