THE FOUR HORSEMENThere are four major points to keep in mind as we study the first four seals that are opened before Christ’s return:
- These four mysterious riders and their horses are all sent forth by Jesus Christ to do his Father’s will in initiating an end to human rule on earth.
- Some of the things that are mentioned as a part of seals 2, 3, and 4, such as war, civil strife, the high cost and the scarcity of food, famine, and death from wild animals seem to be common occurrences of the human experience. However, in the context of these three seals, these common occurrences are not the things noted as being controlled by the riders of the red, black, and pale-green horses.
- The responsibilities of these four riders and the events and conditions that they cause do not seem to be tied to any specific event, narrow time period, or specific point in time. After the introduction of the events and conditions caused by these four riders, these riders seem to continue through history with no indicated termination point. Therefore, it seems logical that these horsemen will continue to ride until a time just before Christ returns.
- Although it is Jesus Christ who sends forth these riders, Satan and his cohorts use the circumstances and events caused by these riders, as tools to continue to deceive humanity and to help bring about Satan’s one-world governmental and religious system, which will rule the earth in the end of the age.
THE RIDER OF THE WHITE HORSE The first of the four horsemen is probably the most important to the elect of God because he is the only rider that specifically pertains to them and their relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ:
“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures, like a sound of thunder, saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse! and the one sitting on it had a bow. And a crown was given to him, and he went out overcoming, and that he might overcome” (Rev.6:1-2 Para.).
It is Christ who opens the first seal of the scroll that contains the events that will lead to his return and the end of human rule on earth. This is important to the elect because it demonstrates that Jesus Christ is the one who orchestrates all of the events that will take place during the end of the age.
We are not told who the first rider is, why he has a bow, why he is given a crown, or what he is to conquer. In order to gain any understanding into who this mysterious rider is and what his responsibilities are, it is imperative to use logical deduction predicated on the meanings of the Greek words used in this prophecy, along with scriptural analogies and historical information.
The White Horse The color white is frequently symbolic of purity and righteousness. Christ, his angelic host, and the elect are often pictured as being clothed in white. When Christ returns to conquer the earth, he and his vast army will be clothed in white and riding upon white horses:
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war” (Rev.19:11 KJV).
“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Rev.19:14 KJV). See Dan.7:9; 12:10; Matt.28:1-3; Mk.9:1-3; Rev.3:4-5; 19:8.
Some feel the color white is symbolic of Satan’s religious deception; however, this is highly unlikely because the color white is never mentioned in the same context with false religion or evil spirits.
THE BOW AND THE CROWN Because the rider of the white horse is given a bow and a crown, understanding the symbolic meaning of these two items sheds light on what the rider’s mission is and how it is to be accomplished.
The Bow Although there are many scriptures that speak of God’s wrath and Judgement being as arrows aimed against the wicked of the world and against rebellious Israel, there are also references that show God using arrows shot from a bow to take corrective measures against his elect children in order to awaken them to their sinful condition and their need for repentance.
Deuteronomy In a prophecy concerning the end of the age, the Creator God says that he will punish his people for their rebellion and send his arrows upon them:
“For a fire has been kindled in my anger, and it burns to the lowest Sheol, and consumes the earth and its produce; and sets fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap evils upon them, I will use my arrows on them. I will send on them exhaustion by famine, and desolation by burning heat, and bitter destruction . . .” (Deut.32: 22-24 Para.).
Job laments that God and his truths cause him great distress when there is disharmony between himself and God:
“For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; their fury is drinking my spirit; the terrors of God are set against me” (Job 6:4 Para.).
David As he reflects upon his errors in judgment and behavior before God, King David asks God to have mercy on him when he errs. He speaks of God’s truths as arrows that strike deep within his inner being and cause mental agony and sorrow:
“O Lord do not rebuke me in your wrath, and do not chasten me in your fury. For your arrows sink in me, and your hand presses heavily upon me” (Psa.38:1-2 Para.).
Jeremiah Jeremiah speaks of God’s punishment upon his children because of their rebellion and lack of love and zeal toward him. Jeremiah says that God’s arrows pierce deep into the very being of the rebellious, and he speaks of the love with which God receives those who repent of their wickedness and want to have a harmonious relationship with him:
“He has deflected my ways, and has torn me to pieces; he made me desolate. He has bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He has caused the sons of the quiver to enter into my inward parts” (Lam.3:11-13 Para.).
“It is by the kindness of the Lord that we are not destroyed, for his mercies will never fail” (Lam.3:22 Para.).
Cause No Harm Although the rider of the white horse has a bow, which is a weapon used for killing, there is no indication that his bow is used for this purpose. This is important, because neither of the next two prophecies associated with this rider indicate that he is sent to harm people, unlike the riders of the red, black, and pale-green horses. The lack of any evidence that this rider is sent to harm people is an indication that he is sent for a far different purpose from the other three riders.
A Crown The English word crown used in Revelation 6:2 is from the Greek word stephanos, which normally refers to the laurel wreath that is placed upon the head of someone who is victorious in an athletic event.
It is interesting that the Greek word diadema, which normally denotes a crown of authority or rulership, was not used to describe the headdress given to the rider of the white horse. It is also interesting that none of the other horsemen wear a crown.
Because this rider bears the victorious crown of an athlete, it seems logical that the crown is symbolic of one or more of the following: Meeting a challenge and being victorious; one who, in some way, has the responsibility for the event in which the crown is given as a prize; one who is responsible for keeping the crown safe, and/or has the authority to present a crown to those who are victorious.
Overcoming The last phrase in Revelation 6:2, which is translated into English as overcoming,that he might overcome, and conqueringand to conquer,(KJV) is an interpretation of the Greek word nikao, which can mean to conquer, overcome, prevail, or obtain victory. There is no inference in this text that the rider of the white horse goes forth to make war or cause harm. Because this rider is given a stepanos (laurel wreath) instead of a diadema (crown of authority) it seems that the word nikao is a continuance of the thought of victory, as in an athletic event or some other type of situation in which one must win in order to be given the victor’s crown.
The apostle Paul often spoke of the process of overcoming as analogous to a foot race, wherein there are only winners and losers. In speaking of his ministry of the gospel and how those who were called to partake of it should strive to control their lives in order to obtain an eternal reward, he says the following:
“Do you not know that those running in a stadium indeed all run, but only one receives the prize? So run in such a way that you may obtain the prize” (1.Cor.9:24 Para.). See also Gal.2:2-5; Phil.2:16; 3:14; Heb.12:1.
There are many scriptures that speak of the elect of God being given a crown of life (Jms.1:12; Rev.2:10) and rulership (Dan.7:27; Rev.2: 26-27) as a reward for their overcoming the flesh and living a righteous life before the Father. There are also many warnings about losing one’s rewards (one’s crown) through neglect and/or sin. Therefore, it is likely that the crown of the first rider has something to do with Jesus Christ, the first victor over the flesh. This crown is probably also associated with the elect of God in their process of overcoming in order to obtain the crown of life.
It is important to point out that Christ is the one whom the Father has authorized to care for his earthly sons and to reward those who overcome the flesh with the crown of life. See Jn.6:33-40; 10:27-30; 17:2.
The Process of Overcoming If the rider of the white horse has anything to do with or is in support of the overcoming process concerning the elect of God, it is important to discuss a major obstacle in this process. There are many aspects to the process of overcoming, such as overcoming the pulls of the flesh and the world, as well as wrong attitudes and behaviors. During this overcoming process, there is a major danger of which one must continually be aware, in order to not compromise one’s effort to be victorious over evil. This danger has to do with falling prey to religious deception and being led away from the truth of God and his ways. Jesus says the following about this danger:
“Jesus answered them and said, See that no one mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ. And they will mislead many” (Matt.24:4-5 Para.).
“And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness shall have been multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. But the one that endures to the end, that one will be saved” (Matt.24:11-13 Para.). See also Jer.29:8-9; Eph.5:6; Col.2: 8; 2.Thes.2:7-8.
Although it seems clear that the rider of the white horse does not come to destroy or cause harm, there is a great and powerful spirit-being that does come to destroy humanity, and especially the elect of God:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walks about as a roaring lion seeking those he may destroy” (1.Pet.5:8 Para.).
Being keenly aware of religious deception is extremely important to one who is seeking to worship the true God.
Satanic Deception Satanic deception has been occurring for centuries. Many have said that Jesus is the Christ, but they do not preach what he taught; they preach a gospel of disobedience to the laws of God. A good example of this are the multitudes of quasi-christians who profess to follow Christ, but do not obey the laws, precepts, and principles that he taught.
Satan is the Great Deceiver and there is no doubt that his activities are on the increase. He does not want any to believe the truth of God or to understand God’s plan for humanity. It is also clear that this powerful evil spirit has already been deceiving most of the world religiously, philosophically, and politically:
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, that deceives the whole world” (Rev.12:9 KJV).
It is also apparent that Satan has a vast following of people comprised of organized churches and ministers through whom he deceives many people:
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2.Cor.11:13-15 KJV).
Judgement Upon the Elect of God The rider of the white horse has a bow with which to shoot arrows, which are symbolic of the discipline process God uses to help his children grow toward spiritual maturity. Moreover, the crown that this rider wears is symbolic of one who is victorious in some sort of contest or endeavor. Therefore, it seems highly likely that one of the responsibilities of this rider has to do with the elect of God in their effort to grow into spiritual maturity and gain salvation.
Peter says Judgement must begin with those who have been called to repentance during the gospel age of salvation. Why? It is because they, above all other people on earth, have been called first to become sons of the Father’s new creation and have been allowed to know and understand the plan and purpose that he has for humanity. Therefore, the Father holds them accountable for this awesome opportunity and responsibility:
“Because the time has come to begin the judgement from the house of God, and if first begins with us, what will be the end of the ones disobeying the gospel of God?” (1.Pet.4:17 Para.).
The Righteous and Ancient Israel The scriptures clearly show that the Creator God (the God who became Jesus Christ) always warned his people before any major punishment of the wicked. We see such warning given to and through Noah, Abraham, Lot, and Moses. God constantly reprimanded ancient Israel (God’s chosen people) for their evil ways and encouraged them to repent so that he could bless them.
The scriptures clearly show that, when Israel rebelled against God, he would warn them of an impending punishment if they did not repent. When they continued to rebel, he would send armies to kill them, conquerors to place them into captivity, sickness to come upon them, and many other types of punishment. Why did he do this? He did this to get their attention and to show them the consequences of breaking their covenant with him.
The Creator God reprimanded and punished his chosen people of ancient Israel; therefore, why should we think it strange or out of place that the Father would have his Son do the same kind of things in regard to his spiritual sons (the elect) who are promised far greater rewards than those under the first covenant with ancient Israel?
The Purging of Wheat “I indeed baptize you with water to repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the holy spirit and fire. Whose winnowing fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his threshing floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt.3:11-12 Para.).
Here, John refers to three kinds of baptism—water, holy spirit, and fire—and the separating of wheat from the chaff. The baptism with fire indicates severe trial and testing. The separation of the wheat from the chaff refers to the righteous being given access to the Kingdom of God and the wicked having their existence terminated forever—death by fire. See Matt.13:19-30; Isa.28:24-29.
Because wheat is symbolic of the elect of God and John records that Christ will cleans the wheat of impurities, one might ask how are the elect of God purged of impurity?
Although there is only one way that a person can have their sins washed away and forgiven by God the Father (i.e., through the blood of Christ), there are a number of ways that a person becomes aware that they need to make a change in their attitude and/or behavior. The following are ways in which a person becomes aware that they need to change:
- Through self-examination, study of God’s word, and prayer to the Father for the understanding of what his will is in one’s life
- Through the normal daily circumstances and experiences of life and an effort to apply God’s ways to one’s circumstances and experiences
- Through the direct intervention of Jesus Christ on the Father’s behalf
Being made aware of one’s need to change through God’s direct intervention is spoken of in the scriptures as the trial by fire and is the least desirable way to become aware of one’s need for change.
It is through the process of growing toward spiritual maturity that the elect are purged of impurity and made fit for the Father’s spiritual Family and Kingdom. How easily one proceeds through this process is largely dependent on one’s attitude and willingness to grow spiritually.
Purified and Made White “And he said, Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Dan.12: 9-10 KJV). See also Dan.11:35.
Although the wise (the Elect of God) who live during the end of the age will be able to understand prophecies concerning the end of the age, there are also very serious warnings of trials and tests that will come upon them prior to their receiving salvation and entering into the Father’s spiritual Family and Kingdom.
Hebrews 12:5-10 Paraphrased “And you have forgotten the exhortation which he speaks to you as with sons, My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint while being corrected by him. For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines, and whips every son whom he receives. If you endure discipline, God is dealing with you as with sons; for who is the son whom the father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all are to participate in, then you are bastards, and not true sons” (vs.5-8).
The writer to the Hebrews shows that the Father is very concerned that his children mature into spiritual adults. The Father is committed to a process whereby this may be accomplished. But why would Paul describe those who are not disciplined as bastards? In Paul’s time, only firstborn sons were entitled to an inheritance from their father; therefore, an illegitimate son (one not truly called to be a son) could not receive an inheritance, nor could the legitimate son if he refused correction:
“Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh as correctors, and we respected them, shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits, and we shall live? For they truly disciplined us for a few days according to the things seeming good to them, but he for our profit, in order for us to partake of his holiness” (vs.9-10).
“I, as many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. Be zealous then, and repent” (Rev.3:19 Para.).
From the beginning of humanity to the advent of Christ, the Patriarchs and all others whom the Father chose to participate in the first resurrection were corrected, tried, and tested by the Creator God (the God who became Jesus Christ) through the experiences of life as they progressed toward spiritual maturity. It is also clear that those of the early church were also corrected, tried, and tested by Jesus Christ (the head of the church). All who follow God’s way in the end of the age will also go through this same growth process in order to receive the crown of life.
THE WARNINGS TO THE CHURCHES God never punishes his people without first giving them ample warning and an opportunity to repent. Those called to repentance and salvation during the gospel age of salvation, above all others, have no excuse for not understanding what the Father expects of them; therefore, extremely serious warnings and corrective measures are used in order to bring about their repentance.
The following are some of the things that Jesus said he will cause to come upon the elect of God who stray from God the Father’s way of life and refuse to repent, perform the task they have been called to do, and grow toward spiritual maturity:
- The Ephesians are warned that unless they repent, Jesus will remove their lamp-stand (the truth of God will be withdrawn from them). The removal of this lamp-stand will result in their spiritual death, and they will not be able to enter the Family and Kingdom of God. See Rev.2:1-7.
- To Smyrna, Jesus says that he is going to allow Satan to throw them into prison and afflict them. However, if they are faithful they will obtain the crown of life—eternal and immortal life as the Father’s sons. See Rev.2:8-11.
- Jesus tells those of Pergamos to repent or he will war against them with the sword of his mouth (the truth of God). See Eph.6:17; Heb.4:12-13; Rev.1:16; 2:16.
- To Thyatira, Jesus says that unless they repent of their idolatry, he will kill them. See Rev.2:20-23.
- He tells Sardis that if they will not repent, he will sneak up on them as a thief. The implication is that if they do not pay attention, he will remove their crown of life. See Rev.3:1-4.
- He warns those of Philadelphia to be cautious and hold onto their crown, or someone would take it from them. See Rev.3:11.
- The Laodiceans are warned that, because of their spiritual laziness, they are going to have to endure severe trials in order to obtain salvation. See Rev.3:17-18.
Remember that the first verse of the Book of Revelation speaks of things that will have their fulfillment shortly after the revelation is given. It is obvious that most of what was revealed did not happen during John’s life or during the centuries that have passed since then. However, some of these things were partly fulfilled as noted in the messages to the seven churches.
It is also evident from what is said about the churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea that they are symbolic of two groups of the elect of God that will exist in the very end of the age, just prior to the return of Christ. Because of the specific information given concerning the seven churches, it becomes clear that the messages to the seven churches contain both literal and prophetic information that applied to John’s day and still applies to those who will live during the end of the age
It is clear from what Jesus Christ says in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3 that he is going to cause severe trials to come upon the elect of God who have the attitudes and behaviors that he details in the messages to the seven churches. Therefore, it seems that the first rider is sent out to the elect of God to encourage them to take seriously the calling and opportunity that they have been given to participate in the first resurrection. And if necessary, this rider is authorized to encourage the elect with trials and persecution.
Who is the rider of the white horse? Perhaps, he is the spirit-being who has the responsibility to oversee the vast host of angelic beings that have been assigned to minister to the elect of God and carry out the instructions of Jesus Christ concerning them and their spiritual growth. See Heb.1:13-14.
The Next Three Horsemen Although the events and conditions that will be brought about by the next three horseman have always occurred to one degree or another throughout human history, it is clear that there is something different about these events and conditions as they pertain to the end of the age.
The prophet Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon approximately 127 years after the ten-tribe house of Israel had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians and was being scattered throughout world. Two of the more important prophecies that he recorded (Ezk.5:1-17; 14:1-23) concern the whole of national Israel from that time through the end of the age, and they speak of some of the events that are caused by the riders of the red, black, and pale-green horses.
Although the general context and theme of Ezekiel 14:1-11 is about repentance and forgiveness, which seem to be a part of the first rider’s mission, verses 12-23 show many of the events caused by the next three horsemen. Therefore, it would be helpful to read Ezekiel, chapters 5 and 14 as background information for this study.
THE RED HORSE AND ITS RIDER “And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, Come and see. And another horse that was red went out. And it was given to the one sitting on it to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. And a great sword was given to him” (Rev.6:3-4 KJV).
The Red Horse The Greek word used to describe the color of the red horse is puresso, which means fiery red or flame-colored. Puresso fits well with the task of this horse’s rider, because fire is often symbolic of God’s wrath, his warring angels, death, and destruction.
The Rider The second horsemen is given the responsibility to remove peace from the earth, which means the rider’s mission is to cause war, whether civil, national, or international. It is apparent that the rider and the red horse represent violent conflict and war between people that results in massive death.
The rider of the red horse seems to be a powerful angelic being who has the power and authority to influence and/or exert control over economic, political, racial, ethnic and other relationships among humans in order to bring about conflict and war among the earth’s population.
Conflict and War When Jesus was asked by his disciples when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and what the sign of his coming to rule and the end of the age would be, he answered:
“And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. . .” (Matt.24:6-7 KJV).
To the casual reader, Jesus’ prediction of wars, rumors of wars, and the other things he mentions would not necessarily seem so extraordinary or out of place in the human experience. Throughout human history there has been very little true peace on earth. Wars and rumors of wars are the norm, not the exception in the human experience.
So, what makes these events different from the normal course of events that can be expected in the human experience? The answer is that, after Jesus revealed to John things that were to come to pass before his return, he began to intervene in human affairs by opening the first four seals and sending forth the four horsemen to begin the process of preparing the earth’s population and the elect of God for his return. Remember that all of the horrible things recorded in Matthew 24:1-8 were only the beginning of sorrows.
The Rider’s Sword The Greek word used to describe the sword given to the rider of the red horse is macharia, which is the short battle sword used by a soldier. The curious thing is that this sword is described by the Greek word megas, which means exceedingly great. This is no ordinary sword; it is a sword that has the potential of causing great harm and it is wielded by a spirit-being that already has the authority to remove peace from the earth and bring about the conditions of continual conflict and war among the earth’s population.
Because the rider already has the authority to cause humans to kill each other in armed conflict, the great sword must have some other meaning. There is an extreme possibility that this rider also has the authority to inflict death upon the unrepentant of the elect, ending their physical life and any hope of salvation. If this is one of the meanings of the rider’s sword, death from this sword would indeed be greater than could be inflicted by an ordinary sword, because the result would be the second death, which is eternal. See Rev.21:8.
Jesus Came to Bring Conflict Although Jesus Christ is a god of peace like his heavenly Father, Christ is also a god of war (Isa.41:1-5; Psa.58; Heb.12:6-7; Rev.3:19). Contrary to what many believe, when the Creator God came to earth as the Messiah, he did not come to make this world a better place in which to live under its present leadership:
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matt.10:34-35 Para.).
The sword noted in Matthew 10 is symbolic of spiritual division and separation, and it is God the Father’s word and truth concerning the reason for all of humanity’s ills and God’s solution to remove these ills through his good news message. It is this truth that cuts deep into the heart of each individual and causes a division and a separation between those who believe the Father’s truth and those who do not. This sword is not the same one that the rider of the red horse bears.See Eph.6:17; Heb.4:12-13.
Although the rider of the red horse is sent by Jesus Christ to plague humanity with conflict and war in preparation for his coming rule, it appears that Satan is allowed to use these same tools to establish his political and religious rule, which will result in untold misery and torment to all those who oppose him.
THE BLACK HORSE AND ITS RIDER “And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, Come and see, and I saw, and behold, a black horse, and one sitting on it had a balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and do not harm the oil and the wine” (Rev. 6:5-6 Para.).
The Black Horse The color black and shades of black are symbolic of the approach of foreboding, mourning, terror, impending death, or punishment. See 1.Kgs.18:45; Job 3:5; Isa.50:1-3; Jer.4:28; Lam.4:8; Jude 13; Rev.6:12.
The Rider The rider of the black horse seems to have three tasks and/or responsibilities. He is the keeper of a set of balances, he controls the price of wheat and barley, and he is instructed not to harm oil and wine.
The Balances The Greek word zugos is translated into the English word balance, which can mean a set of balance scales or a yoke, as in figuratively being under the yoke of another or yoked to something.
Some feel that the word zugos indicates the scarcity of food and its careful distribution. However, there is another explanation, which seems to have at least as much or even more validity.
The balance could very well be applied to the elect of God and those who are to be called to salvation during the gospel age, because balances are used throughout the Bible to depict the process of being judged as a righteous or unrighteous person, and surely the end of the age is one of the greatest periods of judgement to come upon those whom the Father has called to salvation. Even the symbolic use of the word zugos in Matthew 11:29-30 seems to indicate that being under the yoke of Christ comes with the certainty that one will be weighed and judged in the balance of God’s law.
The apostle Peter says that those who are of the Sovereign Father’s earthly family are in the process of being evaluated as to their compliance to the gospel:
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1.Pet.4:17 KJV). See also Ezk.9:1-11.
Below are a few of the many references to being weighed in God’s balances:
“Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know my integrity” (Job 31:6 KJV).
“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the spirit” (Pro.16:2 KJV).
“A just weight and balance are the Lord’s: all the weights of his bag are his work” (Pro.16:11 KJV). See also Isa.26:7.
“You are weighed in the balances, and are found wanting” (Dan.5: 27 KJV).
The Wheat and Barley
“A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny” (Rev.6:5-6 KJV).
The word measure is translated from the Greek word choenix, which means a dry measure equal to about a quart. The word penny is translated from the Greek word denarii, and when this prophecy was given to John, it seems that a denarii was still the amount of a full day’s pay for common labor. Therefore, the indication is that the cost of basic foods is very expensive during the fulfillment of this prophecy.
There is little doubt that, while this rider fulfills his task, some people will suffer a scarcity of food and perhaps die of famine. Although this scarcity of food is the result of the direct intervention into human affairs by Jesus Christ, there are many other reasons that can cause these conditions.
The historical record shows that even in times of abundant harvest and food surplus, there are always places where conditions of famine exist. Aside from natural causes, such as adverse weather conditions, insect infestation, and plant disease, the primary reasons for famine are politics, religion, and warfare.
Political Control The Book of Revelation indicates that there will be an abundance of food from now through the end of the age when the final trumpet plagues are poured out on the Beast system. One major cause of famine in the end-time will be the control of the world’s natural resources, economies, and monetary systems by the alliance of nations called the Beast.
In the context of the Beast system, it is easy to see how the price and distribution of ordinary food commodities could be manipulated in order to maintain control over people. See Rev.18:6-16.
Evil Religious Systems When one analyzes the various religions of the world with an open mind, it becomes clear that many are major contributors to famine, disease, and unnecessary death on earth. The success of any religion lies in its ability to control the minds of its subjects. The Book of Revelation tells us that, in the end of this age, an evil religious system will control the minds of the majority of humanity. This satanic mind-control will be devastating to the inhabitants of the earth, both mentally and physically.
One of India’s major religions teaches that people’s spirits are reincarnated. And this reincarnation can be in the human or animal form, such as a dog, a rat, an insect, or a cow. Reincarnation is seen as a process of reaching a state of perfection; therefore, all animal life must be respected. Because this religion teaches that all animals and insects including those that destroy the food supply and spread disease must not be killed, this religion directly contributes to the mental and physical devastation of those who practice it.
Many people are starving to death in the nation of India, despite the fact that India has some of the most fertile land in the world. This is a sad commentary on its religious practices. Each of the approximately two hundred million ‘sacred’ cows consume enough resources to feed many people. If the people of India would stop feeding these cows and start using them as food, India’s food supply would be increased to the point that they would have enough surplus food to supply one billion, four hundred million people—more than one fourth of the world’s entire population!
It should be obvious to any logical person that religion is a major cause of lack of food in India.
Warfare Warfare is expensive. Any nation that is waging war must spend a large part of its wealth and food supplies on the military; therefore, warfare contributes to a lack of food. Warfare not only destroys productive land and the people who work it but also dramatically reduces available equipment, money, and other resources that are necessary to sustain food production.
Ancient and Modern Israel In Leviticus 26:26 and Ezekiel 4:16, there are parallel prophecies to Revelation 6:6 that also speak of selling bread by weight. These two prophecies concern the shortage of food and the selling of it by weight as a punishment for Israel’s breaking of their covenant with God and rebellion against him. The prophecies of Leviticus 26:1-46 seem to have contemporary, ongoing, and end of the age applications, but the prophecies of Ezekiel 4:1-17 are clearly for the end of the age.
The Wine and the Oil The instruction to keep from harming the oil and the wine makes little sense in the context of crop damage. Why not spare apples or some other food item? It seems that the rider is forbidden to damage these two food items because they need to be available in sufficient quantities for a specific purpose or they are symbolic of something that has a prophetic, physical, or spiritual meaning.
Perhaps this instruction to the rider hints at a similar protection as the one provided to the olive groves and vineyards around Jerusalem during the Roman siege of 66-70 A.D., or perhaps, the instruction has to do with the protection of the end-time temple and its worship services, which use oil and wine in the sacrifices. The protection of these items might also have to do with the feasts of oil and wine mentioned in the temple scroll.
Nevertheless, a likely explanation that has to do with the biblical symbolism of oil and wine concerns the elect of God. Wine is sometimes symbolic of blood, and oil is sometimes symbolic of God’s anointing. If these refer to the blood (life) of the elect and their oil (their spiritual power), the instruction to the rider would make sense; in that, the rider would be prohibited from interfering with the work of the elect in the end of the age.
THE PALE-GREEN HORSE AND RIDER “And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold, a pale green horse, and the name of the one sitting on it was Death; and Hades followed after him. And authority was given to them over the fourth of the earth to kill with sword, and with famine, and with death, and by the wild beasts of the earth” (Rev.6:7-8 Para.). See also Ezk.14:21.
The Horse The pale-green horse whose rider is named Death causes death through starvation and violence; therefore, the pale horse seems to be symbolic of violent, slow death.
The Rider As a result of the second and third seals, perhaps millions will have already died, and the final horseman whose name is Death has the authority over one fourth of the earth to kill people with sword, famine, and wild beasts.
The Rider’s Name Notice that this rider has the same function as the messenger of death who killed the first born of Egypt and is mentioned in a number of scriptures as God’s destroying angel. See Ex.12:23; 1.Chron.21:12; Job 15:20-22.
Death’s Dominion The text is unclear as to whether Death’s sphere of influence encompasses one fourth of the earth’s population or one fourth of the earth’s geographical area. Whichever is his sphere of influence, the number of people that will be killed by Death might be in the billions.
Death’s Weapons This rider carries a different type of sword from the second rider. His sword is called rhomphaia in Greek, which means a spear or a two-edged sword with which to pierce. It is important to note that, unlike the rider of the red horse who caused people to kill themselves in conflict, Death himself uses this sword to kill people. It seems that this sword is symbolic of his authorization to take life at his discretion in order to carry out his assignment.
Death has control of all of the various things that cause famine to occur on earth. Moreover, he has the power to influence nature or conditions of wild beasts in order to cause them to attack and kill humans.
The End Result From what is said about the rider Death, he is not sent to encourage people to repent of their sins; he is probably sent to reduce the population of the descendants of Abraham (Arabs and Israelites) in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ. Death’s sole purpose is to kill people.
CONCLUSION World events clearly show that we are in the end of the age and that the "Four Horsemen" have been riding and causing destruction throughout much of the earth for centuries and will continue to ride in the end of the age.
When studying the Book of Revelation, one can see that the Four Horsemen are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plagues and destruction that will come upon the earth because of people’s refusal to obey the true God.
By B.L. Cocherell b2w13b