The First Seal (Rev. 6:1–2)
The vision of the scroll, introduced in chapters 4 and 5, begins here. Christ received the scroll sealed with seven seals from God (Rev. 5:1–7). The first four seals reveal four horses and their riders. These are commonly called “The Horses of the Apocalypse” (Rev. 6:1–8).
Many commentators assume the Horses of the Apocalypse represent the work of the Antichrist, who will soon unleash a series of end-time devastations. Thus, some commentators have exchanged the passage’s Christ-centered view for a demonic one over the last century! On the other hand, many Christians believe the white horse (the first rider) symbolizes the Lord Jesus Christ.
It would make no sense that opening the scroll would bring destruction and calamity to God’s people. The bitter weeping of John as he was looking for someone worthy to open the sealed scroll would also make no sense if disaster followed the opening of the scroll (Rev. 5:4). Likewise, the praises in heaven would also make no sense if unlocking the news would bring horror and destruction (Rev. 5:8–14).
The message of the Bible is that “He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), not famine and earthquakes. Therefore, the Book of Revelation has the good news of God, like the other books of the Bible.
Since we live in the end times, we must know what God reveals to us. Therefore, our view of the four horses will determine how we will view the other visions of the Book of Revelation.
As we go deeper in our journey of discovering the “Revelation of God through Christ,” the vision of opening the seals and releasing the four horses with their riders, in (Rev. 6:1–8), along with the other visions, unveil the excellent news of God for His people.
Scriptures often mentioned Horses. Some kings used swift horses rather than camels to carry messages (Esther 8:10, 14). Hebrews thought of horses in terms of power during a time of war. Pharaoh’s horses and chariots pursued Moses the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex. 14:9). Israel’s Canaanite enemies met the Hebrews with many horses and chariots, which were very powerful and equipped (Josh. 11:4–9).
The vision of the four horses of the Apocalypse derives its roots from (Zech. 6). He saw four chariots coming from between two bronze mountains. The first chariot was pulled by red horses, the second by black horses, the third by white horses, and the fourth by powerful dappled-gray horses.
Zechariah asked the angel who was talking to him, “And what are these, my lord?” The angel replied, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world” (Zech. 6:1–5, NIV). “They are going out to do his work,” the work of God (6:5, NLT).
Zechariah’s vision symbolizes the Holy Spirit’s power, which appeared like swift, powerful horses coming out of the presence of God prepared for a battle. This battle is not against flesh and blood but the kingdom of Satan and His evil powers (Eph. 6:12).
According to God’s will, these horses of the vision appeared to have the lead. Thus, the Spirit of God filled the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, empowered Him, and led Him to do God’s will. Thus, the Holy Spirit played a significant role in the coming of Christ and His ministry:
1. The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ was by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35–36; Matt. 1:18).
2. The Holy Spirit anointed the Lord Jesus Christ during His baptism (Matt. 3:16–17; John 1:32–34)
3. The Holy Spirit led Christ into the wilderness to be tested by the devil, and He returns in the power of the Spirit (Matt. 4:1–2).
4. The Lord Jesus Christ begins His ministry by the Holy Spirit’s power (Luke 4:14–22). The prophets declared that the Holy Spirit would abide and lead Him (Isa. 11:1–2, 59:21, 61:14).
5. The Lord Jesus Christ cast out devils and did good deeds by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20; Acts 10:37–38).
6. the Lord Jesus Christ instructed His disciples by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2).
7. The Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself a sinless sacrifice by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 9:13–14).
8. the Lord Jesus Christ went to Hades (1 Pet. 3:19) and rose from the dead by the Holy Spirit’s power (Rom. 8:11).
9. the Lord Jesus Christ breathed the Holy Spirit into His disciples (John 20:22–23)
10. the Lord Jesus Christ baptizes in the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16)
When the Lamb of God broke each of the scroll’s seven seals (Rev. 5:1), God reveals a specific aspect of His plan of redemption and the coming of His kingdom. Going further to study the future visions, we must be aware that they do not depict events chronologically. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpets (Rev. 8:1–11:19), and the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15) includes the seven vials (Rev. 16:1–21). Therefore, in our minds, we must not separate the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven bowls, and the scenes in between from each other.
As we go further, we experience more depth in the word of God. I found out that studying Revelation is like peeling an onion. When you finish peeling a layer, you find another one, and so on until you reach the core of the onion. So likewise, God reveals to us His word “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little” (Isa. 28:10, ESV). David said, I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Ps.119:96, ESV).
the visions of the seven seals and the following images, God reveals the entire
divine plan of redemption, foretold in the law and the prophets, leading us to
New Jerusalem coming down from heaven, the dwelling of God and His Son among
the redeemed (Rev. 21:3).
6:1 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”
As the Lamb opened each of the first four seals, one of the four living beings cried out, “Come and see.” John drew near and paid attention to what God would reveal.
6:2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
The beginning of the Gospel of John is about the incarnation of the “Word, ο λόγος; Logos.” John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God,” and “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:1,14). So likewise, the beginning of the four horses’ visions is about the manifestation of the incarnation of the Word of God, Jesus Christ.
The Greek word “ἐξῆλθεν exeélthen” translated “went out” is the same term used in John 16:28. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world and go unto the Father” John 16:28, ASV). He also said, “I proceeded forth [exeélthen] and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me” (John 8:42, KJV).
With the opening of the first seal, God manifested Christ riding on a white horse. The white color represents holiness and purity. Daniel also saw the garment of God white as snow and His head and hair like pure wool (Dan. 7:9). The Lord Jesus Christ is also the Holy One of God (Luke 1:35), and He appeared as riding on a white horse (Rev. 6:2; 19:11). Thus, in the vision of the first seal, God manifested His work by His Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:4), in the birth and life of the Holy Son of God (Luke 1:35). Thus, St. Mary gave birth to Jesus by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18).
Christ’ Sinless Life
The Lord Jesus Christ lived a sinless and perfect life in His flesh by the Spirit of holiness. The Scriptures testified for His righteousness. Isaiah said of Him, “He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth” (Isa. 53:9). Peter said, “He was guilty of no sin; neither was deceit (guile) ever found on His lips” (1 Pet. 2:22, AMP). Satan, who was the ruler of this world, had nothing in Him. Therefore, through Christ’s death, He destroyed the power of Satan him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14).
The Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him (John 6:38; Heb. 10:5–7), and His food was to do the will of His Father to finish His work (John 4:34). So He obeyed His Father to the point of death (Phil. 2:8), and God made many righteous for the sake of His obedience (Rom. 5:19).
Christ became the Lamb of God, “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:19). He carried the sins of the world (John 1:29) and the fitting High priest for us, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens” (Heb. 7:26).
Had a Bow
The Lord Jesus Christ, the rider of the white horse, had a bow but no arrow. The rainbow is a sign of the convent God made with the living creatures in Gen. 9:13. The Lord Jesus Christ came with the new covenant of God. So, He is “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal. 3:1) and “the Mediator of the new covenant” (Heb. 12:24), for He offered His blood. After the last supper, He took a cup and said to His disciples, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20).
A Crown Was Given to Him
The horse rider has a crown on his head (Rev. 6:2), a picture of Christ’s victory. Because Christ is victorious and has defeated all evil forces, God crowned Him with a crown of gold (Rev. 14:14; 19:12).
He Went Out Conquering
In Revelation, the verb “to conquer,” with two exceptions (Rev. 11:7; 13:7), always points to either the Lord Jesus Christ or His followers. First, he overcame the world by the power of the Spirit of God. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Second, Satan could not take hold of Him, for he had nothing in Him (John 14:30).