What Does Apocalypse Mean?
The word apocalypse means a prophetic warning or disclosure or a revelation (a revealing) of a coming event of great importance. The Greek word for apocalypse is “apocálypsis” and means an “uncovering.” It is like lifting a curtain or a veil so that something that was previously unknown or unseen is now seen and has been revealed for all to see. The word is closely related to the Book of Revelation or the “Apocalypsis.” The Book of Revelation is not a revelation from the Apostle John. He only wrote it but it is actually “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John” (Rev 1:1). This is the book that contains the so-called Four Horsemen.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are mentioned in the Bible in chapter six of the Book of Revelation, which predicts that they will ride during the Apocalypse.
The four horsemen are traditionally named War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. However, the Bible actually only names one: Death. An alternate interpretation, likely based on differing translations, holds the first Horseman to represent War and/or the Antichrist, the second to represent Pestilence (sometimes called Plague), while the third and fourth riders remain Famine and Death, respectively.
What is described by the seals is similar to the signs of the end of the age as described by Jesus in Matthew 24. There will be wars, famines and earthquakes (Mat 24:6-8), persecution (24:9-14), the heavenly bodies are shaken (Mat 24:29) and 'at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn' (Mat 24:30).
The first Horseman is the rider of a white horse, carries a bow, and wears a crown. He is described as a conqueror. For this reason, he is sometimes interpreted as the Antichrist or as a false world leader. This Horseman is also sometimes called Pestilence.
The second Horseman is astride a red horse and carries a sword. He is associated with war and slaughter, and the Bible attributes to him the power to take away peace and to make men kill each other.
The third Horseman rides a black horse and carries scales. This Horseman, popularly called Famine, is thought to represent not only scarcity of food, but also the strict rationing or unfair allocation of goods and the exploitation of the poor.
The last of the Four Horsemen, Death, rides a "pale horse" of a sickly hue and is followed by Hades, or Hell.
The nature of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is hotly debated by theologians and Christians, but they are almost universally fascinating, regardless or perhaps because of their mystery. They were popular subjects for art during the medieval period and the Renaissance, and references to them continue to crop up in popular culture in our own day and age. Whether or not Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death are the correct interpretations of the Biblical Four Horsemen -- which will likely remain in debate for the foreseeable future -- it is safe to assume that that is what they represent in a cultural or literary context.
In many opinions The book of Revelation in the Bible is real and does not need one to read the hidden truths. When it says Jesus Christ is coming back again it means Jesus Christ is coming back again. When it says the Horsemen it means exactly that.
Since Christ is the One opening these seals and revealing what will happen in this world prior to His return, is there anywhere else in the Bible that He discloses these events? In fact, He did so shortly before His death in a section known as the Olivet Prophecy (given on the Mount of Olives), recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (chapter 24), Mark (chapter 13) and Luke (chapter 21) Seeing what Christ said in this prophecy helps us identify what each of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse represents.
In Matthew 24:3 Christ’s disciples asked, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” In the comparison chart below, notice how Christ’s answer lines up exactly with what He gave years later in the book of Revelation through the apostle John.
Notice the enormous effect of these first four seals (horsemen) in Revelation 6:8: “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.” This indicates that the first four seals will ultimately result in a death toll of one-fourth the earth’s population. This summary statement also adds something else that will contribute to the death toll—beasts of the earth, which kill as carriers of pestilence and as ravenous predators.
The ride of the fifth horseman
However, the fifth horseman of Revelation, Jesus Christ, rides not with famine, pestilence or a false gospel like the earlier riders. His ride is not the fifth seal of Revelation 6. Instead He is the returning King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Christ rides onto the world stage at the moment of earth’s greatest crisis—and “makes war.” But it will truly be the war to end wars.
The first four seals are clearly already open in our day now, and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse have been riding through the years, taking their toll on populations. But many other prophecies in the Bible show that their destruction will multiply greatly as the next seal—the fifth seal or Great Tribulation—is about to open. Christ reveals that this world is about to undergo great devastation due to the rebellion of humanity against our Creator.
May God Help us All.
Written By Jennifer L. Auld