The Scene of the Fourth Seal
Read Revelation 6:7-8. What scene is portrayed here? How is this scene related to the previous one?
The color of the horse in the fourth seal is expressed with the Greek word chloros, which is the ashen-gray color of a decomposing corpse. The rider’s name is Death; meanwhile, Hades, the place of the dead, accompanies him. These two are allowed to destroy people by sword, hunger, death, and wild beasts over one fourth of the earth (Matt. 24:7-8).
The good news is that the power of Death and Hades is very limited; they are given authority only over a part (one fourth) of the earth. Jesus assures us that He has the keys of Hades and Death (Rev. 1:18, NKJV).
Review once again in Revelation 2, the contents of the messages to the churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. Compare the situation in those churches with the scenes of the opening of the first four seals. What parallels do you observe between them?
The scenes of the seven seals portray the future of the church. As was the case with the seven churches, the seals correlate to the different periods in Christian history. During the apostolic times, the gospel rapidly spread throughout the world. This expansion was followed by the period of persecution in the Roman Empire, from the end of the first century to the beginning of the fourth century, as portrayed in the scene of the second seal. The third seal points to the period of compromise of the fourth and fifth centuries, which was characterized by a spiritual famine caused by a lack of the Bible and its truths, leading to the “Dark Ages”. The fourth seal aptly describes the spiritual death that characterized Christianity for nearly a thousand years.
Revelation 6:6 states that “the oil and the wine” will not be affected by the famine of the third seal’s plague. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13, Acts 10:38), and new wine salvation in Jesus Christ (Mark 2:22). What do the meanings of these symbols tell us about the fact that, even when the Word of God is scarce, the Holy Spirit is still at work and that salvation is still available to all who seek truth?