I watched as the Lamb broke open the first of the seven seals. I heard one of the four living creatures shout with a thunderous voice, “Come!* I looked and saw a white horse. Its rider was holding a bow. He was given a crown, and he rode out conquering so that he would be victorious.
When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Another horse came out, a red one. Its rider was given a large sword, and the power to take away peace from the earth so that people would slaughter one other.
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked and saw a black horse. Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. I heard what seemed to be a voice coming from among the four living creatures that said, “Two pounds of wheat cost a day's wages, and three pounds of barley cost the same. But don't damage the oil or the wine.”
When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked and saw a pale horse. The rider was called Death, and Hades followed him.§ They received authority over a quarter of the earth to kill people by the sword, by famine, by plague, and by wild beasts.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar those* who had been killed because of their dedication to the word of God and their faithful witness. 10 They cried out, shouting, “How long, Lord who is holy and true, before you will judge and bring to justice those on earth who spilled our blood?” 11 Each one of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait for a little longer until their number was completetheir fellow-believers and brothers who would be killed like them.
12 When he opened the sixth seal there was a tremendous earthquake. The sun turned black like hair sackcloth and the whole moon turned red like blood. 13 The stars of heaven fell to earth like unripe figs falling from a fig tree shaken by a windstorm.
14 The sky disappeared like a scroll rolling up, and all the mountains and islands were moved from where they were. 15 The kings of the earth, the great leaders, the wealthy, the powerful, and all people, slave or free, hid themselves in caves and among the rocks in the mountains. 16 They called on the mountains and the rocks, telling them, “Fall upon us! Hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne, and from the judgment of the Lamb. 17 For the terrible day of their judgment has come, and who can stand against it?”
* 6:1 The command could also be, “Go!” 6:6 Two pounds/three pounds—an approximate measurement. The Greek measure is about one quart, or just over one liter. The point being made here is just how expensive basic foods have become. 6:6 The command to the rider is not to inflict damage on these other staple food items. § 6:8 Hades—the Greek word for the grave, the place of the dead. * 6:9 “Those.” In the original the word means “lives,” often translated as “souls.” However, the Biblical concept of the “soul” references a living person (e.g. Genesis 2:7) and can die (Ezekiel 18:20) and is not the disembodied spirit of Hellenistic thought. Like many aspects in Revelation the fact that these dead martyrs should speak is symbolic rather than literal. 6:16 “Fall upon us! Hide us”: the reference is from Hosea 10:8. 6:16 Literally, “anger,” and in the following verse. However, this human emotion when applied to God can misrepresent what is meant here. The old term “wrath” includes something of the idea of judgment and punishment, but is obsolete. What is clearly happening here is the execution of God's judgment which is right and true, and does not fit with human aspects of anger that include “being mad” or “furious rage.”