What are the seven seals of Revelation?

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By BibleAsk Team


The Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, contains a series of visions and prophecies given to the Apostle John. Among the most significant elements within these visions are the seven seals. These seals, found in chapters 5 through 8, are affixed to a scroll that only the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is worthy to open.

The seven seals represent the successive phases in the history of the church on earth. In a symbolic form, the history of the great controversy was presented before John until it reaches its great climax in the vindication of God’s character at the time of the final judgment. This examination will detail each of the seven seals.

The Scroll and the Lamb

Before delving into the seals themselves, it’s crucial to understand the context in which they are introduced. Revelation 5:1-5 (NKJV) sets the stage:

“And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.'”

Here, we see that the scroll is of immense significance, and only Jesus, the Lamb, is found worthy to open it.

First Seal-Church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1)

The opening of the first seal is described in Revelation 6:1-2 (NKJV):

“Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”

White horse (Revelation 6:1,2): 1st Century A.D./ The rider had a bow and a crown and he went forth conquering representing the church in its apostolic age-white symbolizing purity of faith.

Second Seal-Church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8)

The second seal brings war and conflict. Revelation 6:3-4 (NKJV) describes this event:

“When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”

Red Horse (Revelation 6:3,4): A.D. 100 to Constantine, A.D. 313/ Second horseman portrays conditions under which the church found itself in violent persecutions under the rider’s great sword at the hands of Roman Caesars.

Third Seal-Church of Pergamos (Revelation 2:12)

The third seal introduces economic hardship and scarcity. Revelation 6:5-6 (NKJV) details this seal:

“When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.'”

Black Horse (Revelation 6:5,6): Constantine to Justinian, A.D. 313-538/ With Constantine the persecution of Christians slowed, but “black” can show further corruption of faith.

Fourth Seal-Church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18)

The fourth seal brings widespread death. Revelation 6:7-8 (NKJV) describes the grim scene:

“When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”

Pale Horse (Revelation 6:7,8): The Middle Ages to the Reformation, A.D. 538-1517/ Pale, the color of fear and death-the Papacy ruled the world and used its power to crush all who resisted.

Fifth Seal-Church of Sardis (Revelation 3:1)

The fifth seal shifts focus to the spiritual realm, highlighting the plight of the martyrs. Revelation 6:9-11 (NKJV) explains:

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”

Souls under Alter (Revelation 6:9-11): Post Reformation period, A.D. 1517-1755/ The souls of martyrs cried out symbolically to heaven for justice- given white robes, they wait to the Resurrection of the righteous.

Sixth Seal-Church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7)

The opening of the sixth seal brings dramatic cosmic disturbances and natural disasters. Revelation 6:12-17 (NKJV) describes these events vividly:

“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'”

Earthquake, Dark Day, falling stars (Revelation 6:12-13): The Great Awakening, A.D. 1755 to current times/ The great Lisbon Earthquake hit November 1, 1755. The sun and moon darkened on May 19, 1780. The stars fell from heaven November 13, 1833.

Seventh Seal-Church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14)

The opening of the seventh seal is marked by a profound silence. Revelation 8:1 (NKJV) states:

“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

Silence in Heaven (Revelation 8:1): The near future/ There is “silence in heaven” because Christ and all the angles leave the Heavenly courts. They all come to earth at Christ’s second coming.

Theological Implications and Practical Applications

The seven seals of Revelation highlight several key theological themes:

  1. Divine Sovereignty: The opening of the seals by the Lamb underscores the sovereignty of Christ over history and judgment. He alone is worthy to enact God’s plan for the end times.
  2. Judgment and Justice: The seals reveal the progressive nature of God’s judgment on a sinful world, culminating in the final reckoning. They emphasize God’s justice in responding to sin and the cries of the martyrs.
  3. Hope and Redemption: Amidst the judgments, there is a message of hope. The sealing of the 144,000 and the vision of the great multitude remind believers of God’s faithfulness and the ultimate redemption of His people.

Conclusion

The seven seals of Revelation are a profound and sobering part of the biblical prophecy, unveiling the divine plan for the end times. The seven seals represent the successive phases in the history of the church on earth. Through these events, the Bible affirms God’s sovereignty, justice, and mercy. As believers study these passages, they are called to reflect on their own faith, the seriousness of sin, and the hope of redemption through Christ.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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