Riders of Judgment- The Red, Black, and Pale Horses (Sermon Notes)

Riders of Judgment- The Red, Black, and Pale Horses (Sermon Notes)

Lesson Text- Revelation 6:3-8


The three remaining horsemen are personifications of the events that unfold under the reign of Antichrist- war, famine and pestilence, disease/plague, and death

The red horse brings war and conflict.

Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth: This rider didn’t need to bring war and destruction. All he needed to do was take peace from the earth.

The false peace that the Rider on the White Horse brings in is very short lived. Doubtlessly, world leaders still trying to cope with the Rapture think they have been under some kind of attack and, despite the best efforts of the Conquering Imitator, the rumblings of war begin.


Though the chief architect of the false peace, when wars break out all over the world he will have no choice but to resort to war himself in order to preserve his authority and power. Antichrist will be as skillful at war as he was at promoting the false peace. Daniel 8:24 describes his career as a warrior: “He will destroy to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will; he will destroy mighty men and the holy people.” Among his victims will be many of God’s people (cf. 6:9; Matt. 24:9).



And it was granted: This authority was granted to the horseman. This is, directly or indirectly, the judgment of God.


a great sword was given to the rider. Machaira (sword) refers to the short, stabbing sword a Roman soldier carried into battle. It was also a weapon used by assassins. The vision depicts a great sword to describe the extent of the war. Antichrist’s false peace, then, will dissolve in a maelstrom of battle, assassination, rebellion, revolt, and massacre.


That people should kill one another: Our modern age is marked by war and conflict. Since World War II, there have been more than 150 wars of some kind in the world, and at any given time there may be some three dozen armed conflicts taking thousands of lives yearly. The nations of the world often spend more than $1 trillion on military expenditures a year.


This begins the largest holocaust in human history-unimaginable slaughter on a scale never seen before.


The black horse brings scarcity and inequity.


John’s use of the word behold reveals how startled and shocked he was by the rider’s ominous appearance. The color black is associated with famine in Lamentations 5:10 (KJV). Famine is a logical consequence of worldwide war as food supplies are destroyed and those involved in food production are killed. Jesus also predicted this future famine in Matthew 24:7: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” God has used famine as a means of judgment in the past (e. g., Lev. 26:26; Deut. 32:24; 2 Kings 8:1; Ps. 105:16; Isa. 3:1; Jer. 16:4; Ezek. 4:16-17; 5:16; 14:13; Hag. 1:11), but this will be the most devastating famine in all of human history.


A black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand: The scales symbolize the need to carefully measure and ration food. This speaks of a time of scarcity.


Scarcity is probably a kind understatement. As the entire world plunges into war and skirmishes the food supply and thus the economies of a host of nations is obliterated.


As in the United States during the Depression, in Europe in the aftermath of World War II, and today in many war-torn third-world nations, there will be starving people standing in food lines. But they will not find enough food to live on, as the fourth seal in John’s vision reveals.


Following the appearance of the black horse and its rider, John heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures. Since the four living creatures were stationed around the throne (4:6), this, most certainly, is the voice of God, the One sitting on the throne (4:2-3). I cannot find a logical alternative. Therefore,  God speaks here as a reminder that the famine is a direct judgment from Him.


Could it be more clear? Is there possibly a more exacting reference in Scripture that refutes the idea that a “loving God” does not judge?


A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius: These prices are about twelve times higher than normal. It means that it would cost a day’s wage to buy the ingredients for a loaf of bread. This describes “a time of famine when life will be reduced to the barest necessities.” (Walvoord)

We often see great famine in the world today, yet fewer people suffer from hunger today than 100 years ago. However, understanding the world’s precarious ecological balance, it would not take much to plunge many into the kind of scarcity and inequity mentioned here.

Do not harm the oil and the wine: Yet, the nicer things will be available for those who can afford them. There will still be the oil and the wine that should not be harmed.


The disparity between rich and poor now comes to its ultimate expression as the poor will not even be able to buy bread while the rich still have their oil and wine (a metaphor of the niceties of life). It, frankly, beggars the imaginations to contemplate the hostility that these disparities create.

The pale horse brings death.


A pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death: This last rider shows that there will be a tremendous death toll from the dictatorship, war, famine and other calamities described by the previous three horsemen.


John described the final horse as an ashen horse. Chlōros (ashen), from which the English words “chlorophyll” and “chlorine” derive, refers to a sickly, pale, yellow-green color. It describes green vegetation in its only other New Testament uses (8:7; 9:4; Mark 6:39). The horse’s color vividly portrays the pale-green pallor of death characteristic of the decomposition of a corpse. Fittingly, the rider who sat on it had the ominous name Death. Death on a massive scale is the inevitable consequence of widespread war and famine. In this macabre and terrifying scene, John saw Hades … following with Death. Hades (here representing the grave) becomes, as it were, the grave digger, burying the remains of Death’s victims. Death and Hades are also paired in 1:18 and 20:13, 14.


Our modern age has seen hundreds of millions killed by dictators, war, and famine. Yet all that will pale in comparison to the death toll coming in the wake of this ultimate dictator. No wonder Jesus said of this time For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)



The death toll is quantified…

Power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill: Power was given to the horseman, and given by God. Though all hell breaks loose on the earth, God is very much in control. He still holds the scroll and opens the seals.


As it stands, today, there are nearly 8 billion people on the planet. We cannot tabulate the number who will be taken at the Rapture but it is entirely reasonable to think that death toll from these three horsemen would be north of 1 billion people, a greater death toll than all the wars of the 20th Century combined.




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