The four horsemen of the Apocalypse that are described in Revelation chapter 6, verses 1-8 are symbolic descriptions of successive phases in the history of the church on earth.
The first horseman of the Apocalypse is mentioned in Revelation 6:2: “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.” This first horseman refers to the church in the apostolic age and its zeal which led it forth to make the greatest spiritual conquests in Christian history.
The second horseman of the Apocalypse appears in Revelation 6:4, “Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.” The second horseman refers to the conditions under which the church found itself from about 100 A. D. – 313. And the violent persecutions it suffered at the hands of the Roman Caesars.
The third horseman is described in Revelation 6:5-6, “…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, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’” The third horseman of the Apocalypse refers to defeat. If the white horse implied victory, or its color purity, so the black horse may be an indication for corruption of faith.
The fourth horseman is mentioned in Revelation 6:8, “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 fourth horseman of the Apocalypse refers to the times of distress which reach a fearful climax which took place during the deadly persecution of the Catholic Church to the believers in the Dark Ages.
In His service,
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