Four Apocalypse Horsemen
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27. Four Apocalypse Horsemen
Revelation 6.1-4

"I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a thundering voice, 'Come!' I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, received a crown, and rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, 'Come!' Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider had the power to remove the earth's peace and make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword." (Revelation 6.1-4) ✞

God's Oppressed People

Document SealThe seven Revelation judgments begin. As each scroll seal opens, events occur that will bring about human history's end. Owners authenticate and validate documents with beeswax or clay seals. The coat of arms of a significant person sending a letter is impressed with a "matrix" or stamp of cast bronze, silver, or even gold. In Revelation, seals close up important texts or scrolls. The opener snaps each wax or clay seal, and the scroll reveals part by part but not completely open until they break the final seventh seal. ✞

Four Heavenly Spirits

The manuscript here reveals God's authority over human history. Scenes proclaiming God's triumph intersperse these events. The riders in these verses are commonly called the "Four Horse" or the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." In the Old Testament, Zechariah 6.1-5 sees four similar horses, "I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled. All of them were powerful. I asked the angel speaking to me, 'What are these, my lord?' The angel answered me, 'These are the four heavenly spirits, going out from standing in the lord of the whole world's presence.'"

White Red Black Pale

Four Horse MenThese four horsemen ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses and loose violence upon the nations oppressing God's people. In Revelation, the color of the horses may symbolize "conquest or pestilence," "war," "famine," and "death." As the first four seals open, the "four horses" appear. The "horses" represent God's judgment vehicles on the people's sin. God is directing human history through the horses, even using his enemies to accomplish his purposes.

Scarlet Horse Apocalypse

Four HorsesThe scarlet horse causes people to fight and kill each other in wars and take peace from the earth. The "scarlet horse rider" is the second of the "Four Apocalypse Horsemen." This horse and rider carry a judgment sword. The scarlet horse could also allude to a conquering military empire like the Parthians on the Roman empire's eastern border, which God used to exercise punishment. Between BC 247 and 224 AD, the Parthians ruled large parts of Iran and Iraq. They were experts at riding horses in battle and humiliated the Romans with defeat at the Battle of Rhandeia in 62 AD.

Take Peace

Queen BoadiceaThe "fiery scarlet horse" and the rider with his "large sword" remove the earth's peace. The scarlet color indicates blood, war, and slaughter. The sight of the red horse causes "men to slay each other" and former friends to become enemies and "kill one another." Warfare and mass slaughter were commonplace in John of Patmos' day when one hundred thousand men died in battles between BC 37-67. Sometimes called "Boadicea, Boudicca, or simply as Budduc in Welsh," Queen Boudica led a British revolt. She was the tribal queen of the British Celtic Iceni. The Romans eventually crushed the British, but only after one hundred and fifty thousand casualties. These were incredibly bloodthirsty times. ✞

"Four Apocalypse Horsemen"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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