Revelation 6: How to read the 7 seals


  • Views based on history
  • View based on the OT


When I try and understand the book of Revelation and put myself in the shoes of those who would have originally heard the book read in the first century I try to think about what other information I would need in order to understand the book. As I have scanned the other views of how people interpret the book of revelation, each one has the book of Revelation in one hand, but they all hold something different in the other. The Preterist view which holds to the view that this chapter is speaking about the fall of Jerusalem needs the historic account written by Josephus in order to understand this chapter. The Historicist view which sees this chapter as documenting the fall of Rome needs an detailed account of the fall of Rome and the history of its emperors. The Futurist, I am thinking about the Dispensationalist here, needs a newspaper to determine the identity of who they think is the antichrist and other details. The approach which I find the most compelling is the one that has the OT and the NT in the other hand. This may sound like I am denying the other views any dependence on Scripture this is not my intent, I just think that the view I want to present tonight consistently uses the bible instead of some other tool that the first century people would not have had access to. I want to read this chapter and understand it without needing a PhD in history to understand it.

The setting is this: Jesus is King, He has finished His work. He is in control of history and unsealing that seals of God’s plan. We might expect at this point a great battle, the defeat of God’s enemies and the ‘they all lived happily ever after’ ending. Instead we see God’s judgements coming upon the earth. You have heard the phrase, ‘the same sun that melts butter hardens clay’ well the same suffering that judges sin purifies the church. The church is not kept from suffering but we have every indication of them going through the fire with added persecutions as well. Revelation 12-14 will reveal the why, we will hold off simply observing the phenomena of what is occurring. The period of the 7 seals is a short history of the world which can be characterised by three things, 1. God pours out His judgements in the form of the four horsemen. 2. The Church is preserved in the midst of these trials. 3. Christ will finally come to judge the wicked. This is a history in a nutshell, the whole span of the church age shrunk into 3 bold headlines. Before we tackle what the various pictures mean let us first outline some of the wrong views that we are avoiding.