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Summary: Following in the wake of the famine comes another horse, still more terrible in its symbolic meaning. It is pale, meaning livid and corpselike. The rider is called Death, the aftermath of war and famine.

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By: Tom Lowe Date: 10/8/2015

Title: Fourth Seal: The Pale Horse and Its Rider (Revelation 6:7-8)

Revelation 6:7-8 (KJV)

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.

Introduction

Following in the wake of the famine comes another horse, still more terrible in its symbolic meaning. It is pale, meaning livid and corpselike. The rider is called Death, the aftermath of war and famine. The fourth living creature is given divine authority to send him into the world. Under the three previous seals, a false peace was followed by war and famine on the earth. There have been furious wars, famines, and death-dealing plagues in the past, but nothing comparable to this event which is still in the future. Its fury is depicted in its widespread effects, killing one-fourth of the earth’s population. This is the result of the foregoing judgments—the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence—which God calls “My four sore judgments” (Ezekiel 14:21).

As we approach this passage we must once again remember that it is not telling of the final end but of the signs which precede it. That is why it is a fourth part of the earth which is involved in death and disaster. This is a terrible time but it is not the time of total destruction.

Commentary

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.

The Lamb “opened the fourth seal”—and as they see the Lamb opening the seals—they realize that God is in control and that His purposes will be accomplished. And the “fourth” living creature said, “Come!,” calling a rider on a “pale horse.” The drive for conquest (white horse), had led to warfare and bloodshed (red horse), which had brought famine and pestilence (black horse), resulting in “death” and the grave (pale horse). The “pale” color (literally a pale green) indicates the color of death. The four riders were given “power over the forth part of the earth to kill” people by “sword,” famine and plague, and by the wild “beasts.” “Death” by wild “beasts” would be expected when millions of people have died through war, famine and plague. The number of one-fourth of the earth, working from present-day numbers, would mean over a billion people would die in this first wave of judgment were it to happen today. But nothing that cataclysmic has occurred in all of history.

There are four instruments of judgment mentioned in the clause “to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” It is interesting to note that the four judgments named here are the same four with which Jehovah threatened guilty Jerusalem in the past: “For thus saith the Lord God; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?” (Ezekiel 14:21). The “sword” named under the second seal, and “hunger” named under the third seal, are here reproduced, and coupled with two others—pestilence and the “beasts of the earth.” In Leviticus there is a passage which tells of the penalties which God will send upon His people because of their disobedience. Wild beasts will rob them of their children and destroy their cattle and make them few in number. The sword will avenge their breaches of the covenant. When they are gathered in their cities the pestilence will be among them. He will break the staff of bread and they will eat and not be satisfied (Leviticus 26:21-26).


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