Revelation 023 – Our Deepest LongingRevelation 6:1-8 • Dr. Andy Woods • December 16, 2018 • Revelation
Our Deepest Longing 12-16-18
Revelation 6:1-8 Lesson 23
Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 6. The title of our message this morning is Our Deepest Longing. What is the deepest longing of the human heart? And if you’re visiting with us for the very first time we’re continuing to move through the Book of Revelation. We’ve covered in this series at the beginning some background issues of the book. We took a look at the prologue or introduction of the book, chapter 1. And then we have this verse that gives us the outline of the whole book in a verse. John is told on Patmos at the close of the first century to “write the things which you have seen,” that’s part one, “and the things which are,” that’s part two, “and the things which will take place after these things” that’s part three. [Revelation 1:19]
The things that John has seen is recorded in chapter 1, the image that you saw of the glorified Christ on Patmos when Jesus appeared to John in a vision. The “things that are” are the seven letters to the seven churches, written by John, given to Jesus to John, written by John on Patmos to those seven churches. That’s what Revelation 2 and 3 is all about and we spent several weeks working through that section. And then part three of the book, write down the things that “will take place after these things.” The Greek words for “after these things” is “meta tauta.” [“Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things [meta tauta].” Revelation 1:19]
And so we know we’re in that section because how does chapter 4, verse 1 begin? “After these things.” How does the verse end, “after these things.” That’s our clue that we’re in part 3 of the book, chapters 4-22, the largest section of the book dealing with the future. We spent probably about four Sundays working our way through chapters 4 and 5 which is the heavenly scene. And here we’re told that Jesus, God the Father, Jesus the Son, in heaven are qualified to bring the judgments to the earth that we’re going to start to read about today in chapter 6 because God the Father is our Creator, chapter 4, Jesus the Son is our Redeemer, chapter 5. Can you get higher credentials than that? Who better to judge planet earth than the One who created it and redeemed it through His death?
And this is why Jesus, in chapter 5, is portrayed, chapter 5, verse 7, as taking that seven sealed scroll which represents the title deed to the earth, and as that scroll is progressively opened what is happening is this world that we’re living in is being vindicated. Satan is being evicted gradually. [Revelation 5:7, “And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.”] But to get that scroll to open the seals have to be broken and whenever there is a seal broken another judgment will come to the earth. And so since we know that this world is about to be redeemed, Satan is about to be evicted, what can heaven do other than to explode into praise to Jesus Christ who is worthy to open this scroll.
And so that transitions us now into the part of the Book of Revelation that most people know the most about, chapters 6-19 where we see these judgments manifested. And we are, and I’ll be explaining this chart as we go, we’re towards the beginning now of the seven year tribulation period; it’s just started and what starts it is the seal judgments. So here are the seal judgments that we’re going to look at today and most likely into next week as well.
Notice, if you will, Revelation 6:1-2 and notice what it says. It says, “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.’” Now you’ll notice that there is a reference here to these seven seals, it’s part of this seven sealed scroll which is gradually being opened. To open it each seal has to be broken so that the scroll can be progressively unrolled and is it’s being unrolled the title deed to the earth, which has been under Satan’s domain since the fall in Eden, it’s being reclaimed.
And you’ll notice also in verse 1 it says, “Then I saw when the Lamb,” now who would “the Lamb” be? Jesus Christ! “…when the Lamb broke one of the” seals. Keep in mind that back in chapter 5, verse 7, as we have studied, it says, “He” that’s Jesus, “came and took the Book” that’s the scroll, “out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” So it’s very clear here that Jesus is in heaven opening these seals which are bringing forth God’s judgments to the earth.
You say well why is that important? Because there are an awful lot of voices out there and they’re growing in volume level as time progresses and with the ability that they have on social media and Facebook and You tube, they are arguing vociferously that really the first part of the tribulation period isn’t God’s wrath at all. I mean, it’s bad but it’s really not that bad. And they will tell you that these judgments are really the result of the devil or the antichrist or human beings, and they really don’t believe these judgments are orchestrated by God; and after all, the word “wrath” doesn’t even appear here early on in chapter 6, so therefore the church is probably going to be around for the first half of these judgments because they are not coming from God Himself, they’re coming from Satan. Some call this midtribulationalism, we’re going to be here for three and a half years when this starts. Others are moving into what’s called prewrath rapturism there at the bottom of the screen, we’re going to be here for three-quarters of the tribulation roughly.
And the logic of their belief is yes, the church has been promised an exemption from divine wrath but you know, here in chapter six early on this isn’t God’s wrath; I mean it’s bad but it’s not that bad. And that’s why just some reading comprehension ability sets us straight on this. What does it say? Then I saw when… who? Satan broke one of the seals. It doesn’t say that, does it. “Then I saw when antichrist broke one of the seals.” It doesn’t say that! It says, “Then when I saw” what? “the Lamb” broke one of the seven seals. It’s very, very clear that Jesus is the One who is qualified to open the seven sealed scroll. He has retained that seven sealed scroll, chapter 5, verse 7, and He exactly is the One that is opening the scroll which is bringing all of these horrific judgments to the earth.
God is able to work through what I would call an indirect object to accomplish His work. Sometimes He works through people; people are very wicked, and we say well, the person is causing the problem when in reality it’s God allowing the person to cause the problem. Yes, Satan is very active in the tribulation period; the antichrist is very active in the tribulation period but none of them would be going forward to do these things that we’re going to read about had Jesus not authorized it through the opening of the seven sealed scroll. “Then I saw when the Lamb” Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, John 1:29, that’s who Jesus is, “broke one of the seven seals,” you say well, are we going to be here for the wrath of God? No we’re not. Well when does the wrath of God start? It starts right away in the tribulation. We are not destined for wrath; we are not appointed for wrath and what people do is they play games with God’s wrath and they pretend like these early judgments don’t represent God’s wrath. But it’s very clear here that they do because Jesus is the one opening this scroll, breaking these seals which bring these judgments to the earth.
And you’ll recall back in chapter 4 and chapter 5 that there was a group of angels called the four living creatures, a special category we said of the angelic realm. And you’ll notice that he (John) hears the voice of living creature number one. And when the second seal is opened he will hear the voice of living creature number two. When the third seal is opened he will hear the voice of living creature number three. When the fourth seal is opened then he will hear the voice of living creature number four. In other words, these high ranking specialized angels themselves are announcing these judgments. The angels are not causing the judgments; they’re simply announcing their reality. Jesus is causing these judgments.
And you’ll also notice, and I appreciated as Ed was reading the verses earlier he put a special emphasis on the word “come.” Look at the end of verse 1, “with a voice of thunder, come,” that’s the Greek verb erchomai. [Revelation 6:1, “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.’] Verse 3, “When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come.’” Verse 5, “When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, ‘Come.’” My goodness, I’m seeing a pattern here. Verse 7, “When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come.’” The repetition of “Come” over and over and over again until you get to the end of the chapter and the pagans, the unbelievers finally figure out what is happening and they say this, verse 17, end of the chapter, “for the great day of their wrath has” what? “come” [and who is able to stand?]”
The repetition of “come” and how it’s summarized at the end of the chapter, how its connected to the wrath of God at the end of the chapter demonstrates that that repetition of the word “come” over and over again is clearly the wrath of God. I mean, it’s true the word “wrath” is not mentioned until the end of the chapter but the word “come” is mentioned early on in the chapter and the word “come” is connected to the wrath of God early on in the chapter. The whole tribulation period itself is the wrath of God. And the mistake that people make is they say well part of it is the wrath of God and part of it is not, and they use some kind of fallacious arguments that I’ll refer to as we progress.
But I want us to understand that the whole thing is the wrath of God. The whole thing is the day of the Lord. And so since the church, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is exempted from the wrath of God the church will not be in any of these judgments. [1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”]
If a person is unsaved then they run the risk of entering this terrible time period following the rapture and experiencing these things; but not so Christ’s bride! Not so Christ’s church! God is not a spousal abuser; He does not beat up His bride prior to the wedding day. And very clearly here Jesus, the Lamb, is bringing forth these judgments. The church has no part in these judgments by virtue of the fact of who we are and our divine promises. And the reason I have to highlight these kinds of things is if you spend a lot of time on technology, You-tube social media there’s a lot of voices that will confuse you very fast on this, and make you feel like we’re destined for some of these judgments.
So we have an announcer, the first of the four living creatures announcing this judgment and that is quickly followed by the action. I mean, what exactly happens? Verse 2, John says, “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.” John says I looked in this vision and I saw in this vision a white horse. Now what we’re going to be introduced to here in these first four seal judgments is the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The first horse is white; the second horse is red; the third horse is black, the fourth horse is ashen, which is sort of a light green sort of color.
And the reason the first judgment is someone riding on a white horse is this first individual brings peace to the earth. Now he is portrayed here as conquering, holding a bow and a crown on his head and it’s very clearly that this figure here is bringing world peace because in the second seal judgment it says this, verse 4, “And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to” what? “take peace from the earth….” I mean, you can’t take peace from the earth unless the earth is first established in peace.
So this first figure appears, he’s represented on this white horse with this crown and this bow and he comes forward and he really begins to solve, in almost a nanosecond all of the problems of planet earth. He even solves that pesky thorny question in the Middle East that nobody has been able to get a handle on, the Arab-Israeli conflict. How do you allow the Muslims, who think that Jerusalem is a holy site, to live side by side with the Jews who also think Jerusalem is a holy site? How do you allow them to build their temple in that part of the world without causing World War III. How do you have those two holy sites and holy groups existing side by side? Presidents in the United States of America have come and gone trying to figure this thing out. In fact, our current President looks at this as the ultimate real estate deal. He calls it the deal of the century. Now are saying Trump is the antichrist? No, I did not say that.
What I’m saying, and by the way, Trump is in the Bible, it talks about the last trump so there we go. [Laughter] What I’m saying is this is an issue that no human mind has been able to figure out and resolve and this man comes forward, this rider on the white horse, and he figures this whole thing out. And he actually, according to Daniel 9:27 enters into a peace treaty with the nation of Israel. [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]
And as we have studied in the Book of Daniel once he enters into that peace treaty with Israel the seven year tribulation period starts to begin at that point. He brings forth world peace; he puts the nation of Israel into a state of peace where they will be living in security, Ezekiel 38:8. [Ezekiel 38:8, “After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them.”]
They will be at rest, Ezekiel 38:11, [and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates,”] living in security, “all of them living without walls” or “bars or gates.” Think about that. I mean, this man is so capable of crafting the deal of the century, the ultimate real estate deal that the Jews don’t even feel that they need walls any more for self-defense.
And as someone who has traveled in Israel three times I can tell you that those walls and those security gates are a very big deal for the nation. You know it’s sort of interesting here in our country we can’t even figure out if we need a wall around this country or not because of terrorism. I’ll tell you one thing, the Israelis have got this thing figured out a long time ago. You need a wall, you need border security because there are people that are going to come into you country and try to wreak havoc and use all kinds of things to kill mass amounts of people.
And so the Israelis understand border security ant this rider on the white horse comes forward and crafts this deal where the Jews don’t even they feel they need border security any more. All those walls and gates which are so necessary for the protection of the nation disappear. And this man brings forth peace, Daniel 9:27. [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]
He solves Zechariah 12:2-3 where God says He will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling which will send all the nations reeling. [Zechariah 12:2, “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah.  It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.”]
I can’t think of a more accurate prophecy today because what’s on the minds of all world leaders is what are we going to do about this thorny question of the nation of Israel and the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Arab/Israeli conflict. In fact, the United nations, most of the time when they meet that’s what’s on their mind and that’s what they vote on. I think most of their solutions are probably wrong. The Israeli’s call the U.N. the United Nothing. But my point is this is what everybody is concerned about. This is where all of the anxiety is and think of the guy that can come on the scene and fix this problem where the Hebrews don’t even think that they need military borders any more. That’s what’s happening here with this rider on the white horse.
And the antichrist, that’s who this rider on the white horse is, gives to humanity what humanity has always wanted. The deepest longing of the human heart, what is it? It’s to fix the world. The problem is the Bible says you’re not going to have lasting political peace until you have what first? Spiritual peace. Spiritual peace with God always takes precedence and is a necessary prerequisite for lasting political peace. That’s the solution of God to the world’s problems.
But think of a man that can come on the scene and give people what they think they need and what they want without ever changing their human heart through the new birth. What is Jesus about? He’s all about an internal transformation called the new birth, the new nature, the birth from above, being born spiritually which is the only way to gain right standing before God. Jesus says to Nicodemus “you MUST be born again.”
But think of someone that could fix the world’s problems, health care, alleged global warming, terrorism, poverty, without making any demands of their internal change first. No moral requirements on them at all. No spiritual birth is necessary. No talk about how the Holy Spirit has to come and live inside of you first. No talk about the gospel. No talk about the sin nature that we have. By the way, where does murder, terrorism, drive by shootings, violence, where does all of that come from? Jesus is very clear, Mark 7:20-23 He talks about murder and He says “all these things precede from within and defile the man.”
[Mark 7:20-23, “And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22] deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”]
In that context Jesus’s disciples are being criticized for eating on the Sabbath by the Pharisees. And Jesus makes the point there that it’s not what comes into you that defiles you, it’s what comes out of you! The problem with human beings is not their environment but it’s human beings, that’s the problem, because we all have a corrupted nature that we have inherited from our forbearers from Adam. And until that corrupted nature is brought under control of the Holy Spirit and people begin to live their lives according to the new nature which they received at spiritual birth, and learn to reckon dead deeds of the old nature war and all of the problems of this earth will continue on and on and on and on.
The problem is people don’t want to hear that message; they want the easy fix. They’re focused on the symptom rather than the root of the problem. Jesus Christ is all about dealing with the foundation, the root of the problem. And people get tired of hearing that. And so what if someone comes on the scene and fixes the symptoms without dealing with the ultimate problem? Think how popular such a person would be. And that’s who this rider on the white horse is; this is the antichrist bringing in a temporal peace, a pseudo peace, a peace that really won’t last very long as we’ll see. Why is that? Because you can’t have lasting political peace until you first have spiritual peace in the human heart.
And the nation of Israel in their unbelieving state, they want absolutely nothing to do with Jesus Christ, will gladly enter into that treaty. And the moment they enter into that treaty the prophet Isaiah, chapter 28 and verse 18 says of that treaty to Israel, “You have just made a covenant with hell itself, with Sheol. [Isaiah 28:18, “”Your covenant with death will be canceled, And your pact with Sheol will not stand; When the overwhelming scourge passes through, Then you become its trampling place.”]
And according to Daniel 9:27 the moment that treaty is entered into is the moment this seven year tribulation period starts and that’s where these judgments that we read about here in the Book of Revelation begin to take place.
There are many, many people, and I was sort of shocked to learn this when you study the commentaries on this, that think this rider on the white horse is Jesus Christ. Even one of my heroes, one of the greats from Dallas Seminary argued in a book, Zane Hodges, that this rider on the white horse is Jesus Christ. Of course Zane Hodges is in the presence of the Lord now so guess now he knows better and maybe the Lord will give him a chance in heaven to change his book. But the fact of the matter is it’s amazing to me how many voices are out there in the world of theology, in the world of Bible commentaries telling us that this rider on the white horse is Jesus Christ. This is NOT Jesus Christ. This is an imitation of Jesus Christ. Jesus is in heaven. Didn’t we just read that, chapter 6, verse 1? Jesus is the one opening the scroll so how could Jesus be in heaven and the rider on the white horse coming to the earth simultaneously? It really doesn’t work.
And by the way, when Jesus Christ returns and sets up His kingdom it’s not going to be a pseudo peace; it’s not going to be a false peace, it’s going to be a peace that will last a thousand years. And after that thousand years it will give way to the eternal state which will last forever. That’s what Isaiah 9:6-7 is proclaiming. You know this verse, it’s on all of your Christmas cards this time of year. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Look at this, verse 7, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness,” anybody here interested in justice and righteousness? Anybody here tired of looking at the legal system and the political system and seeing constant scams and manipulation? Anybody tired of the bad guys always finding the loophole and gaining ascendency? All that ends when Christ returns because He upholds it from David’s throne with justice and righteousness. From how long? We’ve got to wait four years to see if he’s going to get voted back in. NO, “forever more.”
And yet what happens here with this rider on the white horse? He brings in his temporal peace that looks good on the surface but there’s major problems within it because it never really dealt with the root of the problem, human nature; it just dealt with symptoms and it collapses. You’ll see that collapse with the second seal judgment. So how could this rider on the white horse be Jesus? Jesus doesn’t bring temporary solutions, He brings eternal lasting solutions.
But you say well, wait a minute, Andy, He’s the rider on the white horse and when Jesus comes back in Revelation 19 He’s the rider on the white horse, right? So these two riders on the white horse have to be the same, right? That’s the logic. There are differences between the two riders spoken of in Revelation 6 and Revelation 19. The rider in chapter 6 has a crown while the rider in chapter 19 has many crowns. The rider in chapter 6 has a bow while the rider in chapter 19 has a sword.
Why is the coming of the antichrist portrayed as a white horse, I mean, that looks so spiritual. That is the nature of how Satan operates; he is a mimicker, an imitator of God. Satan comes as an angel of light; all of this stuff about Satan having red horns and a red cape and a pitchfork, that may do well to sell Halloween costumes to the kids but the fact of the matter is there’s not a shred of biblical evidence for any of that. Satan is attractive, he is appealing. Study how Satan is described as the light bearer in Isaiah 14:12-15, as that beautiful rainbow colored object in Ezekiel 28:12-17.
[Isaiah 14:12-15, “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!  But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly ln the recesses of the north.  ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’  Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.”
Ezekiel 28:12-17, “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  “You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared.  You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.  By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.  Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.”]
As his light was reflecting and refracting the glory of God He was one of the most beautiful objects to behold. And to a large extent I believe that beauty continues and that’s why so many people are deceived by Satan because he looks so good, and it feels so right. What could be wrong with it? You study these examples of people that have these out of body experiences, I’ve been reading about these people probably from a very early age, prior to the age of ten I was interested in this. And the story is always the same. The story almost never changes. They die, they’re outside of their body and they’re passing through a tunnel, they all describe a tunnel, and what’s at the other side of the tunnel? A beautiful light and they’re drawn to the light, and after the light is God, right? And this being gives them a message about go back to the earth, go back into your body and preach tolerance to all. Get away from the Bible, get away from narrow dogma, get away from “I am the way, the truth and the life” and just go back and preach love and tolerance to all.
And that’s what a lot of these folks do when you study them, and they believe in their minds that they’ve had a contact from God Himself. I’m here to tell you that’s not God. That’s a counterfeit; that’s who this rider on the white horse is, he is a counterfeit. Satan says well look in this book, many times counterfeits God. It counterfeits Jesus Christ, as we’ll see in Revelation 13, right down to the resurrection of Jesus. I mean, God even has a trinity, right—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Did you notice there’s a satanic trinity in this book? The antichrist, the dragon, the false prophet.
The whole thing is a duplication without talking about the new birth. The whole thing is a duplication to deal with the symptoms of a problem without dealing with the root cause. What’s the root cause? And you’re not going to get this from Satan, you’re not going to get it from the antichrist, you’re not going to get it from a glib world leader. The real problem is our nature that’s at war with God. I am born into the world an enemy of God, Romans 5:10. [Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”]
I need to be forgiven of my sin, I need the new nature inside of me and the power of the Holy Spirit and if someone is coming along talking about a bunch of social type things without dealing with that problem, beloved, as God is my witness, that’s a false gospel. And yet this is what the writer on the white horse is seemingly able to deliver.
And that leads us now into verses 3-4 where you can see the advent of the antichrist is quickly equipped by global warfare. The peace didn’t last long, did it? Notice if you will verse 3, “When he,” who’s the “he”? The Lamb, “When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying,” what? “‘Come.’” Now notice it says “the second seal.” Now “the second seal” follows the what? The first seal. Now pastor, are you telling me that the Book of Revelation is meant to be understood chronologically? Yes I am because second comes after first. You with me on that?
And I don’t know, I’m sorry to take out my little email battles on you all who don’t even know why I’m amped up about this, [laughter] but I have all of these people telling me well, I can just go to the Book of Revelation and take it in any order I want. And my response is well is that how you treat the Book of Exodus, you just go in there, there’s ten plagues, you take them in any order you want? Well let’s take plague three before plague one… you would NEVER do that in any other book of the Bible. In fact, to do that is disrespectful to the Word of God. The Bible is laying out a chronology here and I’ll be showing you that chronology as we progress.
But second seal, “He” the Lamb “broke the second seal,” now we have the second voice or the second who is the second of the four living creatures once again, verse 3, saying what? “Come.” And then take a look at verse 4, look at the action, look at what materializes. “And another red horse went out and to him who sat on it was granted to take peace from the earth,” well where did this peace come from originally? It’s the pseudo peace, the false peace brought into existence by the antichrist. It’s a false peace because it deals with a symptom without dealing with the problem. “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.” Peace is now taken from the earth. The peace is temporary. Only Jesus can bring in lasting peace as we saw in Isaiah 9:6-7.
If you believe that you have bought into some new teaching or some new guru or some political leader or someone’s promise of utopia who has never made you right with God through the new birth then the peace that you are experiencing from that artificial substitute will disappear the moment the first trial hits. You know that Christianity is true because when the trial hits your life the peace of God continues. Anybody ever experience that in the midst of trial? It’s got to be true because no other entity, Satan or whomever, antichrist or whomever can give such a delivery.
And so peace is taken from the earth. I would put it this way: World War III at this point breaks out. You say well are we going to have a third world war? At least one war that I’m reading about here, I don’t know how many precede that, maybe this is World War IV for all I know. I just know that the world wars of the human race are not something in our rear view mirror; they are something yet future through the manifestation of the opening of this second seal. That’s why this writer has a sword, symbolizing warfare. That’s why this writer is on a horse that’s red; red of course reminds us of blood, the blood being spilled from this warfare. You say well I came to church today to hear a nice Christmas message. [Laughter] That’s the problem with teaching verse by verse is you have to deal with what’s there. And he brings in utopia which disappears.
Back to my sermon title, The Deepest Longing of the Human Heart, what is it? What is it we want? We want to live in peaceful conditions again. Why is that? Because that’s how God made us. That was God’s design for man in Genesis 1 and 2 before sin ever entered this world. They were living in utopia, they were living in peace, and the whole thing got thrown away in Genesis 3. And the deepest longing or ache of the human heart is to get back to Eden. That’s what we want? Why? Because we were designed for that, we’re programmed for that. Jesus offers a way back. We’ll see it in Revelation 21 and 22, the new heavens and new earth.
Well what if I don’t know anything about Jesus or don’t believe in Jesus, then what do I do? Then you’re left to the whim of anybody with the gift of gab that can promise you Eden-like conditions without an eternal change. That’s why the antichrist and false teachers are so unbelievably popular, because they’re able to appeal to something that we all long for, Eden conditions, because that’s how we were designed, to live in Eden. But all that stuff about righteousness, morality, the transferred righteousness of Jesus, the new birth, don’t worry about that, I’ll give you the package without that. That’s the teachings of the antichrist.
So this second seal is opened and global warfare breaks out. By the way, a lot of people have some big issue with where you put Ezekiel 38 and 39. I wrote a whole book on that called The Middle East Meltdown. I have a view on it; I believe that chapter 38, the invasion of Israel by these foreign powers that are described in Ezekiel 38, Turkey, Russia, Central Asia, the Sudan and Libya, which Ezekiel 38 and 39 name, I believe that that invasion happens right here with seal 2. There’s a transition from peace to war. That’s what Ezekiel 38 is talking about, peace to war. And I believe chapter 39 of Ezekiel is sort of a mopping up campaign making reference to things at the end of the tribulation period.
But we move now into the third seal, this is the famine that breaks out. Look at verses 5 and 6, “When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying,” what? “‘Come.” And I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.” Seal number three, third living creature makes the announcement, he says “Come” and John sees now a black horse with its rider holding scales. Why black? Because something terrible is about to happen called worldwide famine. Worldwide global economic collapse takes place when seal number three is broken and you see that collapse described in verse 6. “And I heard something like” John says, “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.’”
Now what is this business about “a denarius,” plural denarii, it’s a silver coin. And according to a note in my Bible study, a Bible study not, the Ryrie Study Bible, he makes a point here that a denarius, one denarius could buy ten quarts of wheat and thirty quarts of barley. And you’ll notice how rapidly the purchasing power of a denarius is evaporated when this seal judgment is opened and takes place; now it only is able to buy one quart of wheat. And instead of thirty quarts of barley three quarts of barley So what has happened is this currency, which used to have all of this tremendous purchasing power is eviscerated and famine breaks out, the rider on the black horse.
And it says here, it’s very interesting, “and do not damage the oil and the wine,” I’m not entirely sure what that means. In other words, gosh, you know, don’t touch that or it’s all over because the economies of the world have just moved into a massive collapse.
I believe this, that the world system today is being set up for that global collapse, with seal judgment number three. I see it in a lot of different ways. One of them is through the national debt clock in Times Square, there’s a picture of it, it’s very depressing to watch. By the way, that number is not even right any more.In the good old days we used to be 17 trillion dollars in debt; now we’re what? 21 or 22 trillion dollars in debt. I’m not even talking here about the other nations of the world, I’m just talking about our own nation, which obviously is very significant in terms of the other economies of the earth. What happens to the United States happens to the world.
The country that we are living in, and I’m not here to get political and start assigning blame, I’m just here to give you a fact; it’s 21 to 22 trillion with a T, dollars in debt. How much is that? I think it was Tip O’Neill that said, “a million here and a million there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” I mean, a trillion dollars is an amount of money that is so big it’s hard for the human mind to wrap itself around it without the help of pictures. So here’s some pictures. That’s what a hundred dollars looks like. And then you keep stacking up those hundred dollar bills, that’s what ten thousand dollars looks like. Keep on stacking those hundred dollar bills, that’s what about a million dollars looks like. Keep stacking and that’s what a hundred million dollars looks like. Look at the original bill down there, about the size of a man. But keep stacking, there’s a billion dollars, but I didn’t say billion, did I? I said trillion; I mean what exactly does one trillion dollars look like. That’s a trillion dollars. Look at it relative to a truck. See the man down there, you can’t even see him any more. The original bill of Ben Franklin, you can’t even see any more. One trillion dollars, there it is relative to a soccer field; there it is relative to a football field, there it is relative to a 747 airplane, and we keep stacking and that’s fifteen trillion. It looks like it’s getting close to half of the height of the Statue of Liberty, the original truck, the original man, the original bill is now nonexistent.
And the two biggest liars in the world are number one, lawyers [laughter] and I am a lawyer so I know something about that, because lawyers can make words sound however they want. And the second biggest liar in the world are accountants because accountants can make numbers however you want them to sound. I mean, accountants are just amazing, they have the ability to take bad news and make it good news. The manipulation of numbers, the manipulation of language, and so what we have in our culture, and these figures I think aren’t even accurate any more, the numbers I’m giving have far exceeded these figures.
What happens if we take debt and we shift it to off budget where no one sees it any more, so they’re not counted in the national debt figure any more of twenty-one and twenty-two trillion. If you look at all of our off budget debt, unfunded liabilities the number is probably close to a hundred and fourteen to a hundred and fifteen trillion dollars in debt. And you see how high that is relative to the original bill, man, airline, (can you see the airline? You can barely see it) football stadium, Empire State Building which I was just in not long ago, that’s high, I was on the top floor, how it looks relative to our former twin towers, which as we all know were toppled on 9-11.
I mean, when you start getting into trillions of dollars you say well how in the world do you pay this back? You can’t, it is a problem hanging over the United States and hanging over the world that’s unsolvable. In fact, and I’m really trying to stay hard out of politics, nobody seems interested in fixing this.. NOBODY! You voted in one party and they spend, and you vote out the rascals and vote in the next party and they spend even more. And the idea of Republican, Democrat, big party government, little party government, I mean, the parties are losing their identity.
And here is the deal, you cannot suspend the laws of gravity forever because this is what you would call artificial prosperity. You see, your average American today thinks that America is the richest country in the world. Well, we live like we’re kings but we’re really not that rich at all, we’ve just learned how to spend the next generation’s money, which is called generational theft. We have learned the art and the science spending the next generation’s money before the next generation is even born to give us their perspective on how things should go. We’re piling debt mindlessly… mindlessly on our children and our grandchildren thinking it’s normal.
And why is it that almost presidential cycle no one addresses this issue aggressively; it’s always some tangential issue about this or that, people are distracted by some minor thing and no one is talking about this issue that’s hanging over all of our heads. Why is that? Because the world is being set up through its artificial prosperity for the collapse that will happen with seal judgment number three. The reality of the situation is judgments of this magnitude are not just going to come into existence instantaneously. To some extent maybe they could but there’s preparation happening. Jesus, when He came into this world the first time didn’t just show up; there was preparation that happened. The Greek language was in place, one of the fullest dialects, to record the revelation of God’s Son. Roman roads were in place, Pax Romana was in place, there was a Messianic hunger which was in place. The stage was set for the first coming of Christ.
Beloved, as God is my witness there’s a stage being set for the second coming of Christ. And part of it involves the opening of this third seal of a global economic collapse. Artificial prosperity! Why is it that we, as Americans, like debt so much? We can all point the finger at Washington D.C. but how about your personal life? I mean, are you living way beyond your means? It’s unbiblical to do that; in fact, it’s a lie to do that. But debt allows us to do that because we can spend money on things that we want now when in fact we don’t have that money. And anybody, any politician that stands up and says I want to give you more we vote for them. May God help us understand this is not a political problem, this is not a national problem, this is an individual problem. And yet I believe it’s largely predicted. It takes false prosperity, you want true prosperity, you want a prosperity that breaks out all over the world that doesn’t defy the laws of gravity the way these folks are doing? It’s the millennial kingdom. You’re going to get your prosperity.
Amos 9:13 says, “’Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved.’” I say Lord, bring it on! Let me live in that kingdom of true prosperity and not false prosperity and empty promises and that’s why we should pray “Thy kingdom” what? “come.” All of this stuff is false that we’re learning here; it comes to a crashing halt with the third seal judgment.
Well, cheer up, it gets worse; we have seal number four, verses 7 and 8. Look at verse 7, “When the Lamb” it’s very clear Jesus is causing this, right? “When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying,” what? “‘saying Come.’” So now we have verse 7, the Lamb breaking the fourth seal, the fourth living creature again saying “Come” and the announcement is given in verse 6, the action is given in verse 8. What happens? John says, “I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.”
John looks, he sees “an ashen horse” which is a pale green, it’s sort of sickly, because I think it’s largely showing the sickness that is going to come into the human race claiming a quarter of the population. And what happens to people when they die? They go into Hades, that’s where their souls are, waiting for that forever judgment. That’s why death and Hades are referenced here. It’s where the rich man went in Luke 16:19-31, in torments, in Hades, waiting that final judgment. Revelation 20:13 talks about the final resurrection and it says, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.” Eventually this compartment of souls is emptied out, people are brought before the Lord and as their name is not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life their thrown forever into the Lake of Fire. That’s pure Bible!
You know, I don’t think as horrific as this is, a human mind could ever concoct this; it’s got to come from God Himself who’s warning us of this terrible place. And aren’t you glad that Revelation 1:18 earlier said, “and the living One;” Jesus, “and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” You say well pastor, I don’t want to go into “death and Hades.” Well join the club, neither do I. Isn’t it great that someone has the keys to death and Hades. Isn’t it great that somebody through personal faith in Him gives us a way out, where our soul does not go into this terrible place that souls will go into with the destruction of a quarter of the world’s population, with the coming forth of this ashen colored horse.
And you’ll notice what it says here, it’s very clear, a quarter of the world’s population is killed. Well how did a quarter of the world’s population get killed? We just had through seals two and three world war and global economic collapse and famine. I mean I think those two judgments in themselves would be very effective of wiping out a quarter of the world’s population. If you look at verse 8 very carefully God says He has some other judgments, not just sword and famine but also pestilence, and the wild beasts of the earth. [Revelation 6:8, “I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.”]
Isn’t it interesting that the early Christians, by the Romans, were thrown into the coliseum to be devoured by wild beasts? And isn’t it interesting how God is allowing this wicked world to receive the exact judgment that it put early Christianity through and in some parts of the world is putting Christians through as I speak.
I guess this would be as good a point as any to talk about the four views for interpreting the Book of Revelation. As you study this material you’re quick to discover that our view of it is not the only view out there taught by Christians. There’s a view called preterism; preterism is a Latin word that means past, and these folks will tell you that these judgments already happened. When? In the events of A.D. 70 when Rome invaded Jerusalem. There’s another view out there and this is the dominant view in church history, called historicism and they link these events to events in the last 2,000 years of church history. There’s another view out there called idealism where these judgments reoccur in every generation. And then there is what I would call the correct view, futurism, which indicates that these judgments are yet future.
You say well what does Sugar Land Bible Church believe? Futurism. What angle are you teaching this book from? Futurism. What is your personal belief? Futurism. Why is that? Why aren’t you a preterist? Or a historicist? Or an idealist? It’s very simple, I take the judgments literally. You can search in human history all you want and you’ll never find anything like this. I mean, there’s some bad things that happened, the San Francisco earth quake in the 80’s, in history the Black Plague, I mean, there’s terrible things that have happened but not like this. You start taking this at face value and you start studying history and you realize this has to be future. Things like this, an immediate destruction of a quarter of the world’s population happening just like that? That has never happened. And by the way, this destruction of the world’s population doesn’t stop because Revelation 9:18 says, “A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.”
Well how can a quarter of the world’s population be destroyed and then later on it says a third of the world population is destroyed? A lot of people say these judgments are concurrent, they happen at the same time. Well, that’s mathematically impossible. You can’t have a quarter and a third being destroyed simultaneously because those are different numbers. These judgments re meant to be understood chronologically.
Think of a pie, I just had some knish at our house, so I take that knish, that pie, I divide it up into quarters, I take a quarter out, that’s my piece, that leaves how many quarters? Three quarters, three quarters are left. Well then Revelation 9:18 says, a third of the world is destroyed. [Revelation 8:9, “and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.” Revelation 9:18, “A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.”]
So my wife comes on the scene and she says this second quarter is mine and what does that leave of the knish? Half; half of the world’s population is destroyed by the time you reach trumpet number six. You can’t have a quarter and a third disappearing concurrently and simultaneously. This is why Jesus said of those days there has never been anything like it nor shall there ever be. Half of the world’s population is annihilated.
We continue to move on and look at seal number five and we’ll stop with this. Look, if you will, at verse 9, “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;” martyrdom takes place on a massive scale as John sees a Lamb breaking a fifth seal and under the altar of God in heaven are the martyrs themselves. How did they get martyred exactly? I mean, what did they to do get martyred. It’s right there in the text, it says it in verse 9, they got into trouble because of two things, the Word of God and their testimony.
In fact, the word “testimony” is a translation from the Greek word marturios, where we get the word martyr. There are two things in this world that’ll get you into trouble every single time you employ them. Number one, the Word of God. You want to stand on the Word of God, you want to build your life on the Word of God, expect persecution. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” That goes with the territory of discipleship.
And you want the other thing that’s going to get you into trouble? Your testimony. You start telling people what Jesus has done for you and what He therefore can do for someone else, some will receive it, some won’t want to listen. Some will even oppose you because of it. The Word of God and their testimony are troublemakers every time they’re used. And yet (may I say this) those are the two things Satan is trying to keep you away from. Right now as I speak in the midst of the holiday season and the pressures of life I could very well guestimate, because I know it’s true in my own personal life, that the greatest struggle in your life right now as a Christian is staying faithful to those two things, the Word of God, understanding the Word of God, building your life on the Word of God, sharing the Word of God, getting behind people that teach the Word of God, and your personal testimony. Satan does not want you to tell your neighbors, your coworkers, all the folks that are coming over to your house on Christmas that are family members that are unsaved, he doesn’t want you to talk about your testimony because you start talking about your testimony other people are going to listen and say well, you know, maybe what Jesus did for you He can do for me? And the gospel message starts to circulate that way.
That’s what got these martyrs into trouble, under the altar, because of the Word of God and their testimony. It’s interesting that when you go down to verse 10 and 11, and we don’t have time to get there, we’ll pick it up there so we’ll pick it up there next time, that the martyrs themselves are conscious in the presence of God crying out for vindication.
I hope you don’t have a concept of the afterlife that it’s some kind of nebulous, nonconscious, ethereal existence which is not as real as this life. What your Bible teaches is the next life is just as real as this one. It’s just as physical, it’s just as visible, and the great question, of course, is well where are you going to spend that after life at? That’s the question. You can go the way of the world system. You can go the way of Satan, go the way of the antichrist and never deal with the root cause of your problem and you’ll go into the next life in a state of conscious torment.
The good news is you can trust what Jesus has done in your place, what He’s done in my place. How He’s bridged the gap, solved the problem through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension. And how you can trust in what He’s done for you. That’s the gospel. That’s something you can do right now as I’m talking, it’s not something you have to raise a hand to do, join a church to do, fill out a card to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust, which is another word for believe, in the One who actually has the key of death and Hades. He’s got the answer but the solution is not to fix a symptom, the solution is to deal with the root of the problem which is the fact that we are enmities because of the original sin, the sin nature with the God that made us. We desperately need that state of warfare called off and it’s called off through the gospel because Jesus absorbed the wrath of a holy God in our place.
And even while we are still living with these fallen vessel bodies with feet of clay God gives us the new nature, He gives us the Holy Spirit which comes inside of us, it’s a new birth, being born again. And we learn to live according to the desires of that new nature as we live a godly life in Christ Jesus. I hope this Christmas [can’t understand word] we see the greatest Christmas present that you can receive, the free gift, this new nature, forgiveness of sin, access by faith alone, in a moment of privacy and quietness of your heart and mind you trust in what Jesus has done for you. You allow Him to fix really what’s wrong and may God help us to be the kind of people to do that here at Sugar Land Bible Church. And hold out to the world not the artificial cures of the true cure.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for the Book of Revelation and the things that it speaks and reveals. I pray, Father, that some of these things can be intimidating but You want us to know these things and help us to walk these things out as we continue to trust You this week. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen.