“Behold, a Red Horse!”

Revelation 6:3 And when the Lamb opened the Second Seal
I heard the Second Living Creature, saying: “Come!”
Revelation 6:4 A fiery-red horse came forth.
It was granted to the one riding
to remove peace from the earth.
A great sword was given him
so they will slaughter one another
. [21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures - NCMM]

A rabbi was asked why he did not believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. His answer was: “When Messiah comes there is to be universal peace. Since there is no universal peace, Messiah has not come. Jesus was not the Messiah.” Such sincere Jews are not mistaken in looking to the Messiah to bring such universal peace. For the Hebrew Bible foretells such universal peace.

The Psalmist declared:

“O God, give the King [Messiah] your judgments, and your own justice to the royal son. [Messiah] will judge Your People impartially and Your poor ones with equity. The mountains [of God] will bring peace to the people. … [King-Messiah] will descend like refreshing rain upon green meadows. … During his reign the righteous will flourish and there will be an abundance of peace as long as the moon endures.” [Psalm 72:1-3, 6, 7]

The Prophets foretold:

“They shall beat their swords into ploughs and their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation will not raise sword against nation. Neither will they learn war any more.” [Isaiah 2:4] “And [Messiah’s] name shall be Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6] “They shall not hurt or ruin in all My Holy Mountain.” [Isaiah 11:9]

Such godly Jews erred, however, in that they did not discern that earth-wide peace would not come immediately upon the beginning of Messiah’s reign. For the Psalm foretold: “Yehowah said to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand UNTIL I MAKE ALL YOUR ENEMIES a stool for your feet.” [Psalm 110:1] A 1st Century rabbi quoted and applied this psalm to Jesus the Nazarene upon his ascension to heaven. He wrote: “For he must reign until the last enemy is subdued. … Of course, we do not yet behold all things subjected under his feet. However, we do behold Jesus crowned with glory.” [1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 2:8, 9; 10:12, 13]

Indeed, it was Daniel the prophet who saw in his vision: “I beheld someone like a human being arriving with the clouds of the sky. And he arrived and approached the One Most Venerable. The [angels] brought him near [to God]. And he was given a realm and dignity and a rulership.” [Daniel 7:13] Just so, the early Christians believed Jesus of Nazareth began his reign upon his ascension to heaven. In fulfillment of Psalm 110:1, Paul writes about the degree of Christ’s kingly authority upon his ascension to heaven:

“I also wanted you to realize the supreme magnitude of His power operating through we who believe. This power results from the highly controlled energy exercised when The God raised the Christ from the dead, ‘enthroning him at His own right hand’ [Psalm 110:1]in the celestial realms. Christ reigns over every government, authority, dynasty and lordship. His entitlement ascends above every title ever given. This is so, not only now in this period of time but also in that New Age in the future. The God of our Lord ‘subordinated the entire universe beneath Christ’s feet’. [Psalm 8:4, 5]The Father gave him complete control and leadership over his Body.” [Ephesians 1:19-22 NCMM Paraphrase]

Thus, universal peace was not to come to earth immediately upon the beginning of the reign of Messiah. According to Psalm 110:1 Messiah must rule waiting until his Father finally subjected every enemy beneath Christ’s feet.

This is in harmony with the apocalyptic vision John saw as the Lamb opened the first Seals of the Small Bible. The first seal revealed the enthroned and triumphant Messiah ready to ride forth to “complete his conquest.” This process of subjugation would parallel the ride of the second red horse. This horseman was seen “taking peace away from the earth so that they would slaughter one another.” [Revelation 6:3]

In order to take peace away from the earth, there must be a period of time in human history when there was a relative degree of peace throughout the Biblical world. Not accidentally, nor coincidentally, did Christ ascend to heaven to begin to rule in one of the few periods of peace in the last two thousand years - the Pax Romana.

This prediction of war parallels Jesus’ own at Matthew 24:6, 7. Christ must rule “among his enemies” (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25) and these can expect centuries and millenniums of war after war. History since 33 AD is replete with the suffering of war. Such a prediction might seem impossible given the current Pax Romana. It has been estimated that in the last two thousand years there have been 200 years of peace during the Pax Romana. In the year 1997 there are an estimated 100 conflicts world-wide. Compare the “war” in Daniel 9:26.

Christ cannot be blamed for two thousand years of war and slaughter. He does not use his “sword” against innocent victims. He will finally use his triumphant sword on the battlefield of Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14-16; 19:15, 19-21)

20 million were slaughtered in the Great War and 50 million in WW II. The numbers in all the wars for two millennia must be staggering. This “slaughter” is blamed on Babylon the Great, not the King Jesus Christ. (Revelation 18:24)

Thus, the apocalyptic red horse of Revelation 6:3, 4 proves that following the enthronement of Messiah in fulfillment of Psalm 2 and 110, not peace, but war can be expected. What else would run parallel with the reign of Messiah since 33 A.D.? Compare the article, “Behold, a black horse!”

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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