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The First Seal

Belshazzar, the king, was weighed in the balances and was found deficient. In our darkness we realize our need of light! Christ has come to be our light, our life, our sufficiency, our truth, our wisdom and our righteousness! Let's remember that this is how the process of redemption is worked out in us! He is able to save us to the uttermost; He is able to free us from all our self-adoration - from all the lusting that is inherent in the self-life!

A denarius was a day's wage. So for one day's wage one man could buy enough to feed himself. A quart of wheat would just about feed you for a day. Or if you wanted more, you could buy three quarts of barley for a denarius. Barley wasn't as fine as wheat. You could feed three people for a day's wage if necessary.

The oil and the wine were the luxury items. Commentaries » Revelation 6

There is enough of everything if you have the money to buy it. That's not famine! Now let's look at the symbolism. The feasts that the Israelites were to celebrate give us light on this subject. Wheat always symbolizes Passover, and barley, Pentecost; the oil symbolizes the anointing, the wine symbolizes revelation of the word of God; and a denarius, one day's wage. A wage represents self-effort. So what are we warned against? We are warned against trying to earn spiritual food through intellectual pursuit and self-endeavor.

All self-effort hurts the anointing and the revelation of who Christ is! Spirituality is received by revelation - by listening to the Spirit, believing Him and obeying Him. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. In spite of God's clear directives, leaders are continually admonishing us to apply self-effort. We are strongly advised to try to do better, to be more zealous and to work harder. This is self-effort.

Jesus said that the work of God consists of believing in Him. Christ in us is the anointing! So all who are in Christ, are equal. When people rank themselves higher than others because of their anointing or gifting, they are rejecting the revelation of who Christ is in all of us.

Those who only interpret the scriptures in the natural realm, and scoff at those who are receiving spiritual revelation, are harming the oil and the wine! The black horse rides to do away with all these evils in our lives! The black horse was followed by an ashen horse. I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

John looked and beheld a further revelation of God's wonderful redemption by seeing an ashen horse. The Logos Library System equates this greenish color as being verdant, i. Green symbolizes life. A greenish horse - a little life, but not much. Though it looks like life, it really isn't, because the rider's name is Death. Hades, or the grave, accompanies him as a disciple accompanies his teacher. That which is dead has to be put away; it needs to be buried. Romans tells us that the carnal mind is death. Every carnal mind is death and therefore needs to be buried.

Nothing is allowed to remain. Notice that this horse's commission is to the fourth part of the earth. This tells us that the previous three horses have accomplished their purpose for our redemption. However, the victory over the natural mind is not fully complete until the ashen horse and rider have accomplished their work. Their work is the final blow to the mind's control over us. This control is the most difficult to overcome, but God knows exactly how to achieve its death. This death does not refer to the death of the physical body.

Just as Christ died to sin, so we have to die to sin! We dislike the thought of death, but death is necessary to bring forth life! The grain of wheat has to die to generate life. In Hebrews we read that Christ Himself had to die that "through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death. Death entered this world as a negative thing. Then Christ came and used the negative to free us from death. He uses death to free us from death. For example, the death of the grain of wheat becomes the basis for new life to spring up.

When we are dead to sin, sin can no longer fascinate us, and we are freed from our bondage to sin. Our death to sin is the foundation for being freed from sin. Just trying to get rid of a certain sin is not enough; we need to die to the desire or fascination that we have for it.

The sins that still cling to us show us that our ego has not lost all its power over us. Only our death to our ego or self can bring us into the fullness of Christ's life! Death to sin frees us from every form of fascination we used to have for sin. When Jesus was tempted to yield to the desires of the flesh, He used the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, to overcome the temptation.

Overcoming temptation is the process by which we die to sin. Jesus died to every desire of the flesh. Read Romans , and recognize the importance of our death to sin! The horseman of the ashen horse was given authority to get rid of the carnal mind's deceptive authority and power over us, and to use whatever means necessary to do the job. One of the things he did was to bring enemies into our lives - enemies who used the sword that was used in warfare. What a battle takes place because our natural mind wants to remain in control! To do away with the control of the natural mind we need both famine and pestilence, because both produce death.

A famine symbolizes intense hunger because our natural need for food is not being satisfied. When difficult times come in our spiritual walk, we tend to blame the enemy, but God has us in this situation so we hunger afresh for Him. We need to have a hunger for Christ that is only satisfied with an intimate relationship with Him - not merely messages about Him.

He is the truth, and only truth can satisfy us! Only when we have that intense hunger for Christ that is symbolized by famine, will we be able to overcome every thought and every imagination that is not from Him! The wild beast of the earth is the carnal nature of man. It is the carnal nature within humanity that rises up against the mind of Christ within believers. We need every form of opposition to make sure that our reliance is on the Lord and not on our own resources!

As these troubles are experienced, Christians are to know that this is happening because the Lamb is breaking the seals. He is working out His purpose in our lives in the midst of a world of sin. He is changing us into His image! As His will is being worked out in our lives, we begin to understand the purpose of all the difficulties we encounter when the scroll is opened and unscrolled.

The Lamb has control!


These principles unlock the mystery of God's dealings with us. The imagery here is very vivid - the souls are under the altar. Where is this altar? We know that there is no need for an altar in heaven. If we picture this altar like the altar we have in churches, we have a wrong image of this scene. In the tabernacle there were two altars - the brazen altar and the altar of incense. The altar under discussion is the brazen altar where the animals were killed, for no blood was ever shed on the altar of incense.

This brazen altar had a grating of bronze so that the blood could run down underneath the altar. In Lev. John saw that the souls of those who had been slain were underneath the altar. These are the people who have been slain or sacrificed because of the word of God. We are to know that if we preach the truth, we will be slain - we will become a sacrifice. People will say evil things about us and slay us with words and with demeaning attitudes. Those who proclaim truth and live it, have to be dead to every form of evil! This portrays our death to sin.

These are people who are not led by the dictates of man, but by the still small voice of the Holy Spirit! Let's remember that this is the fifth seal - and five is the number of grace. Here we see people who have become a living sacrifice, yet it almost sounds as though they can hardly wait until God pours out His wrath on the evildoers. That does not sound Christ-like, does it? Yet we can identify with that, can't we? If this is our attitude it shows that we still need more grace worked into us! We may have a lot of grace in some areas but not in others.

How we need to come into a full submission to Him and to His timing! However, what are the people under the altar really saying? This scene does not take place in heaven. It portrays what takes place on earth when we proclaim the truth. The fact that these people are under the altar, yet crying out with a loud voice, tells us that they are a living sacrifice! Romans tells us that we are to present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice. In Rev.

We need to understand that the carnal mind is always opposed to the spiritual mind! So the ones under the altar are the Christians who are living out of the mind of Christ, and they are being put to death sacrificed by the Christians who are still ruled by their carnal mind and by the multitudes who have no knowledge of God.

This was exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ. He lived truth and spoke truth, yet how the religious establishment hated Him! The brightness of His truth outshone their legalities. Their hate was only satisfied by the most inhuman death possible! Hate has no compassion. Similarly, all who speak truth will be hated. It has nothing to do with us; it is the Christ in us whom they hate. A profound truth is involved in this question. God must judge evil because He is good! His goodness requires justice! If God smiled at sin, He would not be holy and just.

It is man's misguided ego that makes him think he can get away with his sinful acts. Lies have become his truth! Judgment is necessary so that humanity can be redeemed. God's judgments are always redemptive. His judgments are based on truth; they are necessary, for otherwise humanity would not recognize the error of its ways.

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So the question is, "How long, O Lord? How long will it be until humanity recognizes that sin does not have the last word? In the Old Testament's account of King Saul's activities, the beastly nature of humanity is exemplified by Doeg, the Edomite. After King Saul was told that the priests had helped David to escape, he ordered the soldiers to kill the priests.

When they refused to do so, Doeg volunteered his services. He mercilessly killed 85 priests and butchered all who lived in the city of Nob, the city of the priests - women, children, infants, oxen, donkeys and sheep! Only one priest, Abiathar, escaped. When David heard about this terrible tragedy, he wrote Psalm 52, and asked, "Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?

How can he be so foolish? Newspapers, books, radio and television are filled with the frightening unrighteous deeds of our society and of our governments. And our hearts cry out, "How long, O Lord, until the world will know that the Lamb is reigning? White robes, representing the righteousness of Jesus Christ, were given to all who were under the altar.

The fact that they were under the altar means that they had already submitted to being sacrificed. Just as Jesus willingly gave His life to be sacrificed, so should we! God has a plan, and everything is subject to that plan.

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When the time was fulfilled, God sent His Son, and when the time is fulfilled, the revelation of Christ's righteous reign will take place. This is the message the Lord is giving us. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Six is the number of man. Man was formed on the sixth day; the seventh day was a day of rest. So the sixth day is a workday, but it brings us to the seventh day, the day of rest. The opening of the sixth seal sets off a great earthquake! Earthquakes bring change; there was an earthquake when Jesus died, and one when He was resurrected!

These two earthquakes two being the number of witness were a witness that the old order was passing away and a new order was being established! These shakings are necessary to loose us from our old order. The power that traditions have exerted over us, has to be removed! All our bondage to the earthly realm has to be broken! We need to cast down every imagination and every thought that would keep us from being obedient to Christ!

After a great earthquake it was as though there was a sudden complete eclipse of the sun, the full moon turned into the color of blood, and the whole starry heavens caved in! Then the whole sky split apart, and it was rolled up like a scroll! What a monumental, overwhelming vision John saw! Obviously this is not literal. It just couldn't be! Many of the stars are much bigger than the earth, so how could they fall to the earth?

How could any life survive such a cataclysmic event? What does this catastrophic event symbolize? The sun, moon and stars give us our natural light, so they represent natural knowledge. Suddenly all confidence in man's natural thinking and ability caves in! The stars falling from heaven symbolize the fact that the trusted leaders have failed. They have fallen from their lofty positions! No one has the answer - the sun, the great luminary, has turned black! The moon looks like blood - the only light they have points to a bloody ending!

The stars fall "as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The fig tree symbolizes Israel, and Israel foreshadows the church. The unripe figs that are cast down by a mighty wind are the ones that do not come to maturity.

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God sends this wind so that a sifting can take place. We believe this comparison is given so we will understand that this illustrates a spiritual condition. The church has been trying to produce spiritual fruit from natural knowledge. It is commonly assumed that the souls John sees under the altar v The prayer of these "souls" is like an accusing question How long After a great earthquake the sun turns black and the moon red like blood, the stars fall from the sky, the sky itself crumples like a piece of paper, the mountains slide into the valleys and islands sink into the ocean It has become almost a commonplace to view chapter 7 as an "interlude" or "parenthesis" in the progressive opening of the seals for example, Wall , as if John were able to step out of the sequence after and back into it again in , when the seventh seal is opened Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy.

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