Revelation 6:1-17 – The Seal Judgments

by | Updated June 18th, 2022

In chapter five we saw a scroll sealed with seven seals. None was able to open the seals in order to read what was written therein except the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Then John saw a Lamb as it had been slain which points to the cross upon which Jesus, our Lord, was slain for the sins of the world. Jesus came as a Lamb to bear ours sins at His first coming. His second coming will be to culminate our salvation. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

In chapter six the we see the opening of the seals and God’s judgment beginning to be poured out upon the world. The horsemen of the apocalypse are unleashed in succession upon the earth. In this chapter we see only six of the seals opened. The seventh seal isn’t opened up until Revelation 8:1-6. The judgments of the seven year tribulation period are the seven seals, trumpets, and vials or bowls of God’s wrath. The seventh one opens up the next series of Judgments. Many of these seem to correspond to what Jesus taught in Matthew 24.

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Revelation 6:1-17

“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. 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. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 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. 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. 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. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 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. 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: 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? 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. 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; 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. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 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; 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: For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

1. The First Seal is Opened

Revelation 6:1-2 – “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. 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.”

  1. This is not Jesus. This is not Jesus as some have suggested. Jesus comes back to earth in Revelation 19 on a white horse with an army of saints at the battle of Armageddon at which time He defeats the armies of the Anti-Christ and begins His 1,000 year millennial reign on earth. This is a white horse signifying he is the Anti-Christ who is imitating Jesus but is a false or counterfeit Christ. He brings about peace on the earth but this peace is only temporary.
  2. He had a bow. His bow had no arrows signifying he conquers initially without force or blood shed. It also shows that he will conquer initially through peace. He will come on the scene with what seems to be the answers to the world’s problems. This will no doubt be in part economic as well as a solution to conflicts around the world. He will bring temporary peace to the world and particularly Israel and in the Middle East. Much of the conflict there is between Israel and the Muslim world. He will make a treaty with Israel.

    On September 15, 2020 President Trump was joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the two Arab states entering into the normalization pact with Israel called “The Abram Accord.” The accords were negotiated by Trump son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and Kushner assistant Avi Berkowitz.

    It’s interesting that Daniel tells us the Anti-Christ will confirm a covenant of peace. So there’s apparently already a covenant that was in existence for him to confirm. Could his rise to power be nigh at hand? I’m not saying or affirming this is actually the one but it very well could be.

    Daniel 9:27 – “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

  3. A crown was given him. This is where the Anti-Christ begins to reign. He comes on the scene with what seems to be answers to the world’s problems. He will apparently have what appears to be solutions to the economic woes plaguing us and will also be able to bring peace to the earth but again this is only temporary. Most believe this will last for about the first three and a half years.

    Israel will be captivated by his deception and hail him as the messiah as he brings what seems to be peace in the Middle East. He will even allow the temple to be rebuilt and sacrificial system restored. However, somewhere near or around the middle of the week or seven year tribulation period he will break the covenant he made with Israel. He sits in the temple and demands worship, at which time their eyes will be opened and they will flee to the hills. They will very likely flee to Petra. At this time all hell will break out in the world.

    Matthew 24:15-16 – “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.

    2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 – “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

2. The Second Seal is Opened

Revelation 6:3-4 – “And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 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.”

Though the Anti-Christ brought peace when he first began his reign it doesn’t last. It’s only temporary. War(s) soon break out on the earth and very possibly over much or most of the world. Hope of lasting peace by governments of the world and human effort is doomed to failure. This could possibly World War III and likely nuclear weapons used. Thousands of years prior to the development of Nuclear weapons Zechariah foretold of their use and of a great war(s). War was also prophesied of by Jesus.

Matthew 24:6-7 – “You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”

Zechariah 14:12-13 – “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor.”

3. The Third Seal is Opened

Revelation 6:5-6 – “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. 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.”

This black horse represents a great famine across the world. This is likely the result and aftermath of war. The rider has a pair of balances in his hand. Balances were used to weigh different commodities and suggests a system of rationing will be enforced. Penny mentioned here is actually a silver coin or a Roman denarius worth approximately fifteen cents. In the wage scale of the day it was a days wages for the common person.

A measure of wheat is approximately what a laboring man would eat in one meal. If he used his coin to buy barley, a cheaper grain, he’d possibly have enough to buy three meals for the day but with nothing left over for anything else. In this time of famine, when life will be reduced to the bare necessities, life will be very difficult. “See thou hurt not the oil and the wine” suggests there will be a sharp social and economic distinction. There will be virtually no middle class but just the poor and wealthy. We’re clearly headed for this today. It’s like we’re seeing this played out before our eyes or reading the daily headlines.

4. The Fourth Seal is Opened

Revelation 6:7-8 – “And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 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 or ashen horse (NASB) is literally a pale green and sickly. Death is the aftermath of his ride. Hell or Hades followed after him. This signifies the horror of the death that many will experience during this time. If we don’t know the Lord hell follows death. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior NOW is the time.

2 Corinthians 6:2 – “For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured (helped) thee: Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Power and authority is given him to bring death on the earth by means of the sword or war the second seal, famine the third seal, with pestilence and wild beasts. It’s interesting that COVID-19 or the coronavirus virus, which spread over most of the world, very probably came from a bat at the WUHAN lab. Power is given over this rider to kill a fourth of the world’s population. The current population of the earth is approximately eight billion people. If a fourth is wiped out that would be two billion with a remaining population being six billion.

5. The Fifth Seal is Opened

Revelation 6:9-11 – “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: 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? 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 fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

When this fifth seal is opened we see a great persecution on all those who hold true to the Word of God and maintain their testimony in the midst of the tribulation period. They cry out for God to avenge their blood on those who had slain and persecuted them. White robes were given them and they are told they must rest a little while until the rest who would be slain should be fulfilled.

This is done to them by the Anti-Christ and all who cast their lot with him. It very likely is, at least in part, the result of the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:15-19). Those who refuse the mark will be martyred for their faith. Throughout history there have been periods of time when those who remain true to the Word of God and their testimony of faith in Christ have been persecuted and martyred. This time, however, will be the most intense of all.

It’s interesting that these are blood washed saints in the tribulation. These could be those who get saved during the tribulation, those who do not make the rapture, or this could be proof against a pre-tribulation rapture. It’s all according to your point of view as to when the rapture takes place. When we believe the return of the Lord takes places isn’t nearly as important as that He will return for us (John 14:1-3). When the rapture takes place is peripheral theology whereas that He will return is of a fundamental essence.

  1. Comfort was given them. These saints are told to rest. Rest is given them. Our Lord calls all who have trouble in this life, who trust in Him, to rest. Maybe it’s not persecution but troubles you have experienced in life or intense spiritual conflict. Whatever it is He is calling you to a place of rest in Christ. He has a rest for His people apart from the labors and toils of life. The same invitation is for all.

    Hebrews 4:9-10 – “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.”

    Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

  2. Their blood poured out on the altar. In the Old Testament blood was often poured out on the altar. Here it is the blood of the saints. Their testimony is sealed in blood.

    Revelation 12:11 – “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

  3. White robes were given them. White robes is symbolic of the righteousness of the saints. Blood washed people. They had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

    Isaiah 61:10 – “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of His righteousness.”

    2 Corinthians 5:21 – ” For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

  4. They could not be silenced. They maintained their testimony and remained true to the Word of God. They held true to God’s Word and the essential doctrines of scripture. Sadly, many in our day are not doing so. So many, even preachers, are watering down His Word so as not to offend or make anyone feel uncomfortable. But there will be those in the tribulation period who will wake up and hold true to His Word and their testimony of Jesus.

    2 Timothy 4:1-5 – “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

  5. Judgment and retribution is left to God. These martyred souls are asking God to avenge them of their persecutors. Judgment, revenge, and vengeance should never be ours but always left up to the Lord. One day God will settle the books. It should never be left to us but placed in His hands.

    Romans 12:19-21 – “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

6. The Sixth Seal is Opened

Revelation 6:12-17 – “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; 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. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 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; 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: For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

A similar scene was prophesied by Joel and Jesus. It’s remarkable the similarities. They were very probably referring to this event. Joel describes this scene as happening in the midst of the later rain. Jesus describes it just prior to a rapture taking place. Could it be that during this judgment, as devastating as it is, there will be one of the greatest outpourings of the Holy Spirit the world has ever seen?

Joel 2:28-32 – “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My, Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”

After which there seems to be, according to Jesus, a rapture that takes place. Whether it’s “The Rapture” or another rapture that takes place, only God knows for sure. The very next chapter, Revelation 7, bares this out. There we see a great multitude that has come up out of the great tribulation. It’s interesting that in chapter four we see twenty-four elders who sit on thrones and wear crowns. These elders represent old and new testament saints.

In Revelation 7 a group is caught up into heaven out of the tribulation who are not reigning but serving. Could it be that only those faithful enough to earn a crown will be raptured prior to the tribulation and then others who were not as faithful will be raptured out later? Jesus did say we should pray we’re accounted worthy to escape that day. This rapture appears to take place during or around the time of this seal.

Luke 21:36 – “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

Matthew 24:29-31 – “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: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Revelation 7:9, 13-15 – “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.”

  1. A great earthquake. It does not say if this is worldwide or localized somewhere. It does say it will be great signifying the magnitude of this quake. The indication is that it may be at least felt around much of the world.
  2. Sun darkened and moon becomes as blood. This may or may not be as a result of the great earthquake. It does correspond with it or follows it. The sun being darkened indicates the heat we get from the sun will be diminished for a time. We don’t know how long or to what extent.
  3. Stars falling to the earth. “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.” This is apparently a massive meteorite shower. It won’t be just one or two but many. This will, without a doubt, bring great devastation to the earth.
  4. A cataclysmic catastrophe. We see with this seal judgment a cataclysmic catastrophe taking place. “The heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” Pastor Chuck Smith thought this could be the result of a polar axis shift. Whatever it is it appears that the geological surface and landscape of the earth is changed during this judgment.

    Isaiah prophesied of something that seems similar if not exactly like this and likely this same events taking place in this sixth seal.

    Isaiah 34:4 – “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.”

    Isaiah 24:20 – “The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.”

    Isaiah 13:13 – “Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.”

  5. The dreadful day of God’s wrath. “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; 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: For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

    Sadly instead of availing themselves of God’s grace they hide. We see during these judgments devastation of every sort. There’s political, social, economic, natural, the earth, sky or heavens, etc.. The world is reduced to utter chaos. Besides all that’s taking place on the earth, they appear to see or get a glimpse of the One Who is releasing these judgments upon the earth or this at least reveals they know where it’s coming from. Having rejected His love and grace they now see His wrath. None will be able to stand before Him on this day.

    John 3:18 – “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    Romans 1:18 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”

    Hebrews 10:31 – “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

    Now is the time to commit your life to Christ. Many put it off waiting until the last minute but at that time it will very probable be too late. Don’t wait. During this time, those who persist in their rebellion, will likely be hardened and deceived at this point.

    2 Corinthians 6:2 – “For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured (helped) thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

    2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 – “For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

    7. The Seventh Seal is Opened

    Revelation 8:1-6 – “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”

    We’ll cover this better and in more detail when we get to chapter eight. Suffice it to say the seventh seal actually opens up the trumpet judgments. There’s silence in heaven for about an half hour prior to giving these seven angels each a trumpet. This is the calm before the storm. You think the seal judgments were bad you haven’t seen anything yet. With each set of judgments it gets progressively worse.


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