Summary: Revelation 6. Quickly John sees an overview of either world history of the final Tribulation. Whichever it is, it clearly will be re-visited in the book. Revelation is not in chronological order. The end of chapter 6 is the end of the world!
3. The things which will take place after this
Generally speaking then, the rest of the book is part 3 of the Lord’s outline for John (1:19). Here is where the going gets tough. Here is where sequential methods of book-reading will not work. Part 3 starts with chapter six, which speaks of the opening of six of the seven seals.
It is critical to see the relationship between the three sets of seven judgment happenings. First to remember is that the seals (all of chapter 6,and 8:1-6) cover all. Then the trumpets (8:7-11:19) recap and give close-ups of the latter seals. The bowls (15-16) are a close-up of the final trumpet. There is much overlapping and repetition, so as to include more and more details, but not more elapsed time. Chapters 7, 12-14, and 17-22, give background material to help us understand what is going on while the judgments of God fall on the earth. As the book unfolds, I believe this arrangement will become clear.
So here is chapter six. Remember now, chapter six covers the entire scope of the Lamb’s Scroll in its 17 verses!
The first six seals
Seals 1 through 4 (6:1-8). Jesus opens all seven seals. The first four seals are further introduced by one living creature each. The living creatures are given a number and a name in 4:7. Their number only is referred to in the chapter before us. Seal one is introduced by the lion, two by the calf/ox, three by “man”, and four by the eagle. But the connection from these four horsemen to the living creatures is further strengthened in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1 and 10). There, the same creatures that John sees here are described, with the addition of the mysterious “wheels”. I am not aware of a plausible interpretation for Ezekiel’s wheel vision. But I do believe that it is somehow tied in to the end time by way of John’s revelation of the living creatures, and the four horsemen. I believe there is an interpretation that will make perfect sense when the time is right. Scales will fall off someone’s eyes and the truth will manifest itself. God would not tantalize His people with a vision of no meaning.
Zechariah 6 mentions horses of the same hue as the ones described here, albeit in a different order. And while we’re looking at Biblical precedents for the four horsemen, it might be interesting to see that the number four is used elsewhere significantly: There are the “four winds of heaven” spoken of in 7:1, and by Jesus in Matthew 24. There are the four corners and quarters of the earth in 7:1 and 20:8. Four angels are stationed there. There are four horns on the altar in Heaven, 9:13, and four angels at the Euphrates River. An important number.
I believe that these first four seals should be viewed as a unit, separate from the other three, because of the connections mentioned above, because of the significance of the number four, and especially because of John’s use of the fraction one-fourth as compared to one-third later.