Revelation Chapter 6: The Four Horsemen (word doc available here)
In this chapter we have the opening of six seals – the arrival of four horsemen take up the first four seals, with the fifth revealing the suffering of the martyrs and the six the collapse of the created world. As we seek to understand God’s message through this chapter, we need to prepare ourselves for some hard truths and searching questions.
- How would you define justice to someone who was not a Christian? Describe a time when you have sought justice for yourself or someone you love. What comfort is there in this chapter for the families of victims who desire justice for their loved ones?
- Justice is like a double-edged sword – we long for it to be expressed to others, but expect to be shown leniency for ourselves. How does our skewed view of sin underpin this distortion (Matt 7.3, Romans 3.23)? What are some of the things we tell ourselves or others to justify our own actions and convince ourselves that we will be ok (Psalm 10.10-13, Psalm 94.7, 2 Peter 3.4)?
- If we recognise that no one is perfect, why are we so surprised when judgement arrives? What are some of the examples of past judgements upon sin in the bible? Do you think it is helpful or dangerous to try and interpret contemporary natural or personal disasters as God’s judgement?
- If present day sufferings are compared by the apostle Paul to “labour pains” (Romans 8.22), what we have in this chapter is the inevitable and climatic birth of a new created order. How do the striking images in this chapter bring perspective to our present day experiences of suffering?
- How would you summarise the mission of the white, red, black and pale horsemen? How does their mission fulfil the desires of the martyrs, v10? Should we wish for judgement to come upon those who have persecuted us? Explain your answer.
- Do you think our lack of experience of physical persecution softens our attitude towards “the inhabitants of the earth”? How do we balance our desire for people to be saved with the desire for justice? How are these two desires combined & demonstrated in the cross (Romans 3.21-26)?
- Compare the “calls” of the two groups described in this passage – v 10 and v16-17. What has brought each group to this point? How do their contrasting predicament in this chapter compare with the current day? How can we be sure that we will be among those in white robes on this day (Romans 10.9-10)?
If the images in this chapter are haunting, then it is only so that we would be woken up from our stupor to realise that time is running out. Prayerfully read through 1 Thessalonians 5.1-6 and spend a few moments mediating on where we stand with God and if we are personally ready for this event.
2 thoughts on “The Four Horsemen”
Hey Martyn – I’ve just gone through an old address book and didn’t want to throw it away without saying hi! Do you remember we went to Estonia together in 95?
I’m still in Sheffield – how about you? God bless, Jim
PS you’re kids are cute – I have two boys…
Hi Jim, yes of course I remember, it was a great summer in Estonia…if a little quiet! What are you up to these days? I still remember you reading Augustine’s City of God and thinking I should read it some day. I chose Calvin’s Institutes instead, but will read CoG one day – I guess you were one of the people who inspired me to get into the classics – thanks!