Revelation chapter five ends with the lamb, or Jesus, taking the seven sealed scroll-the ownership deed to earth, and getting ready to open it and claim His rightful ownership over the earth.
Chapter six tells what will happen as Jesus breaks each of the seals to open the scroll. As each seal is broken, a new judgment will be released on earth, these are known as the seal judgments. When
the first seal is broken, this will mark the beginning of the tribulation, a seven year span where God will send His judgments against the world for it’s sin before His return to set up his throne
here on earth. It will be the darkest seven years the world has ever known. In chapter six, John describes what he sees as Jesus opens each seal;
Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. (v.1-2)
This horseman, the first of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” is also known as the Antichrist. The Antichrist is a future leader who will unite the world under a one world government with him at the head. A couple of significant notes in these verses are that the rider is carrying a bow symbolic of warfare but no arrows, indicating that he will conquer by diplomacy. And that the crown was given to him, not earned indicating trickery, or deceit. In 2 Thessalonians chapter two, Paul refers to the antichrist as the “lawless one”.
You may wonder how he is going to be able to deceive the whole world into following him. Remember, this will happen after God has destroyed Russia, Iran and the other countries that gathered to attack Israel. Also this will happen after hundreds of thousands of people (believers and followers of Christ)have just disappeared in the rapture. This will be a time when people will be scared, not knowing what’s going on or what’s going to happen next, and looking for answers. The Antichrist will come on the scene with explanations and reassurances that he can fix things. He will in effect be taking advantage of the situation to take power.
Verses 3-4 say:
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 men should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
The red horse is a symbol for war, this is evident in the fact that a great sword was given to him. This great sword is going to be a great weapon, possibly nuclear weapons. Apparently, once the antichrist takes power, some countries will have second thoughts of relinquishing power to him and there will be a great war where antichrist will crush the rebellion against him. Verses 5-8 tell us what the great cost of this war will be.
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.
The black horse symbolizes famine, famine often follows major wars. The scales in the horseman’s hand indicate a scarcity of food. A Quart of wheat and three quarts of barley would be a minimum daily diet, a denarius was equal to a days wages. This indicates that a person will have to work a whole day just to get enough money to eat. Yet there will still be “oil and wine”, luxury items, still available to those who can afford them. The war, as war usually does, will effect the poor more than it does the wealthy.
The pale horse is death. Verse 8 gives us the terrible cost of this war, one quarter of the worlds population will die as a result of the war and the following famine. According to the latest world census, that would be about a billion and a half people.
This is what’s going to happen to all people who don’t accept Christ and His forgiveness before God takes His followers to heaven in the rapture. And this is only the beginning, there are far more worse things to come. But God promises to protect us if we will just believe in Him. And He will still protect all who accept Him during the tribulation from His judgments, they will just have to live through these terrible times and the persecution from others. There is still time to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but only God knows when the rapture will happen, so don’t wait long!
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 . Standard Bible Society: Wheaton