Today's Bible Reading: Revelation 6
Selected Biblical Text
1I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" 2I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
3When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" 4Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. 5When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand....
7When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" 8I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him....
9When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained....
12I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake.... (Rev. 6:1-2, 3-4, 5, 7-8, 9, 12 NIV)
Thinking and Reflecting
In today's chapter, the first six seals are opened. Remember that the Lamb controls the contents of the scroll as he opens the seals. The four riders represent conquest, war, famine, and death. The descriptions are general and not specific. The message of assurance is that when these occur, God is on his throne and the Lamb is in control of history.
The fifth seal reveals suffering souls under the altar and the sixth reveals an earthquake. Since we are dealing with apocalyptic literature that is filled with symbols, we must not be content to understand what we are seeing in the vision. We must always ask, "What do these symbols mean?" The souls under the altar and the earthquake are representations -- what do they represent? What is the message? Is there a message other than that God is in control? Is God still God when his people die for their faith? Can God work through the death of martyrs? Has God turned his back on his people when natural disasters occur? Can natural events ever be evidence of the wrath of God and the wrath of the Lamb?
What events in history have caused people to think about the existence of God, either to doubt or to affirm the existence of God (for example, the Holocaust)? What difference does it make whether we take a long view or a short view of history? What if we are called to live our entire lives in one of the "faith valleys" of history where Christianity is under attack? What difference would this message have made for first-century readers?
Father God, help us see your presence in the world about us, both in good times and bad times, blessings and difficulties. May we follow faithfully regardless of the circumstances in which we are called to live -- regardless of the historical times in which we are born. Thank you for the assurance that you are working all things toward your ultimate goals and ends. In Jesus' name and by his power we ask these things, Amen.