Second Seal: Part 1 of 2 (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Second Seal: the Red Horse and Its Rider

The Book of Revelation
By: Tom Lowe Date: 9-9-15

Lesson: III.B.2: Second Seal: the Red Horse and Its Rider (Revelation 6:3-4)

Revelation 6:3-4 (KJV)

3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.


In this short passage, John records the opening of the second seal; and as the seal was opened, one of the four living beasts summoned a rider on a red horse (“Come and see”). In other words, events take place on earth because of the sovereign direction of God in heaven.

The horse imagery is probably related to the vision described in Zechariah 1:7-17. Horses represent God’s activity on earth, the forces He uses to accomplish His divine purposes. The center of His program is Israel, particularly the city of Jerusalem (Jerusalem is mentioned 39 times in Zechariah). God has a covenant purpose for Israel and that purpose will be fulfilled just as He promised.


3 And when he had opened the second, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

Here we have the second act of John’s vision which he describes in detail. Jesus, the Lamb, breaks the second seal on the scroll, as he had the first; the process was the same. “And when he had opened the second seal,” John said, “I heard the second beast say, ‘Come and see,’” which was like the invitation given to the first rider, who came on a white horse. “And there went out another horse that was red” (blood-red in v. 3), and he was given a special power—“and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. In other words, he was granted the power to remove the peace that is on the earth. Since God is sovereign over all things, it is He who grants the permission. The imagery here is not that this horseman does the butchering, but that he removes peace, and without that peace, humans butcher each other. Next, the apostle says, “And there was given unto him a great sword.” The “great sword” is representative of the machines of war being unleashed on the earth by people left to their own devices without any divine intervention. The Greek word for “sword” here is different from the sharp two-aged sword of Revelation 1:16: “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword . . .” This sword probably would have been about 5 feet long and would have weighed about twenty-five pounds. Strong warriors would swing it while on horseback to kill foot soldiers.

The first paragraph is a summary explanation of verses 3 and 4. However, as always, there is much more to this passage; so, let’s shed more light on John’s vision and his description of what he saw take place in Heaven.

In all seven seals the statement is made “I saw” (or “I beheld”), except the second seal. Here, John says, “I heard.” He does not say he saw it, but that does not mean that he was not an eyewitness. The second beast said to John, “Come and see,” and verse 4 simply states, “There went out another horse that was red.” Instead of the word “behold,” the word “another” is used. The use of the word “another” instead of “I saw” may seem very trivial and unimportant to the average reader; but I believe in THE VERBAL INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE. I believe every word in the Bible is inspired. I do not believe there is one word in it to fill up space, nor do I believe there is one word out of place. Perhaps I am a fool—but I say in the words of the Apostle Paul, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” To me, the reason the words “I saw” and the word “behold” are used in connection with the first seal and omitted in connection with the second seal, is that the seals are opened one after the other, and the white horse and the red horse do not appear at the same moment. The events did not all occur at the same time. The red horse could have appeared 3 ½ years after the white horse.

For me to dogmatically set a period of time in which the rider of the white horse rode with a bow but no arrow, conquering without blood, is impossible. I cannot set a number of weeks or months; but when the white horse had completed his mission, the red horse immediately rode out. The summons from the Speaker was “Come and see,” and when John looked, there was a red horse. Why is the second horse red? you ask. Antichrist’s conquest begins in peace (vs. 1-2), but soon he exchanges the empty bow for a sword. The color red is often associated with terror and death: the red dragon (Revelation 12:3), the red beast (Revelation 17:3). It is a picture of deliberate unprovoked bloodshed. War has been a part of man’s experience since Cain killed Abel, so this image would speak to believers in every age, reminding them that God is ultimately in control, even though He is not responsible for the lawless deeds of men and nations. The white horse denotes peaceful victory. The red horse denotes slaughter and rivers of blood. This rider on the red horse, symbolizes the belligerent policies of the last days. He personifies world war on a scale never before known on earth, war which will make the conflicts of this century seem like scenes in a stiff, awkward play. Ever since Cain murdered Able, man has been escalating war upon this earth; but THE END IS NOT YET.

Again, the rider is not named. However, the pronoun “him” is used, and so, we know the rider is a man, permitted by God to ride the blood-red horse. “To him it was given,” signifying that the man was appointed by God for that specific purpose. God used Pharaoh, and he has used others in like manner, and in this hour of judgment God will appoint men to carry out His program in the last days. It is my belief that the rider on the blood-red horse is none other than the Antichrist. The first horseman could not be Christ, because when He brings peace to the earth, it is going to be permanent. This is a short-lived peace. Immediately after the white horse went forth, here comes the red horse of war on the earth. The peace which the rider on the white horse brought to the earth was temporary and counterfeit. The Antichrist presents himself as a ruler who brings peace to the world, but he cannot guarantee it, for God says, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21). And that verse of scripture certainly has been fulfilled.

This enemy of God’s Christians resembles the real Christ to the extent that he deceives people, perhaps even many who will read this commentary! At first the Antichrist seems to be a man of peace, but “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Keep in mind that the Restrainer, the Holy Spirit, is at that time taken from the earth, so that slaughter is infused into men by satanic power: “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

Someone may be asking, “WHY?” Why does God use this method to end the world? Let me answer in Bible language: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Romans 9:14-23).

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