“As I watched, the Lamb broke the first of the seven seals on the scroll. Then I heard one of the four living beings say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked up and saw a white horse standing there. Its rider carried a bow, and a crown was placed on his head. He rode out to win many battles and gain the victory.”
Revelation 6:1-2 NLT
After the tremendous worship experience in Heaven, John’s focus now returns to the scroll. It has seven seals and each was broken in turn, revealing the writing on the scroll. So the scroll seemed to be structured in seven sections, each sealed so that the previous seal had to be broken before the next section could be read. But what was written on this scroll? And why was each broken seal followed by an act of apparent judgement?
Revelation 6 sees the start of the time of what is called the Tribulation, where God’s judgements are carried out on a world of unbelieving, sinful and rebellious people. We have to bear in mind that our Heavenly Father is not just a God of love, but He is also a God of righteousness. One day the period of grace in which we are now living will come to an end. One day sin will have to be judged. So with the sound of the worship still reverberating through the universe, Jesus opens the first seal.
John was perhaps startled by one of the living beings thundering out the word “Come!”. And John saw a white horse with a rider who had a crown on his head and who carried a bow. And we’re told he went out and won many battles. We don’t know for sure who the rider was, or what he represented. The crown would imply someone of authority, the white horse would indicate peace; perhaps the rider was a devious person, promoting peace when carrying an instrument of war, in the shape of a bow. The false prophets Jeremiah wrote about in Jeremiah 8 come to mind, and we read in verse 11, “…They give assurances of peace when there is no peace“. Some have suggested the crowned rider was the Antichrist (see the prophecies in the book of Daniel), but whoever the rider was who rode out on the white horse, he created mayhem, fighting and winning battles on earth.
With the conflicts of the twentieth and now the twenty-first centuries, we could ask the question if the first seal has already been broken. Certainly, some evil leaders have emerged on the world stage, and to one or two, even divine qualities have been assigned. But when the first seal is broken, I don’t think we will have any doubts. We will know.
When the first seal is broken it will be a difficult time for the pilgrims still alive, but for us pilgrims today, still living in this time of grace, we can only look on with some trepidation, and pray. We pray for our families, for our communities and for ourselves. And we pray for mercy from our God of love and righteousness. Ever since Jesus ascended from this earth, there has been an expectation that He will return again “soon”, ushering in the end times. We don’t know when that will be, but we do know that it could be at any time. So we mustn’t waste the moment, and instead not miss an opportunity to extend God’s grace to a lost world around us with our messages of hope.
Dear Father God. We thank You for this period of grace in which we live. Please help us not to hold back when we have the opportunity to reach others with the Good News that Jesus saves.