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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 26 2019

The 4 horsemen of Revelation

A white horse, a red horse, a black horse, and a pale horse bring a symbolic message of warning to a world that is out of control, and reminds humanity of the ability of God to control world events and redeem His creation.

The 4 horsemen of Revelation
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an 1887 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov. Depicted from left to right are Death, Famine, War, and Conquest. The Lamb is visible at the top. (Public domain,

In Revelation chapters 5 and 6 only the Lamb, symbolising Jesus Christ, is found worthy to open the scroll with seven seals, the first four of which usher in the four prophetic horsemen of the book of Revelation. This account parallels Matthew 24 when the disciples asked Christ what the signs of the end of the age would be.

The first horseman rides a white horse which symbolises the prophesied proliferation of false beliefs and false religion that has occurred for centuries and still is prevalent. This sets the stage for the second rider on a red horse foretelling of wars and death as a result of man turning his back on God’s way of life. Most of us alive today have lived under the threat of nuclear war all our lives and in Matthew 24:22 we are told that unless Christ returns and intervenes warfare will escalate to the point that all life on earth would be wiped out. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

As a result of the horrendous wars the third horseman is introduced in Revelation 6:5. The black horse and the rider with the scales represents famine. When you trace the progression that happens with religious confusion so often creating conflict between nations and people the result is war and war always brings with it impoverishment and famine. Some may counter that there has always been famine, but what is described here is more serious and widespread.

As a result of the conditions on the earth symbolised by the first three horsemen, the fourth horseman then rides. This is a pale horse symbolising the death of a quarter of all human life on earth because of the terrible conditions humanity will cause. Revelation is describing human civilization that is coming apart. Spiritual deception, war, famine, and plague are events that have always been with us, but in spite of scientific advances we are told that conditions will quickly and devastatingly deteriorate just before Christ’s return.

Although the four horsemen of Revelation are most often referred to, there is actually a fifth horsemen that is also mentioned in Revelation 19:11. This is the true Christ who appears at the critical moment in human history to stop what is taking place and save mankind. The four horsemen of Revelation have already begun to ride and their impact will intensify as time goes on, but it’s the ride of the fifth horseman Jesus Christ that will end spiritual deception, war and suffering. When Christ rides to end human history then the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and He will reign forever (Revelation 11:15).