The Seven Seals Part 2

Posted Mar 09, 2019 by Colin Nicolson in General

Recap Part 1

In part 1, we looked at Revelation 4 and 5 to get context for Revelation 6 and the seals.  In Revelation 4, we saw One sitting on a throne in heaven.  Around about the throne were seated 24 elders and before the throne were four beasts.  In chapter 5 we saw that He who was seated on the throne, had in His hand a book or scroll written on the inside and the outside and sealed with seven seals.

With regard to the book or scroll, we read this from Letter 65 – 1898.

There in His open hand lay the book, the roll of the history of God’s providences, the prophetic history of nations and the church.  Herein was contained the divine utterances, His authority, His commandments, His laws, the whole symbolic counsel of the Eternal, and the history of all ruling powers in the nations.  In symbolic language was contained in that roll the influence of every nation, tongue, and people from the beginning of earth’s history to its close.  {Lt65-1898.17}

This roll was written within and without. John says: “I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” [Verse 4.] The vision as presented to John made its impression upon his mind. The destiny of every nation was contained in that book. John was distressed at the utter inability of any human being or angelic intelligence to read the words, or even to look thereon.  {Lt65-1898.18}

We then saw that in the midst of the beasts and in the midst of the elders was a Lamb as though it had been slain and He was able to take the book from He who sat on the throne for the Lamb only was worthy to read the book.

That brought us to chapter 6 and the opening of the first seal.

Revelation 6:1, 2

6:1  And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 

6:2  And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

To find the meaning of the white horse, we went to Zechariah 6:1-5 where we saw four horses of the same colour as those in Revelation 6 and we saw in Zechariah 6:5 that These [are] the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

We looked at the word translated as “bow”.  The Greek word is toxon [G5115] meaning a bow (apparently as the simplest fabric): - bow.  The word is used only in this text in the KJV.  However, in the Septuagint and in the Apostolic Polyglot, it is used for rainbow as in Genesis 9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud.  It also is the word used for bow, the device for shooting arrows.

We saw there was a mirror principle here where either reading of the word bow as a weapon or as a rainbow representing the everlasting covenant can be taken.

We looked at the pioneer position on the rider of the white horse and saw that it represented the apostolic church and coincided with the first of the seven churches – Ephesis.

Now we will look at the remaining six seals.

Revelation 6:3, 4

6:3    And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 

6:4    And 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.

Under the first seal, the gospel was taken to the then-known world.  In writing to the Colossians, Paul said that the gospel was preached to every creature which is under heaven (Col 1:23).  However, Christ told His disciples in Matt 10:34

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

When men fail to receive the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, it invariably brings sword and bloodshed represented by the colour of the horse.  The spirituality in the church had weakened.  Stephen Haskell said this of the church at Smyrna with which the second seal corresponds:

The Spirit of Prophecy, which characterized the apostolic church, was gradually lost. This is a gift which brings the church to which it is entrusted, into the unity of the faith. When there were no longer true prophets, false teachings spread rapidly; the philosophy of the Greeks led to a false interpretation of the Scriptures, and the self-righteousness of the ancient Pharisees, so often condemned by Christ, again appeared in the midst of the church.  {1905 SNH, SSP 50.1}

There also came bloodshed.  In Revelation 2:10 it is referred to as ye shall have tribulation ten days (day for a year – 10 years).  In the second seal, the wording is that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

This is a prophecy of the ten years of pagan persecution from 303 AD to 313 AD under the emperor Diocletian when for a time it seemed that paganism would triumph.  But paganism did not triumph and Satan found another way to destroy the church.

Stephen Haskell said:

Sad as it may seem, we find the church, which for years sacrificed its life for the sake of the Gospel, beginning to compromise the truth of God. The church turned its eyes from Christ, and was allured by the world into strange paths. What Satan could not do by persecution, he accomplished by flattery.  {1905 SNH, SSP 114.1}

And so the third seal is opened.  Revelation 6:5-6

5     And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 

6     And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

If the white horse and its rider represented the purity of the apostolic church, what must the colour black represent?  This is the time of the incorporation of paganism into Christianity.  The rider has a pair of balances.  What do balances represent?  Judgment (Dan 5:27).  When people lose sight of a loving God who does not judge His children and replace Him with a God who does judge and metes out summary justice, what do those people become?  They become self-appointed judges of other people.  What spirit has now taken control of these people?

It is not the Spirit of Christ because his way is in Romans 12:10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

James 4:11, 12

11   Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of [his] brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 

12   There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

When people reject God’s law, and cease to obey it and even change it, they exalt self above the Lawgiver.  They sit upon the throne of Satan’s justice system and without mercy, they attempt to weigh men’s deeds.  This is the mystery of iniquity of which doth already work of which Paul speaks in 2 Thessalonians 2:7.  We know it because Paul has already described it in verse 4.

2 Thessalonians 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

If you judge the law of God, as James said, which is the character of God, then you are assuming the position of God and that is the mystery of iniquity.

Haskell said:

But the balances held by man are false balances; and while man is passing judgment, God, from the throne, is watching those who are being weighed, and in His infinite kindness, limits the power of the self-made judge. This judge may say "a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny;" he may, it is true, judge somewhat from outward appearances, he may weigh out the physical actions, but the Divine command is, "See thou hurt not the oil and the wine." The oil of His grace, and the wine, the emblem of the inner spiritual life, must not, and cannot be touched. {1905 SNH, SSP 115.1}

In Revelation 6:6, a voice is heard in the midst of the four beasts but it is not one of the beasts, so who is it?  Well there was someone standing in the midst of the four beasts in Revelation 5:6                  And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

This voice, which may well be the voice of Christ, allows the earthly judge to value wheat at three times the value of barley but does not allow him to hurt the oil and the wine.  In Ezekiel 45:13 we see wheat and barley being treated as equal in value.  This [is] the oblation that ye shall offer; the sixth part of an ephah of an homer of wheat, and ye shall give the sixth part of an ephah of an homer of barley.  However, the earthly judge is able to vary it but he cannot hurt the oil and the wine

We know that oil represents the Holy Spirit and wine represents doctrine.  When both are present in a person, that person is a servant of God.  This is how Mrs White used the term.  Here is one example:

Your work for years was so mingled with men’s devisings, with selfishness, [with the claim] that you were especially exalted of God, that you hurt God’s servants, the oil and the wine. You sustained men whom God could not favor.  {Lt194-1898.6}

William Miller said of the oil and the wine:

These "denote the graces of the Spirit, faith and love, and there was great danger of hurting these, under the influence of so much of a worldly spirit. And it is well attested by all historians that the prosperity of the church in this age produced the corruptions which finally terminated in the falling away, and the setting up of the anti- christian abominations." - Miller's Lectures, p. 181. {1897 UrS, DAR 437.4}

In summary, Stephen Haskell said: 

The church during the fourth and fifth centuries, began dictating to men what they should believe, and how they should worship. This was the period when Christianity was replaced by the papacy, and man was exalted as vicegerent of God on earth. {1905 SNH, SSP 115.2}

Revelation 6:7, 8

7     And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 

8     And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

This pale horse denotes an even further departure from truth than the black horse.  The colour of this horse is unnatural.  According to Strongs the meaning is pale green.  According to Thayer it can also be sandy yellow.  In Daniel and Revelation, Uriah Smith said:

The original word denotes the "pale of yellowish color" that is seen in blighted or sickly plants. A strange state of things if the professed church must be denoted by this symbol. The rider on this horse is named Death; and Hell ( , the grave) follows with him. The mortality is so great during this period that it would seem as if "the pale nations of the dead" had come upon the earth, and were following in the wake of this desolating power. The period during which this seal applies can hardly be mistaken. It must refer to the time in which the papacy bore its unrebuked, unrestrained, and persecuting rule, commencing about A.D. 538, and extending to the time when the Reformers commenced their work of exposing the corruptions of the papal systems. {1897 UrS, DAR 438.2}

And power was given unto them – power means authority.  Who gave authority to the Papacy?  In 533 AD, Justinian, Roman emperor of the Eastern kingdom, declared John, Bishop of Rome to be the head of all the holy churches.  In the Code of Justinian it was stated:

We therefore decree that the most holy Pope of the elder Rome is the first of all the priesthood, and that the most blessed Archbishop of Constantinople, the new Rome, shall hold the second rank after the holy Apostolic chair of the elder Rome.  {1897 UrS, DAR 287.2}

By the fourth part of the earth is doubtless meant the territory over which this power had jurisdiction; while the words sword, hunger, death (that is, some infliction which causes death, as exposure, torture, etc.), and beasts of the earth, are figures denoting the means by which it has put to death its martyrs, fifty million of whom, according to the lowest estimate, call for vengeance from beneath its bloody altar. {1897 UrS, DAR 438.3}

Stephen Haskell said:

The pale horse was an indication of still greater departure from the spirit of truth than the black one. Thousands have been put to death by the sword, by starvation, and by wild beasts; and what is worse than killing the body, many more have suffered spiritual death because of the hiding of the Word of Life. Whenever the church is clothed with civil power, it weighs out to mankind Christian experience. If that experience is not according to the prescribed religion, the thumbscrew and other instruments of torture are brought forth to extort confessions from the penitent. But God, even in the midst of the severest persecution, watches over every afflicted soul. {1905 SNH, SSP 116.1}

It might seem that God would have prevented such seeming cruelty during the Dark Ages; but the view given to John, shows that Christ suffered in the person of His saints. At the time of the crucifixion angels were restrained from rescuing the Saviour from His agony. It was suffered to be so for the time, that the greater glory might be seen thereafter. So in the martyrdom of the Middle Ages, and in any form of persecution, Christ identifies Himself with the sufferer, and all heaven stands ready to succor him. {1905 SNH, SSP 116.2}

Revelation 6:9-11

9     And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 

10   And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 

11   And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.

If the fourth seal is correctly placed as the period of papal persecution, then the opening of the fifth seal would coincide when the reformation began to expose the corruption of the papacy and to restrain its persecuting power.

I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.  Is this evidence of immortal souls in heaven?  No.  Firstly, John is being shown things that would happen on the earth.  Secondly, the altar must be on earth, not heaven, because those that were slain were slain on earth.

Stephen Haskell said:

The whole creation suffers because of the curse which sin has brought; and in addition to these voices, which plead for the end of all things, the blood of the martyrs is heard by the sensitive ear of Jehovah. {1905 SNH, SSP 117.2}

When asked why there is such long-suffering on the part of God, John saw the white robes of Christ's righteousness, prepared for every one who has given up life for the sake of the truth.

This inner life history, as revealed by the opening of the seals, was not for the benefit of those who lived during the period in ecclesiastical history, when it was especially applicable; for at those times the prophecies were not understood; but it is for those who live in the time of the end, especially under the sixth seal, that the wondrous love of Him who ruleth in the heavens, may be read in the events which occur. {1905 SNH, SSP 119.1}

Revelation 6:12-17

12   And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 

13   And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 

14   And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 

15   And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 

16   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: 

17   For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Notice the change in language in the 6th seal.  The language of the previous seals was clearly figurative whereas this is very literal.  What is the reason?  One possibility is that it was under this seal that the prophetic book of Daniel was unsealed and prophetic time ceased.  It was under this seal that the knowledge of God’s word was greatly increased.  This seal covers history until the second coming, but when did it start?

The first event which is literal, applying Miller’s rules, is a great earthquake.  This was accepted by our pioneers to be the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.  It was followed by the darkening of the sun on May 19, 1780 and the moon had the appearance of blood that night on the few occasions it was visible in what was otherwise an abnormally dark night.  The falling stars happened on November 13, 1833.

Other scriptures:

Joel 3:15   The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

Isaiah 13:10                For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Amos 8:9  And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

This is strong evidence for the placing of the commencement of the 6th seal. The rest of the events under this seal are related to the very end and have not happened yet.

Revelation 8:1  And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

This is the second coming.

God's dwelling place is the center of life and the scene of constant activity. Music ever echoes from the vaults of heaven, and choruses composed of ten thousand times ten thousand of angel voices, sing the praises of the Lamb and of Him who sitteth on the throne. When the little company on earth are prepared, the sealing angel speeds back to heaven with the message that the work is done. Christ in the sanctuary above, lays aside His priestly robes, and the Lamb appears as the King of kings. Angel leaders marshal the hosts of heaven. The throne of Omnipotence is moved. God accompanies His Son to earth. Attended by myriads of angels, the Rulers of heaven and earth leave heaven empty, drawn earthward by the faithful ones whose hearts have become the abiding place of His eternal Spirit. The time for the fulfillment of the promise of the Saviour, has come. He said, "It is expedient for you that I go away." "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Never before has there been such a scene. {1905 SNH, SSP 142.1}

This is the cause of the silence in heaven. Those who have been torn asunder by the ruthless hand of death, meet in the air around their Deliverer. Some had been burned at the stake; others had perished in dungeons; others had been buried in the sea. Happy families, rent asunder by the cruel hand of death, are now united around Christ. Husbands and wives, parted in this life, who slept in Jesus, meet at the voice of Him who died for them. Oh, what a meeting that will be! Friends will recognize friends. All will unite in thanksgiving and praise to Him who died and rose again, and has now come to give them everlasting rest and peace. The cruel monster death has no power over them. {1905 SNH, SSP 143.1}