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Bible Commentaries

Hamilton Smith's Writings

Revelation 6

Verses 1-17

5 The Seals (Revelation 6)

With this chapter we pass from heaven to learn the commencement of the course of events that will take place on earth from the time of the rapture of the church until the appearing of Christ, and then through millennial days on to the eternal state.Revelation 4 to Rev 11:18 we have unfolded to us the events that will take place on earth during the period between the coming of Christ for His saints, and His appearing with His saints. These events are presented in the opening of the book with the seven seals. In seeking to learn the meaning of the opening of these seals, let us remember that symbols are used to express great truths, or represent persons and events. We have to seek the meaning of the symbols used and beware of using them in a literal sense. If John sees a horse and a rider, this does not mean that a literal horse and rider will come forth in the future but that which they represent will come to pass.

In reference to these preliminary judgments it will be noticed that the opening of the first four seals is directly connected with the four living creatures, of whom there is no mention in the last three seals. As we have seen the living creatures would seem to set forth symbolically the exercise of God's governmental dealings in providential ways. This indicates that however terrible the judgments under the first four seals there will be nothing that indicates a directly miraculous intervention of God. Thus the judgments under the first four seals will not be unlike events that have happened many times in the history of the world, though, indeed, they may surpass in intensity anything that has yet taken place.Zec 1:10 the prophet is definitely told concerning the horses he saw in his vision that "These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth." When the Lord comes forth to reign the symbol of a white horse is used (Rev 19:11). So it would seem whether it be in connection with the Lord, or others, the white horse is a symbol of the victorious progress of the rider. Here the rider has a bow, indicating, as it has been suggested, that, in contrast to a sword, he can make his power felt at a distance without personal combat and bloodshed. Moreover, he is allowed to carry all before him, for "he went forth conquering and to conquer." The fact that "a crown was given to him" may indicate that he will not be an hereditary monarch but one like Napoleon, and other dictators, who rises from the masses.

This first seal would indicate that after the church period the first judgment that will overtake the world will be the uprising of some leader from the masses to whom a kingly position will be given, who will go forth on a campaign of aggression, and for a time march from victory to victory over surrounding nations with irresistible power.Mat 24:6-8).

(Vv. 9, 11) While there is no specific judgment connected with the opening of the fifth seal, it prepares the way for a more terrible series of judgments under the remaining seals - judgments which no longer have simply a providential character but in which men are compelled to recognise the hand of God. Rev 3:10; Rev 11:10, Rev 13:8; Rev 13:12; Rev 13:14, Rev 14:6, Rev 17:8).

Secondly, we learn that the judgments that follow will be an answer to the cry of this martyred remnant to God to avenge their blood. To-day the testimony of the church is heavenly, but, in the time of these judgments, the testimony of God's witnesses will be wholly concerned with the earth, and God's claims to the creation as the inheritance of Christ. Obviously such a witness will bring them into direct conflict with those "that dwell on the earth." Opposed and suffering martyrdom they will rightly cry to God to avenge their blood, for the blessings of the coming Kingdom that they proclaim can only be reached through the judgment of the world. It is no part of the church's testimony to call for judgment as our blessings belong to heaven and are reached by the coming of Christ.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Revelation 6". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/revelation-6.html. 1832.