Things to Come, Lesson 16, The Great Tribulation, Part 4,
We have been witness by the revelation of scripture to the opening of the first and second seals of the 7 seal book that no man could open except our Lord Jesus Christ.
This book, kept from Daniel but opened to John is a summary of what is to come during what is known to us as the Tribulation.
Most of the seals reveal what takes place in the last three and a half years of Danielís prophesied seventieth week, which our Lord referred to as Great Tribulation.
It is history written in advance for God knows the end from the beginning.
Remember the rider on Horse number one, a white horse, brought peace to the earth without war.
It was the peace which the earth seeks, not the peace which Jesus gave his disciples and recorded in:
John 14:27, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
It is interesting that in all Godís dealings he deals with us as individuals.
The worldís dealings are always with groups.
But peace can only come individual by individual.
Now remember the rider on Horse number two, a red horse, to whom power was given to take peace from the earth.
This is the period of blood and sword where men rise up against men and kill one another.
This begins after the three and a half year period of peace and begins the period of great tribulation.
So two seals have been opened after John was invited to "Come and see."
Again the invitation to "Come and see" is extended for John to witness what the opening of the third seal will reveal.
THE THIRD SEAL
Revelation 6:5,6, 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. 6And 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.
What the color black portends is opened to us by what the rider is given to hold in his hand.
He is given a pair of balances.
And the use of that pair of balances is connected to wheat, barley, oil and wine.
This is the horse that announces the effect of the bloodshed upon commerce, specifically the production and distribution of food.
Black is the color of the horse of famine.
By the opening up of this third seal we are given to see scarcity for common commodities are to be measured carefully before they are sold.
Food products will be rationed and doled out in tiny precise amounts requiring the use of a balance or scale.
I remember the days of rationing during WW II when we could not buy butter, sugar, coffee, cheese, tires, cars, bicycles, or gasoline without having government issued ration coupons or ration tokens.
Each family was given so many coupons or tokens according to the family size.
And so it will be on a world wide basis when the black horse of famine comes on the scene.
The tiller of land, the harvester of grain, the distributor of food are no longer connected with the land but are now engaged in death instead of life for they are involved in killing one another.
Fields will be neglected and unplowed, food will become scarce and there will be such famine in the earth as has never been known before.
Food will be rationed and because of its very limited supply its price will be extremely high.
In Jesus day a penny was a dayís wages for a soldier or a laborer.
Imagine paying a dayís wage for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk.
The oil and the wine will be so carefully handled and valued so the instruction goes forth: See thou hurt not the oil and the wine for its value is now above gold.
I can imagine that all the gold that is bought today will change hands for a mere pittance of food in that day.
So the opening of the third seal reveals a world in famine, a world in hunger that cannot be satisfied for commerce will be crippled.
THE FOURTH SEAL
Revelation 6:7,8, And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8And 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.
War and famine have had their way and there must be a pale horse or from the Greek "chloŰros" meaning green horse, a horse with the color of death, to tend to the results of such destruction.
So we are given to view the opening of the fourth seal, where, unlike the riders of the first three horses, the rider of the pale horse is named.
That riderís name is Death and of course Hell accompanies this rider for those who have been taken by war and those who have been taken by famine are delivered to Hell by Death.
Death is the taxi and Hell is the destination.
These two, Death and Hell, have been given custody of the bodies and souls of those killed during these terrible days of war and famine.
We are told here that this horse and rider have power over one fourth of the earth which may indicate that one quarter of the earth suffers greater from sword, hunger, and death with participation from the beasts of the field, than the other three quarters.
I would conjecture that this one quarter of the earth most likely refers to the middle east nations surrounding Israel.
These souls gathered by Death and Hell will be prisoners for one thousand years while the earth is a place of peace and safety during the millennial reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.
By reading ahead in Revelation 20:13-15, we know that hell is but a temporary abode for these dead.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
THE FIFTH SEAL
Revelation 6:9-11, 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: 10And 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? 11And 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.
Accompanying the opening of the fifth seal there is no call by a beast, which means living creature, for John to come and see.
With respect to the actions of the four horsemen John was told to look to the earth from heaven to see of things to come.
But with the fifth seal revelation, John simply has to look under the altar of God for this revelation.
He sees under the altar a special group of souls for these are the souls who were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony they held.
Now an altar is a place of sacrifice so this was an apt place for these souls who were slain for the Word of God.
For these souls are martyrs.
They are martyrs not of ages past, for they cried with a loud voice asking about vengeance upon those who dwell on the earth.
These martyrs are the souls of those saints who were killed during the reign of Antichrist.
These are the souls who have within this seventieth week suffered death at the hands of Godís enemies who dwell on the earth during this time.
These martyrs are spoken of in:
Revelation 12:11, And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Remember that God will send out 144,000 Jewish missionaries during this time who will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom proclaiming that Jesus Christ the King of Kings is coming.
But of course this message will be totally against the agenda of the Antichrist and I suppose thousands of these Jewish proclaimers will be persecuted and killed.
But this intermission from the great events on earth to this scene in heaven is given to show Godís great love and grace for his people for even during such great destruction and death God is seeking and saving those who were lost.
We are given to see persecution on earth which is but for a moment, followed by eternal peace afterward in heaven.
Faith allows us to discern this and to seek the permanent, rejecting the immediate, upon which Satan wishes our lives to be centered.
And this scene of the souls under the altar reminds us of what Christ taught in Matthew 24:4-14, for he spoke of these who cried for vengeance.
Take heed that no man deceive you. 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my nameís sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
So persecution will be brought about by the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The preaching of the Gospel of the Grace of God was for the church age which by this time has ended with the Rapture.
This is the age of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
As was true in Jesus day this seventieth week is a Jewish age.
This continues the preaching of John the Baptist who called the Jews to: Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
It is to be preached in all the world for a witness; and then shall the "End," the End of this Dispensation, come.
It will be preached by the Jews, and will be the announcement that Christ is coming back to set up His Earthly Kingdom, and rule over the affairs of men.
This will be the most hated of messages to Antichrist and the kings of the Earth, and will result in a "Great Persecution" of those who preach and accept such a Gospel.
To these martyred "SOULS" white robes were given.
11And 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.
They cried for vengeance but at this time they received comforting words to rest for a little season for the harvest was not complete.
There were more souls destined to die for the word of God which would result in more glory being given to God.
But their cry for immediate vengeance was not rejected but was to be simply delayed.
Godís judgment was indeed coming.
And be sure to look at Revelation 20:4 for the glory that was before these souls under the altar.
4And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
THE SIXTH SEAL
Revelation 6:12-17, 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; 13And 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. 14And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15And 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; 16And 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: 17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
God now intervenes