Faithlife Sermons

4-7-2019 A Horse Voice Revelation 6:1-8

Revelation Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:37
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Introduction:
In early centuries, churches were built with the pulpit on the east end. The sun rises in the east, and believers were supposed to look to the east for Christ’s return ().
Matthew 21:27 ESV
27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Matthew 24:27 ESV
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
During the Reformation, the pulpit was moved from the side of the nave, and people were positioned around it as focus point (amphitheatre style). There was a separate room for the Lord’s Supper with long table for the people to sit.
During the Reformation, the pulpit was moved from the side of the nave, and people were positioned around it as focus point (amphitheatre style). There was a separate room for the Lord’s Supper with long table for the people to sit.
In the third century, basilicas had east ends raised a little, with a “bishop’s chair” at its center, from where he preached and was surrounded by presbyters. In front of him was the Lord’s Table, around which deacons grouped.
Today, many church building incorporate the above features: amphitheatre-styled seating around the pulpit, with raised platform—all to prepare to see the Lord return, but we know a few things must first take place.
Transition:
Recall that the throne-room vision of prepares the way for God’s righteous judgments that commence in chapter 6. Jesus, the worthy one (5:2–5), now begins to open the scroll by breaking the seals. (This initiates three sets of judgments: seals, trumpets, and bowls) When all seven seals have been broken, the scroll opens into the trumpet judgments (8:1) with the last trumpet going into the bowls.
The first four seal judgments (6:1–8), more famously known as the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse,” serve God’s sovereign purposes and usher in the events of the end of the age.
The evidence suggests that these disasters run simultaneously throughout history rather than one after another in a severe trial right before Christ returns.
When the Lamb opens each seal, John hears one of the four living creatures saying, “Come.” He then sees a horse of a particular color carrying a rider who executes the judgment. From the actions of the Lamb and the four living creatures, as well as the past perfect tenses (i.e., “was given”), we again see God’s sovereign control of human history.
Scripture Reading:
Revelation 6:1–8 ESV
1 Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. 3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword. 5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!” 7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
Interestingly, these first four seals focus on the depravity of humankind as a means of showing that “YHWH simply allows human sin really to come full fruition, turn in upon itself, and self-destruct.” This actually supports the notion that some of God’s judgments just involve allowing evil to run its course.
There is those that will argue as to whether any or all of what is pictured here has already taken place. While conquest (v. 2), widespread warfare (v. 4), and devastating effects from famine on economies (vv. 5–6) have occurred throughout history since the first century A.D., NO catastrophe has devastated a full fourth of the earth (v. 8) which means this is still future.
John now begins to describe the first half of Daniel’s 70th week (),
Daniel 9:27 ESV
27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
that seven-year period referred to as the... tribulation. I wholeheartedly believe that the big event is described in
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 ESV
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 ESV
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
and
1 Corinthians 15:51–52 ESV
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
the rapture will occur by now, BUT...
Everyone here who approaches the timing of the rapture which is NOT mentioned in Revelation must realize that if these timing questions have been debated over centuries, then YHWH probably made them not clear for a purpose. Churches and seminaries have made their interpretations of these debated issues part of their doctrinal statements—just as our constitution agrees with me on pre-tribulation rapture. But we must understand that other Christians who disagree with our positions are doing only that—disagreeing. The positions regarding postmillennialism versus premillennialism do not make a difference as to whether one is a believer or not. The cardinal doctrine of salvation is whether a person believes that Christ, our Savior and King, will indeed one day return for His people and whether one has trusted in Him as his/her personal Savior. From there, the timing of Christ’s return or when the church will be raptured are merely issues for discussion—not fundamental doctrines that affect fellowship, let alone a person’s salvation.
So The Lamb has taken the sealed scroll; He is about to open the seals and declare wrath on the now godless world. With the opening of each seal in heaven, a terrifying event will take place on earth—just as Christ taught when He spoke about the end times in — a chapter you must read and know to understand what is coming. Actually, it is soo important, let’s quickly read it together:
Matthew 24:5–44 ESV
5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Matthew 24 ESV
1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24 ESV
1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Back to Revelation’s four horsemen, and as we’ve already seen hints of, John sounds much like the Old Testament prophets as he articulates his visions. The mention of colorful horses in the OT is in and , where riders on different colored horses are sent by YHWH in two of Zechariah’s visions as instruments of judgment on his enemies—which were the surrounding nations of Israel. In addition, the first four seals closely parallel the “birth pains” that Jesus mentions in his Olivet Discourse: wars, nations rising against nations, earthquakes, famines, pestilence (; ).
As we’ve already seen hints of, John sounds much like the Old Testament prophets as he articulates his visions. The specific background here is and 6:1–8, where riders on different colored horses are sent by YHWH as instruments of judgment on his enemies. In addition, the first four seals closely parallel the “birth pains” that Jesus mentions in his Olivet Discourse: wars, nations rising against nations, earthquakes, famines, pestilence (see ; ).
Transition:
Revelation uses various symbols to communicate meaning, so it is highly likely that these colors of these horses are indeed communicating meaning. The outline this morning will be color coded
When interpreting the significance of colors in Revelation, it’s important to give appropriate weight to the immediate context. For example, although the color white can represent the righteousness and glory of Christ (e.g., 19:11), it can also signify victory without demanding that the source of that victory be a righteous or positive figure. This seems to be the case in , where the white horse signifies military victory as judgment.

I. Your Voice Sounds a Little White (vv.1-2)

John’s heavenly vision continues as he observes the Lamb breaking the first seal.
Revelation 1 ESV
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” 9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Revelation 6:1–2 ESV
1 Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.
Revelation 6:1 ESV
1 Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!”
Rev
The Lamb alone is worthy to break each seal and unfold the scroll, indicating Jesus’s leading role in the consummation of human history. While John sees the Lamb, he hears the thunderous voice of the first living creature command the first horse to come forward. As chaotic it will become on Earth, this is is orderly, restrained judgement as we’ll see more of in a few moments. This won’t be the last time we hear of a voice sounding like thunder-- ; — in each case, it is always a being from Heaven sounding like thunder.
Illustration:
Revelation 6:2 ESV
2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.
6:2
Although Jesus rides a white horse later in the book, & has been crowned “King of kings and Lord of lords” (19:11), the immediate context demands that this rider cannot be Jesus and must be connected to the other three horsemen as a symbol of divine judgment.
The crown sometimes throws people off to think Jesus
Illustration:
However this white horse rider has a bow and a crown to symbolize an unstoppable conqueror, an indication of a military sense of conquest and war.
When interpreting the meaning of colors in Revelation, it’s important to give most the attention to the immediate context. Here for example, the color white usually represents the righteousness and glory of Christ (as it does in 19:11), HOWEVER it does not signify that here in our passage this morning. White can also signify victory without necessarily demanding that the source of that victory be a righteous or positive figure. This is certainly the case here, where the white horse signifies military victory as judgment.
Other colors appear here and in other parts of Revelation. From these contexts in this one book, we can understand the symbolism
Symbolism
Golden
1:13; 15:6; 17:14; 18:16
Divinity, splendor
White
1:14; 2:17; 3:4, 5, 18; 4:4; 6:2, 11; 7:9, 13, 14; 14:14; 19:11, 14, 14; 20:11
Victory, purity, resurrection
Rainbow
4:3; 10:1 means Omnipotence
Omnipotence
Red
here in 6:4; & then 12:3 means Slaughter, war, violence
Slaughter, war, violence
Black
6:5, 12 means Disaster, economic hardship, famine
Disaster, economic hardship, famine
Light or “Pale” is actually yellowish-green, or the color of a corpse.
in this chapter and in chapter 8:7; 9:4 Pale means Death
6:8; 8:7; 9:4 means Death
Death
Blue 9:17 means Smoke
9:17
Smoke
Yellow 9:17 means Sulfur
9:17
Sulfur
Fiery
1:14; 2:18; 4:5; 10:1; 19:12 means Judgment
Judgment
Purple and scarlet
17:4; 18:16; cf. 18:12 means Royalty
Royalty
Transition:
So now we have a good idea what white means and can mean let’s turn to red:

II. Your Voice Sounds a Little Red (vv.3-4)

Red is symbolic of Slaughter & violence
Revelation 6:3 ESV
3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!”
here in 6:4; & then 12:3 means Slaughter, war, violence
Revelation 6:3–4 ESV
3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
Rev 6:3
another horse
Revelation 6:4 ESV
4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
This is an allusion to some kind of military slaughter.
Warfare or violence results in bloodshed (possible another symbol for red) as the next rider robs the earth of peace so that people are the ones killing each other.
he was given a great sword.”
This was the ever popular small Roman sword called “μάχαιρα” — it is more like a dagger than a sword, and is a different sword and word from the sword in verse 8. It was worn on the belt of Roman soldiers and seen as a advantageous weapon used even for capital punishment of Roman citizens (we have a hint of this in ).
The phrase “so that people should slay one another” is interesting because in the OT, this is one of the ways YHWH used to judge His enemies (cf. Gideon’s enemies in ; the Philistines in ; and enemies of Jehoshaphat in ).
great sword.”
The "great” sword likely represents the judgment of violent death. John’s readers might have been thinking of the persecutions occurring under the reign of Nero or Domitian.
Illustration:
Transition:

III. Your Voice Sounds a Little Black (vv.5-6)

Black, you can recall meant Disaster, economic hardship, and famine
6:5, 12 means Disaster, economic hardship, famine
Revelation 6:5 ESV
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand.
Revelation 6:5–6 ESV
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
Revelation 6:5 ESV
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand.
Rev
a pair of scales
This is a symbol of famine which usually followed severe war (similar thought to what Jesus says in [[]].
Matthew 24:7 ESV
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
Revelation 6:6 ESV
6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
Revelation 6:6 ESV
6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius
Warfare and bloodshed eventually lead to economic hardship, including famine. A voice from among the four living creatures sets the maximum price for wheat and barley at a day’s wages (a denarius). A person would normally eat about two pounds (a quart) of wheat a day, but because of the expense people resorted to buying barley, the cheaper grain. Yet these prices are greatly inflated to about ten to fifteen times normal prices. Surprisingly, the voice also says not to damage the oil and the wine.
and do not damage the oil and the wine
These were staples of the diet of the ancient Mediterranean people. The fact that these were not hurt shows a limited famine. Ancient Mediterranean warfare permitted destroying standing crops like wheat, but not the vines and olive trees, which would have produced long-term devastation and devalued the land being conquered. Another limitation will also be seen in v. 8. God limits His judgment so that unbelievers will have time to repent (cf. 16:9). It is also possible that both of these were used for medical purposes. A similar restriction appears in (“do not harm the land or the sea or the trees”), which also indicates a measure of restraint and of God’s mercy in the midst of horrible judgment.
observes that 4 A similar restriction appears in (“do not harm the land or the sea or the trees”), which may also indicate a measure of God’s mercy in the midst of judgment.
Revelation 7:3 ESV
3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
Illustration:
Transition:
With famine prevalent, the next color makes perfect sense:

IV. Your Voice Looks a Little Pale (vv.7-8)

Pale is death
Revelation 6:7–8 ESV
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him.
And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him.
This is an OT allusion to .
Hosea 13:14 ESV
14 I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
It is a personification of the terms for termination of physical life. They are used together quite often in Revelation (cf. 1:18; 20:13–14).
The term “Hades” is synonymous to the OT term “Sheol,” which meant “the holding place of the dead.”
Revelation 6:8 ESV
8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
Rev 68
to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
Death and Hades kill a fourth of humankind in four specific ways: sword, famine, plague (disease), and wild beasts — All 4 of the OT judgments on Israel for failing the Mosaic Covenant: war, famine, plague, and wild animals — They are listed in and in [[]]
Ezekiel 14:21 ESV
21 “For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!
These covenant judgments are discussed in more detail in . And originally their purpose was to cause Israel to repent and turn back to YHWH. They function in that same redemptive sense here for unbelieving Israel and the rest of the unbelieving world.
Revelation 6:8 ESV
8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
a fourth of the earth
God has allowed human wickedness to do its destructive work, resulting in judgment through warfare, bloodshed, famine, disease, and death. But again, we see a measure of restraint in that only one-fourth are affected.
Illustration:
Transition:

So What?

So sin is a big deal! it is because of sin that this all is necessary!
Even “small sins” have deadly consequences
In the VeggieTales classic Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed, we witness an epic battle between Larry Boy and, you guessed it, a giant weed. The gargantuan, lipstick-wearing, song-singing pest grew from a tiny little plant. But that is what rumors do, isn’t it? A much darker, definitely more grown-up movie, Little Shop of Horrors, tells the story of a nerdy florist who nurtures a cute, blood-sucking little plant into a man-eating monster. Examples abound, but the message is the same: when we nurture small, seemingly harmless seeds of sin, we eventually reap a whirlwind of devastation.
In Conclusion:
▪God remains firmly in control of human history.
▪Sometimes God’s judgment comes as he allows human sinfulness to run its course.
▪The results of human depravity are personal, social, catastrophic, and widespread.
▪God shows a measure of restraint when pouring out his judgments.
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