Four Horsemen at the Gallop!
Vision 3—Revelation 6:1-17
Subject: The ride of the four horsemen, the martyred witnesses underneath the altar, and the great day of wrath
Time of fulfillment: From 1914 up to the destruction of this system of things
1. How does Jehovah reveal to John the contents of the intriguing scroll that Jesus opens?
IN THIS day of crisis, are we not intensely interested in “the things that must shortly take place”? Surely we are, for we ourselves are involved! So let us now accompany John as Jesus proceeds to open that intriguing scroll. Remarkably, John does not have to read it. Why not? Because its contents are conveyed to him “in signs” by a series of dynamic, action-packed scenes.—Revelation 1:1, 10.
2. (a) What does John see and hear, and what does the appearance of the cherub suggest? (b) To whom is the command of the first cherub addressed, and why do you so answer?
2 Listen to John as Jesus opens the first seal of the scroll: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice as of thunder: ‘Come!’” (Revelation 6:1) This is the voice of the first cherub. Its lionlike appearance would suggest to John that Jehovah’s organization will act with courage in executing His righteous judgments. And to whom is that command addressed? It could not be to John, for John has already been invited to share in these prophetic scenes. (Revelation 4:1) That “voice as of thunder” is calling forth other participants in the first of a series of four rousing episodes.
The White Horse and Its Illustrious Rider
3. (a) What does John now describe? (b) In harmony with Bible symbolism, what must the white horse picture?
3 John, and with him the zealous John class and companions of today, is privileged to see a fast-moving drama! John says: “And I saw, and, look! a white horse; and the one seated upon it had a bow; and a crown was given him, and he went forth conquering and to complete his conquest.” (Revelation 6:2) Yes, in answer to that thunderous “Come!” a white horse charges forth. In the Bible, the horse often symbolizes warfare. (Psalm 20:7; Proverbs 21:31; Isaiah 31:1) This horse, likely a beautiful stallion, gleams with a whiteness that indicates unblemished holiness. (Compare Revelation 1:14; 4:4; 7:9; 20:11.) How appropriate this is, for it portrays warfare that is clean and righteous in Jehovah’s holy eyes!—See also Revelation 19:11, 14.
4. Who is the Rider of the white horse? Explain.
4 Who is the Rider of this horse? He has a bow, an offensive weapon of war, but he is also given a crown. The only righteous ones seen wearing crowns during the Lord’s day are Jesus and the class represented by the 24 elders. (Daniel 7:13, 14, 27; Luke 1:31-33; Revelation 4:4, 10; 14:14)a It is unlikely that a member of the group of 24 elders would be pictured as receiving a crown on his own merit. Hence, this lone horseman must be Jesus Christ and no other. John sees him in heaven at the historic moment in 1914 when Jehovah declares, “I, even I, have installed my king,” and tells him that this is for the purpose “that I may give nations as your inheritance.” (Psalm 2:6-8)b Thus, in opening the first seal Jesus reveals how he himself, as the newly crowned King, sallies forth to war at God’s appointed time.
5. How does the psalmist describe the Rider in a way similar to Revelation 6:2?
5 This scene harmonizes beautifully with Psalm 45:4-7, addressed to the King enthroned by Jehovah: “And in your splendor go on to success; ride in the cause of truth and humility and righteousness, and your right hand will instruct you in fear-inspiring things. Your arrows are sharp—under you peoples keep falling—in the heart of the enemies of the king. God is your throne to time indefinite, even forever; the scepter of your kingship is a scepter of uprightness. You have loved righteousness and you hate wickedness. That is why God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.” Being familiar with that prophetic description, John would appreciate that it applies to Jesus’ activity as King.—Compare Hebrews 1:1, 2, 8, 9.
Going Forth Conquering
6. (a) Why must the Rider go forth conquering? (b) Through which years does the ride of conquest continue?
6 Why, though, must the newly crowned King ride forth to war? It is because his kingship is established in the face of bitter opposition from Jehovah’s chief adversary, Satan the Devil, and those on earth who—knowingly or unknowingly—serve Satan’s ends. The birth of the Kingdom itself calls for a major war in heaven. Fighting under the name Michael (meaning “Who Is Like God?”), Jesus overcomes Satan and his demons and hurls them down to the earth. (Revelation 12:7-12) Jesus’ ride of conquest continues through the opening decades of the Lord’s day while sheeplike humans are being gathered. Though the whole world still lies “in the power of the wicked one,” Jesus lovingly continues to shepherd his anointed brothers and their companions, helping each to achieve the conquest of faith.—1 John 5:19.
7. What conquests has Jesus made on earth in the first decades of the Lord’s day, and what should be our resolve?
7 What other conquests has Jesus made during the past 90-and-more years of the Lord’s day? Around the globe, individually and as a congregation, Jehovah’s people have experienced many hardships, pressures, and persecutions, similar to those described by the apostle Paul in giving proof of his ministry. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28) Jehovah’s Witnesses have needed “power beyond what is normal,” especially in theaters of war and violence, in order to endure. (2 Corinthians 4:7) But even in the most trying situations, faithful Witnesses have been able to say as did Paul: “The Lord stood near me and infused power into me, that through me the preaching might be fully accomplished.” (2 Timothy 4:17) Yes, Jesus conquered on their behalf. And he will continue to go forth conquering in our behalf, as long as we are resolved to complete our conquest of faith.—1 John 5:4.
8, 9. (a) In what conquests has the global congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses shared? (b) Where has growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses been truly outstanding?
8 The global congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has shared in many conquests under the guidance of its conquering King. Outstandingly, he protected these Bible Students from annihilation in 1918, when they themselves were ‘conquered’ temporarily by Satan’s political organization. In 1919, however, he broke prison bars to rescue them, and he then enlivened them to proclaim the good news “to the most distant part of the earth.”—Revelation 13:7; Acts 1:8.
9 Before and during World War II, the dictatorial Axis powers tried to wipe out Jehovah’s Witnesses in many lands where religious leaders, particularly those of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, gave open or tacit support to oppressive dictators. But the 71,509 Witnesses who were preaching when the war started in 1939 became 141,606 by its end in 1945, even though upwards of 10,000 had spent long years in prisons and concentration camps, and about 2,000 had been killed. The number of active Witnesses earth wide has expanded to over six million today. Growth has been outstanding in Catholic lands and in countries where persecutions were most bitter—such as Germany, Italy, and Japan, in which the Witnesses are now reporting a total of well over 600,000 active field ministers.—Isaiah 54:17; Jeremiah 1:17-19.
10. With what victories has the conquering King blessed his people “in the defending and legally establishing of the good news”?
10 Our conquering King has also blessed his zealous people by leading them to many victories “in the defending and legally establishing of the good news” in courts of law and before rulers. (Philippians 1:7; Matthew 10:18; 24:9) This has been on an international scale—in Australia, Argentina, Canada, Greece, India, Swaziland, Switzerland, Turkey, and other lands. Among 50 legal victories gained by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States Supreme Court have been those guaranteeing the right to declare the good news “publicly and from house to house” and to desist from idolatrous patriotic ceremonies. (Acts 5:42; 20:20; 1 Corinthians 10:14) Thus, the way has been kept open for an expanding global witness.
11. (a) How does the Rider “complete his conquest”? (b) What effect should the opening of the second, third, and fourth seals have upon us?
11 How does Jesus “complete his conquest”?c This he does, as we shall see, by disposing of false religion and then hurling every remaining segment of Satan’s visible organization into a symbolic “fiery lake” of destruction, in vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Confidently, we now look forward to that day at Armageddon when our “King of kings” will gain the final victory over Satan’s oppressive political organization! (Revelation 16:16; 17:14; 19:2, 14-21; Ezekiel 25:17) In the meantime, the invincible Conqueror on the white horse continues to ride forth as Jehovah keeps adding honesthearted ones to His righteous nation on earth. (Isaiah 26:2; 60:22) Are you sharing with the anointed John class in that joyful Kingdom expansion? In that event, what the apostle John sees when the next three seals are opened will no doubt stir you to have an even greater share in Jehovah’s work for this day.
Behold, the Fiery-Colored Horse!
12. What did Jesus say would mark his invisible presence as King?
12 Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, his disciples asked him privately: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” In reply, he foretold calamities that would be “a beginning of pangs of distress.” Said Jesus: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs.” (Matthew 24:3, 7, 8; Luke 21:10, 11) The things John sees when the remaining seals of the scroll are opened provide a remarkable parallel to that prophecy. Watch now as the glorified Jesus opens the second seal!
13. What contrast is about to become evident to John?
13 “And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say: ‘Come!’” (Revelation 6:3) It is the second cherub, with the appearance of a bull, that issues the command. Power is the quality here symbolized, but power used righteously. In contrast, though, John is now to see a hideous, death-dealing display of power.
14. What horse and rider does John next see, and what does this vision picture?
14 How, then, is this second summons to “Come!” answered? In this way: “And another came forth, a fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him.” (Revelation 6:4) A grim vision indeed! And there is no doubt as to what it pictures: war! Not the righteous, victorious warfare of Jehovah’s conquering King but cruel, man-made, international warfare with needless bloodshed and pain. How appropriate that this rider is mounted on a fire-red horse!
15. Why should we want no part of the ride of the second horseman?
15 Certainly, John would want no part with this horseman and his headlong ride, for it had been prophesied concerning God’s people: “Neither will they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) Though still “in the world,” John and, by extension, the John class and the great crowd today are “no part” of this bloodstained system. Our weapons are spiritual and “powerful by God” for actively proclaiming the truth, apart from carnal warfare.—John 17:11, 14; 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.
16. When and how was the rider of the red horse given “a great sword”?
16 There had been many wars before 1914, the year when the Rider of the white horse received his crown. But now the rider of the red horse is given “a great sword.” What does this imply? With the eruption of World War I, human warfare becomes more sanguinary, more destructive than ever before. During the 1914-18 bloodbath, tanks, poison gas, airplanes, submarines, huge cannons, and automatic weapons were used either for the first time or on an unprecedented scale. In some 28 nations, whole populations, not just professional soldiers, were pressed into the war effort. Casualties were horrendous. More than nine million soldiers were slaughtered, and civilian casualties were astronomical. Even with the end of the war, there was no return to real peace on earth. More than 50 years after that war, German statesman Konrad Adenauer commented: “Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914.” It was, indeed, granted to the rider of the fiery-colored horse to take peace away from the earth!
17. How has the use of the “great sword” continued, following World War I?
17 Then, with his thirst for blood whetted, the rider of the red horse plunged into World War II. Instruments of slaughter became ever more fiendish, and casualties skyrocketed to four times those of World War I. In 1945 two atom bombs burst over Japan, each one annihilating—in a flash—tens of thousands of victims. During the second world war, the rider of the red horse reaped a huge harvest of some 55 million lives, and even then he was not satisfied. It is reliably reported that well over 20 million souls have fallen under the “great sword” since World War II.
18, 19. (a) Rather than its being a triumph for military technology, to what fact is the slaughter since World War II a testimony? (b) What peril confronts mankind, but what will the Rider of the white horse do to offset it?
18 Could we call this a triumph for military technology? It is, rather, a testimony that the merciless red horse is at the gallop. And where will that gallop end? Some scientists speak of the possibility of an accidental nuclear war—let alone a planned nuclear conflagration! But happily the conquering Rider of the white horse has other thoughts about this.
19 As long as society is based on nationalistic pride and hatred, mankind must continue to sit on a keg of nuclear peril. Even if the nations, out of desperation, should scrap all nuclear firepower, they would retain the know-how. In short order, they could reproduce their murderous nuclear devices; hence, any war with conventional weapons could soon mushroom into a holocaust. The pride and hatred that envelop the nations today must lead to humanity’s suicide, unless—ah, yes, unless the Rider of the white horse should head off the mad gallop of the fiery-colored mount. Let us be confident that Christ the King will ride, both to complete his conquest over the world controlled by Satan and to establish a new earthly society based on love—love of God and neighbor—a force for peace far, far superior to the shaky nuclear deterrents of our maddened times.—Psalm 37:9-11; Mark 12:29-31; Revelation 21:1-5.
A Black Horse Plunges Forth
20. What assurance do we have that the Rider of the white horse will cope with any calamitous situation?
20 Jesus now opens the third seal! John, what do you observe? “And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say: ‘Come!’” (Revelation 6:5a) Happily, this third cherub “has a face like a man’s,” depicting the quality of love. Principled love will abound in God’s new world, even as that fine quality permeates all of Jehovah’s organization today. (Revelation 4:7; 1 John 4:16) We can be sure that the Rider of the white horse, who “must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet,” will lovingly remove the calamitous situation that is next brought to John’s scrutiny.—1 Corinthians 15:25.
21. (a) What is pictured by the black horse and its rider? (b) What proves that the black horse is still on the rampage?
21 What does John see, then, as the third summons to “Come!” is answered? “And I saw, and, look! a black horse; and the one seated upon it had a pair of scales in his hand.” (Revelation 6:5b) Stark famine! That is the dire message of this prophetic scene. It points forward to situations early in the Lord’s day when food must be rationed out by scales. Since 1914 famine has been a continuing worldwide problem. Modern warfare brings famine in its wake, for resources normally used in feeding the hungry are often diverted to supplying war weapons. Farm workers are conscripted, and battle-scarred fields and scorched-earth policies curtail food production. How true this was during the first world war, when millions suffered from hunger and died! Moreover, the rider of the black horse of hunger did not relent with the end of the war. During the 1930’s, five million perished in just one famine in the Ukraine. The second world war brought in its wake more food shortages and famines. As the black horse continued its gallop, The World Food Council reported in mid-1987 that 512 million humans were starving and that 40,000 children die of hunger-related causes every day.
22. (a) What does a voice say, expressing what need? (b) What is implied by the cost of a quart of wheat and of three quarts of barley?
22 John has more to tell us: “And I heard a voice as if in the midst of the four living creatures say: ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the olive oil and the wine.’” (Revelation 6:6) All four cherubs are united in expressing a need to watch food supplies carefully—just as the people had to “eat bread by weight and in anxious care” prior to Jerusalem’s destruction in 607 B.C.E. (Ezekiel 4:16) In John’s time, a quart of wheat was reckoned to be the daily ration for a soldier. How much would such a ration cost? One denarius—a whole day’s wage! (Matthew 20:2)d What if a man had a family? Well, he could buy three quarts of unpolished barley instead. Even that would feed only a small family. And barley was not viewed as a quality food such as wheat.
23. What is implied by the statement, “Do not harm the olive oil and the wine”?
23 What is implied by the statement, “Do not harm the olive oil and the wine”? Some have viewed it as meaning that while many would be short of food and even starving, the luxuries of the rich would not be harmed. But in the Middle East, oil and wine are not really luxuries. In Bible times, bread, oil, and wine were viewed as staples. (Compare Genesis 14:18; Psalm 104:14, 15.) Water was not always good, so wine was widely used for drinking and sometimes for medicinal purposes. (1 Timothy 5:23) With regard to oil, in Elijah’s day the widow of Zarephath, poor as she was, still had some oil left with which to cook her remaining flour. (1 Kings 17:12) Therefore, the command “do not harm the olive oil and the wine” appears to be advice not to use up these basic commodities too quickly but to be sparing in their use. Otherwise, they will be ‘harmed,’ that is, they will run out before the famine ends.
24. Why will the black horse not continue its gallop for much longer?
24 How happy we can be that the Rider of the white horse will soon rein in that galloping black horse! For it is written concerning His loving provision for the new world: “In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more. . . . There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Psalm 72:7, 16; see also Isaiah 25:6-8.
The Pale Horse and Its Rider
25. When Jesus opens the fourth seal, whose voice does John hear, and what does this indicate?
25 The story is not yet completely told. Jesus opens the fourth seal, and John tells us the result: “And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say: ‘Come!’” (Revelation 6:7) This is the voice of the cherub that resembles a flying eagle. Farsighted wisdom is indicated, and truly John, the John class, and all other earthly servants of God have needed to observe and act with insight in view of what is here depicted. So doing, we may find a measure of protection from the scourges that plague the worldly-wise of today’s proud, immoral generation.—1 Corinthians 1:20, 21.
26. (a) Who is the fourth horseman, and why is the color of his horse fitting? (b) Who is following the fourth horseman, and what happens to his victims?
26 What new horrors are unleashed, then, as the fourth horseman responds to the call? John tells us: “And I saw, and, look! a pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Hades was closely following him.” (Revelation 6:8a) The rider of the last horse has a name: Death. He is the only one of the four horsemen of Apocalypse to reveal his identity so directly. Fittingly, Death rides a horse that is pale, since the word pale (Greek, khlo·rosʹ) is used in Greek literature to describe faces that are blanched, as if by disease. Also fittingly, Death is closely followed in some unexplained manner by Hades (gravedom), since Hades receives to itself the greater number of those who fall victim to the ravages of the fourth horseman. Happily, for these there will be a resurrection, when ‘death and Hades give up those dead in them.’ (Revelation 20:13) But how does Death claim those victims?
27. (a) How does the rider Death claim his victims? (b) What is meant by “the fourth part of the earth” over which Death has authority?
27 The vision enumerates some of the ways: “And authority was given them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with a long sword and with food shortage and with deadly plague and by the wild beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8b) Not necessarily a literal fourth of earth’s population but a large portion of the earth, whether densely or sparsely inhabited, would be affected by this ride. This horseman reaps the victims of the big sword of the second horseman and the famines and food shortages of the third. He reaps his own harvest, too, from deadly plague and also a harvest from earthquakes, as described at Luke 21:10, 11.
28. (a) How has there been a fulfillment of prophecy concerning “deadly plague”? (b) How have Jehovah’s people been protected from many diseases today?
28 Of current importance here is “deadly plague.” Following in the wake of the ravages of World War I, the Spanish flu reaped over 20 million human lives in just a few months of 1918-19. The only territory on earth to escape this scourge was the small island of St. Helena. In places where the population was decimated, funeral pyres were lit to burn the piles of bodies. And today there is the frightful incidence of heart disease and cancer, much of which is caused by tobacco pollution. In what was described as “the ugly decade” of the 1980’s, a way of life that is lawless by Bible standards added the scourge of AIDS to the “deadly plague.” In the year 2000, the U.S. surgeon general was reported as calling AIDS “probably the worst health epidemic the world has ever known.” He said that 52 million people around the world had contracted HIV/AIDS, and of them 20 million had died. How thankful Jehovah’s people are that the wise counsel of his Word keeps them away from fornication and misuse of blood, through which so many diseases are transmitted today!—Acts 15:28, 29; compare 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
29, 30. (a) What application would the “four injurious acts” of Ezekiel 14:21 have today? (b) What may we understand by “the wild beasts” of Revelation 6:8? (c) What appears to be the main point of the prophetic scene?
29 John’s vision mentions wild beasts as a fourth cause of untimely death. Indeed, the four things featured by the opening of the fourth seal—warfare, famine, disease, and wild beasts—were in ancient times viewed as predominant causes of untimely death. So they would foreshadow all causes of untimely death today. It is just as Jehovah warned Israel: “So, too, it will be when there will be my four injurious acts of judgment—sword and famine and injurious wild beast and pestilence—that I shall actually send upon Jerusalem in order to cut off from it earthling man and domestic animal.”—Ezekiel 14:21.
30 Death by wild beasts has seldom made headlines in modern times, though in tropical countries wild animals have steadily claimed victims. In the future, they may claim even more if lands become desolated because of warfare or people become too emaciated by famine to fight off hungry animals. Additionally, there are many humans today who, like unreasoning animals, display beastly dispositions quite contrary to those described at Isaiah 11:6-9. These people are largely responsible for the global expansion of sex-related crimes, murder, terrorism, and bombings in the modern world. (Compare Ezekiel 21:31; Romans 1:28-31; 2 Peter 2:12.) The fourth horseman reaps their victims too. Indeed, the main point of this prophetic scene appears to be that the rider of the pale horse harvests untimely death of mankind in many ways.
31. Despite the ravages caused by the riders of the red, black, and pale horses, why may we be encouraged?
31 The information revealed by the opening of the first four seals reassures us because it teaches us not to despair at the warfare, hunger, disease, and other causes of untimely death that are so rampant today; neither should we lose hope because human leaders have failed to solve current problems. If world conditions make it evident that the riders of the red, black, and pale horses are abroad, do not forget that the Rider of the white horse was first to begin his ride. Jesus has become King, and he has already conquered to the extent of casting Satan out of the heavens. His further conquests have included his gathering out the remaining ones of the sons of spiritual Israel and the international great crowd, numbering into the millions, for survival through the great tribulation. (Revelation 7:4, 9, 14) His ride must continue until he completes his conquest.
32. What characterizes the opening of each of the first four seals?
32 The opening of each of the first four seals has been followed by the summons: “Come!” Each time, a horse and its rider came charging forth. Starting with the fifth seal, we no longer hear such a summons. But those horsemen are still riding, and they will continue at the gallop throughout the conclusion of the system of things. (Compare Matthew 28:20.) What other momentous events does Jesus reveal as he opens the remaining three seals? Some of the happenings are invisible to human eyes. Others, though visible, are yet future. Nevertheless, their fulfillment is certain. Let us see what they are.
b For detailed proof that Jesus came into his Kingdom in 1914, see pages 215-18 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
c While many translations render this phrase “to conquer” (Revised Standard, The New English Bible, King James Version) or “bent on conquest” (Phillips, New International Version), the use of the aorist subjunctive here in the original Greek gives a sense of completion or finality. Hence, Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament comments: “The aorist tense here points to ultimate victory.”
d See New World Translation Reference Bible, footnote.
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The King Rides Victorious
During the 1930’s and 1940’s, determined enemies tried to make it appear that the ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses was illegal, criminal, or even subversive. (Psalm 94:20) In the year 1936 alone, there were 1,149 arrests recorded in the United States. The Witnesses fought many legal cases all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and following are some of their outstanding victories.
On May 3, 1943, the Supreme Court in the case of Murdock v. Pennsylvania decided that the Witnesses did not need a license in order to place literature for money. On that same day, the decision in the case of Martin v. City of Struthers held that it was not unlawful to ring doorbells while participating in the door-to-door distribution of handbills and other advertising matter.
On June 14, 1943, the Supreme Court decided in the Taylor v. Mississippi case that the Witnesses did not encourage disloyalty to the government by their preaching. On that same day, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Court held that a school board did not have the right to expel from school children of Jehovah’s Witnesses who refused to salute the flag. The very next day, the full High Court of Australia removed that country’s ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses, this being declared “arbitrary, capricious and oppressive.”
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“Granted to Take Peace Away From the Earth”
Where is technology leading? The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, January 22, 1987, reported the following from a speech by Ivan L. Head, president of the International Development Research Centre:
“It is reliably estimated that one out of every four scientists and technologists in the world engaged in research and development is working on weapons. . . . At 1986 rates, the expenditure is more than $1.5-million a minute. . . . Are we all more secure as a result of this kind of technological emphasis? The nuclear arsenals possessed by the superpowers contain the explosive force of all the munitions expended by all the combatants in all of the Second World War—times 6,000. Six thousand Second World Wars. Since 1945, there have been less than seven weeks when the world has been free of military activity. There have been more than 150 wars of an international or a civil nature, which are estimated to have claimed 19.3 million lives, most of them as the result of the efficient new technologies that have emerged in this era of the United Nations.”
By the year 2005, military activity had claimed well over 20 million lives.
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The Framework of the Book of Revelation
Having progressed thus far in our discussion of the book of Revelation, we begin to see more clearly the book’s framework. After its rousing introduction (Revelation 1:1-9), Revelation can be viewed as divided into 16 visions as follows:
1ST VISION (1:10–3:22): John sees by inspiration the glorified Jesus, who sends warm messages of counsel to the seven congregations.
2ND VISION (4:1–5:14): A magnificent view of the heavenly throne of Jehovah God. This One hands a scroll to the Lamb.
3RD VISION (6:1-17): Breaking open the first six seals of the scroll, the Lamb progressively reveals a composite vision of events due to happen in the Lord’s day. The four horsemen of Apocalypse ride forth, God’s martyred slaves receive white robes, and the great day of wrath is described.
4TH VISION (7:1-17): Angels hold back the winds of destruction until the 144,000 of spiritual Israel are sealed. A great crowd out of all nations attribute salvation to God and Christ and are gathered for survival through the great tribulation.
5TH VISION (8:1–9:21): At the opening of the seventh seal, there are seven trumpet blasts, the first six of which comprise the fifth vision. These six trumpet blasts herald expressions of Jehovah’s judgment on mankind. The fifth and sixth trumpets also introduce the first and second woes.
6TH VISION (10:1–11:19): A strong angel gives John a little scroll, the temple is measured, and we learn the experiences of the two witnesses. It climaxes with the blowing of the seventh trumpet, which heralds the third woe for God’s enemies—the incoming Kingdom of Jehovah and of his Christ.
7TH VISION (12:1-17): This describes the birth of the Kingdom, resulting in Michael’s hurling the serpent, Satan, down to the earth.
8TH VISION (13:1-18): The powerful wild beast comes out of the sea, and the beast with two horns like a lamb urges mankind to worship it.
9TH VISION (14:1-20): A splendid foreview of the 144,000 on Mount Zion. Angelic messages are heard around the earth, the vine of the earth is reaped, and the winepress of God’s anger is trodden.
10TH VISION (15:1–16:21): Another glimpse of the heavenly court, followed by the pouring out of the seven bowls of Jehovah’s anger into the earth. This section, too, ends with a prophetic description of the end of Satan’s system.
11TH VISION (17:1-18): The great harlot, Babylon the Great, rides a scarlet-colored wild beast, which goes briefly into the abyss but comes forth again and devastates her.
12TH VISION (18:1–19:10): The fall and final destruction of Babylon the Great are announced. After her execution, some mourn, others praise Jehovah; the marriage of the Lamb is announced.
13TH VISION (19:11-21): Jesus leads the armies of heaven to execute God’s wrathful judgment on Satan’s system, its armies, and its supporters; carrion birds feast on their corpses.
14TH VISION (20:1-10): The abyssing of Satan the Devil, the Thousand Year Reign of Christ and his fellow kings, mankind’s final test, and the destruction of Satan and his demons.
15TH VISION (20:11–21:8): The general resurrection and the great Judgment Day; a new heaven and a new earth appear, with eternal blessings for righteous mankind.
16TH VISION (21:9–22:5): Revelation is climaxed with a glorious vision of New Jerusalem, the Lamb’s wife. God’s provision of healing and life for mankind flows from that city.
Revelation concludes with warm words of greeting and counsel from Jehovah, Jesus, the angel, and John himself. The invitation to everyone is “Come!”—Revelation 22:6-21.