The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Vasnetsov, Viktor-The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse-1887You have more than likely been taught that, the four horsemen are symbolic descriptions of different events which will take place in the end times.

Well lets look at this.

  • The first horse is the conquerer. Oh, like the earth has never seen a conquerer.
  • The second horse is war.  Wow, war, imagine that a conquerer who uses war to get what he wants.
  • The third horse is economic upheaval.  Now that is something so rare on this earth, that as we explain in Jubilee and Our Current Economic Troubles it happens only every 60-70 years.
  • The last horse is death.  You know anybody who has died?  Gosh that never happens.

Now, hopefully you have been slapped into reality.  The book of the Revelation starts out with an explanation of why it is being given.  Somehow a lot of people seem to skip this first verse.

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, Rev. 1:1

Soon, does not mean 1900 years latter in anybody’s dictionary.  Since the book was written between 96-98 AD, the events in it should have started, one would think, no later than early in the second century A.D.  The people who teach that these events are future either only trying to scare people, or more likely unable to interpret what the text is saying.  Either to make money or because they are deceived and scared themselves.  But the text plainly states “soon”.

One needs to start looking for these events “soon” to John’s prediction.

The White Horse

96AD began a peaceful period of more than eighty years under the auspicious leadership of the next five emperors starting with Emperor, Nerva, a native of the Island of Crete (whose symbol was a bow, “for Cretans alone of all the Greeks were archers” Pausanias). Following him was Emperor Trajan [98-117], and then Emperor Hadrian [117-138]. These two emperors added Darcia, Romania, and Mesopotamia to the Roman Empire, greatly increasing the size of the Roman Empire. These conquests were achieved under the republic. The emperors were, for the most part, satisfied with preserving borders already established and acquiring further territory by negotiation and diplomacy. For the first time the empire exceeded the borders left by Augustus. For a hundred years people enjoyed peace and good government. This, as well as the building of roads and the safety of travel, enabled the gospel to spread quickly. This was the height of the Roman Empire and its prosperity and power.

The Red Horse

In 193AD Emperor Septimus Severus came to the throne.  Almost at once war and civil war broke out in many parts of the Empire. Septimus Severus created three new legions one of which was quartered on the Alban Lake in Italy.  This was the first time a legion was inside Italy proper.  Rival emperors were vying for power as war broke out with Persia in 212, with the Germans in the west in 220, and the Parthians in the East in 235.

The Black Horse

This rider has a balance in hand with which to affect the economy.  A quart of wheat or 3 quarts of barley will cost a denarius; but no harm for oil and wine.  This speaks symbolically of the inflated prices of necessities while the price of luxuries does not change. Emperor Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, 222-235) increased the pay of his troops to a ruinous degree.  To meet the consequent deficit he issued a new coin, the Antoninus, with a face value of two denary but a weight of only one and two thirds.  Future Emperors would follow this precedence and money would become unstable. Between the wars and the taxation, the necessities of life became difficult to obtain while luxuries were unaffected.  This resulted in the middle classes being ruined and impoverished.

The Pale Horse

Under Emperor Gallus, 250, there was a plague that lasted 15 years; daily 5000 people died.  He then marched against his successor in Moesia in 253, but on the way his own troops kill him.  Darcia had to be given up in 271.

During the second half of the century nearly one quarter of the Roman Empires population died.  By 297 the economy was completely regulated to secure supplies for the army.  Even the artisans were forced to supply the state military machine.  The urban population began to migrate to the countryside to make a living, as they could no longer make it in the cities.  Over time the economy changed completely over to a barter system.  People impoverished fled their homes and farms allowing pestilence to become rampant. Large portions of the Empire were completely autonomous depriving Italy of its market.

This can all be read in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon

6 thoughts on “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

  1. Pingback: New Post in The Revelation Pages | Israel & The Church in the Last Days

  2. “soon” is 210 years or so? You fail to address one of the very points that you are riding on… Tell us why 210 years or so meets the wording of “soon”. Since His audience would have been dead and gone by the 2nd horseman, how does this apply to them?

      • Beloved,
        “One needs to start looking for these events “soon” to John’s prediction.” The point is that they weren’t very “soon to come” for those who were hearing as they wouldn’t have been around…
        “The people who teach that these events are future either only trying to scare people, or more likely unable to interpret what the text is saying. Either to make money or because they are deceived and scared themselves. But the text plainly states “soon”. Surely John wasn’t trying to scare people or unable to interpret his own text.
        “Since the book was written between 96-98 AD, the events in it should have started, one would think, no later than early in the second century A.D.” One MIGHT think no later than early in the second century….One MIGHT have thought it would occur within the next few years…but your examples for the fulfillment of these prophetic statements spans hundreds of years.
        I do appreciate the challenging thoughts…but I object to your confirmed position based on what one would consider “soon” which I think is one of the center positions of the article.
        Shabbat Shalom,

    • “It is not necessary to suppose that the meaning is that all that there is in the book was soon to happen. It may mean that the series of events which were to follow on in their proper order was soon to commence, though it might be that the sequel would be remote. The first in the series of events was soon to begin, and the others would follow on in their train, though a portion of them, in the regular order, might be in a remote futurity. If we suppose that there was such an order, that a series of transactions was about to commence, involving along train of momentous developments, and that the beginning of this was to occur soon, the language used by John would be what would be naturally employed to express it. Thus, in case of a revolution in a government, when a reigning prince should be driven from his kingdom, to be succeeded by a new dynasty, which would long occupy the throne, and involving, as the consequence of the revolution, important events extending far into the future, we would naturally say that these things were shortly to occur, or that the time was near. It is customary to speak of a succession of events or periods as near, however vast or interminable the series may be, when the commencement is at hand. Thus, we say that the great events of the eternal world are near; that is, the beginning of them is soon to occur. So Christians now speak often of the millennium as near, or as about to occur, though it is the belief of many that it will be protracted for many ages.”

      “That this is the true idea then is clear, whatever general view of interpretation in regard to the book is adopted. Even Prof. Stuart, who contends that the greater portion of the book refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the persecutions of pagan Rome, admits that “the closing part of the Revelation relates beyond all doubt to a distant period, and some of it to a future eternity” (ii., p. 5); and, if this be so, then there is no impropriety in supposing that a part of the series of predictions preceding this may lie also in a somewhat remote futurity. The true idea seems to be that the writer contemplated a series of events that were to occur, and that this series was about to commence. How far into the future it was to extend, is to be learned by the proper interpretation of all the parts of the series.”

      -Albert Barnes, “Notes on Revelation”

      • Four Horsemen answer

        1. The text does not suggest that the action of the first horse would be fulfilled, and allows the other three horses actions to be delayed by some 1900 years.

        2. In the absence of specific language of gaps of time, lengthy delays (many days to come, etc.) would be speculative. The norm is one action follows another.  The four horsemen were introduced as four, that is a group that is similar. They are not introduced separately over many chapters.
        3. We agree it is likely that the beginning of the action was “imminent”, or soon, but we contend the other horses actions follow right after. They are sequential in the text, no breaks indicated and found nowhere else in Revelation.

        4. There is no language of time gaps in the text of Revelation. Words like soon, shortly, etc., are words that indicate the workings of the Lord as He fulfills His word on earth.

        Soon, Gk. techie, pertaining to a point of time subsequent to another point of time (either an event in the discourse or the time of the discourse itself), with emphasis upon the relatively brief interval between the two points of time — ‘soon, very soon.’

        So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ Luke 14:21

        Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” John 13:27

        Do your best to come to me soon. 2Tim. 4:9

        5. Daniel and Revelation are prophetic of the reign of gentile powers over Israel and the Church, i.e., God’s people. Daniel 12 seals up the scroll, in Revelation the Lamb unseals a scroll …which follows without gaps of time the movements of these imperial powers.

        6. Daniel and The Revelation both display sequential language in that one kingdom follows another. Even the details within each kingdom are sequential.

        We do not follow what we think, feel, or believe. 
        We strive for careful interpretation.
        If you have hermeneutics, show us!

        How and where does ‘soon’ mean ‘later’?

        Our Hermeneutics can be found at

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