Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #340 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Revelation 6 today and our focus is on Who are the Four Horsemen in Revelation? How Does the End Times Begin? What Does The Scroll in Revelation Represent? What are the Seals on the Scroll in Revelation? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Victoria, Australia, Tamil Nadu, India, Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Saskatchewan, Canada, Monterey, California, Omaha, Nebraska, Hartford, Connecticut, Kansas City, Missouri, Battle Creek, Michigan, Portland, Oregon, Wilmington, Delaware, Dayton, Ohio, and Tyler, Texas. Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Revelation is laden with symbolic language that is not alway easy to understand. In our last chapter John was weeping because there was in Heaven a scroll – sealed with seven seals – that nobody on Heaven or Earth could open. Wonderfully, a Lamb who looked like it had been killed, but was still alive – Jesus – stepped forward and was found to be able to open the scroll. This led to the bursting forth of praise from all corners of the creation – praise for the Lamb who was found worthy to open this mysterious scroll because this Lamb had been killed to “purchase” a people for God, and because of His death and resurrection, He alone could open the scroll. And, in our chapter today, the Lamb does open the scroll, which doesn’t immediately bring joy, but rather, judgment. The first four seals release the so-called “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.” And no, that is not a reference to Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Ole Anderson, the wrestling Four Horseman who derived their name from this passage. Who/what are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Let’s start with the easy part – they are horsemen of the Apocalypse, which probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. It sounds like a tough and scary word – one thinks of the evil Apocalypse in Marvel comics, or the scary planet Apokalips in DC comics, home of Darkseid, but the word has a much less sinister meaning: revelation/revealing/unveiling/disclosure or laying bare. The word Apocalypse, or ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis in the Greek, is actually the first word of the book of Revelation. It is the same word in Luke 2:32 describing Jesus. He is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to your people Israel.” So these are Apocalypse horsemen because they appear in John’s Apocalypse, or the book of Revelation. The first is a rider on a white horse, wearing a crown and having a bow – he is sent to conquer. The second horseman rides a fiery red horse, he wields a large sword, and takes peace away from the Earth, causing war. The third rider is on a black horse, and carries a set of scales, which probably has an economic connotation. It appears that he is bringing inflation to the world – exorbitant prices for staple foods like flour and barley, but apparently wealthier fare like oil and wine will not be inflated. Perhaps this means that the poor will be hit harder than the rich by the actions of this rider? The final rider is on a pale horse – a pale green horse, technically – a sickly color. This writer is death, and Hades follows behind him, and apparently they bring about the deaths of 1/4 of the world’s population by plagues, famine, murder/war and wild animals. In other words, these four horsemen of the Apocalypse are fearsome figures who bring the judgment of God with them onto the Earth. Each one is released when one of the seals of the scroll are loosed by the Lamb, which brings us to an important set of questions: what is this scroll and what are the seals? I believe end-times scholar Dr. George Eldon Ladd gives us a solid answer to those questions:
The easiest identification of John’s scroll is that it contains the prophecy of the end events, including both the salvation of God’s people and the judgment of the wicked. It is God’s redemptive plan for the denouement of human history, the overthrow of evil, and the gathering of a redeemed people to enjoy the blessings of God’s rule. Although John, surprisingly, does not describe the actual opening of the scroll, the breaking of the sixth seal brings us to the end of the world—the last day; and in view of the fact that the opening of the seventh seal is accompanied by no specific event like the first six, we may conclude that the contents of the scroll consist of the material in Revelation 7:1–22:21. The events accompanying the breaking of the seals are not the end itself, but the events leading up to the end, while the contents of the scroll are that complex of events, both redemptive and judicial, which will accompany the end of this world and the introduction of the world to come.
The details mentioned in connection with the scroll are all-important. The scroll, like Ezekiel’s scroll, was “written within and on the back.” This was not a common practice in the ancient world but was sometimes done; such a book was called an opisthograph. This represents the fullness of the divine foreknowledge and counsels. History will not end until the purposes of God have come to their full consummation; when God’s purposes are complete, the end will come.
Verses 2–3. The fact that the book was sealed with seven seals is not insignificant. Seven in John is the number of completeness. The scroll is completely sealed and its contents hidden from every human eye. No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. Here is a simple but profound biblical truth which cannot be overemphasized: apart from the person and redeeming work of Jesus Christ, history is an enigma. For centuries since Augustine and his City of God, a Christian view of history as having a divinely ordained goal which was inseparable from the redemptive word of Christ has colored western thought. Since the Enlightenment, many philosophers have rejected the Christian view of life, and for them history has become a problem. The evolutionary view of inevitable progress is hardly popular today. Some of our greatest minds have been prophets of doom who see nothing but darkness ahead. The problem of the meaning, purpose and goal of history has become one of the most disturbing and difficult questions of our time. The secularistic, pessimistic attitude even penetrates the thinking of Christian theologians, and one of them has written, “We cannot claim to know the end and goal of history. Therefore, the question of meaning in history has become meaningless.”1
In the face of this modern dilemma, the fact that the scroll is so tightly sealed that no human eye can read its contents is highly significant. Christ, and Christ alone, has the key to the meaning of human history. It is therefore not surprising that modern thinkers are pessimistic; apart from the victorious return of Christ, history is going nowhere.
George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), 81–82.
Bible Memory passage for the month of December: Revelation 5:12, “They said with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
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