The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

BY PGF
2 months, 1 week ago

Revelation 6.

We thought to provide a note at TCJ about Revelation 6. We’ll attempt to simplify the complex by providing a gloss to prime the pump for those coming to the proper understanding of the New Covenant during the time the Church was birthed.

Keeping in mind that Job was probably the first book of the Bible written, perhaps the horse’s earliest use was in warfare (Job 39:19-25). The horse is an article of war; it symbolizes boldness and strength in battle. See Proverbs 21:31.

The very purpose of the sword brought to bear is that you might know there is a judgment (Job 19:29).

If you get Revelation 6 wrong, you can’t understand the book, and you miss the entire point of the end of the Old Covenant and the bringing in of the New Covenant in the blood sacrifice of the Lamb.

The New Testament is about the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets in Christ, the bringing in of the New Covenant, the birth of the Church – His body, and the judgment that comes upon that first-century generation for rejecting His Law – the Word made flesh.

Odd is how the Christian and even non-Christian world accept the destruction of Solomon’s temple and the judgment upon God’s people, and Babylonian captivity. But when Messiah was rejected, the Church birthed, and the second temple was destroyed, suddenly everybody has a problem.

Well, the problem is you. Get over it; God is sovereign and does as He pleases, and no amount of eschatological wishful thinking can change the facts. Revelation chapter six is about the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century (70AD), and neither can wild-eyed obfuscatory speculation about the future change that. Is chapter 6 a foreshadowing of a future global judgment, you decide? But, we will not ignore history or the correct interpretation of Scripture.

If you don’t understand Matthew 24, neither will Revelation make much sense among its fantastic imagery, hyperbolic and parabolic language, and prophetic legal decrees. Some background material is provided here, with study resources provided in part ten. Two further short notes on the subject are here and here.

As further background, in chapter 5 of Revelation, a sealed decree of God, a verdict in judgment, is held out in the right hand of He who is, the I Am. No creature in heaven or earth was able to take the scroll and open it. But, having defeated sin, death, hell, the devil, and the grave (the kingdom of death and hell), the sinless, thrice holy, resurrected Lamb of God is worthy (Revelation 5:1-7). Chapter six contains the opening of the first six seals of this multifold decree against those of that generation who rejected Jesus Christ. It’s important to note that Jerusalem also made war on the saints. In the fifth seal, the martyrs cried for vengeance. First, seal one.

Note: The right hand is that of power in Scripture; it’s why Christ is seated at the right of Power, and the position of being seated is that of being seated in judicial judgment (Luke 22:69). Jesus resides in the courts of heaven in judicial power over the affairs of men. Contrast that with Acts 7:55-56, where Steven sees Christ standing at the right side of God. Jesus was standing, to welcome His friend and faithful servant Steven home, and not seated in judgment. Having told the Pharisees that He would henceforth be seated in judgment against them in Luke 22 when they heard Steven say that he saw Jesus standing next to God, it drove them to such madness that they gnawed on him with their teeth.

“1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” – Revelation 6:1-2

Who or what is the white horse? The white horse we suppose to be the symbol of war, not simply battle, but good victory in just war. Some suggest that it is the opening of Rome’s war against Jerusalem. Ultimately, it’s God’s decree in heaven and carried out on earth among those nations and men in the first century. Jerusalem, greater Judea, all the land area called Israel, and surrounding areas were engulfed in the war. This section of Scripture is about the siege of Jerusalem. We think there is somewhat of a time progression shown in the horsemen as the city’s situation grew increasingly dim. Some say the bow represents the early stages of the war with standoff weapons such as the bow and catapult. But indeed, the first horse is that of standard Roman warfare techniques and tactics employed in the first century against Jerusalem.

“3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” – Revelation 6:3-4

Jesus opens the second seal, and the horse is red. A symbol of blood and evil. This horse is the setting forth by God of the internal struggle among the “kings” and “rulers” of the “world” or land. History shows that as Rome approached and surrounded Jerusalem, terrible infighting occurred (Matthew 10:34), tribe against tribe, kingdom against kingdom, family against each other; even the Zealots turned on each other (Matthew 24:7, 10), all under the influence of devils as God allowed. See Isaiah 19:1-2 as an example of God turning kinsmen against each other as a proclamation of internal warring under His judicial review. Satanic confederacies always fall to internal strifes. Though we deserve what must be coming today, may God have mercy on Western Civilization.

Though we don’t hold this view, some suggest that this seal also represents the totality of fighting. Though Jerusalem was held by siege, the Jews fought back against Rome viciously and to significant effect in the provinces and especially in what is now North Africa.

“5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” – Revelation 6:5-6

Black is that color of distress, calamity, and specifically starvation with its attendant health problems (Lamentations 5:10) and moreover death by famine. The rationing of goods is the picture here. The equivalent of a day’s wages (Matthew 20:2, 9) would net a man only a measure to eat. There are varying opinions on what the standard (amount) was, but suffice it to say; that it was not enough to sustain more than one person and barely at that. Hyperinflation in food costs is pictured. Another example of famine is here in Ezekiel 4:16-17. Here is the Law of a Just Balance – Leviticus 19:36, supported in Proverbs 11:1, 16:11. The balance is a common symbol of equity and justice, which comes from the Bible. God is the great provider of all for all; food scarcity is the just reward for the evils of men and nations.

“7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” – Revelation 6:7-8

That Death and Hell are capitalized here in the KJV is a proper rendering. Verse 8 is the consummation of the fearful ravages of war wrought in the judgments of Holy God. So we also consider pestilence as a manner of judgment along with death by wild animals. The mind goes to the war of northern aggression in which more died from a combination of poor hygiene, lack of nutrition, and inadequate healthcare than by cannon or mini ball. Such is war, real war anyway. As to death by animals, we consider this in Bible terms to be the carcass of the unjust, now discarded, torn by animals (unclean), with no man to attend to a proper burial. It’s the treatment of the dead body of a disgraced man (or nation) in the Bible.

As an aside about verse 8: “his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” This phrase (with Revelation 20:13) points to why we coined the title: the kingdom of death and hell, which are all, spirit and man, that is opposed to the love and light and truth by Jesus Christ. We that are saved by grace, having the Spirit of God, moving and living, and having our being in Christ, are in the Kingdom of God. There are two kingdoms, and all men serve in one. By abiding in, or accepting, the kingdom of death and hell, sooner or later, it comes for its own, devouring them in their own evil designs on earth as outer darkness and eternal torment awaits, even to good men who do nothing and reject Christ.

Ezekiel 14:21 relates a concise word picture of what we find here in Revelation. The fourfold judgment is that of war, external by Rome in seal one. And seal two, internal fighting under the demonic influence indicated by the phrase “Hell following” in verse 8. This means the devils of hell were allowed by God to torment the people into fighting each other. (Have you noticed the spirit of the people in America lately?) Thirdly, famine and starvation, including uncontrolled inflation, as people sought too few goods. Fourth is the general calamity of war, including disease. The book of Revelation is not some new thing in language or typology. See Jeremiah 14:12, Ezekiel 5:12, 6:11-12 as a few examples of the tools God uses against all who break His covenants.

This section of Scripture is reasonably typical of apocalyptics representing sweeping historical events. The horsemen are not to be viewed in a historicist manner at all. These judgments are a single event in history, i.e., the destruction of Jerusalem. War is terrible; no right man would want it, nor would any right man tolerate it without rebellion for just cause.

The correct interpretation of these first four seals is that which Jesus spoke to His disciples of the desolation of Jerusalem in Matthew 24:6-8, Luke 21:5-6, 10-11.

Note that in Luke 21:12, after the ascension of Jesus but before the war, the persecution predicted by our Lord had already started, which points to the martyrs in the fifth seal; Revelation 6:9-11. The fifth seal is explained well in paragraph (2) here. It should bring great comfort to the saints of God to know that one day, all will be settled in heaven, and in earth, we win and will be vindicated in Christ. That the souls of the martyrs are under the altar indicates that they were a worthy sacrifice unto the Lord God. Are you?

The sixth seal is highly symbolic. We see the power and majesty of our God as He seeks to wreak vengeance for His saints. If you say that all the martyrs of all times are represented as under the alter, it’s not worth fussing over. That those souls in the first century were vindicated is apparent, and that all will be reckoned unto Holy God by the end of history, no believer doubts.

It’s best not to get carried away over-analyzing the symbolism in the prophetic books of Scripture. It’s easy to lose sight of the point of the book of Revelation when examining the red moon, darkened sun, dragon, colors of horses, etc. The book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ and not the revelation of any other thing at all.

Attempting to identify each horseman with any specific character or narrow historic event misses the point in spirit and method of apocalyptic literature in Scripture. If we were to know the particular interpretation of the (persons) horseman, it would be plainly explained in Scripture. God perfectly describes all specific symbolism in His holy word when it represents a particular thing or person we need to know. Revelation 1:20 is a good example, explaining the symbols in that chapter.

In first-century accounts of the siege, there’s evidence that people fled to hide in caves, piling up rocks to block the entrances. The sun was blocked out by fires burning from the Roman flaming catapult attacks, which also turned the moon red (orange). Those are two examples. Verses 13 and 14 are hyperbole bringing us to a sense of wonder at the power of God’s judicial authority over the earth. Other sections of Scripture have similar visual descriptions of the power and wrath of God. Perhaps those things have biblical significance, but it’s not a book of signs, and since they are used elsewhere but not literally, we accept the Revelation of Jesus Christ as being about Him.

Depicted in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are tools Almighty God uses in judgment against all who have forsaken His Law-word. So, by way of warning, one more time, without a national revival and returning to Him, what else could God do to America but the things depicted in both the Old Testament and the New Testament prophetic apocalyptic Scriptures? Europe is even now lining up for war and famine, diseases will follow, and death.

End notes: See Joel 1:4 and Zechariah 1:7-21, 6:1-8 as other examples using symbolism in rapidly successive multi-fold judgments of the Almighty emanating from the throne of His power in glory, each culminating as a single event in history on earth.


Comments

  1. On September 22, 2022 at 9:24 pm, robehr orinsky said:

    My little brothers concubine is a practicing witch and atheist . While I was praying for her and my brother the Lord spoke to me in a very strong and stern voice . He said ” Do Not Pray For Her Again”. Great fear for her soul came upon me . I still pray for America . I hope I never hear Him say ” Don’t Pray For Her Again” but I fear that time is coming .

  2. On September 22, 2022 at 10:20 pm, Glenn said:

    Why do you mention “Palestine” There has never been a Palestinian people.

  3. On September 22, 2022 at 10:48 pm, PGF said:

    First century Jerusalem, greater Judea, all the land area called Israel, and surrounding areas were engulfed in the war.

    I suppose it would have been easy enough to just say that instead. I’ll edit the post. Thanks.

  4. On September 26, 2022 at 1:39 am, Plague Monk said:

    With regard to the comment about the concubine who is both a practicing witch and atheist: Not possible, I’m afraid. Witches believe in magic, while we atheists don’t believe in any higher power, whether god, buddha, invisible flying spaghetti monster. I just wanted to clear that up. I still have my IFSM t-shirt around somewhere, though. And I have to admit that I kinda agree with the Egyptians, who worshiped cats. I have 3 of them, who run the house.

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You are currently reading "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", entry #32072 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Horses,Religion,War & Warfare and was published September 22nd, 2022 by PGF.

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