The White Horse (the first seal), Revelation Chapter 6 Verses 1-2 (NASB)

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     And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and
The Lamb has taken the book, Revelation 5:7, from the One on the THRONE and has opened the first seal.
     I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder,
         "COME."
One of the living creatures said "COME"...it could have been the first one, the one like a lion, because the next three "COMEs" are identified specifically as second through fourth living creatures. On the other hand, from this verse, one cannot say that the order in which the living creatures are described (Revelation 4:7) is the order in which they speak.

However, a definite transition is occurring. The booming, thunderous voice breaks the praise and worship service which has been going on (chapters 4 and 5). Some Bible scholars indicate that the word "COME" could be translated "GO FORTH". This "GO FORTH" would be more appropriate in sending off the four horsemen in the following verses. Incidentally, symbollically, a thunderous voice usually is associated with impending judgment.

Many expositors believe this chapter begins the seven year period known as "The Tribulation". This period has been equated with Daniel 9:24-27's one week; with the time of Jacob's distress, Jeremiah 30:4-9; and with the destruction of the nations who are enemies of God, Isaiah 34:1-8. What we see described as happening on the earth really is initiated in heaven with THE BREAKING OF THE BOOK'S SEALS.

     And I looked, and BEHOLD, a white horse, and
Recall that when BEHOLD is used, John, the author and the one "looking", is seeing something amazing. This implies we are entering a new vision sequence.

This sequence contains four horsemen. This may parallel the vision of chariots drawn by these same colored horses in Zechariah 6:1-8. If so, the implication here is that the whole earth will be affected by these four horsemen. This appears to be the concensus among expositors.

A horse symbolizes a mobile judgment. That is, this judgment may be progressive or continously moving across the earth. If we look at the consequences of the four horsemen, they are progressive hardships like hostilities, famine, weighing of nations (peoples), and wild beast attacks. Contrast this with "instantaneous" events such as lightning and earthquakes etc.

  • he who sat on it had a BOW; and
  • a CROWN was given to him; and
  • he went out conquering; and to conquer.
This has been interpreted two different ways. The rider on the white horse is Christ, or the rider is Satan (using deception). Let's look at each view in turn.

Christ is the rider.
This is the same rider seen in Revelation 19:11,19. He is armed with a bow only (no arrows). This fulfills prophecy given in Habakkuk 3:9. Furthermore, crowns normally are given to victors or overcomers. Remember that in the last church, Laodicea. the overcomers were granted the right to sit down in victory on His throne, Revelation 3:21.

This view also holds that the terrible things which are to happen to this earth are preceded and ended with the white horse rider. This fits with "the Alpha and Omega" concept - Revelation 22:13.

The devil (deceiver) is the rider.
Holders of this view believe this horseman along with the other three are just instruments of judgments. In this view, the bow (without arrows) would just be a deterrant like nuclear force or star wars or some such. It is not used often but threatened. This is how "conquering; and to conquer" could be interpreted. The BOW could be that held by Gog (Russia???) as prophesied in Ezekiel 39:1-6, and this bow is knocked from the left hand (at some later time?).

The crown may just indicate political authority.

The "conquering; and to conquer" may be interpreted as the deception of the church - Matthew 24:5 and Matthew 24:24. If this view is valid, this would indicate that the devil has conquered some churches (congregations) without firing a shot (no arrows, remember). How sad to see a defeated group of "believers" who just want to live in peace with an unbelieving world!

This is a continuous conflict, even in the Revelation; see Revelation 12:17.

The only problem with this view is that it does not make sense to have the four living creatures calling forth these four horsemen if they are the devil and/or his cohorts. Angelic beings are created to worship and praise God; not given to call out or cause evil deception. Even the two beasts in Revelation 13 only have diadems written on horns and no crowns are indicated for them.

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only.