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Summary: The horse imagery is probably related to the vision described in Zechariah 1:7-17. Horses represent God’s activity on earth, the forces He uses to accomplish His divine purposes.

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Second Seal: the Red Horse and Its Rider

Commentary on the Book of Revelation

By: Tom Lowe Date: 9-9-15

TOPIC # III: VISIONS OF JUDGMENT AGAINST JERUSALEM (4:1-11:19)

Subtopic B: The Opening of Seven Seals (6.1-8.1)

Lesson: III.B.2: Second Seal: the Red Horse and Its Rider (Revelation 6:3-4)

Revelation 6:3-4 (KJV)

3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

4 And there went out another horse that was red: 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.

Introduction

In this short passage, John records the opening of the second seal; and as the seal was opened, one of the four living beasts summoned a rider on a red horse (“Come and see”). In other words, events take place on earth because of the sovereign direction of God in heaven.

The horse imagery is probably related to the vision described in Zechariah 1:7-17. Horses represent God’s activity on earth, the forces He uses to accomplish His divine purposes. The center of His program is Israel, particularly the city of Jerusalem (Jerusalem is mentioned 39 times in Zechariah). God has a covenant purpose for Israel and that purpose will be fulfilled just as He promised.

Commentary

3 And when he had opened the second, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

4 And there went out another horse that was red: 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.

Here we have the second act of John’s vision which he describes in detail. Jesus, the Lamb, breaks the second seal on the scroll, as he had the first; the process was the same. “And when he had opened the second seal,” John said, “I heard the second beast say, ‘Come and see,’” which was like the invitation given to the first rider, who came on a white horse. “And there went out another horse that was red” (blood-red in v. 3), and he was given a special power—“and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. In other words, he was granted the power to remove the peace that is on the earth. Since God is sovereign over all things, it is He who grants the permission. The imagery here is not that this horseman does the butchering, but that he removes peace, and without that peace, humans butcher each other. Next, the apostle says, “And there was given unto him a great sword.” The “great sword” is representative of the machines of war being unleashed on the earth by people left to their own devices without any divine intervention. The Greek word for “sword” here is different from the sharp two-aged sword of Revelation 1:16: “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword . . .” This sword probably would have been about 5 feet long and would have weighed about twenty-five pounds. Strong warriors would swing it while on horseback to kill foot soldiers.

The first paragraph is a summary explanation of verses 3 and 4. However, as always, there is much more to this passage; so, let’s shed more light on John’s vision and his description of what he saw take place in Heaven.

In all seven seals the statement is made “I saw” (or “I beheld”), except the second seal. Here, John says, “I heard.” He does not say he saw it, but that does not mean that he was not an eyewitness. The second beast said to John, “Come and see,” and verse 4 simply states, “There went out another horse that was red.” Instead of the word “behold,” the word “another” is used. The use of the word “another” instead of “I saw” may seem very trivial and unimportant to the average reader; but I believe in THE VERBAL INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE. I believe every word in the Bible is inspired. I do not believe there is one word in it to fill up space, nor do I believe there is one word out of place. Perhaps I am a fool—but I say in the words of the Apostle Paul, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” To me, the reason the words “I saw” and the word “behold” are used in connection with the first seal and omitted in connection with the second seal, is that the seals are opened one after the other, and the white horse and the red horse do not appear at the same moment. The events did not all occur at the same time. The red horse could have appeared 3 ½ years after the white horse.

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