"The Fourth Seal - Page Two" by Tricia Tillin
Are We Hearing the Hoofbeats of the Pale Rider?
What Are The Seals?
More times than I can count in the bible, God rebukes his errant people, warning them of his three-fold judgement, "famine, pestilence and the sword" For instance Jeremiah 24:10 "I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their ancestors." Also Ezekiel 5:17 "I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will leave you childless. Plague and bloodshed will sweep through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I the LORD have spoken."
On other occasions, God adds a FOURTH disaster - wild beasts - to these three. These terrible judgements were a result of Israel turning her back on her Lord and worshipping idols. So it's no surprise to see the warning yet again in the Book of Revelation after Israel turned her back on Jesus: Revelation 6:8 "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."
We've already seen three of the seals being opened! As some of you will know, I differ from the traditional opinion, in believing we are already in the time of the opening of the seals of Revelation. Anyone curious about my viewpoint of the endtimes should have a good look around my Birthpangs website, and perhaps it would be useful to glance at this chart which accompanies my lengthy article on Revelation and Yom Kippur in the Temple.
I have also now added an important page to my website and blog titled "Nailing My Rapture Colours to the Mast", my personal take on the pre-trib debate.
*** My blog is found here: https://bannerministries.wordpress.com/posts/
In short, I do not hold to the conventional pre-seven-year rapture position. I am what you might call a "mid-seal rapturist". Nonetheless I DO believe in the rapture of the Church! However, rather than go over my reasons at this point, I will dive straight into the subject at hand, the fourth seal.
The Sealed Scroll
Those of you who are familiar with Chapter 6 of Revelation know that almost the first event in Heaven seen by the apostle John was Jesus taking a sealed scroll and one by one opening the seals. It has been disputed for years what this scroll might be, but most believe it is the scroll of the 'lost inheritance'.
Andrew Robert Fausset (b.1821-1910) explains, "The roll contains the successive steps by which He shall recover from its usurper [satan] possession of the kingdom already 'purchased' for Himself and His elect". (His books here)
Clarence Larkin in his classic "The Book of Revelation" (1919) writes:
"When Adam sinned he lost his inheritance of the earth, and it passed out of his hands into the possession of Satan, to the disinheritance of all of Adam's seed. The forfeited Title Deed is now in God's hands and is awaiting redemption. Its redemption means the legal repossession of all that Adam lost by the Fall."
So the Book of Revelation is all about the events leading up to and following that Redemption. Faithful Israel is still waiting to receive the fulness of all her promises, and an earthly inheritance. And the Body of Christ is still waiting for the Day of Redemption, the adoption, when we are taken either dead or alive to the Throne of God. (The Rapture). We have already been purchased by the blood of Jesus, and have received the seal or mark of ownership (The Holy Spirit), but the purchased possession will not be redeemed until the final day.
The Book of Life
No wonder John "wept much" (Revl 5:4) when he thought nobody could be found worthy to break the seals and therefore to announce that Day! But before that Day can come we have to witness the breaking of each seal. Before the scroll's contents can be read and announced (both in terms of Blessing and Wrath - Life and Death) it needs to be unrolled and have its seven seals broken.
In that, it's similar to the "Book of Life and Death" that was unrolled on the Day of Atonement in the Temple ceremonies. From the beginning of the month, all Israel would fast, pray and make amends in order to be written into the Book of Life on that day. Whosoever failed to be cleansed and entered into the Book was shut out, and faced the wrath of God. SEE HERE
I believe we have been living through the gradual unfolding of those seal events. Briefly, we have seen the first three spirit-beings sent out with seven-year intervals:
- First Seal - Antichrist Spirit of Dominion begins his work, starting in Toronto. Spirit of Delusion loosed. 1994 (See Note)
- Second Seal - Peace removed from the earth as a result of 9/11 - Spirit of Strife loosed 2001
- Third Seal - Financial stability removed and economic downturn begins - Spirit of Want loosed 2008
- Fourth Seal - Deathliness from various sources, pestilence, warfare, and famine
In each case, a spirit-being has been despatched from heaven by one of the Living Creatures there. These horse riders are not human beings but unearthly powers, loosed with power to do God's bidding, In each case, one of the four fundamental blessings God gave to earth is removed, as a result of man's arrogance and ungodliness:
- First Seal - Fellowship with, and knowledge of, God removed - man descends into spiritual darkness
- Second Seal - Peace, love and and unity removed - mankind descends into racial, tribal and international hatred
- Third Seal - Provision, Fertility and the goodness of the earth removed - man's greed brings loss, debt and want of all kinds
- Fourth Seal - Health, long life and security removed - replaced by insecurity, fear, disease and premature death of all kinds.
Remember - Each seal has "loosed" the spirit that brings judgement, but the full effects are only seen after time. The seal events does not happen all of a sudden, right there and then.
For example, the spirit of apostasy loosed in 1994 reached a fairly small number at that time but has now "gone global" and touched nearly every church. Similarly, the warlike spirit loosed at the watershed moment of 9/11 is increasingly in power and influence daily. The 2008 financial crash produced a different kind of world, and instability that has never been resolved. The 2015 event may not - at the time - be seen for what it truly is, the loosing of death and hell with no relenting. But in a short space of time those powers WILL make their presence felt.
The Seven-Year Interval
So we come to the opening of the seals. Much of this I have already written in my extensive study on that subject. When I first wrote that article on the seals we had only just witnessed the terrors of 9/11. It was on the basis of that, and the game-changing events in the churches of 1993/4, that I suggested we had entered the time of the opening of the seals. Since I began to write, many years have passed, during none of which have I have seen a deviation from the pattern I had seen.
However, what I did not know at that time - could not have known by the events alone - was that exactly seven years would pass between each seal!
This became more obvious when we suffered a Global Recession that almost bankrupted some nations and reverberates around the globe to this day. For that recession sparked off by the collapse of the Stock Market in 2008 happened SEVEN YEARS after the terrorist attack of 2001. (I subsequently wrote about the third seal and you can find that article HERE.)
Thus, we come to 2015, seven years after 2008. (God's timetable is different to that of westernised man. Israel's new year begins in our Autumn, in September/October.)
Remember that the bible says that it is Jesus who looses the seals, whereupon each rider receives a commission from the heavenly living creatures to go out and do the work of God. It is JESUS who "holds the keys of Death and Hades" having snatched them from Satan at the time of the crucifixion. So it is Jesus who can summon and command these powers to go do their deadly work on the earth. [Rev 1:18]
Pestilence, or More?
The classic view of the "four horsemen of the apocalypse" is that the fourth horse means plague. Actually, the scripture in Revelation is not as specific as many suggest. It is simply ASSUMED that the fourth, corpse-like, horse and riders are all about "pestilence". In the most reliable text, pestilence is not even mentioned, but the word "death" is used. All kinds of deathly powers are authorised to be used, including sword, hunger and beasts - not just plague as is so often said.
But let's take a look at the two lists of judgements, one according to Jesus in the gospels and the other according to Jesus in Revelation. (also see here for example)
|Words of Jesus in Gospels||Book of Revelation||Actual Events|
|Deception, false christs, false prophets||Antichrist apostasy given liberty to conquer||"The Spirit" descends, January 1994|
|Wars, Rumours of wars, nations & kingdoms in conflict||Violence, murder, peace removed||Twin Towers, September 2001|
|Famine in many places||Food and basics cost much more; hardship||Banking & Trade struck, September 2008|
|Troubles, Earthquakes, Pestilence||Sword, hunger, death, beasts||Terrorism, War & Antibiotic Resistance 2015|
Another fascinating fact is how closely the seven-year pattern fits that of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
1. 1994 - Oslo Accords - PA born (Palestine Authority)
2. 2001 - Gaza renews attack on Israel
3. 2008 - Gaza War begins (2008-2009)
4. 2015 - "Wave of Terror" attacks on Israel. (War looming?)
Are These Jewish Sabbatical Years?
According to many Jewish websites, the year on the Jewish calendar, 5775 (Sept. 24, 2014–Sept. 13, 2015), is a Sabbatical year. One such site explains that "The year following the destruction of the second Holy Temple (3829 from creation, equivalent to 68–69 CE) was the first year of the seven-year Sabbatical cycle. We continue counting sevens from then". The last day is called Elul 29 which is our 13th September 2015. It is the last day of the Jewish year. The next Jewish year which begins 14th Sept is the Jubilee (some say) up to Sept 2016.
This would also make the seal dates as I have designated them (1994, 2001, 2001 as well as 2015) sabbatical years, or "release years" (Shemitah years). I did not know that when I wrote my study, and I still do not know if this system is universally accepted in Israel, nor indeed if it accords with the biblical sabbatical years as instigated by GOD - because in my opinion, that is what really counts. God's timetable, not ours.
When I studied the Jubilees, like many others I found it was near impossible to be certain about the years, as so much has been lost throughout the years. The Jews themselves do not celebrate the Jubilee as such, and do not really know when to do so. Any guesswork is just that! How reliable are these dates therefore?
For sure, when I wrote my study on the seals, I would have been overjoyed to find out that each year landed exactly on a Shemitah year! But I did not concern myself with anything beyond the bible text, and Israel's known history. So - this is an interesting addition to my study but not conclusive.
The Four Quarters
In Revelation, I have perceived that the four seals, the four horses and their riders, form a biblical pattern that limits their influence and authority to certain areas or nations. In Zechariah 6, we also see the coloured horses sent out from heaven having specific authority over a certain area:
Zech 6:5-8 And the angel answered and said to me, "These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth. The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white are going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country. Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And He said, "Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth." So they walked to and fro throughout the earth. And He called to me, and spoke to me, saying, "See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country."
Similarly, the four horses of Revelation seem to have authority over the four quarters of earth, although our globe is not now divided neatly into four quarters. For instance, what we call "The West" now includes many nations including New Zealand and Australia, America, Canada, the UK, Europe and other areas of the globe.
The four quarters are more likely the four main genetic groupings on earth, the white 'Caucasian' races, the black 'Negroid' races, the Eastern 'Mongoloid' races and some would add the 'Australoid' races. [Source]
Authority on Earth
It would perhaps be more biblically accurate to see the four quarters of the earth as the inheritance of Noah and his three sons. Noah himself (it has been claimed) became the father of the Far Eastern races. Of the others we know from Genesis 10, that Shem was the forefather of the middle peoples (Semitic Arabian). Shem is traditionally held to be the ancestor of the Semitic people; Hebrews and Arabs consider themselves sons of Shem through Arpachshad (thus, Semites). Ham was the forefather of the southern Hammitic (black) peoples and Japheth, the forefather of the northern peoples (Japhetic Eurasian).
Thus the four quarters or races involved in the four seals would be in general:
(1) The westernised nations of Japheth, ie. white Europeans and the nations to which they emigrated.
(2) The Semitic groupings of the Middle East
(3) The Hammitic black races, especially in Africa
(4) The Far Eastern countries, oriental races.
Notice further that the colours of these four groupings exactly matches the colours of the four horses:
(1) White Europeans = WHITE
(2) Semitic races = RED
(3) Hammitic races = BLACK
(4) Oriental races = pale GREEN [livid]
How this relates precisely to the four horsemen of Revelation is not known. Is each seal judgement aimed at or originating from a particular people? If so, thus far we have seen the Westernised world afflicted by APOSTASY - seal one - the Semitic/Arabic and suchlike nations afflicted by WAR-TERRORISM and all kind of brutality by the sword, removing what peace they once had - seal two - the black races have suffered FAMINE, WANT AND LOSS - seal three - so are we looking at a springboard event starting in the Far East to loose death and hell there? Now in November 2015 China announced the discovery of antibiotic-resistant diseases for the very first time!
Verse 8 of Revl 6 does seems to imply a regional authority:
Rev 6:7-8 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see."So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.
This statement is somewhat ambiguous. To what does "them" refer? Does it mean:
1. All four of the horsemen collectively
2. Just the fourth seal twosome
Also, does the 'power' that is, the authority to act refer to:
3. All four collectively having authority over one quarter of the earth, or
4. Each of the four individually have authority over one quarter of the earth, or
5. Just Death and Hades alone having authority over a quarter of the earth, or
6. Merely a fourth of the earth's present population in general
Are these beings really from God?
Some might object to these hellish personalities of Death and Hades (worshipped as gods in John's day) being commanded by God. But what does the bible say?
Rev 1:18 I [Jesus] am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
1 Cor 15:55-57 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
WHO has the keys of Death and Hades? WHO has already won the victory over these powers, and therefore has them at his command? The Lord Jesus Christ! These are not two satanic powers working under their own command, doing as they will. No, they are on a strict leash and commanded by GOD.
Signs in the Sky
I pointed out in my earlier work that each seal was personified by both a pagan god and a planet named from the god. And, it is of more than passing interest that in each case a significant event occurred relating to that planet in the same year that its seal was opened.
- 1994 - JUPITER. Comet Shoemaker-Levy collided with Jupiter in July 1994 making a spectacular display
- 2001 - MARS. July-October 2001: the biggest global dust storm seen on Mars for decades. The extraordinary storm enveloped the Red Planet for three months. Also April 7, 2001 Mars Odyssey, a robotic spacecraft that now orbits Mars, was launched reaching orbit on October 24, 2001
- 2008 - MERCURY. The first spacecraft to reach Mercury did so in 2008. It was called Messenger, named after the god Mercury who was the "Messenger of the gods". It reached Mercury and made a flyby in January 2008, followed by a second flyby in October 2008.
- 2015 - SATURN and PLUTO. The New Horizons spacecraft reached Pluto in late 2015. This is the first craft ever to reach Pluto. We may yet see other displays in Saturn and Pluto as time goes on.
Eclipses in those years
- 1994 May: total solar eclipse
- 2001 Jan and June: two total eclipses - both sun and moon
- 2008 February and August, again two total eclipses - both sun and moon.
- 2015 April and September (lunar) and March (solar) - three total eclipses!
Seven Year Pattern to continue?
I have wondered whether there will be another seven-year interval before the opening of the fifth seal, which relates to the words of Jesus about persecution, hatred, martyrdom and also gospel preaching around the world.
However, for some reason I feel that the first four seals were a "set" and that after the fourth seal is opened we progress into a different time-scale but I have no real basis for that, other than the nearness of the times and the increasing severity of events.
One other hint to the pattern is the course of natural birthpangs (since we are heading towards the birth of the male child of Revelation and his catching away to Heaven). the period we are now in is what Jesus called the "beginning of sorrows" or "pangs":
Matt 24:3 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the BEGINNING of sorrows...."
"Sorrows or pangs" in Greek is odin (o-deen'); a pang or throe, especially of childbirth. The KJV translates it as pain, sorrow, travail. We notice that Jesus did not describe these early birthpangs as "The Tribulation"!!! Jesus did not even hint that this time period was a PART of what is called "The Tribulation". NOR did he give a specific time-scale for any of this, except that it had to come BEFORE "the end".
Then secondly, speaking to the disciples and addressing them as YOU, Jesus says:
 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
Now comes a short sharp time of trouble for believers, which is described as "tribulation". What does the word signify? In Greek tribulation = thlipsis (thlip'-sis); pressure (literally or figuratively): KJV - affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble. From the root thlibo (thlee'-bo); to press in the crowd KJV - afflict, narrow, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble. And from tribo (to "rub") as to wear down a pathway in the dirt.
So, before the END (that is, the end of the age of which the disciples enquired) must come a series of birthpangs, like the period of time before the birth of a new baby into the world.
Before the Remnant of Israel can come into existence like "a nation born in a day" Isaiah 66:8 there must come sorrows - which is only another word for "birthpangs". This time of intense pressure, trouble and anxiety is when Israel and all those who trust in God will be tested as to their faith and have to endure persecution and even martyrdom for the sake of the gospel.
The process of normal childbirth is categorized in three stages of labour: the shortening and dilation of the cervix, descent and birth of the infant, and the placenta being expelled.
The first stage of labour is a waiting game, when the mother's body is making physical preparations for the baby to be born. The increasing severity of the "pressure" is what the woman of Revelation is experiencing in her "tribulation" (see my explanation of that word above). It is often trouble and tribulation, acute pressure, that brings people to their senses and causes them to turn to God. That is what Israel needs to do if she is ever to return to her God and King!
The star-crowned woman of Revelation is faithful Israel under severe pressure from her enemies. Her baby is what we call the "remnant" of Israel who accept the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus for their salvation and are taken to heaven along with all other believers at the Rapture. The woman herself does not accept Jesus as Messiah until he "woes her" in her wilderness hideout and brings her to faith.
Hosea 2:14-15 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, And the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
During these days we are undergoing the first pangs of the initial phase of labour. I believe the first four seals are Stage One. All being made ready, at the end of this phase time is speeded up. There is a transition between Stage One and Stage Two which is more severe but lasts a shorter time. "the time will be shortened for the sake of the elect".(Mark 13:20)
Stage Two is then about actually birthing the baby into the world. Great effort and dedication are required, but quite quickly the effort is rewarded by joy! Spiritually-speaking, the joy is seeing the sign of the Son of Man in the skies and knowing that all our troubles are over at last.
As Jesus told his disciples:
John 16:21-23 "Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you."
So with that in mind I wonder if there will no longer be a seven-year gap before Seal Five starts to be felt. In any case, the results of that seal are seen in Heaven by John, where there is no time. It could refer to a sudden event or a long period of history, we do not really know. When did the martyrs arrive, and who are they? We are not told. the most instructive part of those verses is:
Rev 6:11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
"Fellow-servants and brethren" suggests Christians, ones who serve the Lord and are joined in the Body of Christ. For instance in Col 4:7 the Christian Tychius is called "our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord". These could be all the Christian martyrs of history, or just recent ones. John does not tell us. What he does tell us, however, is that there will be another time of martyrdom before relief will come.
What I have written is to suggest that we are moving into the time when the fourth seal judgement will be loosed on earth. We may or may not have seen the early indications of what is to come. Whether there are different events yet to unfold, we will have to wait and see. We may get another more obvious heads-up in the shape of a dramatic event that impacts the world during 2015, or we may just see today's events escalate.
Whatever happens, we do need to be prayerful and making sure that we are not caught off guard. Complacency might be fatal at this point.
Mark 13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch!
- "The Beginning of Sorrows" series: are we in the time of the opening of the seals?
- "The Third Seal" series: specifically dealing with the events of 2008 and beyond
- "The Fourth Seal: Update" - covering the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020
- "The Countdown Has Begun" how the Israeli-Palestinian peace process marks off the years.
- "The Tribulation - Another Look" going back to the roots of scriptural interpretation.
- READ MORE ARTICLES starting from this Article Index Page
NOTE - Birth of Christ: The beginning of the End came on the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ. When Dionysius Exiguus computed the date of Christ's birth in the Middle Ages, he named the year of the Nativity 1 A.D., and stated that Jesus' birthdate was December 25 of that year. The year immediately before this was the year 1 B.C. Whether from mathematical ignorance or design, he did not include a year zero. To complicate matters further, it seems that Dionysius' made an error in his calculations. Herod the Great, who the Bible says was alive at the time of Christ's birth, died in the year 4 B.C., based on the reports of Josephus. According to the Gospel of Matthew, when Herod was unable to trick the astrologers into leading him to the Child, he ordered the slaughter of all the male babies in Bethlehem. Since Herod's command (which is not attested outside the Gospels, but is consistent with his historical character) was to kill all babies under age 2, this event occurred no more than 2 years after Christ's birth. If we assume that this happened near the end of Herod's life (which seems likely), this puts Christ's birth in the year 5 or 6 B.C. In that case, the 2000th anniversary of Christ's birth would be in 1993 or 1994. I believe this is why the first seal was opened at that time.
© 2015 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.