Summary: An easy-to-understand study of Revelation 6.
I heard a story that took place in a western town in the late 1800’s. It told of a horse that was spooked and then bolted, running away uncontrollably with a small boy in the bed of the wagon. Seeing the child was in grave danger, a young man risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon, thus saving the boy’s life.
The child who was saved grew up to become a lawless man, and was finally arrested for killing an unarmed man over a disagreement. He was arrested and eventually stood before the judge. As he looked up at the judge, he recognized him as the young man who had saved him so many years before. Seizing an opportunity that might save him, the killer told the judge that he was the boy who the judge had saved and then he asked the judge for mercy.
The response from the judge left the guilty man stammering for words. The judge said, “Young man, I came to you before as your savior, and I gave you the chance to become something good. You ignored that chance and lived according to your own rules. Today, I come before you as your judge, and I must hold you accountable for what you have done. I sentence you to death.”
That story paints the clearest possible picture of the predicament we are in. One day Jesus Christ will say to rebellious sinners, "During that long day of grace, I was the Savior, and I gave you the opportunity to live for me, but you denied me and rejected me because you wanted to live by your own rules. So today, I stand before you as your Judge, and I must hold you accountable for what you have done. I sentence you to death.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is still giving us the opportunities to live according to His laws. And He will continue to give us those opportunities until we stand before Him on Judgment Day. That could be at our physical death, or after the Great Tribulation if we happen to live that long.
This chapter is the actual beginning of that Great Tribulation being introduced upon the earth. Everything before this point was either a warning to get ready for a coming tribulation, or small glimpses of what this tribulation period would be like. Here, however, we start to see the actual details of this horrendous time of punishment on a sinful and unrepentant world. It is called the Great Tribulation, and it will be so horrible that the Bible says never before, nor ever again, will there be a time so bad.
In chapter 5, we saw where Jesus received the scroll and how all of the heavenly creation began to worship Him as being the only One who is deemed worthy to hold it, open it, and read it. As we go into chapter 6, we see Jesus opening the seals of the scroll and we are shown what happens when each seal is broken.
“I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.”
When Jesus broke the first seal on the scroll, one of the living creatures boomed a command for a horse and rider to appear. Immediately, John saw a white horse whose rider carried a bow, wore a crown, and was bent on conquest. Who was this rider? Many people mistakenly think it was Jesus since he was on a white horse, but as we study it, we find that it was most likely the anti-christ.
He carried an instrument of war and was riding out to conquer, which means “take over forcibly.” Notice how he carried the bow, but there was no mention of an arrow. This could be conceived as a threat of war, or what today we would call “cold war.” This rider does not actually cause the war; he just threatens war.
He was given a crown, which signifies he had a kingdom under his authority. When God threw Satan out of heaven, He gave Satan temporary domain over the earth. This is the crown verse 2 references.
“When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.”
When Jesus opened the second seal, another creature gave a command to appear, and John saw another horse. But this horse was not white. It was fiery red. This rider did not carry a bow and wear a crown, though. He carried a large sword, and he had the power to cause war (taking peace away from the earth) and thereby causing men to kill one another!