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Among other topics, he discusses the canon, the value of the Bible as historical evidence, the Bible's witness to the faith, and the place of Scripture And then at the other end of the book, chapter 22 verse 17, the Holy Spirit says the very same thing the four living creatures say in our text. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! And so with Darrell Johnson, I think a good case can be made that the cries of the four living creatures in verses 1 to 8, likewise call for the coming not of the four apocalyptic horsemen that will feature in our text per say, but for the coming of Jesus Christ in judgment or in deliverance.

Creation itself, you will remember from last time, that the four living creatures symbolize creation itself. Creation is calling out for the coming of Christ. You know whenever the President of the United States goes almost anywhere there is an advance team that he sends ahead of him to prepare for his arrival. The president is coming and the advance team goes ahead to prepare for the great event. That is what these four horsemen are.

Each of them appears as a different seal is opened. They are the advance team of the Christ who is coming.

Sealed In Christ: The Symbolism of the Seal of the Presbyterian Church, USA

Would you look at them with me? First in verse 2 is a crowned and conquering rider on a white horse. Some people think this is Christ because later in the book He is described as riding on a white horse. The second horseman in verses 3 and 4 rides, notice, a red horse. He takes peace away. He is war and conflict, violence unleashed all over the world. The third in verses 5 to 7 rides a black horse. He carries a pair of scales in his hand. A voice announces that a quart of staple grains like wheat or three quarts of barley is being sold for a denarius.

Luxuries like oil or wine are untouched. The poorest face crippling economic demands while the richest can easily enjoy both necessities and luxuries — the grain and the wine and the oil, out of reach to everyone else. Turn on your TV screens! Politicians and pestilence, bullets and bacteria. John is showing us the world we know all too well.

This is life between the first and final coming of Jesus Christ. And so the four horsemen ride across history with devastating power.

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The forerunners, the advance team of the final, great day. They are anticipatory warning signs. They are the advance team designed to help the people of God get ready. With a realistic look, John gives us an honest evaluation of what it means to dwell in the hostile environment of a world opposed to the rule and reign of King Jesus. The point of this part of the text is preparation. Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you.

This is what it means. This right here is what it means to live in the world between the comings. He is coming. Get ready! And see in all the sufferings this side of glory the warning signs. So be prepared! It is given! That is to say, even the worst of the worst, even the darkest of the darkness, is ordered and bounded and constrained by the purpose and decree of Almighty God. Evil is chained and made to serve greater ends than it knows. You remember His interview with Pilate on the night of His trial. Even they must work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

These four horsemen remind us Christ is coming soon, so saddle up, get ready, because this is what life looks like between the comings.

But do so comforted in the knowledge that even the very worst of it is bounded, governed, and superintended by the hand of a good God. Then secondly, look at verses 9 to 11 and notice the theme this time of perseverance. First preparation; now perseverance. How long before you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? It endures them. Do you see that? It perseveres through them, through life while the four horsemen ride across the world. They have taken hold of that for which God has taken hold of them.

And yet for all their victory in glory, at last, do notice they are nevertheless still grieving over the continued presence of evil in a world where King Jesus is Lord. How long til justice is done? How long til wickedness is answered? How long must Your name be used as a swear word and how long must Your people be the object of scorn?

How long? How long must I endure the contempt of my peers? How long must I see justice fail, crime go unpunished while the innocent are condemned? How long must the waves and breakers roll over me? The number of the elect to pass through the trials of life and come to glory has not yet been reached, so wait a little longer. The place where atonement has been made and forgiveness has been won. And that is actually the secret of perseverance for saints. Rest in Christ! And like the saints in glory, even suffering believers on earth can wait a little longer until the appointed time.

Preparation, perseverance, now thirdly, polarization. And we get to view it from the perspective in these verses of the unconverted population. There are two great destinies juxtaposed here. Do you see?

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The whole human race polarized and separated and divided everlastingly. Look at chapter 6, 12 to 17 first.

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The islands dissolve like ice cubes in boiling water. What are we witnessing? What is this? It is the end! And they cry out not for Jesus to come and vindicate His justice; they cry out, do you see, for the rocks and the hills to fall on them that if possible they might escape His justice. They prefer to be obliterated, anything rather than face the wrath of the Lamb.

This is what it will look like. The great and terrible day of the wrath of the Lamb has come. Dear friends, are you ready for that day? Suppose it was today. Welcome at last! Hide us from Him who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb because now I see. How wrong I was! And the thought of being face to face with the Lamb whose name I have denounced and denied and desecrated is more than I can bear.

Look over at chapter 7. Look at verses 1 to 8. First, John sees four angels who are holding back the four winds. But verse 3, they are forbidden to do so. They are restrained and held back until a fifth angel seals the servants of God. To put a seal on a document meant that you put a stamp of ownership on it.

Suppose you were to come home tomorrow evening to find me at your dining room table opening all your mail — personal correspondence, medical bills, financial statements. You would be outraged; you would be right to be outraged. They have your name on them. No one has the right to open those letters but you! Christians are sealed! They belong to Him!