The events that follow in this chapter describe the actions that take place as a result of opening six of the seven seals of the scroll from chapter 5. The seventh seal will be opened in chapter 8.
The first seal was opened and revealed a white horse with a person on it who had a bow and a crown and went out into the earth to conquer the nations. Both the bow and the crown speak clearly of a conqueror. Notice the bow had no arrows and that the crown, a sign of authority, was freely given to the rider. This can refer only to the peaceful takeover of the world system, which occurs in the first part of the Tribulation. This rider is a counterfeit Messiah. (Matthew 24:5, 24; Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8; I Thessalonians 5:1-3; Revelation 19:11-13)
The second seal was opened and revealed a red horse and its rider was given power to take the peace that was given by the rider of the white horse. When this happens the killing begins and nations rise against nations. The red horse is typically used to describe a war-horse and there can be little doubt that this rider brings war, international and internal strife to nations around the earth. (Matthew 24:6-8,15; Mark 13:7-14; Luke 21:9-10)
The third seal was opened and a black horse came forth. The rider had a pair of scales in his hand. The angel makes a statement regarding the buying of food during this period, which pictures famine and inflation. The control of the world’s money will be in the hand of the Anti-Christ and even gold and silver will become worthless. The result will be widespread famine and starvation. The prohibition to destroy the production of olive oil and wine point to the inequality of the famine. Apparently the wealthy do not suffer the same fate as the poor, yet. (Ezekiel 4:10-16, 7:19)
The fourth seal was opened and a pale horse came forth. The rider of this horse was the personification of death, and Hades followed him. The last half of Revelation 6:8 gives the explanation of what this means. Power is given this rider to kill with the sword, with famine, with disease and with wild beasts. One- fourth of the earth will be affected by this rider. Hades following should be understood that what follows death for the unbeliever on earth during this period is Hades. (Ezekiel 14:12-21; Revelation 20:13-14)
Whether these riders are the Anti-Christ, his emissaries or a general term used to describe the forces of war, bloodshed and death that come upon the earth, is unclear. We do know that Satan is behind the scene working to counterfeit the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ by subduing the nations of the earth by whatever means necessary. (II Thessalonians 2:3-4)
The fifth seal was opened and there is no longer a horse and a rider. What was revealed by opening this seal was the souls of those who were martyred during the Tribulation, and their plea for retribution on those who killed them. The Lord’s word to these believers in Heaven (white robes indicate their state of righteousness) is to rest for a while. The answer to their plea will follow, but not until other believers are likewise martyred for their faith and testimony. When this number is complete (fulfilled), the Lord will avenge the deaths of these faithful believers by sending judgment upon the entire earth. (Revelation 7:9,13)
The sixth seal was opened and like the fifth no horse or rider appeared. Instead, a series of events will be unleashed upon the earth unlike it has ever experienced. The first of these is an earthquake, the second is the sun is blackened, the third is the moon turns red, the fourth is the stars fall from heaven, the fifth is the sky is rolled up, and the sixth is the mountains and the islands are dislodged from their place. Jesus prophesied this event in Matthew 24:27-30. So terrible will be these occurrences that men will hide in caves and ask the mountains to fall on them rather than face the wrath of God. (Isaiah 2:10-21; Luke 23:28-30)
These passages should further re-enforce for each of us as believers our personal sense of destiny. Being in union with Jesus Christ assures us that we cannot be condemned and the Rapture of the Church assures us that we will not be on earth during these terrible events.
In the first chapter of Ephesians we are given a clear picture of what it means to be “in Christ” and a picture of our personal sense of destiny. In verse 3 is a reference to our position in Christ. Verse 4 begins the list of blessings based on the doctrine of Election, which means “chosen” or “called.” Remember, it is in Him that we are elected. Jesus Christ was elected by God the Father, therefore, we are elected (chosen). (I Peter 2:6) God has chosen those who believe to be holy (set apart) and without blame. (II Timothy 1:9, Colossians 3:12-17)
Holy (set apart) has to do with the doctrine of sanctification:
In verse 5-6 we see that part of God’s predetermined plan for the believer is to become a child of God and to be accepted into the family of God. Adoption means, “to be placed as children.” We can have a family relationship with God only by faith in Jesus Christ. This relationship guarantees us an inheritance beyond our imaginations. (Ephesians 1:11,14; Galatians 4:4-7) Predestination means predetermined or predesigned. God’s predesigned plan for the believer in time is to execute the Christian Way of Life. (Ephesians 2:10) God’s pre-designed plan for the believer in eternity is for him to possess a glorified body. (Philippians 3:20-21; Revelation 21)
In verse 7 we have received redemption and forgiveness. Redemption means that the believer has been purchased from the slave market of sin. Jesus Christ became our Kinsman Redeemer, an Old Testament practice whereby a close relative could buy the freedom of a slave. The Bible tells that we were slaves to sin. Christ met the requirements for being our Kinsman Redeemer; He was able to redeem as a near kinsman (His humanity) and He met the purchase price (spiritual death). He was also willing to redeem (He was obedient to the Father’s plan). (John 1:1-3,14; Hebrews 2:9-11; I Corinthians 6:20; II Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:5-8; Romans 5:19; Luke 23:46)
Verses 11, 14 and 18 tell us that we have obtained an inheritance in Christ. Because the believer is in union with Christ, he is a joint-heir of an inheritance that belongs to Christ. We are simply shareholders in something that belongs to our Savior. This inheritance is something that is above and beyond what we are able to comprehend. We are also told that this inheritance is reserved in Heaven with our name on it. (Colossians 1:12; 3:24; Hebrews 9:15; I Peter 1:4)
Verses 13 and 14 tell us that our inheritance has been permanently secured by the Holy Spirit. Once a person believes in Christ for eternal life, the Holy Spirit seals this decision for all eternity. Salvation can never be lost. The reason salvation cannot be lost is that it depends on God’s faithfulness, not ours. In verse 14 the word “earnest” means guarantee. It is similar to an earnest money contract when buying property. The earnest money guarantees or secures the property for you. In the same manner the sealing of God the Holy Spirit secures our eternal life for us. (John 10:28-29; I John 5:13)