(6.5)    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.

1.   “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see.”

a.    The third seal is opened by the same One Who opened the first two seals, the only one qualified to open the seals of this redemption scroll, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He, to remind you once again, is the qualified kinsman-redeemer, who is near kin, who is able to redeem, and who is willing to redeem.

b.   In Revelation 4.7, this third beast is described with these words: “the third beast had a face as a man.” This description has led some Reformed theologians to suggest that this third beast symbolizes “the ministers of the Gospel.”[1] I do not agree, seeing no reason why this third beast cannot be who John says it is, one of the four living creatures surrounding the throne of God in heaven.

c.    As before, John is invited by this third beast to “Come and see.”

2.   “And I beheld, and lo a black horse

a.    What does black represent in God’s Word? Well, what usually and logically follows war? What happened in Germany following World War I?

b.   When Jerusalem was ravaged by war with Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah described the nightmarish scenes in Lamentations. In Lamentations 5.10 he wrote, “Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.”

c.    Then the Lord said, in Matthew 24.7, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines . . . .” By the way, the word “nation” translates the Greek word “eqnoV.” Anyone know what common term comes from that word? Right. Ethnic. The Lord Jesus tells us, in this day when nations are increasingly comprised of multiple ethnic populations, that there will be ethnic warfare, warfare between kingdoms, and famines.

d.   If the black horse in this verse symbolizes famine, let us be clear that we understand what is meant by famine. Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines famine in this way: “extreme and general scarcity of food, as in a country or a large geographical area.”[2]

e.    And how far will people go to feed themselves when faced with the starvation caused by such a scarcity of food? Look with me to a verse in Lamentations, and then in passages that predicted what we read of in Lamentations:

Lamentations 4.10:The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.

Leviticus 26.29: “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.

Deuteronomy 28.53-57:

53    And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:

54   So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:

55   So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.

56   The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,

57   And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.

3.   “and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand

a.    Who is sitting on the black horse in Revelation 6.5? I know of no speculation of the rider’s identity which sounds credible to me.

b.   The balances mentioned here seem to be confirmation that there will be famine. During the great depression in Germany following World War I, everything that was sold was sold by weight. Loaves of bread sold for wheel barrels full of cash.

c.    Verse 6 confirms the tragic situation that will exist in the not too distant future.

(6.6)    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.

1.   “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say”

a.    Whose voice is spoken of here? Is this the voice of one of the beasts? I do not think so, since the voice comes from the midst of the four beasts, who seem to be circled about the throne of God and around the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has taken from the Father the redemption scroll whose seals are now being opened.

b.   John seems to be purposefully indistinct here, intentionally not clarifying for us whether the voice is the voice of God or the voice of the Son of God. My inclination, since this book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the unveiling of Jesus Christ, is to think that the Lord Jesus is the One Who is now speaking.

c.    What does He say?

2.   “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny

a.    The word “penny” here is translated from the word “denarius.” That amount of money was the standard wages for one full day’s work.[3]

b.   A “measure,” approximately a quart by volume, was the approximate amount of what that would satisfy the nutritional needs of one adult male. Do you see the great problem here?[4]

c.    A man will work all day and have only enough money to feed himself, if he eats wheat, or just enough to feed himself, his wife and one child, if he eats barley. But, my friend, the average household has more than one child. And what about the elderly? So, you see that famine, starvation on a massive scale, is what is in store for the human race in the not too distant future.

3.   “and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine

a.    The oil and wine are products, which, historically, only the wealthy classes could afford to purchase and consume. Is it not interesting that the consumer goods normally purchased by the wealthy will not be affected by the runaway inflation associated with the coming famine?

b.   This suggests a runaway inflation that is manipulated by the wealthy classes. If you think that it cannot happen, just remember when the prime interest rate was past 20%, during the Carter administration, which is approaching the Latin American type of inflation.

c.    I am no economist. However, while an undergraduate at Oregon State University, I was enrolled in an economics class taught by a professor who informed the class that virtually every known economist in America was forecasting runaway inflation in the USA sometime in our future. They do not publish these expectations outside their professional journals, he said, for fear of creating a panic that would end in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

d.   They also point out, I was told, that there has, historically, been only one way of bringing a halt to this kind of wild inflation once it was started; WAR! Either a civil war, so you can start over from scratch, or a war against another nation.

4.   My friend, Bible prophecy is as current as tomorrow’s paper. When the Rapture occurs and the church age believers are removed from the scene by the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit in His ministry of restraining sin, a false Christ will come on the scene and establish a false peace. When the false peace falls apart there will be war such as this world has never before seen. The carnage will be unbelievable. In addition, following the war will come mass starvation of such severity that the imagination staggers at the contemplation of it.

[1] John Gill, The John Gill Library, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000)

[2] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 696.

[3] Walvoord, page 129.

[4] See marginal note for Revelation 6.6, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2000.

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