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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," September Edition 2007

Revelation Chapter Six Explained

Summary thesis: Revelation chapter six provides a selective over-view of the whole age between Christ's first and second advents.

Revelation chapter six we have an account of the opening of the first six of seven seals. The consecutive events in this vision of the opening of these seals describe the great forces of conflict and conquest that must shape the outcome of the whole age between Christ's first and second advents.

Here we get a grand sweeping overview--a "revelation," if you will--of the unknown future, from the close of the first Christian century unto the consummation, within the spiritual realm, and from the perspective of Christ's Church. This overview serves as a fitting introduction to all the apocalyptic materials that follow this chapter until we get to chapter twenty-one.

Now, in the vision of the opening of the first seal we see a rider going forth upon a white horse (6:1-2). Weapons of warfare are supplied to him, and he embarks upon a mission of endless conquest. The rider here is unquestionably Christ, as is proven by the later pictured of Him on the white horse in chapter nineteen and verse eleven.

The vision of the opening of the first seal teaches us that this present messianic age between the first and second advents would be dominated by the world-conquering advance of the kingdom of Christ. World history does indeed bear this out. From its small beginning in the Upper Room, the dynamic kingdom of redemption through the Christ spread rapidly across the ancient world. By the time of Constantine in the fourth century, the mighty Roman Empire was pervasively being transformed by the message of the gospel. Throughout the succeeding centuries Christianity has spread around the world, and today is, in all its branches, the largest religious system on the planet. Behind this amazing phenomenon is the reality of the conquering Christ. No other individual has had more influence upon the history of Western Civilization, and indeed of much of the entire world, then has He.

With the conquest of Christ via the spread of Christianity in the early ages there came also opposition, and persecution. The three horsemen that follow in the visions of Revelation chapter six, verses 3-8, then, depict these reactionary negative aspects--the other side of the coin, if you will--of what would happen in the age between the advents.

Because mankind was given free moral agency from the hand of his Creator, not everyone would choose to respond positively to the gospel. Wars, pestilences, famines, and death would still happen in areas that would remain under the ravages of the devil.

Through Satan's influence, many would rebel against Christ, and martyr His disciples. We see this in the opening of the fifth seal (6:5-11). The martyrs depicted in these verses were those of the whole Church age; they are not people who must experience martyrdom in some yet future seven year great tribulation period, after the Church has been removed, as Scofield/Darbyism erroneously teaches.

Nowhere is a seven year period of time mentioned in Revelation chapter six, or anywhere else in the Book of Revelation, for that matter.

Finally, the age between the advents ends by the opening of the sixth seal, in the last verses of this chapter. It has been an age characterized by both conquest and conflict, and there have been causalities involved. Christ the eternal Victor, however, will come in power and great glory at the end of time--just like He said--to resurrect the dead and judge the world.

At the opening of the sixth seal in 6:12-17 we now approach that awesome climatic end-time event.

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