When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale [Gr. chloros] horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. -Rev. 6: 7-8 NKJV
I say the fourth horse because its color is not easy to tell from the translation we have. The Greek word John used is chloros, which in every other passage in the NT means “green.” Cloros is the color of chlorophyl, the substance that makes plants green. The translators did not think a green horse could be real, so they chose other ways to describe the color, e.g. pale or ashen.
The four living creatures were angels that had the resemblance of a lion, an ox (or bull), a man, and an eagle. The animal corresponding to this seal is the eagle. The eagle has been used on the cover of altar editions of the gospels to represent the fourth gospel, because John presented Jesus as the all-seeing Logos or Word of God. Something with the ability to see everyone and everything on earth is a part of this seal.
If each of the rides of the four horses are world movements, then this one flies a green flag. Two such movements come to mind today. It is hard to say if one is a better candidate than the other, but this horse also has two riders, while the others only had one.
The face of the lion was world conquest by white European kings. The face of the bull was John Bull, the champion of capitalism, and the bull and bear swings that move wealth in the stock markets. The bear “rose up on one side” of Eurasia as communism in the 20th century, flying a red flag. The face of the man accompanying the black horse was civil rights and secular humanism. We also met the leopard and snake during the ride of the black horse – the sexual revolution and the “yoke” of debt-based economies in which people have so much debt they cannot afford more than the basics to live. During this time, the oil and wine industries could not be harmed.
So how does an eagle show us what the world will be like during the next great movement? We live in a time when satellites, aircraft, drones, and stationary cameras are able to see everything and everyone all over the earth. That time is now.
The two world movements today that fly a green flag are environmentalism and Islam. Let’s look briefly at each.
The green movement seeks to protect the earth from the effects of human overpopulation and pollution, particularly the pollution caused by the ride of the black horse with the abundance of power being generated from fossil fuels. The simplest way to reduce populations quickly is by having more deaths than births. There are various conspiracy theories about “plans” to reduce populations in various ways, but the actual power behind this idea is spiritual, just as the green horse is not flesh and blood either.
On the side of birth we would expect to see an increase in birth control, abortion, infant mortality, and infertility throughout the world. Gay and lesbian marriage also inhibits having children except by adoption. The decision to limit or not to have children would logically become more acceptable in this time. On the side of death, we would expect more wars, pandemics, famines, and natural calamities that claim many lives in a short period of time.
The problem of world pollution does not improve when some countries make changes, and others do not. This movement requires a world governing authority, or one world government of some kind to have any hope of succeeding. The Kyoto Protocol for world environmental standards was signed by countries controlling a fourth part of the entire world’s surface area. Pandemics also require world-wide coordination. So do wars. Everything in the ride of the green horse points toward the proposal of a single world government to stem the rising tide of death.
If the government has satellites, aircraft, drones, and stationary cameras able to see everyone doing everything, it will be able to enforce any laws deemed necessary for the public good. Freedom will end in the name of life. This has already happened in Russia, China, and increasingly, in Europe. It is here also, from store surveillance, to red light cameras, to police access to your smart doorbell camera feed if they want it. Privacy was enjoyed by our parents, but is no more.
What’s the animal symbol of the United States of America? The all-seeing eagle. In the Law of Moses, is the eagle a clean bird, or unclean? Unclean, because it feeds on dead flesh. Any bird that does is unclean. Lion, bear, leopard, snake, and eagle meat are all unclean to Jews. So is man flesh. Only the ox is clean in this bunch.
What about Islam? Let me begin by saying I have nothing against my Islamic neighbors. I am speaking of world movements sweeping the world, and Islam has certainly done that. The passage says that this horse will be given authority over a fourth part of the earth. Islam has authority over a fourth part of the earth’s land mass today.
Islamic countries favor the color green, as it was the founder’s favorite color. There are other colors in their flags, but green is dominant. When a country adopts the Koran as its law, it demands all residents of the land to convert to Islam or be beheaded with a sword.
What then – if the passage mentions death by sword – if it’s a literal death sentence with a literal sword? Seems more likely now than it did a few years ago. We are already seeing beheadings in Europe and Africa when militant followers of Islam want to punish unbelief. The fifth seal is the beheading of the martyrs, so taken in context with the following seal, it makes sense that beheading as a legal sentence could become commonplace in a fourth part of the world.
Death and Grave ride this horse, and as it sweeps the earth people die in large numbers from the sword, from famine, from pandemics, and by the beasts of the earth.
We already have war, and we are beginning to see heads cut off with swords. We already have famine in many places. In 2020 the big story was the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is not the first, and will not be the last. Covid seems particularly evident, however, because it has changed our lifestyles, and has touched all classes of people across the world. I am confident that the green horse is already riding out, and we are seeing it on the news day after day.
What about the “beasts of the earth?” They are not heavenly beasts or demonic beasts, but beasts “of the earth.” Genetic engineering is just entering it’s stride. We are taking parts of one species and splicing them to parts of other species in our laboratories all over the world. Who knows whether some of the strange “beasts” John mentions later on are real new beasts that men have created to do their bidding, as the world descends into a time unlike any that came before?