REVELATION CHAPTER 6
THE OPENING OF THE SEVEN-SEALED SCROLL
In Revelation 6, John begins his description of Daniel’s 70th week with the opening of the seven-sealed scroll, also known as the “large scroll.” Each seal on the outside of the large scroll represents an event associated with Antichrist’s reign upon the earth during the End Times. All seven seals must be broken before the large scroll is opened and God brings His final judgment upon the wicked, Antichrist and his kingdom. Jesus alone is able to break open the seven seals. When all seven seals are broken, the large scroll will open and the final judgment of the end of the age will occur.
Daniel 9:27 reveals that the Antichrist will come to power as he negotiates a seven-year peace treaty with Israel. The signing of this 7-year covenant is the catalyst event that marks the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. The signing of the 7-year covenant will also signal Antichrist’s rise to power. Immediately after the 7-year covenant is signed, Jesus will begin to open the seven-sealed scroll, breaking each seal one at a time. The seals will introduce great turmoil and pain to the world by means of deception, war, famine, death, martyrdom, cosmic disturbances and ultimately the trumpet and bowl judgments -- when the Day of God’s Wrath is revealed.
The seals of Revelation 6 are the exact same prophetic signs of the End Times, in the exact same sequence, as those given to us by Jesus in Matthew 24 (The Olivet Discourse). In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus gave a broad overview of each event; Revelation 6 provides us with more detail. In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples asked the question, “What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” In response, Jesus gave his disciples a list of specific signs that will precede His return and indicate to believers whether they were living in the End Times. These are the same signs that John observed and later recorded in the Book of Revelation.
Matthew 24 runs parallel to Revelation 6 (the first six seals), and by comparing each account, we are better able to understand the specific end times signs we are to look for, which will precede Jesus' Second Coming. These signs include the Rise of the Antichrist, War by the Antichrist, the establishing of the Antichrist’s kingdom, Famine created by the Antichrist, Major Earthquakes, Antichrist declaring himself God in the newly built temple in Israel, Death of Millions, unprecedented persecution and Martyrdom in the Church, and Cosmic signs in the skies. These are the specific signs that will precede Jesus’ Second Coming.
The End Times will begin with a period known as the Beginning of the Birth Pangs. The Beginning of the Birth Pangs will last 3 ½ years. The Beginning of the Birth Pangs will be followed by a second 3 ½ year period, which will include the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. See chart. It is important to note that each time period is associated with great wrath.; the Beginning of the Birth Pangs = Man's Wrath, specifically, the wrath of one man – Antichrist. The Great Tribulation = Satan's Wrath, specifically his persecution of God’s people, Israel and the Church. The Day of the Lord = God's Wrath. Therefore, the opening of the first six seals, and the catastrophic events associated with them, do not represent God’s wrath.
The Church will undergo intense suffering and persecution during the opening of the first six seals. The purpose of this final trial will be to refine and purify the Church, the Bride of Christ, prior to the Rapture. Jesus gave us these prophetic signs of His coming so that, as believers, we can be prepared during the most cataclysmic, devastating and dangerous time in the history of the world. The Church must be prepared spiritually, emotionally and physically to face the rise of Antichrist, war, world famine, natural disasters, and possibly, martyrdom. Jesus will remove the Church (via the Rapture) immediately before the 7th seal is broken – before He pours out His final trumpet and bowl judgments, which constitute the “Day of God’s Wrath.”
THE FIRST SEAL
The first seal is a white horse and rider, symbolizing false religious leaders, and ultimately the greatest deceiver of all time, the Antichrist.
Mt. 24:4-5  Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many.”
1 I watched as the Lamb (Jesus Christ) opened the first of the seven seals. (Remember: Jesus is only opening the first seal on the large scroll – not the scroll itself) Then I heard one of the four living creatures (The Cherubim, the angelic beings of Revelation 4) say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” (The Greek translation is closer to “get going” or “hurry up”. Jesus opens the first seal and gives His authorization – or his permission – for the white horse and rider to begin riding) 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! (The white horse represents deception. Many false teachers will appear on the scene right after the signing of the seven-year covenant) Its rider (the rider of the white horse is Antichrist. Antichrist, the future ruler of the earth, will be the ultimate deceiver - a false teacher and a counterfeit messiah who is empowered by Satan) held a bow, (the bow symbolizes warfare. But note that the rider – Antichrist - has no arrows, indicating in the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, Antichrist will conquer by diplomacy: Specifically, Antichrist will come to power through skilled diplomacy as he negotiates a seven-year peace treaty with Israel. This peace treaty marks the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. See Dan 9:27. Although the treaty will be praised as a sign of peace, it will actually be a covenant of death. See Isa 28:15-18. Antichrist is crafting a false, insincere and short-lived peace for the chaotic Middle East) and he was given a crown, (Antichrist will begin to conquer the world posing as the protector of Israel. This victory crown demonstrates that he has earned the right to rule the entire Earth) and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (After the covenant is ratified, Antichrist will break the 7-year agreement and world conquest will be revealed as his ultimate goal. Overnight, Antichrist will become ferociously war-like and will quickly rise to total world power through a 10-nation empire.)
THE SECOND SEAL
The second seal is a red horse and rider, symbolizing bloodshed and war.
Mt 24:6,7:  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, (the “beginning birth pangs” continue) I heard the second living creature (the second Cherubim) say, “Come!” (Again, “come forward” or “get going”) 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one (representing war and blood). Its rider (Antichrist) was given power (Jesus alone has the authority to break the seals and “allow” the Antichrist to gain power as a part of God’s prophetic plan for the End Times) to take peace from the earth (Clearly suggesting that Antichrist’s influence will be worldwide) and to make men slay each other. (As Antichrist gains more power, he will force the world into intense, violent warfare. His rise to power will include a treacherous invasion of Israel. His negotiated 7-year “peace treaty” will be ignored as he aggressively consolidates his 10-nation empire, from which he will eventually rule the entire world. See Rev 17:12-13, Dan 11:40-45) To him was given a large sword. (He will possess some kind of powerful weapon allowing him to defeat his enemies. One can only imagine, given today’s technological advances, what this weapon will be).
THE THIRD SEAL
The third seal is a black horse and rider, symbolizing famine and economic distress.
Mt. 24:7-8:  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains. (All these things - the rise of Antichrist and the wars and famines associated with Antichrist - are merely the Beginning of the Birth Pangs. The analogy is to childbirth; although the contractions of the first three seals are painful, things are going to get a lot worse, and the pain will intensify, as each progressive seal is broken. The birth pangs will escalate into “hard labor” as we enter the Great Tribulation.)
5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature (the third Cherubim) say, “Come!” (Come Forth!) I looked, and there before me was a black horse! (Symbolizing famine and economic distress that will occur as a result of the worldwide wars) Its rider (Antichrist) was holding a pair of scales in his hand (The balance scales are a symbol of rationing and famine. At the time the third seal is broken, the world will be in severe economic distress and turmoil due to wars, rumors of wars, and destructive earthquakes. See Mt 24:7-8. Antichrist will continue to gain power and, somehow, takes control of the food supplies – this could have something to do with the powerful weapon referenced above. Antichrist will be the most powerful man in the history of the world and the final Gentile ruler of the earth) 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures (John heard a voice from among the four Cherubim announcing conditions of famine), saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, (Famine and inflation at its highest – work all day for something to eat) and do not damage the oil and the wine!" (Wheat, barley, oil and wine are among the common necessities essential to normal lives of most ordinary people).
THE FOURTH SEAL
We are now at the mid-point of Daniel's 70th Week. This midpoint will be marked by an event called the Abomination of Desolation; Antichrist will literally walk into the rebuilt Jewish Temple and proclaim himself to be God. See chart. Matthew describes the Abomination of Desolation below. This event is the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which is comprised of the breaking of the fourth, fifth, and sixth seals on the Large Scroll. After the Abomination of Desolation occurs, the fourth seal will be broken. The fourth seal is a pale horse and rider, symbolizing disease and death.
Many critical events occur at this point which are not mentioned in Revelation 6, but are clearly referred to in other scriptures. These events include the following: Satan is cast out of heaven to earth (See Rev 12:12); Satan empowers the Antichrist (See Rev 13:12, 2 Thes 2:9); the Abomination of Desolation takes place (See Mt 24:15); Antichrist is revealed as he proclaims himself God in the newly built temple in Jerusalem (See 2 Thes 2:3); Antichrist breaks the covenant with Israel (See Dan 9:24); Mystery Babylon is destroyed (Rev 13:3-4, 8 17:6); Antichrist demands the worship of the world (See Rev 13:3,4); the Mark of the Beast – "666" - is introduced; and the beginning of the persecution of Israel (the woman) and the true church will take place (the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus) See Rev 12:17, Dan 12:1, Mt 24:20-23.
Matthew 24:9-15: “Then you (followers of Jesus) will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death (by Antichrist), and you will be hated by all nations because of me (believers will be persecuted for their faith).  At that time many will turn away from the faith (many will lose their faith) and will betray and hate each other,  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold (Brother will betray brother to death. See Mt 10:21-23),  but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (those who stand with Christ will receive eternal salvation, either in death or through the Rapture).  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.  “So when you see standing in the holy place (the Jewish temple) ‘the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand—” (Daniel refers to the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 9:24-27. Antichrist has been rising to world domination and is now at the height of his power. When Antichrist - the Abomination - enters the Jewish temple and proclaims himself God, the Great Tribulation will begin. See Daniel 11:31, 12:11. After this, death and martyrdom will follow.)
7 When the Lamb (Jesus) opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature (the fourth Cherubim) say, “Come!” (“Come Forth!”) 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale (Greek: Sickly Green) horse! Its rider (Antichrist) was named Death (We are now at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week. It is at this point that Antichrist’s true character is revealed. Up until this point he has deceived many, beginning his rise to power as a peacemaker. However, after the Abomination of Desolation all pretense will disappear – Antichrist will reveal himself to be a man of Satan who seeks to destroy both Israel and the Church of Jesus Christ. It is at the time of the Great Tribulation that Antichrist’s campaign of death against Israel and believers will begin in earnest) and Hades was following close behind him. (Death or Hades are the only two available choices during the Great Tribulation. Those who refuse to take the mark of the beast will potentially forfeit their physical life = physical death. Those who accept the mark of the beast will definitely forfeit their eternal life = spiritual death, or Hades)
They (Death and Hades) were given power over a fourth of the earth (There are two interpretations of this prophecy. The first view argues that widespread death will take the lives of up to one-quarter of the earth’s population. By today’s population of 6 billion, 1.5 billion would perish. The second view is that the initial sphere of influence of Antichrist will cover 1/4th of the earth, primarily in the Middle East. Daniel 2 and Ezekiel 38 tell us that the final beast’s empire will consist of peoples from modern day Iraq, Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, Libya, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia and Germany. These areas represent about 1/4th of the earth’s landmass) to kill by sword, famine and plague, (The undiluted persecution of the Antichrist now begins. It will be the last and worst wave of anti-Semitic and anti-Christian activity in the history of the world. Many will die due to war, starvation - because they cannot buy food without the mark of the beast - and disease. Note also that “plagues” may refer to modern day biological warfare) and by the wild beasts of the earth. (These are the names given to the Antichrist and the False Prophet in the Book of Revelation. See Rev. 13:2,11. They are beastly in character!)
THE FIFTH SEAL
The fifth seal represents the martyrs who have been slain because of their fidelity to Christ and His Word. The Great Tribulation is now in full force and fury!
Matthew 24:21-25:  For then there will be great distress,unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again (the Great Tribulation!).  If those days had not been cut short (by Jesus' return), no one would survive (if the Great Tribulation was not cut short and left to run its course, the damage would be so severe that every believer on the earth would die), but for the sake of the elect (believers) those days will be shortened (Jesus will return for the remaining believers, bringing an abrupt end to the Great Tribulation).  At that time (during the Great Tribulation) if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it.  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect (the faithful) – If that were possible.  See, I have told you ahead of time. (I am warning you, so be on guard and do not be deceived!).
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar (The first mention of this altar which represents the altar of sacrifice in the temple. Instead of the animals’ blood at the base of the altar, John saw the souls of martyrs who had bled and died for Jesus. These martyrs lives are sacrifices offered to God) the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. (During Daniel’s 70th Week, many overcoming Christians will be martyred, for (1) refusing to deny the Word of God, and (2) holding firm to their powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. Antichrist, empowered by Satan, will have “great wrath” against the faithful saints during the Great Tribulation, because he knows his time grows short. See Rev 12:9-11. Remember, this time of Great Tribulation is not the time of God’s avenging wrath, because God has promised He will never pour out His wrath upon His children. See 1 Thes 5:9. Rather, it is the time of the wrath of Satan, who empowers Antichrist to destroy Israel and the Church. Antichrist will relentlessly and aggressively persecute, even martyr, many of God’s people who know and cling to the Word of God. See Rev 12:17. Scripture is filled with warnings to Christ’s Church regarding this time of persecution: Jesus warned persevering believers that they would face a terrible time of persecution, even martyrdom during the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:22); the prophet Daniel pleaded for believers to be prepared for the Great Tribulation, not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of others as well (See Daniel 11:33, 12:3). Only those who are wise will be able to see through the counterfeit signs and deception of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Only those who are prepared will be able to give instruction to others on how to overcome. And we must be overcomers of the persecution and deception of Antichrist! See Rev 2,3)
10 TheyThese martyrs were told that still more would lose their lives for their belief in Christ. In the face of warfare, famine, persecution, and death, Christians will be called on to stand firmly for what they believe and be willing to “take up Jesus cross” and suffer martyrdom. See Matt 10:38. Jesus is telling the martyrs to wait until the Day of the Lord – the opening of the 7th Seal – for vengeance. Only then will God’s wrath be poured out upon the earth. The Day of the Lord will occur at some point known only to the Father, and will cut short the terrible days of the Great Tribulation and Antichrist’s persecution of believers. See Mt 24:22. The Day of the Lord will occur sometime within the second 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation.) (the martyred) 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 martyrs plead with God for His avenging wrath to fall on Antichrist. The fact that they are crying out for God’s vengeance is further evidence that God’s wrath has not yet begun) 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, (a symbol of righteousness) 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. (God has a set number of those who will be killed as martyrs.
THE SIXTH SEAL
The sixth seal is the cosmic sign marking the end of the Great Tribulation and announcing Jesus’ Second Coming. This prophetic sign will be visible to the entire world and will proclaim that the end of the world is imminent. This sign of the end of the age is specifically a sign of hope for Jesus’ disciples, to let them know that the Rapture is at hand. The sixth seal consists of at least six unparalleled cosmic disturbances, indicating that the final period of Daniel’s 70th week - the Day of the Lord (God’s Wrath) - is about to begin. These cosmic disturbances are as follows: (1) Great Earthquake; (2) Solar Eclipse; (3) Red Moon; (4) Stars Fall from the Sky; (5) Sky Splits Apart; and (6) Mountains and Islands are destroyed.
Matthew 24:27-29  For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (everyone will see it).  Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (One vulture circling overhead does not mean much, but a gathering of vultures means that a dead body is nearby. Likewise, one sign of the end may not be significant, but when many of these signs occur, the death of the age and the second coming is near.)
 Immediately after the distress of those days
“the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”
12 I watched as he (Jesus) opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake (The first sign of the imminent wrath of God – a violent and devastating earthquake. The worst earthquakes in the history of the world will plague the earth throughout Daniel’s 70th week. See Rev 11:13,19 16:18.) The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair (The second sign – some type of solar eclipse, causing the sun to go dark for a period of time) the whole moon turned blood red, (The third sign – moon goes dark blood in color and does not give its light) 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. (The fourth sign – the stars no longer shine and it will appear as if the stars are falling from the sky. Joel 3:15 says the stars will lose their brightness. Before Jesus returns, the natural light sources will be turned off, plunging the earth into total darkness – perhaps even all electricity will give out at this time.) 14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, (The fifth sign – the sky itself will look as if it is splitting apart) and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (The sixth sign – Due to the earthquake, all the mountains and islands will be moved from their places. This cosmic disturbance is so severe that the entire planet may be knocked off its axis and out of its orbit. Isaiah wrote that “The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls--never to rise again.” See Isa. 24:20)
Note that there is complete consistency in the Bible as to WHEN these signs will occur; the cosmic disturbances will occur immediately “after” the Great Tribulation, but “before “ the great and terrible Day of the Lord begins.
Immediately after the distress of those days (the Great Tribulation)
'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' (Cosmic Disturbances)
The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood (Cosmic Disturbances)
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (The Day of the Lord)
This cosmic disturbance is the last prophetic sign that immediately precedes the Rapture of the Church. Believers who are alive on Earth at this time and have survived the ongoing, relentless onslaught of Antichrist, will be longing for this key cosmic sign. Why? Because when this sign appears, the persecution of God’s elect by Antichrist will be “cut short” or terminated by the Rapture. Believers will have great joy and expectancy knowing that when these cosmic disturbances occur, our “redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28
15 Then (immediately following the cosmic disturbances) 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. (The response of all unbelievers, no matter their position, will be to panic and hide. Isaiah wrote that “they shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, for the fear of the lord, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when he arises to shake the earth.” See Isa 2:19-21.) 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne (God the Father)and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (Once the sixth seal is opened and the cosmic disturbances begin, everyone will recognize that the Wrath of the Lamb is about to commence)
THE DAY OF GOD’S WRATH IS ABOUT TO BEGIN
17 For the great day of their (God the Father and God the Son) wrath has come, (The Day of the Lord is on the verge of breaking forth; it is “imminent” and about to begin. Interestingly, the first time the word “wrath” occurs in the Book of Revelation is when John describes the opening of the 6th seal. Although the wrath of God is a major topic in the Book of Revelation, it is restricted to the trumpet and bowl judgments and is never used in connection with the first six seals, which represents the wrath of man and Satan, respectively. While the Bible clearly demonstrates that the church is exempt from the Wrath of God, (See 1 Thes 5:1-11) it is equally clear that we are not exempt from the affliction of Antichrist and the first six seals! The church is going to endure “the beginning of the birth pangs” and “the Great Tribulation” but will be delivered from God’s wrath or the Day of the Lord at the Rapture) and who can stand? (Unbelievers will be terror-stricken when they see the Coming of the Lord at the Rapture, and will be seeking hiding places in the mountains and caves to avoid His anticipated wrath.)