This Revelation Timeline Decoded Bible study gives an overview of the fulfillment of the seal judgements in Revelation 6.
Rome is the fourth kingdom of the prophecies in Daniel 2 and 7, and it was at the height of its power, when white horses were used in victory parades, and the Cretan Emperors wore a wreath, representing a crown.
The Early Church would have been familiar with those symbols, so they would have understood that the seal judgments were about the Roman Empire.
They would have deciphered the connection to Zechariah 6, whose red, black, and white horses, spoke of God’s judgment on Gentile powers. But the Romans would not have known the Old Testament references.
John couldn’t say that the seals were about the fall of the Roman Empire, as that would have invited severe persecution from the Romans, so he used symbols to convey the message.
During the time of Rome’s rule, Messiah set up His kingdom which grew into millions of followers in a short period of time, because the Apostles and Early Church were scattered due to persecution, so the Gospel was spread around the Roman Empire. Each of the Apostles traveled to other countries, sharing the Gospel. Paul’s missions expanded the kingdom and established many Churches.
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” Daniel 2:44
Christ was going forth on His victorious mission of taking control of countries with His Gospel, and of avenging the martyrs deaths by causing the Roman Empire to collapse during the rest of the seal judgments.
Christ is overthrowing the greatest power the world has ever known, the mighty Roman Empire, and He is doing it not with weapons, but with the sword of His Word.
And He will return on a white horse to destroy the last phase of the Roman beast.
Who is Worthy to Break the Seven Seals of Revelation?
John was given the Revelation in 96 A.D., and in Revelation 1:1 Messiah told him that these things would take place shortly.
To the Church of the first three centuries the fulfillment of the Apocalypse had already begun, and was to continue without a break to the final consummation of all things.
The early Church interpreted the first vision, that of the crowned rider seated upon a white horse, armed with a bow, going forth “conquering and to conquer,” as a representation of Messiah going forth on His victorious mission.
The fact that Messiah had founded a Kingdom whose power was greater even than that of Rome, became early apparent. The words of Origen in his answer to Celsus strikingly exhibit the conviction of the primitive Church, that its marvelous progress could only be explained by attributing it to the action of supernatural power.
“Anyone who examines the subject will see that Jesus attempted and successfully accomplished works beyond the reach of human power. For although from the very beginning, all things opposed the spread of His doctrine in the world, — both the princes of the time, and their chiefs captains and generals, and all, to speak generally, who were possessed of the small influence, and in addition to these people, —yet it proved victorious, as being the Word of God, the nature of which is such that it cannot be hindered; and becoming more powerful than such adversaries, it made itself master of the whole of Greece, and a considerable portion of barbarian lands, and converted a countless number of souls to his religion.” Origen against Celsus, Ch. XXVIII
Historian Edward Gibbon said “While the Roman world was invaded by open violence, or under minded by slow decay, a pure and humble religion quietly insinuated itself into the minds of men; grew up in silence and obscurity; derived new vigour from opposition; and finally erected the triumphal banner of the Cross on the ruins of the Capital.”
And in the vision thus interpreted is found a key to the entire prophecy; for this is the starting point of the whole. Seals, trumpets, and vials set forth a continuous course of history stretching to the consummation, having as its commencement the going forth of the Gospel of Christ to accomplish its world-subduing work.
No other interpretation was ever known in the Christian Church till the rise of futurism.
Messiah was the only one found worth to open the seals, so naturally it points to His exacting vengeance against the Satan-empowered Roman Empire; not to an end-times one-man antichrist.
Here is a summary of the fulfillment of the seals, which will be explained in greater detail on the study pages.
1st Seal – The white horse represents the conquering Roman Empire, from 96 – 180 A.D., as it was a time of its greatest expansion and their military conquests were celebrated by riding white horses in their victory parades. Cretan Roman Emperors Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, each had a bow as their symbol. The crown represents the laurel wreathes of victory that were worn by the Caesars after their armies had won a military battle.
2nd Seal – The Red horse represents a bloody time in the Roman Empire from 185-284 A.D., as it went into a phase of revolution and civil war for 90 years, during which there were 32 emperors and 27 contenders for the throne.
3rd Seal – The Black horse represents a period gloom and despair, as the Romans suffered under excessive taxes that were needed to pay for wars. The prices for wheat and barley that the Lord decreed were the exact prices from 222-235 A.D.
4th Seal – The Pale horse represents 1/4th of Romans dying from famine, plague, pestilence and violence, from 250-300 A.D. The word ‘earth‘ means land, not the whole Earth. The Roman Empire is the land/earth of prophecy.
5th Seal – It represents the millions of martyrs who were killed by the Roman Empire, especially the Smyrna church martyrs who Emperor Diocletian persecuted for 10 years, from 303-312 A.D. Their blood is crying out for the Lord to avenge their deaths.
6th Seal – Earthquakes in the prophecy represent great political upheavals. Eastern Emperor Constantine defeated Diocletian’s army in 312 A.D., which ended the persecutions. Diocletian (the Sun) was so panic stricken, he died insane. Constantine defeated emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 A.D. The Roman leaders (stars) fell and their power receded as a scroll. The mountains and islands that were moved out of place, were the countries and people that were affected by this political change.
7th Seal – It represents the Lord sealing His servants before He sounds the 7 trumpets of judgment against the Pagan Roman Empire.
David Nikao Wilcoxson
Next Revelation Timeline Decoded Bible Study: Revelation 6 – 1st Seal White Horse