Summary: We live in interesting times. It seems that if we don't live in the time of the Four Horsemen, that time will, surely, be soon.
v. 1. I saw as the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four Living Ones saying with a huge voice “Come and see”, and I saw a white horse, and the one riding upon it had a bow, and he was given strength, and he went having victory and to be victorious.
v. 3. And then He opened the second seal, and I heard the second Living One saying “Come”, and another (different) red horse went out, and the one sitting on him was given to take peace from the earth and in order that they would kill one another, and he was given a huge sword.
v. 5. And then He opened the third seal, and I heard the third Living One say “Come, and see”, and I saw a black horse, and the one sitting on him had scales in his right hand, and I heard a voice in the middle of the four Living Ones saying “A measure of wheat for a day’s wages, and three measures of barley for a days wages, And the oil and the wine you should not damage”.
v. 7. And then He opened the four seal, and I heard the voice of the fourth Living One saying “Come, and see”, and I saw a green horse, and on top of the one riding him his name was written, “Death”. And Hades followed after him, and he was given authority over the fourth of the earth, and to kill with sword and famine, and death and even by the beasts of the earth.
v 1 There are four main interpretations of the four horsemen
(Please recognize they cannot possibly all be correct. If you want my opinion, i lean toward the 1st and the 4th.)
1 They represent the economic, political and economic disarray during the tribulation.
2 The first horseman is Jesus
3 The first horseman is the antichrist (not Jesus, Hos. 1:7; Rev. 19:12), and the others are the destruction which attends his reign (Dan 7:8-9; 8-12; 2 Thess 2:3-12).
4 These four horses are mighty angels which are behind the forces unleashed under the reign of the antichrist (Zech 1:7-11; 6:1-8; Job 1:7; 2:2). A study of horsemen shows that they are constantly mentioned as members of the armies that are of the nations warring against the people of God (Exo. 14-15; Eze 38:4; Joel 2:1-11).
v 2 Throughout Scripture the word bow is used for two things, the rainbow, and the weapon. The one speaks of the promise of God’s mercy, the other with war (Gen 9:13-16. Matt 24:39). The crown is a stephanos, or victor’s wreath, and it goes forth to conquer, nikao.
v 4 This first horse is fiery red (Rev 12:3). It goes forth with power to kill, or butcher, with a sword (Matt 10:34; 26:5; 26:51; Luke 21:24; Rom 8:35; Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12; Rev 13:10-14. The black color is mentioned very rarely, and seems to imply a plague of suffering death (Lam 5:10).
v 5 The balance, or yoke, in its hand is a symbol of trade in the ancient world.
v 6 The word denarius, is a day’s wage (Matt 20:1-13).
v 8 clorus is the word sometimes translated Pale, and is a greenish yellowish color, the Greek word from which the name chlorophyll comes (Mk 6:39; Rev. 8:7). Hell, or Hades, is the place of the wicked dead (see Luke 16:19-30; Matt 11:23, 16:18; Acts 2:27-31; Rev 1:13; 20:13-14; 1 Cor 15:55 (translated grave)). Concerning the judgments: hunger (or famine), pestilence, beasts, sword see Eze. 5:12; Jer 15:1-3; 2 Ki 21, and 2 Chr 33).
The Beginning of the End of Human History
People debate about humanity’s future. Some feel we will wipe ourselves out within the next few centuries. This is quite possible. Others argue if we can become a multi-planet species we’ll be ok. I think, however, that whatever planet we manage to settle on, even if the current goals are accomplished of establishing a Mars colony with a million people by the end of the century, we’ll only take our fallen humanity with us. If we are destroyed by our own behavior, the destruction will come from within, not from outside. But the Bible teaches our species will come to an end on this planet because God will bring judgment on us. The “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” are the beginning of that judgment.
The destruction caused by these horsemen is poetic-using war, commerce, famine, disease, and even the beasts of the earth. Let’s take a look quickly at each one.
Toward the end of World War II the USA developed a doomsday weapon and used it against Japan.
Strategists at the time felt it may prevent the war-deaths of roughly one million soldiers, because despite the fact that Japan was pressed in by the Russians in Manchuria and Korea, and by the Americans everywhere else, they seemed to be uninterested in any form of armistice. The weapon developed and used to insure the swift end to war then became the stockpiled means of the MAD doctrine-Mutually Assured Destruction. The presumption at the time was that no rational person or government would use a weapon knowing its use would surely result in their total annihilation. Interestingly, during the Cuban Missile Crisis John Kennedy commissioned a small group to perform a "war game" in which they simulated the current situation of brinkmanship between the Soviets and the USA. The purpose of the exercise was to evaluate whether Stalin would use nuclear weapons if one of their cities were destroyed by nuclear weapons. The conclusion of the game? Not only would Stalin use a bomb in answer to a bomb. They would feel inclined, even obligated to use an all-out nuclear attack, knowing that a tit-for-tat destruction of one city would require an answer against another, and another, and another . . . That all-out war was the most rational response to ANY nuclear attack. Both Kennedy and Stalin, gratefully, had cool enough heads to avert nuclear disaster. But we may not have the same strength of heart and mind in positions of power today. God will use war, the very means used to subdue those who are less powerful, to subdue those who wish to dominate.