Chapter 6 takes place within the scene set in chapters 4 & 5, in which God's almighty throne is set in the center of the universe where He's in control of all things. The Lion/Lamb has stepped forward as the only one worthy to open the scrolls, which symbolize God's will be carried out.
It's important to understand that Revelation is not just about the future. In fact, most of John's visions are of things that have occurred in the past, are now occurring, and will continue occurring in the future.
Such is the case with the scroll of God's will. As it's unsealed, 5/7ths of it are happening right now, with only the 6th and 7th seals containing future events.
v1-8 - The first four seals (AKA: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)
Notice that all four are introduced the same way: a command from heaven to "Come!"
Watch the sermon recording below for an overview of who these horsemen are and what they're doing in our world (starting at 32:15).
v9-11 - The fifth seal acknowledges Christian martyrs.
v12-17 - The sixth seal brings an end to the created order as the universe dissolves and people of every race, class and position beg unsuccessfully to be obliterated as well.
Being buried alive is a preferable option for them (v16).
It shows the tremendous fear instilled by the holiness of God and the Day of the Lord (v15-17) that the mighty kings of the earth would rather be buried by rocks than be exposed to "the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"
Horseman 1: "was given a crown... (v2)"
Horseman 2: "was given power to take peace and to make people kill. To him was given a large sword... (v4)"
Horseman 3: was given power to enforce cold economic realities that often bog us down (v6).
Horseman 4: was given power over a 1/4 of the earth to kill... (v8)
The Four Horsemen sent out from the throne room of God to stir up trouble on earth, to amplify the effects of our sin. At first, this seems counter intuitive! Shouldn't God be giving out power to reduce the effects of sin?
To not experience the negative ramifications of our sin here and now would give you no reason to ever turn away from sin and cling to Christ and the cross. In this regard, God allowing you to feel the miserable effects of sin - even amplifying these effects - is an act of grace that causes you to realize the extent of your sin problem right now, when you can still turn to Christ, rather than suddenly appearing before the judgment throne of God with no prior indication of how serious sin is.
God does not cause sin, but He does use it. He sinlessly uses sin to bring you to the knowledge that you have been freed from sin by your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Review this word search on BibleGateway for the phrase "I will send" for dozens and dozens of examples of how God has been using the Four Horsemen all through history to call His people back to Him.
EYE FOR DETAIL— What was the first horseman holding (v2)?
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Almighty God, ruler of all things, in control of all that happens
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask for the patience and understanding to realize God is always in control, even when things seem their darkest.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: