While reading Revelations you will find that a lot of the visions and prophecies talked about throughout the book are difficult to understand. One commonly discussed and misunderstood is the 6th chapter which speaks about the seven seals being opened.There are two different sets of thoughts on this. One is that we will have to endure part of the tribulation and we will see the seals being opened. The other is that the Church will be raptured before the opening of the seals. I hope to shed some light on this group of passages here. At the end of this section we will tell you which is true and why but please read through this in its entirety to fully understand what is going to happen.
We begin in verse 1 talking about the Lamb (meaning the Lord) opening the seal. In John's vision he hears one of four beasts saying "come and see." Verse 2 starts with what he saw. These first 4 things he saw are commonly referred to as the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse"
Revelation 6:2 " And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow: and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering and to conquer." The First Seal
Now we can immedately pull out three very interesting things from this verse. First, notice the color of the horse - it is white. Every other reference in the Bible that speaks of a white horse is always a postion of power such as a ruler. There is a reference even later in Revelations that describes Jesus on a white horse. Now, let's take a look at the bow. Another symbolic description - notice it does not tell you he has any arrows, yet he is sent to conquer? So what does this mean? It means that he will come into power peacefully. Know who this is yet? Lastly - look at the crown. All other references to Jesus or the saints describe a golden crown, but this just says "a crown." This is another symbol of power, or a ruler, but if this is not Jesus then who does this passage talk about? It is speaking of the antichrist. This is the first part of the reign of the antichrist and he will come into power peacefully. However, peace won't last very long. Let's move on to the next Horseman.
Revelation 6:4 "And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one anther: and there was given unto him a great sword." The Second Seal
This red horse is a symbol of war. Basically, what this means is that after a short reign for the antichrist the world will be turned into chaos. There are a few speculations on why this would happen. One such speculation is that this chaos could occur because several nations do not want a one world goverment, or to be ruled by it, and they will fight back in rebelllion. Whatever the case, these wars will be like none we have ever seen. Truly, they will be comparable to a world war III. Notice also the description of the weapon. It is not just a sword, but a great sword. I believe this is alluding to the severity of these conflicts. The worst hit, however, will be Israel - they are God's chosen people. The descendants of the 12 tribes will be the participants of Armageddon.
Revelation 6:5 "...And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse: and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of barley for a penny*, and three measures of barley for a penny*; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." The Third Seal
This black horse is a symbol of famine. To understand these verses a little more clearly, I have marked the word penny with a star. In the original text this is called a "denarius" (den-nar-e-us). What this means is a day's wages. This could be taken to mean that food will be so short in those days (due to war and famine) that it will take all of what you work for to buy food and supplies to live off of. In the latter part of verse 6 we see this passage: "....and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." This is yet another cultural difference between that time and this time. To the disciples living back in that time, oil and wine were as important to them as flour and sugar are to us now. Basically it is saying that you will have to be careful with what you have. It will be a very desperate time - but read on to see what is to come later.
Revelation 6:8 "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." The Fourth Seal
This is belived to be an army. Probably the army that has pleged alliegance to the antichrist. They will basicly have control over and kill a fourth of the earth's people. (currently 1.6 billion people) Something interesting we can look at in this verse is the description of the horse. In the original text this is acctually read "pale green horse". As king James scholars were translating this text they saw" green horse" and determined that it didn't make sense. Naturally they thought there was no such thing as a green horse. However it is significant because it gives us a clue as to who this army could be. I will let you do your own research into this but what world group is associated with this color and have the means to have this kind of control span? The answer may shock you.
Revelation 6:9-11 "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their bretheren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." The Fifth Seal
These verses are speaking of the marytrs for the Lord. The "season" spoken of here is the time waiting for the number of Gods "elect" to be fullfilled. Or basicly all the people to be mayrtred during tribulation for the Lord are in Heaven. The ones with the white robes are the "saints" or in other words all the ones that are saved and in heaven. These include the Christians who were taken in the rapture, the ones who were saved and died during the tribulation period, and the ones saved from back in the old testament.