The Ashen Horse (the fourth seal), Revelation Chapter 6 Verses 7 and 8 (NASB)


     And when He broke the fourth seal,
As each of these seals are broken, more of the righteous judgment of God is revealed. This is what Paul was refering to in Romans 2:5. That the seals must be broken, there is no question. God is totally HOLY and RIGHTEOUS. Anything UNHOLY must be purged. The breaking of the fourth seal is part of the purging process.
     I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come."
If the fourth living creature is the same as the fourth living creature described in Revelation 4:7, then this judgment will be brought about swiftly as an eagle swoops down and brings quick death to its prey. However, there may be some mercy in this, in that, death probably is preferred over lingering in war and famine.
     And I looked, and BEHOLD, an ashen (pale green) horse;
An interesting contrast between healthy green (LIFE) and deathly green.
     and he who sat on it had the name DEATH;
The wages in Romans 6:23 are being paid by this horseman.
     and HADES was following with him.
It is not clear what HADES is. If DEATH is personified, then HADES is something ... like another horseman, dog etc. What can be said is that to a human, DEATH is a very personal thing. It happens (or will happen if we aren't gathered up, 1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Clearly, however, this is a judgment against unbelievers since HADES is right there to clean up after DEATH. All this is under the control of the One who broke the seal, Revelation 1:18 and Matthew 10:28.

     and AUTHORITY was given to them 
      (DEATH and HADES) over a FOURTH of the earth,
This includes everything ... living things, people, plants, animals as well as natural resources, the sea, the atmosphere. This is only one judgment but a quarter of the earth is affected. Those remaining have more to look forward to.
     to KILL
  1. with SWORD and
  2. See the second horseman, Revelation 6:4. We may call it violent crimes. Recall "PEACE" has been removed by the second horseman, so anything goes.

  3. with famine and
  4. See the third horseman, Revelation 6:5. All living things suffer and/or die during a famine.

  5. with pestilance and
  6. In the Greek, the word is "thanatos" which is the same as the riders name; so this is better translated death. With the current world population exceeding 5 billion, over 1 billion people will die from all causes of death.

  7. by the wild beasts of the earth.
  8. Not clear if real animals will multiply rapidly to cause such death ... the scavengers will be busy! Note: the same Greek term "theerion" is used 38 additional times in the Revelation and often is translated as "an ungodly, powerful evil leader". This may indicate that political or military leaders may kill for food for their troops or leaders. This should be fair warning for us ordinary folk!
When this judgment takes place, not even a few righteous men like Noah, Daniel, and Job can stop it. See Ezekiel 14:12-23, Jeremiah 15:1-9, and Exodus 9:13-15.
"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.