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Sunday, July 9th, 2018 - AM - The Devil's Dragoons of Disaster (Rev. 6:1-17)

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Rejoicing Through Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  59:16
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When the judgment of God comes to sweep men and women into hell for eternity, there is one spot that is safe.

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Introduction:

Illustration -
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In the days of the pioneers, when men saw that a prairie fire was coming, what would they do? Since not even the fastest of horses could outrun it, the pioneers took a match and burned the grass in a designated area around them. Then they would take their stand in the burned area and be safe from the threatening prairie fire. As the roar of the flames approached, they would not be afraid. Even as the ocean of fire surged around them there was no fear, because fire had already passed over the place where they stood. [Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 207.]
When the judgment of God comes to sweep men and women into hell for eternity, there is one spot that is safe. [Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 207.]
Main Thought: Thoughts of God’s wrath on sinners should be disturbing to your “comfort zone.”
Sub-intro:
Note - I here defer to Dr. Thomas Strouse’s eloquent summary of the immediate context for review:
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Chapters four and five focused on the Throne Room in heaven, and allowed for a transition between the local church age on earth, and the Tribulation on earth known as “Jacob’s trouble” (cf. ). With chapter six, and going to nineteen, Daniel’s seventieth week (a unit of seven years) begins, as God uses Seal, Trumpet, and Vial Judgments to deal with both Israel and the nations (cf. ) concerning “the things which shall be hereafter” (). According to the OT prophet Daniel, the Roman prince (i.e., Antichrist) “shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…” (vv. 26-27). The Lord Jesus Christ expounded on the Tribulation period in response to His disciples’ queries, giving details of the sequence of events of this “one week” (cf. ; vide also ; and ). In , Christ listed characteristics of the first half of the Tribulation, and in verses 15-28 he listed descriptions of the second half. He built His eschatology upon Daniel’s prophecy concerning the mid-point of the Tribulation and “the abomination of desolation” (v. 15; cf. ).878 To the Saviour, recognizing the mid-point of the Tribulation was the pivotal hermeneutical principle for those in the Tribulation to understand the “when” and “what” of the Lord’s coming (cf. ).
With Daniel’s prophecy as a foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ gave His complementary explanation of events of the Tribulation (.) which John received (). For instance, both passages give in the same order the following: war (; ), famine (; ), death (; ), martyrdom (; ), cosmic activity (; ), and judgment (; ; ). Further, Christ divided the Tribulation period into the two halves to which Daniel (cf. ; ) and John ( et al) alluded, 1) “the beginning of sorrows” (), the intervening mid-point with “the abomination of desolation” (), and 2) the “great tribulation” (). The Lord’s Olivet Discourse () harmonized with the [Apocalypse] that the Apostle John received from the Saviour (.).
873 Luther called it der Angst in Jakob and the Vulgate rendered the Hebrew as tribulationis est Iacob.
874 Cf. Strouse, But Daniel Purposed in His Heart: An Exegetical Commentary on Daniel, pp. 137-143.
875 The Saviour constantly employed the temporal adverb to,te (“then,” vv. 9, 10, 14, 16, 21, 23, 30 [2], and 40), the temporal conjunction o[tan (“when,” vv. 15, 32, 33), and the temporal adverb euvqe,wj (“immediately,” v. 29) to emphasize the chronological development of events.
876 The Lord did not believe Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 BC).
877 The Greek to. bde,lugma th/j evrhmw,sewj also occurs in . Christ borrowed the term “abomination[s] from ; ; .
878 Apparently, the Saviour knew that during the Tribulation “many shall run to and fro” attempting to find a copy of the Book of Daniel, and that “knowledge [eschatological] shall be increased” ().
879 Scripture employed various ways to express either half of the Tribulation. For instance, the expression “forty and two months” (; ) is the same as “a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (; ), or “a time and times and the dividing of time” (), or “a time, times, and an half” (), or “a time, and times, and half a time” (). Apparently, the Tribulation calendar will be based on the thirty day month, albeit Antichrist will attempt to change the times (cf. ), perhaps based on a sexagesimal six-day week (cf. ; ).
880 The Tribulation is “as a woman that travaileth” (), and Matthew’s Greek expression wvdi,nwn is the equivalent to Isaiah’s Hebrew !Wl+yxiy> hd"ÞleAYK. Since the warning of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes () is included in the first half of the Tribulation, these are not “signs” for church age saints prior to the Rapture!
[Thomas M. Strouse, To the Seven Churches: A Commentary on the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, Selected Works of Dr. Thomas M. Strouse (Bible Baptist Theological Press, 40 Country Squire Rd., Cromwell, CT 06461, 2013), 255–257.]
Body:

I. THE FALSE MESSIAH ().

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The Lamb, the one worthy to open the seals, has taken the scroll. As the seals are opened, they progressively expose and inaugurate God’s final plan to rid the world of evil. Yet these are preliminary judgments, as the scroll will not be fully open until all seven seals have been released. When the Lamb opens each of the first four seals, one of the four living beings from 4:6–8 calls forth the famous “four horsemen,” showing that every part of these events comes by order from the throne of God. The theme of this section is the absolute depravity of humankind. Each of the horsemen demonstrates the descent of humankind deeper and deeper into sin, and together they show the self-destructive nature of sin. Yet three times in this section God gives authority to the riders (6:2, 4, 8), showing God’s absolute power over the entire process. Even the forces of evil act only by divine permission. [Grant R. Osborne, Revelation: Verse by Verse, Osborne New Testament Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 122–123.]

A. Heaven's Messiah ()

Revelation 6:1 KJV 1900
1 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.

1. The Crucified (1a)

Revelation 6:1 KJV 1900
1 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.
See above verses in chs. 4-5 concerning the “Lamb, standing, as it had been slain...”

2. The Conqueror (1b)

Revelation 6:1 KJV 1900
1 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.
See also above chs. 4-5 concerning John’s weeping and the Lamb’s prevailing to open the book...

3. The Call (1c)

Revelation 6:1 KJV 1900
1 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.
Note - “and see” rightly belongs in the text. Barnes Notes does justice to what John may have “seen”:
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And I saw, and behold. A question has arisen as to the mode of representation here: whether what John saw in these visions was a series of pictures, drawn on successive portions of the volume as one seal was broken after another; or whether the description of the horses and of the events was written on the volume, so that John read it himself, or heard it read by another; or whether the opening of the seal was merely the occasion of a scenic representation, in which a succession of horses was introduced, with a written statement of the events which are referred to. Nothing is indeed said by which this can be determined with certainty; but the most probable supposition would seem to be that there was some pictorial representation in form and appearance, such as he describes in the opening of the six seals. In favour of this it may be observed, (1) that, according to the interpretation of ver. 1, it was something in or on the volume—since he was invited to draw nearer, in order that he might contemplate it. (2) Each one of the things under the first five seals, where John uses the word “saw,” is capable of being represented by a picture or painting. (3) The language used is not such as would have been employed if he had merely read the description, or had heard it read. (4) The supposition that the pictorial representation was not in the volume, but that the opening of the seal was the occasion merely of causing a scenic representation to pass before his mind, is unnatural and forced. What would be the use of a sealed volume in that case? What the use of the writing within and without? On this supposition the representation would be that, as the successive seals were broken, nothing was disclosed in the volume but a succession of blank portions, and that the mystery or the difficulty was not in anything in the volume, but in the want of ability to summon forth these successive scenic representations. The most obvious interpretation is, undoubtedly, that what John proceeds to describe was in some way represented in the volume; and p 138 the idea of a succession of pictures or drawings better accords with the whole representation, than the idea that it was a mere written description. In fact, these successive scenes could be well represented now in a pictorial form on a scroll. [Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: Revelation, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 137–138.]
Note - How one interpret’s the identity of this first rider matters greatly:
...one’s viewpoint of the first horseman seems to be determinative for identifying whether the basic agency of all four is divine or satanic. Respective advocates of each view cite an impressive array of Scriptural evidence and logic; ironically, those holding opposing viewpoints often use the same O.T. and N.T. Scriptures for support and seek to bolster their argument with parallels from antiquity. [Gwyn Pugh, “Commentary on the Book of Revelation,” in 1, 2, 3 John & Revelation, ed. Robert E. Picirilli, First Edition., The Randall House Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Randall House, 2010), 229.]
one’s viewpoint of the first horseman seems to be determinative for identifying whether the basic agency of all four is divine or satanic. Respective advocates of each view cite an impressive array of Scriptural evidence and logic; ironically, those holding opposing viewpoints often use the same O.T. and N.T. Scriptures for support and seek to bolster their argument with parallels from antiquity. [Gwyn Pugh, “Commentary on the Book of Revelation,” in 1, 2, 3 John & Revelation, ed. Robert E. Picirilli, First Edition., The Randall House Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Randall House, 2010), 229.]
Gwyn Pugh, “Commentary on the Book of Revelation,” in 1, 2, 3 John & Revelation, ed. Robert E. Picirilli, First Edition., The Randall House Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Randall House, 2010), 229.]
Note - I tend to agree with Grant Osborne regarding whether or not these judgments are sequential (as Strouse) or parallel:
...there is debate among interpreters about the relationship between the seals, trumpets, and bowls. Many believe that these three sets of judgments should be understood as successive, with the seventh of each set encompassing the next set, which flows out of it. In this case, there would be 21 successive events during the last phase of human history, called “the great tribulation” after 7:14 (“come out of the great tribulation”). One drawback to this approach is that it does not explain the exact repetition in the order of the first four trumpets and first four bowls, which parallel each other in progressing from earthly to oceanic to fresh water to heavenly body judgments (8:6–12 = 16:2–9). It also does not explain the fact that the seals, trumpets, and bowls all seem to end at the eschaton. It is more likely that these are not successive events but three parallel cycles that recapitulate one another. This means that they symbolize a series of judgments in which God will be pouring out these natural catastrophes in increasing severity throughout this great tribulation period. [Osborne, 120–121.]
Grant R. Osborne, Revelation: Verse by Verse, Osborne New Testament Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 120–121.]
Thunder is the precursor of a storm. Before a rain storm comes, we hear thunder. When the first seal was opened, the sound of thunder forecast a storm of judgment on the earth. [John G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor: Revelation (Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 2010), 414.]
John G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor: Revelation (Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 2010), 414.]

B. Hell's Messiah ()

The preferred interpretation is that the first horseman of represents the Antichrist or else a trend or movement of which he would certainly be the chief example. [Daniel K. K. Wong, “The First Horseman of ,” ed. Lin M. Williams, Bibliotheca Sacra 153 (1996): 222.]
The preferred interpretation is that the first horseman of represents the Antichrist or else a trend or movement of which he would certainly be the chief example. [Daniel K. K. Wong, “The First Horseman of ,” ed. Lin M. Williams, Bibliotheca Sacra 153 (1996): 222.]
Daniel K. K. Wong, “The First Horseman of ,” ed. Lin M. Williams, Bibliotheca Sacra 153 (1996): 222.]
John 5:43 KJV 1900
43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

1. Rider of Deception ()

Revelation 6:2 KJV 1900
2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
a
Note - the importance of the passivity of the agency here:
Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 70.]
The first horse is white; its rider has a bow and “was given” a crown (6:2). The expression “was given [edothe] to him” reflects the common Jewish idiom called the divine passive—that is, God is understood to be the unexpressed subject of the verb. This is the first of many such divine passives in the book that have to do with something being “given” (6:4, 4, 8, 11; 7:2; 8:2, 3; 9:1, 3, 5; 11:1, 2; 12:14; 13:5, 5, 7, 7, 14, 15; 16:8; 19:8; cf. 20:4). God is ultimately in control. The rider goes out “conquering and to conquer” (6:2). [Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 70.]
Rev. 6:2
Note - Christ’s Prophecy concerning Israel’s deception:
Matthew 24:4–5 KJV 1900
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Note - Dr. Constable’s agreement as to the identity of this rider:
The rider carried a bow (cf. ) symbolizing victory, but no arrows. The absence of arrows probably indicates a bloodless victory. The rider threatens war (cf. ; ; ), but it never occurs, probably because he accomplishes victory through peaceful means. Someone, evidently God, gave him an imperial crown (Gr. stephanos) anticipating an authoritative career (cf. 9:1, 3, 5; 13:5, 7, 14, 15). The sovereign God is the only one who can give human rulers authority to rule (cf. ). [Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), .]
Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), .]
Note - Dr. Strouse’s encouragement toward sound Scriptural exegesis as pertains to the identity of this rider:
The four colored horses[896] and their respective riders, the famous “four horsemen of the Apocalypse,” are a visual unit and must be interpreted as such. Treated as a literary and theological unit, the four horsemen (“the dragoons of disaster”), led by the horseman on the white horse, will bring destruction to the earth at the outset of the Tribulation so that the fourth part of the world’s population will be killed (cf. ). In contrast, Christ’s coming and reign at the end of the Tribulation will bring peace and prosperity in its retinue ().[897] Using the Lord Jesus Christ’s hermeneutical guide to understanding the Tribulation (i.e., ), the rider on the white horse must be the Roman prince (i.e., the Antichrist []) who shall confirm some sort of peace[898] covenant with the Jews, deceiving them by saying “I am Christ” (cf. ). This false peace will be shattered by the next three horsemen—wars, famines, Death and Hell (cf. ).[899]
[896 Although Zechariah referred to four colored horses (; cf. 1:8), their number, circumstance and purpose were different. There were several horses of each color connected to chariots to bring Jehovah’s judgment exclusively on the Gentile nations. This contrasts widely with .]
[897 Christ’s crown is different from the rider (diadhma [royal crown] versus stefanos [victor’s crown]), His weapon is different (romfaia ovxeia [“a sharp sword”] versus toxon [“bow”]), and His purpose is different (retribution versus conquest). Since the Lamb is Christ, and He opens the seal, it would be incongruous for the Lord to be both the One opening the seal and the Personage within the first Seal Judgment. The Antichrist’s offer of false peace on a white horse contrasts the Ultimate Victor Who will offer true peace as the “Faithful and True” (cf. ).]
[898 The pseudo-peace that the Antichrist will establish will be soon taken away by the wars waged through the second horseman (cf. v. 4). Isaiah said succinctly, “There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked” ().]
[899 These horsemen and their respective horses may be demonic creatures over their respective domain, and similar to the demonic horses and men in .]
[Strouse, 260–261.]

2. Rider of Destruction ()

Revelation 6:3–4 KJV 1900
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 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 unto him a great sword.
Matthew 24:6–7 KJV 1900
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Mt. 24:6-7
Peace from the earth. Rome was said to have achieved peace (pax Romana “Roman peace”) under Caesar Augustus. The rider here may be deliberately depicted as removing the peace Rome thought it had. [Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck, eds., John’s Gospel, Hebrews–Revelation, First Edition., The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary (Colorado Springs, CO; Paris, ON; Eastbourne: David C Cook, 2005), 367.]
Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck, eds., John’s Gospel, Hebrews–Revelation, First Edition., The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary (Colorado Springs, CO; Paris, ON; Eastbourne: David C Cook, 2005), 367.]

3. Rider of Dearth ()

Revelation 6:5–6 KJV 1900
5 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. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
Matthew 24:7 KJV 1900
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Note - Though this word is translated elsewhere as “yoke”, the AV translators wisely chose Tyndale’s rendering here based on context:
A pair of scales was made up of a crossbeam suspended by a hook with a pan suspended from each end of the crossbeam. Weights placed in one pan were used to determine the weight of commodities placed in the other pan. Balance scales are mentioned several times in the Old Testament, often with the protest that they were rigged to cheat customers (; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; Aune, 396). Daniel tells King Belshazzar that he has been “weighed on the scales and found wanting” (). [Evans and Bubeck, 367.]
Craig A. Evans and Bubeck, 367.]
Note - “penny” is a good translation so long as we define it the way the AV translators did:
...the word translated “penny” speaks of a coin that at that time was a day’s wage for the typical worker. The amount of food was very small—some say it was what was given a slave. At any rate inflation soared and poverty soared because of the extremely high prices that always come during a famine. Not only does the lack of food ravage the body but the inflated prices ravage the economy of the society until like Egypt in Joseph’s day “money failed” (), and eventually the people had to resort to extreme actions (selling themselves) in order to get food to live. [Butler, 417–418.]
James 5:1–3 KJV 1900
1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
John G. Butler, 417–418.]
James 5:1
Note - Consider Rod Mattoon’s timely exhortations [barring his comments on “Global Warming”]: