Image source: JewishVoice
The early Christians who read the book of Revelation were greatly encouraged by it. The Jesus they had known was a powerful teacher who lived and preached in Israel. They believed Jesus was the messiah of the world by faith, but now the book of Revelation, starting from Chapter 4 is showing Jesus determining the fate of the world. This was indeed a revelation of a new aspect of Jesus authority.
In Revelation Chapters 1-3 Jesus encourages the Church to remain faithful. In Chapter 4, Apostle John was shown a great vision starting with a council meeting in heaven. In Chapter 5, John saw that the council appointed the resurrected Jesus to execute heaven’s decisions on the earth. These decisions were in a scroll with seven seals; the decisions had been kept secret until the resurrection of Jesus.
In Chapter 6 Jesus removes the first to the sixth seal, the seventh is removed in Chapter 8. The first seal released a white horse carrying a king; the second seal released a red horse carrying a warmaker (warmonger); the third seal released a black horse carrying a trader (merchant); the fourth seal released a pale (or yellow-green) horse carrying death. The fifth reveals that God has not abandoned the Church; the sixth reveals that a day of judgement is coming even though it is not immediate.
It is worth noting Revelation 6:9-11 (The Living Bible) (shortened): “And when he broke open the fifth seal, I saw an altar, and underneath it all the souls of those who had been martyred for preaching the Word of God… They called loudly to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge the people of the earth for what they’ve done to us? When will you avenge our blood… they were told to rest a little longer until their other brothers, fellow servants of Jesus, had been martyred on the earth and joined them.”
To the early Christians reading Revelation Chapter 6, it meant this world of troubles (red, black, and pale horse) is not ending anytime soon. It also showed them that in the midst of continued worldly chaos, firstly, they have a champion, the king on the white horse (the first seal), and secondly, they have not been abandoned despite persecution (the fifth seal), but they would have to be patient.
Lord, take away the fear and complexity we bring to Revelation; teach us its simple truths that bless our souls, Amen!