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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse | What is the Meaning?

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Have you ever wondered who the four horsemen of the apocalypse are? This strange imagery is found in the book of Revelation. If you’ve read Revelation 6 you may wonder what it all means. I’m excited to tell you that Revelation doesn’t have to remain a mystery for you! Below you’ll learn exactly who the four horsemen of the apocalypse are and the meaning of prophecy.

You’ve probably heard of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Or you may have heard them called the four horsemen of Revelation. Most people have. You may have even read over the verses in Revelation 6 and wondered what the four horsemen symbolized. Let’s take a look at the verses in question:

Revelation 6:1-8 says:

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

The book of Revelation is mysterious and offers what some would say is a frightening picture of the future. But Revelation doesn’t have to remain a mystery for you! The Bible always explains itself and God doesn’t want us wandering around in the dark. That’s why He gave us the Bible – it’s a lamp unto our feet!

Who are The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Who are the four horsemen? Remember the Bible always interprets itself – God doesn’t leave us wondering! We just have to look for the answer.

Zechariah 6:1-7 says:

“I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful. I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these, my lord?”

The angel answered me, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south.”

When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, “Go throughout the earth!” So they went throughout the earth.

So, the four horsemen are spirits or angels {Hebrews 1:13,14} sent from God.

What does it mean?

Here’s a handy chart you can download and print.

The four horsemen correspond to or represent the time periods found in the first four of the Seven Churches of Revelation. These four churches are:

You can read more about the Seven Churches and these time periods here.

The First Horse

“And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” Revelation 6:2

The white horse represents the first century. God’s church during this time was pure and unadulterated. This horse also corresponds to the church of Ephesus.

  • White symbolized purity. Psalm 51:7, Isaiah 1:18
  • A Crown symbolizes victory. James 1:12, 1 Corinthians 9:25
  • The Bow symbolizes success in battle against evil. Psalm 7:11,12

The Second Horse

“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.” Revelation 6:4

The second horse in Revelation 6 is the color red which is a fitting symbol for the bloody persecution of God’s people during the 2nd, 3rd, and first part of the 4th centuries. This horse corresponds with the church of Smyrna.

  • The Sword represents war and bloodshed. Isaiah 3:25

The Third Horse

“When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”” Revelation 6:5,6

Here we see a rider on a black horse. Black or darkness represents death, sin, apostasy, and error. It is the opposite of light. Christians are to be a light unto the world and the Word of God is a lamp.

The symbol of darkness or blackness fits the period of 4th, 5th, and first half of the 6th centuries quite well. During this time Christianity became a state religion. This horse corresponds with the church of Pergamos.

  • Oil represents the Holy Spirit. Zechariah 4:2-6
  • Wine symbolizes Jesus’ blood. Matthew 26: 27-29

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.” Revelation 6:8

The pale horse with the rider named Death who is followed close behind by Hell or Hades represents the terrible persecution of God’s people during the second half of the 6th century through the 15th centuries. This horse corresponds with the church of Thyatira. This is the period we call the Dark Ages when the church persecuted millions of believers.

These martyrs will be given white robes symbolizing victory in Jesus.

“Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.” Revelation 6:11 NIV

  • Pale symbolizes death.
  • Hell or Hades symbolizes the grave.

The Seven Seals of Revelation

Did you know that six of the Seven Seals of Revelation have been opened? It’s true! I’ve written a detailed and in depth Bible study about the Seven Seals of Revelation. This is a fascinating study!

We are living in the last days! It won’t be long before Jesus returns to take His people home to heaven. It’s time for us to get ready.

 Are you ready for Jesus’ return?

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4 Comments

  1. Seems like with what is going on in Israel with Russia, we better get some feed, since these horses will be here soon! Take us home, Lord!
  2. to say one is ready is not the answer in today's time... what one should ask for is a moment longer to try and save more brothers and sisters ... when it comes it will be swift but i know i will still regret i couldn't have saved more ... spread his word and live by example my friends and remember everyone is watching you in the end .......god bless you all and may god guide the steps you take.........

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