Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Revelation 6:1-6
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 6
The scroll Jesus holds is full of prophecies about His second comingСprophecies that will bring earth’s history as we’ve known it to a close. At His first coming Jesus became the “Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29; Rev 5:6) by offering Himself as a sacrifice for human sin. However, at His second coming He will not be a “lamb” but rather a “lion.” The prophecies in the scroll say He will come as a warrior and judge, destroying His enemies and gathering the righteous to Himself. This is why there’s a distinction between what takes place while the book is being opened (the seven seals) and after it is fully opened (the seventh seal, trumpets and bowls). During the breaking of the first five seals the evil forces of the antichrist are released. With each seal’s removal evil increases. But even as early as the sixth seal God begins to oppose the antichrist and warn the earth of His wrath to come. When the seventh seal is broken and the scroll can at last be opened there comes a profound change on earth as God goes to war.

Revelation 6:1
Verse 1: At the breaking of the first seal the antichrist is released to form his kingdom. One of the four living beings issues the command, “Come!”, making it abundantly clear the antichrist cannot manifest himself until permission is given by God. Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, refers to something which “restrains him so that in his time he will be revealed” (2Th 2:6) and again, “he who restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (2Th 2:7). Paul gives the antichrist the title “the man of lawlessness” and “that lawless one,” but he is unquestionably referring to the same person. So now in this verse John shows us what, or better, who it is who does this “restraining” С it is God, probably through the agency of an angel. Not until the living being says, “Come!” is this malevolent human allowed to succeed in his quest for power.

Revelation 6:2
Verse 2: The description of the antichrist given here can be confusing. He is described as a rider seated on a white horse who is given a bow and a crown. Such language is similar to the picture of Jesus returning in glory (Rev 19:11-16). He too will ride a white horse, wear a crown and be armed for battle. I believe the similarity is not an accident but rather reveals that the antichrist will pose as a false “Christ.” In describing this same period of time which precedes the great tribulation, Jesus listed “false christs” as the first indicator of this season (Mt 24:5). The antichrist will initially claim to be some form of superhuman religious leader and then, later on, he’ll commit the ultimate blasphemy by demanding to be worshipped (Mt 24:15; 2Th 2:4; Da 11:36). Here in this verse we hear God release this false messiah to go out “conquering and to conquer.” When we turn back to the book of Daniel we are given further details of how his conquest begins. Daniel’s vision pictured him as a “little horn” which will violently overthrow three other “horns” and then these three nations in league with seven other nations go on to “devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it” (Da 7:8, 20, 23, 24).

Revelation 6:3, 4
Verses 3, 4: The breaking of the second seal pictures the wars that erupt as the antichrist forms his kingdom (Da 7:23). He is given a “great sword” which probably means he will be able to conduct war on many fronts. Here’s the scenario Daniel gives us: To begin with ten nations will rise in power. It isn’t stated but it would be logical that this would be a cluster of like-minded nations rallying around a common religious or political cause. Then a man will emerge who is not a rightful ruler of one of those nations. Daniel says, “he will be different from the previous (kings)” (Da 7:24). This person will then violently overthrow three of these kings. We know this because Daniel says, “...another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it...” (Da 7:8). To me there is a suggestion in the idea of a horn being pulled out “by its roots” of the slaughter of an entire ruling family or group. In another verse Daniel says the antichrist will “humble” (subdue) three kings (Da 7:24), so there will be a violent takeover whether it be by military coup, revolution or assassination.

Revelation 6:3, 4
Verses 3, 4 (continued): Once the antichrist is comfortably in control of three nations the other seven will completely submit to him retaining only an appearance of independence. This remade ten-nation league will then turn it’s combined forces on the rest of the world. In a savage and merciless campaign it will spread its dominance over other nations until it controls a great empire. Nation will either voluntarily surrender or be brutally conquered. Again we return to Daniel’s words, “It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet...” (Da 7:7) and later he said it “...will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it” (Da 7:23). These are the “wars and rumors of wars” Jesus said we will hear about in the time just before the great tribulation (Mt 24:6; Lk 21:9).

Revelation 6:5, 6
Verses 5, 6: The opening of the third seal calls forth famine, but in this case it’s not the kind of famine that results from a naturally-caused ecological crisis. Instead it’s the starvation which results from war. The rider on the black horse holds in his hand a pair of scales, and this image particularly reminds us of Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning a coming siege of Jerusalem. The Lord told Ezekiel, “I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they will eat bread by weight and will anxiety, and drink water by measure and in horror, because bread will be scarce...” (Eze 4:16, 17; Lev 26:25, 26). So when John hears a voice declare, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barely for a denarius...” we recognize that people will be eating wheat and barely by measure and for an extremely high price. A denarius was a day’s wage, and a quart of wheat is about enough to feed one person. Barley is a less costly grain and a day’s wage will feed approximately three people for a day. The situation pictures people trapped in a city under siege or trying to survive after their fields have been burned by hostile armies.

Revelation 6:6
Verses 5, 6 (continued): The final statement of verse six seems surprisingly out of context. If people are starving for a basic staple of life like wheat, why does the voice command that oil and wine be left in adequate supply? The truth is no one knows for sure, but I believe the statement tells us what time of year these wars will occur and that the antichrist will conquer his empire quickly. The clue comes from the harvest seasons of the various crops mentioned. Wheat in that part of the world is harvested from late May through June, and barley is harvested around the month of May. However, the olive harvest doesn’t take place until mid-September through mid-November, and grapes are harvested in August and September. So the reason wheat and barley are scarce while olives and grapes are not may be due to the fact that the antichrist’s wars occur in the spring and early summer, but by the fall of the year the wars have already concluded so that those crops which ripen later in the year can be harvested as normal. In other words, the antichrist will need only a short stretch of time between spring and fall to carry out his conquest.

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