ON REVELATION - LESSON 11
by the King
Father and son
were walking together in a long line of scared, hungry people who'd
just been herded off boxcars in the middle of Poland. Up ahead the
father could see Nazi guards dividing the line into two groups. The
old and infirm were shoved to one side; the young and healthy to
the other. As they neared the soldiers, the father realized he would
be separated from his son. He didn't know what fate awaited them
inside those barbed wire fences. What words could he leave with his
precious boy? The father remembered there was royal blood in the
family's veins. He knelt down quickly, looked his son in the eye,
and said, "No matter what happens, always remember you're the son
of a king."
That father perished
in the concentration camp. But his son carried those words with him
the rest of his life. They were like a royal seal pressed into his
mind. He knew who he was. And he lived a good, noble life-as
the son of a king.
In this lesson
we'll discover how history is moving toward a final holocaust. Seven
seals, opened one by one, reveal the stages of Earth's journey. But
we'll also discover how each one of us can come to the end of that
journeysealed as a child of the king.
Revelation 6 and
7 depict a time of great anticipation. The sounds of an intense celebration
that echoed through the courts of heaven are quieting. Harps are
stilled. Heavenly beings settle down. Voices grow silent. Because
Jesus Christ, the Lamb, is now opening the scroll that had been closed
with seven seals. Revelation 5 has built up to this moment in the
heavenly drama. Great secrets are about to be revealed.
look closely at this scroll in Christ's hands. In Bible times scrolls
were usually made from papyrus. The papyrus plant was cut into strips
and the strips were laid out in a cross-work pattern, moistened, pounded
flat, and dried. Small rectangular sheets could be connected end-to-end
to form a scroll up to thirty feet in length. The scroll was rolled
up around a stick and tied with a string. A lump of clay or wax covered
the string and was called a seal. Often a name or identifying logo would
be pressed into the seal. Important documents were secured in this way.
They were intended to be opened only when a designated individual broke
5 has shown us, Jesus is the only One worthy to open the seals. He's
the only One with the authority to read the scroll. So what does
He reveal? What's inside the book? Everything. The entire history
of the Christian churchfrom the cross to the Second Comingis
laid out before us. We see the triumph of the gospel as followers
of Jesus travel the world proclaiming His kingdom. We see the furious
opposition of Satan, who tries desperately to keep individuals from
accepting Christ into their lives. Before a watching universe, we
see how every single human being plays a part in the great struggle
between God and Satan.
vision of the seven churches was a review of the history of the Christian
era. This prophecy of the seven seals in Revelation 6 covers the
same time period from a different perspective. Also, keep in mind
that Revelation as a whole builds on the apocalyptic prophecies in
the book of Daniel. At the end of his visions, Daniel was given this
message: "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until
the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall
increase" (Daniel 12:4). A few verses later the prophet is told: "Go
your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the
time of the end" (vs. 9). Daniel was looking at events far in the
future. But by John's day, these were the "things which must shortly
take place" (Revelation 1:1). Whereas the message given to Daniel
was sealed, John was told to write down what he saw (vs. 19). So
let's study carefully this panoramic picture of Christian history.
Jesus opens the seven seals one at a time, revealing a historical
sequence. God wants to show us again how He has been working through
history on our behalf. The period covered is between approximately
A.D. 31 and the second coming of Jesus.
Seal: The Conqueror
(First centurystarts approximately A.D. 31)
Revelation 6:1, 2.
As the Lamb of
God begins to open the first four seals, the curtain rises on four
horses galloping one after another across the sky. The color of each
horse says something about the spiritual state of the church in a
certain era. And each horse's rider symbolizes Christian leaders
of the time.
As the Lamb begins to open the seven seals, John sees four horses and
four riders. The
of the first horse is: (Revelation 6:2.)
What does the rider on this horse carry in his hand and wear on his head?
carries a bow and wears a crown.
carries a sword and wears a helmet.
carries an olive branch and wears a turban.
historians believe this first seal represents Jesus and the gospel
and the early spread of Christianity. In the vision of the seven
churches, it corresponds to the church of Ephesus. White signifies
the pure faith of the early believers. The bow represents their sweeping
over the strongholds of Satan with the kingdom of Christ. The crown
symbolizes their spiritual conquests based on Christ's victory over
sin on the cross.
Christian church was composed of highly committed followers of
Jesus and His teachings. In the book of Acts we are told believers
studied their Bibles, prayed for each other, worshiped God together,
shared meals, manifested love and kindness, met each other's physical
needs, and talked to others about what God had done for them personally.
One of the earliest pagan reactions to the Christian movement
in the first century was, "See how these Christians love one another!" As
a result, thousands from pagan and Jewish backgrounds decided
to accept Christ.
(Second through fourth centuries A.D.)
Revelation 6:3, 4.
As the Lamb
opens the second seal a change is taking place. John is told to "come
and see"-that is to watch as history unfolds.
What is the color of the second horse that John sees? (Revelation 6:4.)
events were seen taking place. (vs. 4)
What does the rider on this horse take from the earth? (Revelation 6:4.)
5. What does the rider on this horse cause people to do? (Revelation
Kill one another.
Cheat one another.
Love one another.
breaks out during this period of Christian history, which parallels
to a certain degree the church of Smyrna. The red of the second horse
represents the blood of the martyrs. Historians tell us that thousands
of believers were crucified, burned, or butchered for their faith in
Jesus. Some of the faithful were starved to death in a forty-foot hole
deep in Rome's Mamertine Prison. To add to their suffering, bags of
food and jars of water were hung down by ropesjust out of their
reach. When they died, their bodies were dumped into a sewer that drained
into the Tiber River.
(Fourth through sixth centuries A.D.)
Revelation 6:5, 6.
This seal presents
us with Christianity as the official state religion of the Roman
Empire under the reign of Constantine. In this period Christianity
spiraled downward. The black horse represents the corruption of the
church. It suggests death, sorrow, and spiritual darkness.
What does the rider on the third horse carry in his hand? (Revelation
A bag of money.
A collection of scrolls.
A pair of scales.
The pair of scales
represent a two-sided power, a mixture of church and state. Constantine
used the might of the Roman Empire to enforce Christian observance.
The barley, wheat, and oil refer to the basics for making bread.
It takes a day's wage just to buy a loaf. In other words, famine
has struck. But it's not a famine for food, but for the Word of God.
The church's traditions
turned the faith into what one historian calls "mechanical Christianity." Ritual
replaced spiritual nurture. The clear principles of Scripture were
all but drowned out in a flood of false teachings.
Seal: Widespread Death
(Sixth through sixteenth centuries A.D.)
Revelation 6:7, 8.
Jesus said the
world would know we are Christians by our love. He even told us to
love our enemies. But at its lowest point, the official Christian
church turned this teaching on its head. It began to persecute those
who questioned its absolute authority. The church of the Roman Empire
came to believe it was justified in executing those who didn't accept
all her doctrines. Church officials actually hauled people before
tribunals because of their beliefs about the mode of baptism or the
proper day of worship or the worship of images. Millions were tortured
and murdered because they chose to follow the Bible when church teachings
What color is the fourth horse that John saw? (Revelation 6:8.)
By what methods does the rider on this horse kill people? (Revelation
Sword, hunger, death, and wild beasts.
Pestilence, war, starvation, and natural disasters.
Fire, water, smoke, and disease.
think about: In your opinion, what are the two most prominent
ways Satan attacks and corrupts society today?
Seal: The Cry of the Martyrs
(Sixteenth through nineteenth centuries A.D.)
Revelation 6:9, 10.
reformers had to champion the primacy of God's Word while the blood
of martyrs still ran in the streets and the smell of a "heretic's" burning
flesh still hung in the air. But the age of persecution finally gave
way to the age of reformation. When asked to give up his Bible-based
faith in favor of human traditions, Martin Luther, referring to the
Bible, declared, "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me!"
As the Lamb opens
the fifth seal, John sees all those who died a martyr's death because
of their faithfulness to God and His Word. These champions of the
faith begin crying out:
What does John hear the martyrs crying out when the Lamb opens
the fifth seal?
O Lord, did You allow us to be killed and die a martyr's death?"
long, O Lord, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who live on earth?"
reward, O Lord, will we receive for giving up our lives for You?"
What does God give to these martyrs in response to their question?
A golden crown.
A throne in heaven.
What do you think
is the meaning of God's gift to the martyrs?
When the martyrs
asked, "How long?" God answered, in essence, "Just a little while
longer until My plans can reach complete fulfillment." The sixth
seal is opened immediately after this. In a sense, it's a response
to the question, "How long?"
Have you ever
felt so bad that all you could do was cry out, "God, how long?" How
does it make you feel when you discover that God really is there
with you, loving you and making something good come out of a terrible
Seal: Cosmic Disturbances
(Eighteenth century A.D. through the second coming of
When the sixth
seal is opened, John views certain events which are signs Christ's
second coming is getting near. They are important events because
they are God's way of telling us, "I will soon end the tragedy of
sin and suffering on the Earth and in the universe."
What four events take place when the sixth seal is opened? (Revelation
A great earthquake
occurs; the sun becomes dark; the moon looks like blood; and the
stars fall from
Jesus returns from heaven; the righteous dead are raised to life; the wicked
and the oceans are dried up.
Mountains fall into the sea; one-third of the people on earth die; the
sun scorches the
earth; and a great famine occurs.
The first of these
signs occurred on November 1, 1755. A terrible earthquake in Lisbon
leveled this city of 150,000 inhabitants. The convulsions were felt
over a four-million-square-mile area in Europe and Africa. On certain
coastlines, the sea rose fifty feet above its ordinary level.
few years later on May 19, 1780, broad daylight suddenly turned to deep
darkness. R.M. Devens described it in Our First Century: "Almost,
if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and as yet unexplained
phenomenon of its kind, in nature's diversified range of events, during
the last century, stands the dark day . . . Eyewitnesses of the Dark
Day said that the next night as they looked up at the sky, they saw
a moon that was the color of blood-red" (pp. 89, 90).
Devens also wrote about a memorable night when the stars fell: "Extensive
and magnificent showers of shooting stars have been known to occur
at various places in modern times; but the most universal and wonderful
which has ever been recorded is that of the thirteenth of November,
1833, the whole firmament, over all the United States, being then,
for hours, in fiery commotion!" (pp. 329, 330). (References from
R.M. Devens, Our First Century, quoted from God Cares, Vol. 2, Maxwell,
How well do these
events qualify as the fulfillment of Christ's predictions? Each event
was notable in its own right. Jesus said the signs would immediately
follow the tribulation of those days, and they did. The evidence
reveals that these signs were fulfilled as they followed the described
biblical sequence. It is also possible that similar events may occur
again at Jesus' second coming since the Bible describes nature being
shaken out of its normal course at that time.
What happens next? (Revelation 6:14.)
Devil is destroyed.
sky is rolled up like a scroll, and every mountain and island are moved
out of their places.
battle of Armageddon begins, and the whole world is engulfed in war and
Notice the reaction
of those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. (vss.
Where do those who are not ready to meet Jesus try to hide? (Revelation
In the caves and rocks of the mountains.
churches and cathedrals all over the world.
14. What are they hiding from? (Revelation 6:16.)
face of God who sits on the throne and the wrath of the Lamb.
angels of God who have been commissioned to kill the wicked.
of wicked people who are attacking anyone they can find.
15. What do those who are hiding ask for? (Revelation 6:16.)
the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them.
forgiveness of their sins.
protection from the lawless bands of people who are roaming the earth.
16. What question do those are hiding ask? (Revelation 6:17.)
can we do to be saved?"
will protect us from the calamities that are coming on the earth?"
is able to stand in the great day of God's wrath?"
we can say, the earthquake is over, the dark day is history, and the
bloody moon and shower of stars have also come on us in the sequence
prophesied. What is the next major event? The coming of Jesus! Yes,
Jesus is coming. Each individual must answer the question, "And who
shall be able to stand?" All the money in the world and all the status
in the world won't prepare us for that day. Human beings will divide
sharply into two groups when they look up and see Christ flashing across
the sky: those who beg the rocks to crush them and those who recognize
the One whose blood has washed away their sins. The rocks or the blood
of the Lambthere is no other choice. And no one can make it for
you. But all of heaven is working to help you choose Jesus.
Time Between Seals 6 and 7
(Just prior to the second coming of Jesus)
opens the seventh seal, God gives us a wonderful preview of the
joy of those who are redeemed. He wants each of us to know that
we can be part of the great numberless multitude from every nation
who stand confidently before God's throne. And God explains that
before Christ returns to Earth, He will mark, or "seal," those
who are His. It's a sign that declares, "This is a child of the
king." This interlude in the prophetic sequence gives us further
assurance about the day all human suffering will end and an eternity
with God begin.
What are the four angels who stand at the four corners of the earth
told to do? (Revelation 7:1-3.)
go throughout the earth and kill everyone who has rejected the Lamb.
go throughout the earth and call on men and women to repent of their sins.
hold back the four winds so that they would not blow on the earth and harm it.
How long were the angels to do this? (Revelation 7:3.)
everyone who had rejected the Lamb was killed.
everyone had repented of their sins.
the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads.
winds represent what we usually call "the storms of life." They are
destructive forces poised to bring human history to its climax. The
angels are told to delay the cataclysms about to fall on the world and
its inhabitants, represented by "earth, sea, and trees," until God seals
His people. The seal is placed on the forehead. This implies individuals
have used their minds to freely make a decision to follow Christ. They
weren't coerced into some loyalty to human tradition. They reflected
on the truths of God's Word. And they chose to be set apart as a child
of the king.
What two groups are sealed? (Revelation 7:4, 9.)
144,000 from the tribes of Israel and a huge multitude from all nations.
Gentiles and all those who are alive when Jesus comes.
Christians and those Jews who accept Jesus before He returns.
This is a message
of hope for all men and women! The 144,000 represent a group which
goes through the end-time crisis on Earth and remains alive when
Jesus returns. The great multitude represents all those since the
creation of Earth who have accepted Jesus as the Lord and Savior
of their lives. Notice that those in both groups are dressed in "white
robes" (vss. 9, 14). Both have right standing with God only because
they've been forgiven by Jesus; they've been cleansed by His blood.
(Second Coming to the new heavens and Earth)
What happens when the last seal-the seventh seal-is opened? (Revelation
The wicked are given one last chance to repent and accept Jesus.
There is silence in heaven for a half hour.
righteous people who have died are raised to life.
The silence in
heaven is a silence of great expectation. It precedes the most awesome
in human history. Heaven is quiet because Jesus and the angels have left;
they're coming to Earth; they're coming for the followers
of Jesus, for the children of the King; they are going to take us back
to our heavenly home.
§ § §
Henry Martin, a
brilliant Cambridge scholar, devoted his life to Bible translation
in the Hindu and Muslim worlds. His brief life was filled with incredible
adventuresdodging Arab pirates, walking across steaming hot
deserts, crossing remote mountain passes on horseback. But he completed
a New Testament in Hindustani and supervised translations into Persian
and Arabic. One of the reasons this frail, tubercular man showed
great stamina was that he had a wonderful Companion through all his
treks. Once he wrote, "My joy was too great for my body. How sweet
to walk with Jesusto love Him and to die for Him."
has a face; it's the face of Jesus. And each one of us can have a
home with this wonderful Companion in heaven. He doesn't want us
to miss out. He doesn't want our place at His table to be empty.
Say "yes" to the One who is coming to take you home. You too can
be sealed as a child of the King.
think about: As you have studied the seven seals how has God
spoken to you? What would you like to say to Jesus?
You for the forgiveness of sin and for the promise of always
loving us. I want to be ready to live in heaven with You. Thank
You for helping me to be ready. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
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