Revelation 6:5-6 With the breaking of the third seal there is the voice of the third living creature who calls forth the third horse and rider. One of the byproducts of war is famine when food supplies are destroyed and those involved in food production are killed. To a degree we saw this possibility as our forces were involved in the war in Iraq. It was proper planning that prepared for this. Jesus also predicted this future famine in Matthew 24:7.
This rider has a set of scales to measure out the grain and a “penny” (denarius) to buy a measure of wheat which is about a quart and a penny to buy three measures of barley. A penny was about a day’s wage. Imagine working and earning only enough money to buy what food was needed for that day! What would a person do about feeding his family and providing the other necessities of life such as housing, heat, clothing, and transportation?
The rider controls food distribution so it is believed that he is either the Antichrist or a servant of his represented on the black horse. This is probably another way that he gains and holds control over the world, at least for a season. The idea is that food will be strictly controlled. But yet there will be plenty of oil and wine.
How could oil and wine which come from trees and vines be available when wheat and barley are scarce and shriveled up with a drought? Probably from stockpiles and from the fact that trees and vines have roots more deeply in the ground than crops. They can usually survive and produce more through a drought than crops. Also, trees will produce for years without being cared for. War will keep men from growing crops, but trees will keep on producing without much attention. Oil and wine were luxury items in the ancient world.
As is true in most famines, the wealthy will have food, the poor will not. The end time will be marked by famine after famine all over the world. It will take all a man can do just to survive. following the appearance of the black horse and its rider, John hears something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures. Since the four living creatures were stationed around the throne (Revelation 4:6), this is likely the voice of God, the One sitting on the throne (Revelation 4:2-3). God also speaks in connection with the fifth seal (Revelation 6:11). He speaks here as a reminder that the famine is a direct judgment from Him.
Revelation 6:7-8 The fourth seal follows the pattern of the first three. The Lamb, the Lord Yeshua breaks the seal and the fourth living creature summons the fourth horse and its rider. John described this final horse as ashen. The word in the Greek is Chloris, from which the English words ” chlorophyll ” and ” chlorine ” derive. It is used to describe the green vegetation in the other New Testament uses (Revelation 8:7; 9:4; Mark 6:39). The color is reminiscent of the color of death characteristic of the decomposition of a corpse. Appropriately, the rider who sat on it had the name Death. Death is the consequence of on war and famine.
In this scene, John saw Hades … following with Death. Hades represents the grave. Death and Hades are also paired in Revelation 1:18, 20:13-14. In the King James Version of the Bible, the Greek word is generally translated “hell.” It differs, however, from the term “Gehenna,” which more precisely refers to hell. Hades is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term “Sheol,” which refers in general to the place of the dead.
Permission is given to Death and Hades to destroy a fourth of the population of the earth, based on our current world population that would equal 1.5 billion deaths. Four tools (sword, famine, pestilence and wild beasts) are mentioned that will accomplish this; the first three, the sword, famine, and pestilence, are often linked together in Scripture. Each of these four elements appear in Ezekiel 14:12-21.
The first four seals describe judgments without parallel in human history. There is nothing that has happened since John had this vision that could be the fulfillment of these judgments. These prophecies cannot be applied to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This occurred before John had these visions, since he wrote Revelation about AD 96 or any other event since then, yet these first four seal judgments are just the beginning of worldwide woes that the world will experience.
Far worse judgments are still to come in the remainder of the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls. The picture of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse is not a pretty picture; nevertheless, any thinking and honest person knows that it is a real possibility with the weapons of war that exist today. The truth is Scripture says that it is going to happen. It will happen right before the events of the end time are to be launched by God.
Revelation 6:9 While Scripture teaches that God is loving, merciful, and gracious, He is also described in Scripture as a God of vengeance against those who reject Him and salvation in His Son. In Deuteronomy 32:35 God declared, “Vengeance is mine, and retribution”. In several psalms, known as the imprecatory (from the verb imprecate, meaning ” to call down calamity on someone “) psalms, the psalmists cry out for God to take vengeance on the wicked (Psalm 64:7-9; 79:10; 94 1-2).
The prophets also spoke of God’s vengeance (Isaiah 34:1-3, 8; 59:17-18). The prophetic role of Yeshua will be to bring “the day of vengeance of our God ” (Isaiah 61:2). Jeremiah, Joel and Micah as well spoke of the Day of God’s vengeance on those who have oppressed His people and resisted His will.
Jesus described the future time of God’s judgment during the time of Tribulation as the ” days of vengeance ” (Luke 21:22) as well as Paul (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. This vengeance belongs to the Lord and is not for man to exact at this time (Romans 12:19-20) Our examples are found in Jesus (Luke 23:34), Stephen (Acts 7:60), and Paul (1 Corinthians 4:12).
Even God Himself does not delight in the coming judgment (Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9). For believers there is much personal conflict over the day of God’s wrath and judgment. We will rejoice, because sin will be done away with, the world will be taken back from Satan, and God will be vindicated. On the other hand, that day will bring about the judgment of the ungodly and their sentencing to eternal punishment.
When the Lord, the Lamb breaks the fifth seal the souls of all the martyrs of the world are seen under the altar a better translation would be “at the foot of the altar” of God. This refers to primarily those who are martyred during the tribulation but it is a picture of all the martyrs who have died for the Lord Jesus through the ages.
The fact that they cry out for justice against those who killed them and that judgment falls in the sixth seal points to the reference being to the end time martyrs. The martyrs of God are very special to Him, because of their strong testimony and sacrifice for Him. The slain martyrs are at the altar. Remember what Scripture teaches about the tabernacle: the furnishings of the tabernacle were only patterns of the worship center in heaven (Exodus 25:8-9, 40; Numbers 8:4; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:23).
It was the altar where the animals were sacrificed. The blood was poured out at the foot of the altar, symbolizing that the animal was being sacrificed for the person offering it. The picture here is that the lives of the martyrs, their blood, has been sacrificed and poured out for God. They have offered their lives on the altar of sacrifice for God. Therefore, in heaven these martyrs have a very special place before God. God has a special place for those who are faithful until death, a place that is close and dear to His heart and throne (Matthew 16:25; Romans 12:1-2).
The martyrs are slain for God’s Word and for the testimony they had borne for Messiah (Revelation 12:11). They were slain for the Word of God. In the last days the world will react against the Word of God and kill believers. Why? The world will react because God’s Word demands that our first loyalty be to Jesus. In the end time under the Antichrist, the peoples of the world will be required to give their first loyalty to the state. The government will demand loyalty to the state first. The state will develop the idea of a state religion, something close to what exists in some states today.
Believers, of course, can only give their first loyalty to Messiah; therefore, they will be killed, for they cannot deny the Word of God (Acts 5:27-29). They are slain for the testimony they have borne concerning Jesus. The martyrs will believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. They will believe in His deity, and that He is the only way to the Father and Heaven.
The world is willing to accept that Jesus Christ was a great religious and moral teacher but no more than that. In the end time the world’s rejection of Christ as the Son of God will be intensified so much that they will kill all those who proclaim such a message. John described the martyrs he saw at the altar as souls because their bodily resurrection had not yet taken place (Revelation 20:4). They are the first fruits of those who will be saved throughout the Tribulation.
Revelation 6:10 These martyrs will cry out for justice. They address God as the Lord, holy and true. The Word used here for “Lord” means Master or Sovereign.
They acknowledge His sovereignty over them in all the events of their lives including their martyrdom. They also refer to Him as holy, which speaks of Him being completely set apart from all other beings in the universe. They are confessing that He deserves to look upon nothing but righteousness, purity and holiness. These martyrs want all sin and evil erased so that God will not be disobeyed any more by unholy living.
Furthermore they acknowledge that God is true to His Word and promises. Therefore, He is the One who is to execute justice and bring all things to a climax in the end time. If justice is to be executed upon earth, He is the One who has to do it. Therefore, martyrs address God as the Sovereign Lord, holy and true. Here we see their cry out for justice and for vengeance against their persecutors. Again this is shocking, that believers in heaven would seek vengeance against men on earth instead of loving them and longing for them to be saved. Is this an accurate picture?
No, it is not. This is not what the martyrs are doing. Their cry is a cry for vindication of the Word of God and of Messiah, not for vengeance. Note exactly what they are saying: they are crying out for God to avenge their blood. Why was their blood spilt? Why were they killed? Because the persecutors rebelled against the Word of God and against Jesus as the Son of God. This is that for which the martyrs are crying, for vindication, not vengeance. They are crying out for God to stop the injustice against His Word and against His Son, the Lord Yeshua; to stop the injustice against His glory and the injustice of sin and evil against Him and to end unrighteousness and to bring in ever lasting righteousness to the universe. They were, in essence, praying for God’s kingdom to come upon earth.
Few people suffer the hell and wrath of sin any more than a martyr. It is that fire and wrath of sin that kills him. Therefore, he knows above all others the consequences of sin and rebellion against God and His Word and will (Psalm 74:10; 79:5-6; 94:3-4).
The fifth seal is not martyrdom, as some suggest, because martyrdom could not be judgment from God. The seals depict God’s wrath and judgment on the evil and ungodly, not His children. The force of the fifth seal is the prayers of the Tribulation martyrs.
Prayer is the harbinger of the outpouring of God’s judgments on the earth. Many Believers act as if prayer is a mere formality and has little effect; yet it is their prayers that move God’s hand of judgment. Jesus illustrated that same principle in the parable of the persistent widow and the unrighteous judge (Luke 18:7-8).