The four horsemen of the Book of Revelation help us to understand the world in which we live. We read of these horses in Revelation 6:1-8. They are pictured to us in different colors and described to us in detail.
If we consider the significance of colors in the Bible, we can learn that each of these horses represent a great power in the world. The white horse represents purity and cleansing, the red horse represents passion and war, the black horse represents poverty, and the pale horse represents death.
Why is the white horse, in the cause of Christ by the preaching of the gospel, first? Why do the last three horsemen follow the first, or, in other words: what is the relation between the cause of Christ on the one hand, and war, social and economic strife, and death on the other hand?
War verses the cause of Christ in the world!
The second horseman represents war as sent by God into the world. It follows the white horse and its rider, suggesting that somehow it must serve the latter.
What relation is there according to Scripture between the cause of Christ and war? Scripture teaches that the wars in the world are all more or less directly related to the one great war between Christ and the Antichrist (Dan. 7, 8). Man was created to have dominion over the whole earthly world. After the fall, when man became a rebel against God and a servant of the devil, this urge naturally remained in him. Man naturally strives for the realization of a world empire. Earlier in the Old Testament the people attempted the same thing at Babel, but God separated the human race into nations and scattered them over the earth. The result is that now each nation seeks for itself world-dominion or world peace. God, however, anointed His King over all things, the Christ. He is heir of all things and is destined to have dominion over all things.
The striving of the world to establish a world-empire assumes an antichristian character. The idea is to establish an empire from which Christ is excluded. The wars of this world are presented in Scripture as always culminating in Antichrist. This antichristian world-power will, according to Scripture, ultimately be realized for a short time. During the reign of Antichrist there will be no room for the Church on earth (Rev. 13:15,17). Hence, he may be revealed only “in his time’’ (II Thes. 2:6).
War is one of the chief means whereby God prevents the beginning of the realization of the antichristian world dominion. As long as the world is still divided against itself the “man of sin” cannot be revealed. This is why the red horse follows the white.
The social conflict and the cause of Christ.
The third horseman, which is on the black horse, represents the contrast between the wealthy and those that live by the day. He follows the red horse and the white.
Now we must find out the relation between the third horseman and the second, and between the third horseman and the first.
It is proven from actual conditions in the world, that the third horseman always pursues his course through the earth. Always the wealth of the earth is in the hands of just a few men, while many live by the day and consume their wages as they earn them. This is so true that as soon as the latter are unemployed they need “relief.” This situation develops no matter what form of society prevails. That is slavery, the feudal system, and capitalism.
This social contrast is wrought by God, but He works this through a mediator. He does this by giving men different talents, gifts, powers and means. He also works this through the sin of covetousness in man’s heart.
The results of this work of God in men are internal strife, strikes, boycotts, revolutions and often war. While war, that is the red horse, is often the forerunner of depression; the economic strife, the black horse, is often the forerunner of war. The third horseman prevents the beginning of the antichristian setup that leaves no room in the society for the Church.
The Death and Cause of Christ
The fourth horseman is Death, physical death, directed by Christ, always bringing the normal number of dead to the grave at the proper time and place. It prevents the beginning of the realization of the “man of sin,” that he may be revealed in his own time, because it gives each generation a short time to work. It shortens the time that earth shall be filled.
Lastly, death also directly affects the Church. It makes apostasy easier and it gathers the elect into the Church triumphant (Judges 2:8-10).
This portion of Scripture shows us that all things are put here for a purpose. It proves to us that God has a purpose, even for wars.