Summary: The scriptures prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the rider on the “WHITE HORSE” is certainly someone else besides the Christ.

First Seal: the White Horse and Its Rider

Commentary on the Book of Revelation

By: Tom Lowe Date: 8-26-15


Subtopic B: The Opening of Seven Seals (6.1-8.1)

Lesson: III.B.1: First Seal: the White Horse and Its Rider (Revelation 6:1-2)

Revelation 6:1-2 (KJV)

1 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.

2 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.

Introduction to Chapter 6

This is the first of three seven-part judgments. Chapters 6-16 form the core of Revelation. Chapters 1-5 are introductory, and chapters 17-22 conclude the book of Revelation; chapters 6-16 describe the seal judgments (chapter 6), the trumpet judgments (chapters 8-9), and the bowl (vial) judgments (chapters 15-16), with interludes between them. In chapter 5, a scroll with seven seals had been handed to Christ, who is the only one worthy to break the seals and open the scroll, setting into motion the events leading up to the end of the world (5:1-5). In chapter 6, the scroll is opened as each seal is broken. The scroll is not completely opened until the seventh seal is broken (8:1). The contents of the scroll reveal mankind’s depravity and portray God’s authority over the events of human history. Let me say here that these judgments are future; they have not been fulfilled as yet. “The day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2) has not yet come upon the earth, but it is drawing near. Up to the present our God’s throne has not been one of judgment but of grace.

Each of the judgments (seals, trumpets, bowls) consist of seven parts; the first four judgments involve natural disasters on the earth, and the last three are cosmic disasters. There are three views about how to understand this series of judgments—seals, trumpets, bowls:

Recapitulation View. According to this view, the three sets of judgments repeat each other (are cyclical); they presented three ways of viewing the same judgments. Because the trumpets and the bowls have the same order, many have concluded that the three sets are repetitive. In addition, in all three sets, the first four of the seven judgments are very similar, as are the last three of each set of seven. Exact repetition, however, occurs only in the trumpets and bowels.

Consecutive View. This view maintains that judgments will follow in the order described in Revelation: first the seals, then the trumpets, then the bowls—in other words, Revelation is describing 21 separate events. For that reason, chapters 6-16 in Revelation would be chronological.

Progressive Intensification View. The key to this view is understanding the results of the judgments. The seals destroy one-fourth of the earth; the trumpets destroy one-third; the bowls affect everything. The picture seems to be one of progressive intensity, with each of these sets of judgments ending in the same place—that is, the end of history.

These views are helpful as you consider and study the book of Revelation. While many will feel very strongly about one view or another, only God knows the truth. He left much of Revelation unclear to His people for a reason, perhaps so we’ll study it and be watchful and morally alert. One truth is sure; as God prepares to end history and usher in His kingdom, He will bring judgments. Christ as the Lion-Lamb, who holds the title deed to the earth by right of creation and redemption, is about to take over. Chapters four and five are scenes in Heaven. Believers have been raptured and have received their crowns or reward: “The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their CROWNS before the throne . . .” (Revelation 4:10). The giving of the crowns belongs to that period after the Rapture of the church: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

In this chapter, four men on horses appear when the first four seals are open; these are commonly known as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse.” John describes these four horsemen as introducing God’s judgment on the world. The first rides a white horse; the second, a bright red horse; the third, a black horse; the fourth, a pale horse. Each one has a mission related to the Lord’s breaking of the first four seals of judgment (Revelation 6:1-8). This series of judgments will affect one-fourth of the world (6:8); in other words, these are not judgments of the entire earth, but are partial.

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