Revelation Chapter 6: 5-8
“When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see.’ So, I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’ When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” – Revelation 6: 5-8
Last week we began the look at the opening of the Seals. These seven seals, when opened, moved the judgment on the earth forward. For the most part, what we see here is man’s doing.
Yes, God is superintending everything that happens; we must never forget that. God oversees all that happens in our lives today. He does not cause evil or sin to happen, but He gauges the effects of these in our lives. I am certain that God protects us from our sinfulness way more than we can see. Many, if not all of us, can think of situations where we have made decisions by which we should be dead or at best seriously injured, but we survived unscathed. God, in His wonderful grace oversees every moment of our lives.
In our own life, my wife and I drive more than 70,000 kms per year on highways and bi-ways. We have driven from Ontario to Florida multiple times in snow, rain and storms; we have driven tired and irritated; we have run over stuff and had close calls, but in all these years God has preserved us both from ourselves and others. I drive about 160 kms back and forth to work each day, and God allows me to get home each day. I have seen some serious wrecks; but by the grace and kindness of God, none have involved me or come close to me. God is no less of an overseer in the things of the end times.
At the onset, man tries, as we mentioned last week, to create this utopia without the God of Heaven, a utopia without the Lord Jesus. And no sooner than it is set, the pieces begin to crumble. Sinful, evil man cannot maintain utopia for even a few years. The nature of men and women is evil to the very core; and left unchecked by the Holy Spirit, it will result in evil flowing over and acting out. We saw this in the second seal; murder and mayhem takes away the very temporary peace that exists after the rapture. From the leaders down to common man, murder is rampant and death lurks everywhere.
We are going to get to two other seals today, and at the end I will address a very serious issue in the Lord’s churches today – one that is scary and downright heartbreaking. I pray that you will bear with me through it all. We are going to get a bit dirty today; and by the grace and kindness of God, some of the things we discuss will be painful to some, eye-opening to some, sad to some, convicting to some, and maybe even angering to some. What I do not want is for you to be blasé about the truth; any kind of reaction can be pointed in the right direction, but no reaction is scary. First the seals:
Scarcity of Food, Revelation 6:5-6
I cannot imagine this in my mind. I have never known a time in my life where there was a lack of food. Sadly, I am overweight and need a bit of food scarcity. In Barbados where I grew up, there was food everywhere; it was and is a huge part of our culture. I went to many family dinners and birthday parties where the food was excellent. I was blessed to have a grandmother who made me a home-cooked meal every day for lunch when I was in school. Man, she could cook!
My mom was also a very good cook, and I grew up surrounded by wild fruit trees. We ate mangoes and oranges, and we could get sugar cane in season for free. As an island we were surrounded by the ocean, and fish was plentiful, so food was never an issue. I moved to North America; and in the 36 years I have been here, I have not known any shortage of food.
But not long into the Tribulation there will be a serious hit on the food supply. We are not told why there is a shortage, only that there is one. It is bad.
In our time, we can see the issues that are happening in Venezuela; they are enduring a serious shortage of food with the influx of socialism on the country. As mentioned before, I grew up in Barbados, not far from Venezuela. They were a very rich South American nation, and they often sent their children to Barbados to learn English. But socialism killed them, and their people are starving.
I do not know if socialism will be the cause of this Tribulation food shortage. Maybe the cause is hoarding by the Federal governments of the world. Maybe a lot of farmers are Christians; and in the aftereffects of the rapture, there is no one to produce food. We can go on and on. The fact of the matter is that there is a serious shortage. As with all shortages, the prices of the basics of life skyrocket. We are told in verse 6 that the price of a day’s provision of bread for ONE person is a denarius. A denarius is a day’s wage in the New Testament. In Matthew 20:1-2 we are shown this:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the workers on one denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.”
Today, the minimum wage here in Ontario is $14 per hour. A full-time worker is paid for 7.5 hrs. per day; the daily wage is $105 per day. Can you imagine paying over $100 for enough bread to feed one person, not a family?
The quart of wheat was the higher grade of wheat to make food, and a quart was enough to feed a man for a day. In Lamentations 4: 4, “The nursing infant’s tongue clings to the roof of his mouth from thirst. Little children beg for bread, but no one gives them any.”
It is a sad commentary on what life will be like in this time that we are talking about in Revelation 6:6. I have a young daughter; she comes to me and complains of hunger, and I get her some food. I cannot imagine having to hear her cry and not being able to get her anything. Now if one needs to feed a family, one can get the lower grade of food; three quarts of barley is enough to feed a family. One commentary points out that barley, at the time, was most commonly used to feed the animals. But as a good man or good father, you will do what you have to do to provide; and so barley it is.
Remember that all of your wages are used each day just to provide food. There will not be any leftovers, no extras; this is all you get, enough for the day. There is no money for housing, cell phones, cars, gasoline and the other things that we take for granted in life. No cars and no gasoline mean no jobs for many people.
I live 50 miles from my work, as does my wife. No money, no cars, no work. Many people will not even have money for a day’s supply of food, furthermore getting to work. The utopia that was created in the wake of the rapture is for all intents and purposes defunct. What kind of utopia has starving people? The answer is a manmade one.
In the last phrase of Revelation 6:6, it says “do not touch the oil and wine.”
Often, we are reminded that these are the foods of the rich; and this may be that the rich will not have the same kind of food shortages that the common man will have. Movies like “The Hunger Games” relay for us a general idea of what the world will look like, maybe not the games to the death. But the class structure – the haves and the have- nots – will be very separate. The socialist elites will always have lots of money and resources.
But one commentary pointed out that oil was used often in cooking; and wine at the time was used as a purifier for water. Oil and wine would have been essential needs for any family for cooking and maybe even for drinking to keep healthy. I was listening to a pastor from upstate New York talk last night on the radio, and they are under a ‘boil water’ rule because of widespread flooding that is draining the sewage into the lake that they get water from.
Things are going to be very, very bad for the people on earth – no food, no work, no clean water, no money, and very little in terms of joy.
The Power of Death, Revelation 6:7-8
I have buried a few people in my life – my dad, a brother, a grandmother, a grandfather, and countless people as a pastor. I have buried a stillborn child who was past the 24 weeks, and I have done funerals for the very old. Death still has a stigma; it is a stigma that is only tempered by the hope that we have in Jesus.
The apostle Paul, a man who saw himself and his fellow apostles and companions murdered by the Roman government, reminded us that we do not need to mourn as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We have a hope in Jesus that softens the pain of death. It is still hard to bury loved ones, but it is easier when we have a confidence in Jesus of the resurrection.
The people in the Tribulation will not have any hope at all. In these very early stages of the Tribulation that we are exploring, there is little to no comfort from the destruction that is happening. We see a rider come out, and he is riding a Pale horse. The Greek word from which we get Pale is chlorophyll. It denotes the pale ashen look of a decomposing body. This horseman has the power to kill. We are told in Revelation 6:8 that he will have the power to kill a fourth of the world, 25%. That is a lot of death.
According to the UN Foundation Blog, 151,600 people die each day. That is 54,576,000 persons each year. We think that is a lot; but in light of what is going to happen in the Tribulation, this is just a drop in the bucket. The Pale rider will be given permission by God to take the lives of 25% of the earth’s population.
According to “Population Matters” website, the current world population is 7.41 billion people. Let us be conservative and say that 2 billion are raptured. That would leave 5.41 billion, so the Pale horse’s rider will have the power to kill 1.35 billion people in a very short time. It would take us 18.5 years to reach 1 billion dead at the current death rate. The rider will kill this many in a matter of less than 3.5 years. This number does not account for those murdered or starving to death at the same time.
Notice that he has many tools at his disposal. He kills with hunger, the sword, with death and with wild animals. Right now, only one of the wild animals that do not have a natural fear of humans is Polar Bears. I learned that a week or so ago watching one of the National Geographic shows. But in this time, one of the tools of the man on the Pale horse will be wild animals. Maybe even domesticated animals will turn on their owners and kill them.
I cannot imagine the carnage on the earth. There is no way that the people can keep up with the death rate; there will be dead bodies everywhere. Homes, schools and streets will be littered with the dead. The stench of death will be everywhere. This is what happens when you reject Jesus. The stench of death will be everywhere—the rich and the poor will fall prey to this power. This is what happens when the restraining power of the Holy Spirit leaves and man is left on his own to fend for himself without the protection of God.
The Protection of the Lord’s Churches
I want to end today with a bit of good and some bad. Right now, you and I, people in the Lord’s churches who are saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, are a saving force on the earth. In us, the world has great protections that they do not even know that they have. Because we are still here, the Lord tempers His wrath on sin as we, the redeemed, live on earth.
Just this week, I was reading about Lot in Genesis 19:15-23. The angels that were sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah could not do so until Lot was gone, and they did not destroy Zoar because Lot sought shelter there. God’s people are a protection to this world that they are not even aware of. They hate us and despise us, but we are the only reason that chaos does not reign supreme on the earth. However, that will change one day.
This morning I was listening to a preacher who was talking about a burden he had for the Lord’s churches – a fear really more than a burden – and that fear was that many of the Lord’s churches were filled with unsaved persons who were faithful church attendees. People who, as we are reminded in Matthew 7:21-23, think they are saved will come to Jesus and be astonished that they are refused entrance into Heaven. This is a sobering scripture. It is a scary scripture.
I have to go back often to the stadium in Barbados where one night 38 years ago I asked Jesus to be my Savior. Even now, I remember to greet Him and praise Him each day for his goodness and mercy. Jesus says that only those that do the will of His father are His. We are called to be FOLLOWERS of Jesus; the word is “imitators” of Jesus. We should have an honest desire to be like Jesus, to follow Him. We should love His Holy Word.
I strive to read through the Bible cover to cover as often as I can. We should be open and willing to share the Gospel with all who will listen, hand out a tract or do something to point others to Jesus. We should need prayer and desire to speak to the Lord often. We should seek to be obedient to the Lord. I learned this week that, when the word honour is used in the New Testament, that most often it is the root word for OBEY. You and I as saved people should have a desire to obey Jesus and His word. Obedience is the highest form of worship.
Look, we will not be sinless. Abraham; Isaac; Jacob; Job and, into the New Testament, all the apostles were not sinless men. Peter denied Jesus face to face; later in his ministry, he and Paul disputed over favoritism with the Jews versus the Gentiles. David and Samson were sinful men, and yet God calls them His servants in Hebrews 11:32. We should hate the sin in us, and we should be in constant confession to the Lord (1 John 1:8-9).
Jesus is our perfection; He is our sinless substitute; He took our place on the cross. But a lot of people have prayed the sinner’s prayer, yet have never been truly regenerated in and by Jesus. They appear to be alive, but they are dead. Church has become a habit with no more power than brushing their teeth.
Peter warns us to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Be sure that you are saved. Too late is coming very soon.
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”