1st Seal, Christ Jesus the Conqueror conquers with a bow & is crowned! Rev. 19:11
2nd Seal, Physical wars do not bring a Conqueror but the damage is inflicted with the sword.
3rd Seal, Economic hardship bringing near destruction is inevitable, Ezekiel 4:16-17, 5:16
4th Seal, Physical death may affect the church but can not win, Ezekiel 14:12-23.
5th Seal, Martyred saints recognized their victory and the saints left on earth suffer but would know it was temporary and be eventually halted.
“Come” v1,3,5,7, Each of the four living creatures pronounce this command, implying that John would be personally involved or touched by what these seals reveal. But the 5th seal and onwards do not have a “come” command, they hold details that the churches would live through, but not necessarily John. He didn’t suffer martyrdom as mentioned in the 5th seal, and implied by Jesus, John 21:21-24. The word “come” should alert us to the personal experience John would have in the will of God in these seals. When God says “come” from any passage we should take it personally. Jesus has asked all of to “come” in Mat. 11:28 for rest. We should “come” in Matthew 16:24 for discipleship. Rest is for gaining strength to fight in overcoming evil with good, and discipleship is for spiritual warfare, not academic exercise. We can not come into our own experience of spiritual maturity without exercising faith in “going”, Matthew 28:19.
“had a bow & crown given to him” v2. The Lamb opens all the seals and is responsible for controlling what happens. When the white horse appears, the rider is given a “stephanos” crown owning victory. Who gives him this crown? Later in Rev. 19:12 he wears a royal “diadema” crown. A mounted archer would remind every first century reader of the Parthian army, and they played a big role in the demise of the Roman Empire. The Emperor Domitian (81-96AD) failed to negotiate treaties with King Vologaesus of Parthia, as a result, Domitian’s head valet named Parthenius and a man named Stephanus betrayed him and arranged his assassination. Might this be a surreptitious way of prophesying the end of the reigning Emperor which would turn out to be one of the persecutors of Christianity? A fresh series of conflicts began in the 2nd century AD, during which the Romans consistently held the upper hand over Parthia. The Emperor Trajan invaded Armenia and Mesopotamia during 114 and 115 and annexed them as Roman provinces. He captured the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon, before sailing downriver to the Persian Gulf. However, uprisings erupted in 115 AD in the occupied Parthian territories, while a major Jewish revolt broke out in Roman territory, severely stretching Roman military resources. Parthian forces attacked key Roman positions, and the Roman garrisons at Seleucia, Nisibis and Edessa were expelled by the local inhabitants. Trajan subdued the rebels in Mesopotamia, but having installed the Parthian prince Parthamaspates on the throne as a client ruler, he withdrew his armies and returned to Syria. Trajan died in 117, before he was able to consolidate Roman control over the Parthian provinces. Trajan’s Parthian War initiated a shift of emphasis in the grand strategy of the Roman empire. The persecution of Christians culminated with Diocletian and Galerius at the end of the third and beginning of the 4th century. Their anti-Christian actions, considered the largest, were to be the last major Roman persecution, as Constantine the Great soon came into power and in 313 legalized Christianity. But it was not until Theodosius I in the latter 4th century that Christianity would became the official religion of the Roman Empire. We win, they lose!
“a quart of wheat for a denarius…do not harm the oil & wine” v6. This 3rd seal with it’s rider with scales on a black horse would represent the demise of the Roman economy. They may love their luxuries, but the basics like grain would suffer scarcity that brought it at eight times the normal price, as pestilence & famine took toll on agriculture.
“how long before you will judge and avenge our blood” v10, The Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in 313, and it later became the state religion in 380. These decrees from Emperor Constantine (307-326AD) ended centuries of persecution, but they also eroded the traditional Roman values system. Christianity displaced the polytheistic Roman religion, which viewed the emperor as having a divine status, and also shifted focus away from the glory of the state and onto the sole Deity in Jesus Christ.
“until the number of their fellow servants & brothers were complete” v11, White garments for the faithful in this horrendous persecution meant that no matter what happened, Christ counted them holy & pure, royal & priestly. Everything they did in this suffering was a sacrifice for the complete establishment of the church, glorifying God, Colossians 1:24.