The Seven Seals: Revelation 6:1-8:1

The majority of churches and people today think that the four horsemen come at the end of days at the start of Armageddon. While it is true that horses represent periods of conflicts in Bible prophecy, in Revelation they specifically symbolize various periods of history from the time of Christ to the end of days. This is determined from the sequence contained in the Revelation itself. As far as Adventism goes one of the first to correctly identify the four horsemen was Uriah Smith. 
In Revelation previous chapters we had the Lamb revealing Himself as the Morning star to the seven churches. And then He proceeds to give each church an individual personal message which can be ascribed to various periods in church history from the time of Christ to the end of the days. The same applies here.
Revelation 6:1-2 “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see." And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”
Psalm 7:11-13 "God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts."
The first seal is a white horse and it represents the teaching of the gospel by Jesus and His Apostles. They went out conquering the people with their words and the true church flourished and spread very quickly across the Roman world.
Time period c.31 – 100 AD.
Revelation 6:3-4 “When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come and see." Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another, and there was given to him a great sword.”
The second seal is a fiery red horse which represents the corruption, manipulation and persecutions of the Christian church by pagan Rome. The “fiery red” refers to the beast later on in the Revelation which is described as being a dragon representing Satan. Rome was given a great sword which represents a great voice and they used this to change the true word of God to suit their own pagan beliefs.
Time period: c.100 - 311 AD.
Revelation 6:5-6 “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.””
The third seal is a black horse which represents the dark ages of Christianity and the period which led to the uniting of church and state, being balanced like a pair of scale. Constantine is credited with blending pagan and Christian beliefs together in Pergamum, c.313 AD.1
Time period: c.311 - 538 AD.
Revelation 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.”
The fourth seal is a pale horse which represents the period of the papacy and their persecutions from the beginning of the papal system to the end of their influence in the holy land. The Byzantine Empire had power over approximately a fourth of the known world. This period in history was very bleak indeed; full of persecution, starvation and death. The first Roman Catholic Inquisition was in France in 1184 against the Cathars and then followed an inquistiion against the Waldensians, but before this many people had been persecuted for heresy but generally they weren't killed or tortured until 1184.
Time period: c.538 – 1291 AD.
Revelation 6:9-11 “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then a white robe was given to each of them, and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”
Christian Martyrs have been in existence since the time of Christ and many martyrs were produced as a result of the Roman Catholic Inquisitions. Britain also followed suit producing many martyrs in its rise against the true church and the true Christians. But having said that, the souls under the alter are not these martyrs they represent the spiritual souls of the one hundred and forty-four thousand children of Israel. They are the prophets of God and the Apostles of Jesus Christ, (Revelation 18:20). Notice, that they were all slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held, (Revelation 20:4). Their testimony is the foretelling of the coming of the Messiah, His arrival and the true word of God which He and His Apostles preached. This is when Michael stood up to protect the holy land and the Israelites, (Daniel 12:1).
Time period: c.1291 - 1360 AD.
Revelation 6:12-17 "I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?""
After the Israelites have been sealed we are given the signs of the coming of the Lord. Throughout history there have been many dark days, earthquakes and blood moons. I believe that the stars falling from heaven are meteorite showers from the tail of a comet, possibly from the comet Temple-Tuttle and Leonids meteorite shower. Leonids meteorite shower was first recorded c.1366 AD. The men on earth symbolically hide themselves in the caves and in the rocks of mountains to escape from the Lamb’s wrath. This also indicates that the Christ’s millennium reign started at this point in time.
Time period: c.1360 - 1405 AD.
Revelation 7:1 "After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the winds should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree."
When John says, "After these things ...", I believe we are taken forward or backwards to an event, in this case backwards. These four angels are the same four angels mentioned later in Revelation 9:15-21. Winds in prophecy usually symbolize war or conflict and the four winds mentioned here represent the Crusades into the holy land. The earth represents people who worship the beast, (Revelation 8:7). The sea represents people within the church. (Habakkuk 3:8) The trees represent the righteous Israelites, (Isaiah 61:3).
Time period: c.1070 - 1272 AD.
Revelation 7:2-4 “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.”
The angels puts an end to all conflict and people who worship the beast, the people who worship God and the righteous Israelites are not to be harmed until the sealing of the 144,000 Israelites. John hears the number that is sealed; 144,000 of the children of Israel were sealed. Note that these are not spiritual Christians.
Time period: c.1360 AD.
Revelation 7:5-8 “And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed, of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed, of the tribe of Banjamin twelve thousand were sealed.”
Here John is told that 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel were sealed. Later on in Revelation 20 we are told the character of these people.
Time period: c.1360 AD.
Revelation 7:9 “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
The words, "after these things," are used again which indicates a time separation between the sealing of the 144,000 and this group the great multitude. After the 144,000 Israelites have been sealed John is taken forward in time and is shown a great multitude of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues. These are the people saved at the second resurrection, people from all over the world as opposed to the 144,000 who were specifically Israelite. SDA theology states that the great multitude represents spiritual Israel and therefore apply to us. But this defeats the purpose of God sealing the heads of His 144,000 servants and individualizing the 144,000 into 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes. The answer lies in the very nature of the 144,000 revealed in Revelation chapter 20. They were all beheaded literally for their testimony and they had no faults ( Revelation 20:4, Revelation 14:1 ). The great multitude on the other hand are all made white or righteous by the blood of Christ (below). They represent the second resurrection from all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues.
Revelation 7:10-12 “and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.””
The great multitude worship God and the Lamb. All the angels, the elders and the four living creatures fall on their faces and worship God. I believe that this is when all the enemies of God have been made His footstool.
Revelation 7:13-14 “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.””
John then asks one of the elders about this great multitude and asks, “and where did they come from?” John asks this question because he saw that only one hundred and forty-four thousand Israelites had been previously sealed. John is then told that these people come out of the great tribulation. The great tribulation could have been World Wars I and II, but the important information here is that these people all, "... washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb."  This great multitude therefore can only be made up of people who lived after Jesus ascended to heaven and offered His blood to the Father. Before Jesus came to earth the Israelites could only be saved by the remission of their sins through the sacrificial system. Therefore: we have two groups of people here; the first, those who lived by the old covenant, the prophets of Israel, and the New Testament Apostles of Jesus. The second; the great multitude who are saved by the new covenant, sealed not by an angel as was the case with the 144,000 Israelites, but with the blood of Yeshuah/Jesus.
Revelation 7:15-17 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
This verse indicates that the final kingdom of God is just about to begin. God will once again walk with men as it was in the garden of the Eden prior to the fall of mankind. The Lamb who is in the middle of the throne of God will shepherd them and lead them to God the Father through the Holy Spirit. The living fountains of waters symbolize the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives freely to those who seek Him. God will not only remove all of our tears He promises that we will thirst no more because He will be with us. Revelation also tells us that there will be no more light from any heat source like our sun because Christ and the Father will be the light of the world spiritually and literally ( Revelation 21 ).
John 7:37-39 “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Revelation 8:1 “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
Some SDA commentators are preaching that the silence results in chaos on earth, because Jesus is not watching Christians and they are left alone to fight off evil. All through the Revelation the people of the earth and the sea are subjected to various plagues, but when the seventh seal is opened there is silence in heaven for about half an hour. This silence equates to peace on earth, not chaos, for about 7 days (7.41). The Calm before the Storm.
1. Constantines Impact on Christianity,
2. Inquistion, Wikipedia, 2015