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[c] wrath has come. Who can withstand it?