The Breaking of the Seals (Revelation 6–7)

Revelation 6 begins with John';s vision of the lamb breaking the first of the seven seals on the scroll. When he broke the first seal, John saw a white horse with a rider wearing a crown and holding a bow. He rode out to win many battles and “gain the victory” (Revelation 6:2).

When the lamb broke the second seal, a red horse appeared who brought horrible war and death on the earth (Revelation 6:4). He was followed by the black horse of famine and scarcity (Revelation 6:5–6). Finally, the pale green horse of pestilence and death is brought forth as the fourth seal was broken (Revelation 6:7–8).

At the opening of the fifth seal, John saw a vision of the souls of those who had died on account of their faith and heard their voices asking how much longer it would be before God avenged their deaths and set things on earth right (6:9–11). The sixth seal brings earthquakes, environmental catastrophes, celestial occurrences, and such chaos that everyone on earth would hide themselves in the caves and such places, wishing for the moun tains to fall on them so that they could avoid the wrath of God (Revelation 6:12–15).

Before the seventh seal was broken, John saw four angels who held “back the four winds so that they did not blow on the earth or the sea, or even on any tree” (Revelation 7:1). He also saw another angel coming from the east carrying the seal of the living God and telling the four not to harm the land or sea or the trees until they had placed the seal of God on His servants'; foreheads (Revelation 7:2–3). John saw a throng of 144,000 people — 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel — who had been marked with that seal (Revelation 7:4–8).

The time of tribulation described in Revelation is commonly accepted to be the same event described by Jesus, who referred to it as a time of “greater anguish than at any time since the world began” and said that “unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive.” (Matthew 24:21–22).

John also saw a crowd so huge that it was impossible to count — from every nation, tribe, and language — standing in front of the throne and in front of the lamb, all shouting, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the lamb!” (Revelation 7:10).

Finally, the lamb broke the seventh seal, and there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. After that, John saw seven angels standing before God, and each of them were given seven trumpets. This was the calm before the storm!

Study Questions

What did the first seal reveal when it was broken?

How were the other seals different from the first?

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