Revelation 5-9 The Voice (VOICE)
Throughout this book of letters and visions, numbers play an important role. Numbers and their multiples are signs of great mysterious realities. The Son of Man moves among seven lampstands and holds seven stars in His right hand because the number “seven” represents perfection and completeness. Another important number is “twelve” because it represents the people of God. The children of Israel consisted of twelve tribes, and Jesus called “the twelve” to follow Him and embody the new covenant. The number “twelve” and multiples of “twelve” recur throughout the book to signify the people of God, so here the twenty-four elders (12 + 12) signify the people of God, both the old and new covenants.
5 And then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One seated upon the throne, a scroll written both on the inside and on the outside. It had been sealed with seven seals. 2 Then a mighty heavenly messenger proclaimed with a loud voice,
Mighty Messenger: Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?
3 No creature of creation in all heaven, on all the earth, or even under the earth could open the scroll or look into its mysteries. 4 Then I began to mourn and weep bitterly because no creature of creation was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into its mysteries. 5 Then one of the elders consoled me.
One of the 24 Elders: Stop weeping. Look there—the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. He has conquered and is able to break its seven seals and open the scroll.
6 I looked, and between the throne and the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders stood a Lamb who appeared to have been slaughtered. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes (the eyes are the seven Spirits of God sent out over all the earth).
John hears that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has arrived and will open the seals to reveal the scroll’s mysteries. But when he turns to see the Lion, he sees a Lamb instead. Not everything is as it appears. The Lamb stands, even though He has been slaughtered as a sacrifice, because He has been resurrected from the dead. And now in his vision, John sees things as they truly are: the Lamb-King has seven horns and seven eyes, signifying the perfect power and perfect sight He possesses to rule the world.
7 The Lamb came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One seated upon the throne. 8 And when He took it, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell prostrate before the Lamb. They worshiped Him, and each one held a harp and golden bowls filled with incense (the prayers of God’s holy people). 9 Then they sang a new song.
Four Living Creatures and 24 Elders: You are worthy to receive the scroll,
11 When I looked again, I heard the voices of heavenly messengers (numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands). They surrounded the throne, the living creatures, and the elders.
12 Thousands of Messengers (with a great voice): Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and beneath the earth and in the sea and all things in them echoing the messengers.
Every Creature: To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
14 And the four living creatures kept on repeating:
Four Living Creatures: Amen. Amen.
And the elders fell down and worshiped [Him who lives forever].[b]
6 Then I saw the Lamb break the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out with a thundering voice.
First Living Creature: Come!
2 Then I looked, and what a sight! There was a white horse carrying a rider with a bow. He wore a wreath and came riding like a conqueror, intent on complete victory.
3 The Lamb broke the second seal, and the second living creature called out.
Second Living Creature: Come!
4 Then another horse, fiery red, sped forth. Its rider was granted the power to steal peace from the earth and received a large sword so that people would slaughter each other.
5 The Lamb broke the third seal, and the third living creature called out.
Third Living Creature: Come!
Then I looked; and behold, there was a black horse! Its rider held in his hand a balance scale. 6 And I heard a voice emanating from the middle of the four living creatures.
7 And when the Lamb broke the fourth seal, the fourth living creature called out.
Fourth Living Creature: Come!
8 I looked; and behold, there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades accompanied him. Together they were granted authority over one-fourth of the earth to kill with weapons, with famine, with disease, and with wild animals that roamed the earth.
The breaking of the seals releases the four riders and a series of disasters and plagues. Even though what follows appears to be extreme violence unleashed against the earth and its inhabitants, there is a limitation to what follows. Death and Hades have the authority to kill, but their authority extends only to one-fourth of the earth. The slaughtered souls cry out for vengeance, but they will have to wait a little longer until more martyrs are killed for their testimony.
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the heavenly altar the souls of those murdered for holding fast to the word of God and their testimony. 10 They cried out in a great, singular voice.
Murder Victims: How much longer, O Lord, the holy One, the true One, until You pronounce judgment on the inhabitants of the earth? Until You avenge our blood?
11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest for a little while longer—soon their number would be complete. In a little while, more of their fellow servants, brothers, and sisters would be murdered as they had been.
12 When the Lamb broke the sixth seal, a great earthquake shook the earth and the sun grew dark and became black (like mourning sackcloth) and the full moon became red like blood. 13 The stars of heaven fell to earth as a fig tree drops its fruit during a winter storm. 14 The sky snapped back as a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain was shaken off its foundation, and every island melted into the sea. 15 The rulers of the earth, the important and the great, the generals, the wealthy and the powerful, the slave and the free person, all hid themselves in the caves and among the mountains’ rocks. 16 They pleaded with loud suicidal requests to the rocks and mountains.
People of the Earth: Fall on us. Hide us from the fierce presence of the One who sits on the throne, from the wrath of the Lamb. 17 The great day of their[e] wrath has come. Who can withstand it?
7 After this vision, I saw four heavenly messengers standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding back the four winds so that the earth would not be overcome by violent, rushing winds blowing over the land or over the sea or blowing down any tree. 2 Then I saw a fifth messenger, coming up with the sun as it was rising in the east, carrying the seal of the living God. He called with a great and loud voice to the four messengers who had authority to harm the earth and its seas.
Fifth Messenger: 3 Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we seal the servants of our God with a mark of ownership on their foreheads.
4-8 Then I heard that 144,000 would receive the seal, that is 12,000 from every tribe of Israel: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.
9 After I heard about these who would be sealed, I looked and saw a huge crowd of people, which no one could even begin to count, representing every nation and tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and waving palm branches. 10 They cried out with one loud voice.
Crowd: Salvation comes only from our God, who sits upon the throne, and from the Lamb.
John hears that 144,000 people out of Israel are destined to be sealed, but then he turns to see an innumerable multitude from every people group in the world. What he sees reveals the truth of what he hears: the number “144,000” is not an exact count of who will be saved but is a symbolic number (12 x 12 x 1000). “Twelve” is a number that signifies all the people of God, from both the Old and New Testaments. In reality, between the sixth and seventh seal, there is an interlude, an opportunity for people from every nation to enter into the people of God, to receive God’s mark, and to take their places among the redeemed.
11 All the heavenly messengers stood up, encircling the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell prostrate before the throne and worshiped God.
12 Heavenly Messengers, Elders, and Living Creatures: Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom
One of the Elders (to me): 13 Who are these people clothed in white robes, and where have they come from?
John: 14 Sir, surely you know the answer to your own questions.
One of the Elders: These are coming from the time of great suffering and affliction. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, cleansing them pure white.
15 Responding out of a heart filled with praise, they congregate before the throne of God
8 When the Lamb cracked open the seventh and final seal, a great silence filled all heaven penetrating everything for about half an hour. 2 Then I saw seven heavenly messengers, the ones who stand before God, receive seven trumpets.
3 An eighth messenger came and stood before the altar carrying a golden censer. He received a large portion of incense to complement the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that sits in front of the throne. 4 From the hand of the eighth messenger, the smoke of the incense mixed with the prayers of God’s people and billowed up before God. 5 The messenger filled the censer with fiery coals from the altar and cast it upon the earth, causing a great commotion of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Throughout the ages God’s people have been asking Him for justice in their prayers and laments. Now, in response to these, God pours out His judgment.
6 The seven heavenly messengers raised the seven trumpets and prepared to sound them.
7 The first messenger sounded his trumpet, and a blast of hail and fire mixed with blood was cast down to the earth. As a result, one-third of the land was set ablaze, one-third of the trees were burned, and all the green grass was scorched.
8 The second messenger sounded his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, with bright flames of burning fire, was cast into the sea. As a result, one-third of the sea turned into blood, 9 one-third of the living sea creatures died, and one-third of the ships were obliterated.
10-11 The third messenger sounded his trumpet, and a great star called Wormwood dropped out of heaven, flaming like a torch as it fell on one-third of the rivers and the springs. As a result, one-third of the waters turned bitter like the herb wormwood so that many people died from the poisonous bitter waters.
12 The fourth messenger sounded his trumpet, and one-third of the sun, one-third of the moon, and one-third of the stars were darkened. As a result, one-third of their light flickered and failed. For one-third of the day, the sun did not shine; and likewise for one-third of the night, the moon and stars did not give their light.
13 Then I saw an eagle flying through midheaven, and I heard it cry with a loud voice.
Eagle: Woe, woe, woe—horror, disaster, and calamity—to the earth dwellers! The rest of the trumpet blasts from the last three messengers are about to sound.
When the trumpets blast, another cycle of disasters begin. Each calamity affects one-third of the earth, its inhabitants, and the heavenly lights. Time flies as the disasters intensify.
9 Then the fifth messenger sounded his trumpet. I saw a star that had dropped out of heaven to earth. He received the key that unlocks the shaft leading to the abyss, the pit that falls away to nothingness; and 2 he opened the shaft to the abyss. Huge columns of smoke rose from the depths of the cavern—a black, ugly smoke as if from a great furnace so that the sun was darkened and the air was thickened by the blanket of smoke from the shaft. 3 From the smoke, locusts appeared and swarmed upon the earth. They were given power, like the power of scorpions on the earth. 4-5 However, they were instructed not to damage any grasses, plants, or trees that grow from the earth. Instead, they were given power for five months to torture, but not to kill, the people without the seal of God upon their foreheads. The torment they inflicted was like the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days, people will seek any way possible to kill themselves, but death will not befriend them. They will long to die and end their miseries, but death will elude them.
7 The locusts looked like horses clad in armor, ready for battle. They wore golden wreaths on their heads, and their faces appeared human 8 with hair as long as women’s hair, but they had teeth as sharp as lions’ teeth. 9 They had armor that appeared to be iron plated; and when their wings flapped, they sounded like an army of horse-drawn chariots rushing into battle. 10 They have tails like scorpions with stingers, and the power invested in them to inflict torture on people for five months lies in their tails. 11 They were ruled by the messenger of the abyss, whose Hebrew name is Abaddon and whose Greek name is Apollyon, both meaning “the Destroyer.”
12 The first disaster has occurred; there are two more disasters to come.
13 Then the sixth messenger sounded his trumpet; and I heard a voice from the four corners of the golden altar that is before God, 14 commanding the sixth messenger with the trumpet.
A Voice: Set loose the four messengers who are bound in chains at the great river Euphrates.
15 Then the four messengers, who had been held in chains until the hour and the day and the month and the year when they would kill one-third of humanity, were released.
16 I heard that 200 million soldiers rode in the cavalry. 17 This is how these horses and their riders appeared in my vision: the riders wore breastplates of fiery red, smoky blue,[f] and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses seemed to be like the heads of lions; they breathed fire and smoke and sulfur from their mouths, 18 killing one-third of humanity with the three plagues coming out of their mouths. 19 The lethal power of these horses was not only in their mouths but also in their tails because their tails, which resembled snakes, had heads that inflicted injury.
20 The rest of humanity, those not killed by these plagues, did not rethink their course and turn away[g] from the devices of their own making. Despite all these calamities, they continued worshiping demons and idols crafted in gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood. They bowed down to images which cannot see or hear or walk. 21 They failed to turn away[h] from their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immoralities, and their thefts.
Click the button below to continue.
Upgrade, and get the most out of your new account. An integrated digital Bible study library - including complete notes from the NIV Study Bible and the NKJV MacArthur Study Bible - is just a step away! Try it free for 30 days.
Three easy steps to start your free trial subscription to Bible Gateway Plus.