Friday, 20 November 2020
Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. Revelation 6:4
With the loosing of the second seal, John sees “Another horse, fiery red.” Only one word is translated as “fiery red,” but it is appropriate. The Greek word is purrhos, coming from pur – fire, or firelike. It is as if the horse is burning as it “went out.” The directive to proceed was given, and the horse is loosed to begin the execution of the judgment.
The color being fiery red is overwhelmingly agreed upon to signify war, just as the planet Mars, the red planet, is a symbol of war. This probably isn’t coincidence as even from the first chapter of the Bible, the heavenly objects are meant “for signs and for seasons.” Planets and constellations are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible in this way. Confirming the meaning of the color, John next says, “And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth.”
The Greek has an important definite article before peace. It reads, “the peace.” Of this, Cambridge says, “…according to Greek usage may mean merely ‘peace in general, peace in the abstract,’ but may also very well stand for ‘the peace’ which the conquests of the previous Rider have left as their fruit.”
This is a correct analysis, but it is based on a faulty premise. They (and many others) have equated the first horse and rider to Christ and the peace He brought on the earth. As shown in the Superior Word commentary of that verse, such a notion is wholly incorrect. The white horse and rider are symbols of judgment on an unrepentant world, occurring during the Tribulation period.
What the words, “the peace,” are referring to would be the state of hopeful peace that comes with the signing of the seven-year peace deal between the antichrist and Israel. At the time, the whole world will anticipate peace, but the deal will only be a precursor to the unleashing of hell on earth.
Using the peace deal as a pretext, the white horse and rider will go forth conquering and to conquer. This will be followed by the red horse and rider who will take “the peace,” meaning the state of peace anticipated by the supposed healing of this long sore wound on the earth, and they will do exactly the opposite. In this state, John next says, “and that people should kill one another.”
The books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel repeat the same general idea four times where they indicate a state of peace is called out by the populace when it is a lie. For example –
“Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar— 11 say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall.” Ezekiel 13:10, 11
Such references speak of a state of anticipated worldly peace when the Lord is not included in the picture. Without His approval of the conduct of the people, there can be no peace. For reference, see also Jeremiah 6:14 & 8:11 and Ezekiel 13:16. Those Old Testament references are then paralleled by the greatest state of false peace to come upon the world. This is spoken of by Paul in 1 Thessalonians –
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
This is “the peace” that is being referred to specifically in Revelation now. It is a false peace that has been proclaimed by the world because of the workings of the antichrist. In this, the fiery red horse is emblematic of the war that will come because of this false state of peace. The one sitting on the horse will take the opportunity to bring about destruction and many will be killed. Of this, John finishes the verse with, “and there was given to him a great sword.”
Here, the sword is a machaira. It signifies a slaughter-knife. It is a short sword or dagger, the purpose of which is stabbing. Thus, it carries with it the figurative meaning of being an instrument used for exacting retribution. An Old Testament passage that gives the sense of this is –
“When they were at the large stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came before them. Now Joab was dressed in battle armor; on it was a belt with a sword fastened in its sheath at his hips; and as he was going forward, it fell out. 9 Then Joab said to Amasa, ‘Are you in health, my brother?’ And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa did not notice the sword that was in Joab’s hand. And he struck him with it in the stomach, and his entrails poured out on the ground; and he did not strike him again. Thus he died.” 2 Samuel 20:8-10
This would have been a short sword, small enough to conceal from the eyes of Amasa until it was too late. Unlike the sword in this troubling account, Revelation describes this machaira, or slaughter-knife, as megalē, meaning “great.”
The rider on the horse will not conceal his intent for slaughter. Rather, he will go forth throughout the earth with great slaughter with his great sword. This is seen in the word translated as “kill.” It is sphaxousin, and it means “to kill by violence,” rather than by means of war. War will come, but following after that, the world will devolve into a place of chaos and mayhem.
Murderous bands of thugs will prevail over the weaker, and then they themselves will slaughter each other. In other words, the whole world will devolve into lawlessness, civil war, tribal hatred, ethnic cleansing, and etc. There will be few left when the seven years of tribulation are over. What was anticipated as a time of “peace and safety” will turn out to be a time of bloody slaughter.
Life application: As noted, this second horseman is symbolic of war. The symbolism is given, and the general outline of what is coming is relayed in Revelation, including the parallel of this red horse and rider to the red planet, Mars. However, we should not make the error that we can either predict the future by astrology, nor should we look to them for divine guidance. Instead, we have the pages of the Bible to tell us the meaning of heavenly occurrences. Astrology is an ungodly pursuit that should never be pursued.
Rather, the Bible gives a broad and yet detailed picture for us to know what lies ahead. This horse and rider being granted to take peace from the earth are coming after the rapture as is revealed in 2 Thessalonians 1-12. Specifically, verse 7 says this – “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”
The world is already filled with war and lawlessness, but it is restrained by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Were it not for this presence, the world would have already come to its end. But when the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence through the church is removed, the world will be left to do things on its own.
How do we know this is after the rapture? It is because believers are already “sealed” with the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians 1:13, 14. If the Holy Spirit is removed (meaning the presence of the Spirit in the workings of the church), then the believers must be removed too because the Holy Spirit is a “guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:14). Once this occurs, mayhem will ensure.
Now is the time to call on Jesus. Those who do will be taken out before that time of trouble comes. The Lord has shown us these things, in advance, because He is loving and gracious. His offer of peace stands. For those who reject it, terrible times await.
Lord God, we look around and see the world in chaos and distress, and yet we know that it could be so much worse. Thank You for Your calming Holy Spirit upon the nations. Thank You for Your patience with the unruly sons of man. Help us to be lights to Your goodness during our walk here – to Your honor and glory. Amen.