I have often wondered about the pervasive negativity associated with the Revelation. While the book contains images of tribulation, destruction and end-times happenings, I tend toward the idea that this book is the sure hope of God's victory over all manifestations of evil. It is the unveiling (though an often symbolic one) of Jesus as the way into the Kingdom God has prepared for His people. Yet, as we see every day in news reports, newspapers and conversations, the 75% of our rhetoric is about the bad things going on around us. Dickens said "It was the best of times and the worst of times" but we all think our times are the very worst ever. So it is natural that Chapter 6 of the Revelation starts with the opening of 4 seals, 3 of which (75%) are not good.
There is a white rider released ... good and redemptive in John's narrative view of the world. Jesus is not overcome by the rebellious world ... He is victorious. Then there are three riders that represent the destructive nature of the rebellious order. Red is for Satan who is permitted to hold a sword for a time to remove peace from those who are part of the fallen/rebellious order, Black is for famine that represents the fallenness of the economy of the rebellious order and Green is for Death that represents the fallenness of humanity (a fallenness that can only be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb). In each case the tribulations are only permitted by the authority of the Lamb who beacons them forth. This passage is certainly (if taken by itself) scary and negative.
But let's keep our focus. We live in a world, society and sometimes even church-related hype that points to the 75% bad. But maybe we should rely on the Jesus who moved Paul to write "in al these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-39)." The question is ... does God's love for us (100% of the time) sustain us through 100% of the things Revelation Chapter 6 speaks about and does God's provision trump evil's destructive last gasp before God puts an end to it forever? For me I claim the blood of the Lamb that opens the scrolls, no matter what the scrolls unleash. Maybe the point of this chapter is to encourage us to live in God's peace, God's economy and God's redemption. Randy