The Second Seal: The Second Horseman

Revelation 6:3-4
The End Times

In my last post, we began our journey in Revelation 6 as the first six of the seven seals are opened.  In this post, we look at the Second Seal which reveals the Second Horseman.

The fiery red horse and its rider represent open warfare; the false peace under the white horse and its rider is removed and civil war ensues.

The Second Seal

 3 When he broke the second seal, I heard the second living being say, “Go!” 4 Another horse went out, a red one; and its rider was given the power to take peace away from the earth and make people slaughter each other. He was given a great sword.” ~ Revelation 6:3-4 (CJB)

6You will hear the noise of wars nearby and the news of wars far off; see to it that you don’t become frightened. Such things must happen, but the end is yet to come.”  ~ Matthew 24:6 (CJB)

When he broke the second seal, I heard the second living being say, “Go!”  Another horse went out, a red one; and its rider was given the power to take peace away from the earth and make people slaughter each other. He was given a great sword.  With the first horseman peace was achieved, there was a general acceptance of him; the leading nations gladly followed him; even Israel stood with him thinking him to be their Messiah.  But now, sometime later, his true colors begin to show and the position he has gained must be held by force and a blood bath follows.  Notice that the Antichrist derives his power from Satan; he is, in fact, Satan incarnate.  With the ever-increasing violence on our streets and around the world today, we are seeing a foretaste of the awful time to come indicated by this red horse.

Thus, the red horseman represents not only nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, but man fighting against his fellow man. It will be a time of mass murder, continual bloodshed, and rampant revolution, in addition to war all over the face of the earth.   These atrocities will take place at the same time.

We are reminded of Yeshua’s warning in Matthew 24:6 (above) of events that will happen.  For those in the seven churches, and to us today, here is a vivid reminder that God’s people may indeed have to endure to death (Revelation 2:10), but they should not take this as a sign that somehow God is no longer in control. Throughout these last days, what God’s people need to see is that God’s purposes include even an ‘interim’ judgment on those who rebel against him, and God’s people get caught up in all this; but for them, victory and true conquest lies ahead. The judgment talked of here, therefore, precedes the final judgment which has yet to come.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 6:3-4 [1]

 Historicist Approach:

Like the first rider, most Historicists believe that the second rider is associated with the Roman Empire from the time of Commodus (180 CE) to Diocletian (284 CE).  This was a period of civil war and bloodshed in the Roman Empire.  The red horse depicts these civil conflicts that spelled the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.

Preterist Approach:

For Preterists, the second rider represents the loss of peace in Israel.  Not only were the Jews fighting against Romans, but they were also fighting amongst themselves.  Josephus (the eminent Jewish historian) describes the situation in these terms:

“Every city was divided into two armies encamped one against another … so the daytime was spent in shedding of blood, and the night in fear.”  (Wars 2:18:2)

Two passages may give credence to their position:

41 When Yeshua had come closer and could see the city, he wept over it, 4 saying, “If you only knew today what is needed for shalom! But for now it is hidden from your sight. 43 For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will set up a barricade around you, encircle you, hem you in on every side, 44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within your walls, leaving not one stone standing on another — and all because you did not recognize your opportunity when God offered it!” ~ Luke 19:41-44 (CJB)

10 Then I took my staff called Favor and cut it in two, showing that I had revoked the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 That was the end of my covenant with them. The suffering flock was watching me, and they knew that the LORD was speaking through my actions. 12 And I said to them, “If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.” So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the LORD. 14 Then I took my other staff, Union, and cut it in two, showing that the bond of unity between Judah and Israel was broken.” ~ Zechariah 11:10-14 (NLT)

Futurist Approach:

The red horse suggests bloodshed and speaks of a time of war that comes upon the earth as the Tribulation progresses.  Hal Lindsey identifies the rider with Russia with her allies in the Middle East attacking Israel at the midpoint of the Tribulation.  Eventually, that war escalates until it involves all major powers on the earth and becomes the Battle of Armageddon.  The great sword may be symbolic of the awesome power of a nuclear weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

Idealist Approach:

While the white horse represented conquest in general, the red horse represents war in general and civil war in particular.  The horrors and carnage of revolution and revolt leading to wars are another means by which God judges sinful society (see Amos 3:6).  Yeshua said to Kefa, “Put your sword back where it belongs, for everyone who uses the sword will die by the sword.” ~ Matthew 26:52 (CJB)

Some Idealists see the red horse to represent the persecution of the church that inevitably follows the spread of Christianity into heathen lands.  They turn to Matthew 10:34 for partial proof of their position. “Don’t suppose that I have come to bring peace to the Land.  It is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword!”

In my next post, the Third Seal is broken.

Click here for PDF version.


[1] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

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