THIRD SEAL (BLACK 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, “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!” (Revelation 6:5-6)
Riding A Black Horse – The color black is often connected with famine (Jeremiah 14:1–2; Lamentations 5:10). Famine and war go together. A shortage of food will always drive up prices and force the government to ration what is available.
Holding A Pair of Scales – To eat bread by weight is a Jewish phrase indicating that food is scarce (Leviticus 26:26). A penny (denarius) a day was a standard wage for laborers (Matthew 20:2) but, of course, it had much greater buying power than the common penny does today. A measure of wheat was about two pints, sufficient for the daily needs of one person. Ordinarily, a person could buy eight to twelve measures for a penny, and much more of barley, which was the cheaper grain. However, during the Tribulation, a man will have to work all day just to buy food for himself, needing even more to feed his family.
No Harm to Oil or Wine – At the same time, the rich will be enjoying plenty of oil and wine. No wonder the anti-Christ will eventually be able to control the economy (Revelation 13:17) as he promises to feed the hungry masses.(1) Even today we are clearly seeing an increasing disparity between the rich and the poor. Apparently, it will become even more acute during the tribulation.
Up Next – The rider on a pale horse.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 588). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.