6 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. 3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.
As we enter into chapter six, the images and metaphors begin to swirl around pretty quickly, so we need to keep them straight as to what the book says what they represent. Here is a brief review of what we have heard so far.
Seven Seals These are the revelation of the future events to come before Jesus' second coming. Each seal marked a different part of the revelation as Jesus the Lamb opens the scroll only He has the authority to open.
Four Living Creatures Most scholars agree these are four Angels who not only sit under the throne of worshipping the Lamb (Christ), but also at the Lamb's direction carry out some of the judgments that bring about God's judgment and Justice.
The 4 horsemen Some call these horsemen the "4 horsemen of the apocalypse". The first Rider comes on a white horse. Though the white horsemen is assumed to be Christ, most scholars believe it represents the Anti-Christ. At the beginning of the "end times", there will be someone who appears to be Christ but is a deceiver. This precedes some of other events of the end times. The second horse is red and brings violence on the earth so that people kill each other. The black horse is generally assumed to represent the famine in the end times. The fourth pale horse is characterized as a combination of spiritual beings and wild animals that bring on death to a quarter of the people on earth.
Fifth SealThis is the altar where underneath are the souls of those martyred for their testimony of Jesus. They are pictured in white robes, symbolizing that they have been robed in Christ's righteousness. As they are assured of the Justice that will come to avenge their blood, they are told to wait patiently until the full amount of martyrs have given their lives.
Sixth Seal Earthquakes and natural disasters have as far ranging effects as stars falling out of the sky and mountains and islands being removed.
Notice the seventh and final seal is not revealed yet.
The theme of the seven seals is the beginning of the judgments that precede Jesus' return. The three major interpretive stances are that these events have already happened and we are living in the 1000 year reign of Christ, often called the "millineal age". Second, that we are in the middle of this, and events happening around us are signs of these events. In recent time periods, the Holocaust, the Soviet regime, or even terrorism in its various forms might be seen as signs that the end times are coming. We could even point to the persecution and killing of 1,000's of Christians as birth pangs of the end times. Finally, "futurists" would see these events as future events to come preceding Jesus' return.
I don't think one has to be solely in one camp or the other. I would probably land somewhere between the final two. I believe some of what we see now happening in the world are signs of the end times, but I would not try to correlate them directly with the seals in chapter Revelation 6. We don't know when we are truly in the end times, altogether each generation is in the end times for their own limited time on this earth.
The bottom line is every day we are a day closer to Jesus' return. This should give us a sense of urgency to be about sharing Christ's love in word and deed with all whom God leads us to.