The seals represent divine authority. There is only one who can open the seals because God has committed all judgment to His Son Jesus Christ. The Church is in heaven as witnesses of GOD’s judgments about to be released by the Lord upon the nations of the earth. This period of time is called the hour of tribulation (Revelation 3:10). The Old Testament prophets called this time, the “Day of the Lord.”
This time of judgment is also known as the 70th week of Daniel. The prophecy given by the Angel Gabriel to Daniel in Daniel 9:24-27 reveals a final period of 7 years where God restores the Nation of Israel back to faith in their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The 7 seals are the same judgments Jesus spoke of from the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24 at the close of His ministry. Here in chapter 6 we are given much more detail about them.
In Revelation 5 and 6 the Church is before the throne worshipping God. God the Father is handing the scroll to JESUS (the Lamb of God). Christ removes the seven seals of judgments revealing what will take place over a time of 7 years leading up to His return. Notice that the vision of the 7 seals parallels what Jesus told the 12 disciples on the Mount of Olives about the signs of His return in Matthew 24.
- The 1st seal reveals a white horse which represents the antichrist who will deceive the Nations—6:2 (Matthew 24:4,5)
- The 2nd seal reveals a red horse which represents war—6:4 (Matthew 24:6,7)
- The 3rd seal reveals a black horse which represents great famine—6:5,6 (Matthew 24:7,8)
- The 4th seal reveals a pale horse which represents death and hell. The first 4 seals affects 1/4 of the earth—6:7,8 (Matthew 24:7,8)
- The 5th seal reveals the martyrdom of believers, this is a recurring theme in the vision, it reveals a great harvest of souls and great persecution. The greatest harvest will include people living in the 10/40 window pictured where false religions have dominated for centuries.—6:9-11 (Matthew 24:9-14)
- The 6th seal reveals cosmic judgments coming upon the earth from the heavens— 6:12-17 (Matthew 24:26-31)
Jesus said, There will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; mens hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.—Luke 21:24-26
Later on in the book the 7th seal gives specific detail about these stars falling from heaven. The 6th and 7th seal are cosmic judgments, ie asteroids and or comets striking the earth. To fully understand that God will use the heavens to pour out His wrath, consider the past judgments in the Old Testament. When the prophets spoke of judgments upon nations they spoke in the name of the ‘Lord of Hosts.’ This title is associated with God avenging His elect by executing judgments of ‘fire, hail, brimstone” from the heavens. These are cosmic judgments. Hosts is a reference to both Angels and the stars of heaven. You will see in the 6th and 7th seal activity involving both angels and the stars of heaven striking the earth.
God will be using the heavens which He created to judge the nations of the world. This is consistent with the judgments that took place in the days of Noah and and the days Lot. There is archeological evidence that suggests these earlier judgments in the Bible were brought about by “the stars of heaven,” which means a strike by a comet or asteroid. These are terrifying events that will cause men’s hearts to fail, because their is literally no way out.
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating, drinking, marrying, and were given in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. But on the day that Lot departed from Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from heaven and destroyed them all. So will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.—Luke 17:26-30 MEV