Helps for the Bible Study on the Book of Revelation

Lesson 9 ( Revelation 6: 1-8):  The Four Horsemen (2)

  1. Vss. 3,4.  The second horseman. Vs. 3:  “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come”, (R.V. See on vs. 1).  The second beast was like a calf or ox.  Ch 4:7, b. Vs.4.  In explaining the meaning of the second horseman we should note the color of the horse, and in connection with it (1) The great sword given to the rider. (2)  The power given him to take peace from the earth and to cause that men should kill one another.  c.  As to the color, the second horse is read.  It is the color of anger, passion, wrath, bloodshed.  This is naturally the meaning of red.  It is also used thus in Scripture.  The man that cometh from Edom is red in his apparel.  Isa. 63: 1,2.  God in His wrath is a consuming fire.  Heb. 12: 29.  The Bible speaks of the winepress of the wrath of God.  d.  This idea of anger and bloodshed is strengthened by the other details that are mentioned in the text:  (1)  A great sword is given to the rider.  Symbol of the avenging power of the State, the government; power to kill.  (2)  Power to take peace from the earth and to cause that men kill one another, through that sword.  Hence, not merely murder is indicated, but war.

Note:  The second horseman represents an irresistible force, issuing forth from God’s decree (the book with its seven seals, from which the second horseman comes forth), under the direction of Christ (who open the seals), causing war on the earth.

  1. Vss. 5,6.  The third horseman. a.  Vs. 5a.  “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come”, (R. V. See in vs. 1 ).  The third beast had the face of a man.  Ch. 4:7.  (There may be a connection between the various beasts that speak and the horseman they  address:  The royal lion addressing the victor on the white horses; the brute ox the warrior on the red horses; the beast with the face of a man addressing the merchantman on the black horses; the flying eagle addressing Death on the pale horse).  b.  Vss. 5b, 6.  In determining the meaning of the third horse, we must also first consider the color of the horse:  black.  It is naturally the color of want.  For as white is the implication of all colors, so black is the absence of color.  Hence, it represents physical want.  Thus, also in Scripture Jer. 14:2;  The gates are black of the drought.  Lam. 5:10:  Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.  And in harmony with this are the other details mentioned, although they modify somewhat the idea of want and hunger.  (1)  The horseman here appears as a merchant or vendor.  He hold a pair of balances.  And a voice cries:  “A measure of wheat for a penny and three measures of barley for a penny; and se thou hurt not the oil and the wine”.  (2)  A penny was a day’s wage for the laborer.  Matt. 20:9.  And a measure of wheat, or three measures of barley was considered just sufficient food for a person for one day.  Hence, to be able to buy a measure of wheat for a penny, or three measure of barley was to live by the day.  (3)  On the other hand, oil and wine symbolize abundance, riches, luxury.  And these might not be hurt.  (4)  A contrast is pictured here, therefore, between the rich that live in abundance, and the masses of poor that live by the day.

Note:  The third horseman represents a irresistible force, issuing forth from God’s decree (the sealed book),  and directed by Christ (who opens the seals), causing and maintaining the social contrast between the masses that labor and live by the day and the rich that live in abundance.

  1. Vss. 7,8.  The forth horseman.  a.  Vs. 7:  “And when he had opened the forth seal, I heard the forth beast say, Come”.  (R.V. See on vs. 1).  The forth beast was like a flying eagle.  b.  Vs. 8  Here, too, the color of the horse is significant:  pale, a pale-green, the color of a corpse, of physical death.  And in harmony with this is:  (1)  The rider’s name:  Death.  (2)  The fact that Hell (Hades, the grave) followed him.  (3)  That he has power to kill through various means, the sword, hunger, death, the beasts of the earth ( lions and tigers, but also germs), one forth part of the earth, i.e. of men.  Four is the number of this world in its extent and fullness.  One fourth is the normal number of death, the number will always die in normal times.

Note  The fourth horseman represents an irresistible force of physical death, issuing forth from God’s decree  (the book with its seven seals) directed by Christ, always bringing the normal behavior the normal of  dead to the grave at the proper time and place.