Summary of passage: Jesus opened the first seal and a white horse with a rider appeared. The rider was given a crown and rode off. The second seal was opened and a red horse appeared. Its rider was given power to take peace from earth and to make men kill each other. He was given a sword. The third seal unleashed a black horse and its rider held a pair of scales, used to measure out food as payment for a day’s wages. The fourth seal released a pale horse whose rider was named Death and Hades. They were given power to kill by sword, famine, plague, and by the wild beasts a fourth of the earth.
3a) Three said,”Come!”. The third one said, “A part of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
b) A horse and rider. The horse changed colors: White, red, black, and pale. Each rider was given something different or held something different: a crown and a bow, a sword and power to take peace and make war, scales, power to kill by sword, famine, plague, and wild beasts.
4) The white horse’s rider held a bow and was given a crown and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. He depicts judgment or justice meted out by God which includes destruction and death. He might be the Anti-Christ (see End Notes for much more detail).
5a) Part personal question. My answer: The rider of the red horse was given the power to take peace from earth and have men kill each other. He represents war, slaughter, and bloodshed. Our wars today.
b) Man’s desires, sin, and the devil. Solution: Submit yourselves to God, draw near to Him, and resist the devil and sin and purify your hearts.
Conclusions: Question 5b was out of left field and not in the passage. So much symbolism here it’s ridiculous. See End Notes.
End Notes: Continuing from 2 weeks ago in Revelation 5, we learned the Lamb was Jesus, the only one with the right credentials to open the scrolls, and the scrolls are the future history of man.
Chapter 6 to Chapter 19 will detail the Tribulation, God’s judgment of man in the last 7 years before the Second Coming. We will see 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls. The Tribulation‘s purpose: To bring Israel back to God, to bring unbelievers to God, and to create the remnant Jesus will rule.
Scholars say the events on the scrolls will happen BEFORE the culmination of history detailed in Revelation 19.
Each seal has a different living creature. We see thunder as God revealing something important to His people.
Note: only the seals are being broken. The contents of the scroll are not being revealed yet. The scroll won’t be opened until we hear the 7 trumpets.
The rider on the white horse is NOT Jesus who appears on a white horse in Revelation 19. This is the anti-Christ unleashed upon the world who is impersonating Jesus. We know this because he brings war and carries a bow (Jesus carries a sword). He wears one crown; Jesus wears many. He is given authority to execute judgment on the earth. The white horse is one Jesus will ride. Those of the historical view of Revelation will say this is Jesus or the Romans or the apostles.
The Preterist view sees the four horsemen as happening in the first century AD only.
The rider will lead men in rebellion against God. We see this in Genesis 10:8-14 in Nimrod.
The 70th week in Daniel 9 and the tribulation begin when this rider arrives.
Peace is a gift from God to men. Men’s natural state is war. Hence, the red rider removes peace and ushers in war. God granted this rider the authority to do so. Part of this is fulfilled since war has existed on this planet since the Fall of Man. Here, every nation will be at war.
The Greek word is stronger than slay (verse 4). It means butcher or slaughter.
The scales the Black Rider holds shows the approaching famine and economic downturn, which were used to measure food. Food will be rationed. The prices mentioned here are astronomical: one day’s wages for the ingredients of bread essentially. Yet, the rich will still have oil and wine. There are limits to what the black rider will accomplish.
The fourth horseman brings death in 4 ways. These are common tools of God’s judgement (Ezekiel 14:21) and the way God promised He would destroy Jerusalem (Leviticus 16:18-33).
The Greek word used here is chloros, which is where we get our English word ‘chlorine’. It is used elsewhere in Revelation (8:7; 9:4) to refer to pale-green grass. It’s used here to refer to the hue of the skin upon death.
Hades was the Greek god of the underworld (Romans called him Pluto) where souls went when they died. Hades today refers to hell.
Some scholars say the red, black, and pale rider are tools for the Anti-Christ and not separate people per se. The colors are symbolic: white is conquest, red is bloodshed or war, black is famine, and pale is death. Some say the four horsemen are merely man’s judgment upon himself which sin has brought forth.
Other scholars say the “Four horsemen of the apocalypse” are merely judgment and not the anti-Christ or people at all. They point to Zechariah 1 for this interpretation.
In my mind, we know the Anti-Christ is coming in the Tribulation so I’m leaning towards the Anti-Christ interpretation here.
Four is the number of creation, stemming from the 4th day of creation when the physical world was complete. We have 4 seasons, 4 corners of the earth (directions north, south, east, and west), 4 elements, 4 angels (Rev 7), 4 living creatures, 4 gospels, 4 horsemen with 4 judgments. It represents universality, including everyone.
Verse 8: The word “by” is confusing. It is more correctly translated “under” from the Greek, giving the sword, famine, and plague subordination to the beasts. “Wild beasts” is an incorrect translation as well. The word in Greek is “therion” and means beast. This word is used 39 times in the book of Revelation and 38 times is refers to either the Antichrist, the false prophet, or a beast. Attempting to differentiate the word in the context here threw in the word wild–the only time it is not translated “beast” in Revelation.
REMEMBER: God is giving all this power to the Anti-Christ. God is the one in control. Jesus’s servants, the four creatures, call forth the horsemen. They must have permission to enter the world.
This description of the End Times closely follows Jesus’s description in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.
The seals are God’s judgment on earth. Details will emerge in Revelation 8-11.