Tuesday, 17 November 2020
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.” Revelation 6:1
Chapter 5 ended with the great praises of the heavenly host, worshiping the Lamb. Chapter 6 now begins with the Lamb exercising His right to open the scroll. In this, John says, “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals.”
What John is actually seeing here is debated. Is it a depiction drawn on the scroll itself so that each time a seal is broken, that is what is seen? Is it a written depiction on the scroll that can be read after the seal is broken? Is the seal broken and then a visual image appears? The text does not say and being dogmatic over this is therefore pointless. But because verse 5:1 says that the scroll was “written inside and on the back,” a logical assumption might be that John is able to read what is written there.
The point is that when the seal is broken, John understands the imagery and conveys it to us. When we read Revelation, our minds see what he has conveyed. From there, we then interpret (rightly or wrongly) what the imagery signifies. Even the heavenly scene itself is apocalyptic in nature and merely represents spiritual truths intended to convey to us things that have or will actually occur.
Understanding this, with the opening of the first seal, John next says, “and I heard one of the four living creatures saying.” This is one of the creatures first described in verse 4:6. Again, it is speculation to guess which creature is being referred to, but if it follows the order outlined in verse 4:7, then it would be the lion. As the next three identify which beast is speaking, this makes that thought much more likely. Further, it seems to be the case because John next says, “saying with a voice like thunder.”
Here, it uses the word phóné, or sound. It can be a voice, a language, or a noise. Being described like thunder would be characteristic of a lion, and only in this one verse does it say this. The next three do not give this graphic statement. From there, John relays what is said, it is “Come and see.”
Some manuscripts simply say “Come.” If so, rather than asking John to come and see, it would be a call for the rider on the horse of the coming verse to come forth. This actually seems to make more sense because in the opening of the fourth and fifth seal there is no call to “Come and see.” But if John had to come forward to see the first four writings on the scroll, he would also need to come forward to see the others as well.
Further, John is asked to come in verses 17:1 & 21:9. But the word there, deuro, is completely different than the one used here. In this verse, it is the word erchomai, “to come,” but meaning “to go.” In other words, it signifies moving from one place to another.
In this, the call to “Come” is calling forth the entity mentioned in the next verse in order to go out. We can imagine a soldier in his barracks being called by his commander, “I need you to come. The battle has been joined.” In this, the soldier comes out and goes. This appears to be the intent of what is being conveyed in the coming verses. The beasts are calling forth the executors of judgment in succession, instructing them to go and accomplish their tasks. As the four creatures reflect one of the four aspects of Christ displayed in the gospels, this meaning of “Come” (to go out) seems all the more likely.
Life application: From this point on, even until chapter 19 (with some interesting inserts along the way), the main context of the text will be a viewing of the seven years of tribulation which will come upon the whole world. This is the “seventieth week” of Daniel’s seventy weeks, just as was revealed to him in Daniel 9:24-27. This is the correct view – that the events are yet future and are centered on the people and nation of Israel. As Daniel was told –
“Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,” Daniel 9:24
Daniel was a Jew and Jerusalem is Daniel’s holy city. No other interpretation is acceptable as an evaluation of what is to be depicted. The lesser imagery can be debated over, but the overall theme of what is presented is the fulfillment of this final seven-year period.
The fact that this is future is perfectly evident from a proper study of those four verses in Daniel as they are revealed in human history and as is confirmed throughout the rest of the Bible. The Lord Jesus was born, lived as, died as, and was resurrected a Jew. He ascended from the Mount of Olives and promised to return at some future point – and His return will be to that same spot, literally and physically –
“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.” Zechariah 14:4
When He returns, it will be to His people – Israel. Only a poor interpretation of the Bible, and faulty presuppositions, will arrive at any other conclusion. From the opening of the seven seals, and through the trumpet judgments and bowl judgments, there is an immense amount of disagreement as to the timing and meaning of what is occurring.
Because these things are future, it would be inappropriate to be overly dogmatic about much of the interpretation. A careful evaluation of what will be presented is needed, but there are many things that cannot be known for certain. Like all of prophecy, it is only fully understood when it is accomplished within the stream of time. What is past is certain and what is clear is certain. That which is veiled will be fully understood only when it happens.
Of the events now beginning to be portrayed, John’s eyes will behold, and his pen will write out the details of what is coming. The world is being warned in advance. God has graciously offered us to see these future events. When they arrive, no one will be able to say that what happens isn’t what was prophesied, and none will be able to say they were not warned. The events will be clear enough that those left behind after the rapture will have choices to make.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes and our hearts to appreciate the prophecies given in Your word. As we peer into things written there, but which are yet to be fulfilled, help us to understand them properly. May our study of Your word help us to more fully appreciate that You are in complete control of the future and that nothing coming upon the world happens apart from Your will. We thank You for Your perfect plan of the ages. Amen.