The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Revelation chapter 6 and 7.

RevelationThe Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Revelation Chapter 6-7  (To get a better understanding of what has been written here, it would be best if you stop and read over these two chapters)

Introduction: Martin Rinkhart was a Luteran pastor in Eilenburg, Germany during the Thirty Years War.  The town of Eilenburg was walled, and refugees fled there during the fightings.  Many died from the war, and many more of the disease that ravaged cities like Eilenburg.

In 1637, Rinkhart conducted some 4,480 funerals, 40 to 50 a day, including that of his wife.  By the end of the year refugees were buried in mass graves, basically long trenches.  But in 1636 he wrote the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God.”  This is the first verse…

Now thank we all our God,
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done
In whom this world rejoices;

Who, from our mother’s arms,
Has blest us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

In the darkest of times for both himself and for his people, he writes a song of praise.  When many would give into complaint and bitterness, he is driven to give worship.  Rinkhart’s faith led him to sing about the sovereignty of God.  Even in the midst of war, sickness and death, it is God who still reigns over all.

The book of Revelation was written to people who were living through their own dark and difficult times. They weren’t just facing the storms of life, but the gale winds of disaster that was blowing their world apart.

The church of John’s Apocalypse was asking the questions, “What’s going on here?”

We like they need to remember the phrase in Revelation 17:14 “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

This proclaims the absolute sovereign reign of Christ and His victory over all.  It also promises that Satan will continually fight against Christ and His people.

Today we are in Revelation chapters 6 and 7.  Here the sealed scroll is opened, followed by 7 trumpets and 7 bowls.

The first four seals unleash Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The Fifth seal shows martyrs under an alter asking “What is going on?”

The Sixth seal shakes the world, darkens the sun and there’s a bad moon on the rise.

This is dramatic and apocalyptic imagery for the worst of times.  And as the people of God were going through the worst of times, they needed to know some things about their God and their Savior Jesus Christ.

 The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse-Chapter 6 Read verses 1-8

As the first four seals are opened, each of the four living creatures says, “Come!” And in response to this command, four riders on four strange horses ride into the drama.

One rider is on a white horse; he has a bow and crown-he is a conqueror set on conquest.

One rider is on a red horse and carries a sword; he has the power to take peace from the earth.

One rider is on a black horse and uses scales to measure grain that is sold for an excessive price.

One rider is on a pale horse; this is Death and Hades follows.  He has the power to kill.

The four riders represent a natural progression—from conqueror to war to famine to death.  This is what has happened throughout history when man gives into his lust for power.

This is not so much a picture of what will take place.  Nor is this what did take place.  This is a description of what always takes place. (Mark Moore, How to Dodge a Dragon)

There are always conquerors that bring war; and that war always brings famine and death.  And so a question arises—one that surely arose in John’s day as well “Why does God allow them to ride?”  God does nothing without a purpose.  What was the Lord trying to communicate in the vision of the four riders?

  1.  One truth God wants us to know is that, as far as this world is concerned, the future will always be filled with tragedy.  The first four seals emphatically proclaim that a golden age will never occur.  The troubles surrounding us are evidence that we live in a sinful world.  The first sin (Genesis 3:16-19) brought the curse of thorns and thistles, sweat and suffering.  Man’s persistent sinfulness has continued to plague the earth.
  2. God also wants us to understand that, even if we are faithful, we will still have to face trials.  Turmoil, trials, and tribulations are the lot of all men, but Christians receive a double portion: Not only are followers of Jesus subject to the normal hardships of life, but they are also misunderstood and often persecuted for their faith.  The vision of the four horsemen is added proof that it is not easy to be a follower of Jesus.
  3. The main truth God wants Christians to learn from the first four seals is that He will always favor His troubled children.  Most of us already know that this world is filled with problems and that some of those problems are bound to spill over into our own lives.  What we need to remember is that God does not abandon us when problems come.

If we are not careful, when serious troubles come our way, we can become so absorbed in them that we lose sight of everything else: We can lose sight of the good in life, of other people who also have needs, and even of our God who loves us.

The language of 6:1-8 stresses that God is in control and is carrying out His plans and purposes.  At the heart of His plans and purposes is the desire to bless His people.  God loves us; He is on our side.

Long ago, God said to Moses, “I have certainly seen the oppression of My people…and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them” Acts 7:34.  God had that same sentiment in the first century, and He still has it today.

The Horsemen of the Apocalypse Today

There is a powerful message here for the church of today that we should not miss.  We need to be reminded of how powerful God is.

We must never think that God somehow retired from active involvement today.  God still rules over the four horsemen, and sometimes He rules through them.  He was God during Domitian’s holocaust; He was God during war and terrorist threats in our day.  God is still God even if our economy continues to fail and we fail as a country.

The Apocalypse tells the church then and now, “What a mighty God we serve.”

We look at the world like the first century Christians and say, “What is going on here?”

The persecutions of Rome were causes by an evil man who was following Satan; wars and rumors of war today are caused by human rebellion against God. And at times, God’s people will become the target of the four horseman’s attacks.

Read 1 Peter 4:12-13.  Here Peter warns the church not to be surprised when difficulties come. We should not be surprised when the four horsemen attack today.

The Rest of the Story Revelation Chapter 7

The events in Chapter 7 may or may not be in chronological order following chapter 6.

But here is what I want you to get from chapter 7.  After the tragedy portrayed in chapter 6—especially the graphic (symbolic) destruction of the universe—a natural response of John’s readers would be “But what about Christians?  What will happen to us when these things take place?”

God has promised to intervene personally and actively in behalf of His people.  He has promised us added inner strength (Eph. 3:20).  He has promised that our trials will never be more than we are able to handle (I Cor. 10:13).  He has promised to govern everything that happens so that it works together for our good (Rom. 8:28).  The difference between being lifted up and being let down by the problems of life is often a matter of attitude.  The Christian who believes the promises just listed can survive the storms of life; the man who does not believe them can be swallowed by the same storms.

Here is the bottom line. “If we stay on God’s side, we win!”

As a Christian you are special to God.  As a child of the King, you are never overlooked; you have been sealed.  God knows you inside and out.  He knows your strengths and your weaknesses. He knows your needs before you ask. (Matthew 6:8).  He knows you so intimately that He even knows how many hairs you have on your head.

Again, chapter 7 summarized, “If we stay on God’s side, we win!”  “You are special to the Lord.”

Summary:

The galloping of the Four Horseman of Apocalypse always circle and threaten us.

Conquest:  This world is filled with people who seek control, power and rule.

 War: There will be a spiritual war going on all the time.

Disease: Satan uses disease as a weapon against us.

Death: We struggle as we look at a freshly turned grave, and we wonder how we can go forth.

And so we kneel.  We kneel to a God who has sealed us, a God who knows our strengths and weaknesses.  The cross reminds us of a central truth: God is working today through His people to give victory and justice.  Ultimately, He will return to destroy his enemies and reign with his people forever.

And so we hold up the cross and proclaim to the world “What a mighty God we serve!”