Third Seal, The Black Horse and its Rider: Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
The chastisement under the seal that produces the black horse falls on the working classes, the poor people. The rich governing classes will be exempt from this suffering; but they shall not escape. Under the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-17 judgment is meted out to all alike—from the king down to the slave. So the rich will not escape, even though they do escaped hunger when the black horse rides out. Worse calamities than this was still to come. The oil and the wine are basic ingredients for cooking and for purifying water, respectively. In addition, barley—usually fed to animals, was low in nutrients and cheaper than wheat—was used by the poor to mix with their wheat to make it go further. According to the information given in verse six, the market prices were well beyond what anyone could afford. As for why they have been left out of the judgment, no reason is given. Because the olive trees and grapevines are still producing, this famine will affect the poor, but some will survive.
It has happened before. It is with us today. Half the children of the world of preschool age are so undernourished that their physical and mental growth is retarded, and mortality among them is 60 times what it is in more fortunate societies. More than half the world goes to bed hungry. Even the magnificent bounty of the United States cannot stave off forever the mass starvation of the world. Malnutrition stalks the globe. It claims 10,000 lives every day. In the United States we throw into our garbage cans every day enough food to feed a family of six in India. The average American dog has a higher protein diet than most peoples of the world. One
and a half million people are eternally hungry on what Gandhi called “the eternal compulsory fast.”
In many countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East today the poor become poorer and the few rich leaders become richer. The one billion hungry people in the world today, plus the 400,000,000 in danger of starvation, will seem like child’s play compared with the famine to come upon the earth in that day predicted by our Lord. That black day is coming. The day of famine will appear upon the earth. When it does, famine and inflation will play such havoc with the economies of the world that a working man’s daily wage will buy only enough of the poorest food to satisfy his own immediate need. Now we know why this period is called “The Tribulation.”
It has happened before. It is with us today. It will happen again, for this dreaded rider on the black horse is not yet abroad; it is only his shadow we see. But when he comes, he will act as an advocate for starving mankind, whom he will deceive and eventually wipe them out by the million, and will persuade the survivors to listen to the buttered lies of the beast. No wonder Antichrist will eventually be able to control the economy (Revelation 13:17), since he promises to feed the hungry masses. Certainly there will be much hunger, suffering, and death during the time of the riding of the black horse.
So, then, this is a picture of famine set alongside luxury. There is always something radically wrong with a situation in which some have too much and others too little. This is always a sign that the society in which it occurs is hastening to its ruin.