Preaching Series on Revelation (3 of 5)

Week 3 of a 5-week preaching series on Revelation

Moses by John August Swanson. Image from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, Tenn. Original source © 1983 by John August Swanson.

August 22, 2021

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Commentary on Revelation 6:1-8; 7:9-17

Week 3 (Aug. 22, 2021)

Preaching text: Revelation 6:1-8 and 7:9-17; accompanying text: John 14:1-4

Threatening visions

The scenes of praise and celebration in the previous chapters give way to threatening visions. The four horsemen present threats of conquest, violence, economic insecurity, and death. The horsemen portray threats that are real. They were real for people in the first century and remain real for people now. The idea is that the visions strip away the pretensions of security. They point to the deep uncertainties that affect us all. In the chapter itself, the threats intensify until in 6:17 (not in the reading) they ask, who is able to stand?

We might expect the final threatening vision to occur at that point, but it does not. Instead, the threats are halted so that a promise can be given in Revelation 7. John sees who can stand: those who have been redeemed by the Lamb. Being redeemed by the blood of the Lamb does not make the threats go away, but it gives people the promise of life that allows them to stand in the face of the threats, confident that God’s purposes are ultimately for life.