BROKENNESS OF THE WORLD
Amidst all the tension and turmoil around me, Lord, you remain my center, my strength, and my hope. Thanks be to God.
Read REVELATION 6
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.
5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds[a] of wheat for a day’s wages,[b] and six pounds[c] of barley for a day’s wages,[d] and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters,[e] were killed just as they had been.
12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us[f] from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their[g] wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
- Revelation 6:6 Or about 1 kilogram
- Revelation 6:6 Greek a denarius
- Revelation 6:6 Or about 3 kilograms
- Revelation 6:6 Greek a denarius
- Revelation 6:11 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in 12:10; 19:10.
- Revelation 6:16 See Hosea 10:8.
- Revelation 6:17 Some manuscripts his
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Through John’s gift of sanctified imagination we can dream of a different kind of world.
If the book of Revelation unveils the truth concerning God and his purposes in human history, it also unveils the often concealed reality of the tragedy of a fallen world. That world, dominated by the Roman Empire, was described by its rulers as ‘civilized’ and peaceful. Roman conquests and the spread and dominance of its culture were celebrated by writers and philosophers as signaling the end of history. This chapter shows a very different picture of the empire, revealing how it was experienced by masses of people on the underside of society, whether in the slums of Rome or in the countryside where absentee landlords controlled vast areas which they converted into profitable vineyards or olive groves.
The four horsemen of the apocalypse may seem strange to us, but every detail of this chapter would have been recognized by the first hearers as dramatically illustrating the circumstances of their lives. For example, the ‘black horse’ has a rider who holds ‘a pair of scales’ (vs 5,6). In AD 92 the Emperor Domitian attempted to control the endless expansion of vineyards which enriched their owners but led to poverty and hunger among peasant populations. The wealthy elite were outraged by this interference and the emperor had to withdraw his edict, leading to starvation and the situation described here: ‘A kilogram of wheat for a day’s wages … and do not damage the oil and the wine!’ (v 6).
The chapter describes the Christian martyrs in heaven crying out to God with the question asked by Israel’s psalmists in the past: ‘How long…?’ (v 10), but it ends with the promise that the righteous judgment of God will come to all humankind, including ‘the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals’ (vs 15–17).
Do we need to question official depictions of society when they conceal the reality of life among the poor and homeless?
Dear Lord, I offer my prayers for fellow believers who are suffering for the faith. I ask, Lord, for you to grant them greater strength and courage.
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