Revealing Revelation – The First Seal

26Feb11

We now begin our discussion of the actual seven seals and how commentators and theologians have interpreted them throughout the ages. As noted in the previous post, some (myself included) argue that these seals are actually the verdict and sentence handed down against apostate Israel, but are not the actual actions themselves. They serve as a warning as to the coming tribulation, but are not the actions themselves. Others have argued that they are actually actions and have interpreted them in such a way.

This difference really is not as significant as one would assume. I am simply more comfortable in the former understanding because of how later in the book we are told that the earth was not yet to harmed until the sealing of God’s elect. This takes place after the seals have been broken, therefore making the “sentence” view more consistent with the overall flow of the theme of judgment.

On an initial note, many will find some similarities between these opening of the seals and the initial warning found in the Olivet Discourse. Throughout these passages those connections will be noted.

THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE

Rev. 6:2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.

In somewhat of an irony nearly all views have those who regard the rider of the white horse as Jesus Christ. This is found in the Preterist, Spiritualist and even Futurists camps. They all agree that this is a picture of the advance of the Gospel. The differences would lie obviously within the time frame of that advance. The reason is the stark similarity between the rider presented here and the rider of a white horse in Revelation 19 that is clearly the Christ.

Rev. 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

The only significant difference is the weapon that is used. The rider of the first seal is armed with a bow while Christ is shown in Revelation 19 as possessing a sword that comes from His mouth. But note for those that argue Christ does not bring about war, famine and destruction, not that in Revelation 19 that imagery is present.

Others in all three camps argue that this can by no means be the Lord Jesus Christ, but rather a picture of a tyrannical leader who brings in his wake war, death, famine and destruction. To the Preterist and Historicist this rider appears best to be the roman army and it’s Imperial Leader. Some futurist argue that this is some soon coming Antichrist.

I have wavered between the two options presented by Preterist in that it is either represnting Christ or the Roman army. I have concluded, though, that this picture best represents Christ for a few reasons.

  • It would seem both odd and frustrating to the reader if John represented two different riders on these two horses that are nearly identical in every way. To do so would seem to be purposely confusing the reader which John says in exactly the opposite of his primary theme of revealing Christ
  • The first rider stays where he is when summoned. He is able to accomplish his task without leaving his position. This image reflects the nature of Christ acting as judge against apostate Israel and send the Roman army to accomplish His task. The is different than the second rider who brings war as he actually does “go out” (v. 4)
  • The dual nature of the conquering is both with the Gospel and with the use of the Roman armies. Only Christ could accomplish such.
  • The following horse is more clearly the Roman armies and it’s leaders since it brings war, which was obviously the word of the Roman army.
  • This mirrors the Olivet Discourse where the Gospel is proclaimed throughout the known world before the “end” which would be signified by the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple.
  • The differences in weaponry has been explained that before the fall of Jerusalem the Gospel was more precise and pin pointed in particular areas throughout the entire Roman Empire. This would require the precision of such a weapon. But after the Fall of Babylon (Jerusalem) the Gospel’s spread is wider and deeper with one of the early Churches primary enemies having been destroyed.

Also remember that Jesus declared in the Olivet Discourse that He would “come” in judgment against the enemies of the Church found in first century apostate Israel. This quite possibly what John has in mind here.

Another feasible interpretation is that the white horse and it’s rider are simply the concept of conquest. With conquest comes war, famine, pestilence and the rest that follows with the other horsemen.

The following horses depict a much more obvious action and continue the similarities with the Olivet Discourse.

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2 Responses to “Revealing Revelation – The First Seal”

  1. 1 Yeshua the Lord of Glory

    Wow David! Nice Job indeed very this is well thought out: Now i get what you were saying before… Sorry about that. I have already read what you wrote about the second seal but held my comment for this page instead. 🙂

  2. I truly appreciate you taking the time to share this . Look forward to more posts from you


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