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Revelation Chapters 6 and 7 – Yahweh's Covenant People, 01-22-2011
In Chapter 5 we saw a scroll with seven seals, and the scroll had writing on it front and back. Only Yahshua Christ Himself – who is the lion of the tribe of Judah and the root of David - was able to open the seven seals, and each time he opens one, we see a pronouncement is made concerning things which are to happen upon the earth. The seventh seal itself contains 7 trumpets, and the seventh trumpet contains seven vials. The first seal is finally opened at the beginning of Chapter 6. I must say that the imagery of Revelation Chapter 5 hearkens to a challenge which Yahweh made at Isaiah 41:21-29, where we see that only Yahweh can tell us the past or the future, and therefore all other prophets are false. This passage in Isaiah is a direct challenge to all false religions:
KJV Isaiah 41:21-29: 21 Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. 22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. 24 Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you. 25 I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter treadeth clay. 26 Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words. 27 The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them: and I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings. 28 For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word. 29 Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.
In the introduction to Revelation Chapter 6 that we did 2 weeks ago, we saw from Irenaeus, a 2nd century AD bishop of Lugdunum (which is now Lyons in France), that he understood that the Revelation, along with the Book of Daniel, foretold the fall of Rome, and his writing also shows that the historical view of prophecy is the earliest and legitimate view. Irenaeus also displayed an understanding from Daniel, that Rome's fall was due to a mixing of the races throughout the empire, and the inability of the empire to stand for that reason.
Here in Chapter 6 there is the famous vision of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It is evident that these four horsemen represent four stages in the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It can be argued that this vision of the four horsemen may mean something different, however that argument becomes less plausible once the chapters of the Revelation which follow are examined. It is also evident that many elements in these four horsemen also accurately describe the development and demise of the imperialist empires of modern times. This is because history repeats itself, usually because men never fail to ignore its lessons. If we would only learn from history, we would stop repeating its mistakes. However people are easily swayed by the empty promises of the short-sighted, and therefore the short-sighted consistently prevail.
VI 1 Then I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder: “Come!” 2 And I saw, and behold! A white horse, and he sitting upon it having a bow, and a crown has been given to him and he went out conquering and that he may conquer.
Most commentators date the Roman Empire to begin with the era of the Caesars, either with the dictatorship of Julius Caesar or the monarchical system set up under Octavian, later Augustus Caesar. This view is very skewed and demonstrates a poor understanding of systems of government. The term empire is properly applied to a government which rules over more than one nation of people. From The American Heritage College Dictionary, Third Edition: “empire...1.a. A political unit comprising a number of territories or nations and ruled by a single supreme authority....” Technically, the Alban colony which spawned Rome was already an empire with the joining of the Trojan refugees under Aeneas to the people of Latium, four hundred years before Rome was founded, and therefore Rome was always an empire, and never properly a nation. Livy describes a tradition that Rome was actually founded by Mars, the Latin god of war, perhaps revealing the reason for the creation of the city in the first place, as a vehicle for conquest. Early in its history, the young city had accepted all sorts of political and other refugees from various Greek states, and therefore may certainly be viewed as the New York of antiquity. For this reason we see the class division of Patrician and Plebeian in the oldest accounts. By any measure, Rome certainly became an empire by the third century BC, by which time it conquered and defeated all of the other tribes of the Italian Peninsula, the Etruscans, Sabines, Samnites and the Greek states of southern Italy and Sicily. Yet even this process of conquering its neighbors began almost as soon as the city is said to have been founded. In the first fifty years of its existence, there was a war with the Sabines, and the cities Fidenae and Veiens became subject to Rome, and colonized by Romans, in that period. By the end of the second century BC Rome ruled all of Greece, Asia Minor, Sardinia, parts of Spain, and the formerly Phoenician areas of North Africa. As late as the first century BC, there was the Social war in Italy, between Rome and the Italian nations (91-88 BC), and there was Serorius' revolt in Spain (83-72 BC), but these were not civil wars, rather they were revolts by already conquered nations against the Roman dominion. The Caesars did not begin an empire, they inherited one. While further expansion occurred in later periods of Roman history, such as the conquest of Dacia under Trajan, Rome's very founding marked the beginning of the White Horse period, and the time when Rome became an empire, whether the supreme ruling authority was a Republican government or a dictatorship or a monarchy.
3 And when He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying “Come!” 4 And there went out another, a red horse, and to him sitting upon it, it has been given to him to take peace from the earth and that they slay one another, and a great sword has been given to him.
The Romans of the early Republican period often appointed a temporary dictator in times of war, who once the threat had passed would revert power to the regular government. Eclipsing the period of the Republic, first real self-appointed dictator to rule Rome was Sulla. This, it is evident, marked the transition from the White Horse period to the Red Horse period, for the years following Sulla were filled with civil wars. While the White Horse period was marked by a rider carrying a bow, a weapon signifying conquest from a distance, the rider of the Red horse period carries only a sword, a weapon which can only signify the conquest of those who are near.
The first great and actual Civil War was between supporters of Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Gaius Marius and took place from 88-87 BC. This was followed by another from 82-81 BC, between the same parties. Sulla, victorious on both occasions, became the self-appointed dictator of Rome, which had not seen a dictator since the end of the Punic Wars. However Sulla took this opportunity to institute reforms, and then he quite surprisingly relinquished his power voluntarily, restoring the Republic and retiring peacefully. However not long afterwards, Rome suffered a series of great civil wars. There was the rebellion of Lepidus against the Senate in 77 BC, and then the Catiline Conspiracy of 63-62 BC. Following that there was the protracted civil war between Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompey from 49-45 BC – where over half of the empire was the battleground, from Spain to Egypt. Then there was the Post-Caesarian civil war between the Senate army led by Cicero and Octavian (the later Augustus) and the forces of Antony and Lepidus in 44 BC, and then the so-called Liberators' civil war to avenge the murder of Caesar, between Antony and Octavian (who were now allies of the Second Triumvirate) and the forces of Marcus Brutus and Gaius Longinus in 42 BC. Then there was a revolt in Sicily led by the son of Pompey against the Second Triumvirate, which lasted from 44-36 BC. Then there was the the civil war of Lucius Antonius and Fulvia Antonia, the brother of Marc Antony, against Octavian in 41-40 BC. Finally, there was the last and most famous civil war between Octavian and Agrippa in the west, and Mark Antony and Cleopatra in the east, which ended at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and which ended the Roman Republic in a monarchy established by Octavian. This was the Red Horse period of the Roman Empire, where peace was taken from the earth and the citizens of the empire killed one another.
5 And when He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying “Come!” And I saw, and behold! A black horse, and he sitting upon it having a scale in his hand. 6 And I heard like a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying “A quart of wheat for a denarion and three quarts of barley for a denarion, and you should not deal unrighteously with the olive oil and the wine!”
With the period which begins at the monarchy of Augustus, we see a relative peace brought to the empire which lasted practically 200 years. Relative, because no major wars were fought inside of the empire and between its own citizens, although there were some power struggles in Rome. There was also the typical strife resulting from conquest and pressure at the frontiers which always pestered the administration, such as the subjugation of Britain, and then the threat of the Picts in Roman Britain, for which Hadrian's Wall was built, the wars that were fought in Germany east of the Rhine and north of the Danube, which even under Augustus, Rome tried and failed to subdue, or the rebellion in Judaea which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet while there were problems on these frontiers, the main portion of the Empire saw a relatively prolonged peace.
However, with success also comes decadence. Therefore we see in the words of Paul of Tarsus that the Romans had become a morally corrupt people. These words are fully substantiated by the historian Tacitus, who also inferred in the Germania that in the Rome of his time, immorality was considered fashionable or “up-to-date”. Just as significantly, before the reign of Augustus Rome had a tolerance of the religions of those nations which were subjected to the empire. But from his time, compulsory worship of the emperor slowly began to be instituted, and came to the full with Caligula and Nero. For three centuries, Christians were persecuted, usually at the instigation of the jews who most often remained a privileged class. Usury, prostitution, the circuses and other vices were popular and prevalent throughout the empire, and the jew grew quite comfortable in pagan Rome. The rider of the black horse carries a scale, which signifies judgement. The decline and fall of Rome is a complex issue. Coin clipping and debasement of the currency were a plague in these centuries, and the over-supply of money in any economy leads to price inflation, as we see here in America today. The warnings concerning the prices of grain, and the oil and the wine, signify a period of both price inflation and food shortages. As Rome required the hire of larger armies to maintain control of the provinces, as the bureaucracy increased, and as the currency became debased, food prices climbed. This is exactly the same process which we have seen occurring in imperial America over the past 60 years.
The rider on the Black Horse has no crown and no weapons. That he had no weapons seems to denote the period of peace which was ushered in by the reign of Augustus. That he had no crown means that these rulers were not true scepter-bearers, those of the line of Zarah-Judah from which the first Caesars had come. Rather, they were a long line of military generals who sought for and gained power either through treachery, through politics, or through usurpation of the previous emperor. While some of these men were noble, such as Vespasian, many were not. Many more were debased psychopaths. It may be estimated that this period began to wane in the reign of Caracalla, who had granted citizenship freely to all of the freemen – former slaves - of the empire, primarily because the government could then expect an increase of tax revenue. Citizenship, which was often bought in earlier periods, as it is evident even in the Book of Acts in the Bible, became very cheap from this time – around 212 AD. He also further debased the currency, and increased the pay of the legions, and imposed oppressive taxes throughout the provinces. There were many other evil emperors, but Caracalla stood out among them. Gibbon called him “the common enemy of mankind”. Importantly, Caracalla also fought a battle with the Alamanni, which did not end decisively, except that he bribed the Germanic invaders with a large sum to make peace. This is the same tactic that later emperors used against the Goths, and it failed them miserably. This, it may be esteemed. Is a marked point in the transition from the Black Horse period to the Green Horse period, which represents sickness and decay.
7 And when He opened the fourth seal, I heard a voice from the fourth living creature saying “Come!” And I saw, and behold! A green horse, and he sitting upon it, his name is Death, and Hades follows after him, and authority over the fourth part of the earth has been given to them to kill by the sword and with famine and with death and by the beasts of the earth.
Not properly pale as we see in the King James Version, but rather green, this color represents sickness and decay. If we see in Daniel Chapter 2 that the empire fell apart due to race-mixing, as even Irenaeus interpreted it, then this period of illness must be marked by that characteristic, and the beginning of that must be estimated by the elevation of former slaves to citizenship under Caracalla. The sickness and decay of the empire under the burdens of race-mixing, vice, and political corruption finally begin its decline, where it finally succumbs to Germanic invaders in the fifth century AD. There was a fifty-year crisis in which there were prolonged periods of virtual anarchy, from about 235-284 AD, a period which the empire barely survived. But the disease which finally kills the empire is now terminal, and it is only a matter of time before its death.
9 And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw beneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain on account of the Word of Yahweh and on account of the testimony which they had. 10 And they cried out with a great voice, saying “How long, Holy and True Master, do You not judge and exact vengeance for our blood from those dwelling upon the earth?” 11 And there had been given to each of them a white robe and spoken to them that they should rest for a little while until they should be satisfied, and their fellow-servants and their brethren who are also going to be killed like them.
These people with white robes are again mentioned in Chapter 7, as the innumerable multitude of verses 9 through 17. These visions are indeed connected, and that may upset a lot of people living today who imagine themselves to be among the number of the 144,000, but these things must be read and accepted in the context which they appear, and not by any private interpretation. Here, those saints caught up in the tribulation are offering in prayer a desire for Yahweh to avenge them.
12 And I saw when He opened the sixth seal, and there happened a great earthquake and the sun became black as a sackcloth of hair and the whole moon became as blood 13 and the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree being shaken by a great wind casts its unripened figs, 14 and the heaven departed as a scroll being rolled and every mountain and island had been moved from their places. 15 And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the wealthy men and the powerful men and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and they say to the mountains and to the rocks: “Fall upon us!”, and “Hide us from the face of Him sitting upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
The earthquake is the final calamity to fall upon the empire, the disturbances which caused its end. The changes in sun and the moon represent the passing of the government and its bureaucracy. The stars of heaven (for which see Judges Chapter 5 and also the promises to Abraham) are that same “stone cut out of the mountain without hands” from Daniel Chapter 2, those Germanic tribes of the children of Israel that invaded and destroyed the empire, not only in Italy and Africa, but also in Britain, Gaul and Iberia, and in Dacia and Pannonia. (In 330 AD Constantine had granted the Vandals lands in Pannonia.) The heaven which departed are the Germanic tribes of the north and east who suddenly were able to migrate in large enough numbers to the south and west and invaded the empire on all fronts. Every island and mountain were moved from their place in the great Germanic migrations of the 5th and 6th centuries AD. The Germanic tribes were used by Yahweh to judge the old Roman empire, and the fear of the decadent leaders of the empire is reflected in verses 15 through 17. Yet we must remember, that the people of Rome were every bit as Hebrew and as Israelite in their heritage (albeit with a higher Japhethite and Canaanite admixture among them) as the Germanic invaders.
With the anarchy of the mid-third century, the city of Rome itself began to lose its lustre, and with Constantine in the early 4th century the capital was moved eastward. In 364 AD the empire was divided east and west, and this represents the beginning of the dissolution of the ten toes: the splitting of the original provinces of the empire as it existed under the first Caesars. The eastern portion would last another thousand years, however the west fell quickly. At first the western empire attempted to buy off the Goths with a large sum of gold. Rome was then sacked by the Goths under Alaric in 410 AD. When they still would not go away, a Gothic chieftain was made the emperor. The Huns were bought off in the east with a large grant of land which eventually became Hungary. But bribes were not enough for the Goths, who really wanted the fertile soil of Italy and the treasures of the empire for themselves, and so finally in 476 AD they took it. Rome could no longer defend herself first because the empire was completely corrupt and decadent, but more importantly, as Daniel 2:43 attests, because there was little unity in the citizenry, which was now made up of people of diverse and mixed races. It can be told from Daniel Chapter 7 that upon dissolution of the toes, from one of them would arise ten horns, and an eleventh which would subdue three kings. This describes Justinian, the eleventh emperor of the eastern empire, during whose reign the Vandal King Gelimer and the Gothic kings Witiges and Totila were defeated in Carthage and in Italy. During the wars of this period, much of Italy was laid bare, and the city of Rome was practically deserted for a long period of time. This, it can be ascertained, is the wounding of the head in another vision – that of the beast of Revelation Chapter 13. The empire is dead, but the beast and the dragon which gives its power to the beast still live to rise again – as the Roman Catholic Church!
VII 1 After this, I saw four messengers standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth that a wind would not blow upon the earth nor upon the sea nor upon any tree. 2 And I saw another messenger ascending from the rising of the sun having the seal of Yahweh who lives, and he cried out with a great voice to the four messengers to whom it had been given to do wrong to the earth and the sea, 3 saying: “Do not do wrong to the earth nor to the sea nor to the trees, until we should seal the servants of our God upon their foreheads!”
4 And I heard the number of those being sealed, a hundred forty-four thousand, being sealed out of all the tribes of the sons of Israel:
5 from the tribe of Iouda twelve thousand being sealed,
from the tribe of Rouben twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
6 from the tribe of Aser twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Nephthalim twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Manassa twelve thousand,
7 from the tribe of Sumeon twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
8 from the tribe of Zaboulon twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Ioseph twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand being sealed.
The destruction of Rome is momentarily suspended while the tribes could be sealed. This assures that a sufficient number of Israelites would survive the judgement to come upon the empire. There is no tribe of Dan mentioned here, which gives us a historical clue as to the context of this sealing. Since those who follow, the innumerable multitude dressed in white robes, are the same as those who suffered tribulation mentioned in Chapter 6 at verses 9 to 11, in addition to their brethren whom they were told are going to die as they did.
These people who are sealed must be those who, having kept themselves unsoiled from the world and the decadence of the empire (for which compare the mention of these people again in Revelation Chapter 14), were assured preservation from the tribulations prophesied to come upon the world, seen in chapters 6, 8 and 9. The tribe of Dan is not mentioned, because the main body of that tribe as Israel exists in the world at this time, is not within the bounds of the empire nor among those invading the empire, but rather they are already quite safe in northern Europe. The relationship of the people in the verses which follow to those mentioned in the previous chapter (6:9-11) assures that this interpretation is the correct one.
9 After these things I looked, and behold! A great crowd, which to number it no one was able, from all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the Lamb, having been cloaked in white robes and palm-branches in their hands, 10 and they cry out in a great voice, saying: “Salvation is with our God sitting upon the throne and with the Lamb!” 11 And all the messengers stood around the throne, and those of the elders and the four living creatures also fell on their faces before the throne and they worshipped Yahweh, 12 saying: “Truly, the praise and the honor and the wisdom and the gratitude and the dignity and the power and the might are for our God for the eternal ages, truly!”
The phrase “all nations” could only mean all of the nations of the Adamic oikoumenê – that part of the world which Rome rules over and which has undergone this tribulation. The great crowd, which no one was able to number, is a glimpse into the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham – for all of these people are descendants of the Israelites.
13 And one from among the elders responded, saying to me: “These who are cloaked in white robes, who are they? And from where have they come?” 14 And I said to him: “My lord, you know!” And he said to me: “These are they coming from out of the great tribulation and they have washed their robes and have whitened them in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason they are before the throne of Yahweh and they serve Him day and night in His temple, and He sitting upon the throne shall tabernacle with them. 16 They shall hunger no longer, nor shall they thirst any longer, nor shall the sun fall upon them nor any burning heat, 17 because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them and shall guide them to fountains of living waters, and Yahweh shall wipe every tear from their eyes!”
This represents the Hebrew (Job 19:25-27) Christian promise of resurrection and eternal life. Much of the language is found again in Chapter 22.
[I had no notes prepared for Chapter 8, and did not plan on covering it this evening, however we did get that far. The Chapter 8 notes will appear in the appropriate place om the Christreich site at http://christreich.christogenea.org/revelation8 once they are prepared. - WRF]