FOURTH SEAL (PALE HORSE) – 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. (Revelation 6:7-8)
Riding A Pale Horse – John saw two personages. Death is riding a pale horse and Hades (the realm of the dead) is following him. Christ has the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18), and both will one day be cast into hell (Revelation 20:14). Death claims the body while Hades claims the soul of the dead (Revelation 20:13).
Killing by Sword, Famine, Plague and Wild Beasts – John saw these two great enemies of man (death and Hades) going forth to claim their prey. They are armed with the sword, hunger, pestilence (death), and wild beasts. In ancient times, hunger, pestilence, and the ravages of beasts would be expected to accompany war (Jeremiah 15:2; 24:10; Ezekiel 14:21). Conquering tyrants who bring the world war, famine, and pestilence are certainly nothing new. Suffering people from the days of the Roman Empire (and long before) to the most recent wars can easily recognize these four dreaded horsemen.(1) The twentieth century certainly saw its share, but worse will come.
A Fourth of the Earth – God gives them authority to kill one-fourth of the earth’s population. As noted, four methods are employed: the sword (violence and war); hunger (famine); death, or pestilence (disease accompanies war and famine); and beasts (nature takes over when civilization falls apart). Read Ezekiel 14:21 for a parallel. Even the wild beasts will be hungry and attack humans.(2)
Up Next – The fifth seal is opened.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 588). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 813). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.