The first seal – the first horseman.
The lawless one.
The second seal – the second horseman.
The third seal – the third horseman.
The fourth seal – the fourth horseman.
The fifth seal – the souls of the martyrs.
The sixth seal – the Second Coming of the Lord.
The withdrawal of the Holy Spirit.
The four living creatures.
Table – The Great Tribulation – classified by events.
And behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
Rev 6,1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the
seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice
of thunder, "Come." 6,2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat
on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to
conquer. Rev 6, 1- 2;
The first horseman in the Revelation of John has been
interpreted in various ways. A surprising number of commentators suggest that he
may be Jesus Christ. The reason for this seems plain enough – just like the
first horseman, so too the Son of God (who is described as "the Word of God" in
Rev 19:11-16) is reported to be riding a white horse at the Battle of
(See also chapter 07: "The Battle of Armageddon."
But if we also read the preceding verse, we notice at once that
here it is the "Lamb" – in other words, Jesus Christ himself – who opens this
first seal. And that would make him both the initiator and the leading
participant, which would be a trifle unusual. And it is surely rather improbable
that one of the living creatures should then (practically in the same breath)
call on the Son of God to "Come!" ("March!")with voice of thunder.
But when we study the scriptures closely, comparing Rev 6:12-13 with Mt 24:29 (especially the "stars falling from the sky", which we do not find anywhere else), we discover an amazing parallelism between the events. And of course these prophecies of the Lord’s relating to the Last Days are likewise supplemented by the revelation given to Paul in 2The 2:1-12.
(See also discourse 05: "The parallel course of events of Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7.")
Actually Paul can help us out here with his statements in the
second letter to the Thessalonians, especially in what relates to the
interpretation of this first horseman. The common starting point of all three
scriptural passages is first of all Mt 24:29-31, in the Lord’s discourse on the
Last Days, and then 2The 2:1 in Paul.
In both cases there can be no doubt that we are witnessing the Second Coming of the Lord, with the raising of the dead and the Rapture. And this same event is also to be found here in the Revelation to John – later on, in connection with the sixth seal. Proof of this parallelism is provided here in the light of Mt 24:29 and Rev 6:12-13 with the reference to the darkening of the heavenly bodies, but most particularly in the mention of the stars falling from the sky.
Following Paul (in 2The 2,3 below), this first horseman of the Apocalypse can be
interpreted as "the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction", but
especially (in relation to 2The 2,8) as "the lawless one (…) whom
the Lord will slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to an end by the
appearance of his coming." "Coming" here must again refer to the Second
Coming and the Rapture.
The Lord also tells us in Mt 24,11-12 that "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold." Accordingly there are three identifying criteria for this stage of the Great Tribulation:
o People’s lawlessness (already a dominating
feature of Paul’s own times) will increase dramatically in the Last Days. The
reason for this could be the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit, who up till now
had kept lawlessness within bearable limits.
o As a result most people’s love will grow cold,
and people will be dominated by hatred, anger, envy and meanness.
o The initiator of this apostasy will be the
"lawless one", the "man of lawlessness" and "son of
destruction", who will have no compunction about lies, deceit and even criminal
actions for the furtherance of his own goals, completely without regard to the
rights of his fellow human beings.
And for that very reason, in our democratic age he is likely to
be a powerful politician, a statesman. He will be killed by the Lord with the
breath of his mouth, on his Second Coming at the time of the sixth seal. Paul
however characterizes this person in such a way that he could already be the
For this day will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.
2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard
to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2,2
that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a
spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the
Lord has come.
2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so̵called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2,5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 2,6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 2,8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 2,9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 2,10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2,11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 2,12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2The 2, 1-12;
Anyone familiar with Scripture however knows that the real
demonic Antichrist (the beast from the sea) will be thrown into the lake of fire
and sulfur after the Battle of Armageddon, together with his false prophet.
Which is why we, here at Immanuel.at, assume that there are two Antichrists and
that this horseman on the white horse is the first, human Antichrist, who after
his death (as a plagiarism of what God did for Jesus) will be raised to life
again by Satan and presented to the world as the "risen Christ".
On this particular theme, an American visitor to Immanuel.at, Mr. Barney Blankenship (firstname.lastname@example.org / www.shalach.org/, has given us an excellent commentary in Discourse 86, which formed the basis for this interpretation of the two Antichrists at Immanuel.at.
(See also discpourse 86: "The first and the second Antichrist.")
The "bow" given to this first horseman clearly does not
represent an actual weapon, but is to be seen as a symbol, perhaps standing for
hurtful words, lies and deceit. And the fact that he goes out "conquering and to
conquer" could be a periphrasis indicating that no one can call this criminal to
account, so he repeatedly succeeds in evading the punishment due to him.
And in the end he is the one, after all, who sows the seed. It is his lawlessness, all the lies, deceits and wrongdoings he gets away with, that shake people’s sense of justice. And as always, there will be some people who will admire him and marvel at him (and perhaps even see him as a role model).
But of course there will be some contemporaries who will finally demand that justice be done. And seeing that there are more and more democracies worldwide, such attitudes will naturally find expression in politics above all. So the result is a polarization of society – to the political left and right. The political center ground will slowly but inexorably dissolve.
And as is inevitable with a democracy, this will not just remain a purely political confrontation. The polarization of society will continue with civil protests up to civil wars and finally penetrate the private sphere, even affecting married couples, who may have had children together (Dan 2:43), but evidently remain bitterly opposed in their sentiments and political opinions.
(See also discourse 133: "The
fourth world kingdom of Daniel in our times – an astonishing discovery. /
And if hatred and meanness are making inroads on families, it is
hardly surprising that people who do not have a family of their own, or even a
people or race of their own, will have no chance of living outside their
homeland. Which is why Isaiah prophesies that in these times – on the day of the
wrath of the Lord – everyone will flee to their own country.
At the fury of the LORD of hosts in the day of His burning anger they will each turn to his own people, and each one flee to his own land.
Isa 13,6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It
will come as destruction from the Almighty. 13,7 Therefore all hands will fall
limp, And every man’s heart will melt. 13,8 They will be terrified, Pains and
anguish will take hold of them; They will writhe like a woman in labor, They
will look at one another in astonishment, Their faces aflame.
13,9 Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. 13,10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. 13,11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. 13,12 I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold And mankind than the gold of Ophir. 13,13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger. 13,14 And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, Or like sheep with none to gather them, They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land. 13,15 Anyone who is found will be thrust through, And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
13,16 Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces Before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished. Isa 13,6-16;
And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth.
Rev 6,3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the
second living creature saying, "Come." 6,4 And another, a red horse, went
out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and
that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. Rev 6,
This is now the result of this seed of lawlessness sown by the
first horseman: people will kill each other. In the Greek text we actually find
"that they will butcher one another", which is interesting in view of the
increasing number of cases worldwide, lately reported in the news, where men
have murdered their wives or their mothers in knife attacks.
Although it may appear that the second horseman would be more frightening than the first, because he "takes peace from the earth", we must not forget that it is the first horseman on the white horse who introduces the Great Tribulation and who is also the forerunner of the demonic Antichrist.
As we can see from Paul in particular, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, it is the lawless one, the man of lawlessness, who makes this apostasy (involving lawlessness, lies, deceit, corruption and crime) socially acceptable. This attitude of mind then spreads very quickly, among its results being all the plagues described here.
And likewise from Paul (2The 2,9) we can see that here already Satan has a hand in it. That is to say, if people "slaughter one another" this may not just be attributable to human emotions – it may also be down to the prompting of " the prince of the power of the air", namely Satan and his demons, who have invaded the spirit of those people who welcome them in.
The prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience
Eph 2,1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2,2 in which you
formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of
the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Eph 2, 1- 2;
The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.
2Cor 4,3 And even if our gospel is veiled,
it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4,4 In their case
the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep
them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the
likeness of God. 2Cor 4, 3- 4
The world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the places under the sky.
Eph 6,12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness,
against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the places under the sky. Eph 6,12;
(See also discourse 1042: "Are all
governments of the world ordained by God?")
Two thousand years ago, Satan and his angels lost the
battle in heaven
for supremacy in heaven and were thrown to earth. This biblical fact has been passed down to us in a number of
biblical texts: Lk 10:17-18;; Rev 12:12; Jn 12:28-31; Jh 14,28-31;
And the tail of the dragon swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
Rev 12,3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold,
a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.
12,4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she
gave birth he might devour her child. Rev 12, 3- 4;
The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and were thrown down to the earth.
Rev 12,7 And there was battle in heaven, Michael and his angels
waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 12,8 and they
were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.
12,9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev 12, 7- 9;
I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Lk 10,17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord,
even the demons are subject to us in Your name." 10,18 And He said to them,
"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Lk 10,17-18;
I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.
Jn 14,28 You heard me say to you, ‘I go away,
and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because
I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 14,29 And now I have told
you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.
14,30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.
He has no power over me; 14,31 but I do as the Father has commanded me,
so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.
And also we find it reported in the Bible that at the time thousands
of people were possessed by demons, because these fallen angels, having been
thrown out of heaven so precipitously, took refuge in the spirit of human beings
– e.g. in Lk 8,26-33 (a Roman legion at that time consisted of around 6000 men).
Since then they are waiting for their God-given time (John Glenn: "myriads of stars" / Italian version) but only when "who now restrains " – the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:7) – is "taken out of the way" (2Thess 2:7-9), they have free hand again, as before two thousand years.
(See also discourse 128: "The
real extraterrestrials who rule our world").
And behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
Rev 6,5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the
third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse;
and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6,6
And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living
creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley
for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine." Rev 6, 5- 6;
It is fairly plain that this passage (Rev 6,5-6) relates to
famines, as we see from verse 6: "A quart of wheat or three quarts of barley for
a denarius"). A "quart" is mentioned as a daily quota, a day’s ration for one
person. The silver denarius at that period was the daily wage of a worker (see
Mt 20,2), and so we can assume that food has become around ten times dearer, by
the prices of the time.
The reason for this enormous increase in the price of food could be a drought, caused perhaps by an intensification of solar radiation. Some support for this view, to begin with, is provided by the statement in Rev 6,6: "Do not damage the oil and the wine" – this because, as we know, olive trees and vines are more resistant to drought than cereal crops.
And then we have another indication in Rev 7:9-17, where at this time the raptured who have come out of the Great Tribulation (Rev 7,14) are already standing in heaven before the throne, and the elder says to John (Rev 7,16): "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst any more; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat."
While we may assume from what is stated in Rev 7,14 that the congregation is not raptured after the Great Tribulation – that would be at the end of the judgments of the bowls – but rather "immediately following the tribulation of those days" (Mt 24,29), i.e. those days of the judgments of the seals, Rev 7,16 permits us to conclude that at this time the sun will shine with extreme intensity and give rise to periods of drought all over the world.
And behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him.
Rev 6,7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I
heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come." 6,8 I looked,
and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death
(due to diease/epidemics); and Hades was following with him.
Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and
with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. Rev 6,
The name of this fourth horseman is Death. Based on the Greek
text, this means death by disease or epidemic (Rev 6,8). But death by the sword
of the second horseman (Rev 6,4), and people dying from the famines caused by
the third horseman (Rev 6,6), are also included here under the fourth horseman.
As mentioned earlier, we again find a parallelism of events when we look at the Lord’s discourse on the Last Days in Mt 24,7-8, and can recognize from this that we are faced here with "the beginning of birth pangs". In Matthew the Lord also mentions famines and epidemics (as well as earthquakes).
We incline to the view that the Lord’s indication in Mt 24,7 that "nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" in no way suggests a world war, but rather popular revolts and civil wars – or otherwise why should it not be "nations against kingdoms", or vice versa? This too finds confirmation here in Rev 6,4, with its picture of mutual conflict where "people slaughter one another" and in Isa 19,2.
And they will each fight against his neighbor, City against city and kingdom against kingdom.
Isa 19,2 "So I will incite Egyptians
against Egyptians; And they will each fight against
his brother and each against his neighbor, City against city
and kingdom against kingdom. Isa 19,2;
Finally we actually find in Rev 6,8 a statistic for the total
number of victims: the fourth part of the earth (not the fourth part of humanity!).
And although it does make a certain difference whether this refers to Russia, say
(the biggest country on earth, with a bare 145 million inhabitants), or to countries
with a more concentrated population, all the same we can expect billions of people
to lose their lives as a result of these three plagues.
I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.
Rev 6,9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal,
I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the
word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;
6,10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord,
holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who
dwell on the earth?" 6,11 And there was given to each of them a white
robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while
longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to
be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Rev 6, 9-11;
Here we have to do with the persecution of Christians in the
Last Days. This theme too is reflected in the Lord’s eschatological discourse.
And there we can also see the reason for the hatred and persecution – because we
are called "Christians" after the name of the Lord. Here again the revelation to
Paul in 2The 2,9,12 has something to contribute.
Although the real, demonic Antichrist – the beast from the sea – will only make his appearance at a later stage, his precursor, the man of lawlessness, might do more than just take up an antichristian attitude. Possibly, in collusion with the Jews, he could lend support to the lie that Jesus of Nazareth was an impostor and blasphemer, and so too his followers are frauds.
When Paul writes in 2The 2,9 that the coming of this man of lawlessness "is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deceptions of wickedness," that of course fits the picture perfectly. Satan, who Luther once described as "God’s ape", because he is always imitating God, of course wants to present the Antichrist as God’s "genuine" Christ.
So it is also completely consistent with this that he should not only portray the real Christ as an impostor, but that he should also be obliged to oppose and deny the entire biblical image of God, in order to claim to be "God" himself. And so we find Paul writing, in 2The 2,4, that the lawless one "opposes and exalts himself above every so‒called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." Whether Paul is referring to the true Antichrist, or even to Satan himself, remains an open question.
With the Jews he will have an easy time of it, but the true Christians will oppose this lie. And so it is not surprising that, in a world where lying, deceit and crime predominate, truth should be made into a lie and Christians should be accused of being the ones who are trying to deceive the world.
In the text referring to the fifth seal we can also recognize that at this time the Second Coming of the Lord, with the raising of the dead and the Rapture, is already imminent. For the souls of the Christian martyrs are told here, in Rev 6,11, "that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also."
Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
Mt 24,7 "For nation will rise against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and
earthquakes. 24,8 "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and
you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 24,10 "At
that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
24,11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
24,12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
24,13 "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 24,14 "This gospel
of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the
nations, and then the end will come. Mt 24, 7-14;
And there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 6,13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth.
Rev 6,12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal,
and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth
made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;
6,13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth,
as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
6,14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain
and island were moved out of their places. 6,15 Then the kings of the earth and
the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man
hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 6,16 and they said
to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of
Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 6,17 for the
great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" Rev 6,12-17;
The Second Coming of the Lord, with the raising of dead
Christians and their Rapture to meet the Lord in the air, along with the still
living congregation of the Last Days, has previously been interpreted, here at
Immanuel.at, as an event occurring after the Great Tribulation. There were at
least two essential reasons for this presumption.
But immediately after the tribulation of those days.
Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation
of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,29-31;
On the one hand the Lord tells us above, in Mt 24,29-31, that "immediately
after the tribulations of those days" he will come – and we also have the
definitive statement in Rev 7,14 that the great multitude from every nation has come
"out of the great tribulation", which at least gives us the assurance that the
Rapture cannot occur before the Great Tribulation.
These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.
Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a
great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes
and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and they cry
out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and
to the Lamb." 7,11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around
the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before
the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever.
7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 7,16 "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7,17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Rev 7, 9-17;
But as experience teaches, when interpreting the Bible you
should never be too confident that you have got it right. What I always
overlooked, in relation to these biblical passages, was two circumstances.
Admittedly it had always seemed to me a little suspicious that when the Lord
appears, with the sixth seal, just the five preceding judgments of the seals
would have to add up to this Great Tribulation "such as has not occurred since
the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will" (Mt 24,21). But because then
what about the judgments of the trumpets and the bowls?
In the very next verse we have a further indication, which was the actual reason for my mistake. Here the Lord says, "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short" (Mt 24,22).
To me that was a proof that God would bring the Great Tribulation to an early end in order to save the elect. But in actual fact what happens is that the Lord schedules his Second Coming a bit earlier in order to save the faithful through the Rapture. For the godless, however, this Great Tribulation is still far from finished.
But I completely overlooked the fact that by contrast with Rev 7,14, in Mt 24,29 the Lord speaks not of the Great Tribulation as such, but of "the tribulation of those days". And that is just the way it is. The tribulation of those days consists in the first five judgments of the seals; the Great Tribulation consists in all the judgments, both the judgments of the seals and the judgments of the trumpets and bowls on the Day of Wrath.
Thus the statements of Rev 7,14 and Mt 24,29 are in fact in perfect agreement. This great multitude from all nations – those who have been raptured – comes out of the Great Tribulation, but after the tribulation of those days, i.e. after the first five judgments of the seals. A further indication in support of this reading is the earlier announcement, in Rev 6,17, that now – that is, after the sixth seal – the Day of Wrath of God has arrived.
The "Day of the Lord", also known as the "Day of the Wrath of God", is mentioned many times in the Bible, and in many of these passages the "darkening of the heavenly bodies" – which is at the same time a sign of the Second Coming of the Son of God – is prophesied as a precedent event (see e.g. Isa 13,9-10, referred to earlier).
I have tried to implement these corrections so far as technically possible – in particular in the thematically relevant Table 14, which I have included here at the end of the document in a corrected version.
(See also chapter 06: "The
Return of the Lord – Part 1: The Return and the Rapture.")
The Second Coming of the Son of God for the raising of the dead
Christians, to be raptured along with the brethren who are still living, is
however also the moment when the Holy Spirit will again be withdrawn from this
earth. We remember how the Lord, before he ascended to the Father in heaven,
said to the disciples:
It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.
Jn 16,7 "But I tell you the truth,
it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper
will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 16,8 "And He,
when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
16,9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 16,10 and concerning
righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 16,11 and
concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
Jn 16, 7-11;
This is first of all an indication that one of the two – the Son
of God and the Holy Spirit – must always be present in the spirit of the Father.
It appears that they cannot both be on earth at the same time. But then, too, it
is a quite unambiguous indication that both of them, the Son and the Holy
Spirit, are independent persons.
And just in this connection we also find an answer to the question that is so frequently asked: both the Son and the Holy Spirit have been sent by the Father. Although Jesus was born as a human being, his spirit – " the Word" – came out of the spirit of God into his spirit.
And with reference to the Holy Spirit, we learn from this that back at the time when the Son of God ascended to the Father in heaven, the Holy Spirit came to earth (Rev 5,6) – for just the length of time that the Son of God would be with the Father in heaven, which is to say until his Second Coming for the Rapture.
That is the answer to the question so often asked as to when "he who now restrains will be taken out of the way" (2The 2,7).
For (this day) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction;
2The 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for
(this day) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of
lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts
himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes
his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2,5 Do you not
remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 2,6
And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 2,8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 2,9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 2,10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2The 2,3-10;
The day of the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Cor 1,4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God
which was given you in Christ Jesus, 1,5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech
and all knowledge, 1,6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 1,7 so that you
are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1,8
who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1,9 God
is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1Cor
1, 4- 9;
So will the Son of Man be in His day.
Lk 17,24 "For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one
part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day.
Here above, in 2The 2,3, Paul assures the Thessalonians that
"this day" – by which he means the day of the Second Coming of the Lord and the
Rapture – will not come until this man of lawlessness is revealed. He will be
done away by the Lord Jesus on his Second Coming. So the appearance of this
lawless person is a sign that the Second Coming of the Lord is near.
But there is also a widely visible sign showing that the Second Coming of the Lord has already taken place. And that of course is "the sign of the Son of Man in heaven" (Mt 24,30) which will then appear. And indeed in other passages (Rev 6,13 and Mt 24,29) we can recognize yet another, third sign: the darkening of the heavenly bodies, and "the stars will fall from heaven".
In the Bible, angels are very often referred to as "stars". Isaiah already prophesied that Satan was "thrown out of heaven" (Isa 14:12). These of course are the fallen angels of Satan, who have been existing in the "air" (Eph 2,2 – in the atmosphere of the planet) and who now, after two thousand years, can finally make it down to earth. But they wouldn’t be able to do that, if the Holy Spirit were still here keeping the planet safe.
So this statement of the Lord’s (both in his discourse on the Last Days, and in his revelation to John) confirms yet another assumption. If we are correct in drawing the above conclusion, that the Son of God and the Holy Spirit cannot both be on earth simultaneously, and if the Son of God is on earth from the time of the Second Coming, then the Holy Spirit must already be with God in heaven.
So both events – the falling of the angels, and the presence of the Son of God on earth – are also a proof of the fact that "he who restrains has been taken out of the way" (2The 2,7). In other words, that the Holy Spirit has been withdrawn, and this planet is now absolutely left to itself and handed over to the greed, wickedness, hypocrisy and malice of humanity.
So we come finally to the four "living creatures"
, who are actually only mentioned in this context in an incidental role, in that they speak the command
to the four horsemen with the word "Come!" after the Lamb opens each of the
seals. But as we shall shortly see, they are the real key to the judgments of
For a better understanding of the background to this, we must go back to the Old Testament, to the book of Ezekiel, and consult those texts where these four cherubim (for cherubim is what they are) find a mention for the first time. Here at Immanuel.at you will find an interesting article on this subject, entitled "The throne of God.".
So here we will just give a short explanation of that part of the vision which helps us to understand the actual role of these cherubim in connection with the judgments of the seals. In chapter 4 of Revelation, John describes the throne of God in heaven and its surroundings. And here he already mentions these four living creatures.
And in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.
Rev 4,6 and before the throne there was something
like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the
throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 4,7 The
first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a
calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a
man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.
4,8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME." Rev 4,6-8;
The fact that these four living creatures were "full of eyes
around and within", (in Ezekiel also the wheels) becomes plausible enough when
we consider that God can create biological living creatures in any way he likes
– just as human beings are able to design cars, machines or computers in any
And it is not the case, either, that these beings were entirely "like a lion" etc., as one might suppose from the rather imprecise formulation in Rev 6,7; instead, as John immediately goes on to specify, only the face is that of a lion, a calf, an eagle and a man. This too will become clear when we compare the text with Ezekiel’s description.
The appearance of the our living beings: they had human form.
Eze 1,2 (On the fifth of the month in the fifth
year of King Jehoiachin’s exile, 1,3 the word of the LORD came expressly to
Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river
Chebar; and there the hand of the LORD came upon him.) 1,4 As I looked, behold,
a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth
continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like
glowing metal in the midst of the fire. 1,5 Within it there were figures
resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human
1,6 Each of them had four faces and four wings. 1,7 Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. 1,8 Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, 1,9 their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. 1,10 As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. 1,11 Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each had two touching another being, and two covering their bodies. Eze 1,2-11;
Ezekiel too sees the throne of God. The first time, it is in a
vision on earth, by the river Chebar. And he describes the faces, in Ezk 1,6,
somewhat differently from John: "Each of them had four faces".
This is by no means a mistranslation, as Martin Buber, in his literal version,
rendered the Hebrew text as follows: "To each one of faces four,
to each one four wings to them." But that is not to the point here – the
important thing is how these faces looked, which the cherubim had, one on each
of the four sides of their head.
And here the two descriptions agree: the four creatures had the faces of a man, a lion, a calf (in John; in Ezekiel a bull) and an eagle. And yet it seems that John, in the Revelation passage above, makes the same mistake as Ezekiel does here. Because when Ezekiel sees the throne of God again, in another vision in Jerusalem, he recognizes his own mistake:
The first face was the face of a cherub.
Eze 110,14 And each one had four faces. The first
face was the face of a cherub, the second face was the face of
a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an
eagle. 10,15 Then the cherubim rose up.
They are the living beings that I saw by the river Chebar. 10,16 Now when the cherubim moved, the wheels would go beside them; also when the cherubim lifted up their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels would not turn from beside them. 10,17 When the cherubim stood still, the wheels would stand still; and when they rose up, the wheels would rise with them, for the spirit of the living beings was in them. 10,18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. 10,19 When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD’S house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.
10,20 These are the living beings that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar; so I knew that they were cherubim. 10,21 Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and beneath their wings was the form of human hands. 10,22 As for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the river Chebar. Each one went straight ahead. Eze 10,14-22;
Here Ezekiel confirms that this was the same living being that
he saw previously at the river Chebar, but he now recognizes that the fourth
face was not that of a bull, but that of a cherub. Which might lead us to
suppose that the face of cherub has a certain similarity with that of a young
bull or bullcalf.
And now we may well ask – and if we are to interpret the passage, we have no other option – Why should God have chosen for these four cherubim, who constantly guard his throne and transport it from place to place upon earth, precisely these four faces? Leaving aside dubious attempts to assign these cherubim symbolically to the four evangelists, if we have a bit of background knowledge in the natural sciences we can actually cast light on the four living creatures by consulting the "Systema Naturae" of Carl Linnaeus (1707‒1778).
Based on the internal structure of the heart, among other features, Linnaeus distinguished six classes of animal: mammals, birds, amphibians (including reptiles), fish, insects and worms. And here what strikes us that the five latter of these six types have a feature in common: they are all oviparous (Latin oviparus – born from an egg) as opposed to viviparous (Latin viviparus, born alive), as is the case with mammals.
If we now take into account the fact that human beings are distinguished from other lactating animals through the spirit given them by God, while the cherubim are distinguished from all these through their having been created as pure spirit and so being immortal, we arrive exactly at these four "faces", namely four kinds of creatures:
The eagle as an impressive representative of oviparous animals, the glorious lion standing for the mammals, the man for humanity and the cherub for the dwellers in heaven, the angels. From this we can conclude that these four cherubim are the representatives before God of the living creation.
And so we can also answer the last question raised by this biblical passage concerning the four apocalyptic horsemen. Our God, as we know, is an absolutely just God. And that is why the Son of God, who was a human being and died for us humans, has been given by the Father all power in heaven and on earth (Mt 24:18).
And because Jesus died, as atonement to God, for the sins of all human beings, it is not God who will judge humanity at the Last Judgment; instead God has entrusted the right of judgment to his Son, who will judge each human individual based on their actions in life, and either call them to eternal life or damn them to hell.
This is not attributable to the fatherhood of God, but rather to his absolute justice. We will all be judged by a human being at the Last Judgment, one who himself, in his time on earth, went through hell and experienced all the heights and depths of a human life. Nobody can complain that he doesn’t know what it means to be human.
And it’s just the same with the creation. God entrusted the creation to human beings, allowing them to subdue it. But for millennia human beings have plundered this creation, ruthlessly exploited it and finally now polluted it with human inventions like plastic and other kinds of chemical and nuclear trash.
Now the time has come when the creation strikes back. That is an added confirmation that the judgment is just and appropriate. These four cherubim have had to represent humanity before God for millennia – now they have the possibility of making their own decisions. And that is what they do here, with each "Come!" that they call out to the horsemen of the judgment in thunderous tones.
The well-known German physicist Prof. Harald Lesch recently made the following remarkable statement in a lecture entitled: "Humanity eliminates itself":
"This economization will not help us to
respect nature again as what we should respect it as, namely as an absolute
magnitude with which we cannot negotiate. In this nature there are laws of
nature for which there is no ‘in dubbio are pro reo’, there are
no prosecutors, no lawyers, there is not even a plea. – But there is a
judgment. And that is always bad for us if we continue like this."
The Bible gives us an answer to this: we will continue like
this and the verdict will be "guilty".
|The tribulation of those days – Seal #1: The man of lawlessness / 2, 3, 4, 5: The begining of the birth pangs / 6: The Rapture||The day of the
|< 1st seal >
White horse: rider has a bow. A crown is given to him, he goes out conquering and to conquer.
|< 2nd seal >
Red horse: takes peace from the earth. A great sword is given to him, men slay one another
|< 3rd seal >
Black horse: a pair of scales in his hand, wheat and barley expensive but oil and wine not damaged.
|< 4th seal >
Ashen horse: Death, and Hades follow. Authority over 1/4 of the earth, wild beasts, famine, pestilence
|< 5th seal >
Underneath of the altar: martyrs call for judgment. They wear a white robe, rest until their brethren are killed too
Great earthquake: sun is black, moon is like blood, stars fall, sky is rolled up, mountains, islands moved
|< 7th> seal >
Silence in heaven 1/2 hour Incense on the altar 7 angels with 7 trumpets thunder, sounds, lightning
|The two witnesses of God
prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days clothed in sackcloth (?)
|< 1st trumpet >
Hail, fire, mixed with blood 1/3 of the earth burned up 1/3 of the trees burned up all green grass burned up
|< 2nd trumpet >
Mountain burning falls into sea, 1/3 of the sea blood 1/3 of sea-creatures died 1/3 of ships destroyed
|< 3rd trumpet >
Torch-star from heaven 1/3 of rivers wormwood 1/3 of springs worm- wood, many men died.
|< 4th trumpet >
Sun, moon, stars: 1/3 of them darkened for 1/3 of the day and 1/3 of the night
|< 5th trumpet / 1 woe
Star with the key of the pit: smoke darkens the sun, locusts hurt only the men without the seal for 5 months.
|< 6th trumpet / 2 woe
Angels from Euphrates: fire smoke and brimstone killed 1/3 of mankind, the rest of mankind did not repent.
|< 7th trumpet / 3 woe
World’s kingdom is God’s. God’s wrath has come. Time for judging the dead. Thunder, sounds, lightning
|The day of the wrath of God – The
dominion of the demonic Antichrist / Death of the 2 witnesses / The nations tread
Jerusalem under foot
|< 1st bowl >
Poured out on the earth: a loathsome, malignant sore on people who had the mark of the beast.
|< 2nd bowl >
Poured out into the sea: becomes blood like that of a dead man, every living thing in the sea died.
|< 3rd bowl >
Into rivers and springs: the waters became blood. They poured out blood of saints: they now have blood to drink
|< 4th bowl >
Poured out upon the sun: men scorched with heath they blasphemed the name of God and did not repent.
|< 5th bowl >
On the throne of the beast: kingdom became darkened, men have pain blasphemed God and did not repent.
|< 6th bowl >
On the river Euphrates: its water was dried up so the way is prepared for the kings from the east.
|< 7th bowl >
Lightning, sounds, thunder great earthquake as never before, no islands, no mountains
|The returned Antichrist: death of the two
after 6th seal
No harm to earth, sea trees, until the 144’000 are sealed. Those out of the Great Tribulation before the throne. The Lamb will guide them to springs of water of live God will wipe every tear from their eyes
after 6th trumpet
(Rev 10:1-11; 11:1-14;) A mighty angel in a cloud. At the sound of the 7th trumpet the mystery of God is finished. There will be delay no longer. The two witnesses will be killed by the beast Earthquake in Jerusalem
after 7th trumpet
(Rev 12:1-17; 13:1-18; 14:1-20; 15:1-8;)
The woman and the dragon, the fall of Satan and his angels. The beast out of the sea overcomes the saints. Antichrist and false prophet: the dominion of the two beasts. The Lamb and the 144’000 standing on Mount Zion. Three angels: gospel, judgment has come, Babylon is fallen. Blessed who die Beginning of the judgment, the Son of Man reaps the earth. Those who had been victorious over the beast and its image sing Moses’ song The 7 angels with the 7 bowls of the wrath of God. No one was able to enter the temple until the 7 plagues were finished.
after 6th bowl
Satan, Antichrist and false prophet send spirits of demons performing signs to the kings of the whole world to gather them together for the war on the great Day of God to the place which is called Armageddon.
after 7th bowl
(Rev 17:1-18; 18:1-24;)
The fall of Babylon
(Rev 19:1-21; 20:1-15;)
Battle Armageddon Antichrist
false prophet in lake of fire
Judgment, 1st Resurrection
Last fight, Last Judgment
(Rev 21:1-27; 22:1-21;)
The New Creation
(See also Table: Sequence and
Duration of events in the Last Days.)