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The Seals January 4, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Revelation 6.

Summary: In this passage, John observes God the Son opening six of the seven seals for the scroll that He has received from His Father. When He opens the first four seals, four horses and their riders appear; they are harbingers of:

  • conquest
  • violence and murder
  • famine
  • plagues and death.

When He opens the fifth seal, God reassures martyred believers that He will avenge their deaths. In particular, He displays His justice and His wrath when He opens the sixth seal.

Thoughts: One could assert that verses 9-11 are the focus of this passage, as John’s original audience endured intense persecution due to their faith. These verses assure them that even if they lose their lives for the sake of Christ, He will avenge their deaths and reward them – in His timing – for their faithfulness. Perhaps modern-day believers – especially those in countries that outlaw Christianity – can also draw strength from these verses. Christians around the world are regularly persecuted, and we wonder if God cares about us in the midst of our suffering. We ask Him, “why don’t you intervene and protect your children from these attacks?” Yet these verses remind us that God is our “Sovereign Lord, holy and true;” thus, we are called to wait patiently for Him to demonstrate His sovereignty in His timing.

Interpreting the concepts in this book can be a tricky exercise; for example, consider the following sidebar from my NIV Study Bible regarding verse 2:

The three riders the conqueror is grouped with here – violence, famine and death – are evil and brutal in their impact. So it is not likely this conquering rider on a white horse is the same as the one in 19:11-21, which is clearly a reference to Christ.

Now consider the following thoughts of Henry on this verse:

The Lord Jesus appears and is riding a white horse. White horses are not usually used in war, as they make their riders such an obvious target for the enemy. But our Lord Redeemer was certain about victory and a glorious triumph. He rides on a white horse of a pure but despised Gospel, with great swiftness throughout the world.

Perhaps this example lends further support to the approach of my former pastor when He interprets Scripture; in particular, he focuses on “authorial intent”; for each book, he seeks to determine how the original audience would have understood it. This approach certainly has its merits; in particular, I am curious as to how John intended his readers to view this white horse and its rider. Was the rider meant to represent Christ, or was he meant to represent some other figure?

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