The Seven Seals of the Book of Revelation

as found in

The Gospel Accounts

By Clovis Miller

The seven seals of the Book of Revelation (beginning in chapter 6), represent an overview of events of the tribulation period and, one by one, depict events of that period as told by Jesus in the Gospel accounts (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). In those accounts, all are in agreement that false messiahs will come first (1st seal). This is followed by wars and rumors of war (2nd seal), famines and pestilences (3rd seal) which produce widespread death (4th seal).

These four things referred to by Jesus, as the "beginning of sorrows" {Matt. 24:8; Mark 13:8}; are followed by "great tribulation" {Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19; Luke 21:22-23}, and the persecution of the faithful (5th seal); ending with the sun, moon and stars being darkened (6th seal), and finally, the revelation of Jesus Christ (7th seal).

If you compare the following verses of Scritpure, you will see that a very clear parallel emerges. When the gospel accounts are brought into the picture: what seemed so mysterious in the Book of Revelation; becomes quickly evident.

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Book of Revelation

Rev.6:1-2 {Seal #1}

1) "Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see."

2) And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer."

Gospel Accounts

Matt. 24: 4-5

4) "And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one man deceive you.
5) "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many."

Mark 13:5-6

5) "And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6) For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Luke 21:8

8) "And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them."

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What we see with the opening of the first seal is, a person who goes forth, upon a white horse (the symbol that Messiah has come - Rev. 19:11), with a bow in his hand and a crown on his head, to crush those who oppose him. He has arisen among the numerous false christs, and now sets out to establish himself as the only "legitimate" power on earth. The bow in his hand, shows us clearly that we are not seeing the true Messiah, who appears in chapter 19, with a "sword" coming out of His mouth. The crown on his head, at this point, is not that of a ruler (diadem, in Greek), but rather one of a victor (stefanos, in Greek). The many crowns upon the head of the true Messiah (19:12) are those of kingly authority, and will be bestowed by Him upon the saints, who are destined to rule the earth. What begins as a "garland of victory" for the Antichrist in Rev. 6, will be ultimately replaced with the crown of a ruler in Rev. 13; one which is bestowed upon this false "King of Kings", by Satan. For more on the differences between the crown of a ruler, and the crown of a victor Click Here.

Book of Revelation

Rev.6:3-4 {Seal #2}

3) "And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
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 sholud kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword."

Gospel Accounts

Matt. 24:6-7

6) "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:..."

Mark 13:7-8

7) "And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things need be; but the end shall not be yet.
8) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:..."

Luke 21: 9-10

9) "But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
10) Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom..."

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The opening of the second seal, by no means, ends the mission of the first horseman. To the contrary, the successes which he is enjoying leads to strong opposition arising in the earth. "Wars and rumours of wars" (Matt. 24:6) are an immediate consequence or response to the one who goes forth "...conquering and to conquer." The "red horse" denotes anger and jealousy towards those who challenge the status quo with success. The opening of this seal also appears to refute the notion, of many, that the first half of the tribulation period, under the presence of the false prince of peace (the Antichrist), will be one of relative peace and safety. It's the beginning of sorrows, not the beginning of peace that's portrayed here.

Book of Revelation

Rev.6:5-6 {Seal #3}

"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.
And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beast say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine."

Gospel Accounts

Matt. 24:7

7) "...and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places."

Mark 13:8

8) "...and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles:..."

Luke 21:11

11) "And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences..."

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With the opening of this seal, the ravages of war are manifested. Not only does it wreak havoc with peoples lives, but it interrupts the agricultural cycle of food production. This results in widespread scarcity of basic food stuffs, causing rampant inflation and poverty to ensue. A days wages (a denarius) buys only one a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley. Manufactured goods (i.e. oil and wine) however, are still in adequate stock. Money will be virtually worthless, at this point.

The black horse represents a time of uncertainty and despair. Hopes and aspirations, which may have been pinned on the appearance of the white horse, seem far removed. Now there is no sense of security concerning the future. It is also a time when the economic boundaries of the tribulation period begin to take shape. Babylon, Nimrod's mighty city of old (17:5,18), is again on the rise to establish her dominance in the world; and the beastly Antichrist (yet unrevealed) is concurrently adding the finishing touches for his economic control system (the mark: 13:16-17).

Book of Revelation

Rev.6:7-8 {Seal #4}

7) "And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
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 to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beast of the earth."

Gospel Accounts

Matt. 24:8

8) "All of these things are the beginning of sorrows."

Mark 13:8

8) "...these are the beginnings of sorrows."

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In I Cor. 15:26, death is personified as our enemy, and is the last enemy which will be destroyed. The death spoken of there is the same death spoken of here in Revelation (the physical death of individuals). In the future, all individuals, in the grave, will be resurrected from this death, whether they be righteous or wicked. The righteous will inherit eternal life, the wicked however, will be subjected to "the second death" (Rev. 20:6) from which there is no resurrection or hope.

In Rev. 1:18, Jesus stated that He has the "...keys of hell and of death." With the opening of the fourth seal, we see a pale (yellowish-green color) horse appear, upon which sits a rider identified as Death.

Here, death is presented as a sort of conquering king who goes forth seeking and selecting subjects to fill his kingdom, which is called Hell (Hades, or the grave).

All of the happens described thus far: the coming of false messiahs, the wars and earthquakes which create famines, pestilences, and other problems, as bad as they may appear to be; are but the "beginning of sorrows" which are to come upon the earth. They may be reckoned as the beginning of the true birth pangs which will ultimately bring forth the true Messiah. As that time approaches, the pangs come forth with increasing frequency and greater intensity. This will be reflected in the greater tribulation that is yet to strike the earth's populace. Saints will be persecuted by Satan and the wicked of the world; and God will respond with His judgment upon the perpetrators.

Killing by the sword (war), hunger (starvation resulting from war), death (probably the accompanying diseases that are generated by insufficient food and poor sanitation), and by the beast of the earth (increased attacks upon people who have destroyed their natural habitat through warfare).

It will be a horrific time in the history of the world, all generated by unrepentant sinners, who have excluded God, and made the affairs of this world the whole of their life.

Book of Revelation

Rev.6:9-11 {Seal #5}

9) "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, doest 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 brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."

Gospel Accounts

Matt. 24:9-10, 21

9) "Then they shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and they shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10) And then shall many be offended,and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another...
21) For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."

Mark 13:9, 19

9) "But take heed to yourselves:for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them....
19) For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be."

Luke 21:12,16-17, 22-23

12) "But before all these things, they shall lay their hands on you, and persucute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake...
16) And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethern, and kinsfolks, and friends, and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
17) And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake....
22) For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled
23) Buth woe unto them that are with child, and to those that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people."

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Martyrs have a special place in heaven. Like their Saviour, they have been sacrificed for the cause of God.

Again, we go back to the Gospel accounts of the tribulation period (Matt. 24:9-10; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:16-17) and see the results of the betrayal of the saints: even by family members who seek to save their own lives at the expense of relatives and friends who hold Scripture as sacred and Jesus as their saviour. It becomes a sort of sacrificial offering to appease Satan. The souls of the slain however, are taken up to the altar of sacrifices in heaven.

Book of Revelation

Rev.6:12-17 {Seal #6}

12) "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13) And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a might wind.
14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island moved out of their places.
15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"

Gospel Accounts

Matt. 24:29

29) "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."

Mark 13:24-25

24) "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25) And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken."

Luke 21:25

25) "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations , with perplexity; the seas and waves roaring;"

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The sixth seal, which is now to open, has a definite time stamp on it. This is the only place in the entire Book of Revelation where the description of the darkening of the sun and moon, and the stars falling from heaven echoes the Gospel accounts (Matt. 24:29-30; Mark 13:24-26; Luke 21:25-27). This seal presents a preview of the very end of the tribulation and conveys the final judgment to be executed upon the wicked; particularily those who have persecuted and killed the saints shown under the 5th seal.

Book of Revelation

Rev.8:1-2 {Seal #7}

1) "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
2) And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets."

Gospel Accounts

Matt. 24:30

30) "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Mark 13:26

26) "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."

Luke 21:27

21) "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with power and great glory."

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The seventh seal opens with silence in heaven for about thirty minutes. What doe this mean? With the opening of the seventh seal, He who sits upon the throne is suddenly quiet, and a total hush falls upon the precincts of heaven.

The four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, the souls of those under the altar, the angelic host and all others in heaven follow suit; and silence ensues for the space of thirty minutes, by John's reckoning.

All of the praises, honor and glory which heretofore had been offered up to the Lord of heaven are suddenly muted. In this reverential silence, the seven angels standing before God, are each given a trumpet. What is it that has caused this silence to come about? It's the prelude to the God of heaven hearing and answering the prayers which are about to be offered up to Him; concerning retribution against the wicked of the earth, who have slain the saints of the Most High.

God is omniscient, and therefore knows the prayers of the saints even before they are offered. Here however, the prayers are stored in the golden vials, or bowls, held by the twenty-four elders, until the appropriate time for them to be answered. That time has now arrived!

This scene is presented to show that God in heaven takes the prayers of His saints very seriously; and is now about to give His full attention to answering the request they have submitted to Him. Here, will not be uttered a request, that He be merciful to the perpetrators of these crimes, as in former times: but that His great wrath will be unleashed against the wicked, who hate not only the saints which they slew, but God Himself. An awesome moment!

The period of silence continues with the coming of an angel having a golden censer in his hand. He stops first at the altar of sacrifice, under which are the souls of the slain saints {6:9-11}. There, much incense (a special formula) to be used in offering the prayers of all of the saints, is put into the censer which he carries. Chapter 5:8 tells us that the twenty-four Elders have "... golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

As the silence continues, coals of fire from the altar of sacrifice are then carried to, and placed upon the Golden Altar of Incense (the customary procedure in the Temple at Jerusalem). The angel then proceeds to the altar where he pours the incense upon the coals of fire, producing a sweet smell ascending up before Him who sits upon the throne.

When finished offering up the prayers of the saints, he then takes hot smoking coals from the altar of incense, puts them in the golden censer and flings it into the earth ending the time of silence.

The "...voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake..." in the earth, which follow this action, indicate that God in heaven has heard and accepted the prayers of the saints. Not only were the coals of fire thrown into the earth, but the censer itself was cast down. This seems to indicate that no additional prayers concerning these matters need to be offered up unto the Lord again. Their prayers have been received, and now the time has come that His judgments should be poured out upon those who have killed His beloved.

These judgments continue during the great tribulation, and will conclude with the Revelation of the Lord Jesus to utterly destroy the unrepentant wicked; and establish a kingdom for those who have followed Him even unto death.

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