In our study of Revelation chapter six, we witness God providing a sort of last chance for people to accept his Son. We are told of the events that will occur when Jesus begins the process of taking possession of all creation. John continues to tell us of what he saw in heaven including the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
We should understand that, throughout the Bible, horses were only used for soldiers going to battle. They were not used for other work or transportation (Even Jesus road a donkey into Jerusalem.) This chapter describes the Lamb (Jesus Christ) opening the seals on a scroll. This scroll is like the deed to a home in that it gives ownership to the one that is listed on the document. In this case, ownership was indicated by the fact that Jesus was the only one that was worthy to open it.
"I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, 'Come!' I looked and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." NIV translation
Jesus opens the first seal and a rider on a white horse is revealed. Many read this passage and wrongly assume that this is Jesus because of the crown and the white horse but it is not. This rider is the Antichrist and he is out to conquer the people of the world by deception. He is given power by Satan and a crown by the leaders of this world. Avoiding Satan's deception is one reason why it is so important to study the Bible.
"When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, 'Come!' Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword." NIV translation
After the Antichrist has deceived the people with promises of peace and prosperity, the second horse is released. This horse is red as that is the color of blood and its rider is war. The false peace will break down and a huge war will break out between the men of the earth as described by the large sword.
"When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, 'A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!'" NIV translation
The third seal is opened and another horseman is revealed. The horse is black which is the color of mourning and its rider is famine. It is interesting to note that, in our history, famine always follows war and if you look at where most of it is happening today it is in areas that have been ravaged by war. One of the four living creatures is calling out the prices for grain. The days wages refers to the wages that a soldier was paid for a days work. Although it may be hard for us to imagine, the cost of grain is so high that a man would have to work all day just for enough to feed himself. When Jesus walked the earth, a day's wages would have bought about twenty four quarts of barley. Here, we are told that it only buys three and this tells us that the money (denarius) is worth only one eighth of what it was in Jesus' day. This happens in many areas of the world even today but, with this rider, it will be a global famine. This horse can remind us to put our faith in Jesus Christ and not money because, at is says there will be a day when the value of the money is one eighth of what it was. The second thing the creature says "do not damage the oil and the wine" which speaks of wealth and plenty. This tells us that, even on this day, there will be the wealthy who eat to their fill and throw the excess in the trash. What we see in this third seal is not only famine but a severe divide between those that have and those that do not.