A Study of Revelation

Rev. 6:6
6* And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

This “quart of wheat” and “three quarts of barley” represent the ancient world’s ration, per person, for a day. The denarius represents the working man’s wage for a day. This then means that a man’s complete wages would be needed in order to feed himself. This would indicate a poverty situation.

This third seal represents more physical trials and hardship which people must endure upon this earth. Jesus said:

Matt. 24:7
7* “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

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There will always be situations of poverty and famines and people who are in need as long as the world exists. These trials may be difficult and even cause death, and they will continue as long as the earth stands because God has sealed it.

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In verse six the voice is heard to say, “do not damage the oil and the wine.” This is likely God’s voice saying that the oil and the wine will not be hurt. Oil and wine have always been items of luxury. They are valuable to own and expensive to buy. This seal explains that items of great value and people who are wealthy will always be a part of this world. While some are near starvation, others will be living a life of luxury. This is the situation of the world today. The black horse is being ridden throughout the world today.

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Rev. 6:7-8
7* When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.”
8* I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

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With the fourth seal a pale horse appears and its rider is identified as death. Death would also be the symbolic meaning of the ashen (pale) color. Hades, the place of the dead, follows after this horse. The persecutions described by this seal will be so severe as to cause the death of those affected by it. The rider of this ashen horse is given power over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts.

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Here we need to understand that 1/4 is used to designate a part of something. Remember that “4” stands for the physical in the Bible. We know that this rider has the power to kill with the sword, because he is killing the “earth” here which represents man (the rider could not possibly kill the literal earth), the 1/4 representing a “part” of man, or that part of man which is physical. This is not to be understood in terms of numerical value, in other words we are not to try to figure out how many people will be effected, what we need to know is that death has the power to take the physical part of man, but it does not have the power to take the spiritual part of man. In this series the fraction “1/3” is used to designate the spiritual part of man. What is being represented here is that this rider only has control over physical life. He has the power to take physical life with the sword, or hunger, but he can never destroy a man’s spiritual life if he remains faithful throughout these physical persecutions. Jesus says:

Matt. 10:28
28* “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

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Therefore, the purpose of this fourth seal is to show that throughout the Christian age we will be subject to physical persecutions even to the point of death. Again verse eight says this rider has been given authority “to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.” It is likely that the term “beasts” should be understood in a symbolic way to represent worldwide earthly kingdoms.

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This is the meaning which we see in Dan. 7:17 and again in Rev. chapter 13 and 17. This “beast” would represent those ungodly civil governments of all ages which torture and kill anyone who is disobedient to their laws. This would be especially meaningful to Christians through all ages who find themselves in the position of obeying God rather than the government (i.e. Daniel in the Lion’s den, Christians in the 1st & 2nd Century who refused to burn incense to the emperor.) We must be careful never to deny our faith, even in the face of certain death.

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The first four seals deal with events which take place on this earth during the entire Christian dispensation.

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The first seal represents the actual going out into the world to spread the gospel and thereby waging war against evil.

The second represents wars which will be fought between nations.

The third describes certain types of physical hardships which will exist throughout the Christian age.

The fourth describes all types of physical persecutions which people will suffer until Christ comes again.

It is important to be reminded that God has said that these events must take place. They are sealed. It’s also important to remember that not all people are affected by all of these seals. Some may suffer the hardships of famine while others undergo the persecutions of civil governments. Some may even be fortunate enough to live in a time and place where these trials and persecutions are limited. The purpose of the vision of the Seals is to show that these events must occur all through the Christian age until Christ returns.

The first four seals deal with events in which people of this world affect each other. The first seal teaches that the gospel will be spread throughout the world and those who teach it definitely affect those who hear it. The second seal shows that there will be wars upon this earth until Christ comes again, and they are caused by man himself. The third seal says that some will live lives of luxury at the expense of others who are in poverty, and the fourth seal explains that there will always be those who persecute and oppress others.

The last three seals are descriptive of events which God will set into motion and no man can avoid. While you may not be affected by the first 4, the only thing man can do to avoid these great events is to be obedient to the gospel. If you are prepared, these events will not affect you the same way as one who has never been obedient.

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Rev. 6:9
9* ¶ When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;

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Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

This is the destiny of Christians who keep their faith through the physical persecutions of this life. The specific group of Christians referred to in verse 9 are those who are slain because they remained faithful to God. They are the martyrs. The fourth seal revealed that some men would persecute others even to the point of death, and this seal shows that Christians will prevail even though they may lose their physical lives. We know these souls are Christians because they had the Word of God and his testimony which they refused to surrender.

These souls are under the altar. According to Rev. 8:3 the altar is located “before the throne.” This places the souls of these martyrs in the presence of God. This teaches that God knows the persecutions and trials of his people and is always concerned. If we remain faithful, even at the expense of our physical life, we will eventually be able to dwell in the presence of God forever.

This is not a specific group, these souls represent anyone who is required to give his life in service to God.

Rev. 6:10
10* and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
These souls are asking God to avenge their blood on those who had persecuted them. This reminds one of Jesus words:

Luke 18:7-8
7* now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
8* “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Christians are to leave final justice to God. We should never put ourselves in a position to bring vengeance upon our enemies. God will take care of the justice that each man deserves. There is a difference in asking God to bring justice and our willingness to execute it for him.

Rev. 6:11
11* And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

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Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

In Rev. 19:8 the white robes represent the righteousness of saints. White robes were presented to the martyrs indicating that they had lived righteous lives.

Some believe that we will not receive our white robes until we get to heaven. The white robes represent the saints on earth. Rev. 19:8 says:

Rev. 19:8
8* It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

When we obey the gospel we put on white robes, symbolically, because we have washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb. In Rev. 3:4 Jesus speaks of some who had not “defiled their garments” speaking about those who were faithful and refused to compromise their faith while on earth. The white robes were given to those under the altar to identify them as Christians. This was, and should be for us too, a source of encouragement to those who face the threat of death because of their faith. God knows his saints, both those who are on earth and those who are in His presence.

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These martyrs were told to rest for a little while longer because persecutions and even killing of Christians due to their faith has not ceased on this earth and will not cease until Christ returns. In America we live in a place and a time where freedom of religion is an accepted practice, but this is certainly not true in the rest
of the world, and we have no way of knowing what the future holds for Christians here in America.

What we need to see in verse 11 is that God will eventually bring about justice for the blood of the martyrs, but He will do it when the time is right. God does not keep us from the persecutions of this life, but he will bring about justice at judgment.

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Rev. 6:12
12* I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;

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Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

With the opening of the sixth seal we come to the end of time. This vision is a description of events as they will occur at the second Coming of Christ. This is an account of the end of all physical things as we know them. This is the same type of figurative language that is used in the Old Testament to describe great events of the Lord (cf. Joel 2:10, 11, Isaiah 13:5-11).

We must continue to remind ourselves that the book of Revelation deals with symbolic language. While we know that the New Testament tells us that the earth will be destroyed at the end of time (2 Pet. 3:10) the language used here is describing something else that is going to happen before the world ends. In the Bible the sun, moon and stars are used in a symbolic way to represent forces on earth which give light or direction. Jesus said:

Matt. 5:16
16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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These great heavenly bodies which provide light are to represent political, religious and social leaders of the world in which we live. When the sun becomes black and the moon as blood these lights of the world will cease to have any influence with people. When Christ returns the only power which will exist in this world will be His. All others will cease. Those who are great leaders on earth will no longer have any power at all.

When this happens there will be a great earthquake, which in symbolic language represents a tremendous shaking of the people of the earth. Hebrews 12:28 says:
Heb. 12:28
28* Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

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We Christians receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken. At the end of time when all physical things are destroyed only the church will be able to stand. When Christ returns those who were powerful influences among people in this physical world, the Kings, the Presidents, the Politicians, the Governors, the Doctors the Lawyers, the Indian Chiefs, the Preachers, will no longer have any power or influence. This warns us not to put our trust in the power of this world because when Christ returns they will all cease. Our trust must be in God, the Lord of Lord’s and King of Kings who rules even now over a Kingdom that will not be shaken by the end of time – the church.

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Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Rev. 6:13-17
13* and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
14* The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15* Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;
16* and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;
17* for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

The powers that control this world (the “stars”) will be cast down at Christ’s second coming as easily as the wind causes the fig tree to lose its fruit before it is ripe.

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Mountains are used in the Old Testament to figuratively represent powerful enemies of God’s people in the form of governments or nations (cf. Isaiah 41:15; Jer. 51:24,25; Amos 4:1). Islands are representative of leaders among the people (cf. Isaiah 41:1; 59:18). When Christ comes again all of the powers of earth are going to be removed.

Notice that in verse 15 there is the use of the number 7:

Rev. 6:15
15* Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;

Seven classes of people mentioned from the greatest to the least according to their earthly status. When Christ comes again people from all walks of life will try to hide in order to escape the wrath of God because they have refused to be obedient to Him. They will beg to be crushed by rocks rather than face the wrath of God. This description is given to warn us of the terrible consequences of facing God unprepared.

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The answer to the question in verse 17, “who is able to stand?”, is given to us in Chapter 7. The sixth seal is a figurative description of the final destruction of all physical things which will happen at Christ’s second coming. For those who are members of the church it will be a great day. For those who are unprepared, it will be a day of terror and fear.

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