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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 6

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-17


HAVING passed through the Prologue we now enter upon the prophetical panorama. This and the following chapter are devoted to a programmatical anticipatory presentment of the contents of the book, read in brief from the envelopes wrapped around it. These wrappers, with which the book was sealed, contained a summary of its revelation.

2. The breaking of the first seal and the removal of the first wrapper introduces the gospel on the prophetic drama, which is destined to prove an important factor and play a conspicuous part in the wonderful tragedies of the latter-day prophecies. A white horse comes forth, with a mounted cavalier, wearing a crown and bearing a bow with arrows. He goes forth conquering and to conquer. Here we see the divine ideal of a gospel preacher is a sanctified circuit-rider, emblematized by the white horse. Riding on horseback, inhaling the pure atmosphere, is not only a first-class gymnasium for muscular development, but a most excellent sanitarium. Hence the pulpit giants of all ages have been educated in “Brush College,” and celebrated for their equestrianship. If I were young again, whether boy or girl, I would certainly be a sanctified circuit-rider, even if I rode a bicycle. Oh, that every reader of these pages may catch the gospel inspiration and turn sanctified circuit-riders!

Upon opening the second seal, behold, the red horse comes forth. This red horse symbolizes bloody Mohammedanism. It constitutes the Oriental hemisphere of anti-Christendom, while Romanism constitutes the Occidental hemisphere. Since Satan conquered the world in Eden, he has deluged it with blood and bleached it with bones. It is estimated that twenty thousand millions of people have been slain in Satan’s wars since the beginning of the world. All wars are the devil’s revivals, gotten up by his majesty for the population of hell. Never is the devil so delighted as on a great battlefield, when men are killing one another by the wholesale, and thus engulfing multitudes into hell. Hence Satan and his people play a most conspicuous part in prophetical fulfillment. The history of this world is mainly the recital of Satan’s work, since he certainly has the big end of it, and is designated by the Holy Ghost “the god of this world.” (2 Corinthians 4:4.)


Mohammed began to preach in Arabia, A.D. 607. He boldly proclaimed to the world that he ascended with Gabriel, astride the same donkey which Christ rode into Jerusalem. Having flown through trackless ether, passing glittering spheres, rolling worlds, and blazing suns, with his archangelic escort, he arrives at the first heaven, where he finds Adam and Eve, so crippled by the fall that they have progressed no further, but linger there with many of their children. They sweep on the ethereal void traversed by rolling worlds, till they reach the second heaven, where they find a number of patriarchs and saints. Then onward they fly, halting anon at the third heaven. Then to the fourth, on to the fifth, and finally to the sixth, at all of which he finds multitudes of patriarchs, prophets, saints, and angels. At the sixth heaven Gabriel throws up his commission, alleging his unworthiness to escort him any further, at the same time notifying him that he must proceed alone to the seventh heaven, and there stand before the effulgent majesty of the Almighty, as He sits upon the throne of the universe, and who has sent him all the way down to this world to summon Mohammed to appear in His presence. Now Mohammed proceeds alone up to the seventh heaven, and stands before the Almighty, who notifies him that, having sent prophet after prophet to warn the wicked people of this world to repent, He finally sent His Son Jesus Christ to persuade them, by His condescending love and mercy, to repent of their sins. But all this had proved a failure, since, instead of repenting, they arose up and slew Him. But now Mohammed represents the mighty as sending him into this world, the last and most beloved of all the prophets, even from the beginning of the world. But He does not send him to persuade men to repent, as all the others had come on that line, and signally failed; but He sends him armed with the sword to compel all the people in the world to cast away all other religions and worship God Almighty alone, and receive the Koran, which Mohammed certified that the Almighty revealed to him while he stood in His august presence. Doubtless Mohammed was one of the most intelligent men the world ever saw. Though a son of Esau, he was the master-spirit of the Dark Ages. Satan was one of the brightest of all the archangels before he fell. This wonderful superhuman intellect he retained after his spirit’s apostasy, and utilizes at the present day. Doubtless, Mohammed was wonderfully illuminated intellectually, inspired, energized, invigorated, and empowered by the devil. Thus Mohammedanism, instigated by Satan, was born in blood, death, robbery, and every species of crime. The Koran has no code of morals. It unscrupulously justifies robbery, murder, and licentiousness. It presents the greatest conceivable incentives to the most chivalric heroism on the battlefield. It says: “A night spent in arms is more precious in the sight of God than months of fasting and prayer. Whosoever dies in battle, his sins are forgiven. In the day of judgment, his wounds shall be resplendent as vermillion, and odoriferous as musk. In the Mussulman’s paradise, seventy-two damsels of sparkling beauty shall minister to the most humble of the faithful,” Mohammedanism is an ironclad system of inflexible Monotheism, utterly repudiating and eternally abjuring every form of idolatry. Thus, Mahomet proclaimed to the world that God had sent him to destroy all the idolatry on the globe, and purify the religions of the world. At the time of his ministry, in the seventh century, Asia and Africa, the great apostolic fields of labor, were occupied by the Greek Church, which was full of image worship. Mahomet, born and reared in the wilds of Arabia, did not discriminate between corrupt Christianity, with its image-worship, which everywhere prevailed in the East, and the paganistic Churches. Hence, the Moslem armies exterminated all religions as they went, giving the people the solitary alternative of Koran or death. Thus the loyal Mussulman believes he is to swim to heaven in Christian blood. The Turkish Empire has been the upholder of Mohammedanism the last twelve hundred years. It was a penalty of death to profess Christianity in that empire till the treaty of Ryswick, A.D. 1844, when the united powers of Christendom forced on the Turks the Act of Toleration. This treaty they are now flagrantly violating in the Armenian massacres.


The black horse here symbolizes the papacy, which has always been the oppressor of the poor, here indicated by the scarcity of edibles. It has always taught sacramental salvation through priestly manipulations, here indicated by the oil and the wine. Romanism constitutes the great Western hemisphere of anti-Christendom, of which Mohammedanism is the Eastern. The first pope, Boniface the Third, Bishop of Rome, was crowned by Phocas, the king of Italy, A.D. 606; whereas, Mahomet began to preach in Arabia at the same time. Throughout all of these prophecies, the pope is currently denominated the “beast,” and Mahomet the “false prophet.” These two great wings of the Satanic kingdom have thrown their dark shadows around the world the last twelve hundred years, while Mohammedanism has deluged Asia and Africa with blood and whitened them with bones. Romanism, in the dark succession of the pagan emperors, who had slaughtered a hundred millions of saints, comes on and slays a hundred millions more. For a dozen centuries, the pope had his foot on the necks of all European kings, till the Lutheran Reformation jostled him on his pontifical throne, and relaxed his iron grip. This was consummated by Victor Emanuel, A.D. 1870, who shook the pope from his temporal throne. The wonderful vitality and indomitable energy of the papacy was then diverted from the bold and dictatorial altitude of the proud pontificate, swaying his iron scepter over the heads of all kings, bowing, cringing vassals, praying his clemency, and kissing his feet, into clandestine subterranean channels through which, by Jesuitical intrigue, lie is adroitly manipulating all the governments on the globe. He is to-day the greatest political trickster in the world. When I was there last summer, the royal ambassadors were constantly calling on him. Through ten thousand diabolical devices he is doing his utmost to get possession of the democracies, both European and American. He has a majority in the municipal governments of all our great cities, and nearly all of our great popular daily papers of the cities; he is also said to have a majority in the United States army and navy. Roman Catholicism is increasing in the United States vastly more rapidly than the Protestant Churches. Notwithstanding his political dethronement in 1870, and the universal curtailment of the potent superstition with which he has bound the nations for ages by the worldwide circulation of the Bible within the last century, yet it is doubtful whether there was ever a period in the world’s history when the papacy was more influential than at the present day. It is my honest conviction that this wonderful and incorrigible nightmare on human conscience, the summary of all political intrigue, will run right on, with increasing volume and potency, till the Lord comes to take away His bride. Then, with the inauguration of the great tribulations, the pope, as the master-spirit of anti-Christendom, will at once ostensibly and avowedly ascend the throne of antichrist, assume the leadership of the world, boldly antagonize, the Ancient of Days in His castigatory judgments, and impudently gainsay the prerogatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, when He descends with His glorified bride on the throne of His Millennial kingdom.

2 Thessalonians 2:0, Paul says the glorified Savior will exterminate him by the brightness of His presence. Revelation 19-20, John says he and the false prophet i. e., Mahomet will both be cast alike in the lake of fire. When I was in Cairo last summer there were ten thousand students in the Mohammedan university, studying the Koran, preparing to go out and preach the Moslem gospel to all nations. In these Scriptures the horse not only symbolizes character, but velocity being the swiftest animal on the earth. The opening of the first seal reveals the white horse, which is the gospel; and God wants it to move at race-horse speed, as it is a white horse. God has no gospel but sanctification, which makes you white. No wonder Satan is running away with the world; for he has three horses. The red horse, Mohammedanism, offers bloody death to all who reject the Koran. The black horse, Romanism, deals only in sin, delusion, death, and damnation, black as the very fogs of the pit.


8. The pale horse revealed in the opening of the fourth seal symbolizes death, and portrays in horrific panoramas the awful horrors of death during the reign of Satan, and the night of sin, which have been on the earth the last six thousand years, doing their utmost to get hell filled up before the Lord comes to reign. It is estimated that the entire globe is depopulated by death every seventeen years. The Greek word chlooros, translated “pale,” means livid, ghastly, corpse-like. This horse looks like he was dead on foot, having famished away till there is nothing left but skin and bones. His rider, the King of Terrors, the grim monster Death, is nothing but a bony skeleton. As Satan gives them all the vitality and power they need, their utter emaciation only adds to their lightning velocity. As this is Satan’s period of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4), he is laying under contribution all the agencies of his kingdom for the population of hell.

Thus the red horse, the black horse, and pale horse, with their riders, are moving at race-horse speed to fill up hell before the Apocalyptic angel shall descend and take the devil out of the world.


9. The opening of the fifth seal reveals the martyrs who sealed their faith with their blood from the Apostolic Age till the Lord comes. The souls are the persons of these martyrs seen lying beneath the altar. God’s true martyrs are wholly consecrated; hence, on the altars here they have been slain, and have fallen down and beneath it. They are praying to God for a victory over all their enemies. Two hundred millions of God’s martyrs have already sealed their testimony with their blood since the prophet saw this vision. Here we see that God’s vindicatory answer to their prayers is postponed till their successors are also added to the catalogue of death.

The Armenian Christians are now fast receiving honorable enrollment in the martyr’s catalogue. All the terrible retribution which shall come upon a wicked world and a fallen Church in the appalling castigatory judgments of the Almighty at the close of the Gentile Dispensation will be signal answers to the prayers of the martyrs in bygone ages. These martyrs all cried to God for vindication. Rest assured He has not forgotten a solitary wail or groan. Hence, an awful retribution, with accumulated and compound interest, is on the track of all the people in all ages who have persecuted God’s saints. God never forgets anything. His promises never fail; His word endureth forever. There is but one Greek word for martyr and witness. Martyr is a pure Greek word, translated witness. When Jesus met an infuriated Saul on the Damascus road, He said unto him, “I have appeared unto thee to make thee a minister and martyr.” Hence Paul always afterwards knew that he had to suffer martyrdom. The Holiness people are the martyrs of the present age, living or dying. The opposition to the Holiness movement is purely Satanic, defiant of God, and a most ostensible sign of our Lord’s speedy coming. Hence a dreadful doom awaits the oppressor of the great Holy Ghost revival now traversing all lands, calling out the elect of God to get ready to meet Him descending in a cloud.

Here the sixth seal opens, revealing (12-17)


This book of prophecy, which John saw in the hand of the angel, like all ancient books, was a parchment-roll. So precious were the contents that it had seven wrappers around it, every one most diligently sealed. No one but the Lion of the tribe of Judah could open the seals, as He is the omnipotent God, who orders the events of the universe. Daniel saw these wonderful prophecies in thrilling panorama, and fainted because he knew not the vision. God said (Daniel 12:9):

“Go thy way, Daniel, close up and seal the book till the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

“Oh, Daniel, thou shalt stand in thy lot in the end of the days!” A thousand concurrent prophecies and ten thousand signs of His coming this day confirm the conclusion that we are living in the time of the end of the Gentile Age, which is to be followed by the Millennial kingdom.

The Holiness people are running to the ends of the earth and everywhere increasing the knowledge of entire sanctification and the Lord’s near coming. The very fact that this prophecy was to be closed up and sealed till the time of the end confirms the conclusion that it is to be opened and revealed at the time of the end. Oh, how rapidly is the Holy Ghost everywhere opening and revealing these wonderful latter-day prophecies to His holy people! The rapture of the bride, accompanied by the resurrection of the buried saints, and the translation of the living, will call Daniel from the dust, to stand in his lot; i. e., and see the literal fulfillment of the mighty wonders whose prophetic vision caused him to faint and fall as a dead man. Doubtless, the tribulation period will be characterized quite extensively by earthquakes and other noted physical phenomena. Earthquakes also emblematize the terrible political convulsions which shall shake every potentate on the globe from the mighty thrones of time- honored empires. The sun emblematizes the kings, the moon the queens, and the stars the state governors and all subordinate rulers. So we see, amid these terrible national convulsions and revolutions, every ruler is to be shaken from his throne, and not a government left on the globe competent to protect the life and property of its citizens. Jesus, in His sermon on the pre-millennial judgments, which He preached on Mt. Olivet the day before He was arrested, certifies, “These are the days of vengeance.” While wholesale murder, rapine, and violence are the order of the day, rivers of blood and mountains of the dead everywhere saluting the eyes, and the very winds burdened with the wails of the dying, no wonder the rich , the poor, the high, the low, great and small, will cry for rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him who sitteth upon the throne. Daniel devotes the seventh chapter to a vivid description of these wonderful prophetical fulfillments. During these awful tribulations, the “Ancient of Days” shall sit upon the judgment throne, His garments white as snow, and a fiery stream issuing before Him. God said to His Son, “Sit Thou on My right hand till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” His snowy-white raiment emblematizes the perfect purity and righteousness of His judgments. The fiery stream going before Him typifies the awful severity of these castigatory retributions, destined to overtake the wicked nations and fallen Churches of the Gentile Dispensation.

Revelation 7:1-4. The four winds ” symbolizes the divine wrath about to break out in the awful tribulations, and tear the world all to pieces. Are not these four angels holding the winds Great Britain, Russia, Germany, and France? The Turkish Empire is the great storm-center and the breeder of revolution. She is now dead on foot, and only kept alive artificially by the jealousy of her neighbors. They are all watching the Turkey, their teeth watering to eat her up. The Lion dare not stop to eat for watching the Bear, and vice-versa. These nationalities now serve as pall-bearers, carrying her to her long- merited sepulcher. Though she is now flagrantly and barbarously butchering the Armenian Christians in overt violation of the Toleration Treaty made with the Christian Powers at Ryswick in 1844, yet these Powers are so jealous of one another that every one is afraid to fire a gun;

so they are still holding back the winds of revolution, lest they break out and turn the world upside down.

Meanwhile the Angel of the Lord is in a hurry to seal God’s saints before the awful outbreak, as the Heavenly Bridegroom wants to take them out of the world. The light of salvation began in the East, and moved toward the West. Hence the trend of gospel agencies and Christian progress has always been with the sun from East to West.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 6". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/revelation-6.html.
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