(6.7)    And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

1.   The Lord Jesus Christ opens the fourth seal and John is summoned to “Come and see” yet another horseman.

2.   This fourth summons comes from the beast that “was like a flying eagle,” according to Revelation 4.7. The significance of this description?

3.   The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary makes this statement about the fourth beast: “The fourth living creature, who was ‘like a flying eagle,’ introduces this seal; implying high-soaring intelligence, and judgment descending from on high fatally on the ungodly, as the king of birds on his prey.”[1]

(6.8)    And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. 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. 

1.   “And I looked, and behold a pale horse

a.   This is the last of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. He is riding upon a “pale” horse.

b.   This word “pale” translates the Greek word “cloros,” from which I suspect our words “chlorine” and “Clorox” are derived. The word refers to the color of a corpse or the color of a person whose color has been blanched by terror.

c.   The footnote on this verse in The MacArthur Study Bible reads: “’Pale,’ the Gr. word from which ‘chlorophyll’ comes, describes the pale, ashen-green, pallor characteristic of the decomposition of a corpse.”[2]

2.   “and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

a.   The rider is named Death, and Hell followed with him. Death is the keeper of our physical bodies and Hell is the keeper of lost men’s souls . . . for a time.

b.   This is the first time a rider of one of these four horses is named. What are we to conclude by this? Is Death a person to be named?  No. What we see here is a type of symbolism called personification, wherein a personal nature is attributed to an inanimate object or an abstract notion.[3]

c.   The fact is, these four horses are not literal horses, and neither Death nor Hell possesses any of the characteristics of personality. These are literary devices that have been employed for effect. The horses are symbols of war. Death and Hell, though impersonal in fact, are personalized in the Revelation to impress upon the reader the fact that they are our enemies.

3.   “And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth

a.   Notice that “power,” literally authority, was given unto them, unto these two, Death and Hell. Where does the “power” they are given come from?

b.   Hearken back to Matthew 28.18, where the Lord Jesus Christ said, “All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and earth.” It comes from the same Jesus Who is opening the seals of this book.

c.   What is the result of this authority being given to Death and Hell? One fourth of the human race will die by various means. And by what means will so many people die? Read on.

4.   “to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

a.   Let me read William R. Newell’s comment on this verse: “But under the fourth seal we see death and Hades given authority over the fourth part of the earth to kill; and that with God’s four sore judgments of Ezekiel 14:21, ‘sword,’ ‘famine,’ ‘pestilence’ and ‘wild beasts.’ People say, ‘Peace,’ but the sword is coming. People cry, ‘Prosperity and plenty,’ but famine is coming. People boast of conquering disease by medical science, but pestilence is coming. Hunters complain of the disappearance of beasts to hunt, of game to pursue; but wild beasts will (by and by) multiply again, even in America, to the slaying of thousands upon thousands! We must remember that a fourth of the population of the earth is given over to these four judgments alone. And let us also remember that the plagues hurled directly from heaven, as in chapter 16, have not yet begun, under the four seals, not even the locust plague of chapter 9, nor the career of the wild beast of chapter 13. These come later. But the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts, take a quarter of earth’s population.”[4]

b.   The thrust of what this fourth seal represents is carnage on a scale that is unprecedented in human history, except for the Flood.

5.   Upon opening the fourth seal, the way is now open for the destruction of one fourth of the human race. Think about that. If Jesus comes for us today, when the population on this planet is more than 6 billion, then power will be given for these horsemen to slay more than 1½ billion men, women, and children. That is more people than were slain when God brought the Flood during Noah’s time.

6.   This is only the beginning of such carnage as man has never seen or imagined. In addition, the greater tragedy is that even those unsaved people who escape this beginning of horrors will face more. You see, even if they evade these horrors, and somehow survive the horrors that we will soon read about, the lake of fire still awaits all them who survive to the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

[1] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), [email protected]

[2] See footnote for Revelation 6.8, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2000.

[3] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1446.

[4] William R. Newell, The Book Of The Revelation, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1935), page 106.

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