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Four Horses of the Apocalypse: The Truth of the Antichrist

Christ's peace in our hearts introduces peace in the world – even when the antichrist unleashes war to defeat, famine to destroy, and death to devour his enemies.

 

Revelation 6:3-8 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

 

When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”

 

When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.

 

History tells us that in 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler in Munich to sign a peace agreement that guaranteed peace from Hitler. He was warned not to trust Hitler. Six months later, Hitler’s truth came out when he invaded Czechoslovakia. Desperate for peace, Chamberlain deceived himself into believing that Hitler was a man of peace. Many will believe the same about the antichrist when he emerges in the end times as a man of peace. 

 

The problem is if a world desperate for peace will deceive itself into believing that the Antichrist is a man of peace, then they must be warned over and over again, or else by the time the truth of the Antichrist comes out it will be too late for the world. 

 

Revelation 6:1-2 was the initiation of the seven-year period of tribulation where the first of the four horses of the apocalypse and its rider came out, representing the antichrist. As we continue “Uncovering Revelation” verse by verse, in Revelation 6:3-8, the other three horses came out, revealing the truth of the antichrist because the peace that he brought didn’t last.

 

The big idea is, be warned and warn others about the identity and works of the antichrist because the Bible predicts people will not see the truth of the antichrist when he emerges. What is the truth of the antichrist? Revelation 6:2 revealed he comes to deceive the world into believing he is Christ.

 

Revelation 6:3-8 reveals three more truths about the Antichrist. He comes to unleash war to defeat, famine to destroy, and death to devour his enemies.

 

The Antichrist Unleashes War to Defeat His Enemies

 

In Revelation 2:2, the white horse and its rider came under the pretense of peace. I believe that, permitted by God but influenced by demonic powers, the rider deceived the world into believing that he is a person of peace and a champion of conflict resolution. He was given a crown, which seems to be a form of global dictatorship to pursue one world order to resolve global conflicts, especially conflict in the Middle East.

 

In Daniel 9, we saw after 3 ½ years, he will turn against Israel. After that, verse 3 says,  When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red.”

 

The horse is bright red which reminds us of fire and blood. Whether in the olden times or now, fire and blood are the byproducts of war, thus the red horse. 

 

The verse says, “Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth.” Where there is war, there is no peace. I believe God permitted the antichrist to bring temporary peace on earth and take it away also to prepare the world for Christ’s peace. 

 

The verse says, “so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.” When peace is taken out of the world, even families will turn against each other. There will be war in the house, war in the streets, war at the borders, and intercontinental war among nations. If that is not bad enough, the antichrist will use his unprecedented supernatural power to deceive and slaughter those who escape the carnage of war. That is why the antichrist is given “a great sword.”

 

Our small group discussed how there are Bible teachers who teach that the rider on the first horse cannot be the Antichrist for he brings peace. Even if we ignore Daniel 9 and Zechariah 6, the fact that the church is divided over the identity of the rider of the first horse when he has not even emerged yet should be self-evident of his power of deception. The Bible teaches that when he emerges on the global stage people will be deceived. 

 

The applications are, be warned and warn others about the truth of the antichrist and share with the world that unless God brings peace, no peace is lasting peace whether in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.

 

 The Antichrist Unleashes Famine to Destroy His Enemies

 

Verse 5 says, “When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse!”

 

The horse is black which represents darkness and evil. In Greek, the word is melas which is used for mourning clothes. So, the war has led to mourning and wailing over those who are killed by the sword, but it is not over yet. More is coming.

 

The verse goes on to say, “And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand.” The scales are a measuring tool to measure food. 

 

Then verse 6 continues, “And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!””  Wheat was the basic food in the context of the original audience. A quart would be the quantity of wheat that a single person would eat in a day and a denarius would be equal to one day's wage.

 

To put this into perspective, I have four children and a wife. My daily income would only provide enough food to sustain me but not my wife and children. Luckily, she has a job too, so she’d be ok but the kids will be on their own. They’ll have to get jobs too. All kidding aside, the point here is, whoever survives the war and the sword will be killed by starvation. 

 

In verse 6, each of the four creatures called each of the four horses but the command not to harm the oil and wine came from the midst of the four creatures. I think God ordered the rider not to harm the oil and wine. Why not? I think because of its medicinal use. A war-torn world facing starvation will guarantee the defeat and destruction of those who oppose the antichrist but the order to protect oil and wine signals relief for the wounded world.

 

That tells us God’s judgment is not intending the annihilation of humanity post-rapture. Also, the oil and wine might be spared for the second coming of Jesus. Oil to anoint Jesus as the King and wine to fulfill His promise in Matthew 26:29 that He will not drink wine until He is united with His people in His Kingdom. 

 

Last year, the World Food Programme reported that 333 million people are facing acute levels of food insecurity and do not know where their next meal is coming from. The organization said that 70% of the world’s hungry people live in areas afflicted by war. The Bible teaches that when the seven-year tribulation starts, we will see a kind of global war, global economic meltdown, and global starvation that we have never seen before. That’s scary, isn’t it?

 

The application for us is to pray that we are not on earth during those awful times. 

 

The Antichrist Unleashes Death to Devour His Enemies

 

Verses 7 and 8 says, “when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse!

 

The color of the horse is translated as pale. The Greek word used here is chloros, from which we get chlorophyll and chlorine. It is a greenish-yellow color. This is how people will look on that day— sick.

 

God describes this in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 30:6-7, “Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child?” The answer is no. “Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?” Why has every face turned pale?  Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it.”

 

 The Hebrew word yeraqon here is also greenish-yellow color. This is talking about the same event that we are looking at in Revelation 6. Our Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:7-8, talking about the same event said, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  

 

When we were about to have our first child, some 72 hours before Arius's birth, Sarah was in so much pain that we thought this was the time but her doctor said this was just the beginning of the birth pains. I had never seen my wife in such pain before, but it was expected to grow. Such would be the case in Revelation.

 

The name of the rider tells us his work, “And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. Death does what? He kills.

 

Hades and Hell are two different places. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus said, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

 

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church.

 

So, when Christians die, they go immediately into Christ’s presence, but when unsaved people die, they are imprisoned and punished in Hades until the day of judgment when their bodies will be resurrected and their souls and spirits will join them to stand before God for judgment.

 

Death followed by Hades is another clue that the church will be raptured before the tribulation and will not be devoured by death and Hades.

 

Hell is the lake of fire. In Matthew 24:41, Jesus said it was prepared for the devil and his angels. Revelation 20: 13-15 says, “And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

 

The function of the rider of the pale horse is also to kill, as told in Revelation 6:8, “And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”

 

If there was any confusion about the work and function of the four horses of the apocalypse, God summarized them as: to kill with a sword, which is war, famine, death by pestilence and wild beasts.

 

This is consistent with Ezekiel 5:16-17. In v.17 God warned, “ 17 I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will rob you of your children. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword upon you. I am the Lord; I have spoken.”

 

The application is, don’t think just saying that you are Christian will save you. You must repent, believe it in your heart, and show it in your life.

 

In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me

 

In 1938, when Chamberlain returned to England, he waved the signed, guaranteed peace deal from Hitler and said, “I believe it is peace for our time.” He was criticized for trusting Hitler because Hitler’s move was right out of the Nazi's manifesto known as Mein Kampf which was published more than a decade before WWII.

 

I believe that even though the identity and works of the antichrist have been published in the Bible for thousands of years, yet, when he emerges the world probably will say, the prince of peace has arrived. They may say, it is peace for our time. Their desperation for peace will deceive them into believing that the antichrist is the man of peace but the truth of the antichrist is that he will come to unleash war, famine, and death to defeat, destroy, and devour his enemies, the world— the very world Christ came to save by giving His own life on the cross in exchange for ours, to restore us to God.

 

Be warned and warn others about the identity and works of the antichrist, or else it will be too late. Peace is a matter of heart and sinful hearts can neither experience peace nor live in peace with others. Christ's peace in our hearts introduces peace in the world. If the peace is not lasting it is self-evident that it is not from God. 

 

Put the Word of God into practice and show the peace of Christ in you in the midst of crisis, confusion, and uncertainty. If you are not a Christian, then ask Christ to come into your life, and with Him will come His peace. The Bible teaches His peace surpasses all our understanding. 

  

Study Questions

 

1. What do the four horses and their riders represent?

 

2. How does the Red Horse in Revelation 6:3-4 correspond to what Jesus said in Luke 21:10?

 

3. Who is speaking in Revelation 6.6? Consider how John faithfully reported when he heard one of the living creatures speak. Why did he say, “I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures?

 

4. What might be the reason that while nothing was said to guard basic food like wheat in Revelation 6:5-6, the command was given “do not harm the oil and wine!” What is the significance of the oil and wine in this context?

 

Deeper Study Questions

 

1. How would you explain to someone about Revelation 6:8 as it pertains to “they were given authority over a fourth of the earth to kill?”

 

2. Discuss whether you believe the church will be present on or absent (raptured) from earth during God’s judgment through the four horses of the apocalypse. See Revelation 4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

 

3. How does the idea of God’s judgment through the four horses of the apocalypse challenge your theology of God’s goodness and how he cannot see sin?

 

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