When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”
Rev. 6:5-6, NKJV
Definitions: This is the only verse in the NT where zygos is translated “scales.” In every other instance the word means “yoke.” For example, Matthew 11:30 – My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. It is possible that John meant that a yoke was in the hand of this rider, because perhaps that is what he actually saw.
The translators used “pair of scales” because of what the voice from the altar said. A denarius was the wage for a day’s work. In the time of this ride, a working person will not be able to amass any kind of wealth, because it will cost as much as he or she earns in a day to feed the family for one day. Incomes will barely meet the basic cost of living because of a yoke of bondage.
As discussed in the introductory articles, it’s easier to understand prophesy looking backward after it has been fulfilled than when it is unfolding. This is where we stand with respect to the ride of the black horse. I think it has been taking place since the establishment of fiat currencies, or debt-based economies that do not depend on having equivalent capital to back them up – in other words, about the last 75-100 years.
In the banking industry, the practice is called “fractional reserve banking” in which banks only keep 3-10% of deposits in reserve. If you deposit $100 in a bank, they can issue $1,000 to $3,000 in loans from it, and charge enough interest to make a profit.
The rides of the four horsemen begin at different times as the scroll with seven seals is opened, but they overlap. We still have vestiges of the white horse colonial system in Africa, India, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
The red horse of Communism continues as a force in world governmental affairs in China, Russia, and many smaller countries that became proxies for the larger struggle between superpowers. It is an ongoing source of military conflicts in the Middle East.
Thus, the riding out of the black horse is but a continuation of the world struggle for self-determination that was created by the domination of European kings, and rebellion against it by the common people. Looking forward to our times, Amos wrote:
Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.
As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
-Amos 5: 18-19
We saw the face of a lion in the ride of the white horse, and the face of a bear in the ride of the red horse. We will encounter two new animals as the black horse rides, the one a leopard, and the other a snake. This is interesting, because the Hebrew word for snake (nacash), has the secondary meaning of charging interest.
The third beast in Daniel’s vision was a leopard with four heads. Accepted commentaries on it suggest it was the Greek Empire which divided after Alexander the Great died into four competing factions. The two that fared the best were the Ptolemys of Egypt, and the Seleucids of Syria, called Kings of the South and North respectively in other passages.
In the old world, the leopard was immediately recognized as the mount of Dionysus or Bacchus, the god of wine and ecstasy. In the ancient mosaic pictured here, he dances beside a leopard, holding his scarf open to reveal his sexual freedom, but his scarf forms the head of a snake.
The voice from the altar said, “do not harm the oil or the wine.” Rabbi Cody suggested that these themes have been controlling influences in our world for the last century:
- Fiat currency that is no longer substituted as certificates of gold or silver. Instead they are backed by debt-based economies in which petroleum (the “oil”) is used as a medium for acquiring and exchanging wealth across the world. Oil is black, made from decomposed biomass that was buried underground during the flood of Noah. Oil is liquified death that has polluted the land, air, and water to such a degree that it is now contributing to climate change.
- As the black horse rides out, a worldwide civil rights movement is closely followed by a worldwide sexual revolution. Dionysus is back today as Hough Hefner and Santa Claus, the jolly fat man with red cheeks who is the star of the party. No matter what else happens to the economy, two industries cannot be allowed to fail – the oil industry, and the alcoholic beverage industry. Intoxication has almost become a norm, to such an extent that we now sell beer and wine at college football games, and marijuana is legal in many states for recreational use.
- At the same time, the use of credit has become so common that the average American holds $6,000 in revolving debt. In addition to credit cards, we have mortgages, car loans, student loans, tax-funded service on the three trillion dollar national debt, and the international wealth-killer, inflation. Together, these things are like a yoke of financial bondage resting on the necks of ordinary working people, whose income after paying interest fees is only just enough for food and rent.
- During this period of time, Africa threw off colonial rule to become a continent of independent nations, but most are poor and deeply indebted. People of African descent played the leading role in the world-wide civil rights movement. Barak Obama became the first black US President and leader of the free world.
- The four heads of the leopard today would apparently be these: capitalism, communism, socialism, and sharia law as four competing systems that seek to unite and control the entire world. They set the stage for a last world movement, a final horse that will plunge the world into great tribulation.