If, on the other hand, a person during the age of accountability
chooses to follow God’s plan for salvation, the Holy Spirit of God
comes into his or her life and begins to teach and remold that “spirit
of conquest.” As a result, the one who was disobedient becomes obedient,
the one who was controlled by self becomes controlled by the
Holy Spirit, and the one who was bitter and without hope becomes
joyous with the promise of eternal life in heaven after death.
Thus, the rider that is described as a “conqueror bent on conquest”
exemplifies the inherent––from God, built in––spirit of mankind
that motivates and drives mankind to the purpose and conclusion
of God’s plan for his creation.
We, mankind, have attributes and abilities that are created into
us by God. Although we are limited, physically and spiritually, we
have that which our Creator determined we should have. God created
us with our abilities and with our limitations so that we can and
have the ability to be what he, our Creator, determined we should
be. We are not more than God created us to be and will not become
more than intended to be according to God’s plan.
satan best exemplifies the corruption or misuse of the “spirit of
conquest.” Out of his selfish desire to take the throne, satan, having
been created as an angel with the same “spirit of conquest,” rebelled
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against God and was thrown out of heaven. He continued to rebel
against God by warring against God’s creation throughout physical
history. satan will rule (given crowns and authority) the earth after
all of the family of God are in heaven, but then God will destroy
physical earth, and satan will be chained and imprisoned for one
thousand years. Later, satan will be released and will continue his
rebellion until he is finally destroyed forever in the lake of fire.
Jesus best exemplifies one who is obedient to God’s plan. It is
evident throughout the New Testament that Jesus Christ followed
the designed plan that was initiated, beginning with Genesis 1. He
was obedient to the heavenly Father throughout his life, submissive
even to death on the cross, as was the plan of God for his creation. Power, glory, and honor––many crowns––are given to him by God.
Thus, in satan is the ultimate of rebellion through an uncontrolled
spirit of conquest, and in Jesus Christ the essence of a “spirit of
conquest” obedient to the will of our heavenly Father and Creator.
The Second Seal
As Jesus opened the second seal, the message of the scroll from
God’s right hand took form as a vision before the eyes of John. John
saw a “fiery red horse” on which sat a rider; he “was given power to
take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him
was given a large sword” (Revelation 6: 4).
Just as God created into mankind a spirit of conquest, he created
into mankind the capacity to physically kill other human beings. Killing has been a major part of recorded history since the very
beginning. Cain killed Abel; Lemech killed two men; David killed
Goliath; Jerusalem was destroyed; Jesus was killed on the cross,
etc. Many wars have been waged throughout history: Roman wars,
Greek wars, the Crusades, the Hundred Years’ war, Napoleon’s wars,
World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, etc. Many famous men in history have been men of war: David, Alexander
the Great, the Roman emperors, Ghengis Khan, Napoleon,
Hitler. Some United States presidents have also been military men:
Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower. Many great stories and mov47
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ies have been about war and its effects on mankind. Whether fiction
or nonfiction, books and television are centered on killing, and
humans that are killed make headline news daily around the world. Throughout history, man has had the capacity to kill and has glorified
both war and the warrior.
Most certainly, mankind has the ability to kill each other, and
that was “given” by God. Mankind most certainly has practiced that
ability of killing each other.
But God has also created into our being, our conscience, the
knowledge that to kill another person is not right. God has also given
to us the Ten Commandments, which tell us, “Thou shall not kill.”
The “granted … to kill” in the second seal builds upon and overlaps
the spirit of conquest in the first seal, as in practice, many are
killed as a result of the abuse of the spirit of conquest. This is evident
when one who has built up sins strikes out in anger and kills another,
who stands in the way of his conquest.
Although a misuse of the spirit of conquest can cause a conqueror
bent on conquest to kill to accomplish his goal, there is a
marked difference here in the second seal. Mankind does not have
the authority to choose to kill. He has the power or ability but not
the authority, or “crown” of choice. The choice remains with God. When mankind takes a life (murder) by his own choice, he is outside
the will of God and in direct opposition to God’s commandment,
“Thou shall not kill.”
God has, in certain circumstances, commanded or allowed that
lives be taken. He prescribes capital punishment in Exodus 21:12–23. God commanded the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites––men,
women, and children––as a result of their utter sinfulness and God’s
judgment having been passed upon them.
God allowed Job’s children and servants to be killed by removing
his protective hedge, thus allowing satan to take their lives. Still,
God reserves the right of choice, or judgment, in regard to who is
killed. Mankind is given the power to slay men but will be held
accountable before God if he chooses to do so against God’s will.
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I had the privilege of knowing a United States Marine who,
during World War II, fought in the islands of the South Pacific. He
shared this story: The battle was over, and all the enemies had been
either killed or captured. This particular marine, along with another,
was given the task of carrying a wounded enemy soldier down a
mountain pass to the hospital on the beach. As they were carrying
the man along the steep path, one marine said to the other, “He sure
is heavy, and it sure is hot.” The other marine replied, “He sure is.”
Afterward, they threw the wounded enemy soldier over the cliff and
reported that the prisoner had died en route to the hospital.
After telling the story, the marine made these observations: “For
years after the war, I could not sleep in the same room with anyone,
even my wife, because I would have dreams and come up fighting. If there had been anyone there, I would have killed them before I
realized what I was doing. It’s funny; of all the men I killed in that
war––I don’t know how many––I always see in the dreams the face
of that one we threw over the cliff.”
Although many were killed, the one thrown over the cliff did
not have to be killed. He was murdered; that makes him different. The guilty conscience of the marine gives evidence that man does
not have the authority to choose to kill, and when he does, he must
give account before God.
The spirit from God that is symbolized by the red horse and
rider that makes men kill each other is best exemplified in a biblical
account in Exodus. In Exodus 7–11, God, through Moses and
Aaron, performed miracles, sending the ten plagues upon Egypt. In
the concluding statements of each miracle (plague), there is a statement
about the heart of Pharaoh. At the transformation of the staff
into a snake and the occurrence of the first plague, it is said, “Pharaoh’s
heart became hard” (Exodus 7:13, 22). In the second and fourth
plagues, “Pharaoh hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:15; 9:32). In the
sixth, eight, ninth, and tenth plagues, it is said, “The Lord hardened
Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 9:12; 10:20; 27:11–10). Here, a progression
of sin (disobedience) is clearly shown. Pharaoh rejected God repeatedly. God
took over to determine to what degree Pharaoh would be
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rebellious. Pharaoh was rebellious to the extent that he commanded
his armies to kill the Israelites, which resulted in the destruction
of his entire army in the Red Sea. One may say that God does not
tempt anyone, for James 1:13 says, “For God cannot be tempted by
evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when by his
own evil desire he is dragged away and enticed.”
However, the same effect was accomplished when Pharaoh’s
evil desire prevailed. God removed his protective hand and allowed
satan to take full control. The Bible says, “He gave them over to a
depraved mind to do what ought not to be done.” So whether one
uses the phrase, “God hardened his heart,” or the phrase, “God gave
them over to a depraved mind,” God still sees to it that a rebellious
man has the opportunity to commit the ultimate sin: to kill.
The description of the beast in Revelation 13:5–7 is exemplary of
God in complete control. It says,
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and
blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his
name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He
was given power to make war against the Saints and to conquer
He was given a mouth, authority, and power. Because all power
and authority comes from God, then God was in control, directing
events and time; for forty-two months, the beast was “given”
(allowed) to blaspheme.
God controls killing, and he is patient and long-suffering toward
those who have both the capacity and the desire to kill. For example,
satan has, as a result of his rebellion against God, warred against
God’s people throughout history, desiring to destroy them (Revelation
12: 17). Despite the mortification of God’s people, God is still
in control, as satan has not yet been allowed to destroy them completely. Nevertheless,
one day God will allow satan to have his desire
(Revelation 11:7; 13:7). Through his control of the beast, satan will
“attack them, and overpower and kill them.” In this, God is long50
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suffering toward the saints in that they will have opportunity to witness––
in obedience to God’s call––toward unrepentant sinners, in
that they still have opportunity to repent, and toward satan in that,
when he succeeds in his desire, his destruction will be at hand.
Mankind needs to understand that it was necessary for God to
create into mankind the capacity to kill. It was also necessary for
God to create into mankind the ability to commit adultery, to steal,
lie, and covet. That necessity comes from the inherent sinfulness of
mankind. We are born in sin, with a sinful nature. Therefore, it is
natural for us to sin. A baby does not have to be taught to covet a
toy or another baby’s possessions. A child does not have to learn to
lie to its mother. A boy does not need a teacher to learn how to steal. A man does not need someone else to show him how to commit
adultery or to kill. However, we do need a teacher to teach us not to
do those things.
The five sins mentioned––to kill, to commit adultery, to steal,
to lie, and to covet––are found in the Ten Commandments as given
in Exodus 20. Each of these five relate to mankind’s relationship
to mankind––mankind’s sin against mankind. Therefore, I conclude
that the second seal relates to each of them equally. God chooses to
use the ultimate sin of mankind against mankind (to kill) to illustrate
the reality from God that mankind is born a sinner and those
sins must be revealed.
The revealing, or manifestation, of sin is necessary for all mankind,
both of the family of satan and the family of God. Inherent sin
must be brought forth to provide mankind the opportunity to confess
those sins and be saved. God sent a visionary rider on a horse,
exemplifying sin, helping us to realize our sin nature and our need
for a Savior, Jesus Christ.
The inherent sin of the family of satan must be brought forth so
that they will be without excuse when the books are open (Revelation
20:12). This may seem hard, but not so. They rejected the law that
God wrote on their hearts and rebelled, as did satan. By their own
free will, they chose to ignore sin, which is common to all, and did not
repent and be saved through free salvation provided by Jesus Christ.
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When a person acknowledges his sin––inherent and personal–
–he is saved, or born-again, and enters the family of God. Personal
sins of the family of God must be revealed so that they might be
molded into the image of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As a person’s inherent sin is revealed, this process should
1. The person recognizes their need for God and salvation.
2. The person confesses sin and is saved.
3. The person recognizes need for daily prayer.
4. The person recognizes need for daily Bible study.
5. The person recognizes need for regular church attendance.
As personal sins are revealed the person should confess sin and
resolve to sin no more. Yet we must recognize/understand that inherent
and personal sins come through conviction of the heart, and thus
must be dealt with between the individual and Jesus Christ/God/the
Holy Spirit. In this continuous process an individual grows/matures
spiritually, being molded into the image of Christ.
Jesus said,
You have heard that it was said to people long ago, do not
murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be
subject to judgment.
Matthew 5:21
Therefore, it is not enough for a Christian to say he obeyed the law
because he did not kill anyone. We must, as convicted, put away
hate, anger, and malice in a process that brings us into a Christ-like
life. Therefore, the Christian is molded into the image of Christ.
God has complete authority concerning the taking of life. He
decides who will be killed, not mankind. Yet, his Spirit controls,
commands, and even manipulates the minds and desires of mankind
to cause them to make a decision whether or not they will kill one
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Jesus is our example. He was falsely arrested, falsely accused,
falsely condemned, despised, cursed, ridiculed, beaten, and killed. He had all power, yet spoke not a word in his defense. His accusers
already had the potential to sin. God used that potentiality to bring
forth sin in order to establish his will. The purpose was twofold:
1) that they might realize their sinfulness, repent, and turn to God
through Jesus Christ, and 2) that the ultimate sacrifice would be
made through Jesus Christ for the redemption of mankind.
How does this relate to Revelation? The Lord God is sending a
message to his people telling them that the persecution and killing,
which they do not understand, is controlled by him. He wants them
to know that he is still in control and will be even when the killing
becomes worse as the world progresses to the end of time. At the
blowing of the sixth trumpet, Revelation 9:13–19, God removes the
barriers that allow the killing of one-third of mankind. In Revelation
11:17, the two witnesses will be attacked and killed. With the
pouring out of the sixth bowl, the whole world will be gathered for
the battle of the great day of God Almighty when, the Bible says,
“The rest of them were killed” (Revelation 19:21). God is preparing
the world for the horrors that are to come. He wants us to know that
he is in charge, not satan and not mankind.
Why does God allow people to be killed? Why does he allow the
killing of the innocent and the massacres of multitudes of people?
We can justify the death of an evil man, but what about the good?
God created mankind with the freedom of choice and a spirit
of conquest through which mankind can, against the will and commandment
of God, kill each other. Also, God has created us in such
a way and given us this message from heaven to explain that mankind
must choose whether or not he will kill. Pharaoh could have
chosen to obey God, but he chose to disobey. That disobedience
propelled him, by the reality of the second seal, to give his army the
command to kill the Israelites. Thus, God is uniquely involved in
those who kill and who are killed, in that God created mankind as
sinners and the natural progression of sin will come to murder.
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Thus, the message of the second seal uses an illustration of the
greatest sin that a person can commit against his neighbor (to kill
him) to illustrate the fact that all mankind are sinners.
The primary message of the second seal is that “we have all
sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Mankind was created
by God in such a manner that you and I are sinners; we will
be judged. That judgment is spelled out in Revelation 17 and 18 as
the judgments against the woman sitting on the scarlet beast. From
Adam and Eve to the last person on earth, we are sinners; we are so
created according to the message of the second seal.
Remember, Jesus Christ came and died upon the cross to save
sinners from their sins.
This being the plan of God, for the defining of and determining
who, by their own choice, chooses Jesus Christ and thus becomes
part of the family of God.
The family of God equals repentant sinners.
Remember, death to the family of God is not a tragedy to God,
but simply brings his children home to heaven.
The Third Seal
As the third seal was released by the Lamb, John saw a black horse
delivering the message. Its rider was simply holding a pair of scales
in his hand (Revelation 6:5b).
The message of the third seal is that God has created a plan by
which mankind can provide for his needs and physical provision.
Scales, or balances, are the tools of the businessman. Balances as
used in the Bible primarily refer to business, with the exception of being
used to pronounce God’s judgment upon King Belshazzar of Babylon,
who was weighed on the scales and found wanting (Daniel 5:27).
The pair of scales used in Revelation 6:5 clearly refers to business,
not judgment, as the audible message from the fourth living
creature is “a quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of
barley for a day’s wages” (Verse 6), implying work/business to provide
daily food.
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In interpreting these references to the price of grain, we usually
speak of the high cost––a day’s wages––and how that high cost
indicates famine and starvation. However, in all of history, the great
majority of mankind has worked each day for his daily provision of
food. It has always been that while one man works in the fields to
put food on his table for that day, another man sells in the marketplace
to put food on the table for that day. That is business.
I believe that the horse and rider with the scales says that God
has created into mankind a system of business that causes man to
work to provide his daily needs. In Genesis 3:19, God pronounces
judgment upon Adam and, thus, mankind. God said, “By the sweat
of your brow you will eat your food.” The laborer works for the
farmer, who sells the grain to the miller, who sells to the baker, who
sells to the grocer, who sells to the laborer’s wife. Thus, a business
chain is developed in which all are working for their food, their daily
Mankind has a unique ability to corrupt that system of business
through the sins of greed and disobedience to God’s intended purpose
for the created system of business.
The corruption of God’s plan can be seen in the account of Jacob
and Esau (Genesis 25:29–34). Esau came in from a hunt very hungry
and asked his brother Jacob for a bowl of stew. Jacob demanded a
high price for a bowl of stew. Esau, in his disregard for his birthright,
paid a high price––his God-given birthright––for a bowl of stew. Corrupted business led to broken relationships within the family.
A broken chain of business can be seen in the world situation
in the twentieth century when thousands of people starve to death
in Ethiopia, Laos, Cambodia, etc. They did not starve because they
could not feed themselves from the land that was available to them
in their own countries, nor was it because the world could not produce
enough food for them. Many countries had enormous grain
surpluses. It was not because the business world could not get the
food to them, for the modes of transportation and the funds needed
for support were available.
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There was a breakdown in God’s plan for business. Political turmoil
and war in those countries kept them from using the resources
available to them. The consequential financial disaster left them
nothing with which to barter for food. The world, for the most part,
failed to share its surpluses with those countries, and, in spite of
thousands of starving people, their own governments often blocked
much of the humanitarian aid that was sent.
In God’s plan, he created a world with great potential, with
many good things to eat, such as vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts, etc. God intended that mankind would work by the sweat of his brow to
earn the food for his family.
In God’s plan, the rider is carrying a “pair of scales.” The scales
would imply that business should be carried out in an honest, fair,
and correct manner.
Also, in God’s plan, we are commanded to love our neighbor as
we love ourselves.
If God’s plan as exemplified in the third seal was fully implemented
among mankind, there would be plenty and enough for all to
eat and have the provisions that they need. Mankind has continually
failed in implementing the guidelines that God created into his plan.
The voice among the four living creatures also said, “ … and do
not damage the oil and the wine!” (Revelation 6:6).
Oil and wine are luxuries, not essentials. The Lord has provided
luxuries––a great variety of foods and resources for his creation––
and protects those luxuries until the time comes when he chooses to
take them away. The command to not damage the oil and the wine is
given in the same sense as the command given to the four angels in
Revelation 7:3, which says, “Do not harm the land or the sea or the
trees until … ” The command is given to the angels, who had been
given power to harm the land and the sea, so that nature would continue
on its normal course until God says, “It is done!” (Revelation
16:17). Likewise, the oil and the wine, the provisions God has made
for us, are protected, and the chain of business continues. However,
the time will come when God will give the command to destroy the
oil and wine (the vast provisions of earth). This destruction of God’s
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provision is seen in the blowing of the first four trumpets and the
pouring of the second, third, and fourth bowls, through which the
natural resources of earth are destroyed.
How does this God-given plan of business relate to the vision of
Revelation? The use of the plan of business is a major portion of the
accusations against Babylon the great. Revelation 18:3 speaks of her
excessive luxuries, and verses 12 and 13 say,
Cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen,
purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and
articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron
and marble; cargoes are cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh
and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat;
cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of
Mankind’s desire for material gain and luxuries become so consuming
that he does not acknowledge God, nor does he give God any
place in his daily life. The drive for business and wealth does not
allow a day (Exodus 20:8) to worship the creator, nor does it allow
anyone to love his neighbor as himself. The nations, kings, and merchants
of the earth are warned that their business and luxuries are
spiritual adultery––exultation of self––as they take control of their
lives to the exclusion of God.
How should the Christian of today relate to this plan of business?
The teachings of Jesus are contrary to the corrupted business
that prevails in the world today. Jesus taught,
If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have
your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with
him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn
away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Matthew 5:40–42
The church has been so permeated by these corrupted business
practices that it has turned more to the way of the world than to
the teachings of our Lord. For example, there were two churches
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in the same small town. One was old, large, established, and very
secure financially. The other church was new, small, struggling, and
greatly in debt. It happened during the same time span that the
large church was remodeling their auditorium and replacing all the
pews. The small church was desperately trying to build an auditorium
that would seat their growing congregation. The small church
made arrangements to purchase from the large church ten pews at
$100 each. After attempting to raise the $1000 and finding it impossible,
the small church informed the large church that they could not
purchase the pews. The answer was that the pews were for sale. If
the big church could not sell them, they would put them in storage.
The pews were their property. Therefore, they had the right to
do as they choose. Correct? In 1 John 3:17, it states, “If anyone has
material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on
him, how can the love of God be in him?”
Will the church of today follow the teachings of our Lord, or
will it take on the attributes and mannerisms of the world in which
it lives?
In the midst of the description of the excessive luxuries of Babylon
the great, a voice from heaven said,
Come out of her my people, so that you will not share in her
sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues, for her sins
are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.
Revelation 18:4–5
The challenge to God’s people is to be different from the world, to
refuse to take on the characteristics of the world that conflict with
our Lord’s teachings.
The message delivered by the black horse and its riders is that
God has set in the hearts and minds of people a system of business
through which his daily needs are provided.
The parable of the talents rebukes those who are lazy. The man
with the five talents and the man with the two talents gained more
for their master. Therefore, their master commended them for their
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faithfulness and put them in charge of many things. However, the
man with the one talent was afraid and hid it in the ground.
His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew
that I harvest where I do not sow and gather where I have not
scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on
deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have
received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give
it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will
be given more and he will have abundance. Whoever does not
have even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that
worthless servant outside into the darkness where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 25:14–30
To the church today:
You too must work and do business, but take warning that you
do not pattern your business attitudes after the world. God says,
“Come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4).
To the world outside of Christ:
God gave you, through creation, a system of business, but you
will be judged as to how you use it. Your wealth is of no value in
the end. The Bible says, “In one hour such great wealth has been
brought to ruin! (Revelation 18:17).
The Fourth Seal
As the Lamb opened the fourth seal, the fourth living creature said,
“Come!” John wrote, “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse!
Its rider was named death, and Hades was following close behind
him” (Revelation 6:8a)
The message is death. Like the others, the horse and rider came
from heaven. Death was a sentence passed upon all mankind in the
Garden of Eden as God said to Adam, “Until you return to the
ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust
you return” (Genesis 3:19).
In the book of Job, satan told God that Job would curse him to
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his face if he stretched out his hand and struck everything that Job
had. God said to satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your
hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” ( Job 1:12). God
gave satan permission to kill Job’s sons, daughters, and servants, but
not Job himself.
He also will give satan permission to kill the two witnesses, but
only when they have finished their testimony. Revelation 11:7 says,
“Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes
up from the abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.”
Also, Revelation 13:7 says, “He [the beast] was given power to make
war against the saints and to conquer them.” Thus, God is in charge
of death, both physically and spiritually.
The remainder of the message is, “They [death and Hades] were
given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and
plague, and by the wild beast of the earth” (verse 8b). Throughout
history, mankind has died as a result of men killing men, by sword,
starvation, famine, disease, plague, and wild animals.
Murder, capital punishment, war, abortion, human sacrifice,
etc., are included in the sword. Starvation and disease caused by
improper diets, etc., are included in famine. All diseases that bring
an immature death and natural disasters of flood, storm, earthquake,
etc., are included in plague. Killings by tigers, bear, snakes, etc., are
included in wild beast of the earth. At the end of time, when the
final tally is in, we believe that a fourth of mankind will have met a
premature death from the four causes mentioned in Revelation 6:8.
Since a fourth of the earth is killed by the sword, famine, plague,
and wild beast, there remains three-fourths of the earth to die of
other causes. In Genesis 6:3, God says of mankind, “He is mortal;
his days will be 120 years.” Thus, God created mankind in such a
manner that his body will last no longer than 120 years. As a result
of modern medicine, we know that even though the body is free
from disease, the organs just simply wear out. There is no reversing
the aging process. When kidneys wear out, they cease to function. When a heart weakens with age to the point that it can no longer
pump blood, it stops and the body dies. God created mankind so
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that we die. The Bible says, “Man is destined to die once and after
that the judgment” (Hebrews 9: 27).
The message of the third seal named death is:
To the Christian:
The one who created you, died for you, loves you, sent his Holy
Spirit to live in you, and has prepared a place in heaven for you. He
is in charge of your death, the time of your death, and he knows if
you will die from the sword, famine, plague, wild animals, or old age. Death for you should be easily accepted because the one who loves
you and died for you is in charge of your death.
To the rest of mankind (those who do not know Jesus Christ as their
You will die either by sword, famine, plague, wild animals, or old
age. You cannot elude nor prevent death, and hell is close behind.
Many writers and interpreters believe that this fourth seal
equates to a plague brought about by war and famine, but as seen
here, death has been a part of physical life since the Garden of Eden. Death that is common to all mankind is not a plague of the end
times. “Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (1
Corinthians 15:50)
The Fifth Seal
When the Lamb opened the fifth seal, John saw, under the altar, the
souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and
the testimony they had maintained. This scene of the seals is present
tense––at the time of the writing of Revelation––for not all who are
to be killed had been killed. Revelation 6:11 says, “Then each of them
was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer,
until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to
be killed as they had been was completed.” All who have been killed
because of their testimony are under the altar waiting for those who
are yet to be killed, from Abel in Genesis to the two witnesses in
Revelation 11:7.
Message From the Throne
At the very beginning, God prophesied the constant battle
between satan and God’s people. After satan deceived the woman,
God judged satan and said, “Because you have done this … I will put
enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and
hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
The message from God, released with the fifth seal, is very powerful
and reassuring to Christians facing persecution and death as a
result of their faith and testimony. They are given white robes and
a special place in heaven. All of creation can be assured that, even
though God allows his servants to be killed as a testimony to the
unbeliever, it will be worth it all. Death is not to be feared, for the
Bible says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his
saints” (Psalms 116:15).
Conclusion to Seals One through Five
Thus, the first five seals are interpreted to be conditions that are
created into mankind and that have prevailed under the direction
of God Almighty. These conditions have been, are, and will be the
order of creation until the Lord says, “It is done” (Revelation 16:
17). Mankind has always had 1) Freedom of choice (a crown) and a
spirit of conquest, 2) An ability to kill, sin, 3) A system of business,
provision, 4) Man has always had to die, and 5) God’s people have
always been killed, martyred, because of the Word of God and their
With each message of the five seals comes judgment and
plagues––as prescribed in the vision of Revelation––for those who
abuse those God-given conditions. These judgments are spelled out
in the description of the great prostitute in Revelation 17 and 18. It
is unique that the great prostitute has five accusations against her
and that they correspond in nature with the spirit of the five seals as
interpreted here. They are as follows:
Seal Number 1: You, who with your freedom and spirit of conquest
elevate self to the throne, are a part of Babylon the great
and will suffer her fate. Revelation 17: 2 says, “With her the kings
of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth
Alpha, Omega, Alpha
were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” Spiritual adultery
equals self on the throne and self as God rather than choosing
Jesus Christ as Lord. They were given a “crown” of choice and
made the wrong choice!
Seal Number 2: You, who kill in thought or deed and are unrepentant
of your sins, are part of Babylon the great and will suffer
her fate. Revelation 18:24 says, “In her was found the blood of the
prophets and all the saints, and of all who have been killed on
the earth.
They committed the ultimate sin—to kill—and did not repent.
Seal Number 3: You, who the system of business controlled your
life to the exclusion of God, are part of Babylon the great and will
suffer her fate. Revelation 18:7, “Give her as much torture and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.”
Her business and possessions became gods, without salvation in
Jesus Christ.
Seal Number 4: You, who disregard the fact that you will die and
stand before the judgment throne of God, are a part of Babylon the
great and will suffer her fate. Revelation 18:7–8 says, “In her heart
she boasts, I sit as Queen; I am not a widow and I will never mourn. Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her; death, mourning,
and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord
God who judges her.”
They did not prepare for God’s judgment before death––judged
guilty, condemned.
Seal Number 5: You, who slander, persecute, and kill God’s
people, are part of Babylon the great and will suffer her fate. Revelation
18:24 says, “In her was found the blood of the prophets and
the saints.
Commit murder, unrepentant equals eternity separated from God.
This interpretation of the seals is very different from that of
other writers. However, I believe that the fact that the great prostitute
is accused of five things that correspond in nature with the five
seals give strong evidence for this interpretation.
Message From the Throne
Thus, the abuse/misuse or disregard for the message of the first
five seals are the five judgments declared against the great prostitute
in Revelation 17 and 18.
The Sixth Seal
The sixth seal begins with the phrase, “I watched … ” (Revelation
6:12). This is significant as it indicates a change of scene. Revelation
6:1 also begins with the phrase, “I watched … ,” and, thereafter, come
the conditions that exist: the first five seals. This beginning indicates
a change of scene or a different era or situation. Thus, we conclude
that seals six and seven are different in nature as compared to seals
one through five, seals one through five being conditions created by
God and seal six giving an outline, or preview, of what happens to
the last generation as the result to those seal messages. Then seal
seven explains the tribulation that falls upon those who abused or
disobeyed the message of the first five seals. Thus, the sixth seal is a
new scene and, therefore, different from the first five seals.
John watched as the Lamb, Jesus, opened the sixth seal. Revelation
6:12–14 says,
There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like
sackcloth made of goat’s hair, the whole moon turned blood red,
and the stars in the sky fell to the earth, as late figs drop from
a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like
a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was moved
from its place.
This is a description of the time when, under God’s direction, creation
will be dismantled, or taken apart. In Genesis 1, we have the
description of God creating the heavens and the earth. With the
opening of the sixth seal, we have the description of God dismantling
the heavens and the earth. Thus, creation is not destroyed by
man’s atomic bombs or star wars, but by an act of God when he says,
“It is finished” (Revelation 16:17). The two scenes of the sixth seal are
a preview or outline of God’s conclusion.
Alpha, Omega, Alpha
The first scene in verses 12–14 is an outline of the destruction
in Revelation 16. This outline of destruction is part of the sixth seal
because, from the beginning of creation, God knew and had the plan
for the end of creation.
The second scene of the sixth seal enumerates and explains that
the family of God will be “standing before the throne of God” as the
family of satan is being destroyed at the end. The messages of the
seven seals were part of God’s plan from the beginning.
Seals one through five are God’s created conditions that correspond
with the outline of judgment in Revelation 17 and 18 against
mankind without Jesus Christ.
Seal six is a preview of conditions––place and circumstance––of
the family of satan and the family of God at the end of physical
creation as we know it.
Seal seven is a description and explanation of the seven-year
tribulation, final judgment, and the eternal destiny of the family of
God and the family of satan.
This preview, in seal six, of God’s conclusion reveals the destiny
of satan’s people and the destiny of God’s people. The destiny of
those––who through the rejection of God’s Word and plan, misuse
and abuse the order of creation set forth in the five seals––is judgment
and death. From the highest—“kings of the earth” (Revelation
6:15)—to the lowest––“every slave”––they will experience God’s
judgment. The Bible says, “For the great day of his wrath has come,
and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:17).
The first scene of the sixth seal opens with “a great earthquake”
(verse 12). An earthquake is referred to in four other scriptures: Revelation
8:5; 11:13; 11:19; and 16:18. Each one seems to mark an important
event. The clearest reference is Revelation 11:13, which says, “At that
very hour there was a severe earthquake.” It occurs immediately after
the two witnesses––a part of the last Christians on earth––are taken
up to heaven, thus clearing the way for God and the Lamb to pour
out their wrath on the rest of mankind who have rejected God’s Word
and God’s plan for salvation. The occurrence, “every mountain and
island was removed from its place,” corresponds clearly with Revela65
Message From the Throne
tion 16:20 (the seventh bowl), which states, “Every island fled away
and the mountains could not be found.”
Thus, we understand the earthquakes to mark the beginning,
or end, of major events. This can be seen in several places during
the tribulation period. The first earthquake marks the beginning of
tribulation in Revelation 8:5 as the angels prepare to blow the trumpets. The
second marks the beginning of the great tribulation immediately
after the raising of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:13). The
third is a severe earthquake, Revelation 16:18, like no other that has
ever occurred. It marks the beginning of the battle of Armageddon
and is also the end of the earth as we know it. The other, Revelation
11:19, is only a possibility in that it may be the same earthquake
referred to in verse 13. If it is a different earthquake, then it would
mark the end of the rapture, as verse 19 says, “God’s temple in heaven
was opened.”
Thus, the first scene of the sixth seal has two purposes. The first
purpose is to give a preliminary outline, verses 12–14, of the great
tribulation from the first earthquake, verse 12, which initiates tribulation,
Revelation 8:5, to the final destruction of physical earth as we
know it (Revelation 6:14 and 16:18). The second purpose is to warn
all mankind, from kings to slaves (verse 15) that they will come under
judgment, condemnation, fear, and physical death (verse 17).
Whereas the first scene, Revelation 6:12–17, of the sixth seal
gives severe warning to satan’s family, who have rejected God’s plan
for salvation, the second (Revelation 7:1–8) and the third (Revelation
7:9–17) scenes give confidence, assurance, and promise to God’s people
“who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood
of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). Again, a change of phrase indicates
a change of scene, situation, or era. The first scene of the sixth seal
begins with “I watched” (Revelation 6: 12); the second scene with
“After this I saw” (Revelation 7:1); and the third scene with “After
this I looked” (Revelation 7: 9).
In the second scene, John saw,
Alpha, Omega, Alpha
Four Angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding
back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from
blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.
Revelation 7:1
These angels are in charge of holding creation in order. They are
holding back the wind; that is, preventing any wind of destruction
from blowing on creation. When the angel came up from the east,
having the seal of God,
He cried out in a loud voice to the four Angels who had been
given power to harm the land and the sea; do not harm the land
or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the
servants of our God.
Revelation 7:2–3
Since the first scene of the sixth seal describes the destruction of
creation, here God’s people are promised that the destruction will be
held back until a seal is put on the forehead of God’s people.
Many years ago, the Lord allowed me to see the reality that
God is in control of nature and will keep it in its proper order. The
occasion was on the morning of the day when one of my best friends
was to be buried. We had been the closest of friends for about two
years. We had worked together, dated together, and gone to church
together. Through fun times and in serious times, we had been
friends and confidants.
One day my friend and a friend of his stopped at my house, had
lunch, visited a while, and then drove away. About five miles down
the road, they had an accident and my friend was killed.
Two days later as I was up at dawn to milk the cows––I was a
dairy farmer at the time––I opened a barn door that faced the east
and there was one of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seen. As
I stood there looking at the sun peeking up over the horizon, I asked
myself, How can there be such a beautiful sunrise on the day when my
best friend is to be buried?
Message From the Throne
The answer came to my mind immediately: because God made
it so. No matter what tragedy or circumstance befalls mankind, the
earth will continue to rotate around the sun. The sun will rise in the
east and set in the west until God brings it to a halt. This fact should
give Christians great confidence and assurance that we will be able
to carry on our lives in God’s beautiful creation until all of the family
of God has been sealed and saved.
There are two groups that are sealed. They are the 144,000 from
all of the tribes of Israel (verse 4), and a great multitude that no one
could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language (verse 9). God’s servants are divided into two groups. They are descendents
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob––Old Testament era––and all Christians,
Jews, and Gentiles alike––New Testament era.
We must either interpret the 144,000 as literal or symbolic. It is
not the nature of Scripture to make statements such as these about
the 144,000 unless they have important meaning. If we interpret the
144,000 as literal, there would be exactly, not one more or one less,
than twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. If this
were true, it would not be true to the nature of salvation as explained
in the Scripture, or true to the nature of the forgiveness of God. The nature of God has always been forgiving to any who “call upon
the name of the Lord.” Thus, it would be contrary to Scripture and
God’s nature to say only 144,000 of the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob would be in heaven.
After much prayer and study, we interpret the 144,000 as being
symbolic, and as symbolic, a limiting number. There are two references
in the Bible that would uphold this interpretation.
1. In the biblical account of the census in Numbers 1,
it is obvious that there are far more than 144,000
descendents of Abraham living in that one generation. We
can assume that in every generation since
then there has been more than 144,000 descendents
of Abraham. The Germans killed approximately 6
million during World War II.
Alpha, Omega, Alpha
2. There are also several references in the New Testament
that give clearly a message that all the Jews, though
children of Abraham by blood lineage, are not children
of God spiritually. Reference Luke 3:8–9, John
8, and Matthew 23.
These references establish two facts about the tribes of Israel. The
number of them is far more than 144,000, and they are not all spiritual
sons of Abraham.
Thus, we conclude that the 144,000 gives a strong message to
the Jewish people that although they are sons by blood lineage, they
will not all be in heaven as part of the family of God. 144,000 equals
many, but not all.
Throughout history, Jews and Gentiles have been divided on the
basis that Jews are God’s people and Gentiles are not. This distinction
brought controversy in the book of Acts as Gentiles were being
saved. When the apostles and elders met to discuss the matter, Peter
stood up and said,
Brothers you know that some time ago God made a choice among
you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of
the Gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that
he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he
did to us. He made no distinction between us and them for he
purified their hearts by faith.
Acts 15:7–9
The distinction, though erased by God and Acts 15, is carried through
to Revelation 7 in order to show the Jews that the family of God is
those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb. Clarification is made
in the third scene through the conversation between one of the elders
and John. After John had seen the great multitude before the throne
wearing white robes, one of the elders asked, “These in white robes,
who are they, and where did they come from?” (verse 13).
John answered, “Sir, you know” (verse 14). And the elder said,
“These are they who have come out of great tribulation; who have
Message From the Throne
washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God” (verses 14–15).
Therefore, it is clear that God’s people are not solely the Jews
because of ancestry, as they believe, but those who have come
through the saving blood of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way and the
truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
( John 14:6).
As the elder said, “They have washed their robes and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14). They, collectively,
the great multitude, have washed their individual robes. The implication
is that they were not saved collectively, nor standing before
the throne because they were members of a particular church or religious
group, nor because of ancestry, nor because they were born
in America, or any other country, but because they had washed in
Jesus’s blood and made their robes white.
In today’s world, we draw all kinds of lines: free world, communist
world; East, West; Israeli, Arab; black, white; North, South;
Democratic, Republican; conservative, liberal; Jewish, Christian,
Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu. The connotation in which
these lines are drawn is that one is bad, and the other is good; one is
right, and the other is wrong; we are God’s people, and they are not;
God is on one side and not on the other.
The message and point here in the sixth seal is that there is only
one line: God’s line. On both sides of that line, there are people from
every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 7:9; 13:7–8). On
one side are those who rejected God’s plan for salvation through
Jesus Christ, resulting in a life lived for self and abusing the Godgiven
privileges of the first five seals. Thus, they brought upon themselves
the wrath of God and the Lamb. On the other side of the line
are those who have washed their robes and made them white in the
blood of the Lamb.
Inherent in the phrase, “washed their robes and made them
white,” is the necessity of action on the part of every individual who
would be saved through the blood of the Lamb (verse 14). There
is nothing anyone could do that would make them deserving of
heaven, for the Bible says,
Alpha, Omega, Alpha
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and not
of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works lest any man
should boast.
Ephesians 2:8–9
This washing is an act of the heart through which one determines,
makes a decision, to follow God’s plan for salvation through the sacrifice
of Jesus Christ. Thus, through determined decision and action
during the age of accountability, one believes, confesses sin, and asks
for forgiveness and salvation through prayer to our heavenly Father
in Jesus’ name. By that determined decision and obedience to the
commands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one crosses over
God’s line and is born again. For by nature, all mankind is on the side
described in the first scene of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12–17).
As we cross over God’s line, we receive a seal as mentioned in
Revelation 7:3: “Until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants
of our God”; and John 1:13 says, “Children born not of natural dissent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Thus, the action of turning from one’s natural self to salvation in
Jesus Christ is initiated by God, yet it is necessary for the individual
person to respond in belief and repentance through Jesus Christ.
Through the Holy Spirit (Spirit of God), God reaches out to
touch, to make known his existence, to make known his presence. He initiates contact with each individual in such a way that the person
has the opportunity to make a decision whether or not to believe
in God and to exercise his right to accept or reject Jesus Christ as
Lord and savior. If a person by their own free will determines to
believe and invite Jesus Christ to come into their hearts, God, by his
saving power, seals them with the gift of his Holy Spirit.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the Word
of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation; having believed, you were
marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13
Message From the Throne
As pastor of a church, as I was extending the invitation, a young lady
came forward and gave this explanation. “The other night in my bed
as I was listening to the radio, a preacher was preaching. He said
at the close of his message, ‘If there is anyone listening who wants
to be saved, repeat this prayer with me.’” She explained that, in the
prayer, she confessed Jesus as Lord, confessed that she was a sinner,
and asked Jesus to save her. She said that as she prayed something
happened. “Something came into me, and whoever it was told me to
come down here.” Though she did not understand all that had happened
to her, her testimony illustrates so beautifully the washing of
her robe as she made the decision and prayed. Then God sealed her
with his Holy Spirit, who instructed her to come for public commitment
and baptism.
Persons who have not believed in and received Jesus Christ are
unwashed, and thus they are all mankind who have rejected God’s
plan for salvation. All people of all time, all the world, are by nature
sinners. For example, there has never been a normal child who never
said “no” to its mother or father. So the scripture is true that says,
“All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). In Ephesians 6:1–2, God gives the
commandment, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is
right. ‘Honor your father and mother’––which is the first commandment
with promise.” All mankind has broken God’s law; thus guilty,
a sinner, unwashed. If they refuse or neglect to wash their robes in
the blood of Jesus Christ, they are outside God’s plan of salvation
and will suffer under the wrath of God and the Lamb.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities––his
eternal power and divine nature––have been clearly seen, being
understood from what has been made so that men are without
Romans 1:20
The sixth seal has two distinct parts. They are divided by God
(God’s line). These two parts divide all mankind regardless of race,
color, or creed into either the family of satan or the family of God. Those who do not wash their robes in the blood of Jesus Christ are
Alpha, Omega, Alpha
by nature in the family of satan. A person must choose to be in the
family of God. As the Lord seals those who wash their robes, they
cross over the line and are, thereafter, part of the family of God.
In the divisions of the sixth seal, the first message pertains to
the family of satan; the second, to the family of God. This sets a
precedent for the remainder of the vision of Revelation.
The divisions are as follows:
1. Revelation 6:12–17 identifies the family of satan
and foretells what will happen to them in the end. Revelation 7:1–17 identifies the family of God and
foretells where they will be at the end.
2. Revelation 8 and 9 record in more detail what will
happen to the family of satan through the first half
of tribulation. Revelation 10 and 11 record in more
detail what will happen to the family of God in their
struggle in life and the first half of tribulation.
3. Revelation 12 and 13 describe spiritual warfare in
regard to the family of satan. Revelation 14:1–6
describes the spiritual work of the family of God.
4. Revelation 14:8–18:24 gives the account of the physical
disruption and defeat of the family of satan and
why they are to be destroyed. Revelation 19 gives the
account of the victory of the family of God.
5. Revelation 20 pronounces the final judgment of the
family of satan. Revelation 21:1–22:5 pronounces the
final reward of the family of God.
A key to understanding the book of Revelation is in understanding
the sequence of events that happen. The message of Revelation
is about two groups of people: the family of God and the family
of satan. Thus, the message is two stories meshed together in a
sequence of events. It is necessary to explain what happens to one
group during a time era and then switch to the other group during
that same time era. So, the book of Revelation bounces back and
forth between the two groups, explaining in visionary form what
happens to them.