Revelation 6:1-11

1st Seal, Christ Jesus the Conqueror conquers with a bow & is crowned! Rev. 19:11

2nd Seal, Physical wars do not bring a Conqueror but the damage is inflicted with the sword.

3rd Seal, Economic hardship bringing near destruction is inevitable, Ezekiel 4:16-17, 5:16

4th Seal, Physical death may affect the church but can not win, Ezekiel 14:12-23.

5th Seal, Martyred saints recognized their victory and the saints left on earth suffer but would know it was temporary and be eventually halted.

“Come” v1,3,5,7, Each of the four living creatures pronounce this command, implying that John would be personally involved or touched by what these seals reveal. But the 5th seal and onwards do not have a “come” command, they hold details that the churches would live through, but not necessarily John. He didn’t suffer martyrdom as mentioned in the 5th seal, and implied by Jesus, John 21:21-24. The word “come” should alert us to the personal experience John would have in the will of God in these seals. When God says “come” from any passage we should take it personally. Jesus has asked all of to “come” in Mat. 11:28 for rest. We should “come” in Matthew 16:24 for discipleship. Rest is for gaining strength to fight in overcoming evil with good, and discipleship is for spiritual warfare, not academic exercise. We can not come into our own experience of spiritual maturity without exercising faith in “going”, Matthew 28:19.

“had a bow & crown given to him” v2. The Lamb opens all the seals and is responsible for controlling what happens. When the white horse appears, the rider is given a “stephanos” crown owning victory. Who gives him this crown? Later in Rev. 19:12 he wears a royal “diadema” crown. A mounted archer would remind every first century reader of the Parthian army, and they played a big role in the demise of the Roman Empire. The Emperor Domitian (81-96AD) failed to negotiate treaties with King Vologaesus of Parthia, as a result, Domitian’s head valet named Parthenius and a man named Stephanus betrayed him and arranged his assassination. Might this be a surreptitious way of prophesying the end of the reigning Emperor which would turn out to be one of the persecutors of Christianity? A fresh series of conflicts began in the 2nd century AD, during which the Romans consistently held the upper hand over Parthia. The Emperor Trajan invaded Armenia and Mesopotamia during 114 and 115 and annexed them as Roman provinces. He captured the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon, before sailing downriver to the Persian Gulf. However, uprisings erupted in 115 AD in the occupied Parthian territories, while a major Jewish revolt broke out in Roman territory, severely stretching Roman military resources. Parthian forces attacked key Roman positions, and the Roman garrisons at Seleucia, Nisibis and Edessa were expelled by the local inhabitants. Trajan subdued the rebels in Mesopotamia, but having installed the Parthian prince Parthamaspates on the throne as a client ruler, he withdrew his armies and returned to Syria. Trajan died in 117, before he was able to consolidate Roman control over the Parthian provinces. Trajan’s Parthian War initiated a shift of emphasis in the grand strategy of the Roman empire. The persecution of Christians culminated with Diocletian and Galerius at the end of the third and beginning of the 4th century. Their anti-Christian actions, considered the largest, were to be the last major Roman persecution, as Constantine the Great soon came into power and in 313 legalized Christianity. But it was not until Theodosius I in the latter 4th century that Christianity would became the official religion of the Roman Empire. We win, they lose!

“a quart of wheat for a denarius…do not harm the oil & wine” v6. This 3rd seal with it’s rider with scales on a black horse would represent the demise of the Roman economy. They may love their luxuries, but the basics like grain would suffer scarcity that brought it at eight times the normal price, as pestilence & famine took toll on agriculture.

“how long before you will judge and avenge our blood” v10, The Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in 313, and it later became the state religion in 380. These decrees from Emperor Constantine (307-326AD) ended centuries of persecution, but they also eroded the traditional Roman values system. Christianity displaced the polytheistic Roman religion, which viewed the emperor as having a divine status, and also shifted focus away from the glory of the state and onto the sole Deity in Jesus Christ.

“until the number of their fellow servants & brothers were complete” v11, White garments for the faithful in this horrendous persecution meant that no matter what happened, Christ counted them holy & pure, royal & priestly. Everything they did in this suffering was a sacrifice for the complete establishment of the church, glorifying God, Colossians 1:24.

Revelation 5

“written within and on the back” v1, The scroll represents the full will of God concerning the 7 churches future. Their persecution is to be faced in the same way as our persecution. In Rev. 10, there is another book representing what Ezekiel prophesies, but here in Chapter 5 this is not Ezekiel’s book, that will come later. This scroll is sealed with 7 seals, showing it’s immediate relation to the church’s fulfillment, Daniel 12:4-9.

“who is worthy” v2, this is the reason why John weeps. It is not a matter of power to open the scroll but a matter of someone being responsible for the control & development of what is to follow, whoever steps forward is clearly involved in a decisive role. Without a worthy person, everyone and everything else is doomed. The destiny of the churches is in the hands of whoever is found worthy. God the Father on the throne is worthy, but He has not and can not be in the hearts of those who are suffering. Jesus has, but isn’t in the scene as of yet.

“no one…under the earth” v3, even past prophets from the grave, like Moses, Samuel or Elijah are not worthy. Not even the Might Angel issuing the question feels worthy. However, Jesus the victorious resurrection is not seen yet, but in John’s heart he knows Jesus should be there.

“weep not, behold the Lion” v5, We have good reason to find a cause to rejoice. Jesus said in this world we have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”, Jn. 16:33. Indeed we weep with those who weep but we do not sorrow as those who have no hope, 1Thes. 4;13. Our pain in any kind of trial or temptation is known by Jesus and His Spirit that resides in us, Col. 1:24. “the Root of David”, Jesus came from David and was of the Tribe of Judah, Hebrews 7:14, and he was declared to be the Son of God from the seed of David, Romans 1:3-4. He claimed to have authority over the house of David, Rev. 3:7. The significance of this lay in the fact that Jesus is King of kings then and now, until the time is fulfilled and He delivers His Kingdom to the Father, 1st Cor. 15:24.

“A Lamb standing as if slain” v6, Literally the marks of slaughter, but He was alive & standing. “7 horns, 7 eyes, 7 Spirits of God, representing all-sufficient working power and presence. With this reality amongst the churches, we must face the war of Satan’s terrorism and overcome evil with good. In 2nd Chron. 16:8-9 Israel failed, but we can succeed, Mat. 28:18.

“harps and golden bowls of incense” v8. The prayers and praise of Christians is represented by harps & bowls because their pleas are both emotional, pleasing and a logical sacrifice, see 1st Corinthians 14:13-15 & Hebrews 13:15. We will see more of the harps and bowls of incense, Rev. 15:2. Great comfort comes from the fact that God hears and smells our praise & prayers like beautiful music and wonderful aromas, even when we are hurting in trials.

“Sang a new song” v9, This is reminiscent of the Song of Moses and may be compared to Rev. 15:3-4. Except here in 5:9-10 the emphasis is redemption, whereas back in Exodus 15:1-18 the emphasis is victory in deliverance, here the victory is the Lamb’s deliverance through the punishment for sin, triumphing over death. Love for his creation was the only way to bring about salvation and transform sinners into a Kingdom of Priests pronounced in v10, remember Ex. 19:5-6 & 1st Peter 2:9. No matter what this priesthood must sacrifice they will be praising Jesus for their victory of deliverance. No matter the costly casualties, we win and sing about it. In Mat. 21:43 Jesus claimed that physical Israel would lose the Kingdom and true spiritual Israel would be people that bore the Kingdom’s fruit.

“Many Angels” v11, an innumerable mighty host is for us, who can be against us? All the angels know how factual 1st John 4:4 really is. Do we believe it?

“Every Created Thing” v13, Total submission of the entire creation in praise, Hebrews 1:3, 11:3, Col. 1:17 & Romans 8:18-22. Do you receive courage from this passage, or does it instill fear?

Revelation 4:1-11

“a door open in Heaven”, v1, Be thankful it is open, Jesus said, he was the door of the sheep, John 10:9. Later as John’s focus in the vision goes past the door, it’s meaning will be portrayed by the Lamb, 5:6. The open door is open access to the power and privileges of Him who is on the throne. The Throne which rules our life is not in Italy, Israel or anywhere else on earth, but now Christ rules from the sanctified human heart enthroned.

“the first voice…like a trumpet” Compared to the thunderous volume of a huge waterfall, this is alarming, “I will show you what must take place after these things”, Now that John has written the 7 letters to 7 churches dictated by Jesus the Son of Man, he now has the privilege of seeing what is about to happen in the lifetime of the churches he just wrote to. The Trumpet voice is reminiscent of being called to arms, Ex. 19:5-21.

“Immediately I was in the Spirit and behold a throne”, v2, This throne is mentioned 38 times in the Revelation. The purpose is to make sure persecuted Christians are assured of who is in control, and that will not change, no matter how bad the pain is. Paul tells Christians that we are citizens of Heaven, we are placed in Christ in the Heavenly places and our life now is in Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Throne, Col. 3;1-3, Eph. 2:6 & Php. 3:20. There is an aspect where a Christians life should be lived in Heaven right now, Rev. 13:6. The Throne in Revelation stands for the reign of God in our heart, Luke 17:21. God’s throne in the Old Testament is established in the Temple, Ezk. 43:1-7. In the new covenant it is to be established in the Christians heart, 1st Cor. 6:19. In the Revelation we see the Throne amongst the new Jerusalem, Rev. 21:22-22:1 Are you there?

“Jasper, Sardius, and a Rainbow” v3. jasper was on the High Priests Ephod. The word for this gem means in Hebrew, “glittering” it is found in various colors but it is also known to be the clearest of the quartz family of stones. In Revelation 21:11, it’s “clear as crystal”, and emblematic of the holy glory of God. Sardius or Carnelian is only found red in color and obviously signifies loving sacrifice which gives blood. The rainbow with an emerald appearance signifies an effect of God on the Thorne, LIFE. This rainbow is not a physical one, but a spiritual circular one. This means even though your physical life seems to be disappearing, at the same time your spiritual life is renewed and gaining strength for deliverance! BTW, in collegiate artwork there are 7 main shades of green, Chartreuse, Sage, Lime, Olive, Emerald, Pear, Shamrock.

“24 Elders” v4, They are royal winners, their crowns are signifying victory after winning a race. Their white garments are indicative of their righteous deeds, Rev. 19:8. What makes them royal? There were Jewish priests from the Babylonian captivity which were crowned in Zech. 6:9-15, which was a sure indication of a royal priesthood in God’s heart, a shadow of our reality in the church. Why 24? There are 24 orders of Priests in the Old Testament, 1st Chronicles 24:7-18. Therefore this is representative of the Saints ourself. We are in His presence and we are more than conquerors, Romans 8:37. We are the royal priests in 1st Peter 2:9 & Revelation 4:4. The crowns and torches would highlight yellow, the sea in v6 would highlight blue, the One on the throne would highlight red, the rainbow would highlight green, now try to envision the spectrum of color in this vision.

“Seven Lamps…Seven Spirits” v5, These lamps are torches in the Greek language from Rev. 1:4 and are different from the Lampstands representing the Churches in 1:20. The closeness in symbols shows us clearly that we are to be supporting the light from the Spirit of Christ in our daily lifestyle. The very essence of worship is to live like the One your praising. There are two possible interpretations on the 7 Spirits, it could be the perfect work of the Spirit, or it could be the perfect presence of the Spirit, or maybe both?

“Four Living Creatures” v6 The angelic Cherubim are guarding judges of all who enter or come near the presence of God. Ezekiel envisions God using these creatures as a form of transporting his judgment and glory in Ezk 1:& 10. On the subject of God’s transport, the Psalmist speaks clearly, God rides on the Cherubs, Psalm 18:10. There is a lion (fierce predatory), a bull-calf or ox (powerful fury) an eagle (precise justice), a man (wise intellect) which are all ready to deliver God’s wrath if anything threatens His holiness.

“Worthy Are You” v11, Everything around the throne finds Him upon it, as worthy of praise, defense and sacrifice. Do we feel like God is worth defending and making sacrifices for? Do we only praise Him on Sunday?