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Revelation 6:1-8; 7:9-17, Four Horsemen

Narrative Lectionary Summer Series, 2017 — The Book of Revelation Overview

Revelation 6:1-8, 7:9-17

St. John, Theologian Classic Art

St. John, Theologian Classic Art

This day's daily devotion is written by Dr. Kimberly Kace Leetch. 

The four horsemen of the apocalypse – is there any image more iconic or frightening than this? And perhaps most misrepresented, too. The opening of the scrolls is not the releasing of mortal destruction – it is a promise that the expectation of God’s power is imminent.

The first horse suggests that even the most powerful national defense cannot overpower a mighty God – a hopeful word to a community oppressed by a foreign national power.

The second horse suggests that even the rule of society cannot withstand the coming of Christ.

The third horse suggests that even wealth cannot withstand the forces of famine, drought, or poverty.

The fourth horse suggests that even life itself cannot withstand the inevitable death, for we all will die.

There is nothing in this world that can withstand the power of God. This does not mean we should fear God – quite the opposite – we can trust in a God that can topple the hierarchies of nations, society, and wealth. For those oppressed, starving, and poor, this is a word of hope to be sure!

In the end, all the nations come before the Lamb washed clean and worshiping God day and night. There will be no more crying – songs of praise will forever muffle cries of hunger and despair. In the end, God’s love wins.

Narrative Lectionary Text

Revelation 6:1-8, 7:9-17

The Seven Seals - Horsemen

Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer.

When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, ‘Come!’ And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword.

When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s pay, and three quarts of barley for a day’s pay, but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!’

When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, ‘Come!’ I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.

The Multitude from Every Nation

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ 
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing,
‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
For this reason they are before the throne of God,
   and worship him day and night within his temple,
   and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
   the sun will not strike them,
   nor any scorching heat; 
for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
   and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’