Holy Father, we humble ourselves before you. We thank you for your Word. We are making it a top priority to understand your Word and to live in line with your Word. We want to be fully ready to stand before you at the end of this age. We thank you for full salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray in His mighty, holy name. Amen!
We started a verse-by-verse study of Revelation chapters 4 through 10 in the last article. As I mentioned, I'm building this teaching on my verse-by-verse study of Revelation chapters 1-10 that is located on my internet site. Today we'll start with Rev. 5:6. I'll read the first part of the verse, "And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain." As the margin of the New American Standard Bible shows, a more literal translation of the Greek would be "And I saw in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain." The Lamb of God was on the throne, inside of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. The Lamb of God, with God the Father, was the center of attention.
The Lord Jesus Christ is frequently called a Lamb because of His all-important atoning death. I'll read John 1:29, for an example, "The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' " Revelation 5:9, 12 (along with many other verses) confirm that the Lord Jesus Christ had actually been slain. He had been slain, bearing our sins with the guilt and the penalties, but now He was alive again, being the "first-born from the dead" (see Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). He was the first man (though He was a whole lot more than just a man) to leave death behind and be born into the fullness of the eternal life of God's new creation. He had overcome, and now He had earned the right to take the scroll from the right hand of God the Father, to break the seven seals and open the scroll, and to bring to pass the things written in the scroll.
Now I'll read all of verse 6, and we'll further discuss this verse. "And I saw in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth." Sometimes horns (the horns of animals) serve as a symbol for reigning, power, and dominion (see, for example, 1 Sam. 2:10; Psalm 89:17, 24; Dan. 7:7, 8, 20, 24; Rev. 17:12). The number seven is used here (and often in the book of Revelation) as a symbolic number for perfection. For the resurrected Lamb to have seven horns is a symbolic way of saying that he has all authority, power, and dominion. After His resurrection Jesus said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18; and I listed some other verses), but in the plan of God, this authority, power, and dominion won't be manifested in a full sense until the end of this age, when Jesus returns to save His people and judge the world. His unlimited authority, power, and dominion, which is symbolized by the seven horns, will be manifested as He brings to pass all the things prophesied in the book of Revelation.
What is the time setting for the scene pictured in Revelation chapters 4 and 5? The revelation that God the Father gave to the Lord Jesus Christ to show to His bond-servants (see Rev. 1:1) wasn't given to the apostle John until about AD 95, but the scene pictured here in chapter 5 fits best at a time shortly after the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we'll discuss the last words of this verse, "and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth." For the Son of God, who is deity with God the Father (and God the Holy Spirit), to have seven eyes is a symbolic way of saying that He sees (accurately sees and fully sees) everything everywhere. And we are informed that He does this by "the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth," which is a symbolic way to say that He does this by the Holy Spirit (see Rev. 1:4).
I'll read Rev. 5:7, "And He came and took the book [or, scroll] out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne." As we have discussed, the Lord Jesus Christ came and took the scroll out of the right hand of God the Father.
Revelation 5:8. "When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." It would be quite improper for anyone to fall down before the Lamb to worship if the Lamb were not deity with God the Father - He is deity! Most agree that it was only the twenty-four elders (the four living creatures were not included) who were holding the harps and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. The fact that our prayers are being kept in golden bowls and are presented before God as incense is interesting and important information. Our prayers that haven't been answered yet, that have been prayed in the will of God and in faith, don't just vanish - they will be answered! Especially relevant in this context are prayers like, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:9). For God's will to be done, including His will being done in our lives, is all that really matters.
We must understand that the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and our great high priest who intercedes for us (see Rom. 8:34, for example), is the One who makes our prayers acceptable before the Father, not the twenty-four elders. Also, we pray in His name. It's true, however, that God does give significant authority and responsibility to others, both angelic beings and men. We're not talking about angelic beings or men competing with God or trying to take some of the glory due to Him (the triune God). We're talking about the fact that God chooses to give important assignments to those under Him, to angelic beings and to men, which they carry out by His grace and for His glory. He didn't create us to be unimportant and to do unimportant things. When we are doing what He wants us to do, it's important. On the relationship between prayer and incense, see Rev. 8:3, 4, and I listed some other verses.
I'll read Rev. 5:9, "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the scroll and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." The fact that we have been purchased for God by the blood of the Lamb is a dominant theme of the New Testament. Every person who has a place in God's new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem will have that place through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death (see Rev. 21:27, for example).
I'll read Rev. 5:10, "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." I'll also read the first part of Rev. 1:6, "And He [the Lord Jesus Christ] has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father." In a preliminary sense we Christians are in the kingdom now (see, for example, Luke 17:21; Rom. 14:17), and in one sense we are priests now (see Exod. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Many verses, however, show that the kingdom will not be here in its full sense until the King returns to establish His kingdom. As we have discussed, many verses show that we will begin to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns and we are glorified. Revelation 20:6, which speaks of the millennial kingdom, says we will be "priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." Revelation 22:5 shows that our reign will continue in the eternal state that follows the millennial kingdom. I assume our priesthood will also continue in the eternal state (see Rev. 22:3-5).
I'll comment briefly on the translations of the King James Version and the New King James Version here in verse 10. They have "us" instead of "them" and "we shall reign" instead of "they shall reign." Also, in verse 9 they have "redeemed us" instead of "purchased men." With the translation of the KJV and NKJV, the twenty-four elders would be singing this song about themselves. Those who accept that translation typically believe that the twenty-four elders are human representatives of the church; they don't believe that they are high level angelic beings. I'm confident that the translation of the NASB is correct here. Every other translation I have looked at is in agreement with the NASB here, including the NIV, the Amplified Bible, the New English Bible, the New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, the New Living Translation, the Contemporary English Version, the RSV, the NRSV, the New American Bible, and the Jerusalem Bible. Also, the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (1993 edition) has the Greek text followed by the NASB, and they indicate that, from their point of view, that Greek text "is certain."
I'll read Rev. 5:11, "Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands." The NKJV has, "the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." The word myriads comes from the Greek murias, muriados, which was sometimes used of a literal ten thousand, but also was used of a very large number, not limited to a literal ten thousand.
I'll read verse 12, "saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches [or, wealth] and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." The BAGD Greek Lexicon and the NIV have "praise" here and in verse 13 instead of "blessing." Note that Rev. 4:11 says that God the Father is worthy to receive "glory and honor and power." Also see Rev. 5:13; 7:12. As I commented under Rev. 4:11, things like "glory, honor, and power" already belong to God by virtue of who He is and what He has done, and that certainly includes the "wisdom" mentioned in Rev. 7:12. It's rather obvious that men cannot give wisdom to God. He receives these things from His worshippers in the sense that they are ascribed to Him. The "blessing (or, praise)" of Rev. 5:12, 13; 7:12 and the "thanksgiving" of Rev. 7:12 are in a different category; such things can truly be given to God by men and angels in worship.
I'll read Rev. 5:13, "And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, 'To Him who sits on the throne [God the Father], and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.' " The praise and worship of heaven pictured in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 expands here to include the entire universe. There is some uncertainty whether the devil and his followers are included here. Some say yes, and some say no. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm sure that whichever way this question is answered, it must not be allowed to obscure the fact that the emphasis of this verse is on genuine praise and worship of God the Father and God the Son. The wording of this verse seems to include all creatures, including the enemies of God. On the other hand, the devil isn't going to worship God in the way His angelic beings and His people worship Him, but the devil will be forced to bow his knee before the Father and the Son and to admit their glory, honor, dominion, etc. I'll read Phil. 2:9-11, "For this reason also, God [God the Father] highly exalted Him [the Lord Jesus Christ], and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name [excluding, of course, the name of God the Father], so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Now I'll read the last verse of chapter 5, verse 14. "And the four living creatures kept saying 'Amen.' And the elders fell down and worshiped." The twenty-four elders falling down to worship the Lord Jesus Christ with the Father would be totally inappropriate if He were not deity with the Father and the Spirit - He is! The book of Revelation emphasizes the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we're ready for Revelation chapter 6. In this chapter the Lord Jesus Christ breaks the first six of the seven seals on the all-important scroll that He took from the right hand of God the Father in chapter 5. We don't receive much in the way of new revelation in this chapter, but this chapter is quite important. I'll read verse 1, "Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, 'Come' " The KJV and NKJV, following a different Greek reading, have "come and see." There is widespread agreement that the Greek reading followed by the NASB (and every other translation I have looked at) is the original reading. The living creature was calling forth the rider on the first horse, the white horse, even as the other three living creatures call forth the next three riders in the following verses. We learn of the famous four horsemen of the Apocalypse from these verses (Rev. 6:1-8). In the Greek, the book of Revelation is called the Apocalypse [the unveiling, the revelation] of John.
I agree with the widespread viewpoint that the four horsemen all ride forth throughout this entire Christian age, up until about the time of the sounding of the sixth trumpet of the book of Revelation and Antichrist's abomination of desolation. The primary cross-reference that convinces me of this interpretation is the teaching of Jesus in the Olivet discourse of Matthew chapter 24; Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21. As we will discuss when we study the opening of the first three seals, the rider on the first horse correlates (at least to some significant extent) with what Jesus said in Matt. 24:14 (about the gospel being preached in the whole world before the end comes); and the riders on the second and third horses correlate with what Jesus said in Matt. 24:6-8 (regarding warfare and famine). The warfare and famine associated with the second and third seals are part of what Jesus called "the beginning of birth pangs" in Matt. 24:8. As we discussed when we studied Matthew chapter 24, the transition beyond "the beginning of birth pangs" will take place with Antichrist's abomination of desolation (see Matt. 24:9, 15).
I'll read Rev. 6:2, "I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer." I believe the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Word of the gospel of Christ, is the rider on the white horse. Some Christians believe the rider on the white horse in Antichrist. That's quite a difference isn't it? For one thing, the Greek adjective "leukos," which is translated "white" here, is used fifteen other times in the book of Revelation. In each of the fifteen uses, white is used of things associated with God (purity and victory, for example). Revelation 19:11 is an important example. In that verse the Lord Jesus Christ is pictured riding on a white horse as He goes forth conquering in His end-time judgment of the world.
Henry Alford, who was a Christian scholar in the 1800s (in his "New Testament for English Readers," under this verse) commented that the viewpoint I am presenting "was taken, with divergences of separate detail, by all expositors from the earliest times down to the year 1500." Even if Alford missed an expositor or two, it is quite significant that very few, if any, questioned this interpretation before 1500. I'll read a sentence Alford quotes from Victorinus, a bishop and exegete, who died as a martyr about 304. "The white horse is the preaching with the aid of the Holy Spirit sent forth into the world; for the Lord saith, 'This gospel shall be preached through all the world for a testimony before the nations, and then shall the end come.' "
I'll read Rev. 6:3, 4, "When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, 'Come.' (4) And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him." The color red undoubtedly goes with the shedding of blood; these verses inform us that various wars will be taking place throughout this present age. I'll quote what Jesus said in Matt. 24:6 and the first part of verse 7, "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. (7) For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom...." (Also see Mark 13:7, 8; and Luke 21:10.) Alford quotes Victorinus again here, "The red horse, and he that sat upon him having a sword, are future wars, as we read in the gospel, for nation shall rise against nation...(referring to Matt. 24:7)."
I'll read Rev. 6:5, 6, "When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, 'Come.' I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. (6) And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, 'A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.' " I agree with the widespread viewpoint that these verses prophesy of famine, limited famine. The fact that the oil and the wine are not damaged helps show that the famine is limited. A denarius can be considered the daily wages for a laborer. Based on the information cited in the commentaries, the prices given here for wheat and barley are some eight to fifteen times higher than the normal prices in the Roman Empire of John's day.
I'll read what Jesus said in Matt. 24:7, "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes." We should undoubtedly expect to see things like warfare, famines, and earthquakes increase in frequency and magnitude at the end of this age.
We'll go on to Rev. 6:7, 8, "When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, 'Come.' (8) I looked, and behold, an ashen horse [In the margin the NASB has, "or, sickly pale," which can be considered the color of death.]; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. [[Death and Hades are personified here. It is not surprising that Hades would follow Death; Hades is the abode for the dead (see Rev. 20:13, 14, for example). But true Christians do not go to hades at death; they go to be with the Lord (see 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21, 23; and 1 Thess. 4:14).]] Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence [or, plague] and by the wild beasts of the earth." Note the correlation between being killed by the sword here and the warfare of the second seal, and the correlation between being killed by famine here and the famine of the third seal. I understand verses 7, 8 to teach that throughout this age, up until about the time of the sounding of the sixth trumpet, the total number of premature deaths from all possible causes will be limited to a maximum of a fourth of the population. Ezekiel 14:21 speaks of God's judgments against Jerusalem as "sword, famine, wild beasts and plague."
Much of the popular end-time teaching of our day understands this verse to teach that at some time during the first half of Daniel's 70th week, within a short period of time, one quarter of the entire population of the earth will be killed. I don't believe that viewpoint is correct. That would be more than one and one-half billion people being killed in a short period of time. For that many people to be killed within a short period of time would, to say the least, be a very big deal. During World War II, which lasted more than five years, the total number of deaths, including civilian deaths, was something like fifty million. Fifty million people are only some 3.3% of one and one-half billion people.
I don't believe we should expect a gigantic number of deaths in the last days until the time of the transition beyond "the beginning of birth pangs" at the abomination of desolation (see Matt. 24:8, 9, and 15). As we have discussed, the sixth trumpet of the book of Revelation will sound about the time of Antichrist's abomination of desolation. Even under the very intense warfare of the sixth trumpet, which equals the very intense warfare of the short great tribulation, I don't expect the loss of life to be close to one and one-half billion people. And the loss of life under the sounding of the first five trumpets, which will probably all sound during the first half of Daniel's 70th week, will apparently be quite limited. No lives will be lost under the fourth and fifth trumpets. We'll discuss the trumpets when we come to Revelation chapters 8, 9.
Now we come to Rev. 6:9-11 and the fifth seal. I'll read verse 9 for a start, "When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained." The "altar" here is God's sacrificial altar. We can say that their blood had been poured out at God's sacrificial altar. The time setting here is the middle of Daniel's 70th week. It is now time for the Lord Jesus Christ to return, for the resurrection and glorification of the believers to take place, and for the day of judgment to begin. It is important to keep in mind that the scroll hasn't been opened yet. After the scroll is opened, we receive many very important details regarding things that will take place just before He returns. We learn, for example, that the two witnesses will be warning mankind of His imminent return, and of their need to repent and submit to God. And we learn of the seven trumpets that will announce His return. He will return right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, at the time of the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet.
Apparently John saw the souls of all the believers of Old Testament days who had been martyred, starting with Abel, and of all the Christians who will have been martyred up until the time of Christ's return.
I'll read Rev. 6:10, "and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' " First I listed quite a few verses from the Old and New Testaments that speak of God's avenging the blood of His people that has been shed (Rev. 17:1, 6; 18:20, 24; 19:2; Gen. 4:10; Deut. 32:43; Luke 18:7, 8; Rom. 12:19; and 2 Thess. 1:4-10). He must eventually judge the world and make things right, in accordance with His character as a righteous Judge, and in accordance with His Word (both Old and New Testaments). He cannot allow the persecution and murder of His people to continue forever; neither can He allow chaos and rebellion to continue forever. He is patient and certainly is generous in giving people time to repent, but His ultimate day of judgment is coming.
I'll read Rev. 6:11, "And there was given to each of them [to each of the martyrs] a white robe; and they were told that they should rest [or, wait] for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also." First we'll discuss the words "And there was given to each of them a white robe." I believe this is way of saying that these martyrs are resurrected and receive their glorified bodies. It isn't that the white robe equals the glorified body, but it doesn't seem that the saints will wear these white robes until after they have received their glorified bodies (see Rev. 3:4, 5; 7:9, 13, 14; and 19:8, 14). In Rev. 7:9, for example, the just-raptured saints are pictured wearing white robes.
These martyrs will be resurrected, glorified, and raptured right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. They will be resurrected, glorified, and raptured along with all the saints who will have died before the Lord returns. All the glorified saints will wear white robes. The verses I just cited from the book of Revelation show, for one thing, that the white robes of Christians go with the fact that they lived righteous lives through the grace that came to them through the shed blood of God's Lamb.
Now we'll discuss the rest of the words of Rev. 6:11, "and they were told that they should rest [or, wait] for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been would be completed also." I strongly prefer the translation "wait" of the NIV, instead of "rest." These words fit perfectly with the mid-week rapture. These saints will not have to wait any longer for their resurrection, glorification, and their white robes, or for the time when they will begin to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. They are informed, however, that much more innocent blood of Christians will yet be shed, during the super-evil reign of Antichrist.
This will all work together for good for God's people. For one thing, as we have discussed, those who become Christians after the rapture will be purged, purified, and refined during those very difficult years. And God will use Antichrist to judge and destroy Babylon the great harlot during those years, which is a major feature of His end-time judgment of the world. As I mentioned, God devoted some three chapters of the book of Revelation to His judgment of Babylon the great harlot. Significantly, Rev. 18:20, 24; 19:2 show that Babylon the great harlot is behind all the shed blood of God's people throughout the ages. I'll read Rev. 19:2, "because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her." God's judgment of Babylon the great harlot will be completed by the end of Daniel's 70th week.
Here in Rev. 6:9-11 John saw the souls of all the people martyred for God from the beginning up until the time of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. In Rev. 20:4 John saw the souls of the Christian martyrs who will be converted after the rapture; they will be martyred during the super-evil reign of Antichrist, throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week. He also saw them come to life in Rev. 20:4, which includes their receiving glorified bodies. They will then begin to reign along with all the glorified saints who began to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. It's time to stop for today. God bless you!
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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