Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The Seven Seals symbolically describe the history of the nations and the church. The 6th Seal brings us up to events just before Christʼs return and asks the question, “Who shall be able to stand.” Rev 7 gives the answer. We live in the time of the sixth seal between the 13th and 14th verses of Revelation 6.
Revelation Chapter 6
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
2 And I saw, and behold a WHITE horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse [that was] RED: and [power] was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a BLACK horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8 And I looked, and behold a PALE horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
The book sealed with the seven seals contains a complete history of the world. That which is revealed as the seals are opened describes events beginning in Apostolic times and extending to the Second Coming. The dates given are approximate.
(a) LEGAL enactments (1Kings 21:8; Est 8:8)
(b) SHUTTING UP or closing (Dan 12:4; Rev 10:4; Rev 20:3).
(c) TITLE DEEDS of PURCHASE, sealed in the presence of witnesses (Jer 32:44).
This brings to mind the witnesses in heaven when the Lamb received the sealed book (See on Rev 5) . Sometimes through misfortune one had to sell oneʼs property but it could be PURCHASED back immediately by oneʼs closest relative providing that he could prove he was family and PAY THE REDEMPTION PRICE. An example of redeeming property is seen in Jer 32:10-12. There is described a sealed book of the property to be redeemed, witnesses and a redemption price.
Adam lost the world but Christ our next of kin and our Redeemer prevailed over Satan, paid the redemption price with His own life and bought us and the world back. Because of this He is worthy to open the sealed book. It appears that the sealed ʻbookʼ (scroll) is the legal title to the world, a record of the worldʼs history, transfer of ownership etc.
“There in His open hand lay the book, the roll of the history of Godʼs providences, the prophetic history of nations and the church. Herein was contained the divine utteranc- es, His authority, His commandments, His laws, the whole symbolic counsel of the Eternal, and the history of all ruling powers in the nations. In symbolic language was contained in that roll the influence of every nation, tongue, and people from the beginning of earthʼs history to its close.” E.G. White, 9 Manuscript Release, p7.
The Seals began in Apostolic times
(a) A comparison between the Seven Seals and Christʼs prophecy known as the Olivet discourse recorded in Matt 24; Mark 13, & Luke 21 shows that they describe the same sequence of events. The Olivet discourse began in the days of the Apostolic church and was given in part to answer to the disciples question as to when Herodʼs temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed (See Matt 24:1-3). Christ described events they would witness (verses 4, 6, 9, 15, 20) and continued the prophecy beyond their days to the Second Coming (Matt 24:30-31). As the Seven Seals of Revelation parallel the Olivet discourse the first of the Seven Seals BEGAN IN APOSTOLIC TIMES, when the Olivet discourse began, and the last seal reaches to the 2nd Coming. The Olivet discourse is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke but not in Johnʼs gospel. Why? The Seven Seals are Johnʼs version of the same prophecy.
(b) Seven is a symbol of completeness and the Seals span the complete Christian Era.
(c) The opening of the Seven Seals is described as occurring in the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary wherein the seven lamps stood (See on Rev 4:5). The daily ministry of the priests in the earthly sanctuary prefigued the ministry of Jesus in heavenʼs sanctuary (Heb 8:1-5). Christ began to minister in the holy place of heavenʼs sanctuary soon after His ascension and in this context the seals were opened.
(d) At the time of the fifth seal the judgment is still future. Therefore the seals began BEFORE the judgment. (See Rev 6:10). The judgment began in 1844. See on Dan 8:14.
(e) The Seals are found in the first and historical half of the structure of Revelation. See chart above.
(f) The Christian Era has two white horses with crowned riders at either end - The white horse of the first seal and the white horse upon which Christ returns (Rev 19:11). Christ is the Alpha and Omega.
(g) The seven seals closely parallel the seven churches, indicating that they cover the same period of time.
How can the first seal decribe events before AD96 when John received this vision and was told that it was to show “things which must be HEREAFTER” Rev 4:1?
The angel did not say that EVERYTHING John was to see in the following chapters
(Rev 4-22) would be after Johnʼs time. For example John saw the birth of the Son of man (Jesus) who is to rule all nations, and Satanʼs attempt to kill him at His birth (Rev 12:1-5) which occured long BEFORE.
(b) The Seven Seals (Rev 6, 8:1) parallel the events described in Matthew 24. As the prophecy of Matthew 24 began in Apostolic times, long BEFORE AD96, so also did the first of the Seven Seals. (See on the Seven Seals Rev 6).
Rev chapters 1-3 began with the phrase “ “things which must shortly come to pass.” Rev chapters 4-22 begin with the similar phrase “things which must be hereafter.” The period Rev 1-3 covers is also covered by Rev 4-22, i.e. the entire Christian Era.
The Significance of Seven
Seven is a symbol of completeness (e.g. days in a complete week) and the Seals span the complete Christian Era, from Apostolic times to the Second Coming. In the Bible sevens are divided into 4 then 3 or more accurately 4 - 2 - 1:
4 Spring feasts - 3 autumn feasts (Lev 23). 4 Trumpets - 3 “Woe” trumpets (Rev 8-9). 4 days creating the inanimate - 2 days the creatures - 1 day the Sabbath (Gen 1). The Seals follow this 4-2-1 pattern. The first 4 seals are symbolic horses. The horse symbol is dropped in the last three.
In the pattern of Revelation, interludes occur between the 6th and 7th: (a) Between the 6th and 7th seals the sealing is described (Rev 7).
(b) Between the 6 & 7th trumpets the rise of Godʼs end-time Movement and the French Revolution are described (Rev 10, 11).
(c) Between the 6th & 7th plagues the gathering of the forces to Armageddon is described (Rev 16:13-16).
The significance of the colours
The various colours of the horses represent different characteristics: WHITE - Purity (Isa 1:18). RED - Sinful (Isa 1:18)
BLACK - Apostate (Opposite of white)
PALE - Death (Gr. chloros. As applied to men or beasts a sickly deathly colour). The change in colours shows corruption from purity to death.
The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Horses symbolic of war. (Prov 21:31; Rev 19:11):
FIRST SEAL - The Church makes war on Satanʼs kingdom.
SECOND SEAL - Corruption enters and the Church leadership begins to war against true doctrines & standards.
THIRD SEAL - Corruption continues and Apostate Church leadership war against the character and leadership of Godʼs church.
FOURTH SEAL - Corruption so far advanced that the Church leadership war against the faithful people of Godʼs church.
The riders represent concepts- warfare, scarcity, death etc., rather than individuals. Death and Hades in verse 8 certainly arenʼt people. The last three Seals drop the horse symbol. The riders represent the leadership which direct the horses (Ps 32:9).
verse 1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
Four “beasts” (Gr. zoon - living beings) introduce the first four Seals. The living creatures are mentioned in Rev 4:7 as having different appearances.
FIRST - Lion (Valiant) SECOND -- Calf (Sacrifice) THIRD - - Man (Sinful) FOURTH - - Eagle (Divine) They are appropriate to the events of the Seals they introduce. See comments.
FIRST SEAL - WHITE Early purity AD31 - AD100 v 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
White = Purity (Isa 1:18; Ps 51:7; Rev 19:11). In Revelation white ALWAYS means purity (e.g. Rev 1:14; Rev 19:11-14). White is nowhere employed as a symbol of evil.
Bow = Tongue (Jer 9:3). Arrows = Words (Ps 64:3; Jer 9:8).
Crown = Conquerers crown (Gr. stepha- nos. 2Tim 4:8).
Conquering = WInning victories.
As the second “beast” introduced the 2nd Seal (Rev 6:3), so the first beast, like a LION (cf. Rev 4:7) introduced this first Seal. “And he also [that is] VALIANT, whose heart [is] as the heart of a LION.” (2Sam 17:10 ). Under this period the Church went forth VALIANTLY proclaiming the gospel. The colours of the horses indicate their character and WHITE here represents PURITY.
The white horse & rider with a bow represents the pure early church which shot all the arrows of Godʼs word into the hearts of men to convict them of their sins and their need of Christ:
“...in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness [and] righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine ARROWS [are] sharp IN THE HEART of the kingʼs enemies; [whereby] the people fall under thee. Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom [is] a right sceptre.” (Ps 45:3-7; Hab 3:9).
Even before the apostle Paul died the gospel had been taken to the whole [known] world (Col 1:5-6, 23) and within 100 years over 5 million had been converted to Christ! The first Seal extends just beyond the Apostle Johnʼs writing of the book of Revelation.
There are two white horses in the book of Revelation - one here at the BEGINNING of the Christian era and the other at its CLOSE. (Rev 19:11-14). Sadly the Church did not continue in early purity. Grievous wolves entered (Acts 20:29-31) and there was a falling away from the truth. The change in colour represents a change in condition...
SECOND SEAL - RED Persecution ~AD100 - 323 verse 3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. verse 4 And there went out another horse [that was] red: and [power] was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
Red = Sin and bloodshed (Jer 46:10; Nah 2:3; Isa 1:18).
Take peace, kill = Division and death.
Earth = World and people of God.
Great sword = Division (Matt 10:34-35) or Civil power and authority (Rom 13:3-4) or War and slaughter (Jer 12:12; 25:30-33).
The “second beast,” like a CALF, intro- duced this. (Rev 6:3; cf. Rev 4:7). In this period Pagan Rome tried to CRUSH out Christianity and shed the RED blood of many in the church like sacrificial CALVES. The last and most terrible persecution was issued by the Roman Emperor Diocletian and lasted 10 prophetic days (10 literal years. cf. Eze 4:6; Num 14:34) from AD303 to AD313 when Emperor Constantine granted Christians toleration.
See Encʼ Britannica, Vol. 4, 1989, p106 & Vol. 3, p563. The SWORD represents DIVISION and CIVIL POWER (Matt 10:34-35; Rom 13:3-4). Within the church false teach-
ers arose causing DIVISION and seeking preeminence. (2Pet 2:1; Acts 20:29-30; 3John 9-10). The mystery of inquity, which already worked in Paulʼs day, strengthened (2Thess 2:7). Church leaders courted the favour of the civil power and in AD323 Con- stantine became the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. The church united with the state, grasped the great sword of CIVIL POWER and wielded it to her own ends.
THIRD SEAL - BLACK Apostasy ~ AD323 - 538 v 5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. v 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of bar- ley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine. Black = Apostacy the opposite of white (Jude 1:13; Jer 8:21-22).
Balances = Judgment (Dan 5:27; Job 31:6); Commerce (Jer 32:10); Corruption (Prov 11:1; 20:23; Amos 8:4-5).
Wheat & barley = Main ingredients of bread which represents the word of God. (John 6:48-63). Wheat was for the rider.
Barley was a cheap food given to horses (1Kings 4:28).
Measure = A days ration. Penny = A days wage (Matt 20:2) Oil and Wine = Godʼs graces (Luke 10:34).
The MAN-faced beast introduced this. cf. (Rev 4:7). During this period the “MAN of sin” was rising to usurp Christʼs place as Lord over the church (2Thess 2).
BLACKrepresents APOSTASY and cor- ruption, the opposite of white purity. (Jude 1:13; Jer 8:21-22). In this time dark errors, superstitions and pagan practices were established in the church.
As shown above balances symbolize JUDGMENT, COMMERCE and COR- RUPTION. The church leadership made themselves the judges of men, involved themselves in worldly commerce and became corrupt.
The wheat & barley, the main ingredients of bread, represented the word of God. (John 6:48-63). In order to maintain their author- ity the corrupt church began to withhold the Word of God from the people. In this period of time there was a famine for the word
of God and spiritual life could only just be maintained. A penny, a days wage (Matt 20:2) could only buy a measure of wheat (one days ration), or 3 measures of barley (horse feed. 1Kings 4:28). Though the church leadership had no care for the flock, Christ was mindful of them. A voice came from heaven declaring that Godʼs healing graces (the oil and wine Luke 10:34)) were still available. A remnant preserved the truth amid the deepening spiritual darkness.
FOURTH SEAL - PALE Death ~ AD538 -1517
verse 7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. verse 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Pale = (Gr. chloros) colour of Death.
Death and Hell = Hell (Gr. Hades, the grave).
Fourth part of the earth = The evils of the Dark Ages were confined to Europe. That fact that end-time Babylon will control ALL the world (Rev 13:3-8) shows that this prophecy was fulfilled in the past. 4th horseman, 4th part, 4 forms of death. Sword = War
Hunger = Famine Death = Pestilence (cf. Eze 14:21; 5:17).
Beasts = Creatures.
The EAGLE-faced beast introduced this. cf. Rev 4:7. During this period God gave the true church “two wings of a great EAGLE that she might fly into the wilderness.” (Rev 12:14).
Pale (gr. chloros) is the colour of death! The rider was called “Death” and “hell (the grave) followed.” (v 8). This was a Dark Age during which the corrupt church leadership declared countless souls “her- etics” and many were given to the burning flames. See on Dan 8.
Pope Innocent the IV sanctioned torturing heretics in 1252.
God promised His people that if they: 1. Did not bow before IDOLS
2. Kept His SABBATH 3. Reverenced His SANCTUARY, then He would protect them from: a. Sword (War) b. Hunger (Famine) c. Death (Pestilence) d. Beasts. (See Lev 26:1-6; also Eze 5:1-17). These are the very things mentioned in this fourth Seal.
Tragically during this period the apostate church leadership disregarded every warning and... 1. Brought in IDOLATRY. 2. DISREGARDED GODʼS SEVENTH DAY SABBATH and enforced their SUNDAY observance in its place 3. Trod on Christʼs SANCTUARY and ministry in heaven by setting themselves up as the mediators of forgiveness in place of Christ, the “One Mediator between God and Men.” (1Tim 2:5; Heb 8:1-2).
As a result Europe suffered the punishments that Levitius 26 and the fourth seal mention.
1. Millions perished in WARS 2. Millions perished in FAMINES 3. Millions perished with DEATH (pestilences) spread by BEASTS. The deadliest epidemic in recorded history - the Black Death (c. 1347 and lingering 300 years) was transmitted by beasts - rats and fleas, and killed 1 in 3 people in Europe; 20-25 million. See When, Where, Why, and How it Happened, Readers, Digest book, Editor Asa Briggs, p99. (cf Eze 14:21; 5:17). Righteousness would have exalted the nations of Europe (Pro 14:34) but the church, by withholding the Bible from the people, caused conditions which brought disaster.
FIFTH SEAL - WHITE ROBES Reformation ~ AD1517 - 1755
verse 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
verse 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? verse 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.
"Souls"= people (Gen 2:7; 1Pet 3:20). Souls die (Eze 18:4, 20).
That were slain for their testimony = The faithful who were martyred under the previous period.
Altar = Those martyred under the fourth seal are represented as beneath the altar, evidently the altar of burnt offering, for it was under that altar under which the blood of the sacrifices was poured (Lev 4:7, 30). The altar of burnt offering in the courtyard of the sanctuary, represented the place Jesus was sacrificed - the earth. The martyrs “sleep in the dust of the earth” (Dan 12:2) until Christ returns to receive them, raise them from their graves and give them their reward. (1Thess 4:16-17; John 5:28-29; 14:3; Rev 22:12).
The language is clearly symbolic. Martyrs are not confined under an altar crying in distress for vengeance on their enemies. Though dead it is as if they were praying for divine vengeance in the same way Abelʼs blood cried out to God (Gen 4:10; cf. Ps 9:12; Luke 18:7). Though condemned by a corrupt church “white robes were given them.” The white robes represent the VINDICATION of their reputation by the Reformation which exposed the iniquity and injustice of the Papacy.
The martyrs rest for a season in the grave and others will yet be martyred giving the last warning to the world. “...they without us should not be made perfect.” (Heb 11:39- 40)
The mangled forms of millions of martyrs cry to God for vengeance upon that apostate power. “HOW LONG...dost thou not JUDGE (Gr. krino - examine, determine, condemn) and avenge us...” (v 10). This places the 5th seal BEFORE the investiga- tive judgment.
In Dan 8:13-14 the same events are seen: The Little horn treading on Godʼs sanctuary and people and the same question being asked “HOW LONG?” The answer “Unto 2300 days,” located the beginning of the judgment in 1844 (See on Dan 8) which will end with God avenging His saints and destroying apostate Christianity at His Second Coming.
SIXTH SEAL - SIGNS ~ 1755 - near 2nd Coming
verse 12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon be- came as blood;
verse 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Following the Reformation period mentioned in the previous Seal the prophesied signs were witnessed in their order.
1. EARTHQUAKE 2. SUN BECAME BLACK 3. MOON AS BLOOD 4. FALLING STARS
“There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” Revelation 6:12. These signs were witnessed before the opening of the nineteenth century.” E.G. White, Great Controversy, p304.
EARTHQUAKE Lisbon Nov 1, 1755.
“Probably the most famous of all earth- quakes.” Encʼ Britannica, 1961 ed., Vol. 7, p848.
“The effects of the Lisbon earthquake.. were distributed very nearly 4 million square English miles of the earthʼs surface. A most astonishing space and greatly SURPASING ANYTHING of its kind EVER RECORDED in history.” J. Nourse, History & Philosophy of Earthquakes, p334 (1757).
“Among the earth movements which in historic times have affected the kingdom of Portugal, that of Nov 1, 1755 takes FIRST RANK, as it does, also, in some respects, among all recorded earthquakes...In 60 minutes 60,000 people perished.” Earthquakes, p142-143. (1907).
“Major Earthquakes: 1755, Nov. 1 - Lisbon, Portugal: 60,000 perish in what was probably the MOST VIOLENT earthquake in historic time.” Encʼ Britannica, Vol. 9, 1984.
“Probably the MOST FAMOUS of all earth- quakes is that which destroyed Lisbon on Nov 1, 1755.” Encʼ Britannica, 1961 edition, Vol 7, p848.
Note: Other earthquakes have claimed more lives but Lisbon was, according to Britannica,”probably the MOST VIOLENT earthquake in historic time” and “the MOST FAMOUS.”
“By far the MOST SPECTACULAR earth- quake of earlier times was that of Lisbon in 1755. This has some claim to be regarded as the GREATEST EARTHQUAKE on record...”
G.A. Eiby, About Earthquakes, p141-142
The DARK DAY & the MOON TO BLOOD, May 19, 1780
As prophesied the darkening of the Sun followed the great Earthquake:
“Almost, if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and as yet unexplained phenomenon of its kind...stands the Dark Day of May 19, 1780, - a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens and atmosphere in New England.”
R. M. Devens, Our First Century, p 89.
“The Dark Day, May 19, 1780. The true cause of this remarkable phenomenon is not known.” Websterʼs Unabridged Dictionary, 1883.
“The disk of the moon (May 16-18)...was of a reddish copper colour...” The Pennsylvania Evening Post, (Philadelphia), June 6, 1780, p 62.
The lisbon earthquake and the Dark day “...were recognized as prophesied har- bingers of the approaching climax of the ages.” LeRoy Edwin Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. III, p147
The FALLING STARS Nov 13, 1833
Next the stars fell as foretold:
“...the MOST MAGNIFICENT meteor shower on record.” The Ancient Leonids, p79-80.
“For nearly four hours the sky was literally ablaze...more than a BILLION shooting stars appeared over the United States and Canada alone.” P. Millman, The Telescope, May-June, 1940.
“Its sublimity and awful beauty still linger in many minds. . . . Never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell toward the earth; east, west, north, and south, it was the same. In a word, the whole heavens seemed in motion. . . . The display, as de- scribed in Professor Sillimanʼs Journal, was seen all over North America. . . . From two oʼclock until broad daylight, the sky being perfectly serene and cloudless, an inces- sant play of dazzlingly brilliant luminosities was kept up in the whole heavens.” R. M. Devens, American Progress; or, The Great Events of the Greatest Century, ch. 28, pars. 1-5.
“No language, indeed, can come up to the splendor of that MAGNIFICENT display; . .. no one who did not witness it can form an adequate conception of its glory. It seemed as if the whole starry heavens had con- gregated at one point near the zenith, and were simultaneously shooting forth, with the velocity of lightning, to every part of the horizon; and yet they were not exhausted- -thousands swiftly followed in the tracks of thousands, as if created for the occasion.” F. Reed, in the Christian Advocate and Journal, Dec. 13, 1833.
“A more correct picture of a fig tree casting its figs when blown by a mighty wind, it was not possible to behold.” The Old Countryman, in Portland Evening Advertiser, Nov. 26, 1833.
“The morning of Nov 13, 1833, was rendered memorable by an exhibition of the phenomenon called shooting stars, which was probably MORE EXTENSIVE and MAGNIFICENT than any similar one hitherto recorded...They seemed to shower down in groups - calling to mind the fig tree, casting her untimely figs when she is shaken by a mighty wind.” American Journal of Science, Vol 25, 1834, p 363-4, 382.
“Perhaps ages may roll away before the world will be again surprised and delighted with a display of celestial fire works equal to that of the morning of November, 13, 1833.”
The Mechanism of the Heavens, D. Olmsted, p 314.
QUESTIONS ON THE SIGNS
Havenʼt there been greater earthquakes? Some earth quakes may have been of greater magnitude than that of Lisbon and some have taken more lives however the Lisbon quake occurred at the time foretold.
Havenʼt there been greater metoer showers? There have been terrific meteor showers but that of 1833 occurred at the time foretold.
These signs were not global events?
The prophecy did not say that these signs would be global, neither did it state that they would be supernatural, nor did it say what area would witness them. The fulfillment of these events, as literal, obvious events, at the right time and the fulfillment of the last two in the USA, helped to stimulate prophetic study and the development of the Second Advent Movement of the 1830s -1840s which centered in America. These events, along with the abolishing of the papacy in 1798, and the collapse of the Ottoman power in 1840 (See on Rev 9) gave great conviction to those in the Second Advent Movement that the departing of the heavens (verses 14-16) at the Second Advent was imminent. The development and the subsequent bitter dissappointment of those in the Second Advent Movement was itself a fulfillment of prophecy. (See on Rev 10).
Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:” Matt 24:29).
The Jesuits, an order of the Catholic Church foremost in punishing heretics, was abolished by Pope Clement XIV in 1773 and in 1780 the first of the sign Jesus mentioned, in Matt 24:29 occurred.
HEAVENS DEPART AS A SCROLL
verse 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. verse 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; verse 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: “And the HEAVEN DEPARTED as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
These events will occur just before the Second Coming. We live between the 13 and 14th verses of Revelation 6 2Pet 3:10 “But the DAY OF THE LORD will come as a thief in the night; in the which the HEAVENS SHALL PASS AWAY with a great noise...” Just before Christʼs return there will also be an immense earthquake (Rev 16:18). The wicked at that time, realizing that they are soon to be destroyed, will call for the rocks and mountains to fall on them.
Who shall be able to stand?
verse 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Only those in whom Godʼs character has been reproduced will be able to survive the Second Coming. Between this question of "who shall be able to stand" and the 7th seal in Rev 8:1 is described the sealing of the 144,000. They are the answer to the question.
SEVENTH SEAL - SILENCE in heaven. Second Coming
Rev 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. The seventh seal is described in Rev 8:1 “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”
In symbolic prophecy a day represents a literal year (Eze 4:6; Num 14:34). There- fore a symbolic half hour, 1/48th of a symbolic day would be 1/48th of a literal year, i.e. about 7 days. When Christ comes heaven will be emptied and SILENT for about 7 days, as ALL the angels come with Him (Matt 25:31).
An awful period of silence will also occur just before Christ slays the Wicked. cf. Zep 1:7.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
(a) Through persecution from without the church and apostasy within, Satan is at work to turn the faithful from God. God continues to call us through His word and the evidences of His works (nature).
(b) The Seals show a tragic trend:
White - Truth accepted - Purity
Red - Truth rejected - Sin
Black - Truth disdained - Apostasy
Pale - Truth hated - Killings
(c) Before Christ returns there is to be a special work of preparation among Godʼs people. A group are to be developed who will be able to stand at the Lordʼs return. Hence, between the 6th and 7th Seals God seals this special group (See Revelation 7).
(d) The seals are Johnʼs version of the prophecy recorded in Matt 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13. See chart.
(e) Like the seven churches the seven seals span the Christian Era. Revelation reveals Godʼs concern for His people throughout the entire New Testament era.
(f) The universe must see the outworking of Satanʼs ways so that sin will never rise again.
Does Zech 6:2-3 have anything to do with the seals?
Zech 6 describes horses of different colours in a different order, towing chariots, with no riders mentioned. These differences show that the visions refer to different things.
Why take the first 5 seals as symbolic but the 6th as literal?
(a) The first five are obviously symbolic but there is nothing in the 6th seal that requires a symbolic interpetation.
(b) Literal events were easily recognized and helped to confirm those who saw them that the departing of the heavens (verses 14-16) was imminent. See on verses 12-13. This helped them fulfil further prophecy See on Rev 10.
Do the Seals have another application?
As the Seven churches had a double application (to churches in Johnʼs day and then to seven sequential periods throughout Christian Era) so the Seven Seals appear to have two applications:
The general train of events seen in the seals is repeating. The Advent Movement that arose from the events in 1844, is to finish the work that the early church began (See on Rev 10).
The early Church and the Advent Movement are following the same pattern:
1. Started in purity (White) 2. Entered a time of war (Red) 3. Will see apostasy (Black) 4. Will see martyrdom (Pale). 5. The faithful saints will be vindicated in the judgment (like the 5th seal) 6. Signs will be seen again in the heavens just before Christ returns (like the 6th seal)
7. A period of silence will occur (like the 7th seal).
The historical fulfillment of the seals is redemptive. Men may see the fulfillment of prophecy and prepare to meet the Lord. The end-time fulfillment of the signs in the Sun, Moon and stars etc. occurs AFTER the opportunity for salvation is past.
COMMENTS SUPPORTING THE HISTORICAL FULFILLMENT OF THE SEALS:
FIRST SEAL “The words of the apostles were as sharp arrows of the Almighty, convicting men of their terrible guilt in rejecting and crucifying the Lord of glory.” AA 45.
Note: The rider in the first seal had a bow and had shot all the arrows of Godʼs word into the hearts of men.
THIRD SEAL and FOUTH SEALS
“The same spirit is seen today that is represented in Revelation 6:6-8. History is to be REPEATED. That which has been will be again. This spirit works to confuse and to perplex. Dissension will be seen in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and those who have not had a spirit to follow the light that God has given through His living oracles, through His appointed agencies, will become confused. Their judgment will reveal weakness. Disorder and strife and confusion will be seen in the church.” 20MR p199.
Note: To be repeated it must have already been fulfilled.
“In the thirteenth century was established that most terrible of all the engines of the papacy - the Inquisition... The mangled forms of millions of martyrs cried to God for vengeance upon that apostate power.” GC 59-60 Note: It was under the fifth seal the martyrs cried out (See Rev 6:10).
“There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. Rev 6:12. These signs were witnessed BEFORE the opening of the 19th century.” Great Controversy p 304, 306.
“This prophecy received A striking and impressive fulfillment in the great meteoric shower of Nov 13, 1833.” Great Controversy p 333.