Revival starts with me
Revelation 6 and 7
Horses and seals – the power of Good overcoming evil.
With Peter Veysie
Sunday 12th May 2019
8 am and 10 am
As we celebrate our Mother’s today, both those that are with us and those that have gone to be with the Lord, I want to thank each one. We are nurtured as humans by the power of God through mothers. I know that my Mom had a very deep instinct inside of her, she would know when we were, as boys, good or bad. She would wash our mouths out with soap if our words were not kind and we would get punished if we were caught doing something wrong. In our country today, as we move beyond the results of the elections, we know that we will face both good and evil in the coming years. We are aware of some amazing ‘good news’ things that are happening in South Africa, but at the same time we are also aware of evil things. Homes led by children, 1 in 4 woman abused in SA, injustices of the poor being marginalised, rape, murder and the breakdown in marriages. The list can go on and so today, as we look at scripture, I want to help you to see that Jesus, in his last love letter to the churches, starts out in Revelation speaking to them individually about the fog of their lives. In terms of falling short of good and the need to move out of the fog and into the presence of the Throne room of worship. He calls John to come and see – he is invited into a place of incredible beauty and worship, where the slain lamb symbolic of Jesus, is now in control. He is in authority, overcoming evil with GOOD and yet making John aware that within the context of the superpowers of the time there was still much to be faced as the early Christian church and a lot to overcome. They needed to not be blind to this, but also to be reminded that LOVE WINS and God would ultimately triumph over evil. As we move into this you will see that Jesus has already shared with His disciples the challenges that they would have to face in Mark 13 and Matthew 24 and they would have asked the question as to why the risen Christ has conquered evil and yet the superpower of Rome and others were still persecuting the church. Remember that John is on the Island of Patmos in Prison!!!
Read Matthew 24 The destruction of the temple and signs of the end times
The writer states that Revelation is a proclamation about and from Jesus Christ. There are seven visions of Christ in the book. We must not lose sight of this central theme when reading the various (scary and violent) visions.
Just a reminder from last week that we need to get out of the fog and into the presence of Almighty God. We cannot deny the fact that life is challenging and for the early church even more so as they were under threat of being taken out by the Romans.
When it comes time for judgment, we might expect the meek and mild lamb (the crucified Jesus) to give way to the conquering, mighty lion. But no, the one on the throne is always and forever the lamb that was slain. In Revelation, conquering means no more or less than dying. It never means destructive judgment on the enemies of Christ and Christians (which is what we are tempted to read into Revelation when we interpret the violent visions literally). Jesus stood before the Roman court, faithful unto death, and this was His victory. John calls Christians to the same messianic conquest and in doing so, redefines military, violent conquest as conquering through love. The Lamb is not the king of the beasts in disguise; the Lamb is always in contrast to the beast(s).
History throws out at us massive data of wars and rumours of wars throughout the centuries. We have been shown, through scripture that in spite of the chaos, God is with us and enabling us to really see that there is hope beyond the fog and yet we need to be aware of the forces of evil that are around us. John has a moment when he sees that the scrolls are sealed and he weeps, asking the question as to who is worthy to open the seals and then he sees the Lamb who was slain who is worthy of opening these scrolls and he is deeply relieved. Remember that in Revelation 5: 4 he weeps because he cannot see anyone who was worthy to open the scrolls and then he sees Jesus – the lamb of God who is worthy.
John gives a seven point sermon on the seals and this includes an understanding of four horses: white, red, black and pale. And so the first four ‘unsealings’ are about these horses.
6 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!’
You will also recall that four living creatures — one like a lion, one like a calf, one like a man, and one like an eagle — were among those who worshipped God and the Lamb (Revelation 4:7).
White horse and the lion – Symbolic of triumph (or is it not just deception?) I beg to differ with Peterson about this horse. The rider is crowned and has a bow. At the beginning of the revelation we see a conqueror as Jesus and he is the lamb of God. This rider seems to be dressed as one bringing peace but he is bent on conquest and so depicts a deception and one bent on confusing us and leading us astray. Jesus is not on a white horse when entering Jerusalem triumphantly but rather on a donkey and so we are reminded that he is still the lamb and overcomes evil with truth and power in peace. In spite of all that we face Jesus is still at the centre and He will overcome.
Later in the story we will see that the white horse is different and this time appears symbolic of the Triumphant Lord in Revelation 19 – He is called faithful and true and overcomes war through Righteousness. This is no deception but it is Jesus in all His Glory !!! Romans 8: 28 to the end.
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.
The lion and superpowers.
Three horses Red, Black and Pale
The next three seals speak of war and it’s not just about men and woman fighting each other (red horse and the calf) – the calf and bloodshed and sacrifice, but also clearly about famine and economic challenges with the scales representing this. One like a man, (black horse and the man) and sickness even to death (pale horse and the eagle). And so the Lord warns his people then and now of social evil, ecological and economic evil and sickness or biological evil. Isaiah 40 and the eagle.
We fight these things daily and unless we overcome with the Lord we will see more and more challenges in these three areas. Our world is facing huge challenges in terms of sustainability. Over 1 million species are in danger of extinction, water systems being abused and many facing famine especially in Africa. What will we do about it?
James 4:1 and 2.What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.
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,[a] and three kilograms of barley for a day’s wages,[b] 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.
John then reminds his readers of many who had given their lives for the sake of the Gospel and during this time. There would have been many who had not bowed the knee to Caesar or the known King at the time and they would have been martyred for this. They cry out and say ‘how long?’ Psalm 40 ‘How long ???’ But in the end each is dressed with a white robe.
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,[c] were killed just as they had been.
Eugene Peterson says in Reversed Thunder that we are to deal with evil and name it with honesty and deal with it courageously.
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[d] from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their[e] wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’
Those that are sealed and the great multitude of worshippers.
This is a symbolic number.
There is now a dramatic, beautiful picture of completeness as the angels do not run away but are standing on the four corners of the earth. In control of the winds and having power over land and sea and they place a seal on the servants of the Lord. Song of Songs 8:6 Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
7 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
The great multitude in white robes
These people are not only sealed but exuberant at the power of the Lord to overcome evil and they begin to worship as a great multitude and two worlds come together – the tribes of Israel and the tribes of every nation, tribe people and language and they begin to worship – every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Phil 2:10 and Romans 14:11.
Sing, worship, speak out about your truth and let others know that Love wins.
This is definitely not to ignore the fact that we are going to go through an enormous tribulation of war, famine and sickness, but to know the outcome even in the middle of the storm. God knows what you are going through and this message gives us deep hope that ultimately He will overcome. As we celebrate the Mothers today, let us remember what they represent and be mindful of their cry and their hearts – to bring nations to the feet of Jesus.
9 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 before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’
11 All the angels were standing round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:
‘Amen! Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honour
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’
14 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. 15 Therefore,
‘they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,”[a] nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd;
“he will lead them to springs of living water.”[b] “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”[c]’
1st) White horse of earthly conquest and dominion (Revelation 6:1-2)
(2nd) Red horse of slaughter and bloodshed (Revelation 6:3-4)
(3rd) Black horse of commerce and economic crisis (Revelation 6:5-6)
(4th) Pale horse of death (Revelation 6:7-8)
(5th) The little while (Revelation 6:9-11)
(6th) The day of God’s wrath (Revelation 6:12-17)
~ The multitudes of saved (Revelation 7:1-17)
(7th) Seventh Seal Broken (Revelation 8:1-5)
Tribulation we will go through, but ultimately Jesus has the final say over it all and He will overcome.
Read page 85 and 86 of Reversed Thunder – Eugene Peterson.
The book of Revelation is meant to be a message of hope to the first-century church (and to the church throughout history as well). It is also a call to be faithful, even unto death, as Christ the Lamb of God was faithful. The kingdoms and empires of this world will fall, but the Lamb, forever marked by loving sacrifice, is seated on the throne of heaven for all eternity. I don’t know about you, but I find that encouraging.