Hitchcock says, “this horse and rider represent war, international strife, and civil upheaval. The promised peace of the white horse is swiftly shattered by the war of the red horse” (The End, p. 282). Although Israel will be experiencing political peace during the first 3.5 years, war and civil unrest will be a common characteristic of the world during this time.
The third horseman brings worldwide famine. “Famine is often a consequence of war” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 214). Hitchcock says, “food prices will skyrocket so high it will take everything a person can earn in one day just to buy enough food for one day for himself. The prices listed here are about 1000 percent more than the average prices in the Roman Empire at the time John was writing Revelation” (The End, p. 282).
“The fourth horse of the Apocalypse is the deadliest of all, for in this judgment, one fourth of the world’s population is destroyed” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 215). The pale color of the horse denotes “the pallor of death” (Hitchcock, The End, p. 283). I did the math on this one. The current world population as of February 2023 is just over 8 billion. If one fourth were killed, that would mean 2 billion people would die as a result of the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild animals. It is staggering to think about. Walvoord says this will “represent the greatest destruction of human life ever recorded in history” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 131). One fourth of the population is in addition to the deaths that will have already resulted from the second and third seals (international wars, civil unrest and famine), as well as the millions of Christians that would have been raptured prior to the first seal.
“The fifth seal deals with the martyrs of the first half of the tribulation” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 215). “Martyrdom in those days will be as common as it is uncommon today. Thousands will be martyred, sealing their testimony with their own blood” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 134). Walvoord’s words remind me of Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry that exposes the persecution and martyrdom of Christians in the 21st century. The martyrdom of today’s world (which surprisingly happens to be more than at any other time in history), will pale in comparison to what the fifth seal brings. Revelation 6:11 makes it clear that more people have yet to be saved and martyred during the rest of the tribulation.
“It would be difficult to paint a scene more moving or more terrible than that described at the opening of the sixth seal” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 135). Fruchtenbaum says, “Each series of judgments ends with convulsions of nature, and the sixth seal concludes the first series of judgments with such convulsions. The convulsions begin with an earthquake (12a), followed by a blackout of the sun and moon and a meteor shower (v. 12b-14).” He goes on to say, “Anarchy ensues as men begin to flee from the wrath of God rather than turn to Him in faith (v. 15-17). This passage shows that with the fifth seal, even unbelievers recognize that they are experiencing the wrath of God” (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 216). The blackout that takes place in the sixth seal is the second worldwide blackout (the first happens before the tribulation starts, you can read about it here).
The fact that unbelievers will recognize these events as the wrath of God and try to hide from Him in defiance instead of crying out to Him for salvation is sad. Walvoord says, “Chapter six closes with a pointed question: ‘Who shall be able to stand?’ The answer is obvious: only those who avail themselves to the grace of God, even though they suffer a martyr’s death in this future tragic period.” He goes on to say, “The given revelation emphasizes the importance of partaking of the grace of God in this present age with the bright prospect of the Lord coming for His own” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 138).
Week Five: Homework Reflections
Day One: The Rider on the Red Horse (second seal judgment-War)
- Read Revelation 6. Record in your journal the 6 seals mentioned in this chapter. (The seventh seal comes later).
- What is granted to the rider on the red horse according to verse 4?
- Read Jeremiah 25:15-17. What similarities do you see?
Day Two: The Rider on the Black Horse (third seal judgment-Famine)
- Read Revelation 6:5-6. What was the rider on the black horse holding in his hand?
- What does he bring to earth based on the price of bread in verse 6?
- Read Ezekiel 5:15-17. This passage deals with the historical destruction of Jerusalem, but what similarities in God’s righteous judgments do you see in comparison to the third seal?
Day Three: The Rider on the Pale Horse (fourth seal judgment- Death)
- Read Amos 5:18-20. How does this prophetic passage about the Day of the Lord compare to Revelation 6:7-8?
- Read Leviticus 26:1-13. How would God bless Israel for remembering His covenant?
- Read Leviticus 26:14-46. Although this chapter is not speaking of the specific judgments in Revelation, how serious is God about His covenant with Israel? How did God say He would judge Israel for rejecting His covenant, and how do these judgments compare to what you see in Revelation chapter 6? What promise for Israel do you see in verses 44-45 that has future implications?
Day Four: The Fifth Seal Judgment-The Martyred Saints of the Tribulation
- Read Revelation 6:9-11. What did John see under the altar?
- Read Exodus 29:12 and Leviticus 4:7. What was poured out under the altar? How does the location of the martyred souls in Rev. 6:9 represent their sacrifice to God?
- What were the martyrs asking and what was the answer given to them? How does their heart cry for justice compare to the psalmists’ heart cry in Psalm 74:10; Psalm 94:3; and Psalm 119:81-84? If you have time, read Psalm 74 and Psalm 94 in their entirety, and record everything you learn about God. You will be blessed!
Day Five: The Sixth Seal Judgment-Convulsions of Nature
- Read Revelation 6:12-17. What happened when the Lamb broke the sixth seal and what was the reaction of the people on the earth?
- Read Joel 2:10-12 and Joel 2:30-31. What do you learn? Now Read Isaiah 13:9-10, Joel 3:15, Psalm 2:1-3, and Isaiah 2:17-22. What similarities do you see to Revelation 6:12-17?
- In closing, read Psalm 73. For those of you who, like me, are tempted to be anxious in light of all that is to come on the world, read this psalm and record what you learn about the wicked and the peace that comes from knowing God is in control!