Like something out of a fever dream, they come riding forth from the crimson edge of ancient prophecy. Four seals broken, four riders unleashed, and the unwavering intent of each is fueled through the deadly authority that has been granted to them. The chaos of hooves on parched earth is lost beneath a dawning impression that the sound is nothing less than the resonant beats of battle drums heralding a long-awaited cataclysm. The Apocalypse is drawing near, and no matter one’s position on the matter, the reality of the situation is that right now—this very moment even—we all are closer to it than we have ever been.

As Revelation, Chapter 6, unfolds, we find the exiled apostle, John, in the midst of a mighty vision called forth to witness the opening of the seals across a title deed to nothing less than the creation itself. Under peals of thunder and in the shadow of four unique angelic creatures, he watches as the Lamb breaks each seal in sequence.

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” – Revelation 6:2

With John, we can imagine the visage of a regal figure racing onto the scene upon a white stallion. In his hand is a bow, and upon his head is a crown, each lending weight to his call to go forth conquering the globe. Who is this figure, this conquering emperor? Since the earliest days of the Bible, his identity has stoked the fires of contention amongst various groups, and though each opinion has a steadfast following, the Bible itself—through the rich symbolism of Old Testament Hebraic imagery—clearly identifies who indeed this potentate is.

While our modern worldview would see the appearance of a white horse as something benevolent, even heroic, to the Hebrews such would be terrifying as horses were seen as heralds of judgment! Rulers came forth on donkeys if they sought peace, horses if they desired conquest. While various passages testify to this attitude, Nahum 2 reveals the general reaction of the ancients to the appearance of a mounted force: “The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses …”1

As we continue reading, we find this horseman is granted a crown, and with it, authority. This element of his visage—especially taken into account with his white horse—has stirred much debate. Many prominent theologians have embraced the notion that this man is Christ, returning at the dawn of the end of the age with authority to judge, conquer, and ultimately rule. Looking deeper, we find that the original linguistics paint a different picture.

This crown, you see, is not the impressive diadem of a reigning sovereign, but rather the original Greek identifies it as a “stephanos,” a wreath given to conquering victors. As Revelation 19 tells, Christ will indeed return on a white horse,2 but He will be wearing a number of diadems,3 true crowns of kingly authority! Though the rider of the white horse in Revelation 6 appears Christ-like, he is not our Savior; quite the opposite, in fact. The reality of this man’s identity is clarified through that which he carries in his hand: a bow.

Historically, the bow holds several layers of meaning. Not only is it a weapon, but also it stands as the symbol of a covenant. Recognizing that this Rider on the White comes to conquer under the banner of a covenant points diligent students to a passage in Daniel 9 where it reads: “… he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week …”4 This describes the arrival of a particular man who—in the guise of a false messiah—will enact a treaty of sorts with the world. Who is this man on the White Horse? He is none other than “the Prince that Shall Come,” the Antichrist.

John’s vision continues in verses 3 and 4, declaring:

“And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”

As before, the figure of a horse is reflective of judgment, but whereas the first was white, this second horse is red. In the biblical context, red—especially in Revelation—is associated with panic and slaughter, instantly painting this horse in a frightening light. Conquest, terror, and destruction, this rider is war personified, and in his hand is the famed sword of the Greeks, the machaira. With battle-honed precision, the ancient Mycenaeans would enter battle and wield those arms as keenly as if they were their own limbs. Here, in the heat of the End Times, war personified will be unleashed upon the world, and few will be spared the repercussions. As author Pentti Linkola wrote, “The coming years will prove increasingly cynical and cruel. People will definitely not slip into oblivion while hugging each other. The final stages in the life of humanity will be marked by the monstrous war of all against all: the amount of suffering will be maximal.”5

Revelation 6 continues in verses 5 & 6, saying:

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

The black horse is clearly indicative of a terrible, global famine. Black is reflective of starvation in a number of Old Testament passages,6 and this rider’s possession of a set of scales in his hand reiterates that point. The passage goes on to speak of the cost of a measure of wheat during this crisis, and as before, looking to the original language and cultural context gives great clarity to what is being conveyed.

The word for the measure of wheat here (choenix) represents approximately two dry pints. That’s two pints for the hefty cost of a denarius—translated in the King James Bible as a “penny.” From what can be gathered elsewhere in Scripture,7 a denarius was a nominal day’s wage. To put that into perspective, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for workers in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2019 was just shy of $200 daily.8

A cost of two-hundred dollars for two dry pints of grain is unimaginably expensive, but as the passage reveals, this is not an accident. The passage mentions that certain elective luxuries—identified as “the oil and the wine”—are not impacted by this famine, indicating that it is an engineered crisis through means of tyrannical control under an international authority, and such a situation is just what we find by the time we read Revelation, Chapter 13 …

The last of the four horses is perhaps the grimmest of the lot. John describes his coming in verses 7 and 8:

“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him ….”

This is the Pale horse of Death. The original word from which we get “pale” here is actually the Greek “chloros,” which is in fact a weak, sickly green. It is reflective of rot, decay, and to the Levitical mind, leprosy.

John concludes verse 8 with a final detail about the authority and weapons these figures are granted, saying: “… And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” The Beloved Apostle saw these figures riding forth to claim their spoils—a quarter of the planet’s nearly eight billion humans—armed with the weapons of combat, starvation, plague, and even living creatures. Though the warning was issued generations ago, precious few are prepared today for the drumbeat of hooves that echo on the near horizon …


  1. Nahum 2:3
  2. Revelation 19:11
  3. Revelation 19:12
  4. Daniel 9:29
  5. Linkola, Pentti, “Can Life Prevail?: A Revolutionary Approach to the Environmental Crisis,” Arktos Media Ltd; 2nd Revised ed. Edition, December 20, 2011
  6. Lamentations 4:4-8; Jeremiah 14:1,2
  7. Matthew 20:2-13
  8. “Average Salary Information for U.S. Workers,” Doyle, Alison, February 29, 2020, The Balance Careers,