Jack Van Impe Ministries
"A MESSAGE OF HOPE"

Today, we are going to jump back into our study of Revelation chapter 6 by looking at the “seal” judgments.

First seal

Verse 1: And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the voice of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

At this command, the apostle sees the One who is worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof, the blessed Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, beginning the work of judgment. Immediately John hears the noise of thunder, a sign of impending catastrophe, as well as one of the living creatures (angels) saying, Come and see. The words, and see, are not in the original, just the word Come. It is a command given to the rider on the white horse, the infamous Anti-Christ. His time has arrived!

Verse 2: And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

satan has always tried to duplicate the works of God. Back in the day of Moses, the demon possessed magicians of Pharaoh were able to accomplish the same miracles as Aaron. This has always been satan’s ploy. He is not the creator God is. All he can do is imitate or fake the works of the Almighty.

This rider appears at the outset, or beginning, of the Tribulation period. There can be no such hour without him. Since he is the master counterfeiter, who is he imitating? The answer is found in chapter 19, verses 11 through 16, which describe Christ’s return at the conclusion of the Tribulation. The fake begins it and the Saviour ends it. John says, And I saw heaven opened. This is the second time an opening appears in heaven (see Revelation 19:11) to provide an exit for Christ and His bride as they return to earth. As heaven is opened, John beholds a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierce-ness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OFKINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

This is the coming of the true Christ. Since our Christ is God, the Antichrist also proclaims himself as God. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). We will study this hypocritical creep later. Presently let’s just skim the surface.

The Antichrist comes to power through an inter-national peace pact (see Daniel 9:27). This is why the horse’s rider has a bow but no arrows. The Antichrist conquers through diplomacy as a king, hence, the crown. In fact, when he takes control over the nations via a world government, power [is] given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations (Revelation 13:7).

The Antichrist is rapidly followed by three additional riders of judgment. Together, these four horsemen of the apocalypse bring heartache upon the globe such as has never been experienced in the annals of history. The Antichrist is called the Beast because of his character (chapter 13, verses 2 and 3), because he ascends out of the abyss (chapter 17, verse 8) and because he receives his power, his throne, and his authority from satan (chapter 13, verse 2). The Anti-Christ's ascendancy to world leadership signals the unleashing of the remaining twenty judgments.

The peace that was made by the first rider is broken by the one who mounts the red horse. This, of course, is in harmony with the first rider’s or Anti-Christ's program. Daniel 9:27 outlines the peace package as well as its failure: And he [the Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. When peace is confirmed, the Jews will feel at ease to conduct sacrifices with-out fear of war. However, in the midst of the week, or literally in the middle of the heptad, the contract is broken. The term heptad in the original means “seven years.” As decade means “ten years” in English, so heptad means “seven years” in Hebrew. Now we understand more fully why the Tribulation covers a timetable of seven years simply because Daniel 9:27 states that the Antichrist will make his proposal for a heptad seven years and then break it in the midst of the heptad, or after three and one-half years.

Second seal

Verse 3: And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

Verse 4: And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

One of the nations that marches during this period of time is Red Russia. How interesting that a rider on a red horse takes peace from the earth! Could Red Russia play such a major role during this hour?

In Ezekiel 38:2, the terms Magog, Meshech, Tub-al, and Rosh are mentioned in connection with a march to the Middle East for the battle of battles, before Armageddon. Listen to the message God gave Ezekiel: Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him (Ezekiel 38:2). Each of these names can be located within the present day Soviet Union. Tobolsk, the eastern capital of the USSR, is the ancient “Tubal” mentioned in the text. It is southwest of Siberia on modern maps the place where U-2 pilot Gary Powers was gunned down years ago. Meshech is Moscow. The historical names for Moscow begin with “Meshech,” then “Moshoch,” then “Moschi,” then “Moscoty,” then “Moscovy” and finally, Moscow. “Rosh” is Russia herself.

This “great bear” invades Israel from the north: And thou shalt come up from thy place of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, 0 Gog, before their eyes (Ezekiel 38:15-16). The Soviet Union is directly north of Israel and moves against her in the latter days (see Ezekiel 38:8). The attack centers around the Holy Land. In fact, the name Israel is used eighteen times to identify the nation being invaded in Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. Such information attests to the divine inspiration of the Bible, for there was no nation in modern history called Israel until 1948.

This war of the future undoubtedly occurs close to or during the Tribulation hour because the facts presented in this Book of Revelation tie in harmoniously with Ezekiel’s prophecy. In fact, the eighth and ninth chapters contain two unusual predictions concerning the woes of the Tribulation hour which point to such a mid-East war. Chapter 8, verse 7, mentions the burning of one-third of the earth as the first angel sounded. I quote: The first angel sounded, And there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. In turn, Revelation 9:18 depicts the extinction of one-third of the world’s inhabitants, for, by these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

In a recent edition of The Life Pictorial Atlas, which lists land areas and population figures for every country of the world, it contained some shocking proof that these prophecies and astronomical figures are capable of being fulfilled at the present time. According to this statistical survey, Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America incorporate a total of 56,889,581 square miles. Dividing this figure by three, one arrives at the sum of 18,963,194 square miles-the amount of land area that will burn during the Tribulation period according to Revelation 8:7. Comparing this figure with the combined land areas of the nations predicted to align themselves for the Middle East confrontations (Daniel 2:7 and 11 and Ezekiel 38 and 39), one discovers that the two sums are identical one third of the globe to the exact mile, believe it or not! Is this startling? Let’s go one step further. The Atlas also lists the population figures for the nations of earth. The same alignment of pro and anti-Russian nations for the war of wars totals one third of earth’s inhabitants! Revelation 8:7 and 9:18 could become factual events, fulfilling verse 4 very, very soon!

Third seal

Verse 5: 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.

Verse 6: And 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 wine.

Famine and inflation usually follow war. The rider on the black horse produces these tragic twin sorrows upon earth. Ezekiel prophesied this hour: And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time thou shalt eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure ... be hold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care (Ezekiel 4:10,11,16). Leviticus 26:26 states: Ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. This is pictured by the pair of balances in our text. The angel in Revelation 6:6 also cries, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny. In Bible times laborers received a denarious, or one penny, as an entire day’s wages (see Matthew 20:2). A measure would be sixteen of our American ounces. Think of it! An entire day’s wages for a loaf of bread! No wonder Moses said, Ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. A man will have to spend everything he has just for the necessities of life. What about the oil and wine? These items were luxuries in Bible times, and we find that there are those who still possess them during the Tribulation. Nevertheless, the general picture is that of hunger stalking the world. Why?

Inflation, the leading economic culprit, becomes so bad during the Tribulation that precious metals actually become worthless. Those who think that it will help to hoard diamonds, gold, or silver should beware! During this period of time, inflation will skyrocket and the Antichrist’s numerical program, 666, will replace gold, silver, and paper money. Because of the situation, they shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord (Ezekiel 7:19). James adds in chapter 5, verses 1 and 3, Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you ... your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Earthly treasure, then as now, brings nothing but sorrow and tears in the last days. One had better do what he can for the Lord while he can. Why leave it behind for the Tribulation hour or keep it until it becomes valueless? Every Christian should serve God with material blessings, winning souls to Him for all eternity. Jesus said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21). One can either let go, give it to God and store it up on the other side or hang on, keep it, and let greedy, unsaved relatives share it, losing it both here and forever. One must make his choice, either for the here and now, or for eternity.

Fourth seal

Let’s move on to the next rider, on a pale horse, who aggravates the conditions begun by the rider on the black horse. The third seal unleashes hunger and inflation upon the earth, but the fourth seal produces mass starvation.

Verses 7-8: And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And 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.

This horse is described as pale. The Greek word is chloros from which we get the term chlorine gas. In other areas of the New Testament, we find that chloros is translated “green” (see Mark 6:39 and Revelation 9:4).

The fourth rider is the deadliest. This is why his name is Death and why Hell follows with him. He destroys the body, then Hell swallows up the souls and spirits of those he kills with sword, hunger, and the beasts of the earth probably AIDS, produced by a monkey virus. One-fourth of the world’s population dies through his brutality more than one billion, five hundred million people at today’s population figures. This could easily happen given the capability of mankind’s atomic, hydrogen, and neutron bombs. Today’s armies have the means to reduce population figures by tens of millions within hours. Their arsenals include chemical warfare and test tubes filled with germs for the greatest biological and bacteriological attack ever. The aftereffects of such a battle could easily dwindle earth’s population by twenty five percent. God help us when it happens!

Fifth seal

Next, the opening of the fifth seal brings forth the cries of slain martyrs. Jesus spoke of this hour in Matthew 24:9-10. Hear Him: Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you. and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Please read Revelation chapter 4 again. Rediscover that this reference is to Tribulation saints composed of elect Israelites and those Gentiles converted by the preaching of the 144,00 Jewish evangelists. These persecuted saints and martyrs are not part of the Church, the body of Christ and the bride of the Saviour already in glory (chapter 4, verse 1).

Verses 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: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And 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 fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

These martyred saints are seen under the altar. In the Old Testament, the altar always referred to the place where blood had been sacrificed. Souls will be saved during the Tribulation hour the same way souls are saved today, through the precious shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because the believers of the Tribulation hour proclaim Christ crucified, they lose their lives. At this point every twentieth century believer should ask himself the question, “Would there be enough evidence to convict me as a Christian during this period of time were I present?” However, in this age of grace, we also will be the losers if we attempt to be secret disciples, never testifying of our faith in Christ Jesus. The Saviour said, Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my father which is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

Please listen to this next statement carefully. These slain martyrs are crying. They are not in an unconscious state. The doctrine of “soul sleep” is not taught in the Bible. Some denominations teach that all believers sleep until the resurrection morning. Not so! Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8, To be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord. The “soul sleep” adherents can never find a time when they are absent from their bodies. If the soul remains in a state of sleep in that body until the morning of Christ’s return, the two are never together. The Bible teaches that they are separated. The body is asleep in one place (the grave), whereas the soul is alive in another place (heaven or hell). For the Christian, to be absent from the body means to be present with the Lord. That is why Paul said, To die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

It is also the reason that, when Christ returns at the Rapture, He brings those who sleep (the dead) with Him: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Now, how can the Lord bring the dead with Him and still come after the dead in 1 Thessalonians 4:16? Simple. It’s because the dead are in two places! The souls and spirits are with the Lord (absent from the body and present with the Lord), but their bodies are in the grave. Hence, Christ brings the dead the souls and spirits already in His presence with Him, so they may come to get their bodies. That’s why the dead in Christ rise first. But all this pictures the Rapture. The text under investigation describes a later time, the Tribulation hour.

It is then that the spirits of the martyred Tribulation saints cry. They also wear white robes. Lifeless spirits cannot cry or wear white robes. The solution? The spiritual being has a temporary covering. Proof: For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved [dead], we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1). We may not understand everything about the spirit world, but one thing is certain, being in spirit form does not mean unconsciousness. Spirits move, talk, cry, and even wear white robes. Demons also are spirits. They spoke on many occasions in the Gospels. Why? Spirits live! Away with the doctrine of “soul sleep” in any dispensation! Our loved ones are with Jesus if they died trusting in the merits of the shed blood. They are also under the altar, just as these Tribulation saints will be. Soon they will come forth for their eternal covering, their bodies.

Now, since we have learned that it is possible for the dead to cry because the spirit never ceases to exist, we next discover that their cry is one of vengeance. Why? They are not under grace, the love covenant. Instead, they want blood. Stephen, under grace, cried, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge (Acts 7:60). But this is a different dispensation the fulfillment of the hour mentioned by David when he spoke of the actions of Jehovah, saying, He maketh inquisition for blood (Psalm 9:12). This group of saints knows that prophecy is being fulfilled, and they wonder how much longer their loved ones, still alive, must suffer. The Lord speaks to them about having a little more patience. There will be one more wave of persecution in chapter 20, verse 4. Then they will live and reign with Him for 1,000 years.

Sixth seal

Verses 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; And 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. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And 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; And 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: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

In verse 12, we see a great earthquake. There are three quakes in the Book of Revelation, the one mentioned here plus two others in chapter 11, verse 13, and chapter 16, verses 18 and 19. It is interesting to note that the judgments of the first four seals were under the jurisdiction of the Antichrist. The opening of the sixth seal, however, begins the administration of supernatural judgment from heaven. One cannot conscientiously interpret these events figuratively. The judgments occurring in this portion of Scripture are to be taken literally. And why not? Do you know that earthquakes have accompanied the judgment of God throughout history? Mount Sinai quaked when God descended upon it in fire: And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly (Exodus 19:18). Rocks were smashed to smithereens through earthquakes in Elijah’s day: For, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord (1 Kings 19:11).

There was also a great earthquake when Christ died at Calvary: Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose (Matthew 27:51-52). If all these quakes were real, why wouldn’t the scene before us be literal? It is exactly what Jesus predicted for the Tribulation hour. He said, And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken (Luke 21:25,26).

At this time the earthquakes and convulsions upon earth are so great that the stars of heaven fall like figs being shaken out of a tree prematurely. Strong winds, possible tornadoes, and hurricanes also wreak great havoc. The devastating quakes cause mountains and islands to be moved from their foundations. No wonder one half of the world’s population dies through the manifold catastrophes that bombard the earth. The scene is so terrifying that kings, great men, rich men, chief captains, mighty men, bondmen, and all free men hide in dens and mountains for safety. Now we understand Christ’s statement: Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth (Luke 21:26). The situation becomes so unbearable that humanity pleads to die, begging for obliteration and annihilation by crying to the mountains and rocks saying, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:16-17).

Thank God, the Church is in heaven during this calamitous hour!

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