Revelation chapter six introduces the four horsemen of the apocalypse, who present a fascinating and frightening picture as they charge onto the scene with their fearsome weapons of destruction. Video clips on social media suggest that they are demonic wraiths haunting the scenes of chaos and death. A sampling of books or websites about Revelation tout interpretations that range from chaos in the Roman Empire to plagues and divine punishment throughout the history of the Christian Church to future devastations, perhaps the first round of the great end-time tribulation. In order to get past the speculation and hype that surrounds them it is necessary to see how the Bible itself interprets the symbols of the vision, and to examine the context of the four horsemen within the rest of the Book of Revelation.
First of all, the white, red, black, and pale horses with their riders appear one after another when “the Lamb” (Jesus) opens the seals of a book He was given by God the Father in Revelation chapter 5. The book “A Revelation of Jesus,” which is the basis for this website, shows that the sealed book is the Book of Life (you can read “A Revelation of Jesus” by clicking on the link “Book” at the top of this page). Revelation 20:11-15 shows that the Book of Life is opened during the judgment. This suggests that chapter 6, where the seals of the Book of Life are broken, has something to do with the judgment.
Each horse with his horseman is introduced by one of the “four living creatures” that first appear in Revelation chapter 4 (a key judgment chapter) and reappear in several judgment scenes in Revelation. The living creatures also appear in Ezekiel chapters 1-11, where they are identified as “cherubim,” a catagory of mighty angels. They accompanied God as He took the prophet Ezekiel on a “fact-finding tour” of the leaders and people of Judah just before they were judged and sentenced to destruction and captivity by the Babylonians. In both Revelation and Ezekiel we see that the four living creatures who introduce the horsemen of the apocalypse are angelic “judgment specialists.”
Thus we see that Revelation chapter 6, with the four horsemen of the apocalypse, is simply a continuation of Revelation chapters 4 and 5, which introduce the judgment that takes place in heaven before the Second Coming of Christ. But if the judgment takes place in heaven, who is being judged, where are they while they are judged, and when does this judgment intersect with human history? What or who do the colored horses symbolize? Who are their riders? The horsemen have a bow, a sword, a set of balance scales, and hades with them; what do these symbolize?
These and many more fascinating details can be found in chapters 4-6 of “A Revelation of Jesus.” You can read it online, or to order a hard copy click on the link “Order the Book” at the top of this page.