Ref: Deeper Life Ministry, Search The Scriptures. Volume 75 – Lesson 972.
Memory Verse: “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:16,17).
Text: Revelation 6:1-17
The book of Revelation brings God’s concluding and final programmes, purposes and plans for humanity to light. The text begins with the opening of the first of seven seals of a scroll received from God by Christ. As He breaks each seal, the content of the scroll is acted out on earth and John sees and records them. The seven seals reveal the period of judgment, wrath, indignation and suffering on earth during the great tribulation after the rapture of the Church. With the rapture, the age of grace gives way to the age of wrath and vengeance of God on the world of sinners. As the seals are broken, a series of devastating judgments are released on rebels on earth and this gradually reclaims the earth for Christ, the rightful Owner. The impact of these judgments and wrath shall be universal, as sin and all wickedness shall be severely punished.
POINT 1: THE ANTICHRIST REVEALED AT THE GREAT TRIBULATION.
Revelation 6:1,2; 13:1-18; Daniel 7:7,8,19-21; 8:9-14; 9:24-27; 11:21-32; Matthew 24:24,25,29; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18.
When Christ opened the first seal, it revealed a “white horse” and a rider with “a bow” and “a crown”. This personality is not Christ. Our Lord is seen on a “white horse” with “a sharp sword” out of His mouth and “many crowns” on His head in Revelation 19:11-16. The personality in the text is obviously the false christ and Antichrist. Since white horse is a symbol of peace, the Antichrist will disguise as a man of peace. He shall use deceit to foster transient peace among enemy nations and obtain his objectives by flattery and falsehood; “he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Daniel 11:21). He will aim at peace, security and unification in the whole world. Also, the rider had “a bow” without an arrow. Without shooting an arrow, the personality on the horse won victory as “he went forth conquering and to conquer”. This implies that his evil exploits shall not be by war but by craft and deception. “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast…” (Revelation 13:14). The great systems of religion in the world will give him full support and play a major role in the unification and realization of false world-wide peace. This great deceiver will also enter into a treaty with the Jewish nation. For a while, he will act like a man of peace, a saviour of the world but at the end of three and a half years, he will break the agreement and begin to afflict Israel (Revelation 11:2; 13:5). The Scripture reveals the Antichrist as a dreadful, terrible, strong and destructive personality (Daniel 7:7). As the central figure during the great tribulation, he shall make war with the saints and prevail against them (Daniel 7:21). He will destroy all who oppose his dictatorial rule. He shall cause craft to prosper; all his programmes of economic recovery and growth are aimed at deceiving the entire world to accept his rule. Nonetheless, corruption, falsehood and idolatry shall be institutionalized. As an evil genius inspired by Satan, he shall not be satisfied with worldly titles but shall proclaim himself as god, demanding worship. This will lead to breaking of his treaty with Israel at the middle of the great tribulation and defiling of their temple by setting up what is known as “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:21-32). Israel will be greatly afflicted and many will be killed. The Antichrist shall not accept verbal worship and submission; he shall compel all on the earth to take his mark (666) on their foreheads and on their hands to ascertain their submission to his rule (Revelation 13:16-18).
POINT 2: ASTRONOMICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF DIVINE WRATH
Revelation 6:3-14; 2 Chronicles 15:5,6; Zechariah 6:1-3; Isaiah 13:9-13; Jeremiah 4:19-29; Ezekiel 32:7-9; Luke 21:22,25,26; Matthew 24:6,7,21,22,29; Revelation 7:9,13-15; 17:6; Matthew 24:9-14; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19.
“And when he had opened the second seal… 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” (Revelation 6:3,4). As the second seal is opened, a red horse charges forth, the rider is given a great sword and power to take peace from the earth. The false peace on earth during the first seal is now taken away and people begin to “kill one another”. Red is the colour of blood. The red horseman will bathe the earth in blood. This personality depicts warfare and outbreak of hostilities as “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”. There will be international as well as civil wars. All the wars ever fought in human history, their casualties and other multiple holocausts till date will be totally eclipsed by the destruction and devastation on earth during this period. The anarchy and chaos will resemble events in the days of Asa, king of Israel when “there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in… nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity” (2 Chronicles 15:5,6). The third seal is opened and a black horse and a man with a pair of balances in his hand were seen. The black horse is a symbol of famine, hunger, poverty, death and destruction (Lamentations 5:10; Revelation 6:5). Famine is one of the consequences of war. The world-wide war of the second seal will hinder cultivation and food production and result in famine and rationing, measuring or weighing of food (Leviticus 26:26). This judgment will affect food supply and expose the world to untold suffering. The severity of this famine will exceed that of the days of Joseph when all nations famished and trooped to Egypt for food supply (Genesis 41:54-57). The fourth seal is broken and there is carnage and death of a quarter of the world’s population. Here, “a pale horse” appears and the rider, named “death” is followed closely by Hell to claim the victims. The messengers of death during this period will be the sword, hunger, pestilence, or terrible diseases, and the beasts of the earth. The time of the world-wide tribulation on earth will be an awful time to live in the world. Death will claim one quarter of the world’s population during the period of this fourth seal alone which falls within the first three and half years of the great tribulation. People will die terrible, painful and violent deaths within a short time! Men’s hearts will fail them for fear of things that are coming upon the earth at this time (Luke 21:26). As the fifth seal is opened, John saw “the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held”. These martyrs are those who would lose their lives during the period of the first four seals, that is, in the first half of the great tribulation. Persecution will increase with greater intensity and many more saints would be killed during the last half of the tribulation (Revelation 6:11). The persecution will be official and politically authorised, leading to a massive worldwide slaughter of those who get converted to Christ and remain faithful to Him. Joyfully, however, the souls of the martyred saints will be received in heaven by God. Being holy and true, these saints in heaven pray and petition that God will keep His promise to “judge and avenge [their] blood on them that dwell on the earth?” These martyred saints are rewarded and clothed with white robes, emblem of dignity, purity, honour and divine approval of their lives and testimony (Revelation 7:9-14; 14:13; Isaiah 26:20,21; Jeremiah 51:33; Job 3:17,18; Hebrews 4:9-11; Matthew 5:10-12). To their plea for vengeance and vindication, they were told that they must wait “a little season,” a short time, until the number of martyrs like them would be completed. Then, God would act and His wrath would be poured out on the Christ-rejecting, wicked world who hate and kill righteous, holy, faithful saints of God. “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake… For the great day of his wrath is come” (Revelation 6:12,17). All the first five terrible events following the opening of the first five seals involved human and Satan’s agencies but the terrifying events attending the breaking of the sixth seal come through the acts of God’s power and authority alone at the second half of the great tribulation. Then, God’s wrath comes without any mercy on those who accept and follow the Antichrist (Isaiah 13:9-13; Joel 2:10,11,30,31; Jeremiah 4:2329; Isaiah 34:4,8; Ezekiel 32:7-9; Luke 21:22,25,26; Matthew 24:21,22,29; Revelation 16:18-21; 2 Peter 3:10-14). There had been some earthquakes in the first half of the great tribulation, referred to by Christ as ‘‘the beginning of sorrows’’ (Matthew 24:4-8). The great earthquake of the sixth seal will be a greater shaking of the earth that will affect everything in the universe – the sun, the moon, the stars, the sky, the mountains and the islands (Isaiah 29:6; Haggai 2:6,7). The shaking of the earth will affect every continent and every country. Volcanic eruptions will cloud the skies; the sun will become black and will not give any light; the moon will become blood-red. Power stations for artificial lights will be destroyed. Stars like great balls of fire will be falling on the earth in massive showers to unleash death and destruction of lives and property. Added to these frightening judgments are the facts that “the heaven” or the sky will depart as a “scroll” that is rolled together and “every mountain and island” that can be seen now will move out of their places. There will be total chaos and confusion as people run helter-skelter for their lives from the scenes of these catastrophes. But “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” (Hebrews 2:3). The only way to escape the wrath to come is to repent of all sins and receive Christ as Lord and Saviour.
POINT 3: AWFUL EXECUTION OF DIVINE JUDGMENT ON UNREPENTANT SOULS.
Revelation 6:15-17; Exodus 14:24,25; 1 Samuel 6:19,20; Hosea 10:8; Zephaniah 1:14-18; Joel 2:1,2,11; Psalm 76:7,8
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:15,16). All classes of people – the high and the low, the great and the small, the elites and the common people – will feel the fury of God’s wrath and will be scared to death (Revelation 6:15,16; 9:20,21; 16:18-21). They will try to find refuge in the rocks of the mountains but as “every mountain and island” become affected and start moving out of place, they suddenly discover to their dismay that there is no hiding place from the wrath of God. The prophets and Christ prophesied of these future judgment (Isaiah 2:10,19-21; Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30). There will be no misunderstanding regarding the source of the terrors; all people will recognize and confess that it is “the wrath of the Lamb” and that “the great day of his wrath is come”. Then, Christ the Justifier who appeases the wrath of God will become the wrathful Judge of unrepentant sinners. To escape judgment, God invites all sinners to “come now” for reconciliation and salvation through repentance from sin and faith in Christ (Isaiah 1:18; 55:6). He commands believers to abide and persevere in holiness and soul-winning till the end so as to qualify for rapture and eternal rewards in heaven.
Question 1: Briefly describe the events of the period of the great tribulation.
Question 2: How is the rider of the white horse different from Christ?
Question 3: Explain the character and conduct of the Antichrist during the great tribulation.
Question 4: Outline the events from the breaking of the second to the sixth seal and their implications for post-rapture inhabitants of the earth.
Question 5: How can sinners and backsliders escape divine wrath during the great tribulation?