Revelation 6

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

Revelation 6

The seals
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, ‘Come!’ 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come!’ 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘A kilogram of wheat for a day’s wages, and three kilograms of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’

7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a quarter of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.

12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig-tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’


The Lamb is worthy to open the seven seals - this is a symbol of his divine authority to bring history to its conclusion. This next section of Revelation, which covers several chapters, includes three sets of seven judgements - seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls each depicting God’s kingdom and justice coming to earth as it is in heaven.

We begin with the seven seals that the slain Lamb who sits next to the throne begins to open. Each of the first four open seals appears to let loose one of the so called ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse’. It’s an image taken from Zechariah 1, and they each symbolise times of war, conquest, famine and death. People debate whether John’s revelation depicts events that have happened, are happening, or will eventually happen when Jesus returns. I think they speak of the time following Jesus’ resurrection until his return. Just switch on the news to see that war, murder, famine and death are daily realities.

The fifth seal represents Christian martyrs and in response to their cries for an end to the bloodiness of the world, there appears to be the promise that more martyrs will come so they should rest. The 6th seal describes a colossal series of natural disasters.

We see multiple instances of suffering. The martyrs who died unjustly called out saying: “… ’How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’

How long?!

This is a familiar Old Testament phrase.

Psalm 13 says:
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (1-2).

This is the phrase for people who are perplexed about their innocent suffering. It’s a phrase uttered by people also thinking “Does God care that his people suffer?”

The problem of suffering isn’t resolved in this chapter, but it takes a centre stage in Revelation, and the remainder of the narrative will show how God answers this timeless cry of his suffering people.

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