APOCALYPSE 6
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...The First Four and Sixth Seals, representative of the judicial manner of "taking out of the way" the PAGAN CONSTITUTION of the "Dreadful and Terrible Fourth Beast, which withheld the revelation of "the LAWLESS ONE" (Dan. vii. 7; Apoc. vi; 2 Thess. ii. 3-9; Apoc. xii. 1-5,7-13) and the consequent manifestation of the CATHOLIC MYSTERY OF INIQUITY, or Man-of-Sin Power, in the heaven of said beast, or "Great Red Dragon."

TIME OF EVENTS
From A.D. 107 to A.D. 324


Chapter 6 begins the historical outline. It records the opening of the first six seals. It covers 228 years, from 96 AD (John's day) to 325 AD, the establishment of Constantine as sole emperor-the first, so-called, "Christian emperor."

The first seal (verse 1) opens with thunder-the assassination of the Emperor Domitian, who had banished John to Patmos. This seal covers 87 years, from 96 to 183 AD, described by the historians as the happiest years of human history-a period of peace and prosperity under five strong, capable, intelligent emperors devoted to public service and well being.

John saw (verse 2) a horse representing the Roman Empire. It was white, symbolizing peace and well-being. It was ridden by a bowman who was given a crown of victory and went forth conquering. This peaceful conqueror was the Ecclesia of Christ overcoming paganism. In a sense, this bowman continues all through the book. His conquering is really the theme of the book-it's eventual conquering the destruction of all paganism-the flesh.

Verse 3 - The second seal-a red horse, and the rider with a great sword to take peace form the earth, to kill one another. From 180 to 211 AD there was a complete and sudden and dramatic change in the Empire. Commodus, son of the previous emperor and a vile incompetent youth, inherited the throne of the world. Because of debauchery and tyranny, an attempt was made by one of the senate to assassinate him. Aroused, he began a wholesale destruction of senators and influential men. He was killed and the army seized control. The senate appointed an emperor, and the army killed him, because he cut their allowance. The army sold the throne to another senator, and after two months they killed him. Two more claimants were killed within a year or so. These conditions led to the events of the next seal.

Verse 5 - The third seal-a black horse and a rider with balances-wheat and barley at famine prices. The balances indicate taxation and scarcity. The period from 211 to 235, 24 years-5 emperors; all were killed. Some were dissolute monsters, imposing heavy taxes, incompetent administration, squandering the treasury on the army to hold its support. Taxation and oppression were such that vast areas went out of cultivation. It didn't pay to farm. The final emperor of the period cut taxes to 1/30 of what they had been and began to restore order and prosperity. The army killed him and anarchy reigned.

Verse 7 - The fourth seal-a pale horse and the rider was death and hell (the grave) followed. Power was given to them to kill the fourth part of the earth with sword, hunger, pestilence and wild beasts. In the period from 235 to 284 AD, 49 years, there were 39 emperors or claimants, and they all died violently except one. There was constant strife and bloodshed. The army murdered any emperor who tried to do good and restore order. Industry and agriculture collapsed. A plague due to food scarcity raged for 15 years, and nearly half of the population of the Empire died. We can see that the Roman Empire destroyed itself long before the barbarians came.

Verse 9 - The fifth seal-an entirely different picture. This concerns events within the household-the inside of the scroll. The souls under the altar that were slain for the Word of God, crying for vengeance against the oppressor. History records ten persecutions of the Christians by the pagan Roman emperors from Nero to Diocletian. And this was the tenth, the worst and the last, from 303 to 313-10 years. All who held religious meetings or were found in possession of the Scriptures were to be put to death. All who refused to worship the Roman gods could not hold office or have the protection of the law.

Verse 12 - The sixth seal-a great earthquake. There are four earthquakes in the Revelation. All involve a complete change of government-both political and religious-a complete sweeping of one order out of power and the rise of another. They are: 1st, this earthquake, which cast out the pagans and elevated the so-called Christians. 2nd, the Julian earthquake, about 40 years later, which reversed this briefly and put the pagans back in power. 3rd, the French Revolution that ended the Holy Roman Empire after 1000 years of rule and began modern history. And finally, the 4th and last, the establishment of Christ's Kingdom.

We are considering the first earthquake. "The sun became black"-the pagan emperorship was extinguished. "The moon became as blood"-the priesthood was slain, the pagan priesthood. "The stars of heaven fell"-all the subordinate officials. Heaven itself was rolled up as a scroll-the whole government apparatus rolled up and swept away as finished.

Bro Growcott - Review of the Apocalypse


I have remarked ... that the general subject of the translation of Apoc. vi is the conflict between the truth incarnate in the Woman's Seed and their adversary, the seed of the Serpent, enthroned in Pagan Rome. However prolonged, it reveals that the conflict was not to be endless, but should terminate in bruising the Satan, and the departing of his heaven as a scroll when it is rolled up...

The first seal, then, being our point of departure in this great contest, which was to determine the fate of that Pagan power which had "magnified itself against the Prince of the Host, and had already taken away the Daily, and cast down the place of his sanctuary" (Dan. viii. 11), it is important and desirable to know the chronology of the first seal, that is, the epoch of the beginning.

And how is this to be determined? It certainly was not opened before John's banishment to Patmos; for the seals were a prophecy to him of what should come to pass afterwards. The best evidence extant declares that John resided in Patmos in the reign of Domitian, where, A.D. 96, he saw the things he records in the apocalypse. The first seal in its symbolization is not of a colour suited to the times and events of the period from the assumption of Jesus to the right hand of power, to A.D. 96.

The following quotation from Gibbon will give the reader some idea of the agents who figured before the world and gave character to the times in which it was the misfortune of honest men to live.

With the exception of Vespasian and his son Titus, by whom God broke up the Jewish State, and burned the city of his Son's murderers (Matt. xxii. 7), the imperial rulers of the Roman people, from Tiberius to Domitian, were tyrants of a truly "dreadful and terrible" description. "Their unparalleled vices," says he, "and the splendid theatre on which they were acted, have saved from them oblivion. The dark, unrelenting Tiberius, the furious Caligula, the feeble Claudius, the profligate and cruel Nero, the beastly Vitellius the timid, inhuman Domitian, are condemned to everlasting infamy.

During fourscore years (excepting only the short and doubtful respite of Vespasian's reign) Rome groaned beneath an unremitting tyranny, which exterminated the ancient families of the republic, and was fatal to almost every virtue and every talent that arose in that unhappy period."

The colour of the first seal is not characteristic of the age in which these rulers flourished in crime. Red or black would have expressed the colour of their times, but certainly not the white of the first seal.

Eureka 6.2.1.



Prior to the opening of the first seal Domitian reigned. His despotism and blood shedding was incompatible with the White Horse of the First Seal period


Domitian ascended the throne of the Caesars, A.D. 81; and, as a "destroyer of the earth," his tyranny was endured for fifteen years... This man was son of Vespasian, and brother of Titus, the renowned destroyers of the holy city and temple of the Jews....The greatness of his family alarmed his pusillanimity, which could only be appeased by the blood of those Romans whom he either feared, or hated, or esteemed. 

His ferocity does not appear to have been inflamed against the christians immediately upon his accession to power. He increased in cruelty as he approached the end of his reign, when he renewed the horrors of Nero's persecution, imputing to his victims the guilt of "atheism and Jewish manners," which was the common charge against christadelphians* on account of their refusal to worship the idols of Greece and Rome.
Eureka 6.1.1.


1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying [from one of the Four Living Ones, saying, as a voice of thunder], Come and see. 

In spirit John was in the Lord's day, and "saw" spirit-manifestations, or spirit-forms...

It is the voice of the Spirit, as fatal to Domitian as the writing of the same spirit upon the wall was to Belshazzar on the night he was slain. The voice is the opening voice of the first-seal period, A.D. 96. A voice that changed the times, and whitened the situation of the affairs of the great Roman Habitable.

It was the thundering voice of revolution that hurled the tyrant from his throne, and inaugurated a new course of things; the effect of which should not cease until Christ had conquered Caesar.

And what the second causes resulting in this premanifestation and predetermination of the Spirit? Listen; Domitian bestowed on his cousin Flavius Clemens his own niece Domitilla in marriage, adopted the children of that marriage to the hope of the succession, and invested their father with the honours of the consulship. 

But he had scarcely finished the term of his annual magistracy, when on a slight pretence he was condemned and executed; Domitilla was banished to a desolate island on the coast of Campania; and sentence either of death or of confiscation was pronounced against a great number of persons who were involved in the same accusation -- atheism and Jewish manners.

He charged this upon those symbolized by "the Lamb and the Four Living Ones;" and in so doing the pagan government, their Accuser, "accused them before the Deity day and night" (xii. 10). But the mandate of retribution had gone forth, and a few months after the death of Clemens, and the banishment of Domitilla, Stephen, one of her freedmen who had enjoyed her favour, assassinated the emperor in his palace.

Eureka 6.1.1.


The Lamb

...the first cause of all the events represented in the seals was "THE LAMB;" "he openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;"

He opens all the seal periods; and, by that omnipotence given to him in heaven and in earth, he gives such a shape and colour to the world's affairs, civil, ecclesiastical, and social, as accords with the prefigurations of the Spirit in this prophecy...

... preparing a situation of affairs favorable to the establishment of his throne and kingdom upon earth. Providence is the Lamb; and the Lamb, with his seven horns and seven eyes, recovered from the wound with which he was wounded in the house of his friends (Zech. xiii. 6); and embodying the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne -- is the symbol of the All-powerful Spirit of the Deity.

...As the Dead One, anointed with spices and bound with grave clothes, he was Sin's Flesh crucified, slain, and buried; in which by the slaying sin had been condemned, and by the burial, put out of sight: but as the Living One again alive for the Aion of the Aions -- "the Son of Deity with power by spirit of holiness out of a resurrection of dead ones," He is the Spirit -- "the Seven Spirits before the throne;" "the Alpha and Omega, beginning and ending; the first and the last; he who is and who was and who is coming, THE OMNIPOTENT" (Apoc. i. 4,8,11; xvi. 5).

Eureka 6.1.2.


THE FOUR LIVING ONES

... a class of agents performing a very important part in association with the Lamb during the first four seal-periods. Aggregately they are the symbols of the "ONE BODY" -- of "the Ecclesia which is His body" (Eph. i. 22-23; iv. 4)... in these seals they are emblematic of the general assembly and ecclesia of firstborns, who have been enrolled for heavens (Heb. xii. 23) in their relation, or rather, opposition, to "the Prosecutor of the Brethren" enthroned in the heaven of Pagan Rome (xii. 7-10).

This power, symbolized by "the Dragon in heaven," was continually assailing them with accusations of blasphemy and atheism, and of hatred to mankind in general; and unrighteously subjecting them to the cruelest pains and penalties of despotic and arbitrary power. But, energized by the Lamb, "they loved not their lives unto the death"; and "by the word of their testimony" withstood their enemy until at length "they overcame him."

The Lamb and the Four Living Ones in the first four seals symbolize, then, what may be styled in popular phrase, "the church militant" -- such as the ecclesia of the Deity was in the time of the apostle John. The Lamb was then in the midst of the seven golden lightstands, in which burned the seven flames of fire. In other words, the apostolic ecclesias were all in the Spirit's Mouth, from which they were not "spued," or ejected, until after the fifth seal. The Lamb and the Four Living Ones were One Body -- "the Father in Jesus, and Jesus in the Father, and they, the true believers, in them," a Divine Unity.

This was a power too strong for the Dragon-power of Rome. It was the spirit of the Deity in intellectual and moral activity contending in flesh and blood "against principalities, against powers, against the worldrulers of the darkness of the aion, against the spirituals of the wickedness in the heavenlies" of Daniel's fourth beast (Eph. vi. 12). While the weapons of the Dragon's warfare were carnal -- imprisonment, torture, confiscation, fire, and sword; the weapon of theirs was "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."

Eureka 6.1.3.

The Thunder Voice

...The dethronement and death of Domitian were the thunder-voice of the opened first seal-period, which arrested the attention of all christadelphian eyes to behold what was next to "come."

The fall of Domitian, then was in itself a command to all the eyes of the One Body (and it was gemonta ophthalmon, "full of eyes" ch. iv. 8; Ezek. x. 12) to come "to the consideration of the event," and to "see," or discern, the unloosing of the seal.

And what did they see in the Dragon-empire consequent upon the tyrant's fall? They saw a very remarkable change of times. The previous fifteen years of misrule and cruelty were immediately succeeded by a mild and beneficent reign of sixteen months and eight days. This was the short, but brilliant reign of Nerva, which was inaugurated by an act of the Roman Senate, which condemned Domitian's memory, and rescinded his decrees. Nerva was one of the best monarchs permitted by the Lamb to occupy the Dragon throne.

Under his mild administration of the laws, the people of the Roman Horse was everywhere contented and happy. He extended his clemency as "the minister of the Deity for good," to all who were imprisoned for treason; called home all that had been banished in Domitian's time, except the tyrant's own niece, Domitilla, whose freedman had assassinated him; restored all sequestrated estates; punished informers, and, to the utmost of his power, redressed the grievances of every description of his subjects.

To christadelphians he allowed the freest toleration, not permitting any to persecute either them or the Jews, though the saints were generally regarded as Atheists, having no visible temples, altars, or sacrifice, which the pagans considered as essential to a profession of religion.

Eureka 6.1.3



THE EPHESO-SMYRNEAN STATE


A.D. 96.


INITIATION OF THE SEAL-PERIOD.



2 And I saw, and behold a White Horse: and he that sat on him had a bow [one sitting upon him having a bow]; and a crown was given unto him [ there was given to him a coronal wreath]: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer [that he might conquer].

Horse Symbolic or Roman Military Power

White is emblematic of peace...From the time of John, the pagan body politic, with whom he and his brethren and fellowservants were contending to the death, was to pass through seal-periods of a peaceful onslaught upon their superstitions, war, famine and pestilence, in the order of symbolical enumeration.

...In Isa. lxiii. 13, the Spirit says, that Yahweh led the whole tribes of Israel "as a horse in the wilderness that they should not stumble." This use of the animal is making it the symbol of a nation, or people.

Again, in Zech. x. 3, the Spirit saith, "Yahweh Tz'vaoth hath visited his flock, the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle." Thus, when Messiah comes he will ride Judah as his war-horse. From these instances, then, it is scriptural to say that the Spirit in prophecy sometimes represent a people by a horse.

Now it is also scriptural to say that where He finds people representing themselves by animals, he adopts their symbols, and speaks of them by their own signs. Thus, the Persians represented their nation by a Ram; the Macedonians theirs by a Goat; the Romans theirs by a Horse, a Dragon, an Eagle; and the Franks their people by Frogs. The Spirit of Christ that was in the prophets has appropriated all these in speaking prophetically of each. The Ram-people and the Goat-people are largely treated of in Daniel; and the Horse-people, Dragon people, Eagle-people, or Greco-Latin, or Roman people; and Frog-people, figure conspicuously in the apocalypse.

...The introduction of the Roman Horse into the symbolization of the first four seals as representative of the Roman people, was peculiarly appropriate. It was their symbol as pagans -- worshippers of their father Mars through the horse which they sacrificed to him. It represented the pagan Roman people, who were to be ridden by the judgments of the first, second, third and fourth seals in retribution for the cruelties they perpetrated upon the seed of the Woman in their fight of faith against idolatry during the first.

...The first seal-period, then, was to be a period of internal peace and prosperity to the pagan Roman world; and this period is only found in pagan Roman history subsequent to the death of Domitian, between that event and the accession of the emperor Commodus, A.D. 180.

This, then, is the chronological initiatory epoch of the seals. The Lamb begins the unrolling of the scroll by causing the removal of the "timid inhuman Domitian," A.D. 96; and the introduction upon the arena of a new class of imperial agents, who should promote the material prosperity and happiness of the people. John saw the change and partook of its benefit. On the opening of the first seal, he returned from exile. He lived through the short reign of Nerva; and died, according to the consent of antiquity, in the early part of the reign of Trajan.

Eureka 6 introduction 2


 

The Whiteness of the Horse

In regard to the period thus propitiously initiated by the reign of Nerva, Gibbon has remarked that, "were a man called to fix upon an epoch in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was the most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus," namely, from A.D. 96, to A.D. 180.

"The vast extent of the Roman empire was governed by absolute power under the guidance of wisdom and virtue. The armies were restrained by the firm but gentle hand of four successive emperors, whose characters and authority commanded involuntary respect. The forms of the civil administration were carefully preserved by Nerva, Trajan, Adrian, and the two Antonines, who delighted in the image of liberty, and were pleased with considering themselves as the accountable ministers of the laws. Such princes deserved the honour of restoring the republic, had the Romans of their day been capable of enjoying a rational freedom."

Here then are two periods of about equal duration, the one ending, and the other beginning at the death of Domitian; the former styled by the historian, "that unhappy period;" and the latter, "the most happy and prosperous" known to the world. This happiness and prosperity of the Roman people for eighty-four years was owing to the exemption they enjoyed from civil discord under these emperors. The period was a reign of peace over the Roman earth, granted by the opener of the seal; and as white is symbolical of peace and prosperity, the Horseman in the first seal-period, is paraded upon the arena sitting on a white horse.

...the spirit of the Lord would be quieted in the Roman Habitable until the time arrived to open the second seal-period however long that might be; and that then in the first seal-period, there would be peace, prosperity, and plenty for the people generally.

Eureka 6.1.2.1.