We have come to the actual opening of the seven seals, which we first saw in chapter 5 on the scroll that was sitting on the hand of God the Father as He sat upon His Throne. In these seven seals we see the beginning of God’s judgment being poured out on the earth. The opening of the seven seals signify the beginning of the Great Tribulation [Matt. 24:21]; The Time of Jacob’s Trouble [Jer. 30:7]; and Daniel’s 70th week [Dan. 9:27]. These seven seals include all of the judgments to the end. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpets, the seventh trumpet contains the seven vials or bowls.
In chapter 6 the first seal is opened and we are introduced to a group of four “horsemen.” They are symbolic for the most part, with the exception of the first rider; whom I believe can be identified as the Antichrist. He will be the last messianic pretender in a long line of false messiahs down through the centuries of Church history. He will come on the world scene as a problem solver. Through craft and subtlety he will broker a long sought after peace in the middle east, Jew and Arab being finally at peace. Amazingly, the Jewish people will once again gain control it would seem of the Temple Mount where the construction of the Third Temple will occur. Not only will the Temple be re-built, but Temple sacrifices, ritual, and ceremonies will be re-instituted it would seem as well. The Jewish people’s time of rejoicing and seeming peace will be short lived as in the midst of the “week”, or after 3 ½ years the Man of Sin will break his covenant and cause all Temple ceremony and sacrifice to stop. [See Dan. 9:27]
The Antichrist will come in and soon rise to a place of authority over nations, signified by his wearing a stephanos, a temporary crown. He will desire to rule the entire world, but will only succeed in actually ruling several nations. He will bring in another “Cold War”, as he will have military capabilities, but will experience a meteoric rise to power as a great communicator and negotiator; but will in fact be a deceiver, the greatest deceiver of all times as he will be empowered, and later indwelt, by Satan himself. Someone might well ask here, “Where are you getting all of this information? Are you speculating?” Not at all. As we read Daniel 8:23 – 25 we find a great deal concerning this one and his rise to power. Since Daniel and Revelation are “sister” books, it may well benefit our understanding to take a look at Daniel’s vision in this great 8th chapter.
This vision of Daniel occurred in approximately 551 B.C., or two years after the vision of chapter 7, but chronologically speaking prior to chapter 5. This vision unfolds historically with the ram symbolizing the Medo-Persian Empire as a whole, its two horns standing for the two entities (the Medes and the Persians) that merged into one. The history of this empire is briefly noted in verse 4, as it is seen conquering from the east, West, South, and North, under Cyrus, which was predicted by Isaiah some 150 years before [Isa. 45:1 – 7]. The higher horn, which appeared last, represents Persia. The goat (vs. 5), represents Greece with its great horn Alexander the Great, who with his army of 35,000 moved with such speed that he is pictured as not touching the ground.
The “broken horn” pictures Alexander at his untimely death at 32 years of age under what to this day were very suspicious circumstances. Following Alexander’s death, the Grecian Empire was broken up into four sectors, ruled by four generals of the Grecian army who became four kings of the four sectors. [7:6 ] Notice verse 9, And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. This “little horn” symbolizes Antiochus Epiphanes, who rose from the third empire to rule the Syrian division in 175 – 164 B.C., and is the same king that we see dominating in 11:21 – 35. He is also the king who after conquering Jerusalem entered the Temple and offered a pig on the altar, thus desecrating the Temple. Why is all of this history important to us today? It is important to look at because history as well as prophetic time both are cyclical in nature. In other words, prophetic things unfold and are shown to us in seasons and cycles. We also see what Finis Dake referred to as the “Law of double reference” at work here. In other words, even though there is a very definite direct historical reference in certain scriptures, we also see in them types and shadows that point to future events as well. We see this for example in Ezekiel 28 where we see the “Prince of Tyre”, an earthly ruler, who by Law of double reference also pictures the “King of Tyre”, to whom we are introduced later in the chapter, who is undoubtedly Satan, who is the spiritual power operating behind the scenes with this earthly ruler.
We see this same “Law” in Revelation 2 and 3 where the seven churches of Asia Minor, though literal congregations; by Law of double reference also picture seven distinct periods of Church History. This same “Law” is at work here in Daniel 7. Even though this “little horn” had a short term fulfillment in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, it has a long term fulfillment in the person of the future “Man of Sin.” In Daniel 7:8; 24 – 26; the “Little Horn” clearly refers to the future Antichrist and his rise to power. He is also pictured as this rider on a white horse in Revelation 6, who will come preaching peace, but war will be in his heart. This is evident when we see the second “horse.” We read, And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. Please note that there are not four riders listed in this chapter, but rather four horses. The rider is a constant, there is only one; and that rider is the Antichrist. He will come with four forces working with him; conquering, war, famine, and death (with hell following). The “great sword” given to the Antichrist indicates that more will die from the wars of the Great Tribulation than at any other time in history.
The next two verses reveal another horse, much more ominous than the two that came before. We read, 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 I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. [Rev. 6:5, 6 KJV] This horse, with its black color and the pair of balances in the hand of the rider, pictures scarcity of food and subsequent famine. The pair of balances also speak of food rationing. We know that during the Great Tribulation period only those who have received the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name will be able to buy and sell. [See Rev. 13:17] Even beyond that however, I think there will be great scarcity of food, famine, and severe food rationing. There is one more thing that we see with this “black horse” that we dare not miss. We also see the results of hyperinflation playing out at this time. What exactly is hyperinflation? Simply stated, it is inflation that is very high or “out of control”, a condition in which prices increase rapidly as a currency loses its value. It is also rapid growth in the rate of inflation so that money loses value and physical goods replace currency as a medium of exchange.
In the United States our paper currency was once backed by what was known as the, “gold standard.” This meant that the amount of money in circulation in paper form was backed by the face value on the bill of gold and silver. Inflation and prices remain low in that type of system. However, after WWII things began to change politically, militarily, and economically so that a more global focus was chosen. Even though many countries of the world based their economies and trade practices on the U.S. Dollar, thus giving the United States great economic influence abroad. This all began to change when then French President Charles de Gaulle began to reduce France’s dollar reserves, trading them for gold with the U.S. Government, thus reducing U.S. Economic influence. This, along with the fiscal strain of expenditures associated with the Vietnam War, and persistent balance of payments deficits, led the late President Richard Nixon to end the direct convertibility of the dollar to gold in 1971, resulting in the system’s breakdown. Since that time to this we have seen a fairly steady decline of the value of the U.S. Dollar. Even though this is the case, the Federal Reserve, an entity not even associated with the Federal Government, continues to bloat the system by printing increasingly worthless currency. If this continues, and it will, the inevitable result will be out of control, or hyperinflation. This is what is pictured with the black horse.
Notice, And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.[Rev. 6:6 KJV] First, a penny, or denarius, was understood to be one day’s wage for the average worker of John’s day. Second, a measure of wheat was the amount of food to sustain one person for one day. Barley, though less in nutritional value and typically fed to animals, could be purchased in sufficient quantity to feed a small family for one day. In other words, during the Great Tribulation food prices will be such that the average worker will have to work an entire day, and spend what he makes for that day, just to feed himself for that day! What exactly does that mean in today’s economy and vernacular?
Raymond Gano of Prophezine has posted an excellent article on this, from which I quote by permission of the author. He Writes, “So we learn that a measure of grain is approximately 2 pounds and the cost for that grain will be an average day’s wage. In 2006 the average hourly pay across the board was $16.31. If you add benefits the average was $19.57 per hour for non supervisory workers. To get yearly income figure you take approx 2000 hours per year per hour ($16.31 x 2000) and you come up with $32620.00 for a full time employee for a year’s worth of work. We have 52 weeks in a year so if you minus 104 from 365, that gives you 261 days a person works on average. This is not counting vacation time. That comes to an average of $124.98 or $125.00 per day if you round up. Now this is US Dollars, but you can take your countries currency and basically do the same rough math and come out with a figure that meets to your countries’ currency. So what does this tell us? For approximately two pounds of wheat, it will cost the US consumer approximately $125.00. The cost for 6 pounds of barley will also cost approximately a days wage or $125.00. Now this is during the tribulation. What prevents the price making a climb up as we draw closer to the end of this age?” [“He Rides A Black Horse” by Raymond Gano]
John concludes this section with, and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. These crops would be the least affected by the plagues perhaps. However, these items were staples in this culture. So with the hyper-inflation during the Great Tribulation, staples will be luxuries and therefore must be carefully guarded.
John writes concerning the fourth horse, 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. The opening of the fourth seal introduces us to the rider on the “pale” horse. This is the Greek “Chloros” from which we get “chlorine” or “chlorophyll.” It alludes to a sickly green color, the green of a decomposing body. The name of the rider in this case is given the name “death”, with hell following him. Death is the natural result of famine and pestilence that will run rampant at this time. “Hades”, the realm of the un-saved dead, follows death. These two riders are personified perhaps because they are not as easily recognized as the others. Notice one of the killing implements at this time will be the “beasts of the earth.” “Beasts” is the Greek therion and means a dangerous, frightening, even venomous animal.
Power or authority is given to this rider to kill 25 percent of the earth’s population. How does he do it? With wars of the first two seals, the famine of the 3rd seal, and death and hades of this fourth seal. Then when the dead bodies are lying around, the beasts of the field will be gathered to eat them. What a horrible time to be alive! No wonder Jesus said, Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. [Luke 21:36 KJV] I say to the growing number of folks on-line peddling their tribulation fear-mongering, “Stay behind if you like! I am praying to escape all of these things and to stand before Jesus!” Such is our right and privilege as born-again sons of the Most High God!
More next time.