Revelation 5:1-7 July 29, 2012

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1 Revelation 5:1-7 July 29, 2012 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. Revelation 5:1-7 NIV Church on the Brink The Message of Revelation-Part 4 Introduction: The text we read was discussed last week Picture: One seated on the throne in heaven holding the scroll sealed with 7 seals (future course of history, divine destiny) No one but the Lamb is found worthy to open the scroll In Chapter 6- I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals. Seal by seal the Lamb removes until the 7 th one is removed and the scroll is open NOTE: Seals (first of 3 sets of 7 that appear, though not immediately obvioius to first readers) Brief Review The Seven Seals (6:1-8:5) The Seven Trumpets (8:6-11:19) The Seven Bowls (15:1-16:21) 1. White Horse 1. Earth 1/3 scorched 1. Painful sores 2. Red Horse 2. Sea1 1/3 to blood 2. Sea to blood 3. Black Horse 3. Water 1/3 bitter 3. Rivers to blood 4. Pale Horse 4. Sun 1/3 darkened 4. Scorching sun 5. The martyrs 5. The locust plague 5. Total darkness 6. The earthquake a. 144,000 sealed b. Great multitude 6. Fiendish cavalry a. The eaten scroll b. The two witnesses 6. Froglike demons a. The heavenly call b. Gathering for battle 7. The seven trumpets 7. The consummation 7. Earthquake levels Babylon 1

2 Few Observations 1. Only matters not included in a series of 7 are in 12-14/ Schematizing belongs to apocalyptic literature so careful not to see as blow by blow unfolding of the future. 3. A clear echo of Egyptian plagues on Pharaoh in Exodus would be noted by readers. 4. Despite similarities, this opening series of 7 is a set unto itself, with very little correspondence to the two that follow. a. Initial four are not plagues at all nor are they the eschatological end, but they are PROPHETIC, regarding the near future for John and his readers. b. 5 th seal (not a plague) martyred believers appear. c. 7 th seal (next week) not an event at all but evolves into the 7 trumpets. 5. The breaking of the seals paves the way for what follows but are not themselves the main events. a. The drama will not unfold until the final seal is open-therefore the scroll is opened and the trumpets and bowl judgments are released b. The seals communicate the reason for the necessary divine intervention that will follow. (World is so evil it needs divine intervention). I. The Four Horsemen 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 men slay 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 quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts 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 fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:1-8 NIV 2

3 A. The role they play in the narrative 1. Represent the obvious cycle of centuries of conquest by evil earthly powers (focus on present power-rome) a. Conquest b. War c. Famine d. Death B. Whom does the white horse rider represent? (White horse, bow, bent on conquest, crown) 1. Problem of Christ (Revelation 19) 2. But rider is part of a series that leads to death (can t be Christ) 3. A demonic parody of Christ (like beast of chapter 12 as a demonic parody of the Lamb) a. Miliary conquest b. Rome c. Anti-Christ spirit C. Leads to the second seal (6:3, 4) 1. Bloodshed as a result of the great conquest 2. Roman rule was bloody (67 B.C.-37 B.C.-100,000 insurgents and rebels killed) 3. Anarchy and bloodshed an harbinger to the end D. Leads to the third seal (6:5, 6) 1. Prophecy of famine 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 quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" Revelation 6:5-6 NIV 2. Domitian in 92 CE ordered half the vineyards in Asia to be cut down to increase wheat supply 3

4 E. Leads to fourth seal 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 fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8NIV 1. ¼ of humanity killed-apolocalyptic-great destruction 2. Conquest, war, famine-leads to death F. Summary-2,000 years later-don t over-analyze 1. First readers would simply see that this conquest and war would lead to great destruction 2. How we should read it II. The Martyred Souls-5 th Seal 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 number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed. Revelation 6:9-11 NIV A. Slain for Word of God and testimony-a prophecy of martyrs to come because only Antipas so far B. Question-How long until blood avenged? 1. The number not yet complete 2. Many more to come III. The Divine Response-6 th Seal 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 late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Revelation 6:12-14 NIV 4

5 NOTE: This is the answer to the question: How long till blood avenged? God is saying judgment is coming. Will still be awhile but God will judge. It is certain. Cosmic disturbances signal the last days of divine judgment 1. Well ordered cosmos is unraveling/says judgment 2. Earthquake always a sign of divine visitation Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, Exodus 19:18-19 NIV Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. Isaiah 2:19 NIV "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. Haggai 2:6-7 NIV 3. Mountains and islands moved The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Nahum 1:5 NIV I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying Jeremiah 4:24 NIV A. God will not let the evil doers and haters of God and His people off forever B. Sixth seal-declares that judgment is about to come-it is an overview of all that will follow (On Rome-it fell) C. Apocalyptic language that describes the destruction of human powers 1. Babylon An oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw: Isaiah 13:1 NIV See, the day of the LORD is coming a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. 10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. Isaiah 13:9-10 NIV (539 B.C. to Persians) 5

6 2. Edom All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree. 5 My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. Isaiah 34:4-5 NIV (Early 5 th chapter) IV. The Human Response to the Divine Judgment Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man 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 stand?" Revelation 6:15-17 NIV A. People of every status will hide the themselves, preferring the indirect judgment of the mountains falling on them than the direct confrontation with the Lamb B. Ultimately the Lamb would judge Conclusions: Implications 1. For the believers in the late first or early 2 nd century who had seen conquest, war, famine, death, assurance that God would judge their enemies 2. Four horsemen portray sad history of our planet (conquest, famine, war, death) 3. As followers of the slain and risen Lamb, God s people suffer martyrdom, persecution 4. God will vindicate Himself by vindicating His people 5. It may appear that evil has gained the edge, but the one who defeated the forces by His death on the cross, will return to claim His own people and destroy forever all that opposes 6. Fallen humanity, like Adam and Eve still hide from the presence of God-but He stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20) NOTE: The martyrs ask how long? (Answer in chapter 7). The unbeliever asks, Who can withstand the wrath of the Lamb? (Takes up the rest of the book) 7. Things are against the church and the kingdom today (politics, secular society) but God will judge. 8. Will you welcome Him or hide from Him when He returns? 6

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