Revelation 6: The rider on a black horse brings hunger

Revelation 6: The rider on a black horse brings hunger
Russian famine, starvation
Peasants from the Volga during a famine, Russia, 1892. The soil of these densely populated Russian territories cannot yield enough in bad times to support the populace; Riots and arson are regularly the result. The state and charities must do everything they can to alleviate the suffering. |

Winnie Byanyima – Ugandan politician, human rights activist and diplomat – said: “Conflict and callous politics lead to famine.” Hunger is intense suffering and the people who die from it die slowly and gradually.

In the mid-1990s, North Korea experienced a terrible famine that killed more than a million people. North Korean defector and activist Lee Hyeon-Seo said those who survived only ate grass and bugs.

During the Great Russian Famine of 1932-1933, one farmer described the famine like this: “We ate everything we could get our hands on—cats, dogs, field mice, birds. Tomorrow when it’s light you’ll see the debarked trees. And the horse manure is eaten. Sometimes there are whole grains in it.”

In modern times, especially in western countries, hunger is associated with antiquity. Yet the famine was never abolished, and Revelation chapter 6 predicts a period of unprecedented worldwide famine.

In chapter 6, the apostle John was lifted up and caught up in heaven, where he awaited Christ’s breaking of the third seal on a scroll—a scroll only he was worthy to open. As Christ breaks the seals of this scroll, a new portion of God’s plan for earth’s last days is revealed.

With the breaking of the first two seals of the seven scrolls, the apostle reported that riders appeared on a white horse and a red horse. The white horse and rider represent deception and the devil’s “man of sin,” the Antichrist. The second horseman on the red horse symbolizes war, more precisely, worldwide conflicts of nation against nation, civil wars, assassination, murder and chaos that saturates the ground with blood everywhere.

Then the apostle says:

“If the lamb [Christ] broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a black horse and its rider holding scales. And I heard a voice among the four living creatures say, “One loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley is a day’s wages. And do not waste the olive oil and the wine” (Revelation 6:5-6).

Like the kids playing the board game Jumanji rolling the dice in the 1995 film of the same name, animals and creatures suddenly appeared, posing dangerous challenges. As Jesus broke the third seal of the scroll, a person appeared carrying scales on a pitch-black horse. This driver poses a challenge: millions worldwide are unlikely to survive the threat of hunger and starvation.

The deception spread by deceitful leaders often causes nations to capitulate to war, and war leads to death and deprivation. As a result of World War I and the revolutions that followed, 27 million people starved to death. During World War II, 20 to 25 million people died from starvation and starvation-related diseases.

During hostilities, farmers find it difficult to plant and harvest because the land is devastated. In addition, marauding armies are taking away their crops. There are also supply chain issues. Food shortages can skyrocket prices, production and distribution costs.

In the book, Four Views on the Book of RevelationC. Marvin Pate claims:

“The inevitable consequence of war is famine, nowhere is this more clearly represented than in Revelation 6:5-6 with the description of the third horseman. It would have been easy for the seer of the apocalypse to imagine war and famine. During the reign of Claudius, famine occurred in Rome in AD 42, and food shortages were reported in Judea in AD 45-46, in Greece in AD 49, and again in Rome in AD 51. The reference to the scales and the inflated prices of food in 6:5-6 cannot fail to recall the severe famine that took place in Jerusalem during its siege by the Roman army. During this time, the residents of Jerusalem had to weigh their food and drink for lack of these necessities. It was so bad that even a mother’s love for her child ended. Josephus tells the story of Mary, a woman from Perea who was among the Jews who starved to death during the siege of Jerusalem. She seized her child and suckling child at her breast, killed them and fried them for food for herself.

“Note this also from Josephus regarding the role of famine in the Jewish war against Rome:

“’But the famine was too severe for all other passions, and destroys nothing so much as modesty; for what was otherwise worthy of reverence was in this case despised; inasmuch as children snatched from their mouths the morsels their fathers ate, and, more unfortunately, so did the mothers with their infants.’”

Some would argue that what John was already familiar with was what he was actually quoting in the prophecy of the rider on the black horse. They say the black horse is already riding. Indeed, throughout human history there have been wars and famines at various levels. There is a sense in which the assertion is true. What John is referring to, however, is a collective of such circumstances rising and building towards future catastrophic poverty on a global scale. What is being described is the wrath of God stored up until the cup overflows upon a Christ-hating, Bible-hating, blasphemous, grace-scorning, and unbelieving world. The godless masses of the world are finally getting their just comeuppance.

Revelation 6:6 says that the rider on the black horse should spare the luxury of “olive oil and wine.” In other words, in this time of tremendous tribulation on earth, almost everyone everywhere except the very wealthy will find too little of what is badly needed and an abundance of what is not.

dr Henry Morris, in his book Creation and the Second Coming, argues that James chapter 5:1-8 “is a vivid prophecy of social unrest in the last days.” The text says:

“Look here, you rich ones: weeping and groaning in fear at all the terrible difficulties that lie ahead. Your riches rot and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The wealth you counted on will consume your flesh like fire. That corroded treasure you hoarded will testify against you on Judgment Day. To hear! Hear the screams of the field workers who cheated you out of their wages. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the armies of the Lord of Heaven.

“You have spent your years on earth in luxury, fulfilling your every wish. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people who do not oppose you.

“Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord to return. Think of the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and spring. They are eagerly looking for the valuable harvest to ripen. You too must be patient. Take heart, for the coming of the Lord is near.”

Morris says these verses show “[t]The eternal conflict between rich and poor, capital and labour, master and slave was apparently to intensify more intensely than ever in the last few days, eventually erupting in weeping and wailing and misery and a great “day of slaughter”. He adds:

“This prophetic sign began to be fulfilled in the Industrial Revolution, which brought great technological advances but also brought great misery to the working class, who were ruthlessly exploited in the factories and fields of the rich owners – perhaps never more so than in the slave plantations of America . All of this led to the bloody French Revolution and later many more horrific communist revolutions in Russia, China and other countries, not to mention America’s unspeakable civil war.

“While those days of slaughter may have to some extent lessened the lot of the toiling masses, they also, in many cases, resulted in still greater wealth and power for the great and powerful and for the ruthless new dictators in many nations. In fact, in many cases it is known that the bourgeoisie was in fact instigated and financed by certain international bankers and leading merchants in Europe and America with the aim of creating greater wealth and power for themselves. These war millionaires fed their hearts in days of slaughter!

“In these verses, however, James tells people not to hope for revolutions or laws to deliver them, but to wait for the ‘coming of the Lord’ which all these signs foretell. Today, the plight of many poor is perhaps worse than ever (think of the poverty-stricken populations of Ethiopia, India, Sudan and many other nations, including those who recently fled the communist regime [and Socialist] exploitation – perhaps even the increasing number of homeless people… in America), and this sign of the last days becomes more poignant than ever. The true hope, says James, is that ‘the coming of the Lord draws near’.”

Does the prospect of these future events symbolized in these horsemen strike you with fear and trembling? If you have never received Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you should fear. When fear leads us to a positive conclusion or helps us avoid danger, that’s a good thing.

Terrible disasters lie ahead for those who ignore God’s goodness in Jesus Christ. But the saved can look forward with confidence, knowing their redemption is at hand (Luke 21:28).

Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before accepting that position, having served in five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York had served .

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREE MAIL free newsletter sent twice a week by The Christian Post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *