The Seven Seals

Revelation – The Seven Seals

The discussion of the seven seals begins in Revelation chapter 6. Remember from my introduction, that Revelation is symbolic of actual events. Therefore, each “seal” is a perioid of time when significant events in history occurred. With this in mind, let’s dive into the first seal.

Four-Horsemen-1 The Four Horsemen. Art used by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.

The First Seal

Revelation 6:1-2 – And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four creatures saying, as it were a voice of thunder, ‘Come and behold!’ and I saw, and lo, a white horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a bow, and there was given to him a crown, and he went forth overcoming, and that he may overcome. (YLT)

The first seal represents the golden era of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was established when Julius Caesar Augustus defeated Egypt in the Battle of Actium on September 2, 31 B.C. Augustus was later crowned the first emperor of Rome on January 16, 27 B.C.. The emperor after Augustus was Tiberius who reigned during the life of Jesus and is mentioned in Luke 3:1. For the next several hundred years, Rome rapidly expanded its empire reaching Asia and Africa. It enjoyed power and wealth as new roads, towns, and cities were built. However, over time, this power began to corrupt Rome, and its emperors went from bad to worse. This brings us to the next seal.

The Second Seal

Revelation 6:3-4 – And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and behold!’ and there went forth another horse – red, and to him who is sitting upon it, there was given to him to take the peace from the land, and that one another they may slay, and there was given to him a great sword. (YLT)

The second seal represents the fall of the Roman empire. From 193-284 A.D., the Roman empire began to decline due to poor leadership. This began with emperor Septimius Severus who turned Rome into a military dictatorship. He replaced the imperial guard with 50,000 of his own men. He also ordered the executions of many Roman Senators on charges of corruption and conspiracy against him, again replacing them with his own men. Severus also persecuted Christians, along with Maximinus Thrax, Decius, and Valerian during this period.

The Third Seal

Revelation 6:5-6 – And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, ‘Come and behold!’ and I saw, and lo, a black horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a balance in his hand, and I head a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A measure of wheat for a denary, and three measures of barley for a denary,’ and ‘The oil and the wine thou mayest no injure.’ (YLT)

The third seal represents the famine that came along with the war in the second seal. This was around 250-300 A.D. In 251, the Goths came across the Black Sea from the north and invaded Asia Minor and Greece. They ended up killing Emperor Decius along with his son Herennius Etruscus. In 253, the Persians invaded from the east and captured Emperor Valerian. English historian Edward Gibbon explains this in detail:

“But a long and general famine was a calamity of a more serious kind. It was inevitable consequence of rapine and oppression, which extirpated the produce of the present and the hope of future harvests. Famine is almost always followed by epidemical disease, the effect of scanty and unwholesome food. […] An exact register was kept at Alexandria of all the citizens entitled to receive the distribution of corn… it evidently proves that above half the people of Alexandria had perished; and could we venture to extend the analogy to the other provinces, we might suspect that war, pestilence, and famine had consumed, in a few years, the moiety [half] of the human species.” – Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

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