“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. 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
The first four seals all describe horses and their riders; white, red, black, and pale. All of which describe human history. While the message they bring is true of man throughout his history, it is especially true from John’s time until today.
Without Christ as your world view, man will be driven by Satan’s drive to rule and control. Ezekiel reveals knowledge of Satan’s past and gives us understanding of his motivations –
“You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering:
… Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. “By the abundance of your trading (merchandise) You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.” – Ezekiel 28:14-16
The “mountain of God” is describing God’s authority and Satan wants it! It is why Jerusalem has always been such a source of contention and war, because God calls it His mountain and the place where He set His name and Satan wants it. So men are infected with this desire to conquer and control. The history of man from John’s time forward has been a story of one conqueror after another sweeping across the land. Since that time there has only been 13 years free of war somewhere on earth. This first horseman has a bow in his hand and a crown on his head. These leaders succumbed to the same temptation Satan gave Jesus –
“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:8, 9
Jesus passed the test and rebuked Satan but, many men have failed – Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, to name a few. Many politicians have also fallen to this temptation as well. They promise many things but what they are really after is control and power. That is why there are very few politicians who are true Christians. Oh, they may claim to be Christian but, their lives and what they vote for tells a different story!
Quickly following the first seal comes a Red horse “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.” War is the consequence of those who want control and power because there will always be those who resist. This rider has taken peace from the earth because it is impossible to have peace without the Prince of Peace. Jeremiah writes about this as he describes the false prophets of his day –
“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” – Jeremiah 6:14
“They say still unto them that despise me, ‘The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace’; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, ‘No evil shall come upon you.'” – Jeremiah 23:17
The first time I was in Israel I heard a saying common there: “The UN means United Nothing”! That is certainly true because they try to establish peace without the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. It is impossible. All the United Nations does is aid the devil’s plans and soak up a lot of money in the process!
“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.”
War breeds hunger and disease. It destroys the infrastructure needed to produce money and food. Besides taking the young men and women needed it destroys farmland, water resources, and medical facilities needed for healthy living. A present example is Syria where whole generations are being wiped out.
“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.”
Even the basic necessities of life become scarce and expensive, if available at all. I have read that the phrase “hurt not the oil and the wine” is referring to the rich not being hurt as much as the poor. Whether this is the correct interpretation or not – it is certainly true. Those in power usually start the wars and they often get richer because of them.
The fourth seal brings us to the last horseman to ride forth –
“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 6:8
The final result of man’s lust for control and power is always death. He kills with hunger, the sword, with disease, and with wild beasts of the earth.
This concludes the first four seals and is often called ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. I believe they have been active since man’s beginning but, as Jesus taught, the end times will be like a woman in birth pangs – they get stronger and more
frequent towards the end. One interesting point is the of the name ‘a pale horse‘. In the Greek, the word translated ‘pale’ is chlōros, from which we get the word chlorophyll – which is a green color. Taken with the fact that this rider ‘kills with the sword’ and that it is the last horse makes one wonder if Islamic forces are not being hinted at here.
Another point to consider is as Israel first began to return to their land, it was a result of war with Muslims (the Turks) that enabled it. Is it likely that the completion of the Jewish return to the land will also involve war with Muslim nations?