Note 1 for verse
Not ordinary red
The color of the second horse is red. But it's not the usual word for this color. It's more precisely "fiery red" 0601d2. This term in Greek is used twice in our Bible — here and in Chapter 12 1203b. Comparing them helps us understand the red and white horses. We will quote just a little from that vision and comment briefly.
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great [fiery] red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads." (Rev. 12:1-3) re1201.
The woman was clothed with
the sun. This is like the white color of the first horse. We are clothed
in the pure robe of righteousness of Christ, as we accept his forgiveness
and follow His ways is6110,
Fiery red describes the character of the dragon and of the second horse.
two wonders of chapter 12 are color matched to the first two horses.
There we see Christ, the child whom the dragon (the devil, 12:9) wanted to destroy. Satan acted through Rome, first in its pagan government and then in the Jewish leaders. Christ escaped His temptations (Matt. 4:1; Heb. 4:15) and, as the man child (literally "a son, a male."), was taken up to heaven (12:5), the dragon was cast down from heaven (12:13). When the child escaped, the dragon's wrath turned against the woman, He worked through the pagan government and the corrupt church (Rev. 13:2). The sword of the government directed by the church turned to the woman who bore the child. She was consequently sent to the wilderness for protection (12:13, 14) where she stayed for more than a thousand years of religious oppression during the Middle Ages. Thus we have the picture of the first two horses in Revelation 6. The battle is between Christ and Satan as it has been from the beginning (Rev. 12:7).
How wonderful to know that Christ, with bow and crown, in mercy, forgives us and lifts us up, restoring our souls (Ps. 23:3).
Note 2 for verse 3,
A great sword
The second rider was given a sword. This contrasts with Christ's crown of worthiness to open the seals as our priest, reconciling us to God ex2901-8; 2co0519. He will not be king until the judgment is over and His people are found worthy da0714; is6201. In contrast to Christ's bow of salvation and peace, the rider of the red horse was permitted take peace from the world. (See on v2 in the table comments and follow links. I have inferred the "peace" concept from the contrast just mentioned.)
The two riders and their horses are in competition for the souls of humanity. After the church of Christ arose, apostasy developed 2th0203. Two groups of people claimed to follow Christ — those who actually supported Him and followed His direction (as a horse obeys its rider) and those who were controlled by the rebel leader they had chosen although that leader or rider was not an individual.
As we have just noted, the second rider was permitted to take away peace and was given a sword. God was still in charge. He permits the evil to come re1307, da0725. Without allowing evil to demonstrate itself, sin would not be fully understood, and we would question God's fairness in eliminating it from His creation. While He permits evil, He delivers those who fear Him ps03407.
Note 1 for verse
Black and pale horses
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. . . . And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 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. (Rev. 6:5-8)
In our discussion above we looked at chapter 12 to help us understand the first two horses. At the end of the vision, the dragon turns his wrath to the remnant of the woman's seed — those who are faithful at the end of time. Might this scene also help clarify the other two horses and their riders? I believe it will.
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Rev. 12:17)
Colors black and
The colors for the two end-time horses aren't seen directly here. But we do see the end-time battle against God's people, the same one seen in the third and fourth horses. The end-time people of God are mourning (black) preparing to stand, sealed, in the judgment. They realize their need and open their lives to the purifying power of God. re1406, le1629, mal0302. The color of the end-time antagonists is "pale" – specifically pale green. In the Old Testament we find the Hebrew equivalent pale green in the story of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, who surrounded Jerusalem after conquering the other cities of Judah is3601.
Under the leadership of Hezekiah, the city did not submit. God fought for them. The arrogant king was turned back and later slain at home is3738. All this is a parallel of the battle between the pale and the black horses. The following verse describes the other people God permitted Sennacherib to oppress. They were then subject to him. The wicked king tortured and oppressed his captives as if trampling pale grass. See comments table on . His arrogance led him to defy God in seeking to subjugate Jerusalem, without divine approval is3610. In Isaiah 37 is3721-32, the Lord reminds Sennacherib that He had given him the power and describes the people the evil king had taken control of.
Note 2 for verse 5,
An attitude of black
"And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand."
A few other passages help us connect the blackness with the attitude of God's people during God's end time judgment. We connect mourning with black but also with sackcloth. In interpreting, we must insist on having good biblical evidence and for some time, I have been unsatisfied with my choice. I studied the words translated "black" and those translated, "mourning.". Then I discovered that one Hebrew word that is sometimes translated black and sometimes translated mourn. Here is the passage that provides roots for our black horse.
"Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning [kawdar; or being dark or black] because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God." (Ps. 43:1-4)
passage describes God's end-time people. Notice "Judge me." The end-time
church goes through the preadvent judgment re0314.
The words, "O deliver me," reflect the attack by the dragon — the demand
to worship the beast and its image re1314.
Ascending the holy hill, we will see as the experience of God's final people,
the 144,000 re1401b.
Going to the altar and tabernacles indicates the sanctuary or judgment
particularly indicated by the balance in the hand of the rider of the black
horse. See le2327ff.
"And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. . . .
"And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me." (Ezek 9:4-10)
Note 1 for verse 8
The pale horse — not ordinary green (corresponding to the not-ordinary red of the red horse).
The Hebrew word for "pale" here may be pale green or perhaps "tender green." This was the clue that the story of Hezekiah and Sennacherib might help us understand the third and fourth horses. In Rev. 12:17, we also see the oppressed remnant and the dragon oppressor in the final attack on God's people who will withstand the final assault of Satan. We will see this conflict several more times in our study of Revelation.
The remnant would be the black horse. Do we see them mourning or in humility? We are aware of this attitude of those who were found worthy on the day of atonement Lev. 16:30. It is also the time of the silent harps which we will read about in connection with chapter 14. Rev. 14:2c.
In the story of Hezekiah and Sennacherib, after listening to the threats and the arrogance against God, Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah, leaders in Israel reported to Hezekiah on what was happening. They came with their clothes torn. Hezekiah tore his clothes, too, and put on sack cloth. Then he sent two of them with elders of the priests to Isaiah who advised them to pray for their remnant. (Isa. 36:22 - 37:4) This certainly pictures a time of humility. Black isn't mentioned by Isaiah but it is connected with "sackcloth of hair" in Rev. 6:12 representing the same time. See the comments table for Rev. 6:8.
So we can look to the one who is coming to set the captives free and to open the prison house. The wicked will be like the pale green herb and the burned grass, oppressed by the evil power they have chosen. Those who are faithful and are sealed for their protection during the raging of the four winds (Rev. 7:1) will be victorious. I want to be among them as part of the black horse, and I'm sure you do, too.