3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. ~ Revelation 6:3-4
Today, we take another trip into the future as we study the book of the Revelation. The focus of today's study is the opening of the second seal. Whereas, the theme of Revelation 4-5 was the worship of God and of the Lamb, Revelation 6 begins the display of the wrath of God upon the rebellious world that has rejected His free gift of salvation. Each seal will increase in intensity as we study them.
According to Revelation 4:1, the church has been raptured or taken up into heaven to be with God until the Tribulation is over. On earth, unsaved man will be the recipients of the wrath of God to its fullest. For the Jews it will be the time of Jacob’s trouble, and for the Gentiles it will be the slaughter of the world.
In Revelation 5 we were introduced to a scroll in God's hand which was taken out of His hand by the Lord Jesus Himself. According to Revelation 6:1, “He begins to break the seals.” As the first seal was broken, the events of God’s wrath begin to unfold.
Now, there are seven seals on this scroll, and, today, we come to the second of the seven seals. The first four seals out of the seven take up the first three and a half years of the period known as the seventieth seven of Daniel 9 or the tribulation. We know it will be a seven year period of time because it is identified as such in Daniel 9. The first half of this seven year period of time is also identified in Revelation as a forty-two month period of time or a three-and-a-half year period of time or a twelve hundred and sixty day period of time.
Now, the first four seals depict horsemen. That’s where we get the term “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.” The imagery is shocking and frightening, but the first of these horsemen brings a time period of peace and prosperity as we saw that last study. But the following three bring deadly results.
In v.3-4 we read, "When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!" 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword."
Following the peace from the opening of the first seal, the second seal is opened and a fiery red horse came forth. A careful study of the Old Testament shows us that horses are associated with triumph, power, and might. But, this fiery red horse speaks of war that is most frightening and devastating. We know it’s war, because it says he takes peace from the earth and makes people kill each other.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:3 we read, "For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”
This second rider represents war, but not war between great armies. The word for kill is really the word "slaughter." This is a reference to civil war or civil anarchy where mobs of people group together to attack and destroy other peoples whom they do not like. We are seeing a demonstration of this today in what is going on in our country.
The final words of v.4 reads, "To him was given a large sword." The bow of the first horse will be replaced with a sword. This will happen at the command of God. Some say this is not the wrath of God, but it comes out of the throne in the scroll in the hand of God. This is God’s unfolding wrath. It is God who has granted this red horse, the authority and the power, to move and bring war. It was God who allowed the false peace and it is God who starts the wars. The whole earth will lose its peace and violence will break out all over the world and seems to through the remainder of the tribulation.
We are told that since 3600 BC there have been 14,531 wars and only 292 years of what would be considered peace. This is approximately 2.6 wars per year and one year of peace out of every two decades or 36 hours of peace per month or one minute of peace every four hours. That's as good as it has ever gotten, one minute of peace every four hours.
Well, during the tribulation period, things will change. And, it will culminate in what we could call the mother of all battles, the Battle of Armageddon. This is why this is so relevant today much more so than it was when John wrote this book. The reason is today we now have the capabilities to destroy the entire planet in one hour.
According to the Center for Defense Information, the United States alone has an arsenal 35,000 nuclear warheads. Each warhead is equivalent to the capacity which is 35,000 times greater than the bomb that went off at Hiroshima. And that's just the United States. There are now nine nations on earth with nuclear capabilities and these weapons will factor in to the outcomes that are described in Revelation.