In this chapter, the first 6 of the seven seals of the scroll are broken in order to open the scroll. We will read about the first four today, what most people call the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Verses 1-2 read,
“Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.”
This rider sounds very similar to later descriptions of Jesus leading the Angel Armies, but he is not. He represents conquest and victory, not God’s victory but governmental conquest. Countries making a false peace by overthrowing other countries nations subjugating other nations and so giving a false and shallow world unity. He doesn’t have the sword of Jesus, which destroys up close and directly. He has a bow, which wounds and kills from a distance. He was given a crown, his authority or kingship was not his, as is Jesus’ authority, but was given to him by God. It is God who establishes governments and from whom all authority comes. (Romans 13:1). The world uniting through suppression of nation after nation is not the unity of Christ brought by the Holy Spirit.
The rider on this horse is a false Jesus, a counterfeit savior. My interpretation of these verses identify the antichrist who will appear to most of the world as its savior but whose unity of the kingdoms will be false and whose peace is short-lived. He is described in Revelation 13:1-8,
“And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”
Believer, you do not need to look for victory in men. Your victory is in Christ. Deuteronomy 20:3-4 says,
and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, 4 for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.”
Verses 3-4 describe the next rider.
“When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.”
The rider on the red horse, takes peace away and causes people to kill one another. Look around at the world today and see how people use the name of religion to kill one another and cause wars to be fought. Look at the world and see how for centuries, people fought in God’s name but they didn’t fight God’s fight.
Believer, war may surround you, but Jesus is your peace. Isaiah 26:3 reads,
“You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.”
And you have peace with God, you are not at war with Him nor He with you. Romans 5:1 says,
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Verses 5-6 describe the next rider.
“When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
This rider is often called famine. Food will be scarce and the economy will be in upheaval. Many people will die from hunger. But why does the living creature cry out, “do not harm the oil and wine?” While a scarcity of crops will cause great economic failure and widespread death, the living creature reminded the rider not to harm the oil and wine, the olive trees and vineyards. Olive trees throughout the Bible and the vineyard represent Israel and the church, God’s people (Jeremiah 11:15-17, John 5:1-5). God’s people are not to be harmed or killed by the famine. Even as the world suffers these horrific tribulations that we look to God, not government, bank, or wallet to supply our needs. Psalm 23:1-2 says,
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters”
The next rider is described in verses 7-8.
“When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”
This rider is death, followed closely by Hades and together through all the other horsemen they kill a quarter of the earth’s population. If that happened today that would be 1,825,000,000, 000 (1.825 billion) people. That is a lot of people. 1 out of every four people you know will die. But remember Believer, you have eternal life. John 3:36 reads,
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
Jesus told us all these things would happen in Mark 13:5-13,
“And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
These are the first signs that Jesus is coming. Some have happened, some are in the midst of happening, and some will happen. Believer, be on your guard, look, be aware, but do not fear. The happenings are allowed by your Lord. You do not have your needs met by world leaders. You do not get your food from the government. You do not get your security from marshal law. God is your provision. He has already promised you victory, peace, abundance, and eternal life. Remember, if God is for us, who can be against us?