The number seven in the Scriptures denotes completion or perfection. The seven seals embrace the whole of a class of events in which is narrated the history of the church from the beginning of the Christian era to the second coming of Christ.
What did John the revelator see in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne?
“And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within, and on the backside sealed with seven seals.” Rev. 5:1
What did the Lamb do with this book?
“And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat on the throne.” Verse 7.
Why was Christ declared worthy to open these seals?
“Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy, blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Verse 9.
“And I saw when the Lamb opened on of the seals, … 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.” Rev. 6:1,2.
The white horse, with his rider going forth to conquer, fitly represents the early Christian church in its purity, going into all the world with the gospel message of salvation.
What appeared upon the opening of the second seal?
“And when He had opened the second seal, … 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.” Verses 3, 4.
As whiteness in the first horse denoted the purity of the gospel which its rider propagated, so the color of the second horse would show that corruption had begun to creep in when this symbol applies. It is true that such a state of things did succeed in the apostolic church. Speaking of the second century, Wharey, in his “Church History,” page 39, says:” Christianity began already to wear the garb of heathenism. The seeds of most of those errors that afterward so entirely overran the church, marred its beauty, and tarnished its glory, were already beginning to take root.” Worldliness came in. The church sought alliances with the secular power, and trouble a commotion was the result. This symbol extends from the close of the first century to the time of Constantine when a complete union of church and state was effected.
What was the color of the symbol under the third seal?
“When He had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse, and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.” Verse 5.
The “black” horse fitly represents the spiritual darkness that characterized the church from the time of Constantine till the establishment of papal supremacy in 538 A.D. Of the condition of things in the fourth century, Wharey (page 54) says: “Christianity had now become embraced it, only assumed the name, received the rite of baptism, and conformed to some of the external ceremonies of the church, while at heart and in moral character they were as much heathen as they were before. Error and corruption now came in upon the church like a flood.”
What were the color and characters of the fourth symbol?
“And When He had opened the fourth seal, … 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.” Verses 7, 8.
This is an unnatural color for a horse. The original denoted the pale or yellowish color seen in blighted plants. The symbol evidently refers to the work of persecution and death carried on by the Roman Church against the people of God from the time of the beginning of papal supremacy in 538 A. D. to the time when the Reformers commenced their work of exposing the true character of the Papacy, and a check was placed upon this work of death.
On opening the fifth seal, what was seen under the altar?
“And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” Verse 9.
When the Reformers exposed the work of the Papacy, it was then called to mind how many martyra had been slain for their faith.
What were these martyrs represented as doing?
“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge out blood on them that dwell on the earth? Verse 10.
The cruel treatment which they had received cried for vengeance, just as Abel’s blood cried to God from the ground. Gen. 4: 10.
They were not in heaven, but under the altar on which they had been slain. On this point, Dr. Adam Clarke says: “The altar is upon the earth, not in heaven.”
What was given these martyrs?
“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 fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were should be fulfilled.” Verse 11.
What was first seen on the opening of the sixth seal?
“And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake.” Verse 12, first part.
This doubtless refers to the great earthquake of Nov. 1, 1755, commonly known as the Lisbon earthquake, the effects of which were felt over an area of 4,000,000 square miles. Lisbon, Portugal, a city containing 150,000 inhabitants, was almost entirely destroyed. The shock of the earthquake, says Mr. Sears, in his “Wonders of the World,” page 200, “was instantly followed by the fall of every church and convent, almost all the large public buildings, and one-fourth of the houses. In about two hours afterward, fires broke out in different quarters and raged with such violence for the space of nearly three days that the city was completely desolated. The earthquake happened on a holy day when the churches and convents were full of people, very few of whom escaped. …
What was to follow the great earthquake?
“And the syn became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” Same verse, latter part.
This refers to the dark day and night of May 19, 1780
What other event mentioned under this seal?
“And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Verse 13.
What is the next event mentioned in the prophecy?
“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” Verse 14.
How will this great event affect the world?
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and the bondman, and every freeman, hid in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Verse 15-17.
After the sealing work brought to view in Revelation 7. which takes place under the sixth seal, how is the seventh seal introduced?
“And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” Rev. 8:1.
The seventh seal most naturally, therefore, would refer to that event, or to some accompanying result of it. When Christ comes, all the holy angels will accompany Him (Matt. 25: 31); and it follows that silence will necessarily, therefore, reign in heaven during their absence. A half-hour of prophetic time would be about seven days.