The Book of Revelation; Chapter Six – The First Five Seals

19 Mar

I have been doing a series of posts on the Revelation of John. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

Revelation Six

 In my last post I showed that each seal of the book that John saw represented 1000 years of the Earth’s history. This chapter opens the first six seals. The first five are very brief, but the sixth is much more detailed, and is continued in the next chapter. So, we will look at only the first five seals in this post.

First Seal (verses 1-2)

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

This is a representation of the first Millennium. So, it represents, approximately, the time that Adam was alive (Adam lived 930 years, Genesis 5: 5). The conquer would then represent the initial subduing of the Earth and the first cities that are described in Genesis and Moses.

Second Seal (verses 3-4)

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 should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

In the second Millennium we see war as peace is taken from the earth. This is the time just before the flood, which Genesis describes as “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6: 11) We have very little of the story of this period. Even with the JST very little is said. But I would think that, at least until the middle ages, there was not a period in the history of the world that was more violent and prone to war than this period just before the flood.

Third Seal (verses 5-6)

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 beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and hurt not thou the oil and the wine.

This clearly shows famine, or a lack of food production. This would be the third Millennium, or the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Egyptian captivity, and the reign of the Judges. Why would this time be represented with famine? In Genesis 12 Abram goes to Egypt to escape famine. Isaac goes to the King of the Philistines because of famine in Genesis 28. There was the great famine in the time of Joseph (Genesis 40-41). It seems the three greatest famines in recorded history were during this millennium.

Fourth Seal (verses 7-8)

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 unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

This seal is usually referred to simply as death, and that is what is described. Death by sword, hunger, and wild beasts. This is the fourth millennium, the thousand years before Christ.  What characterizes this period is that amount of death that takes place. Empire after empire rises up to conquer the world, killing their enemies with the sword and with hunger. This was the first time where it seems that entire cities were being wiped out.

Fifth Seal (verses 9-11)

I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 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 fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

This seal is the thousand years after Christ (including Christ’s ministry). This was a time of great persecution in the church, as well as the beginning of the Great Apostasy. John sees the martyrs of the first centuries; those slain for their testimony. They are given white robes, a symbol of purity. They cry out for God to avenge them, but are told to wait until the time when further persecution would result in the death of many more of the faithful.

It may be that John is seeing only the early martyrs in the days of Nero, and they must wait until the further persecutions of Diocletian and others have occurred. In this case the little season would be a few centuries, and would place the judgements of God at the beginning of the Apostasy, and thus the Apostasy would be avenging their blood. This would make sense as God withdrew His spirit and for many years there was great violence and wars throughout the world. This is the millennium that saw the rise of Islam and the great conquering wars that those people undertook. Europe, and Especially the Roman Empire, could be seen to have felt the judgment of God.

However, John may be seeing all the martyrs in the first few centuries, which would make the little season the time of the Apostasy. That would place the fellowservants and brethren in our day, and thus refer to the persecutions that would come much later. If this is the case than the judgment that God promises would be that of the tribulations of the last days.


See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five


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