I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder,“Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. – Revelation 6 (NIV)
In my precious blog I explained how the book of Revelation is more like an expanded form of the prophecy found in Matthew 24 but in more prophetic language. This chapter in particular gives a rundown of how the judgment would take place.
The first four seals the lamb opens are the four horsemen, and each is released from heaven to usher in various judgments on the land translated as earth. Strong’s defines the Greek word the (ge) means contracted from a primary word; soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application):–country, earth(-ly), ground, land, world.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon also defines it “a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory, region”
Now we will examine the second rider and its horse.
Now it will be worthy to note that in Matthew 24 that Jesus also gives a sequence with regards to fulfillment of those events that shaped the end of the old covenant age.
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. (Matthew 24 NKJV)
It is of no surprise that after the first rider, the next rider comes with a sword to take away peace. Wars and rumors of wars confirm the sequence of events.
The word “nation” here is the Greek word ethnos, which means, a race.
Did the disciples see nation rising against nation? Yes! Josephus writes that , “At Caesarea in AD 59 the Jews and Syrians contended about the right to the city, and twenty thousand Jews were slain.” At Scythopolis, over 13,000 Jews were killed.
Thousands were killed in other places, and at Alexandria 50,000 were killed. At Damascus, 10,000 were killed in an hour’s time. Jesus is speaking about the conflicts between Gentiles and Jews, which began to take place shortly after this time, and continued to the beginning of the great Jewish war with the Romans.
It is remarkable how these events fit into the timeframe that Jesus and how largely in the church many are unaware of them.
According to historical records, in the fall/winter of 67 AD a brutal civil war broke out in Jerusalem and Judea between the revolutionaries and those who wanted to maintain peace with Rome. Jerusalem was eventually divided into three factions led by  Eleazar, the leader of the Zealots  John of Gischala, who was over the Galileans, and  Simon, who was over the Idumeans. It remained this way until the city and temple was destroyed.
The Jewish people lived under terrible conditions. In one night 8500 people were killed, and their bodies were cast outside of Jerusalem without being buried. The outer temple was “overflowing with blood” and the inner court even had pools of blood in it. It was a massacre!
Steve Gregg, in his book “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary),” quotes from J. Stuart Russell, who stated in (p. 106),
The Jewish war, under Vespasian, commenced at the furthest distance from Jerusalem in Galilee, and gradually drew nearer and nearer to the doomed city. The Romans were not the only agents in the work of slaughter that depopulated the land; hostile factions among the Jews themselves turned their arms against one another, so that it might be said that “every man’s hand was against his brother.”
These were the sights Jesus could see in his foresight while on earth. He saw that the people would be thrown into a sea of blood knowing that majority would reject the covering of the new covenant.
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” – Luke 19
It is indeed a sad thing to look into history and see how those events played and realize that it was something that which was preventable if they had embrace the new covenant. They rather preferred to hold on to the old covenant and its system of worship.
What is personally disturbing for me is to see modern end-time preachers preach that these horsemen are still coming forth in our time. They keep putting the prophecies of Revelation of out context to justify their uncanny abilities to stream together bible passages and tie them to modern news events.
In our generation we have witnessed conflicts and wars in various places and at various times. We have seen terrorist activities take place that has left some at loss in the wake of the disaster and it cannot be dismissed. The only problem is then taking these events into our timeline and declaring the nearing end of the world.
Our Lord’s prophecy was in relation to the end of that Jewish age which the disciples questioned him about. The presence of God’s kingdom has actually being finding expression though some have not realized some truth in this regard. We will experience the glory of the kingdom and peace will eventually reign over the earth.