In the book of Revelation, Christ was found worthy to loose the seven-sealed scroll because He had redeemed man by His blood out of every tongue, tribe, and nation. This scroll was the title deed to the earth, sealed until the fulness of time would come for Christ to take the sceptre of the throne of David, and the rod of iron as the Lion of Judah.
The scroll, much like the testament of the Romans and the purchased price of a kinsman’s redemption of the piece of land, the scroll was to be sealed with at least seven witnesses. Scripture identifies these seven witnesses as the seven generations of the church who were filled with the Holy Spirit. At each portion wherein these witnesses are found, there is seal and a corresponding event/manifestation of power which brings events upon the earth into a chain of events by the which Christ shall reign over the earth.
THE FIRST FOUR SEALS
The first four seals depict horses, one white, one red, one black, and one pale/gray. While each of these horses are given a description hinting at their significance, the book of Zechariah depict these four horses also with greater context.
“And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.” (Zechariah 6:1-5)
These four horses, with their respective chariot/riders, represent the four spirits of the heavens. These four spirits are also depicted as four winds. It is these spirits by which winds of strife and judgment are active or else restrained in the world (See Daniel 7:1-2, Rev. 7:1-2, Jer. 49:36). The identity of the horses are found in their geographic locations and understanding the historical context from which Zechariah was writing from.
Zechariah begins his book by introducing the horses, and the controlling Spirit upon the red horse who spoke regarding the Babylonian captivity of the people of the ten tribes of Israel and remnant tribe of the kingdom of Judah. “Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 1:18-19)
These four horns corresponded in Zechariah’s day to Pul, Salmaneser, Sennacherib, the three kings of Assyria who scattered the ten tribes of Israel, and Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon who carried Judah away into Babylon for it’s wickedness, with it’s subsequent coming out of Babylon for the rebuilding of the temple. While this is the historical context, the Messianic context would be Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and the Roman/European empire, with the call to come out of the spiritual Babylon when Christ shall complete the rebuilding of His spiritual temple, the church, with living stones consisting of all of the redeemed. This is the subject matter which Zechariah is bringing into our view.
IDENTIFYING THE HORSES
First we will examine the four horses in Zechariah, and then identify their counterpart in the book of Revelation. “The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country. And the bay [red] went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.” (Zechariah 6:6-7)
Here is what Zechariah’s vision has just revealed: (1) Black horse goes into Assyria/Babylon (the North) first. (2) White horse goes into Assyria/Babylon (the North) second. (3) Pale horse goes into Egypt (the South). (4) Red Horse reigns in all the earth.
THE BLACK HORSE OF ZECHARIAH
Since we know that Zechariah’s prophecies are set in the historical setting of the scattering of the twelve tribes into the lands of the north, Assyria and Babylon, with their subsequent coming out, to receive the land of inheritance and rebuild the fallen temple, the black horse is easily identified.
The Black horse represents the ten tribes of Israel. These were scattered and carried into the land of the north, Assyria, by the king of Assyria in 733 and 722 BCE. This was the result of laying aside the light of God’s word for the darkness that ever comes through disobedience, making incomprehensible the truths of God. The ten tribes worshiped false gods, forsook the sabbaths, exchanged the divine statutes for man-made traditions, and set-up their own sanctuary and priesthood, and by the spirit of perdition/apostasy, they were brought into judgment.
The black horse, therefore, represents the spirit of apostasy/compromise/perdition.
THE WHITE HORSE OF ZECHARIAH
The White horse represents the faithful remnant tribe of Judah, who were carried into the land of the north, Babylon, which was formerly the capital of Assyria until it’s uprising in 626 BCE. Judah was carried into Babylon because of the great wickedness of many of the false professors, who in worshipping the gods of Babylon, were absorbed into Babylon. Only the faithful remnant, such as Daniel and his companions, were preserved; only the faithful remnant came back out of the comforts of Babylon to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The white horse of Judah goes into Babylon to preserve the faithful amid great hardship and distress, and to preserve the line which from which, as pertaining to the flesh, Christ came. White represents purity and power (See Isaiah 1:18).
Furthermore, Judah is called “his goodly horse in the battle”. “Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle. Out of him [Judah] came forth the cornerstone, out of him the nail [temple stake], out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.” (Zechariah 10:3-4)
The cornerstone which came out of Judah; the nails from which Messiah was crucified and the restored temple of God was pitched and raised up came out of Judah. And in the book of Revelation, Christ is depicted as being seated upon a white horse, “and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.” (Rev. 19:11)
The white horse, therefore, represents the spirit of the faithful and pure remnant; this is the Spirit of God.
THE PALE HORSE OF ZECHARIAH
The pale horse represents the secularism and godlessness of Egypt. Many of the people of God went to the Pharaoh of Egypt for strength and protection against the kings of Assyria and Babylon, rather than to repent and obey and trust in the God of Israel. Isaiah had given warning upon warning to the rebellious children of Israel about placing their confidence in Egypt, the land from whence they came out of.
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!…Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.” (Isaiah 31:1)
They refuse to seek the Lord, but seek after the land of slavery, the house of bondage. They refuse to seek after God, but would lean upon man. They do not trust in what their eyes cannot see, for what they cannot see keeps them from receiving the Spirit of God, and what they can see keeps them trusting in the flesh.
The pale horse of the south therefore represents the spirit of unbelief/atheism.
THE RED HORSE OF ZECHARIAH
The red horse of Zechariah is the horse which fills the whole earth, going to and fro until it’s dominion extends across the earth. This red horse symbolized Assyria itself, with it’s persecuting power. Then Babylon, which persecuted the faithful remnant of Judah by bringing them into captivity, and then scattering the rebellious unrepentant of Judah, destroying their land and the sanctuary. So long as the red horse was not questioned or instigated, it would not persecute, however, when the rebellious of Judah made war with Babylon, the faithful remnant suffered the consequences.
The red horse is the spirit of paganism and of persecution.
THE FOUR HORSES OF REVELATION
The First Seal:
“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.”
This was the faithful remnant of Judah; the apostolic church moved by the Spirit of God, going forth to the battle against Satan and his angels, and they “went forth” in the might of the Spirit of God, “conquering and to conquer.” Take note then, that the white horse of Judah is the remnant church of God. This first seal was opened when Christ ascended into heaven, and took the book of the seals, opening it in conjunction with the great outpouring of His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
While the spirit of this horse is still in the world today, it was 31AD when this seal was opened.
The Second Seal:
“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.” (Revelation 6:4)
At the time this seal was opened, the great sword of persecution would be ignited against the Christians. It was the persecuting power of paganism in the Roman Empire that followed in the persecuting warfare of Assyria and Babylon. These made war against the people of God by persecuting them, and this persecuting was the result of widespread acceptance among the Gentiles of the Messiah leading them to renounce their heathen rites and superstitions. It was further caused by the rebellious warfares incited by the Jews upon the Romans. The Romans therefore scattered rebellious, unrepentant Judah, destroying their land and sanctuary, and the faithful remnant suffered the consequences. As it was with Judah in the days of Babylon, so it was with Judah in the days of Rome. While the spirit of this horse is still in the world today, it was 66AD-313AD where this spirit prevailed especially on history’s stage.
The Third Seal:
“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.” (Rev. 6:5-6) When Christ opened the third seal, the black horse reemerges. It was the spirit of apostasy and compromise for worldly advantage which brought the church into the dark ages. Like the ten tribes of Israel who went into Babylonian Assyria, these sold the wheat and barley of God’s law, His pure worship, for a day’s wages to increase their riches and prosperity. The more truth that was sold off, the more rich the church grew until the Catholic system was an all-prevailing spirit of perdition in the world. As the successor to the ten tribes who were carried into Babylonian-Assyria, they effectively revived their sins in every point. They worshiped false gods in the form of Graeco-Roman deities renamed as saints; they forsook the Sabbath in favor of the pagan day of sun worship; exchanged the divine statutes for man-made and heathen traditions; and set-up their own sanctuary and priesthood. The black horse was historically revived in the Papacy and her daughters. This church, like the black horse that went into Babylonian-Assyria, was called, spiritually, Babylon, the mother of harlots in Revelation 17.
This horse is still very much in the world today, but the truths of God began to be sold off by the church for worldly advantage beginning at the days of Constantine in 313 AD, and continued in world dominance until 1798AD.
The Fourth Seal:
“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.” (Rev. 6:8)
“It was the unbelieving athiesm of the French Revolution. It had been Rome’s policy, under a profession of reverence for the Bible, to keep it locked up in an unknown tongue and hidden away from the people. Under her rule the witnesses prophesied “clothed in sackcloth.” But another power –the beast from the bottomless pit–was to arise to make open, avowed war upon the word of God. “The great city” in whose streets the witnesses are slain, and where their dead bodies lie, is “spiritually” Egypt. Of all nations presented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existence of the living God and resisted His commands. No monarch ever ventured upon more open and highhanded rebellion against the authority of Heaven than did the king of Egypt. When the message was brought him by Moses, in the name of the Lord, Pharaoh proudly answered: “Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2, A.R.V. This is atheism, and the nation represented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of the claims of the living God and would manifest a like spirit of unbelief and defiance…And in the land where the testimony of God’s two witnesses should thus be silenced, there would be manifest the atheism of the Pharaoh…” (Great Controversy, p. 270)
It was the pale or grey-and-grisled horse of Zechariah that went into Egypt, whose horses were flesh and not spirit, and would not consult nor seek after the Lord, but leaned wholly upon man. The french revolution was the manifestation of the spirit of unbelief as witnessed by atheism. This prophecy is referred to in Revelation 11 for the three and half years of persecution when the Bible was banned and burned throughout France. “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.” (Revelation 11:8-9)
Atheism is spiritual death.The spirit of unbelief is still slaughtering spirituality and crucifying the Scriptures and is prevalent today in communistic countries (“the beasts of the earth”), and in bold professions of atheism, and movements like Antifa. It is also in the church. This seal was opened in the late 1700’s, and officially became a movement in 1789 AD. This was the historical fulfillment of this seal, but the spirit today is alive and well.
These four spirits have endured since the fall of Adam but are manifested and brought to historical prominence in these first four seals. The White horse represents the Spirit of God manifested in the apostolic remnant church. The Red horse symbolizes the spirit of persecution manifested in the Roman Empire. The black horse is the spirit of apostasy manifested in the Catholic church. The pale horse is the spirit of unbelief manifested in the French revolution. These were the first four seals of the seven seals of Revelation.