This article concludes our study of
the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In Parts 1, 2, and 3, we examined the
riders of the white horse, red horse, and black horse. We will now study the
fourth and final of these infamous horsemen, the rider on the pale green
This rider and his horse appear in
verses 7 and 8:
"And when the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the
fourth living being say, ‘Come!' And I looked up and saw a horse whose color
was pale green like a corpse. And Death was the name of its rider, who was
followed around by the grave. They were given authority over one-fourth of
the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals"
(Revelation 6:7-8, NLT).
What does the symbolic language of this
verse tell us about this rider? We can identify several points:
1) He rides a pale green horse. The
color pale green is a symbol of death. In fact, this verse compares the
color of the horse to that of "a corpse," and later, it informs us that this
horse and its rider will be responsible for the death of one-fourth of the
2) His name is Death. Death indicates
not just physical decomposition, but spiritual death as well. Christ
defeated death with His resurrection, opening the door for all who believe
in Him to follow. However, death still haunts those who refuse the
free gift of
the Lamb of God. Following the millennial kingdom, death and Hades will be
thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14), never to plague mankind
3) He is followed around by the grave.
The original Greek word for "grave," as used here, is
Hades. Hades is the place where unbelievers go following death.
While believers are made righteous by the blood of Christ, unbelievers have
no intermediary, and they will be judged according to their deeds at the
Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). The fact that one-fourth
of the earth's population could perish without a believer among them tells
us that this event must
take place soon after the Rapture of the church. It seems to indicate that
the world will not be heavily populated with believers, and we know from
Revelation 7:9 that the Tribulation saints will be a multitude too great to
4) He and Hades are given authority
over one-fourth of the earth. One-fourth of the earth's population will die
as a result of the actions of the rider on this fourth horse.
5) He kills with the sword, famine,
disease, and wild animals. The method by which he kills includes deadly
force, starvation, disease, and wild animals. Wild animals, or "beasts of
the earth," might possibly foreshadow a rebellion by animals against humans.
However, it's much more likely that this is a reference to human
governments. The books of Daniel and Revelation refer to world empires as
"beasts." And they both specifically refer to the revived Roman Empire as a
The Antichrist's Rise to Power
It is my belief that the four horsemen
in Revelation 6 represent the Antichrist and the initial phases of his rise
to power. In the first three parts of this series, I speculated that the
first three horsemen might be references to the Antichrist and his use of
molecular manufacturing (MM). The white horse represents an attempt to
conquer the world without using deadly force, while the red horse represents
the deadly world war that follows. The black horse represents the economic
tribulation resulting from that war as well as the existence of molecular
manufacturing itself. If these interpretations are accurate, how do the
actions of the rider on the pale green horse align with this scenario? Does
the fourth horse bring further death and destruction, or is this a mere
reiteration of the previously mentioned global war?
In all likelihood, the pale green horse
represents further bloodshed. Let's summarize what has happened so far in
our speculative scenario:
The development of molecular
manufacturing has led the Antichrist to attempt a bloodless, worldwide coup
in order to prevent the unprecedented destruction of an MM-enabled arms
race. Nevertheless, other developing molecular manufacturing powers
challenge him, plunging the world into a horrifying and bloody war. The
Antichrist emerges from this war victorious, but the war and molecular
manufacturing have left the world economy in ruins. The crippling of
international trade and numerous capital markets has led to a scarcity of
food. The resulting inflation is so high that an entire day's wage will
barely purchase enough food to survive.
In the aftermath of these horrible
events, the worst is yet to come. One-fourth of the world's population will
soon be killed.
Following this destructive global
conflict, the Antichrist will attempt to reestablish order, peace, and
security to the world. Enforcement of the peace will be a primary concern of
a global regime. The world will be an infinitely more dangerous place, where
a lone hobbyist will be capable of building weapons far more powerful than
the nuclear bombs of the Industrial Age. The prospect of another MM-enabled
conflict will so horrify the world that it will enact draconian measures to
A system of safeguards will have to be
constructed in order to prevent emerging nation-states, terrorist groups,
and individuals from breaching the peace. A single global government will go
a long way toward mitigating military conflict, as there will only be one
military power with a unified purpose. However, in the age of molecular
manufacturing, competing militaries could rise quickly, and to prevent a
loss of its governing monopoly, this global government will have to deploy
the best intelligence-gathering methods of the era.
MM will offer almost unlimited
possibilities for twenty-four-hour surveillance of the global population.
Such surveillance could be godlike in its implementation--seeing everything,
hearing everything, and knowing everything. Imagine "nanodust"--nanoscale
cameras and listening devices as plentiful and as difficult to remove as
common, everyday dust. MM will enable the manufacture of such sophisticated
devices in the trillions, and at a negligible cost. Outfitted with advanced
artificial intelligence (AI) software, these devices could sift through
continuous video and audio feeds, searching for predetermined patterns that
indicate what the state believes to be "aberrant" behavior. This isn't hard
to imagine. The United States National Security Agency already monitors
phone calls and emails in this manner. This application can simply be
extended on a wider scale that encompasses all speech and actions on the
earth. Although this may prevent acts of terrorism and preserve the peace,
it is not a desirable outcome. History teaches us that such power, even in a
system of checks and balances, will eventually lead to abuse.
The Center for Responsible
Nanotechnology (CRN) has identified this as one of its "Dangers of Molecular
"Surveillance is only one possible kind of abuse.
With the ability to build billions of devices, each with millions of parts,
for a total cost of a few dollars, any automated technology that can be
applied to one person can be applied to everyone. Any scenario of physical
or psychiatric control that explores the limits of nanotechnology will sound
science-fictional and implausible. The point is not the plausibility of any
given scenario; it is that the range of possibilities is limited mainly by
the imagination and cruelty of those with power. Greed and power are strong
motivators for abusive levels of control; the fear of nanotech and other
advanced technologies in private hands adds an additional impetus for
This fear that advanced nanotechnology
and molecular manufacturing could be abused by the state has its roots in
some of the earliest examinations of this technology and its implications.
The man widely credited with coining the term "nanotechnology," Dr. K. Eric
Drexler, drew a similar conclusion. In "Engines of Destruction," chapter 11
of his landmark book, Engines of
Creation, he states the following:
"A bomb can only blast things, but nanomachines and
AI systems could be used to infiltrate, seize, change, and govern a
territory or a world. Even the most ruthless police have no use for nuclear
weapons, but they do have use for bugs, drugs, assassins, and other flexible
engines of power. With advanced technology, states will be able to
consolidate their power over people."
The twentieth century vividly
illustrated mankind's capacity for mass murder and destruction. Although the
sin that drives these evils has been around since the Garden of Eden,
advancing technology harbors the ability to amplify our destructive nature.
The genocide of Hitler and Stalin, on such a mass scale, would have been
impossible prior to the Industrial Age. Technology aided in their systematic
elimination of entire groups of people. Once molecular manufacturing is
fully functional, yet another constraint will be lifted from our evil
nature: People will no longer be needed. In the Holocaust, some Jews were
temporarily spared due to their ability to perform manual labor, a task the
state needed. In the age of molecular manufacturing, the state will have no
need for manual labor, opening the door to a horrendous possibility. In the
same chapter of Engines of Creation, Dr. Drexler addresses this concern:
"But with advanced technology, states need not
control people—they could instead simply discard people. Most people in most
states, after all, function either as workers, larval workers, or
worker-rearers, and most of these workers make, move, or grow things. A
state with replicating assemblers would not need such work. What is more,
advanced AI systems could replace engineers, scientists, administrators, and
even leaders. The combination of nanotechnology and advanced AI will make
possible intelligent, effective robots; with such robots, a state could
prosper while discarding anyone, or even (in principle) everyone."
A few paragraphs later, Drexler further
elaborates on this dystopian future:
"States have needed people as workers because human
labor has been the necessary foundation of power. What is more, genocide has
been expensive and troublesome to organize and execute. Yet, in this century
totalitarian states have slaughtered their citizens by the millions.
Advanced technology will make workers unnecessary and genocide easy. History
suggests that totalitarian states may then eliminate people wholesale. There
is some consolation in this. It seems likely that a state willing and able
to enslave us biologically would instead simply kill us."
Unfortunately, this is the future the
Bible tells us the human race will experience. A global government will
exercise complete power "over every tribe and people and language and
nation" (Revelation 13:7). This control will be amplified by a governmental
system that can determine who is able to buy or sell. In an era of molecular
manufacturing, it will be impossible to prevent counterfeiting. All the
financial transactions in the world will have to make the final leap toward
electronic banking, giving an all-knowing government final authority over
the transactions of its citizens. The Bible tells us that the Antichrist
will exploit this power by requiring that all who buy and sell be branded
with a mark signifying their allegiance to both him and his global
"He required everyone—great and small, rich and poor,
slave and free—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And
no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the
name of the beast or the number representing his name" (Revelation 13:16-17,
Those who do not submit to this new
world order and worship the Antichrist and his government will be unable to
purchase food, housing, and the necessities of life. Eventually, this
persecution will evolve into outright murder:
"And the beast was allowed to wage war against God's
holy people and to overcome them" (Revelation 13:7, NLT).
We also learn that anyone refusing to
worship the beast must die (Revelation 13:15).
These will be terrifying times for
those who live in the world, but those who endure these events can escape
unscathed. By accepting the blood of Christ as payment for their sins, they
can renounce the things of this world and enter into an eternal life of
glory with Jesus Himself. Our Lord makes this promise to everyone who
acknowledges Him before men:
"Remain faithful even when facing death, and I will
give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10, NLT).
The crown of life is reserved for all
who have been persecuted for loving Christ, and an entire multitude from
this generation will experience this wonderful gift for all eternity.
When examining the characteristics of
the four horsemen of Revelation 6, it seems quite probable they foreshadow
the development of molecular manufacturing, a revolutionary technology that
could be developed within the next three to five years, and almost certainly
will be developed by the year 2020.
Nevertheless, we shouldn't worry over
such things. Only those who love this world more than God should be
terrified by the prospect of these events. Those who love Christ should be
at peace in their hearts and rest assured, for the outcome of these
events--horrifying as they may be--has been predetermined from the
beginning: Christ will be victorious.
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace
in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart,
because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NLT).
Britt Gillette is founder of
BrittGillette.Com, a website examining the relationship between Bible
prophecy and emerging trends in technology. For more information or to sign
up for his email alerts, please visit http://www.brittgillette.com.