Understanding the Book of Revelation Chapters One through Seven

Chapter 6 – Stampede - Revelation Chapter Six


         The Book of Revelation was written to encourage the persecuted church in every age, and it serves the same purpose today. There are more Christians being martyred in this generation than at any other time in history; therefore it is important that we study Revelation, grasp its message and share it with others.

    Revelation’s Chapter Six is the first Chapter where the Revelations, or visions actually begin. Chapter One records the means by which John received his commission to write the book. Chapters Two and Three are comprised of direct instructions for the church, past, present and future. Chapters Four and Five record John’s ascension to Heaven and his symbolic elevation to another level of instruction. From this point on he is to be given most of his instructions through prophetic visions.
     The visions are released by Jesus, the Glorious Lamb of God who has prevailed and who alone is worthy to reveal them.

     We stand with the Apostle John and the Lord Jesus as He is about to open the first of the seven seals of prophetic revelation.
     The first six seals are opened in Chapter Six. This Chapter is in three parts. Verses One through Eight reveal the persecutors of the church; verses nine through eleven show us the persecuted crying out for their vindication, and verses twelve through seventeen show us a future picture of God’s judgment and wrath descending on their persecutors.

     While the Book of Revelation was written for the church in every generation, when we reach the period of time that directly precedes Jesus’ second coming, then all the visions will apply to that generation. If indeed we are in that last generation, then the visions we are about to explore will hold exceptional relevance for the times we are living now.

     Our study begins with a roar of thunder as Jesus opens the first seal in verse one. John tells us what he sees.

     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” (verse 1).

     The four beasts were introduced to us in Chapter Four, and I believe they represent God’s creation worshipping Him before His throne. The beast’s voice has resonated like thunder and he surely has ours and John’s attention.
    John continues.

     And I saw, and behold, a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given to him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer (verse 2).

     This is the first of four horses that are revealed through the opening of the first four seals. The horses represent systems and their riders are the demonic spirits that are directing those systems and the individuals that are operating to persecute and hinder the Lord’s people.

     The first white horse and its rider are viewed by some as the antichrist. The antichrist is introduced to us in Chapter Thirteen verse eleven. We also note in verse eleven that he is likened to a lamb. Lambs and sheep in the Scriptures are used almost exclusively as a Christian symbols, except for the wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Therefore we conclude that the antichrist makes his initial appearance as a Christian, and the system through which he operates is apostate Christianity, represented by the white horse.

     The Christian who faithfully cleaves to Jesus and the Word of God will be targeted by this apostate religious system. Those Christians who will not compromise the Word and refuse to deny that Jesus is “The Way, the Truth and the Life” and the only way to God the Father, (John 14:6) will be and are targets for elimination.

     The prophesied apostasy (II Thessalonians 2:3) is a falling away from the faith as it was originally delivered to the apostles. A subtle counterfeit version of the Gospel is being introduced to gradually deteriorate the Christian church into an apostate counterfeit. The atonement is deemphasized prior to its elimination, and the new age doctrine that all religions are valid will be enthroned in the apostate pulpit.
     This is why Jesus had to ask, that when He returns would He find (the) faith on the earth (Luke 18:8). He also prophesied that a man’s enemies would be those from their own household (Matthew 10:36). That would include family members as well as those from within the church family.

     The white horse leads the way in the stampede to persecute God’s people, and is the most dangerously deceptive of the four horses or systems; “and he went forth conquering and to conquer.” When we think of conquering, we are prone to think in terms of a violent, physical takeover. But, deception is a more effective tactic and according to the precedents we have in Scripture the antichrist will gain access to his throne through a dangerous, smirking peace.
    During prayer one morning I heard the Lord whisper, “If My people are not one hundred percent devoted to Me (Jesus) then they will be candidates for deception.”
     We return to the text as Jesus opens the second seal.

     And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, “Come and see” (verse 3).

     The second beast is given the opportunity to make this announcement, and we behold the emergence of the second ominous horse and its rider.

     And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given to him a great sword (verse 4).

     This second system represents demonically controlled governments. The red color links this horse to the red beast in Chapter Thirteen that represents the final one world government. War is a tool that is used to engineer economic dominance and financial control over nations. The prevailing political ideology behind the powers that are currently operating behind the sword is communism. One of the goals of communism is and has always been to eliminate Christianity.
     The demonic rider on the red horse representing government control, brandishes his sword, and the wars and civil riots this demon engineers prepares the way for the third horse. -

     And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, “Come and see.” And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand (verse 5).

     This system represented by the black horse and its rider is economic. Through engineered wars, financial control is gained over the nations by the handful that are operating behind the scenes to develop a one world government. As we shall see in the following verse, the system represented by the black horse is an imbalanced economy, one that favors the rich and is designed to eliminate and control the poor masses, which at one point, will also include a decimated middle class.

     And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barely for a penny; and see that you hurt not the oil and the wine” (verse 6).

     The penny represents a day’s wage which through a deliberately engineered inflation, now can only buy a very small amount of food. The basic necessities of life are barely affordable to many, yet “Hurt not the oil and wine.” These things represent luxury items that are always affordable to the wealthy. Beware of any political ideology that favors the rich and at the same time makes cuts to the poor. It may be a different horse, but as we look at the three that have been revealed so far, we know that they are all operating with the same goal; world domination and the eventual elimination of the true Christian church.
     Jesus is about to open the fourth seal that reveals the last horse and its rider. -

     And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, “Come and see” (verse 7).

     The fourth beast has made the final announcement, showing us that all of creation will and is witnessing the emergence of these four systems.

     And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger and with death, and with the beasts of the earth (verse 8).

     The result of the emergence of the first three systems upon the earth can only have one result and that is represented by the fourth system whose fruit upon the earth is death and hell.
     The word ‘pale’ in this verse is Chloros (khloros') and the primary meaning is actually green, or it can mean a yellowish pale. The color green usually is symbolic of life and seems incongruous to use it in the context of verse seven, so the translators have chosen pale as the proper interpretation. But as we look at current world events another meaning comes clear. Green is the color most associated with Islam. One quarter of the world will be under the rule of its sword and Islam will be manipulated by the other world powers we have observed so far to obtain a mutual goal.

     As we observe what is occurring in our world today, we can see that the four major persecutors of the Christian church are; apostasy within its own house, communism, the economy in many areas and Islam.
     The horses that have been revealed are marching in unison, and as time progresses their pace will accelerate until we will be beholding a stampede in our direction. The seals that have been opened have been designed to prepare us to take refuge in our Savior.
     While peace and prosperity is proclaimed from many a modern day pulpit, those who are being guided by the Word of God and not the words of man, will be prepared to endure the persecution revealed in the Scriptures.

     The first four seals have been opened revealing the persecutors of the church in the last generation before the Lord returns. The second part of chapter six begins as Jesus opens the fifth seal where we are shown a portrait of the martyrs of that age.

     And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held (verse 9).

     Here we behold the victims of the stampede, the martyrs of the church who have been “slain for the Word of God.” These are the uncompromised ones who live by God’s Word. We see that they have also been martyred for their testimony, which is the Gospel of Jesus, the Messiah. They are true disciples who are willing to give their lives rather than deny their Savior who bought them with His own blood.
     The martyrs in this vision are seen hidden under the altar. The altar is symbolic of a place of sacrifice. Their lives were sacrificed upon the altar of their faith, now they are sheltered by it, protected for all eternity by their faithfulness to the Lamb who was sacrificed to save them.

     And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, Oh Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on earth?” (Verse 10).

     This cry is a prayer from the depths of the altar, the memorial of their sacrifices. They know that “the LORD God of recompenses shall surely requite” (Isaiah 51:56). This altar is seen again in Chapter Eight where we see the prayers of the saints being offered up with incense before God (8:3,4).
     Our God is a God who answers the prayers of His people in His perfect timing and for His purposes. He responds to His beloved ones in verse eleven. –

     And white robes were given to every one of them: and it was said to them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren that should be killed as they were should be fulfilled.

     The white robes represent the righteousness of the saints that is given to them through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. The robes are not earned, they are a gift and it is the wedding garment that adorns them at the marriage feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7,9).
     The martyrs are told to rest for “a little season.” That season began in the first century when the church was birthed and will commence when the Lord returns. This is a season of harvest and we are shown in this verse, that there is a quota of martyrs that must be fulfilled, for these are among the ones who have been chosen to rule and reign with their Lord on earth (Rev. 5:10).
     Though the loss of loved ones through martyrdom is a grief beyond measure, the beauty of God’s Word reveals a divine purpose in their suffering. The perfume of their sacrifices ascends and adorns heaven’s halls with a radiant splendor that will remain a memorial throughout eternity to what they have endured for Jesus.
     In these verses we beheld their fervent prayer for justice and their vindication. Now God is about to show them a brief picture of their future avenging as the sixth seal is opened. –

     And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; (verse 12).

     The beginning of the martyr’s vindication is announced by a great earthquake. This event occurs in the future. There are two “great earthquakes.” The first signals the beginning of the great tribulation which is initiated in Chapter Eleven after the witnesses are raptured and the seventh trumpet sounds.
    The second great earthquake, the likes of which have never before been seen of men (Rev. 16:18), occurs as the judgments that have been released during the warning period of the trumpets (Chapters eight through eleven) have come to their fullness just prior to the Lord’s return. It is most likely that the earthquake referred to in in verse twelve in Chapter Six is referring to this earthquake. It is accompanied by a simultaneous eclipse of the sun and the moon that is a sign that precedes the second coming. – (Joel 2:10, 31, 3:15, Isaiah 13:10, Matthew 24:29).
     This astronomical phenomenon is associated with “The Day of the Lord” and God’s final judgment on the wicked. –

     And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and I will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible (Isaiah 13:11).
Now therefore be not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the LORD God of hosts a consumption even determined upon the whole earth (Isaiah 28:22).


     There is much that will transpire between the opening of the sixth seal and the sounding of the final seventh trumpet.
     In the following verses we are being shown a vision into the future of the time that directly precedes the second coming. During this period of judgment we see stars of heaven fall to the earth. –

     And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind (verse 13).

     We have been shown in Revelation’s first chapter, verse twenty, that stars can represent angels. When God’s final judgments arrive on the wicked, His punishments will also descend upon the evil fallen angels, the demonic powers in high places that have been manipulating mankind and influencing them to operate in opposition to the Word of God.
     The fig tree loses its fruit before it is fully ripe, signifying that the devil’s plans will not come to fruition and will be intercepted in this finale of time.
     We continue to view this summery of the future that is detailed for us in chapters fourteen through eighteen. –

    And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places (verse 14).

     This cataclysmic earthquake that detaches mountains and islands (man-made kingdoms and their resorts) most likely is the result of a supernatural upheaval in the heavenly realm. The resounding clash between the demonic world and God’s descending kingdom has repercussions upon the earth. It is light and darkness warring for the last time as the brilliance of God’s Truth in His Son as He descends, bursts through the foul atmosphere men have created by their rebellion against the God who made them.

     And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and the rocks of the mountains; (verse 15. See also Isaiah 2:19).

     When the Light of God descends in Jesus, the evil darkness in the souls of men will try to hide their captives in the earth; the ground that these demons powers have made men to worship in the place of God. But no one can hide from the all-seeing, omnipresent eyes of God.
     These men who worshipped the creation more than the Creator now pray to their idol to hide them from the Truth they have rejected. –

     And said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” (verse 16).

     They have at last recognized God’s authority over them, His throne; and even with this realization they will not repent. Great horror has fallen upon these men who have persecuted God’s church and rejected His salvation.

     For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? (verse 17).

     That is a very good question. ‘Who shall be able to stand?’ – Only those who have built their house on the solid foundation of the Lamb of God.
     I wonder if John viewed this portrait of the future he was witnessing in slow motion? Was he allowed to study the terror he saw on the faces of the wicked as they vainly try to escape from their coming judgment? And did this vision of the reward of the wicked, cause John to praise the Lord even more in gratitude for his own salvation? As we stand with the apostle in this moment, we should also offer God much praise for His love and kindness to those who He has called to salvation through the sacrifice of His Son.
     The martyrs resting beneath the golden altar at the foot of God’s throne, also are witnessing the fulfillment of their prayers, as the wicked at last, are removed from the earth as Jesus prophesied. –

     For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come (Matthew 24:38-42).

     These evil ones who have created their own hell by rebelling against God’s Word, are seen reaping what they have sown and harvesting the reward they deserve.
     We watch the earth tremble as its soil is tilled and prepared for the return of Jesus, the Messiah. The ground that has been polluted by sin, is now cultivated for a new harvest of righteousness.

     In Chapter Six we have witnessed a prophetic preparation for the days ahead. We have been shown the persecutors, the persecuted and a promise that in the end God’s justice will prevail and the wicked will be overcome. We are being prepared for a great journey into the future that may just be tomorrow. With this in mind, we prepare for our roles in this drama and we wait with anticipation as the next vision is about to be revealed in Chapter Seven.

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H. Deborah Shively is a Bible Scholar and a speaker who has been in full-time ministry for over twenty-five years. She has had the privilege of "teaching the teachers" on many occasions and views herself as a servant to the servants, with a passionate desire to feed God's sheep and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.