Study of Revelation 6 ~ Part V
The Seven Seal Judgments of the Tribulation
Exegesis and Other Categorical Topics of Study Regarding the Third Seal
Continuing our Study of Rev 6:5-6, we begin with the Etymology of Rev 6:5. Etymology is simply a word study. We will begin a detailed word study of the 3rd Seal in Rev 6:5-6. The full text in English NASB is as follows.
Rev 6:5-6, “And When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6And I heard something like a Voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
The Full Text in Greek is:
Rev 6:5, “Καὶ ὅτε ἤνοιξεν τὴν σφραγῖδα τὴν τρίτην, ἤκουσα τοῦ τρίτου ζῴου λέγοντος, Ἔρχου; καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ, ἵππος μέλας, καὶ ὁ καθήμενος ἐπ’ αὐτὸν, ἔχων ζυγὸν ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ.”
Rev 6:6, “καὶ ἤκουσα ὡς φωνὴν ἐν μέσῳ τῶν τεσσάρων ζῴων, λέγουσαν, Χοῖνιξ σίτου δηναρίου, καὶ τρεῖς χοίνικες κριθῶν δηναρίου; καὶ τὸ ἔλαιον καὶ τὸν οἶνον μὴ ἀδικήσῃς.”
A Transliteration of the Greek is:
Rev 6:5, “Kai hote enoixen ten sphragida ten triten ekousa tou tritou zoou legontos, Erchou. Kai eidon, kai idou hippos melas, kai ho kathemenos ep auton echon zogon en te keiri autou.”
Rev 6:6, “Kai ekousa hos phonen en meso ton tessaron zoon legousan, Choinix sitou denariou kai treis choinikes krithon denariou, kai to elaion kai ton oinon me adikeses.”
In Rev 6:5, we first have the coordinating conjunctions of KAI, which means, “(and), but, even,” along with HOTE which means, “(when), at which time, after, soon, while, as long as.”
Then we have the Verb; Aorist, Active, Indicative, Third Person Singular of ANOIGO –ἀνοίγω, which is ἤνοιξεν – ENOIXEN. This word is from the root ANA – ἀνά — “(upward),” and oigó – oigoô — “(to open); to open: break, broke, open, opened, opening, opens, spoken freely.”
The two words come together to mean, “open up” or in the Aorist Tense, “opened up.”
The Aorist Tense is an Ingressive Aorist, noting the beginning of the action or the entrance into this Seal Judgment, but still stating it as past Tense action. This could also be translated as a Futuristic Aorist, since it is describing future (prophetic) actions as already past.
Active Voice says that Jesus Christ, the Lamb, is the one worthy of opening the Seal.
Indicative Mood – Indicative of the dogmatic reality that Jesus Christ will open this Seal.
Third Person Singular is where we get the word “He,” which is added in our translation. John sees Jesus Christ opening this Seal, not angels or men but the Lamb of God.
Next, we have the determiner ôxí TEN which is the Accusative, Feminine, Singular of HO and stands for “the; this, that; he, she, it.”
The Accusative identifies the direct object which in this Case is the “3rd Seal.”
Then we have the Noun; Accusative, Feminine, Singular, of sphragis – σφραγίς [sfrag-ece’] which is σφραγῖδα – SPHRAGIDA.
The Verb form is SPHRAGIZO and means, “seal, secure with a seal; mark with a seal, set apart by a seal; affirm to be true, acknowledge, prove (Jn 3:33); when I have safely delivered to them the sum that has been raised (Rom 15:28).
SPHRAGIDA means, “a seal, the seal placed upon books, a signet ring, the inscription or impression made by a seal.” It is used of the name of God and Christ stamped upon the foreheads of believers. It stands for that by which anything is “confirmed, proved, authenticated, as by a seal (a token or proof).”
Then we have the determiner noun in the Accusative, Feminine, Singular of HO which is τὴν – TEN and the Ordinal (Indicating position or order in a series rather than quantity), Adjective, in the Accusative, Feminine, Singular, of TRITOS – τρίτος, which is τρίτην, TRITEN which means, “third.” TREIS is the word for “three.”
Again, the Accusative gives us the direct object of the sentence, which is the thing broken or opened which is the “Seal.”
The Direct Object in view is the “Seal” which is being opened.
Our translation of Rev 6:5 thus far is:
“And when He opened up the Seal the Third”
Let’s focus on the word “Seal” – SPHRAGIS a little more:
The Greek word SPHRAGIS means, “a seal or a signet, the seal placed upon books; a signet ring; the inscription or impression made by a seal.”
This word is used in Scripture to identify the name of God and Christ stamped upon the foreheads of believers, Rev 9:4.
It also stands for that by which anything is confirmed, proved, authenticated, as by a seal (a token or proof).
SPHRAGIS is used primarily for the Seven-Sealed scroll in Rev. 5, 6, 8.
Here again, the reference is to the scroll or book noted in Dan 12:1-4, Isa 29:11 and Rev 5:1, “Sealed up with seven seals.”
SPHRAGIS is used infrequently but specifically in the New Testament.
First it is used speaking of a seal of the imputed Righteousness of God giving us eternal security in our salvation. Rom 4:11; 2 Tim 2:19 and Rev 9:4
Rom 4:11, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the Righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that Righteousness might be credited to them.
2 Tim 2:19, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
God is consistent and fair with all His creatures, as noted by the sealing of elect angels with the Seal of God, just as believers are sealed. Rev 7:2; Rev 9:4
This leads us to understanding the Sealing Ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
Sealing was a Signature Guarantee.
In the ancient world, sealing was tantamount to a signature, which was tantamount to a guarantee. When a king sealed a proclamation that became a law, when people signed a contract by using a wax seal that was their guarantee that they would fulfill their part, the guarantee was backed by the person’s integrity.
- Sealing as a signature was used as a guarantee of transactions, authentication of in: voices, contracts, laws, directives, orders, policies of kings, or rulers.
- The sealing of tombs, libraries, and treasuries indicated ownership.
- Sealing was used to ratify treaties or agreements.
All of these are applicable to our salvation. Our salvation is backed by the integrity of God. Once God guarantees something, He backs it up and makes good on the promise. That guarantee is part of the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
God the Holy Spirit makes five signature guarantees.
- God the Holy Spirit guarantees that your faith alone in Christ alone is effective for salvation.
God the Holy Spirit takes the unbeliever’s faith alone in Christ alone and makes it effective for salvation. God the Holy Spirit guarantees His ministry of making that faith effective for salvation. God the Holy Spirit puts His seal on the unbeliever’s faith alone.
- The Holy Spirit guarantees eternal life at the point of salvation to everyone who believes in Christ.
He does this by the creation of the human spirit, to which God the Father imputes eternal life. God the Holy Spirit “Seals” that eternal life, Eph 4:30. There is nothing you or all the power of hell can ever do to cancel this guarantee. John 10:28-29
- God the Holy Spirit guarantees the eternal security of the believer at the moment of salvation, Eph 4:30.
Eph 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed (SPHRAGIZO) for the day of redemption.”
You cannot cancel the forty plus things God does for you at salvation. You cannot undo what God has done. You cannot renounce your faith in Christ and no longer be saved.
- God the Holy Spirit guarantees the Portfolio of Invisible Assets for every Church Age believer.
There are two guarantees of our portfolio of invisible assets, Eph 1:13; 2 Cor 1:21-22:
a) The sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit at Salvation, and
b) The indwelling of Christ as the Shekinah glory.
Eph 1:13, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed (SPHRAGIZO) in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
2 Cor 1:21-22, “But God [the Father] who strengthens us in Christ [predestination] along with you, and has anointed us [baptism of the Holy Spirit plus the sealing of the Holy Spirit], who also put a seal (SPHRAGIZO) on us and has given us the spirit in our right lobes [filling of the Holy Spirit] as a guarantee [down payment].”
- God the Holy Spirit guarantees the redemption of the body on the day of redemption.
Redemption of the soul occurs at the moment of salvation, Rom 3:24; Gal 3:13; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14. Redemption of the body occurs at the Rapture or Resurrection of the Church, Rom 8:23, “You have been sealed to the day of redemption.”
- All five sealing ministries of the Holy Spirit are equal in force. All five have the same power and the same equality.
Back in Rev 6:5, we have our next phrase:
Greek: ἤκουσα τοῦ τρίτου ζῴου λέγοντος, Ἔρχου
Greek Transliteration: Ekousa tou tritou zoou legontos, Erchou
The first word is “Ekousa,” which is the Verb in the Aorist, Active, Indicative, First Person, Singular of AKOUO. AKOUO means, “hearing; to hear, listen.”
Joseph Thayer says of AKOUO:
To hear: to attend to, consider what is or has been said. To understand, perceive the sense of what is said; to hear something; to perceive by the ear what is announced in one’s presence; to get by hearing, learn; to find out, to give ear to a teaching or a teacher; to comprehend, to understand.
In our text, this verb is the Constative Aorist Tense, which views the action as a whole, Placing emphasis on the fact of occurrence as shown in the Indicative Mood. We could tag this Aorist as an Ingressive, as we did with SPHRAGIS, since it is continuing the introduction of this Seal. But the Constative is more applicable given the overall comprehension of the “thing” John heard. Coupled with the Indicative Mood we again see the action as “prophetic” past Tense.
The Active Voice says that John is producing the action of the verb. He is the one hearing or comprehending at this time through the ear gate.
The Indicative Mood tells us of the reality of the situation. John absolutely heard and comprehended what is about to be said.
The First Person Singular of AKOUO tells us John is referring to himself alone. So, we can add “I” to the phrase.
Therefore, we can translate AKOUO as, “I comprehended by listening (through the ear gate)”
What we see here is the first stage of the Grace Apparatus for Perception or GAP. By the power of God the Holy Spirit, John is receiving a Bible lesson about the future.
Remember that back in Rev 5:4-5, John displayed he had slipped a bit in His faith and understanding of the Word of God. In Rev 5:1 and 2 John, he says “I saw.” In those passages, he perceived but did not metabolize what was going on. As a result, John had a lapse in the application of Bible Doctrine and let his emotions take over. He wept because he didn’t apply His doctrine. At that point, the elder had to remind him of his doctrine when the elder said “behold.” As a result of the Bible lesson, John regains his composure and begins to once again cycle Bible Doctrine.
We note this when we see in Verse 11, John “saw and heard,” AKOUO, in the Aorist, Active, Indicative. He once again was perceiving and metabolizing Bible Doctrine. John continues this during the Seal Judgments as he AKOUO’s the Living Creatures. He understands what is happening through the application of the Doctrine resident in his soul. So, here in Rev 6 it is in essence a Bible class for John.
Now, when we learn Bible Doctrine the key is Faith Perception (the first stage in the faith-rest drill). When we apply Doctrine, we utilize faith with Biblical Doctrinal Rationales (the second stage of the faith-rest drill), which is faith application. The first stage of the Faith Rest Drill in the GAP is going from ignorance to cognizance. This is taking in GNOSIS, the Greek word for “knowledge,” in faith and turning it into EPIGNOSIS or “wisdom.” This begins with the teaching from the pulpit as it is heard and understood in your NOUS, the Greek word for “mind” or the left lobe of the soul.
GNOSIS is knowledge of Doctrine, which resides in the left lobe, where it cannot be applied or used in spiritual growth. GNOSIS must be transferred to the right lobe, KARDIA (the Greek word for “heart”) as EPIGNOSIS (the Greek word for “doctrine” in the right lobe of the soul), in order for you to grow in the spiritual life. This is accomplished through faith perception, or being positive to the doctrine taught.
Understanding and not believing is negative faith perception. Understanding and believing is positive faith perception.
Only EPIGNOSIS can be formed categorically into doctrinal rationales for application. So, there are:
Three Stages in the Faith-Rest Drill.
Stage one – Claiming a Doctrinal Promise is the means of reverse concentration. You get your thinking away from the problem or issue and concentrate on Bible Doctrine. This stabilizes your mentality for thinking.
Stage two – You reverse your concentration towards the Doctrinal Rationales you have learned.
Stage three – You reach Doctrinal Conclusions. This is the result of reverse concentration. Doctrinal conclusions bring Biblical answers to your problem or issue.
In Rev 6:5, John is applying Stage One of the Faith Rest Drill. He is listening to Bible Doctrine.
In the Church, Stage One is the communication of Bible Doctrine from your right Pastor-Teacher, either face-to-face or in absentia. In Stage One, the congregation is placed under a system of spiritual humility for the perception and reception of Bible Doctrine. Spiritual humility requires the filling of God the Holy Spirit and the existence of humility, whether organized (in the local church), enforced (by the authority of the Pastor), or genuine (from your own positive reception of doctrine). The believer must be motivated by positive volition to hear Bible Doctrine, which is personal love for God the Father. This leads to concentration and self-discipline.
Principle: When you lose your motivation, you lose your spiritual growth. Therefore, learning the rebound rationale and applying it while listening to Bible teaching is very important…..
Stage One begins with the Pastor communicating Bible Doctrine using the I.C.E. procedure.
“I” stands for isagogics, which is the interpretation of the Bible within the framework of its historical setting.
“C” stands for the categorical communication of doctrine, which fulfills the hermeneutical principle of comparing scripture to scripture to determine the classification of Bible Doctrine.
“E” stands for the exegetical communication of doctrine, which is the analysis of each verse in its context to determine the exact meaning of that verse in its relationship to the context as a whole, analyzing grammar, syntax, and etymology.
…..which we are doing in our study of the Seal Judgments.
John is utilizing Stage One of the Faith Rest Drill as is commanded in the Seven Messages to the Seven Churches. “He who has an ear, let him hear (and learn) what the Spirit says to the churches.” Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.
In these verses, Akouo is in the Aorist, Active, Imperative or Akousato – ακουσατο, which means, “we are commanded to hear, learn, and apply Bible Doctrine.”
Our translation thus far of Rev 6:5 is: “And when He (Jesus Christ) opened up the Third Seal, I comprehended by listening (through the ear gate),”
Next, we have the Greek word, TOU – which is the Determiner “the” in the Genitive, Neuter, Singular. The Genitive has three common functions of showing:
- Description, “Living Creature.”
- Kind/quality, “Third.”
- Possession, “the Living Creature is the one about to talk.”
As we will see, the Genitive links the next few words together to identify the one John is listening to and learning from.
This Genitive and the two that follow are all Genitives in Simple Apposition. In Simple Apposition means that these genitives work together to distinguish the object. In other words, we have the Third Living Creature of the four revealed to us in Rev 4:6-8. So, this genitive distinguishes the Living Creature.
The Neuter keeps the Living Creature gender free without force in either direction.
Singular, John is hearing just one of the Living Creatures at this time.
Our next word is TRITOU – τρίτου which is the Ordinal, Adjective, Genitive, Neuter, Singular of TRITOS – τρίτος which means, “third,” and comes from the root word for “three” TREIS.
As an Ordinal Adjective, this word tells us which of ZOA or Living Creatures is in view, the Third one.
As we have noted previously in our comparisons, this Living Creature had the face of a man, Rev 4:7. This Living Creature emphasizes the humanity of Jesus Christ. Christ in His humanity is the “Bread of Life,” which must be eaten by all for salvation and subsequent spiritual growth, John 6. Because of the rejection of this aspect of Jesus Christ, the unbelieving world receives the 3rd Seal Judgment.
Also in our comparisons using numerology, we noted that “three” is the number of Divine completion and/or perfection. So, the 3rd Living Creature in the 3rd Seal tells us that this Judgment is divinely complete, in providing information to unbelievers for salvation, and divinely perfect, based on the Righteousness and Justice of God.
Our word TRITOU identifies which Living Creature John hears at this time, and gives us the emphasis for this Seal Judgment.
Next, we have the Greek word that identifies who John hears. The word ZOOU – ζῴου is a Noun in the Genitive, Neuter, Singular of ZOON.
ζῴου – zōou [dzo’-on] – from ζῷον / záō ô dzah’-o — “(alive); a living creature(s): animals, creature.”
As we noted, this Living Creature had the face of a Man which tells us that he is the leader of the angelic hosts responsible for the human race. Our guardian angels (Psa 91:7-14; Mat 18:10; Heb 1:13-14) most likely receive commands from this Angel.
We have studied the Living Creatures in the past, Rev 4 and Ezk 1-3, there is no need to go into any further depth here.
Then we have the Greek verb LEGONTOS – λέγοντος, which is a Present, Active, Participle in the Genitive Case, Neuter, Singular of LEGOS. Legó – λέγω ô means, “to say: properly to “lay” forth; or figuratively to relate (in words usually of systematic or set discourse).”
The Present Tense in the Participle is an Instantaneous Present Tense, and says that the time of the action is relative to the overall events here and with the main verb of AKOUO – “I heard.” In other words, the Living Creature “says” something at the time of John’s hearing (which was in the past, during his vision, at one particular point in time) and not right now presently. So, at the time of John’s vision, this was presently occurring.
The Participle also gives us the “ing” ending.
The Active Voice tells us the 3rd Living Creature is the one speaking, as linked by the Genitive, Neuter, Singular.
“Saying” is a good translation.
Now we see our next word, which is quite interesting.
The Greek word Erchou – Ἔρχου translated, “Come” in our English Bibles. ERCHOU is a Verb in the Present, Middle Deponent, Imperative, Second Person, Singular of erchomai with exclamatory force (not strictly linear), and means, “to come or go.”
This is a Completely Futuristic Present Tense, which means that the event will occur subsequent to the time of speaking, although as if it were present, and adds the connotations of immediacy and certainty.
The Middle Deponent gives an active sense to this verb but emphasizes the actor (subject). It relates the action more intimately to the subject. So, when the Third Living Creature makes the statement “Come,” he is linking the action with the person being addressed.
The Imperative Mood is simply a command. This phrase is stated as such not to ask but to tell someone what to do.
The Second Person here can refer to anyone the Living Creature is in direct contact with, Jesus Christ, the elder, an angel, John, etc. Yet more specifically, the Living Creature is related to the Horse Rider, because after the Living Creature speaks, the Horse Rider appears. In addition, John is already there with the Living Creature and Christ in the Throne Room of God, Rev. 4:1-3, so John is not whisked away to see each Seal. He is seeing each from the Throne Room of God. Instead, this Second Person address is a command to the Horse Rider to come forth and begin the Judgment. So, the Second Person reference in the word ERCHOU is addressed to the Horse Rider.
The Singular means this command is for one individual only, “you (in the singular) come forth”
A.T. Robertson states, “The command is not addressed to the Lamb nor to John (the correct text omits kai ide “and see”) as in Rev. 17:1; 21:9, but to one of the four horsemen each time. Sweet takes it as a call to Christ because erchou is so used in Rev. 22:17, 20, but that is not conclusive.”
Our translation of Rev. 6:5 thus far:
“And when He (Jesus Christ) opened up the Third Seal, I comprehended by listening to the Third Living Creature saying, ‘you come forth.’”
The next phrase we have in Rev 6:5 is:
Greek: Καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ, ἵππος μέλας,
Transliteration of the Greek: Kai eidon, kai idou ippos melas,
Our first word is the Conjunction KAI – καὶ. This conjunction is a Super Ordinating Conjunction vs. a regular Coordinating Conjunction. A Conjunction connects other words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. English equivalents are, “and, but, because, even, also, and as.” Super Ordinating is a type of Conjunction that introduces a clause that is more prominent than the one to which it relates.
This Conjunction introduces John’s understanding of who the main character of this Seal Judgment is, the “Black Horse Rider.” Given the emphasis here on the upcoming phrase, we can translate this KAI as “and then.”
Our next word is the Verb EIDON – εἶδον, in the Aorist Tense, Active Voice, and Indicative Mood, First Person, Singular of horaó – ὁράω ô (hor-ah’-o).
HORAO means, “to see, perceive, attend to; Properly to stare at that is, (by implication) to discern clearly (physically or mentally); by extension to attend to; by Hebraism to experience; passively to appear: behold, perceive, see, take heed.”
1) To see with the eyes.
2) To see with the mind, to perceive, know.
3) To see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience.
4) To see, to look to.
4a) To take heed, beware.
4b) To care for, pay heed to.
5) I was seen, showed myself, appeared.
The Aorist Tense in the Indicative Mood gives us the Past Tense of this verb in relation to the time of John’s writing.
This is a Constative Aorist Tense, which views the action as a whole (no emphasis on beginning or ending), in summary fashion. The emphasis is on the fact of occurrence. That fact here is that through seeing and believing, John understands the Bible lesson.
This is a Simple Active Voice where the subject performs the action. John is perceiving and understanding through the eye gate.
This is a Declarative Indicative Mood indicating the reality of the situation without any qualification needed. In other words, John did perceive this in the past.
The First Person Singular tells us John is referring to himself, so we can add “I” to this word.
Once again, we understand from the Greek that John is not just going through the motions here. He is actually learning Bible principles and facts for his and our application. “I perceived through the eye gate.”
Then we have our next phrase, KAI IDOU.
This KAI is a coordinating conjunction that connects two identically constructed grammatical elements. “And” is appropriate here.
We see the perception of EIDON is tied to our next word IDOU
IDOU – ἰδοὺ; is from the word EIDON,
IDOU — “Behold! Look! See! Listen!; there or here is (are), there or here was (were); there or here comes (came); then, suddenly; even, yet (of emphasis).” Specifically, IDOU is a Demonstrative, Particle, Sentence. (Some make this an Aorist, Middle, Imperative, 2nd Person, Singular).
Demonstrative specifies or singles out the person or thing referred to. It is often translated in English as, “this, that, or that one.”
Particle is one of a class of forms consisting of a single word that has no inflection; considered a cover term for words that in other systems of analysis might be described as adverbs, interjections, interrogative particles, and verbal particles.
Sentence is a particle that acts as an intentional intensifier or supplies an “attention getter” to the sentence.
This word takes is shape for the word or words it is linked with. Because of the preceding KAI, it is linked with EIDON and takes on its form with the Aorist Tense, Active Voice, Indicative Mood, First Person Singular.
“I Beheld,” in the Past Tense because of the link through KAI to our previous verb EIDON in the Aorist Tense, Active Voice, Indicative Mood.
HIPPOS – ἵππος (hip’-pos), “a horse.” Noun; Nominative Case; Masculine, Singular
The Nominative Case identifies the subject of the Sentence. Now we understand whom the 3rd Living Creature was commanding and what John perceived.
The First Mention of “horse” in the Bible is in Gen 47:17. It has an interesting antithesis comparison to our study of the 3rd Seal. The word for “Horse” in the Hebrew is סוס – SUS.
Gen 47:17, “So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.”
The Hebrew word for “food” in this verse is LECHEM לָ֫חֶם and means, “bread, food, or grain.”
Gen 47:17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year.
In God’s Divine Providence, He called for the exchanged of horses for “bread” so the people would have sustenance.
Because the unbelieving world has rejected the divine providence of God for sustenance, God brings a horse rider to take away the bread.
Then we have our next word in Rev 6:5, MELAS – μέλας (mel’-as). Apparently, a primary word for “black.” This is an Adjective in the Nominative Case, Masculine, Singular. The Case shows that this word describes the main subject (horse), as adjectives typically do. It also identifies which “horse” this is, by its color. So, we can compare scripture to further identify this horse for emphasis.
A.T. Robertson says about “a black horse” (HIPPOS MELAS): It represents what the lust of conquest brings, not only bloodshed but also famine and hunger. This is “The color of mourning and famine. See Jer 4:28-29 (dark = qadar – dark/black); 8:21 (mourn = qadar) קָדַר; Mal 3:14, where mournfully is, literally, in black” (Vincent).
MELAS is a primary word and is found in the New Testament only three times. Mat 5:36 (oath, hair, black), Rev 6:5, 12.
When reference is made to a particular color or colors, it is likely made for one of two basic reasons:
- Used in a descriptive sense to help identify an object or clarify some aspect about that object.
- Used in a symbolic sense to convey theological truth about the subject.
“Black” is used at times to symbolize Judgment or Decay and is representative of Famine or Pestilence, as we have here in Rev 6:5.
There are not many colors mentioned in Scripture, and these can be arranged in two classes: those applied to natural objects, and artificial mixtures used in dyeing or painting. Of the natural colors, there are five: white, red, black, yellow, and green. All of these are applied in the First Four Seal Judgments and have meaning regarding the Judgment.
Black is used to denote the color of physical objects:
1) Hair (Lev. 13:31, 37; Song of Sol. 5:11).
2) Skin (Job 30:30; Song of Sol. 1:5-6; Lam. 4:8).
3) The sky, as a sign of rain (1 Kings 18:45).
4) Animals (Gen. 30:32-43; Zech. 6:2, 6; Rev. 6:5).
Black is used figuratively to describe:
1) Mourning, affliction, calamity, and death (Job 3:5; 30:28-31; Jer. 4:28; 8:21; 14:2; Lam 4:8; 5:10).
2) A visionless day (Micah 3:6).
3) The abode of the dead (Job 3:5; Jude 13).
4) The treachery of Job’s friends (Job 6:16).
Lam 5:10, (KJV) “Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.”
Here in Rev 6:5 and Zech 6:2 & 6, are the only mentions in the Bible of “Black Horses.” The references in Zech 6 are strikingly similar to the reference in Rev 6, as both are mentioned in regards to the Tribulation time period.
In Zech 6 the “Black Horses” are pulling a Chariot carrying one of the “Four Spirits of Heaven going forth after standing before the Lord of all the earth (Jesus Christ).”
In Rev 6, the “Black Horse Rider” is commanded to come forth by one of the “Four Living Creatures who are around the Throne of God” Rev 6:5 w/ 4:6.
As we noted from Zech 1:8-11, these “Horses” and “Horsemen” are Patrollers. They are Leader Angels charged with the task of keeping an eye on things here on earth, and when given a command, they can either stir things up or settle them down. They are, as all angels are; ministering spirits doing the work of God, Heb 1:13-14. Based on the comparison of Zech 1 & 6 with Rev 4 & 6, I feel confident in identifying each of the Living Creatures (LC) as a Leader Seraphim Angel who has charge over a certain segment of God’s creatures.
- The Lion faced LC is a leader charged with the care of wild creatures.
- The Ox faced LC is a leader charged with the care of domestic creatures.
- The Man faced LC is a leader charged with the care of mankind.
- The Eagle faced LC is a leader charged with the care of flying creatures.
In Zechariah, the “Black Horse” is sent to the North (Russia), to stir things up during the Tribulation. This process is the prophetic events of the Russian Federation attacking the forces of the Antichrist in the early stages of the Tribulation. At that time, the Antichrist is a protectorate of Israel. So, Russia will attack on Israeli soil.
We see the introduction of “Black Horse Rider” who will bring on the Famine of grain produce during the 3rd Seal Judgment.
Our translation thus far of Rev 6:5 is:
“And when He (Jesus Christ) opened up the Third Seal, I comprehended by listening (ear gate) to the Third Living Creature saying, ‘you come forth’. And then, I perceived through the eye gate, and I beheld a black horse;”
Now we turn to the last phrase in Rev 6:5, “and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.”
In the Greek it reads: “καὶ ὁ καθήμενος ἐπ’ αὐτὸν, ἔχων ζυγὸν ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ.”
Transliterated it reads: “kai ho kathemenos ep auton, echon zogon en te cheiri autou.”
Our first word is the familiar KAI – καὶ, which is a Coordinating Conjunction that means, “and, also, but, or even.” “And” is an adequate for our translation.
Then we have the Determiner HO – ὁ, in the Nominative Case, Masculine, Singular.
HO can be translated as, “the; this, that; he, she, it”
The Nominative Case represents the subject of this phrase, i.e. the one sitting on the Black Horse.
Because it is in the Masculine Singular we will translate this “he,”, i.e. the Black Horse Rider.
Then we have the Greek Verb Participle KATHEMENOS – καθήμενος in the Present Tense, Middle Voice, Nominative Case, Masculine, Singular of KATHEMAI – κάθημαι (kath’-ay-mahee), which means, “sit; sit down; live, stay, be.”
This word is used throughout Greek literature to come to mean, “to be seated by Homer; to be seated in court, Aristophanes; the judges, the court, Thucydides; to sit still, sit quiet, Latin desidere, by Homer, Herodotus: in bad sense, to sit or lie idle, Iliad; of a besieging army, to sit down or lie before a place, Euripides, Thucydides; to lead a sedentary life, Herodotus, Aeschylus; or of people, to be settled, Herodotus.”
This word is made up of two words. The first is KATA, which means, “down, against, or according to,” and hémai which means, “to sit.”
We have seen this word in all three Seals identifying the “Horse Riders.” In each case, this word has been a Verb/Participle in the Present Tense and Middle Voice. Remember, when a verb is in the Participle, it carries no Mood but acts like the Indicative Mood, it is just unstated.
This Present Tense is a Progressive Present Tense and describes the scene in progress, though limits the timeframe as not to be continuous into the future. This Present Tense also acts like a Historical or Dramatic Present Tense giving us vividness of the scene John was in, as he presently is describing it, but because this is a Participle, it gets its Mood from the main verb. Historical/Dramatic Presents are only in the Indicative Mood, and the Participle here has no Mood of its own, even though it acts like an Indicative. That is why we have the English verb in the Past Tense here, “sat.” Yet the Progressive Present Tense describes this Participle Verb as action that is presently occurring at the time of John’s vision, as he recounts it later on where the action does not continue into the future.
Now remember that all three of these phrases, “He who sat on it” are in the Middle Deponent Voice, which means the “Horse Rider” actively took the seat and was sitting on it during the entire Judgment process, yet it has a benefit or result back to him. The Middle Voice emphasizes the actor over the action.
As we have seen previously, these “Horse Riders” are some type of angelic creatures, and as a result of the Judgment they bring, they also receive a benefit, which is most likely the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a reward that is for all of us, to be used by God to glorify Christ.
Also, the Participle gives it a noun connotation. That means that the saddle is a person, place, or thing, or in this Case, it is a Seat of Judgment and Authority.
Some interpreters see this Verb in the Passive Deponent, which means the “Seat” was given to him as he performed the action of sitting. That is not bad either, because regardless of how you look at it, we know that Jesus Christ is the One in Authority who passes a command to the Living Creatures, who pass commands to the Horse Riders to enact their Judgments.
The Nominative, Masculine, Singular ties this word with the previous determiner HO as our subject, “the one sitting” on the Black Horse.
“Sat” is a good translation, but “was sitting” is better.
The first, third, and fourth Horse Riders have this Verb in the Nominative Case, which identifies them as the subject; the Second Rider had this verb in the Dative, which stated the advantageous position he was in. Either way the “Horse Riders” become the main subject of the Seal Judgments.
Our next word is the Greek Preposition EP – ἐπ’ in the Accusative Case. In the Accusative, it comes to mean, “on, upon; in; against; over; to, for; around, about, concerning; towards; among.” The Accusative identifies the direct object of the phrase. So, we identify the object, the “Horse Rider” was sitting upon. We will translate this word “upon.”
Then our next word is AUTON – αὐτὸν the Noun, Pronoun, Accusative Case, Masculine, Third Person, Singular of AUTOS, which means in the Third Person Pronoun, “he, she, or it.” Here we will translate AUTON as “It” with reference to the “Black Horse.” As we have previously translated this phrase and based on the word KATHEMENOS, which keynotes a Judgment Seat, we are speaking of the saddle on the back of the Black Horse.
Next is the word ECHON – ἔχων. It is a Verb, Participle, in the Present Tense, Active Voice, Nominative Case, Masculine, Singular. It means, “to have, to hold, or to possess; to lay hold of a thing, to adhere or cling to; to be closely joined to a person or a thing.”
The Nominative Case presents the subject of the sentence or the subject complement of the verb.
ECHON agrees in gender and Case with HO KATHEMENOS, which makes this Present Tense also progressive. Being a Present Participle means that this verb is contemporaneous in time with the “Saddling up.” It occurs in the same time frame as the action of “saddling up.” Again, we have a Present Tense which needs to be translated in the Past Tense for our English ears. Held is not bad, but “who was holding” is better.
Our next word is ZUGON – ζυγὸν. ZUGON is a Noun, in the Accusative Case, Masculine, Singular.
The Accusative is identifying the direct object of what the “Black Horse Rider” is holding on to.
zugos – ζυγός (dzoo-gos’) is from the root of zeugnumi, which means to join, especially by a “yoke”); a coupling, that is, (figuratively) servitude (a law or obligation); also (literally) the beam of the balance (as connecting the scales):—pair of balances, yoke.”
This word is in the Singular, so we are talking about one scale. The ancient scales had two sides to compare weights called balances, so that is how we get the plural in “a pair of balances/scales.” So, one scale with two sides to it. We’ll see more of this in the upcoming Doctrine of Scales.
But to round things off, we have our next words EN TE CHEIRI AUTOU – ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ.
EN – ἐν is the Dative Case Preposition, which means, “in, on, at; near, by, before; among, within; by, with; into; to, or for (rarely).”
The Dative Case is the Case of the indirect object. When it refers to things, like a hand, it addresses the framework in which the act occurs.
The Dative answers one of three questions:
- To / for whom?
En plus the Dative, as we have here, strengthens the idea of the sphere or “hand” in this Case. The dative Case shows that the upcoming noun “hand” is indirectly affected by the action of the verb. In other words, the hand that holds the scales is not the thing that is important here, but the effect that the scales in the hand have on others is what is important. So, EN with the Dative tells of the instrument used by the agent (hand). In other words, the “Black Horse Rider” holds the scales in his hand. “In” is a good translation here.
Then we have our next word TE – τῇ, which is a Determiner or Definite Article, in the Dative Case, Feminine, Singular of HO. TE means, “the; this, that; he, she, it.”
The Feminine here shows the subordinate nature to the Masculine noun, identifying the Rider.
The Dative links this Determiner with the previous preposition EN in identifying the indirect object.
This Article is used in the context of possession. Whose hand is this, is the question answered.
This Article is a Possessive Pronoun and “the” is ok, but as we will see with the forthcoming words, “His” is a better translation.
Then we have our next word CHEIRI – χειρὶ, which is a Noun in the Dative Case, Feminine, Singular of CHEIR [χείρ], which means, “the hand” and can stand for “agency, charge, grasp, or help, to collect, (i.e., apprehend, arrest, seize); power, authority; activity.”
As we discussed earlier, this Dative takes it clue from the preceding preposition EN and becomes the instrument of possessing the “Scales.” The Dative, Feminine, Singular, again links our three words together, “in the hand.”
Our next word is AUTOU – αὐτοῦ, which is a Pronoun in the Genitive Case, Masculine, Third Person Singular of AUTOS and means “self, of oneself, even, very; in that place, there, here.” But as a Third Person Pronoun, as it is here, it means, “he, she, it.”
This is a Personal Pronoun in the Genitive of Possession Case. The Genitive Case has three common functions of showing:
Here it shows possession. When a Genitive word is translated into English, it is accompanied by the word “of.” Here we have a Genitive of Possession identifying, once again, whose hand this is, so we could translate this “of him,” (i.e. the Black Horse Rider).
Putting the last phrase together generically, it would read “in the hand of him,” which is awkward in the English so we would say plainly, “in his hand.”
Our generic translation of this last phrase is:
“καὶ ὁ καθήμενος ἐπ’ αὐτὸν, ἔχων ζυγὸν ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ.”
“kai ho kathemenos ep auton echon zogon en te cheiri autou.”
“And he who was sitting upon it was holding a pair of scales in the hand of him.”
More correctly we would say, “And he who was sitting upon it (the Black Horse) was holding a pair of scales in his hand.”
Our Complete Amplified Translation of Rev 6:5 is:
“And when He (Jesus Christ) opened up the Third Seal, I comprehended by listening (ear gate) to the Third Living Creature saying, ‘you come forth’. And then, I perceived through the eye gate, and I beheld a black horse; And he who was sitting upon it (the Black Horse) was holding a pair of scales (a balance) in his hand.”
Doctrine of Zugos – Yoke / Balances – Scales
- Zugos comes from the Greek word Zeugnumi, which is used outside of the Bible.
Liddell and Scott say of Zeugnumi:
Of riding horses; to harness, saddle and bridle. Pindar: Of chariots, to put to, get ready, Id., Euripides. To bind, bind fast, Xenophon: having them fastened, Euripides. Metaphorically, in the yoke of fate, Pindar. To join together, well-joined, Iliad. To join in wedlock, Euripides: of the husband, to wed, Id. To be married, Sophocles, Euripides. To join opposite banks by bridges, Herodotus, etc. Also, to form a bridge, Id. To undergird ships with ropes, Thucydides.
So the root word clearly points to binding, fastening, and joining together, whether of objects, animals, or people.
Liddell and Scott say of ZUGOS:
Anything which joins two bodies. The yoke or cross-bar tied by the end of the pole, and having (collars or loops) at each end, by which two horses, mules or oxen drew the plough or carriage, Homer. Metaphorically it meant the yoke of slavery, Herodotus, Sophocles, Euripides and Xenophon. The cross-bar joining the horns of the lyre or harp, along which the strings were fastened, Iliad. The thwarts joining the opposite sides of a ship or boat, the benches, Latin: transtra, Odyssey, Herodotus, Sophocles. The middle of the three banks in a trireme (ship galley), those on the upper bench, Aeschylus. The beam of the balance, Demosthenes:—the balance itself, Plato. The yard-arm at the masthead, Pindar. A rank or line of soldiers, opposed to a file, Thucydides.
a) A yoke; a yoke that is put on draft cattle; metaphorically, used of any burden or bondage; as that of slavery; of troublesome laws imposed on one, especially of the Mosaic law, hence the name is so transferred to the commands of Christ as to contrast them with the commands of the Pharisees which were a real ‘yoke’; yet even Christ’s commands must be submitted to, though easier to be kept.
b) A balance, pair of scales.
A balance literally, a yoke (old word from zeugnumi, to join), of slavery (Acts 15:10; Gal 5:1), of teaching (Matt 11:29), of weight or measure like a pair of scales evenly balancing as here (Ezek 5:1-17; ‘Jerusalem’s Desolation Foretold. Notice the parallels to the Third Seal’, 45:9-11). The Rider of this Black Horse, like the spectral figure of hunger, carries in his hand a pair of scales. This (famine) is also one of the fruits of war.
A yoke also has the meaning of a pair of scales, Rev 6:5. The Septuagint uses Zugos in Lev 19:36; Isa 40:12. It is used as serving to couple two things together. Metaphorically:
a) Submission of authority. Mat 11:29-30. Of Christ’s yoke, not simply imparted by Him but shared with Him.
b) Bondage, Acts 15:10 and Gal 5:1, to the Law as a supposed means of salvation.
c) Bond service to masters, 1 Tim 6:1.
d) Vines also defines derivatives of ZUGOS:
i.) Heterrozugeo: to be unequally yoked. Heteros – “another of a different sort” plus ZUGOS in 2 Cor 6:14.
2 Cor 6:14, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have Righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
This is the abnormal situation that results when Christians in their conduct follow the rules of the cosmic system, which knows nothing of what is given to the Royal Family of God. When this happens, that portion of the Royal Family ceases to exist.
ii) Sunzugos or suzugos: an adjective denoting yoked together, a yoke-fellow, fellow-laborer is used as a noun in Phil 4:3. It probably is a proper name Synzygus, addressed as “true” or genuine i.e. properly so-called or lawfully begotten – as a son.
Phil 4:3, “Indeed, true companion, (most likely Luke) I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Holman Bible Dictionary:
Yoke: The word is used most often in the Bible to speak of slavery, bondage, and hardship (1 Kings 12:4, Jer. 27:8). Positive usages include the yoke of Christ (Matt. 11:29-30) and the joint nature of the church’s work (Phil. 4:3).
Holman Bible Dictionary, (Jimmy Albright):
Balances were the basis of economic life. Money came in weighted units of gold and silver. These had to be weighed in the balance for every business transaction or purchase, Jer. 32:9-15 (The analogy of the Kinsmen Redeemer related to Revelation Chapter 5). Balances could be easily manipulated, especially by having weights which did not measure up to the proper amount or by having two sets of weights, one for buying and one for selling. God called on Israel for economic Justice that began with proper weights and balances. (See Proverbs 11:1; 16:11; 20:23; Ezek. 45:9-12; Hos. 12:7; Amos 8:5; Mic. 6:10-11.) Brackets mine.
a) In a figurative sense the balance was employed in the Bible to ask for a fair trial or judgment for the persecuted (Job 31:6; Ps. 62:9).
b) Balances help teach about God. Only He can weigh the mountains in a balance (Isa. 40:12-13). Just balances show a person belongs to Him (Prov. 16:11), while foolish people weigh out lavish amounts of gold to make idols to worship (Isa. 46:6).
So, in relationship to the 3rd Seal, balances are employed to tell of Gods fair and just Judgment leading to the economic disaster of the unbelieving world
New American Heritage Dictionary:
A wooden crossbar or frame by which two draft animals (as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together. A frame or crossbar designed to be carried across a person’s shoulders with equal loads suspended from each end. A crossbar on a ship’s rudder to which the steering cables are connected. A structure made of two upright spears with a third laid across them, under which conquered enemies of ancient Rome were forced to march in subjection. Any form or symbol of subjugation (servitude) or bondage.
Given the timeframe, in which John wrote Revelation, in the midst of Roman domination, this imagery of conquered peoples in subjection would have a strong impact on the early Church. This Judgment is one in a series that leads to the unbelieving world coming under subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ, either willingly or forcefully at His Second Coming.
First Mention in the Bible – Yoke:
The First Mention of “Yoke” in the Bible is in Gen. 27:40. The Septuagint uses the word ZUGOS for “yoke” in this verse.
The Hebrew word is ‘ul-lōw – עֻלּ֖וֹ – which means, “yoke.”
עֹל – ol is from the Hebrew root word of alal, which means, “to act severely, deal with severely, make a fool of someone.”
This is Isaac’s blessing to Esau, after Jacob swindled the main blessing. This is the second time Jacob swindled Esau. The first time was related to our Second Seal found in Gen 25:19-34. In the first swindle Esau sold his birthright (metaphor for salvation) to Jacob for some bread and “red stuff.” This is the tie into the Second Seal that we studied previously. As Heb 12:17 tells us, even though Esau sought for it back with tears, there was no repentance / belief in the Messiah found in him. Therefore, the birthright (salvation) was lost forever.
Heb 12:17, “For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.”
In the second swindle, Jacob swipes the heritage blessing (eternal prosperity and sustenance) from Isaac, Gen 27:1-29. Notice what constitutes the blessing, “an abundance of grain” in Verse 28. So, by the word of Isaac, the blessing of everlasting sustenance is given to Jacob the believer, Gen 27:37. This is in stark contrast to the “supposed” blessing Esau receives in Verse 39. The unbeliever will be away from the divine sustenance of God, vs. 39, (i.e. Eternal Lake of Fire)
What else is found in the blessing to Jacob? Verse 29 says, “people will serve and bow down to you, you will be master of your brothers.” As a master, you are free from bondage. As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been freed from the bondage of the sin nature and the world (cosmic system).
This is in stark contrast to the supposed blessing Esau receives in Verse 40, servitude to Jacob and the tribe of Israel. In other words, the unbeliever is not freed but remains in bondage to the sin nature and the world (cosmic system).
Nevertheless, one day Esau / Edom (cosmic system) will come out from under Jacob / Israel (believer), especially at the time of divine discipline toward Israel for their reversionism and apostasy.
Though Esau was not personally subject to his brother, his descendants would be a tributary to the Israelites until the reign of Joram (Jehoram), when they revolted and established a kingdom of their own, 2 Kings 8:20; 2 Chron. 21:8-10.
Barnes says of ‘Break his yoke.’:
“The history of Edom was a perpetual struggle against the supremacy of Israel. Conquered by Saul, subdued by David, repressed by Solomon, restrained after a revolt by Amaziah, they recovered their independence in the time of Ahab. They were incorporated into the Jewish state, and furnished it with the dynasty of princes beginning with Antipater.”
Adam Clarke states:
“The Jerusalem Targum (an Aramaic translation or paraphrase of a portion of the Old Testament) gives the words the following turn: ‘When the sons of Jacob attend to the law and observe the precepts, they shall impose the yoke of servitude upon thy neck; but when they shall turn away themselves from studying the law and neglect the precepts, thou shalt break off the yoke of servitude from thy neck’. It was David who imposed the yoke, and at that time the Jewish people observed the law; but the yoke was very galling to the Edomites from the first; and towards the end of Solomon’s reign Hadad, the Edomite, of the blood royal, who had been carried into Egypt from his childhood, returned into his own country, and raised some disturbances, but was not able to recover his throne, his subjects being over-awed by the garrisons which David had placed among them; but in the reign of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king. Jehoram made some attempts to subdue them again, but could not prevail; so the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day, 2 Chronicles 21:8, 10, and hereby this part of the prophecy was fulfilled about nine hundred years after it was delivered.'”
In regards to the spiritual life this tells us that when a believer turns away from God in reversionism, even though they are freed from the bondage of sin and the cosmic system, they will ignore their freedom and place themselves back under the bondage of sin and the cosmic system. An aspect of God’s divine discipline on His children is for them to taste the bondage of sin in reversionism even though they have been freed from it. So, for the believer in reversionism, they lose control of the thing that they are master over (sin and the sin nature) where sin once again runs free within their lives.
Gen 27:40, “By your sword you shall live, And your brother you shall serve; But it shall come about when you become restless, that you will break his yoke from your neck.”
So, our definitions and application stand true. Yoke stands for servitude under the authority of another. As a result of the unbeliever rejecting the “Yoke of Christ” found in His word, (which we will see in the First Mention of this word in the New Testament, Mat 11:29-30), the world will be physically placed in subjugation under Christ (yoked) as the grain products are made scarce in the 3rd Seal.
Mat 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
First Mention in the Bible – Balance(s):
ZUGOS was also used in the Septuagint for the word “balance.”
The English word “balance” is from the Latin (bilanx) = “having two scales” (bi = “two” and lanx = “plate,” or “scale”).
It is used to render three Hebrew words Moz Nayim
1) מֹאזְנָ֫יִם [MOZNAYIM] (Lev 19:36; Job 6:2, 31:6; Ps 62:9; Prov 11:1; Isa 40:12, 15; Jer 32:10; Dan 5:27; Hosea 12:7; etc.); which in Chaldee or Arabic is where the Hebrew (מֹאזְנָ֫יִם – MOZEN) comes from. The root of this word is (הֶאֱזִין – AZAN), which means, “to hear or listen to, to be obedient, harken, to hear or listen to prayers (of God), or to weigh, that is figuratively to ponder, give good heed, consider, test, or prove.”
2) קָנֶה (kaw-neh’) [KANEH or QANEH], is used in Isa 46:6, which means, “a reed, stalk, bone, or balances.”
Isa 46:6-7, “Those who lavish gold from the purse and weigh silver on the scale hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; they bow down, indeed they worship it. 7 They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it; they set it in its place and it stands there. It does not move from its place. Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer; it cannot deliver him from his distress
3) פֶּ֫לֶס (peh’-les) [PELES] is used in Prov 16:11 & Isa 40:12, which means, “a balance or scale.” Strong notes that PELES comes from the Hebrew word PALAS, which is a primitive root that properly means, “to roll flat, or make level – for example in making a road.” In our language today, we would use this word in the idiom, “to make a level playing field.” Strong says, it can also mean, “to revolve, that is weigh mentally; or to ponder.” Others say PELES is: the root word for PALAS.
Prov 16:11, “A just balance and scales (MOZEN) belong to the LORD; all the weights of the bag are His concern.”
Principle: God is Righteous and takes pleasure in those who also act in Righteousness.
In Isa 40:12, we see “the balance”, describing God as the Creator.
Read: Isa 40:1-31 for context.
Isa 40:12, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales (MOZEN)?”
Principle: God is the Creator of the heavens and earth; therefore, He is the one in ultimate authority. He is just and right in all that He does. For those that seek His Righteousness, blessings await them.
Unger’s Bible Dictionary says:
“Balances are used in a figurative sense where the balance is employed in Scripture as an emblem of Justice and fair dealing (Job 31:6; Psalm 62:9; Proverbs 11:1). In addition, A balance or scale was used in connection with the sale of bread or fruit by weight as the symbol of scarcity (Revelation 6:5; see also Leviticus 26:26; Ezekiel 4:16-17).”
Lev 26:26, “When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.”
This Principle of Famine is the 4th of the 5 cycles of Discipline God brings unto an apostate nation.
Ezek 4:16, “Moreover, He said to me, “Son of man, behold, I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they will eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and drink water by measure and in horror, 17because bread and water will be scarce; and they will be appalled with one another and waste away in their iniquity.”
In the First Mention of “balances” in the Old Testament, the Principle of God’s Justice is brought forth, Lev 19:36.
Lev 19:36-37, “You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah (bushel), and a just hin (gallon); I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt. 37‘You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the LORD.”
A Just God Demands Just Actions by His Children. In other words, a right thing must be done in a right way in executing the Christian way of life inside the Predesigned Protocol Plan of God.
The principle of operating in life with Justice is enforced again and again in the Word of God using true weights and a just balance as the example, Prov 11:1; 20:23; Ezek 45:9-10; Hos 12:7; Amos 8:5; Mic 6:11; 2 Cor 7:1; 1 Thes 3:13; 4:7.
Prov 11:1, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.”
Prov 20:23, “Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false scale is not good.”
The analogy is related to business dealings and ventures, but spills over to every aspect of the believer’s life.
In the Book of Job, he first uses balances to describe the anguish he is in, and then uses balances to assert his Righteousness by calling on the Justice (scales) of God to judge him.
Job 6:2, “Oh that my grief were actually weighed and laid in the balances together with my calamity!”
Job 31:6, “Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, and let God know my integrity.”
So, we see the First Usage of “Balances” in the Bible, Lev 19:36, stands for the Fairness or Justice of God, and the first usage of “Yoke” in the Bible, Gen 27:40, tells us of the eternal blessings or Punitive Judgment of God.
In both Cases, the Greek word ZUGOS is used to translate the Hebrew in the Septuagint.
The Justice of God, which is always linked with His Righteous, constitutes His integrity, holiness, and grace, and demands that the positive believer be blessed and the reversionistic believer come under divine discipline, Heb 12:5-11; Rev 3:19.
Rev 3:19, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
Likewise, the Justice of God can only bring Punitive Judgment to the unbeliever.
What the Righteousness of God Demands, His Justice Satisfies. The Righteousness of God demands eternal blessings for the believer and eternal judgment for the unbeliever.
The Justice of God, in disciplining a reversionistic nation, was seen in our introduction. Ezek 5:1-17 tells of God’s just discipline toward the apostate nation of Israel. Right before Chapter 5, Chapter 4:9-17 warns of bread scarcity in Judgment. Then in Chapter 5, we see “balances” used to weigh out hair, which represent the Judgment of God against apostate Israel. Underlining all of this is the principle of not keeping God’s ordinances and statutes, Verses 6-8. This corresponds with Deut 28:47-50, where “yoke” is the symbol of one nation taking over another in God’s Divine Discipline.
In addition, the command for “just balances” comes at the end of the exhortation in Lev 19 for “just, Righteous, and holy living.” To live in our holiness, as God is Holy, we must endeavor to keep all of the words of God, related to the Mystery Doctrine for the Church Age, rich within our hearts through the power of the filling of God the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus did on the Cross as demonstrated through His 3rd Saying, “Woman behold your son, (disciple) behold your mother.”
In comparison to the ZUGOS of Rev 6:5, we see that the righteousness and justice of God is constantly at work in the lives of mankind to bring them to salvation. In the 3rd Seal, God is continuing that work by causing a famine to come upon the unbelieving world. In so doing, He is removing temporal sustenance, because the world rejected His eternal provisions found in His Son Jesus Christ. As a result of the famine, many will come to realize, who otherwise would not have, that eternal salvation and sustenance is only found in the Bread of Life.
In our last analogy of Balances related to the Justice of God, we note that the symbol of balances / scales is allotted to Dan. Dan’s name alone gives us the representation of Justice as it means, “judge or Justice.”
Dan is the 5th son of Jacob. His mother was Bilhah, Rachel’s maid. When Rachel could not conceive on her own, she gave her servant to Jacob so that she (Rachel) would have a child for Jacob. Rachel longed to give Jacob a child. Jacob loved Rachel, yet his other wife Leah, Rachel’s sister whom Jacob did not favor was able to have many children. Being able to bare children, Leah taunted the beloved Rachel. As a result, Rachel gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob. If Bilhah bore a child, it would in turn be considered Rachel’s child. When Bilhah bore Dan, as a result of receiving the blessing from God along with her pleasure in having a son, Rachel praised God in Gen 30:6.
Gen 30:6, “God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my Voice and has given me a son.”
The Hebrew word for “vindicate” is DANANNI, which means, “judged, vindicated, requited (i.e. to make suitable return to for a benefit or service or for an injury).”
So, “He judged me” is the base translation, but the act of Judgment to avenge the sorrow of Rachel is the meaning here. Therefore, translating this word as “He vindicates me” gets to the heart of the issue. Justice was served.
So, in Dan’s birth, we note a Judgment was enacted from the Justice of God; therefore, they named him Dan.
Then we turn to Gen 49:16-18. Here we see Jacob’s blessings for his sons. In the blessing for Dan he states, “Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider falls backward. 18For Your salvation I wait, O LORD.”
This blessing is a prophecy of the position of the Tribe of Dan, as a lead tribe and an allusion to the Judgeship of Samson, who was of the Tribe of Dan over Israel for 20 years, Judges 13-16.
Dan’s position, as a lead tribe of Israel around the Tabernacle during the 40 years of wandering in the desert was on the North side of the Tabernacle, (Num 2:25, 31; Num 10:25), with Asher and Naphtali joining their division.
The standard of the tribe was white and red and the crest upon it was the image of an eagle, which is the great foe to serpents. (Unger’s New Bible Dictionary)
Yet Dan’s blessing from Jacob was that “Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path that bites the horse’s heels so that his rider falls backward.”
The reason for this was that God knew that the tribe of Dan would officially introduce idolatry into Israel, as found in Judges 18:30-31. As we have seen in our study of “Balances,” this was egregious to the Lord. Lev 19:4; 26:1; Ezek 5:11
It is interesting that the “Justice” tribe would be the ones to introduce apostasy to the nation. The eagles that hunted out serpents, or to say it another way, Justice that defeated evil, would themselves turn to the evil they judged.
But that’s the way it usually is when those given Justice neglect the basis of the Justice of God, and begin to look at the Justice itself as that which vindicates, or look to themselves as worthy of the Justice, when in fact it is by grace.
Our churches today have taken the Justice of God and turned it into a form of human good rituals; thereby, enslaving their congregation to a form of legalism in the name of Justice, yet leaving aside the true application of the Grace of God.
It is also thought that the reason the tribe of Dan is not listed among the 144,000 evangelizing Jews of the Tribulation (Rev 7:4-8) is because of the Judgment of God upon the Tribe for introducing idolatry to Israel.
So, Dan the Judge had the Banner of the Eagle, the Heaven Protector and the Tribes of Asher meaning, “happiness,” and Naphtali meaning, “my wrestling” followed behind.
When we put these three Tribes together, it tells us “A judge for happiness by the wrestling of God.”
“The wresting of God” is the fact that everything He does must pass through His Righteousness and Justice, even though His love may desire something else. Yet He was able to satisfy all three of these attributes through the work of Christ upon the Cross.
Isa 53:10, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.”
And finally, in Deut 28:47-50 is the consistent message of God’s Justice upon the nation of Israel when apostasy sets in.
This imagery ties the 3rd Seal with the 4th, as we will see more of this in our study of the 4th Seal Judgment.
New Testament usage of (ZUGOS) – Yokes and Balances
The word ZUGOS is used in the New Testament in Mat 11:29-30, Acts 15:10, Gal 5:1, 1 Tim 6:1, Rev 6:5. It is used in the Accusative Masculine Singular three times; Acts 15:10; 1 Tim 6:1 and Rev 6:5.
The base word ZUGOS is used several other times as in Mat 11:29-30 and Gal 5:1. Let’s compare these Scriptures and see the progression of thought using the word ZUGOS.
- Mat 11:28-30
Mat 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
“YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” Is a quote from Jer 16:6.
This verse has three invitations:
1) To receive salvation.
2) To grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
3) To serve the Lord.
Through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, we have been created a new spiritual species capable of utilizing the Divine Omnipotence of God, 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 3:20; 1 Thes 1:5. This power makes it very easy for the believer to serve and fulfill the Plan of God. This is the purpose of every member of the human race, yet many don’t come to salvation, and still, more never grow in the knowledge of the Lord, and still, a greater number never come to serve Him.
In this passage, Jesus is distinguishing the Grace Plan of God for salvation, growth, and servitude vs. that of the Pharisees or legalistic religion. Under legalism, you are placed in bondage to human works and human good in order to earn your way to salvation and grace. Yet Christ says, “My way is easy and light.”
The Grace Plan of God calls for us to appropriate His grace through the power and filling of God the Holy Spirit, applying faith in all that we do.
In Legalism, you toil and work in vain with your own human power trying to reach the level of God, which is impossible. Legalism (including the false teaching of the possibility of losing your salvation) is an effective yoke in human terms, because it keeps the people coming back guilt ridden trying to reach or maintain “a child of God” status. That’s why Christ infers that religion and legalism brings a heavy yoke with it.
For the believer utilizing the power of God, his toil in not in vain. Phil 2:16
Speaking to Paul, the biggest Legalist ever, who constantly struggled with the temptations of his Sin Nature to apply legalism, God said in 2 Cor 12:9, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’”
That’s why in Eph 2:8-10, God says about salvation and service, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
- Acts 15:10
In the next usage of “Yoke” in the New Testament, this message is carried forward in Acts 15:10.
Acts 15:10, “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”
At the time of the early church, leading believing Jews were trying to bind the Gentiles, by observing the Law of Moses, even though it had been fulfilled in Christ. The “yoke” they were placing onto the disciples’ neck was the Law. Religion was trying to infiltrate the Grace Plan of God for the Church Age. It was mostly defeated at this time but continued to be a problem throughout the times of the writings of the New Testament. Phil 3 is Paul’s warning about legalistic influences, “dogs.” Unfortunately, that “Yoke” is well secured within our Christian churches today.
- Gal 5:1
Gal 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
The phrase, “Do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” in the Greek is μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε. (ME PALIN ZUGO DOULEIAS ENECHESTHE.).
The first part “Do not be subject to” is a combination of the first and last Greek words of this phrase ME and ENECHESTHE.
ME comes to mean, “not,” and ENECHO is from EN, which means, “in,” and ECHO which means, “to have and hold.”
ENECHO is a verb in the Present Tense, Passive Voice, Imperative Mood, Second Person, Plural. It means to: “have a grudge against, be hostile towards; or in the Passive Voice, as it is here, “be subject to.”
The Passive says: You receive the action of the verb. In other words, “to be subjected to or not” is something that we receive. If we let the Old Sin Nature (OSN) run our soul, the result is we are subjected to the yoke of the sin nature, which is legalism, human works, sin, and evil. Yet, if we keep our souls filled with the Spirit and the Word of God, we will receive Freedom and Righteousness flowing from our souls.
Also, we note that ENECHO is in the Imperative Mood, which says that this is a command or exhortation. We are strongly encouraged to keep pressing forward in the plan of God, Phil 3:13-14. God is commanding that we do not fall back in reversionism within our souls and be like we were prior to our salvation.
The Greek word PALIN means “again or once again.” This is referring to something we use to do, but are not doing now. In other words, we have the danger of drifting back to the state our soul was in prior to our salvation. That is living in sin and the cosmic system, trying to earn everything by ourselves and for ourselves.
“To a yoke of slavery” combines the Greek words DOULOS (Slavery) with ZUGOS (yoke / balances). They come together to mean here, “bondage in a moral and spiritual degeneracy sense.”
This yoke is the Sin Nature and Satan’s cosmic system. Legalism and human works are the results of giving in to the temptations from the asceticism side of the Sin Nature, and are a part of Satan’s cosmic system.
So, for freedom’s sake, the fact that Christ purchased us from the slave market of sin, we are to maintain the path of spiritual growth we are on. Otherwise, we will fall back in reversionism and be caught up once again in the cosmic system of human works, legalism, sin, and evil. Don’t yoke yourself to that which you have already been freed from.
- 1 Tim 6:1
1 Tim 6:1, “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.”
1 Tim 6:1 is speaking about bond service to masters. Paul, who cannot do as he pleases but stands under an imposed order by God and must bow to it, exhorts all Christian workers on the attitude they should carry in the workplace.
This is addressing two instances:
1) When the Christian slave/worker works for a non-Christian master/boss. In this case, the Christian who operates under the Royal Family Honor Code will most likely not be treated in accordance with it. Nevertheless, the believer must continue to operate in impersonal / unconditional love and work as unto the Lord or find another job where you will operate in that manner. Eph 6:5-9; Col 3:22-4:1
2) When the master is a Christian, there should be a mutual personal relationship no longer determined by formal law, which imposes the Zugos, but by the law of personal love under which they are both placed as Adelphoi (brothers). Philemon 1:10-17.
Col 4:1, “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.”
Phile 1:16, “No longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” See also 1 Cor 7:21; Titus 2:9-10.
So, we see that ZUGOS stands for both Balances/Scales and a Yoke, meaning Justice in both blessing and divine discipline or punitive judgment with an emphasis on bondage of service. The Lord tells us not to be “unequally yoked” with the world in 2 Cor 6:14 and gives us that picture in the Law in Deut 22:10 which says, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.”
In order for a yoke to work effectively, you need portion and strength. Therefore, in Phil 4:3, we are to treat other members of the Royal family of God as yoke fellow, and be bound together with them in the work and service of the Lord.
So, in both blessing and judgment, the justice of God is in view, as the 3rd Seal is brought on by the “Black Horse Rider” who has a “Pair of Scales” in his hand. He is bringing forth the Punitive Judgment onto the unbelieving world, who have “yoked” themselves to Satan’s cosmic system, rather than to the Lord Jesus Christ. In similar fashion to Lev 26:26 and Ezek 4:16, the “scarcity of grain” products become the result of the justice of God. As a result, the “yoke” of the unbeliever will be hard, as in 1 King 12:4 and 2 Chron 10:4. But they will have the opportunity to turn to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, in faith and belief, and have their yoke of burden broken, as He takes it upon His shoulders as He has done for every other believer since the beginning of time, Isa 9:1-7.
So, in the translation of Rev 6:5 for the word ZOGON we will translate it, “the yoke of God’s justice.”
Our Complete Translation of Revelation 6:5 is:
“And when He (Jesus Christ) opened up the Third Seal, I comprehended by listening through the ear gate to the Third Living Creature saying, ‘you come forth’. And then, I perceived through the eye gate, and I beheld a black horse; and he who was sitting upon it was holding the yoke of God’s justice in his hand.”
Zugos tells us in Verse 5 that the justice of God is about to be revealed to the unbelieving world.
Now we are ready for the:
Exegesis of Rev 6:6
Greek: καὶ ἤκουσα ὡς φωνὴν ἐν μέσῳ τῶν τεσσάρων ζῴων λέγουσαν, Χοῖνιξ σίτου δηναρίου καὶ τρεῖς χοίνικες κριθῶν δηναρίου· καὶ τὸ ἔλαιον καὶ τὸν οἶνον μὴ ἀδικήσῃς.
Transliteration of the Greek is: Kai ekousa hos phonen en meso ton tessaron zoon legousan, Choinix sitou denariou kai treis choinikes krithon denariou, kai to elaion kai ton oinon me adikeses.
The NASB translation is: Rev 6:6, “And I heard something like a Voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
Our first word is the familiar καὶ – KAI, a coordinating conjunction which ties John’s learning through the eye gate of the Black Horse Rider who had “the yoke of God’s Justice,” with what he is about to learn through the ear gate and gives equal portion to both sides.
KAI can be translated and, “even or also.” We will use “and.”
Then we have ἤκουσα – EKOUSA, which is our word for “hearing or heard.” “EKOUSA,” like in Verse 5 is a Verb in the Aorist Tense, Active Voice, Indicative Mood, First Person, Singular.
This is a Constative Aorist, given the overall comprehension of the “thing” John heard. Coupled with the Indicative Mood we again see the action as “Prophetic” Past Tense.
The Active Voice says that John is producing the action of the verb. He is the one hearing or comprehending, at this time, through the ear gate.
The Indicative Mood tells us of the reality of the situation. John absolutely heard and comprehended what is about to be said.
The First Person Singular of AKOUO tells us John is referring to himself alone. So, we can add “I” to the phrase.
Therefore, we again translate AKOUO as “I comprehended by listening (through the ear gate)“, which is the first stage of the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP).
Then we have ὡς φωνὴν – HOS PHONEN.
HOS – ὡς is an Adverbial Comparative Subordinating Conjunction, which is a type of conjunction that introduces a Dependent Clause. [A dependent clause depends or relies upon a main clause.] This use suggests an analogy or comparison, between the connected ideas or tells how something is done.
As a Particle of Comparison, HOS can mean, “as, like, as though, as if, on the grounds that, or on the pretext of.”
As a Comparative Subordinating Conjunction, it introduces what John perceives through the ear gate in the same way or manner that he did in Verse 5. In Verse 5, he perceived through hearing the Living Creature commanding the Horse Rider to come forth, and then he perceived through the eye gate the Black Horse Rider coming forth. So, we can translate this word “in the same manner,” emphasizing comprehension through perception.
PHONEN – φωνὴν, is a Noun in the Accusative Case, Feminine, Singular. Which can mean, “a Voice, a noise, a sound, a blast, a cry, or a language.”
PHONE – φωνή, in the feminine and it means, “Voice.”
The Accusative is the noun that receives the action of the verb. So, we note that John heard this, the Voice in the center of the four Living Creatures.
We will translate this, “a Voice.”
Prepositions indicate the relation to a noun.
Dative is the Case of the Indirect Object telling, to or for whom (or what) something is done. The Dative Case shows that a noun or a pronoun is indirectly affected by the action of the verb. (i.e. I heard).
So, in other words, “Where was this “Voice” coming from?” is the question, EN establishes, and our next Dative word MESO tells us.
MESO is and Adjective, Pronominal, Dative, Neuter, Singular, and can mean, “middle, in the midst of, or among.”
Adjectives typically modify nouns. In the Greek, when the Adjective is a noun modifier, it agrees with the noun in gender, number, and Case. Here MESO does not agree with the following noun ZOON (Living Creature), so that tells us it is independent from the ZOON.
In Greek, adjectives may also act alone as nouns, as adverbs; or in comparison. MESO is what is called a Pronominal, which is an Adjective sub-class that resembles a pronoun by specifying a person, place, or thing. Here it acts like a noun of place.
The Neuter tells us this word refers to an entity or concept versus a male, which would be in the masculine, or female, if it were in the feminine.
So MESO is doing two things here, first it is distinguishing that the “Voice” was not coming from all or one of the Living Creatures, it is separate from them, and secondly, it is telling us of a specific place.
I like how the NASB translated this word “center,” versus how the KJV and most other translations translated MESO “in the midst of.” The NASB is getting close to the point of describing again the location of the “Voice,” where the Living Creatures were, and that is God’s Throne, as described in Chapter 4, especially Verse 6, and Rev 5:6.
In Rev 4:6 the Greek work KUKLO, which means, “around” is used in conjunction with MESO to describe the position of the Living Creatures. As we have seen with other pictures in the Seals, the word KUKLO is not needed hear, because we have already been given the overall picture of the Throne of God. Nevertheless, we still understand that in Rev 6:6, the “Voice” is coming from the place described in Rev 4:6, where the Living Creatures are at center and around the Throne of God.
The “Throne of God” and the place where the “Lamb that was slain” is, is the center of everything, and from “The Center” is where this “Voice” came from, God’s headquarters / the Tabernacle in heaven, and that is how we will translate MESO, “God’s Throne.”
In comparison, we have our next phrase TON TESSARON ZOON – τῶν τεσσάρων ζῴων. Each word is in the Genitive Case, Neuter Gender, and Plural number, which tell us these words are linked together.
The Genitive Case has three common functions of showing: description, kind, and possession.
- Description identifies the number of Living Creatures.
- Kind tells us of what sort of angelic creatures they are.
- Possession says that where the Voice is coming from is where these creatures are.
The Neuter again doesn’t distinguish male or female, but indicates an object and links the phrase as gender neutral.
The Plural tells us there is more than one Living Creature around the throne of God.
Now when a Genitive word is translated into English, it usually is accompanied by the word “of.” Yet, here we have a Genitive of Association, which indicates “the Living Creatures” are associated with “The Center” as opposed to possessing or owning it.
Let’s look at the three words in this phrase that are all in the Genitive of Association, Neuter, Plural.
- The first word is TON – τῶν, the determiner or definite article, “the.”
- Then we have TESSARON – τεσσάρων, the Cardinal, Adjective indicating quantity, not order, modifying the main noun, our next word ZOON. This describes the number of the Living Creatures, and we will translate this word as “four.”
- Then we have the Noun ZOON – ζῴων, meaning, “a Living Creatures or animal.” We have studied these four Living Creatures in detail and are well acquainted with them. We note here that they are, “before the Throne of God,” Rev 4:6. So, we will incorporate the Genitive of Association with what we know about the four Living Creatures in relationship to the Throne of God and translate this, “around which are (genitive of association) the four Living Creatures.”
Our translation to this point is, “And I comprehended by listening through the ear gate in the same manner (as before) a Voice in The Center (God’s throne), around which are the four Living Creatures, ….”
Next, we have the word LEGOUSAN, λέγουσαν, which is a Participle Verb in the Present Tense, Active Voice, Accusative Case, Feminine, Singular. The root word is LEGO, which means, “to say, speak, lay forth, affirm, teach, exhort, or command.”
This is an Instantaneous Present Tense, which means the time frame of speaking is concluded once the utterance is over.
This is a Simple Active Voice meaning, “The One, in The Center, Jesus Christ is the One Speaking.”
A Participle Verb gives the verb noun like characteristics. Therefore, in the Accusative Case it identifies this as the direct object or the thing John comprehends through the ear gate. It is setting up the following phrase spoken by Jesus Christ as an object lesson. We will translate this word, “saying.”
Jesus Christ now reveals what the Divine Punitive Judgment of the 3rd Seal will be.
Then we have the phrase: “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius;…”
Greek: Χοῖνιξ σίτου δηναρίου καὶ τρεῖς χοίνικες κριθῶν δηναρίου,
Transliteration of the Greek: Choinix sitou denariou kai treis choinikes krithon denariou,
The first word is the Greek word CHOINIX – Χοῖνιξ (khoy’-nix), which is a Noun in the Nominative Case, Feminine, Singular.
The Nominative establishes the subject. In this instance, it is the measurement tool for the grain.
A CHOINIX is a Greek dry measure, which is typically thought to be about or less than one quart or one-liter. It is also widely considered to be as much as would support a man of moderate appetite for a day.
Because of the Singular, we will translate CHOINIX as “a quart,” for our American measurement system.
The next word is the Noun SITOU – σίτου (see’-to) in the Genitive Case, Masculine, Singular, and means, “wheat or grain.”
This is a Genitive of Content, which specifies the contents of the word; it is related to, in this instance, CHOINIX. Due to the Genitive of Content, we can replace the typical “of” used generically with Genitives with “containing.”
Our combined phrase is, “A quart containing wheat.”
Then we have DENARIOU – δηναρίου (day-nar’-ee-o), a Noun in the Genitive Case, Neuter, Singular.
This Genitive is the Genitive of Price or value or quantity. When this type of Genitive occurs instead of “of,” we can use “for” in answer to the question, “How much?”
Denarius literally means, “containing ten.” It was of Latin origin meaning, “a Roman silver coin in NT times.” It later became the name of a gold coin of the Roman Empire equivalent to 25 denarii. It took its name from being equal to ten “asses,” (a bronze coin of the ancient Roman republic) a number after 217 B.C. increased to sixteen (about 3.898 grams or .1375 oz.). It was the principal silver coin of the Roman Empire. From the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, it would seem that a denarius was then the ordinary pay for a day’s wages, Mt. 20:2-13.
Here and in John 6:7 are two unusual instances of the Genitive of price being related to a noun versus a verb. We have seen John 6:7 in our study of the 3rd Seal as the time that Jesus showed that He could and would provide for our everlasting sustenance, not money.
John 6:7, “Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.’”
So, with the Genitive of Price in the Singular, we will translate this word, “for one day’s wage.”
Next, we have our familiar coordinating conjunction KAI – καὶ, which means, “and, even, or also” that ties the preceding phrase with the following phrase giving them equal strength. We will translate KAI simply as “and.”
Then, we have the Greek Cardinal Adjective of TREIS – τρεῖς in the Nominative Case, Feminine, Plural. The Cardinal is used to indicate quantity but not order. Nouns that are in the Nominative establish the subject of the sentence, yet as an adjective here, it enhances or modifies the noun, i.e. the measurement tool for the grain, CHOINIX. TREIS is the Greek word for the number “three” and that is how we will translate it.
So, we come again to the Greek word CHOINIX, but this time it is in the Nominative Case, Feminine Plural being CHOINIKES – χοίνικες. This ties in with the Adjective TREIS, telling us there are “three quarts,” and that is how we will translate it.
Now, we have our second grain product KRITHON – κριθῶν. This is in the Genitive Case, Feminine, Plural of KRITHE which means, “Barley.”
Like SITOS, this is a Genitive of Content, which specifies the contents in the CHOINIKES. So again, we will replace the typical “of” with “containing.” So, our combined phrase is, “Three quarts containing barley.”
And finally, we again have DENARIOU – δηναρίου, in the Genitive Case, Neuter, Singular. It is a Genitive of Price, so we can replace “of” with “for” in answer to the question, “How much?” Again, we will translate this, “for one day’s wage.”
Our complete translation thus far is:
“Saying, ‘A quart containing wheat for one day’s wage and three quarts containing barely for one day’s wage.”
Rev 6:6 thus far: “And I comprehended by listening through the ear gate in the same manner (as before) a Voice in The Center (God’s throne), around which are the four Living Creatures saying, ‘A quart containing wheat for one day’s wage and three quarts containing barely for one day’s wage.'”
An interesting point at this time is the fact that you have two kinds of grain products. One signifies wealth – “wheat,” and the other, “barely” – the poor man’s rations. We have a three to one ratio. One day’s wage can buy either one day’s ration of wheat or three one day rations of barley. I believe one of the reasons God does this is to see what is in a man’s heart during this Judgment, in the hopes of leading as many as possible to salvation. This judgment is intended to do just that.
Remember that the Tribulation begins with only unbelievers on earth, as all believers have already been Raptured out. In addition, the mark of beast for buying and selling is not in view yet, that will occur later on in the Tribulation. Salvation of the lost is the ultimate purpose of all of God’s plans.
In this Judgment, a choice is placed before the unbeliever. The one who buys “wheat” will most likely be buying just for themselves and will not care to the needs of those around them, which most likely will be family members. The one who buy’s “barely” will at least be able to give a day’s ration to two others. This will speak volumes about what is going on in a man’s heart during these very difficult days.
If a man stays arrogant and only cares about himself, “number one,” I believe that person will have a very difficult time humbling themselves to the point of accepting Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for their sins. On the other hand, one who buys “barely” will choose to do so over the “wheat,” because they will want to provide for their loved ones. This simple choice will show humility in a man’s heart, and I believe that those individuals, if not already saved post Rapture during the first two Seals, will have a better chance for accepting Christ than the one who buys “wheat” only for themselves. How simple God’s plans are.
First Mention Principles: – Grain, Wheat, and Barley:
- First Old Testament – Grain
The Hebrew word for “grain” is דָּגָן – DAGAN (daw-gawn’).
In this passage, Isaac is unwittingly blessing Jacob over Esau. The LXX uses SITOU – σίτου (see’-tos) in the Genitive, Masculine, Singular for the Hebrew DAGAN.
Gen 27:28, “Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain (DAGAN) and new wine.”
We just saw this verse in our principles of studying the ZUGOS – “Scale” and “Yoke.” Here again we see the tie in to the Justice of God in Blessing or Punitive Divine Judgment.
In this Case, we can imagine Esau’s reaction when learning about his brother swindling his blessing away, by saying, “that dog-gone brother of mine.” lol
- First Old Testament – Wheat
Next, we have the first usage of “Wheat” in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word for wheat is CHITTAH – חִטִּים – (khit-taw’).
In this passage, we see the ugly unloved sister Leah’s price for lying with Jacob. As a result, she conceived Issachar.
The LXX uses the Greek word PUROS, which extra Biblically means, “wheat.” The root word PUR means, “fire.” “Fire” typically stands for Judgment.
Gen 30:14-18, “Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15But she said to her, “Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?” So Rachel said, “Therefore he may lie with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” 16When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. 17God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18Then Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.”
Again, we see the genius of God. The name “Issachar” means, “man for hire or “hireling.” It is no coincidence that the first usage of “wheat” in the Bible speaks of the grain harvest that identifies God’s Divine Providence and Sustenance that brings forth a man for hire. This compares to the 3rd Seal Judgment where a “hireling” will not be able to provide for his family with one day’s wage.
God brings forth workers. Sinful man brings nothing to the table.
- First Old Testament – Barley
The first usage of “Barley” in the Bible is found in Ex 9:31. Here the Hebrew word seorah – שְׂעֹרִים – (seh-o-raw’) means, “barley.” The LXX uses the Greek word krithé – κριθή (kree-thay’). Read Ex 9:27-35. This is the 7th Plague against Egypt during the time of Moses. Here the Lord brings” hail” in Judgment, which destroys the early spring crops of flax and barley.
Ex 9:31, “Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud.”
So, in the 7thh (spiritual perfection) Judgment against Egypt and the 3rd (divine perfection) Seal Judgment against the world, “barley” is the focus.
Now this bring up an interesting point that “barley” is the first grain product harvested followed by “wheat.” We’ll see more of this later when we review the Feast of 1stFruits.
But the point here related to the 3rd Seal is that “wheat” is mentioned first and “barley” second. If we take the Bible literally, as we should, along with its figurative symbols, it tells us that this plague lasts a long time. It starts with the later wheat harvest, sometime in June, and continues until the following year’s spring harvest of barley. This is as opposed to the barley to wheat harvest or early spring to late spring/early summer, a short duration. So, this isn’t a quick hit and we’re on our way. This is a lasting Divine Punitive Judgment of famine and economic crisis.
In the New Testament, the predominant use of SITOS is “wheat” (or corn in the KJV) and only several times is grain used.
- First New Testament
The First time we see SITOS used in the New Testament is in Mat 3:1-12
Mat 3:12, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The context of this verse has to do with the Lord separating believers from unbelievers. This occurs every day by His Word, the Gospel. Speaking of His work of separation, and our example which Christ said,
John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Separation will culminate with His 2nd Coming. At that time, He will separate believer from unbeliever and the sheep nations from the goat nations. At His 2nd Coming, at the end of the Tribulation, He will winnow the sheep from the goats, Mat 25:32-46.
The entire Tribulation time period, including the Seal Judgments, is intended for God to call out as many of His sheep as possible. What people think about the Christ is the key.
Mat 13:30, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
And finally, “grain” is related to the resurrection body of the believer.
1 Cor 15:35-38, “But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.”
Grain, Wheat, Barley and Famine
In Gen 41, the Pharaoh of Egypt had a dream of “7 plentiful & 7 famine years” that was interpreted and managed by Joseph. “Cows & Grain” were the images in Pharaoh’s dream. The Hebrew word SHIBBOLETH means, “head of grain or wheat,” as does the Greek word STACHUS used in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament.
Gen 41:27, “The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind will be seven years of famine.”
We know that this Divine Judgment against the land of Egypt is from God by what is told in Vs. 32.
Gen 41:32, “Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about.”
Specifically, this Judgment is from the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as noted in the imagery of the East Wind that we saw in Vs. 27. See also Ezek 19:12; Hosea 13:15.
Gen 41:27, “The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind will be seven years of famine.”
“Coming from the east” is an analogy of Christ and His 2nd Coming, culminating the Judgments of the Tribulation, Mat 27:24.
In addition, the double emphasis of Pharaoh’s dream, as well as the double emphasis on grain products during the 3rd Seal Judgment tells us this is from God.
Gen 41:32, “Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about.”
Rev 6:6, “….A quart containing wheat for one day’s wage, and three quarts containing barley for one day’s wage.”
Finally, we note that all discernment of Prophecy and Spiritual things are from God and His Word, as we see in Gen 41:16 regarding Joseph and the interpretation of the dream.
Gen 41:16, “Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.’”
The believer who learns and applies the Word of God during the Tribulation will also have Divine Protection during those extremely difficult days. It certainly won’t be a “bed of roses” nor as easy as Egypt had it during their 7-years of famine, but God is faithful and will always guide you through difficult situations.
Heb 13:5-6, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” 6so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”
Rev 12:14, “But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
So, our Lord brought on the famine of grain products in Egypt (Egypt always represents worldliness / Satan’s cosmic system in the Bible), just as He will do in the 3rd Seal Judgment.
Then in 2 Kings 4:38-44, we have two accounts of the ministry of Elisha.
First – He adds “crushed grain to a poisoned pot of stew,” and all are fed and satisfied.
Principle: The Bread of Life is demonstrated when grain purifies that which is laden with sin and satisfies those who eat of it.
Second – A man brings bread of the first fruits, “20 loaves of barley bread and fresh ears of grain,” and thousands were fed.
Principle: Bread from the First Fruits, Jesus Christ is sustenance for many.
This is similar to the 5-loaves that fed over 5,000 in Mat 14:16-21; John 6:1-14 and the 7-loaves that fed 4,000 in Mat 15:32-38. Compare with 1 Cor 15:20-23.
Again, we see that the provision of Wheat and Barley are main symbols of God’s Divine Providence and Blessings. Keep in mind that the account of Elisha in 2 Kings 4:42 included grains from the first fruits.
Next, in 2 Chron. 6:26-31, we have a prayer by Solomon for blessings upon those whom have rebounded and recovered. This Scripture tells us the reason why famines come. Sinning against God without repentance is the reason for Divine Judgment. Sins have been paid for at the Cross, but when man does not appropriate the grace of God by confessing their sins, either at salvation or post salvation, and receive forgiveness of those sins, God is just to bring Judgment against the evil on their soul or in the nation.
Next, we see in Neh 5:1-5, that when a famine comes, many are forced to sell themselves and their families into slavery. So, instead of voluntarily being yoked unto the Lord, in famine people are yoked to the world, Satan’s cosmic system.
Next, we note that four of the seven main products of Israel provided by God are mentioned in our scripture, Rev 6:6. They include “wheat, barley, olives and grapes.” Hosea 2:8 also mentions these four products as God’s provision for His people. (Gen. 27:28; Deut 7:13; Joel 1:10).
Hosea 2:8, “For she (Israel) does not know that it was I (God) who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”
The others where “figs, pomegranates and dates.”
These four products each have their own harvest cycle and the 7 Feasts of Israel are timed around their harvest cycles. Each Feast has a practical and prophetic meaning, and the more we understand them, the better understanding we will have of God’s Plan.
In addition, within each harvest cycle, God commanded a specific process for harvesting. By reviewing these products, their harvest, and the feasts, we will see amazing pictures regarding God’s Plan for the end times, including the:
Rapture of the Church
Col 2:16-17, “… in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
The word “Rapture” is from the Latin word Rapiemur and is used in the Latin translation of the Bible for the Greek word HARPAZO in 1 Thes 4:17. The English translation is “caught up.”
HARPAZO or “Rapture” means, “to seize, carry off by force, to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly, to snatch out or away.” So, there will be a catching up, seizing or snatching away by our Lord of His people.
In this study, it is important to note that there is a Law of Harvest and a Law of First Fruits. Understanding these laws will help explain why there must be a Rapture of the Church and when it will occur in relation to the end time harvest.
In regards to the Law of Harvest or “in gathering” there are three main principles”
- Three times a year all men had to appear at the temple, Ex 23:14-19. Each time is related to a harvest.
Ex 23: 14-17, 19, “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16 Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17 Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD. ….. 19 You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God.”
a) Passover/Unleavened Bread– In the early spring at the barley harvest. This was the time of Christ’s crucifixion.
b) Pentecost– In the late spring early summer at the wheat harvest. This was the time of sending the Holy Spirit to begin the Church Age and seal all Church Age believers.
c) Tabernacle– In late autumn at the final ingathering. This is when Christ will establish His Millennial rule. (Grapes and olives were harvested beginning at Rosh Hashanah and ending at Tabernacle.)
- They were not to harvest the corners of the field nor the gleaning (pieces missed while harvesting). Lev 19:9-10
Lev 19:9-10, “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.”
- In the 7th year they were not to gather / harvest, Lev 25:3-4. This is a picture of the Millennium.
Lev 25:3-5, “Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, 4but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5Your harvest’s after growth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.”
2 Peter 3:8, “…that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”
And speaking of gatherings, in Num 10:4, “trumpets” were used to gather the people of Israel and “trumpets” will be used to gather God elect. 1 Thes 4:16-17
Num 10:4, “Yet if only one (trumpet) is blown, then the leaders, the heads of the divisions of Israel, shall assemble before you.”
1 Thes 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the Voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
Now in gathering the harvest there is a specific process that includes:
- Marking the first fruits that ripen. Marking.
- Harvest the field. Harvesting.
- Leave the corners for strangers, the poor and widows. Gleaning, Lev 19:9-10; 23:22.
Lev 23:22, “When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”
In this gathering process, the first fruits were separated out from the rest of the field and marked. It was then brought to the temple where the priest presented it to the Lord. The rest of the field was not touched at this time. Then the main harvest occurred of the remaining crops. Of these crops, they were threshed or winnowed or crushed to make them useful. During the main harvest, the corners were not touched and left for the gathering of the gleaners.
This has analogy to the: Resurrection of the Family of God:
- Christ and the Church are the First Fruits – led by Gentile peoples. They will be presented to God by the High Priest, Jesus Christ.
- Then the Tribulation believers who are killed or die, along with the Old Testament saints, are the main harvest – led by the Jewish peoples, and
- The Millennial saints are the gleaning – led by all peoples unto Christ the King.
Next, there was a process specifically associated with the First Fruits.
- They would mark the first ripened fruit with a cord or reed. This is called “marking.”
- They would gather the first fruits in a bundle. This is called “gathering.”
- Then they would present the first fruits at the temple. This is called “presenting.”
Please note that although there is a specific Feast of First Fruits, the first fruits where presented to the Lord at both the Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. This process occurred at both feasts.
Likewise, there are two markings of believers mentioned in the Bible, the Sealing of the Church Age believer (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30) and the sealing of the 144,000 believing Jews during the Tribulation (Rev 7:3-8). Both are first fruit types.
As Christ is the first fruits of all resurrected believers (1 Cor 15:20-23), signified by being raised on the Feast of First Fruits, the Church age believer is also a type of first fruits as we are in Christ (James 1:18), and the 144,000 Jews are a first fruit type of all believing Jews and Old Testament saints (Rev 14:4).
James 1:18, “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”
This signifies the order of the Church Age believers’ resurrection, as being before the resurrection of other dispensation’s believers.
So, we note that “Barley” is harvested in early spring. This is the first harvest and is the 1st First Fruits presentation as Christ and the Church are first in order.
“Wheat” is harvested in early summer. This is the 2nd First Fruits presentation and represents the Old Testament and Tribulation saint harvesting. In addition, the Feast of Tabernacles celebrated the gathering in of the crops, Lev 23:39 which speaks to the Millennial harvest of saints.
Lev 23:39, “On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day….”
Now to break it down, the resurrection of Christ is the pattern for what is called the 1st Resurrection, which actually includes all believers throughout human history. The 2nd Resurrection is that of unbelievers to the Eternal Lake of Fire.
The 1st Resurrection is pictured as a battalion pass-in-review, and therefore is divided into four echelons, 1 Cor 15:20-24.
This is brought out in Verse 23 with the Greek word Tagma – τάγμα, which means, “something orderly in arrangement (a troop), (figuratively) a series or succession, order, that which has been arranged, a thing placed in order, a body of soldiers, a corps, band, troop or class.”
So, what is the Order of the Resurrection? The Bible tells us.
Alpha Company: The Resurrection of Christ at the end of the great power experiment of the Hypostatic Union, for He is “the first fruits of them that slept.” Mat 28; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; Acts 2:31-34.
Bravo Company: The Resurrection of the Royal Family of God at the end of the great power experiment of the Church Age, John 14:1 3; Phil 3:20-21; 1 Cor 15:51-57; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 John 3:1-2.
Charlie Company: The resurrection of the Old Testament believers and Tribulation martyrs at the end of the Tribulation and the 2nd Advent, Dan 12:13; Isa 26:19-21; Mat 24:31; Rev 20:4.
Delta Company: The Resurrection of the Millennial saints at the end of the Millennium.
So, as we have seen, there are two main categories of Resurrection, for all believers including Christ, which is resurrection to eternal life and for all unbelievers, which is resurrection to eternal death.
This is shown in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Mat 13:24-30. The “wheat” representing believers with reference to Jewish believers, while “tares” represents unbelievers, most likely ‘self-righteous and religious types.’
We note this from the Greek word for “Tares.” Tares is the Greek word ζιζάνιον – zizanion (dziz-an’-ee-on) and in Latin it is Lolium, which is a kind of weed called darnel, resembling wheat, except the grains are black.
Charles Ryrie notes: Tares is most likely the weed darnel, which in the blade resembles wheat but which can be distinguished from wheat when fully ripe.
So, they may look the same, but their fruit is very different. The Believer is filled with the Fruit of Spirit, Gal 5:22, the unbeliever is filled with self-righteous arrogance, Rom 1:18-31; Gal 5:17, 19-21
Then in James 5:7, the Lord provides the believer with encouragement to wait on the Lord for our resurrection.
James 5:7-8, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
The early and late reign speak to the Barley and Wheat harvest which are the two main harvests of Church Age believers at the Rapture, and the O.T. and Tribulation saints at the conclusion of the Tribulation. Both groups will receive their eternal resurrection bodies at their appointed times.
Recalling our previous lessons, in “gathering the harvest” there is a specific process that includes: Marking, Harvesting, and Gleaning.
We noted that the “marking” alluded to the Sealing of the Holy Spirit of the Church Age believer (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30) and the sealing of the 144,000 believing Jews during the Tribulation (Rev 7:3-8). Both are first fruit types.
The Church is a First Fruit, because of its unique union with Jesus Christ, among all believers throughout history.
James 1:18, “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”
In relation to all believers throughout history, the Church Age believer will be resurrected first, followed by the main “harvest” of Old Tribulation and Tribulation Saints, and the “gleaning” of the Millennial saints.
Another way to look at this is that Christ is the First Fruits (1 Cor 15:20) for the Church marked by the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22) followed by the main harvest of the Church at the Rapture.
Then for the Old Testament and Tribulation saints, the 144k Jews of Rev 7 are potentially the First Fruits to be resurrected, followed by the rest at the end of the Tribulation. In this scenario, the 144k are either Raptured during the Tribulation, as some suppose, given the reference in Rev 14 of 144k being in heaven. (Although many theologians believe Chapter 14 is referencing a different group of 144k, most likely a group of Spiritual Heroes that represent God’s extended government in Heaven. [12 represents perfect government in the Bible]. Likewise, the references to 144k in Rev 7 & 14 differ significantly, to lead one to think they are separate groups.) The other possibility is that all or a portion of the 144k Jews are martyred during the Tribulation, and they are raised first, followed by the rest of the dead in Christ of the Old Testament and Tribulation believers. There is no scripture that gives us this detail other than the comparisons to the First Fruits and Harvests.
The “gleaning” then would be all Millennial saints resurrected at the end of the Millennium.
- 1st Marking – Christ
- 1st Harvest – Church at Rapture
- 2nd Marking – 144k Jews
- 2nd Harvest – Old Testament and Tribulation Saints who are dead in Christ at the end of the Tribulation
- 1st and 2nd Gleaning – Millennial believers at the end of the Millennium.
James 5:7-8, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
Now, recalling that with First Fruits, which were presented at the Feast of First Fruits (early) and Pentecost (late), they had a specific process of “marking,” “gathering,” and “presenting.”
Keep in mind that we noted that “first fruits” where presented to the Lord at both the Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. So, this process occurred at both feasts.
We have already noted the “marking” as the Sealing of the Holy Spirit, and there are two mentions; Church Age believers, 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30, and 144k Jews, Rev 7:3-8.
The “gathering” then is the main harvest of the field when all saints from the represented dispensation(s) would be resurrected.
And then we have the “presenting.” In presenting, the High Priest would take the first fruits (Lev 2:8-9, 12; 6:14) and wave them before the Lord (Lev 23:10-11; 15, 17, 20). This was done literally to thank God for His Divine Providence. Spiritually, it symbolizes what are Lord Jesus Christ, the High Priest, Heb 5:5-6; 9:11-12, will do with the believer after our resurrection. He, the High Priest, will present us to God the Father as a glory unto Him, Mat 10:32; Luke 12:8; Rev 3:5c.
Mat 10:32, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.
As believer priests of the Church age, we are to live our lives every day as a first fruits presentation to God for His glory. Rom 6:13; 12:1
Rom 6:13, “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Rom 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
2Tim 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
So, we have seen the relationship between Marking, Gathering, and Presenting in relation to first fruits harvested and Marking, Harvesting, and Gleaning in relation to the overall reaping of the fruits.
“Gleaning,” as we noted, speaks to the Millennium, as God will gather the remnant saints alive at the end of the Tribulation from the four corners of the earth. This is the gathering of saved Israel (and Gentiles) into the barn of the Millennium.
Isa 11:12, “And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
Mat 24:31, “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
This “gleaning of the remnant” is also pictured in the story of Ruth in Ruth 2:1-23.
In Verse 23, we see Ruth, the foreigner, who turns to worship the true God of Israel staying through the Barley and Wheat harvest and living with her mother-law thereafter. This is a picture of the unbeliever who enters the Tribulation as an unbeliever, then become saved and is cared for by God during the Tribulation and survives, and then walks into the Millennium to live with their lawful kinsmen, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now again, “barley” speaking of the Gentile nations and represents the Church Age.
Ezek 4:12-13, “You shall eat it as a barley cake, having baked it in their sight over human dung.” 13Then the LORD said, “Thus will the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean among the nations where I will banish them.”
This speaks to the dispersing of the Jewish nation in 70AD and the beginning of the Church Age, where Gentile nations would now be the client nations unto God.
Judges 7:13, “When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to his friend. And he said, “Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat…”
This is a picture of Christ and the Church coming back at the 2nd Advent to destroy the unbelievers.
Judge 7:16, “He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers.”
This is a picture of the three resurrections of the family of God following Christ in His resurrection: The Church, Old Testament Saints, and Millennial Saints, each having its own trumpet call.
Num 5:15, “The man shall then bring his wife (whom he suspects of adultery) to the priest, and shall bring as an offering for her one-tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall not pour oil on it nor put frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of memorial, a reminder of iniquity.”
Because of the rejection of the Lord by Israel, and the acceptance of false gods and religion, the jealousy of God (Anthropopathism – Ascribing to God Human Characteristics which He does not have.) brought in another, the Gentile nations as the client nations unto God.
So, when the Bible speaks of the “barley harvest,” it represents the resurrection of the Church in Christ.
Likewise, as we have seen, the “wheat harvest” represents the Jewish and Old Testament saint dispensations, which includes the Tribulation.
The “grape harvest” of the fall speaks to the Judgment of God over unbelievers during the latter half of the Tribulation. Rev 14:14-20
And finally, the “Tabernacle celebration” was a final celebration of all fruits harvested throughout the year. This speaks to the resurrection of the Millennial saints. The fall harvest included; fruit trees, olives, grapes etc.
Ex 23:16, “Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest (Pentecost) of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering (Tabernacle / Booths) at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.”
Lev 23:39, “On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.”
“Three times” represents the resurrection of: The Church, Old Testament and Tribulational saints, and Millennial saints.
Along with each harvest, there is a specific process for extracting the riches of the fruit from it:
- The Barley harvest had light threshing and winnowing.
- The Wheat harvest had heavy threshing and winnowing
- The Fruit harvest involved crushing.
These three also correlate to how God deals with various people and dispensations in order to extract the riches of the fruit of His children.
Let’s look at each process in more detail.
Barley: A cereal grass (genus Hordeum) having the flowers in dense spikes with long awns and three spikelets at each joint of the rachis. Its seed are used especially in malt beverages, breakfast foods, and stock feeds. The Barley kernel has a thin light skin so the process of threshing was light or not needed at all, and the winnowing would separate the chaff from the good grain. (Webster’s Dictionary)
In the process of harvesting the Barley, after it was picked or reaped, it was lightly threshed or not threshed at all because of its thin skin. If threshed, they typically took rods to beat the straw. Flails were used for threshing tender cereals or small quantities of grain, as noted in Ruth 2:17 & Isaiah 28:27. Once threshed then it was winnowed to separate the good fruit from the chaff.
“Winnowing” is from the Hebrew word, zarah – זָרָה, which means, “to “toss” about, to scatter, fan, winnow, and disperse.” Winnowing means, “to separate desirable and undesirable elements, exposure to a current of air so that waste matter is eliminated, and to free of unwanted or inferior elements.”
“Winnowing” is a step in the processing of grain; whereby, the grain is separated from the inedible parts. This is the process of separating the chaff from the grain by throwing it against the wind with a broad shovel or a wooden fork with bent prongs. The stalks are thrown into the air, and the wind blows away the chaff and the straw, letting the heavier pure grain fall back to the ground (Isa. 30:24). In tossing it, a current of air removed or separated the undesirable or unwanted.
Isa 30:24, “Also the oxen and the donkeys which work the ground will eat salted fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork.”
John the Baptist used “winnowing” as an analogy of God’s Judgment, when the Lord would separate the sinful from the righteous. Mat 3:12
Mat 3:12, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Ultimately, the harvesting is a picture of the Church in the Resurrection and Rapture of the Church Age believer at the conclusion of the Church Age dispensation. Yet, it is interesting to note that for the Barley harvest, the fruit was sometimes beaten and tossed into the air and the wind would separate the chaff from the grain.
The New Testament Doctrine of the Indwelling of God the Holy Spirit is seen in this picture. Hagios Pneuma are the Greek words for the Holy Spirit. The word Pneuma literally means, “wind.”
The Church Age is a unique dispensation, where all believers receive the permanent indwelling of God the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, John 7:37-39; 1 Cor 6:19-20, 3:16. So, the process of separating out the Royal Family of God (the believer of the Church Age, 1 Peter 2:9), from the world includes sometimes light beating or afflictions and the Pneuma / wind, entering those positive to the gospel message.
2 Cor 4:17, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”
In the relatively prosperous times of the Church Age, (Having the availability of God’s Divine power through the Holy Spirit indwelling you.), compared to the Tribulation and other dispensations, the opportunity for extracting fruit (Becoming a believer, and executing God’s plan for your life.) is much easier. With the unique ministry of God the Holy Spirit, God doesn’t have to “thresh” nearly as hard as in other dispensations to “winnow” out His people.
So, the process of the Barley harvest again correlates to the Church.
Wheat: A cereal grain that yields a fine white flour, is the chief breadstuff of temperate climates, is used also in pastas (as macaroni or spaghetti), and is important in animal feeds. Any of various annual grasses (genus Triticum and Triticum aestivum and Triticum turgidum) of wide climatic adaptability that are cultivated in most temperate areas for the wheat they yield. (Webster’s Dictionary)
The wheat kernel was similar to the barley but was considered more precious and valuable. That is shown in our text of Rev 6:6, where one day’s wage buys one day’s ration versus three day’s ration of barley. So, from all the grasses, wheat was the most valued and remains that way today.
As we have noted, “wheat” represents Israel and the Jewish race, which was the chosen race by God from among all the peoples. Abraham received a promise from God that his seed would produce a people unto God. Psa 105:6; Acts 3:25; Gal 3:16
Psa 105:6, “O seed of Abraham, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!”
Act 3:25-26, (Peter talking) “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ 26For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
Gal 3:16, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.”
Although it was a more precious fruit, it had a tougher outer coating than barley. Therefore, the harvesting process was slightly different. To extract the fruit, the threshing process was much more intense than that of barley.
Threshing is from the Hebrew and Greek words; da-yiš, דַּ֙יִשׁ֙ (dah-yish’); and aloaó, ἀλοάω (al-o-ah’-o).
DUSH means literally, “to trample out,” “thresh, to separate seed from a harvested plant mechanically.” Also, it means, “to separate seed, to thrash, to strike repeatedly.” ALOAO simply means, “to thresh.”
As we have noted, barley needed some light threshing, and the wheat required a much stronger threshing.
The process of threshing was performed generally by spreading the sheaves on the threshing-floor and causing oxen and cattle to tread repeatedly over them, Deut. 25:4; Isa 28:28; Hosea 10:11. In the 2nd Seal, the Living Creature had the face of the oxen, and warfare and slaughter was the Judgment. That holds meaning here too.
The oxen would pull a “threshing instrument”, Isa 41:15; Amos 1:3, which was drawn over the corn. It was made either of planks with stones or bits of iron fastened to the lower surface to make it rough, and rendered heavy by some weight upon it; or by small wagons with low cylindrical wheels like saws, Isa 28:27; 41:15. They were called by the Hebrews a MOREG or CHARATS, a threshing roller or sledge, 2 Sam 24:22; 1 Chron. 21:23; Isa 28:27. It was somewhat like the Roman tribulum or threshing instrument. CHARATS is the more descriptive word, which means, “to cut, sharpen, decide, and wound.”
As a side note, the threshing process reminds me of what Christ endured from the Romans when they scourged Him with the cat-a-nine tails prior to crucifixion, Mat 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 18:33; John 19:1. So in essence, our Lord received threshing in order for His fruit to be revealed.
Threshing is figuratively used in the Old Testament as part God’s Divine Judgment in:
- Providential chastisement, Isa 21:10.
- Crushing oppression, Isa 41:15; Micah 4:12-13.
- Judicial visitation, Jer 51:33.
- Dust made by threshing is a figure of complete destruction, 2 Kings 13:7.
In the New Testament, besides being used to separate believers from unbelievers, it is also used to describe the work of the Pastor Teacher, 1 Tim 5:18; 1 Cor 9:9-10.
1 Tim 5:18, “For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Quoting Deut 25:4.
When the wheat was threshed, just like the barley, it was winnowed by being thrown up against the wind, Jer 4:11, and afterwards tossed with wooden scoops, Isa 30:24. The shovel and the fan for winnowing are mentioned in Psalm 35:5; Job 21:18; Isaiah 17:13.
The ministry of salvation is always found in the Holy Spirit, even though they did not receive the permanent indwell of the Spirit. Salvation has always been the same, and the Spirit is the one who has and will always give us the knowledge and power for salvation.
Interestingly, the First mention of “Thresh” in the Bible is in Isa 28:28.
Isa 28:28, “Grain for bread is crushed, indeed, he does not continue to thresh it forever. Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it, He does not thresh it longer.
God will end the Judgments of the Tribulation, which will end the Jewish Dispensation.
Mat 24:22, “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
The First mention of “Threshing” used for “threshing floor” in the Bible is found in Gen 50:10. The Hebrew word is goren, גֹּ֫רֶן (go’-ren). Its root word means, “neck or throat, to stir up strife and contend.”
Gen 50:10, “When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he (Joseph) observed seven days mourning for his father (Jacob/Israel).
The analogy is to the 7-year Tribulation, which is a mourning period for the rejection of God’s Plan for Salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Wheat kernel has a tougher outer coating than the Barley kernel and needs a rougher threshing process to extract the fruit. This speaks of Israel, the earthly kingdom of God, where this group needs a tougher threshing in order to bring them to salvation. They did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit during the Age of the Law to battle against the Old Sin Nature, but they did have the Law. Due to their rejection of the spiritual meaning of the Law, they built up scar tissue on their soul regarding the Messiah that must be stripped away. This was and is evident today by their rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Throughout their history, God has disciplined the nation Israel because of their rejection of His commands and the Messiah, and this will be evident like never before as the unbelieving nation enters the Tribulation. The first-half of the Tribulation will be the final threshing of the “wheat,” while the second-half of the Tribulation is called the harvesting of the vine of the earth, Rev 14:18-20. This speaks of the grape harvest, which has yet another harvest process. We will discuss this in our next section.
Now we turn to the 3rd harvest, which is the fruit harvest. This harvest was begun and completed in the fall. The fall fruit harvest began around Rosh Hashanah went through Yom Kippur and ended with the Feast of Tabernacle. These three feasts are yet unfilled by Christ, as the first four have already been fulfilled.
- On Rosh Hashanah, Christ will Resurrect and Rapture His bride (Trumpets).
- On Yom Kippur, He will come again in Judgment of the world for its rejection of Him (Day of Atonement).
- On Tabernacle, He will establish His Millennial Reign (Dwell amongst us.).
In addition, this speaks to the time frame when God will bring His harvest home. The Church will most likely be resurrected and Raptured on Rosh Hashanah. Old Testament and dead Tribulational saints will most likely be Resurrected upon Christ’s 2nd Coming on Yom Kippur, and the Millennial saints will be Resurrected or Raptured at the conclusion of Christ’s one-thousand-year Reign, beginning and ending, on the Feast of Tabernacle.
The Feast of Tabernacle is also the 3rd major feast, where all men had to gather at the Temple. This commemorated the final harvest of the year and the entire year’s harvest. This is a picture of the final ingathering, when all the saints throughout history are gathered before the Lord.
Now, in addition, Rev 14:14-20 speaks of another harvest, which is also a fruit harvest. Here the grape harvest is the example, because the Lord speaks of the reaping of the vine of the earth in Rev 14:14-20.
This harvest is not a happy one, as the Barley and Wheat will be. This harvest speaks of God’s final acts of Judgment, against the unbelieving world, in the second half of the Tribulation called, the Bowl or Vial Judgments, Rev 16:1-21. This is a harvest not of saints, but of unbelievers. This final harvest or Judgment will recompense the evil in the world, yet those who haven’t received the Mark of the Beast and are still in the world will have a final chance at salvation, if they wake up and realize that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Compare to Rev 14:9-11; 13:6; 20:4.
Let’s see what the grape harvest tells us.
Grapes: Smooth-skinned juicy, greenish white to deep red or purple, berry eaten dried or fresh as a fruit or fermented to produce wine. Any of numerous woody vines (genus Vitis of the family Vitaceae, the grape family) that usually climb by tendrils, produce clustered fruits that are grapes, and are nearly cosmopolitan in cultivation.
In scripture, the “vine” was first a symbol of the nation Israel; thus, Israel was a vine brought from Egypt, Psa 80:8; Isa 5:1-7.
To dwell under one’s vine and fig tree is an emblem of domestic happiness and peace, and a prophetic figure of future Millennial blessing. 1 Kings 4:25; Psa 128:3; Micah 4:4
Yet, the apostate people of Israel are compared to “worthless” grapes, “vine,” “the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine.” Isa 5:2, 4; Jer 2:21; Hosea 10:1. Compared to believers whose citizenship is in heaven. Eph 2:12f; Phil 3:20
Throughout Israel’s history, either in Blessing as a result of following the Lord, or in Judgment for rejecting the Lord, the grapevine represented Israel.
Interestingly, the fruit of the tree or vine can be eaten as is or must be crushed to extract its juices in order to be useful for multiple applications. This tells us of two ways God can extract useful fruit.
- The first is simply by plucking it and eating it. This is the fruit that abided in God, and therefore was useful right off the vine.
- The second is the fruit that needed to be crushed in order for it to be useful. This group needs more processing in order to be useful. This speaks to those that need the Punitive Judgment of God to come into their lives, in order for them to wake up and receive salvation. This is the application that we see in Rev 14:14-20.
We can say that there will be both types of believers in heaven: those who freely accept the word, will, and plan of God, and those that learned the hard way through God’s Divine Punitive Judgment.
In the New Testament, the vine was a symbol of Jesus Christ, John 15:1-5. In these Scriptures, it is dealing with believers only. Everyone that is a branch from “the vine” is a believer. Some believers will not produce the fruit of the Spirit and their works will be burnt up, 1 Cor 3:10-15. Others will produce one of three levels of fruit (bear fruit, bear more fruit, bear much fruit) and will receive rewards accordingly in the eternal state.
John 15:1-2, 5, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit… 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Yet, in Rev 14, we have a different phrase. It’s not just the “vine” or the “true vine,” but it is a different vine called “the vine of the earth.” This is not speaking of Jesus Christ, but is speaking of Satan, the Antichrist and their cosmic system.
Kenneth Wiersbe says, “The wicked world-system is “the vine of the earth” (v. 18), while Christ is the True Vine (John 15). Israel was planted in this world to be God’s holy vine, to bear fruit for His glory (Isa. 5:1-7; Ps. 80:8-16). Sad to say, Israel bore bitter fruit. In fact, Israel rejected its true Messiah and accepted the false Christ, and had to suffer the bitter consequences.”
The clusters from “the vine of the earth” speaks to unbelievers during the middle to latter part of the Tribulation, who are from the vine of the Antichrist. They are not from the True Vine, they are from the earth, which is now and continues to be throughout the Tribulation owned and run by Satan, Mat 4:8-9; Luke 4:5-7.
Not until the “Kinsman Redeemer” returns in His 2nd Advent, at the end of the Tribulation, will the earth be fully His again. Jeremiah 32 is a type and prophecy of the “Kinsman Redeemer.” Rev 5:2-5, 9-10, show Christ as the “Kinsman Redeemer.”
The clusters from “the vine of the earth” will be reaped and put into the winepress of God’s wrath. This is one of God’s final acts of Judgment, on the unbelieving world, in the final stages of the Tribulation. This includes the “Bowl Judgments” and culminates with the “Battle of Armageddon,” where our Lord returns triumphantly.
For those that learn the hard way, yet did not receive the “mark of the beast,” God uses this final act to extract their juices, bringing them to Salvation.
What is a winepress? A “winepress” is a vat in which juice is expressed from grapes by treading or by means of a plunger.
In Old Testament times, the presses for making wine were usually cut or hewed out of rock (Isa. 5:2) and were connected by channels to lower rock-cut vats, where the juice was allowed to collect and ferment. The juice was squeezed from the grapes by treading over them with the feet, Job 24:11, Amos 9:13.
The treading of grapes in the winepress is a familiar Old Testament depiction of God’s Judgment, Lam. 1:15; Joel 3:9-17, and Prophecy of the Tribulation.
Lam 1:15, “The Lord (Adonay) has rejected all my strong men in my midst; He has called an appointed time (MO’EDH – an assembly, solemn feast, great festival, Lev 23:2) against me to crush my young men; the Lord has trodden as in a wine press the virgin daughter of Judah (Jerusalem).”
Isa 63:1-6 portrays the Messiah as the one who treads the grapes.
Joel 3:13, “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the winepress is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.”
So, in our comparison, grapes, olives, and other fruits have a tougher skin than barley and wheat, and must be pressed down with heavy weight and crushed in order for the fruit juices to be extracted. This process speaks to the great winepress of God’s Bowl Judgments during the second half of the Tribulation in Rev 14:14-20, where the tough-skinned unbelievers of the first half of the Tribulation will undergo Gods final harvesting process.
Being from “the vine of the earth,” they had the potential for salvation without undergoing the winepress process, yet they have rejected the Messiah over and over again and will undergo further Divine Punitive Judgment.
Without the toughest harvesting and extracting process in all of human history, the great winepress of God’s wrath, no unbeliever from the second half of the Tribulation would come to salvation. Sadly, many still reject the Lord (especially those with the “mark of the beast”) and receive the final judgment as they are removed from earth at the end of the Tribulation. They then receive a resurrection to eternal death, the second death, (Rev 20:6) at the Great White Throne Judgment of Jesus Christ at the conclusion of the Millennial Reign, Rev 20:11-15.
So, between winnowing, threshing, and the winepress of barley, wheat, and grapes, God is telling us how He deals with believers and unbelievers throughout history. We especially see how He will deal with the Resurrection of believers in each Dispensation, and how he will deal with the Judgment of unbeliever’s in the latter part of the Tribulation.
Another note on the wheat harvest has to do with modern time’s rituals within the Jewish Church. They celebrate Pentecost today as the First Fruits of the Wheat harvest, speaking of God’s Divine Provision.
In that celebration, it is customary to read the Ten Commandments in the synagogue, in keeping with the tradition of linking Shavuot (Pentecost) to the Giving of the Law. It is believed that God gave Israel the Law at Mt. Sinai on the same days as Pentecost was to be celebrated. Since the Word (Jesus Christ) is the Bread of Life, this may not be far-fetched.
Also on this day they read the book of Ruth for three reasons.
- The setting of Ruth is the harvest.
- She became a follower of the God of Israel, just as Israel became a follower of the Almighty at Mount Sinai.
- The book of Ruth announces the ancestry of King David, Ruth’s great-grandson who, according to Jewish tradition, was born and died on Shavuot.
In Ashkenazic (Eastern European descent mainly the name for Germany, Gen 10:3) synagogues, they recite a twelfth-century poem called Akdamut in the Aramaic language. This poem extols God and heralds the Messianic future.
In Sephardic (Iberian and N. African descent) congregations, a poetic ketubah (marriage contract) between God and Israel is offered.
So, even in the modern celebration of Pentecost, we see the signs of Messiah harvesting His Bride (The Church).
Looking at God’s commandments for the Feast of Pentecost, we note several interesting facts. Lev 23:15-22 is the Law regarding the Feast of Pentecost. In Verse 17, they had to wave two loaves of bread before the Lord.
The “new (wheat) grain offering” included two loaves of bread that were waved before the Lord. The two loaves were a symbol for what would occur on the Feast of Pentecost 50-days after Jesus’ Resurrection and 10-days after His Ascension. On that day, Christ gave us the Holy Spirit to call out a Royal Family for Christ’s newly earned Royal Title, King of kings and Lord of lords, the Bright Morning Star.
Our Lord has 3 Royal Patents.
The Royalty of His Deity, by virtue of the fact that He is Eternal and Infinite God. He is the Son of God. 1 Tim 6:16 1 John 4:12. This royalty has no beginning and no end. All bible doctrine comes from his Divine Royalty.
The Royalty of His Humanity, by virtue of the virgin birth, incarnation, and first advent. He is the Son of David. He is a direct descendant from David and Bathsheba, in the tribe of Judah, the family of Jesse. Mary is a descendant from their son Nathan. Joseph is a descendant from their son Solomon. Joseph was Jesus’ legal but not real father. Mary’s line from Nathan is recorded in Luke; Joseph’s line is recorded in Matthew. See also Rev 5:5. In resurrection body in hypostatic union, Jesus Christ will reign forever as the Son of David.
The royalty of His Hypostatic Union, by virtue of His strategic victory at the cross, John 1:18, 6:46. This royalty is a result of the strategic victory of Christ in the Angelic Conflict. The judgment for our sins is the beginning of the strategic victory of our Lord. It was followed by His resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of the Father. The cross was the greatest battlefield in history! Col 2:14 Heb 2:14. “King of kings” gives Christ precedence over human rulers; “Lord of lords” gives Christ precedence over angelic rulers, Rev 19:16.
Once our Lord received a New Royal Patent, He needed a Royal Family to accompany it. That Royal Family is the church, which is made up of both Jews and Gentiles, baptized into one body by the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:1-4; 1 Cor 12:12-13
1 Cor 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
The waving of the two loaves not only literally signified thanksgiving to God for His provisions in the two harvest cycles, barley and wheat, but it also pictured the future events in God’s plan. The barley and the wheat would celebrate together in one ceremonial thanksgiving to God. This ceremony was the combining of two human species into one spiritual species, the Royal Family of God. 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15
In this ceremony, the fact that leaven was allowed in the bread illustrates that there is sin in the Church on earth today. As you know, leaven represents sin.
Unger’s Bible Dictionary says, “Leaven is the Heb. term śə·’ōr occurs only five times in Scripture, in four of which (Ex. 12:15, 19; 13:7; Lev. 2:1-11) it is translated “leaven” and in the fifth (Deut 16:3) “leavened bread.” The NIV translates “yeast” in each of these references. This probably denotes the small portion of dough left from the preceding baking that had fermented and turned acidic. Its distinctive meaning is fermented or leavened mass. The Heb. expression MASSA, “sweet,” means without leaven (Leviticus 10:12); thus the Heb. terms for the meaning of fermented or sour. The Greek term is zumeô and has the same latitude of meaning as the general Hebrew words for leaven.”
Unger also says, “Leaven was made from fine white bran kneaded with mold or with the meal of certain plants such as fitch or vetch, or from barley mixed with water and then allowed to stand until it turned sour.”
All believers have a sin nature, as part of their flesh and commit sins. Unlike Jesus Christ, who did not have a sin nature due to the virgin birth and never committed one act of sin of His own (He was impeccable), believers are born with sin, Rom 5:12, 17; 1 Cor 15:20-22. Therefore, leaven in the two loaves represents man, and God’s provision for man, that is the giving of the Holy Spirit. In comparison, the bread of Passover that Jesus used to institute the Eucharist had no leaven, because that bread represents His body, Lev 23:6; Mat 26:17, 26.
In the New Testament, leaven is a symbol of any evil influence, which if allowed to remain, can corrupt the body of believers. Jesus warned His disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees, their teaching and hypocrisy, Matt. 16:5-12; Luke 12:1.
Paul urged the Corinthians to remove wickedness from their midst and become fresh dough, unleavened loaves of sincerity and truth, 1 Cor. 5:6-13.
Jesus also used leaven to illustrate the universal growth of the kingdom of God, Matt. 13:33.
Bread made with leaven was acceptable as wave offerings for the priests (another analogy to the Church 1 Peter 2:9) and as loaves to accompany the peace offerings (peace between God and man Eph 2:14), Lev. 7:11-13; 23:17.
Eph 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.”
However, bread made with leaven or honey were both associated with the process of fermentation and thus a source of corruption. This bread was never to be used as offerings to be burned on the altar, Lev. 2:11-12.
In the two loaves offering at Pentecost, they had to be baked, which means it had to pass through Judgment, just as our sins were judged at the Cross in Christ’s spiritual death. Yet none of it was burned on the altar. Burning on the altar meant sacrifice. Jesus was sacrificed for us not the other way around. Therefore, because this bread represented the Jew and Gentile in humanity, it was not to be burned on the altar.
The waving presentation of the two loaves is similar to the promise of blessing for the overcomer, as Christ will present us to the Father in Rev 3:5b, “I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
Interestingly, the bread was leavened by placing in the dough a lump of leaven (i.e., sourdough) from bread of the preceding barley harvest, thus reemphasizing the close connection between the barley and wheat harvests, the festivals and typology associated with them.
Note too that the priest presented loaves and not sheaves of grain. Oil was also used in the grain offering, speaking of the Holy Spirit and Word of God mixed with humanity. All of this represents the fact that the Holy Spirit has united believers in Christ through the gospel.
Kenneth Wiersbe states, “After Pentecost there is a long gap when there are no feasts. There are three feasts in the first month and three in the seventh, with Pentecost between. This long gap speaks of the present age, the age of the Church. Israel has rejected her Lamb; she cannot receive the Spirit until she receives her Messiah; and she is scattered across the world. She has no temple, no priesthood, no sacrifice, and no king. What is her future? It is seen in the next three feasts.”
Besides the sacrifices prescribed for the occasion, everyone was to bring to the Lord his “tribute of a free-will offering”, Deut. 16:9-11. This signified the grace of God for salvation.
Finally, in Lev 23:18, they were to present 7 one year old male lambs without defect. This is a symbol of Christ and His sacrifice and may allude to the 7-year tribulation, as a result of the rejection of Christ by Israel.