“So I looked, and behold, an ashy pale horse [black and blue as if made so by bruising], and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades (the realm of the dead) followed him closely. And they were given authority and power over a fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword and with famine and with plague (pestilence, disease) and with wild beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:8 ->me: Today I spent a lot time in thought on this verse. I asked the Lord what I should take away from this 4th horseman or maybe a full thought on what the first four seals tell me in application. Lets start with what I discovered about this verse – ‘Pale’ is the Greek word “chlóros” which is the root of our word chlorine. A yellowish green color (the color of a corpse). The other riders has emblems -> a bow, sword, and scales…Death needs no sign. Hades is a place and so I don’t think it is given the same metaphorical rider with a horse motif. Once again we see the Lord’s Sovereignty -> Authority and power to kill given. Looking at all the horsemen and what they are sent to do I see a repeating of their destruction through history. The overwhelming feeling I had through my reading today was that of time being short and that the time of our Lord’s return is near. We will see in the next seal that there is death count that is a trigger for the next stage in the Lord coming. There is so much work to be done and the workers are few (Luke 10:2). I need to have a sense of immediacy in my purpose. I can’t be waiting around for a ‘calling’…as a born again Christian I am already called to be obedient to the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus-these are clear. I simply need to get to work.
“When He broke open the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, Come and look! And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and in his hand the rider had a pair of scales (a balance). And I heard what seemed to be a voice from the midst of the four living creatures, saying, A quart of wheat for a denarius [a whole day’s wages], and three quarts of barley for a denarius; but do not harm the oil and the wine!” Revelation 6:5-6 ->me: In scripture the black horse signifies famine and the rider is holding a set of scales. In famine governments of the land would ration out grain by measure (thus the scales) daily to the people of the country. The words from the voice amid the creatures talk about a worker paying a full days wages for a single ration of wheat, which means he would not have enough to feed his dependents. I think the ‘do not harm the oil and wine’ is a picture of the necessities of life for the poor will be in short supply while the luxuries of the rich will not cease; a time of famine which is not yet a disaster. Things are difficult but the end is not yet. I can get like this (this is my personal application) – Here I am with my nice home, plenty of food, with fast internet, full satellite television, clothes I need to take to Goodwill, and multiple cars….and my biggest question a couple of days ago was – “Why isn’t my wife’s new cell phone here when they said it would be???”. In other words I am worrying about the wrong things…what about my neighbors who are unsaved, the countless homeless that need help, the human trafficking problem right here in Seattle, the kids in poverty eating the same (government provided) cheese sandwiches everyday next to my daughter at school. This seal is a reminder to me who has ‘literally’ everything, to raise my fat head up and start paying attention to the needs of those around me…and do something about it.
“And another horse came out, flaming red. And its rider was empowered to take the peace from the earth, so that men slaughtered one another; and he was given a huge sword.” Revelation 6:4 ->me: I am sorry in advance for the slowness that this verse by verse might feel but it all means so much together that it is hard to run too fast. Again this rider ‘is empowered to take peace’ and ‘is given a sword’. This rider doesn’t kill anyone that we know of with this sword because it says the people kill themselves over a lack of peace which the rider has taken away. This reminds me of the lessons we have been learning from the Meaning of Marriage book (by Tim and Kathy Keller). The book makes the statement that the more evil you inflict on someone or the more you beat down on a group of people, the more brutal and savage your treatment becomes. This passage is saying that this is what this horseman will bring with the opening of his seal; ruthless back and forth killing of each other. One of the things I need to take to heart is that when I am nice to my enemies and kind to those less fortunate around me, I develop a care and love for them; for my enemies I might just dislike them less. I need to make a conscious effort actively LOVE on people around me, no matter how they may treat me. Look how Jesus was treated yet He continues to reach out to and love on those who took Him to the cross.
“And I looked, and saw there a white horse whose rider carried a bow. And a crown was given him, and he rode forth conquering and to conquer.” Revelation 6:2 ->me:….and now we start with the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. The first horse is white and its rider carried a bow. What stands out to me in this verse is that the rider was ‘given’ a crown (or wreath of victory). I am sure the rider (conqueror) thought that his own might produced his victory. The conqueror has only what God allows him to have. Most of what I have read alludes to the fact that any Waring country bent on conquest will lay destruction, terror, and horror in its path…the will be an unending procession of countries focused on this through the end of time as we know it and it will only increase as we get closer to the return of Jesus. John is very sure to make sure that the reader sees the sovereignty of God in the recounting of his visions. I must have this perspective not only while I read through this book but also in my daily walk, my daily prayer, and the trials and tribulations I will face. God is bigger than my circumstances and He alone allows what we experience and what happens in His plan and purposes. As a believer this is so comforting…I cannot allow the external pressures of this world take more weight than my God; the God of Creation and the Universe.
“Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels on every side of the throne and of the living creatures and the elders [of the heavenly Sanhedrin], and they numbered ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, saying in a loud voice, Deserving is the Lamb, Who was sacrificed, to receive all the power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and majesty (glory, splendor) and blessing!” Revelation 5:11-12 ->me: Oh how I missed my quiet time. Yesterday kind of got away from me with prep for our Life Group and the business of 2 doctor’s appointments – It’s become so clear how important God’s word is to me daily…but also just as important has been prayer. This week I challenged my Life Group men to find a quiet dark place in their home (closet) to deliberately and seriously pray; giving God unadulterated time with Him and with Him as the focus. When I finished up chapter 5 today this verse calling out all the things ‘the Lamb’ received by ‘enduring on the cross and scorning it’s shame’. I plan to add this to my daily prayer closet prayers this week->expounding on His Power, Riches, Wisdom, Might, Honor, Majesty, and Blessing (notice there are 7?). I told my guys to start their prayers acknowledging Who God is, what He has done, and His greatness->then ask for forgiveness of unconfessed sin->finally ask God to change them from the inside out and open their ears and eyes to be able to absorb the Word and respond in application. “I assert confidently that the principal means by which most believers have become great in the Church of Christ is the habit of diligent private prayer.” JC Ryle
“And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders [of the heavenly Sanhedrin] prostrated themselves before the Lamb. Each was holding a harp (lute or guitar), and they had golden bowls full of incense (fragrant spices and gums for burning), which are the prayers of God’s people (the saints).” Revelation 5:8 ->me: As you know I have been reading “A Call to Prayer” by JC Ryle (its just 32 pages but super powerful). I had several conversations today with dear loved friends and one of the biggest topics of our conversations was prayer and more specifically prayer before time in the word. This verse is such a great reminder to show just how much of a place and role our prayer play in not only communicating, worship, and making requests to our Father through the Lord Jesus Christ but that they are also a sweet fragrance that permeates the air of heaven. Think of that for a moment…when we are in deliberate serious prayer (when our focus is entirely on Him) that prayer is wafting in the presence of the throne room of God! So, when I pray I must remember that my prayer is not only a mechanism to communicate to the Almighty it also becomes part of the heavenly atmosphere the Lord and His angelic hosts breath in and enjoy. This begins t change the heart I have in my prayer life and how important it is not just as a mechanism to communicate but also as an offering of incense used by angels and heavenly elders to worship and praise the Most High. I also think it is interesting to note that they were holding the instruments (harps) as well as the incense (prayers of the saints) when falling down to praise and glorify Jesus.
“And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth [in the realm of the dead, Hades] was able to open the scroll or to take a [single] look at its contents. And I wept audibly and bitterly because no one was found fit to open the scroll or to inspect it. Then one of the elders [of the heavenly Sanhedrin] said to me, Stop weeping! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root (Source) of David, has won (has overcome and conquered)! He can open the scroll and break its seven seals!” Revelation 5:3-5 ->me: I spent a lot of time on this passage last night; looking through the commentaries trying to get a grasp of the symbolism John uses here. First thing that jumped out at me in verse 4:1 was that the scroll was “on the hand” of the One Who sits on the throne (not in the hand); meaning that it was likely laying across the palm of His hand. Second, verse 2 says that a “strong” angel called out in a loud voice asking “Who is worthy to open the scroll?”; I take it that it is not ‘might’ alone that can open the scroll. Then John says that ‘no one’ was able to open the scroll; no one on earth, in heaven, or in death/hell was able to take and open the scroll. My mind keeps going to this period (maybe several moments – enough time to make John cry in sadness) where no one came forth…until one of the Elders around the Throne calmed John down and told him to look. Alright, so takeaways -> Only God the Father possess the future and this is backed up by Jesus when He says “only the Father knows” in Matthew 24:36, but Jesus is the only One Who can bring the end about. Additionally, the timing and worthiness of Jesus is perfect and there is no other who is qualified to open the seven seals. It is comforting to know that the One Who was thinking of eternity with me (the joy set before Him – Hebrews 12:2) when He paid the price of my sin on the cross, is the same Who executes the ushering in of that same eternity.
“The twenty-four elders (the members of the heavenly Sanhedrin) fall prostrate before Him Who is sitting on the throne, and they worship Him Who lives forever and ever; and they throw down their crowns before the throne, crying out, worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion, for You created all things; by Your will they were [brought into being] and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11 ->me: In this vision given to John of the Throne Room of God the Father there are so many things that are so crazy awesome -> the Throne of Jasper and Sardius Stone, a halo of emerald (like a rainbow), the glassy sea of crystal in front, and the four beasts full of eyes ever praising God…but the most impactful part of this passage for me is the 24 Elders who throw themselves prostrate before God, on the throne, and cast their crowns at His feet…an act so appropriate for someone who is surrendering all status and worth to the only One Who deserves our worship. In 1 Corinthians 9:25, Philippians 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, and 1 Peter 5:4, God, through the New Testament writers, speaks of many crowns we can earn – Crown of Eternal Blessing, Crown of Victory, Crown of Righteousness, Crown of Life, and Crown of Glory. So, when I read of these heavenly Elders and what they do time and time again, I must see it as an activity I not only can do when I enter into eternity (with any of the Crowns I might earn on my entry to heaven) but I can do it now…I can throw my Crown of Self-Importance, my Crown of Position, my Crown of Advancement, my Crown of Wealth, my Crown of Independence, etc at the feet of the cross. I can bring glory to my God in heaven today! I can lay prostrate in my prayer closet and say “worthy are You, my Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion, for You created all things; by Your will they were [brought into being] and were created. TODAY, I give you what I have.”
“AFTER THIS I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice which I had heard addressing me like [the calling of] a war trumpet said, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place in the future. At once I came under the [Holy] Spirit’s power, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the throne!” Revelation 4:1-2 ->me: I now start to tumble into the amazing symbolism and vision of heaven given to John. ‘After this’ – the transcribing of Jesus’ letters to the 7 churches. John says he saw ‘a door standing open IN heaven’; not TO heaven. Meaning that this is glimpse at something even doubly hidden. Again he hears the same voice as earlier (the one that was heard behind him in 1:10) and this time asking John to ‘come up here’ into the door where he will be shown ‘what MUST take place in the future’. This ‘MUST take place’ caught me off guard – Strong’s says that this word (dei) in the Greek means “it is necessary”. Our God is deliberate, intentioned, and will not be deterred from His plan. We can take solace in this truth…I am part of His plan and as long as I am following Him (heeding His word and obeying His commands) I can trust that I am exactly where He needs me to be. This has given me such comfort in the last year or so. There is so much happening now, right were I am, that if I would have tried to take things into my own hands I am quite sure I would not be sitting in His waterfall of blessing.
“Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.” Revelation 3:19-20 …so what does it mean to be hot? From pouring over this letter it is several things that I must take to heart. 1) I must understand that I am nothing without My Savior. To recognize that this life under the sun is futile when spent serving my own needs and believing that my career and possessions bring me hope and joy…a hope and joy that only God can bring. 2) To cling to a faith refined by fire and to accept the trails in my life as either opportunities to learn what the Lord is teaching me or a path to perseverance, character, and hope…a hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:3,4, & 5). 3) To be totally immersed in God’s Word with an open mind to hear and respond to the discipline the Lord teaches from His amazing book. Through prayer and supplication listening for the knocking of my Savior, speedily inviting Him in, ready to hear what He has to say, and eager to pounce on whatever He calls me to do (my QT verses today). THIS is what it means to be ‘Hot’ and not lukewarm.