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Revelation 6:1-8 – The Four Horsemen

Summary

Four horsemen appear when the Lamb of God opens the first four seals on the scroll he receives from God.

Analysis

These four horsemen represent threats that would have been real for people in New Testament times as well as for people of later times. The first horseman represents the threat of conquest. The second signifies the violence that people carry out against each other. The third points to economic insecurities, for it shows people spending their entire day's pay simply to put bread on the table. The fourth horseman personifies the power of death. The vision of these horsemen is designed to make people aware of their own vulnerability. As these and other threats appear in relentless succession, people are moved to ask, "Who can stand?" (6:17). This question prepares for the chapter that follows, where readers learn that those who belong to God and the Lamb are able to stand in the face of these threats.

Revelation 6:1-8

The Seven Seals

6Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, ‘Come!’* 2I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer.

3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, ‘Come!’* 4And out came* another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword.

5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, ‘Come!’* I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, 6and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s pay,* and three quarts of barley for a day’s pay,* but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!’

7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, ‘Come!’* 8I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.

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10 February 2011

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