Revelation – Lesson 5
It is wonderful to have something to look forward to in coming days. It could be a wedding, the birth of a baby, a special anniversary celebration, summer vacation, a reunion with family during furlough or just a day off. In Revelation six, after centuries and centuries of waiting, the time will finally come for THE DAY OF THE LORD. God has been moving history toward a grand climax since the beginning of time. Imagine the anticipation that has been built up after waiting for thousands of years! The kingdom will finally be born as promised and prophesied. For the heavenly court the celebration had already begun.
In Revelation 5, the person found worthy to establish and rule the kingdom of God on earth was identified. He will break the seals and usher in a new phase of history. The Day of the Lord will then begin. The final end will be the glorious Kingdom that Jesus prayed for while He was on earth with his disciples – “….Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
The birth will not be easy. There will be preliminary birth pangs, then hard labor pains, and finally the birth. When it starts, the end will come quickly – like a flood (Daniel 9:25-26).
DAY ONE: THE WORTHY LAMB WILL BREAK THE SEALS!
A. PURPOSE OF THE DAY OF THE LORD
God gave Old Testament prophecies to reveal what He will accomplish in the seven years of tribulation. God is always purposeful in His actions, and He always carries out the plans that He reveals through His prophets. The seven-year tribulation is necessary before the kingdom can come.
Purpose #1 – To put an end to sinners
Isaiah 13:9 – “See, the Day of the Lord is coming – a cruel day with wrath and fierce anger– to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.”
Purpose #2 – To evangelize the world
Matthew 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.”
Revelation 7:9-10 — After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.
Revelation 7:13-14 – Then one of the elders asked me, “Those in white robes – who are they and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation: they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb…”
Purpose #3 – To bring the Israelite nation to repentance
Ezekiel 20: 33-38 – As I live, says the Lord Jehovah, surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I be king over you. And I will bring you out from the peoples, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face. Like as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, says the Lord Jehovah. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me; I will bring them forth out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter into the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am Jehovah.
After God gathers the Jews from around the world, He will enter into a period of judgment with them (the great tribulation). The unbelieving rebels will be purged out. Only then will the believing nation as a whole enter the Promised Land to serve their King and Messiah. (Zechariah 12:10-14; Zephaniah 3:8-20)
- What will God do according to Isaiah 13:10-13?
- What promises are given to the saints from the tribulation? (Revelation 7:15-17)
- How is the Jews’ regeneration described? (Romans 11:25-27)
- God’s actions are always purposeful. What has He allowed in your life that has helped mature you?
- How have you seen God’s grace in operation in your life recently?
DAY TWO: THE FIRST FOUR SEALS ARE BROKEN.
READ: Revelation 6:1-8
A. RIDER ON A WHITE HORSE
The lamb opened the first seal, and the first horse and rider emerged. The horse was white, and the rider is not identified. Is it Christ or a representative of Antichrist? He carried a bow and was given a crown. His purpose is to conquer through war. It must not be the Lamb of God. Jesus is in heaven opening the seals. He will come on a white horse in chapter 19.
Antichrist tries to imitate the plan and purposes of Christ. His objective is to rule over the whole earth. According to Daniel, the tribulation begins with the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Antichrist. (Daniel 9:24-27) The rider was on his way to conquer the nations.
To understand the work of the Antichrist, we need to understand the counterfeit trinity. According to Revelation13, an unholy trinity will be set up during the tribulation. Satan will take the role of the counterfeit Father. Just as the true Father gave all of His authority to the Son, Satan will give his authority to the human Antichrist. The False Prophet will take the role of the counterfeit Holy Spirit. The ministry of the true Holy Spirit is to call men to worship Messiah. The False Prophet will call men to worship the Antichrist. Once we see what is happening with this false trinity, we will better understand many things that are taking place.
B. RIDER ON A RED HORSE
The second horse and rider were called forth. This horse was fiery red. His purpose was to make war that will cause a great slaughter with much bloodshed. Perhaps he is allowed to carry out the purposes of the first rider to conquer nations.
C. RIDER ON A BLACK HORSE
This horse and rider bring in worldwide shortages of food. This condition often follows as a consequence of war. It will take a man’s entire daily wage just to buy enough grain or barley for his personal needs. A voice from among the four living creatures indicated that a limit has been placed on this rider. Two other food supplies, oil and wine are not to be damaged by the black horse rider. No reason is given for this limitation.
D. RIDER ON A PALE HORSE
With the opening of the fourth seal, another horse and rider were released. The rider is identified as Death, with Hades following after him. It is the deadliest of all. One fourth of the world’s population will be destroyed. Death may come by war, famine, disease, and wild animals. Once food is scarce, animals may begin to attack man for food.
The first seals of the tribulation strike terror in our hearts. The Antichrist will strike with a vengeance as he begins his campaign to conquer the earth. As his time runs short, his intensity will accelerate during the second half of the seven years.
- It appears that God is using the enemy to accomplish His just purposes. Who is ultimately responsible for the judgment? (Zephaniah 1:14-18)
- What does a bow represent? (Psalm 46:9)
- The rider holds a bow but no arrows. What is Jesus’ weapon? (Revelation 19:15)
- In Zechariah 1:7-17, horses represent God’s activity on earth. The fourth rider is death with Hades following. Who really has the keys to death and Hades? (Revelation 1:18)
- The description of the Day of the Lord should strike terror in the hearts of man. Believers, however, should have no fear. What is our greatest comfort? (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
- Does anxiety have a place in your life? Ask God for the peace that passes understanding this week.
DAY THREE: THE FIFTH SEAL IS BROKEN.
READ: Revelation 6:9-11
A. MARTYRS ARE REVEALED.
The fifth seal takes us from the ravaged earth full of war and death back to God’s throne room. The martyrs coming out of the first part of the tribulation have been slain for their testimony. They are claiming the promise of God that he will avenge the wrongs done to them.
As is often the case, God’s timing regarding answered prayer seems too long in coming. They are told they must wait a little longer. They are given a white robe and an encouraging word – rest for a little while until all is accomplished. There will yet be more martyrs in this period of time that will be avenged and rewarded.
- What has God promised to those who have been wronged? (Romans 12:19)
- Antichrist pretends to be the prince of peace. What is his real objective? (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)
- Who is the true Prince of Peace? (Isaiah 9:6).
- How is God’s justice described in 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7? How is this a comfort to you?
- What is God’s great promise in I Peter 2:20-23?
- What is your attitude and response to opposition and suffering?
DAY FOUR: THE SIXTH SEAL IS BROKEN.
READ: Revelation 6:12-17
A. JUDGMENT FALLS ON NATURE.
Jesus opened the sixth seal and John saw a great earthquake along with a blackout on the earth along with cosmic upheaval. The topography of the earth was changed. World leaders and ordinary people tried to escape by hiding in caves and rocks. They expressed a death wish because they recognized that this judgment is from God.
Each series of judgments ends with great convulsions in nature. They leave no doubt that the wrath of the Lamb has come. These kinds of events cannot be explained away as natural catastrophes. Yet the people try to flee and hide instead of turning to God.
- Read the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24:1-8 and note the similarities of the sixth seal and the beginnings of birth pangs spoken of by Jesus.
- What is God’s desire for man? (2 Peter 3:9)
- What impact does it have on your life to understand the travail that will come on unbelievers in the tribulation?
- What is our promise from God in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10?
DAY FIVE: SUMMARY OF THE SEALS
A. THE JUDGMENT BEGINS.
This chapter introduced us to the birth pangs of God’s time of judgment on the earth. This indicates that the worst is yet to come. Each wave of judgment is carefully meted out by God in a progressive succession of events. Man is yet given time and opportunity to turn to God in heartfelt belief and humble submission. Many will believe and many of these new believers will be killed for standing for God as Antichrist tries to conquer the world and establish his anti-God kingdom.
With the first four seals, no rider is identified. We are left to wonder if they are human or superhuman. There are no specific identifications of geographic locations of the wars. Of course, wars and famines and death are common to man in every generation. We often wonder if some of the “natural” disasters in our recent history have been sent as a wakeup call from God. But the sixth seal leaves man with no doubt that judgment from God has come to earth. The Day of the Lord that was so often spoken about by the Old Testament prophets has come.
B. THE PEOPLE RESPOND.
This first series of “warnings” will bring about typical responses – all will eventually understand what is happening but not all will repent and plead for mercy. John was writing not only to tell us what will take place but also to encourage God’s people in every period of time. This reveals God’s great character of justice and mercy. It also reveals the great cosmic battle between God and Satan that will end in victory for God and for the overcomers of the world.
- What attribute of man would keep him from repenting in the face of such proof? (Proverbs 16:18)
- Why has God waited so long to execute judgment on earth? (2 Peter 3:8-10)
- What attributes of God found in Exodus 34:6-7 do you find in this chapter?
- How would you describe God’s mercy to an unbeliever?
- Pray for an “open door” to speak to one person this week about God’s purposes.
From the control center of the universe, God is directing the course of history. He has planned a birth of His beautiful kingdom on earth, but first the birth pangs must begin and intensify. His chosen people must be purified and must accept their Messiah. His kingdom will result in an earth that is governed the way God intended mankind to behave and live together in peace. The ultimate end product will be a new heaven and a new earth beyond belief in its beauty and holiness. Rejoice – the best is yet to come!
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK
God’s love and patience reach out to all men.
Reach out to one person this week and share one new truth about God’s glorious plan or share God’s love in some tangible way.
About the author
LaWanda Neel is a lifelong Bible student. She has served as a Teaching Leader for Bible Study Fellowship and has conducted studies for neighborhood and church groups. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Lakewood, Colorado. She spends time reading, studying, teaching, writing, traveling all around the world and entertaining her five grandchildren. This is her third Weekly Word series for Thrive Ministries. Contact her for questions or comments at [email protected]View all articles by: LaWanda Neel
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