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Revelation 6:1-2 & Zechariah 6:1-5 by Robert Dean
Also includes 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:53 mins 5 secs

Seal Judgments: Revelation Ch 6; the Antichrist

 

It is in Revelation chapter six that the real momentum of prophecy takes place, the actions that are going to characterise the Tribulation. In the very first of the openings of these seal judgments we are introduced to the system that will promote one of the major figures in the Tribulation, he who is known as the Antichrist. One of the major themes that we see in Scripture related to this personage who will come on the scene to develop his own kingdom and to challenge God, to martyr millions and millions of believers, who is full of deception. Many of the principles that we will see as we go through Revelation not only relate to the specifics and details that will happen sometime in the future—and we won't be there—but these trends are still present today. We will not see these things take place but we don't know when this is going to happen; it could be today, next year, the next decade or even the next century; but just as we do not know when it will occur, Satan does not know hen it will occur. Therefore in every year, in every decade in every generation he has to have his man ready to go, He has to be ready to implement his system of world government. So even though we may not be in the Rapture generation (and we can never know) Satan always has his systems and individuals ready to move into that vacuum once the restrainer is removed so that he can implement his systems. Even though these things relate to the future, the principles, the trends are just as true for today as they will be in that time. So we have to fortify our souls with the Word of God, with doctrine, and apply it on a regular basis.

 

As we move our way through these first four seals we will see that there are four different coloured horses. This isn't the first time that we have coloured horses appear in prophetic texts. It is not the first time we have the number four appear. We will see four angels holding back the four winds of heaven at the beginning of chapter seven. Revelation doesn't necessarily move in a chronological order. Chapter six focuses on events from an earthly perspective; the judgments are poured out on the earth. Notice at the end of the chapter there is a question raised after the sixth seal judgment: Who can survive these judgments? So chapter seven will shift our focus from what is happening on the earth to what is happening in the heavenly realm and will answer that question as to who will survive these tremendous judgments. So chapter seven takes place at roughly the same time as chapter six. In 7:1 "After this I saw" doesn't mean after this, it just means the next thing I saw, just like looking and one picture and then another picture. So the order of his visions are not the order of events necessarily. Often we have the number four because is speaks of in a figure of speech the four corners of the earth, the totality of the earth that is coming under judgment. It is interesting that in Zechariah chapter six there is also a reference to four chariots pulled by four teams of differently coloured horses.

Zechariah 6:1 NASB "Now I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming forth from between the two mountains; and the mountains {were} bronze mountains. [2] With the first chariot {were} red horses, with the second chariot black horses, [3] with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot strong dappled horses. [5] Then I spoke and said to the angel who was speaking with me, 'What are these, my lord?' [5] The angel replied to me, 'These are the four spirits [or winds; ruach in the Hebrew] of heaven, going forth after standing before the Lord of all the earth" – a picture of judgment.

As we put these chapters together what we will see in chapter seven are events that will take place at the same time as the events in chapter six. In chapter six the focus is on the six seal judgments. The seven seal judgments take place during the first 21 months of the Tribulation period—less than two years. We see the first seal is related to conquest, it is the rider on a white horse. The second seal will be open warfare, the rider on the red horse. The third seal, the rider on the black horse, will bring economic catastrophe which is the natural consequence of world war. There is famine. Then the fourth horse is death which follows from war and famine on the earth. Then the fifth seal will be martyrdom and it relates to events in chapter seven. The sixth seal is disturbances on the earth, geophysical disturbances that affect both the heavens and the earth, and we are told that this is the wrath of the Lamb being poured out upon the earth. The seventh seal is opened and it reveals a second series of judgments, the seven trumpet judgments. All of this will take place before the mid point of the Tribulation.

Revelation 6:1 NASB "Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, 'Come'." If we trace through the Scriptures in these kinds of passages we find that thunder is associated with the throne of God, the voice of God; it is so loud, it is overpowering, and it is foreboding, it portends something drastic that is about to happen. These living creatures were described in chapter four. These have similarities to both seraphim and cherubim, special orders of angels that were associated with the holiness of God. What we see here is that these four living creatures are each involved in the execution of the first four judgments. This indicates one of the major roles of angels in the book of Revelation and during the Tribulation as those who carry out the judicial decrees of God. It is angels who bring about the geophysical disturbances, it is angels who operate within the heavenlies controlling various meteorological features, and so we understand from Scripture that when we look at the world around us we can't just look at it as something physical but that all of the physical processes that we are familiar with, that scientists study in the laboratory have an invisible and supernatural background. These physiological processes are overseen by the angels. God controls everything but he works through these intermediate causes of the angels.

Revelation 6:2 NASB "I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer." Just a little note here as to how to understand these four horsemen. They are personifications of each one of these judgments. There is a tendency to say the first refer is the Antichrist but we have jumped the three steps of logic. That is the conclusion but he is the only one anybody identifies as a rider. We have three more riders to go and they don't represent individuals. Each rider on a horse is bringing about a series of judgments that will take place in that stage in the Tribulation period. The white horse rider is the one who oversees the judgment that allows the development of the Antichrist's political power and his kingdom during this early stage of the Tribulation period. He comes on a white horse. Some say this must be Jesus Christ. No, this isn't Jesus Christ; this is representing the false Christs that will dominate the political system at that time. There will be a proliferation of pseudo messiahs and they will promote pseudo righteousness. So the rider on the white horse is one who is promoting a pseudo righteousness. It is not the pure righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is what His white horse represents, but the pseudo righteousness which is the false system of the Antichrist. A crown was given to him which was more of a reward or a recognition. It is not a diademos crown, it is a stephanos crown.

So what we see in this first seal and the rider on the white horse is that he comes with a bow, indicating the threat of military power. He has the power but there are no arrows in the quiver, indicating that he conquers through intimidation or some other means other than through military conflict. The military conflict comes in the second seal. The second thing we see is that he is awarded the victor's crown, a stephanos which is a wreath of recognition for accomplishment. So he has been honoured and recognised by those over whom he rules. He goes out conquering and to conquer, and this is a summary of what we read in other passages in Daniel 7, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2, that after the Rapture this individual will be revealed. We will not know who the Antichrist is until Jesus Christ has returned for the church because what we are looking for next in prophecy is the return of Jesus Christ, the blessed hope of the church. When He comes for the church and the church is removed then that will create tremendous disorder and it is in that chaos that nations will realign themselves and into the vacuum of power that is created at that time one will come forward who will bring a pseudo peace and promise order out of chaos. He is the one who is going to realign the nations, especially those in the west.

What we see here in the first seal is a personification of the Antichrist's conquest as he pulls his kingdom together to give him a political base from which he will seek to rule the world. The Antichrist will then enter into a peace treaty with Israel and that is what begins the count-down of the period of Daniel's seventieth week, that last seven-year period that was revealed to Daniel in the timetable of Israel's history in Daniel chapter nine. So the Antichrist rises to power as a substitute Christ and promises world peace and stability that only can be brought by Jesus Christ who is the true Prince of Peace. That is why he is called the Antichrist.

The Antichrist:  2 Thessalonians 2 is an extremely significant passage on the Antichrist. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him [the Rapture], [2] that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. [3] Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come} unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, [4] who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."

The word "apostasy" is the noun  apostasia [a)postasia], and so people say we have to have this great end-times apostasy and then Jess will come back. But wait a minute! That would be a sign. How can it be imminent of there is a sign of the Rapture? The word apostasia means departure. It can mean departure from truth and that is what we call apostasy, or it can mean departure as a ship leaving a port, a departure if you leave from your home and depart on a trip. So the word should be translated here as departure, that the day will not occur unless the departure [the Rapture] comes first. Then the man of sin is revealed. The word "perdition" (as in some translations) is a term that is used of those who perish, the same Greek word that we have in John 3:16, "that none should perish." It is also used to describe Judas Iscariot and of those who are completely and totally lost because they have rejected Christ as saviour. This man of lawlessness will exalt himself in God's place as a substitute messiah. He takes his seat in the temple of God, and that is what we have seen as the abomination of desolation that occurs at the mid point of the Tribulation where the Antichrist will set his own statue, an image of himself, in the temple in Jerusalem to be worshipped as God. That begins the final stage of the Tribulation, the last three and a half years known as the great Tribulation.

2 Thessalonians 2:5 "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? [6] And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed." The restrainer is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is currently active on planet; He indwells every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, He is the dynamic force in the church, and He is very much present during the church age restraining evil. We just think things are bad and don't have a clue as to how bad things can be until the Holy Spirit is taken away and men are basically given over to fulfil their greatest desired and hostility to God. [7] "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains {will do so} until he is taken out of the way." The mystery of lawlessness is the increase of sin and evil and opposition to God which we see during the church age. Since the Reformation in the 1500s and then the birth of the Enlightenment in the 1600s man has been given more and more intellectual autonomy to reject God and to develop all kinds of systems to rationalise and justify his independence from God, so that many people are functional atheists. They have bought in to a system of thinking, a worldview that comes out of this period of time, especially the 19th century, that is built on atheism, Marxism and socialism, and Darwinism. This is the evil triplet of the 19th century. What we have seen since the 19th century is an increase in the utopic mentality of western civilisation. We have been plagued with the mentality that we can create a perfect society. That is messianic in its very core. The men who promoted this were men who have a flawed biblical theology, often rejecting at its core total depravity. That is really the issue. If you don't believe man is a sinner that Scripture says, that you believe that man is salvageable and perfectable, and that society can do it, then your approach to solving man's problems is going to be completely different from those who believe in the total corruption of every human being by Adam's sin. That is really the dividing line. This has produced all of these systems we have that mirror exactly what the Antichrist is going to do. Western civilisation has been pushed more and more to the Left, more and more to this utopic idea. Nobody understands that all of this grows out of a basic concept that man can solve his problems through some sort of corporate leadership or government. It is a rejection of the fact that the basic problem that many have is that every single one of us is a spiritually dead corrupt sinner, and the only solution is at the cross. It is not a political solution.      

2 Thessalonians 2:9 NASB {that is,} the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, [10] and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved." It is all done in the power of Satan, not God's power. [11] For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, [12] in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."

We have to look very carefully to make sure that we are not deceived by the wolves that come in among the sheep. So when Jesus warned of the false messiahs and the false prophets He distinguished those categories in Matthew 24. He said there will be false Christs, and the word christos [xristoj] is a translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah, which is the anointed or appointed one. There will be the two beasts who appear in Revelation, the first being the one we normally refer to as the Antichrist and the second is the false prophet. So He warns that there will be many false messiahs and they will take on a messianic role. It is the role of the messiah of Israel to bring world peace, to bring in a solution to sickness and illness and all of the travails of humanity. He is the one who will bring in true health and will be the healer of the nations. Part of the role of these false messiahs is to promise all of these promises related to health care and to ending poverty, and all of these kinds of things will mark the Antichrist's message and program as well as these other pseudo messiahs. We see patterns of that even today and it is more and more the agenda of western governments. To do that the government has to solve the problem—that is called either socialism or Marxism—and to increase the power of the government you have to take freedom and liberty away from the people. You have to destroy their ability and desire to solve the problems on their own and to live their lives in pure independence of government and being totally accountable to God. But it always looks good and appeals to people because without doctrine, the truth of God's Word and the categories from God's Word, we just don't have what we need in order to spot the counterfeits.

The terms "Antichrist" is used only in one chapter in the Scriptures, but it has become the most common title for the first beast of Revelation. It is used in 1 John 2:18, 22  NASB "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour." Satan has his antichrists; he has his system and his man in place in every generation. The term "antichrist" refers to a substitute Christ, not just one who is against Christ but one who claims to do only what the Messiah can do, and so he comes in promising messianic things. People are attracted to him because they think he will solve their problems.

Illustrations