THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE DAY OF THE LORD (6:1). 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!” The opening of the first seal begins the Day of the LORD. The first occurrence of this eschatological phrase paints a vivid picture of what it will be like.
Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man’s heart will melt. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. See, the day of the LORD is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.
The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger (Isaiah 13:6-13).
Each of the four living creatures is associated with the Lamb’s opening of the first four seals of the Title Deed to the Earth. The living creatures’ voice like thunder indicates that judgment has begun. The gentle Lamb turns fierce with His wrath.
The Lamb opens the seven seals one at a time, revealing the contents of each seal (Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1). Now Christ unseals the history of the last days that He had closed and sealed earlier:
He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand (Daniel 12:9-10).
THE FIRST SEAL: THE WHITE HORSE AND ITS RIDER (6:2).
Historicists place the white horse and its rider in the period of Roman imperialism (the Golden Age or Indian Summer) from the death of Domitian (A.D. 96) to the peace made by Commondus with Germans in A.D. 180.
Some Preterists believe that nothing happens until all seven seals are opened. The most chapters six and seven do is introduce the reader to the main characters, forces and circumstances. Others believe breaking the first seal starts the progression of events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Idealists believe the four horses do not “come” at all, but are simply revealed to view. The imagery of the first seal represents the preaching of the gospel and its success. The victorious Christ is riding out to conquer.
A few futurists see Christ as its rider; others suggest the rider is a personification of government in the last days of the Gentiles. The vast majority believe its rider is the Antichrist riding forth to conquer the world.
Often the triumphant conqueror rode a white horse in the ancient world. Alexander the Great and Napoleon rode white horses. Consequently, one should not identify this rider as Christ simply because He will return from heaven on a white horse:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war (Revelation 19:11).
The only similarity between these two riders is the white horse. Everything in this chapter points to the unfolding of disasters. The tribulation comes in like a lamb but goes out like a lion—the calm before the storm.
Here the crown (stephaons) indicates conquest, not the legitimate sovereignty of a diadema crown. The rider on the white horse is a great deceptive leader, subduing the world by peaceful means, symbolized by the bow without arrows. Christ is always symbolized as having a sword, not a bow (Revelation 1:16; 19:15, 21).
At first, the Antichrist will be the insignificant eleventh king who rises to power during the time of the Revived Roman Empire.
While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully (Daniel 7:8).
“Eyes like of a man” suggest this king is an intellectual genius with penetrating insight and discernment. “A mouth that spoke boastfully” suggests persuasive oratory skills, while at the same time blasphemes God. This little horn is the Man of Lawlessness (the Beast, the Antichrist) of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4:
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
While the Antichrist conquers by the power of the dragon, who is Satan (Revelation 13:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10), he does nothing that is not within the will and plans of God, who overrules evil for good. Just as Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar were instruments in God’s hands, so will it be when the Antichrist appears. He will rise from the ranks, like a Napoleon or Hitler, until he wears the crown.
Scripture makes it clear that Satan is the one who gives Antichrist a crown (Daniel 8:24; 11:38-39; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; Revelation 13:2, 4). The Antichrist is the only person predicted in Scripture as going forth “conquering and to conquer” at this particular time, beginning Daniel’s Seventh Seven (Daniel 7:7-8, 20-21, 23-24; 8:23-25; 9:27; 11:36-45). If this is not the predicted Antichrist, where is this person in Revelation?
The rider on the white horse is the Willful King of Daniel 11:36-39:
The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.
Communications and economics are propelling the peoples of the earth toward a one-world government. Interdependence among nations, especially the European Union, is growing rapidly.
This rider is “the ruler who will come” of Daniel 9:26, who is to head up the Revived Roman Empire (Beast out of the Sea of Revelation 13) and ultimately becomes the world ruler. Once his rise to power begins, there will be no stopping this Rider on the White Horse once his rise to power begins. Much can be gleaned from the Scriptures concerning the Willful King, who is popularly called the Antichrist.