The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 43

War and Famine

Revelation 6:3.    And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

     As the white horse receded from John’s field of vision, riding forth to conquer the world with His great bow, John looked again at the Lamb in the midst of the heavenly throne.  The rider on the white horse had been a vision, representing the Lamb’s control of the judgments that were about to break forth on the earth.  Indeed, this first horseman and the Lamb both represented none other than John’s beloved Lord, the one who as Lamb of God took away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and who as the great Rider on the white horse was now riding forth to purge away the sinners of the world.

     And then, when the Lamb broke the second seal on the title deed to the world, the second great cherub – the one appearing first to John like a calf, or an ox – spoke with a voice like thunder, and the second horseman prepared to ride.

Revelation 6:4.    And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

     There had been a time of peace on the earth, but it was brief and illusory.  The second rider, this one on the blood-red horse, was commissioned by the Lamb to take away their peace.  “Wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) again broke out, as nation rose against nation and men again undertook to “kill one another.”

     It is an amazing thing that men, created in the image of God, should become so blinded with hate or lust or ambition or envy that they should seek to destroy the precious lives of others.  Yet the very first man born in the world slew his brother, and men have followed in the way of Cain ever since.  Not only the barbarians of Genghis Khan, but the sophisticated butchers of Nazi Germany and Red China and Stalinist Russia in the enlightened twentieth century have murdered millions.  The genocides in Cambodia and Viet Nam and in various African nations continued the same pattern.

     Men have longed for peace.  There have been peace treaties, disarmament conferences, leagues of nations, peace prizes, demonstrations for peace – all seeking somehow to bring in lasting world peace.  But all had failed.

     Then, with the sudden disintegration of Russia and its Moslem allies, there had been a tremendous surge of optimism and the world anticipated a long period of peace and prosperity.  The troublesome Christians had also disappeared, and there was nothing to restrain full enjoyment of all the pleasures and indulgences of the sinful hearts of mankind.

     But it could not last.  In spite of themselves, men soon were fighting each other again.  This was true not only in terms of actual wars between countries.  Racial strife increased, as did labor troubles.  Civil wars erupted within nations, and organized crime was rampant.  Individual feuds generated waves of murders, and soon a state almost of anarchy prevailed.  Police forces and armies were of little avail as they also were engaged in strife internal and external.  Nothing seemed to help and men began to fight almost in spite of themselves.  God had sent “strong delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2:11) and the Red Horseman had taken peace from the earth, his great sword, invisibly but lethally, plunging into its heart.

Revelation 6:5.    And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see.  And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

     The first horseman carried a great bow, the second a great sword.  The third held merely a pair of balances, but this also symbolized a great weapon.  The balances depict trade and commerce, the determination of price equivalents for goods.  The power of commerce, to generate prosperity or calamity, inflation or depression, opulence or starvation, has been understood and manipulated by politicians and merchants and bankers for thousands of years, beginning back in ancient Babylon.  The Sumerian tablets, probably the oldest of all known archaeological artifacts, reveal mercantile and commercial practices quite similar to those of today.

     There is a remarkable prophecy in Zechariah apparently dealing with this same theme.  In his vision, Zechariah saw an “ephah” going forth through all the earth, finally being carried to “the land of Shinar” (Zechariah 5:5-11). The ephah was the standard measure for wheat and other commodities, roughly equivalent to a bushel.  An actual balance had been outfitted, with a container designed to hold an ephah attached to the balance.  Zechariah saw a woman sitting in the ephah, however, with a talent of lead (that is, a circular lead weight) covering the mouth.  One woman was in the ephah, with two winged women bearing it back to Sumer (same as “Shinar”) where the whole system of worldly wealth and commerce was first developed and whence it had spread throughout the earth.  “This is wickedness,” and the angel (Zechariah 5:8), and it was being transported back to Babylon “to build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base” (Zechariah 5:11).  The great Babylonian harlot is seen again in Revelation 17 and 18, where apparently this system of wickedness has indeed been set again upon its original base, where she will once again control and manipulate world wealth and commerce.

     Babylon is now largely in ruins, but it is quite near to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.  Iraq is today the center of tremendous oil reserves and has profited even more than Iran and Saudi Arabia from her great underground wealth.  For years water control projects have been harnessing the waters of the great Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flowing through Iraq, and from time to time there has been talk of someday building a new Babylon.

     Babylon would be ideally situated to serve as a world trade and communications center and indeed even as a world capital.  An Institute for Creation Research computer study some years ago demonstrated that this region is very close to the geographical center of all the world’s land areas.  In view of the clear indication that Babylon may indeed be the actual capital of the world empire of the Beast in the last days (see comments on Revelation 17 and 18), it may well be that the decision to rebuild Babylon (first as a trade center, later to become the capital) could be made at about the same time the decision is made to rebuild Jerusalem’s temple.  By that time, the economic influence of the American nations (already much in decline) may be much less significant than during the past century.  With the defeat of Russia and the increasing importance of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, it may well be that the world’s industrial leaders and international bankers will decide that an internationalized capital of commerce should be established in an ultra-modern new metropolis arising out of the ruins of earth’s first metropolis.  Possibly even the United Nations Organization will decide to move from the so-called “Babylon-on-the-Hudson” to the primal Babylon on the Euphrates.

     Wherever they are centered, these international capitalists will begin to use the new period of peace as an opportunity to gain full control of the great oil resources of the world as well as its food resources and its money supply.  The Black Horseman, however, will thwart their plans in considerable measure, as a worldwide famine suddenly strikes the world.

     This is the period during which God’s two Witnesses call for a worldwide three and a half-year drought (see comments on Revelation 11:3-6).  Tremendous famines, then shortages and hunger, quickly follow.

Revelation 6:6.    And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

     This is an amazing revelation.  The voice speaking out of the midst of the four living ones can hardly be other than God Himself, specifying commodity prices.  Evidently the voice is directed to the Black Horseman, and perhaps also the various angels who control the winds and rains and other natural agents influencing agricultural growth, to instruct them as to precisely how severe the famine is to become.

     The “measure” is the Greek koinex, about 1 ½ pints, and the “penny” is the denarius, a coin which was a day’s wage of a laborer.  This price represents severe conditions of shortage, conditions which will allow wage earners barely to survive.  If they are unemployed, or if they have a family, some probably will not survive, without using their savings or being fed by government dole.

     The instruction not to hurt the oil and wine is grimly sarcastic.  Oil and wine represent luxuries rather than necessities such as wheat and barley.  Normally these are expensive, mostly indulgences of the rich.  They will at that time be available in ample supply despite the shortages of basic foodstuffs.  The demand for luxuries normally drops in times of inflated prices for necessities.

     It is barely possible that the “oil,” instead of referring to olive oil, as it normally does, could refer to petroleum, which was unknown in New Testament days but is extremely important to the modern world.  It could be still more important to the future world empire of the coming Antichrist.  Wine has been the world’s great intoxicating beverage for thousands of years, although it may in this context represent all intoxicating beverages.  Thus, it may be that God’s instruction here is to preserve the world’s fuels and intoxicants.  This would allow men to indulge their sinful appetites to the fullest, even while suffering from shortages of necessary food, to demonstrate the justice of their coming condemnation.

     In either case, the overriding characteristic of the world after the third seal is broken is one of violence and near anarchy, along with severe famine and food shortage.

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