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Revelation 6:1-2, The Rider on the White Horse

Updated on February 24, 2019
marcelocarcach profile image

Marcelo holds a B.A. in Bible and a M.S. in education. He has ministry experience and is collaborating with church planting in MD.

The Lamb with The Book with Seven Seals

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Previously, John saw the Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes (Jesus) approach he throne of God and take the scroll that was sealed with seven seals. In all of Heaven and all of Earth, Jesus alone was worthy to open the seals and read the scroll.

We concluded that, because this scroll is written within and without, it is similar to the scroll in the second chapter of Ezekiel: a scroll of prophecy and of judgment.

In this chapter, the Lamb opens the seals of the scroll, and terrible things take place with each seal that He opens, because the scroll is a scroll of judgment.

The Horseman on the White Horse

Jesus opens the first seal of the scroll, and one of the beasts calls on John with thundering voice (that the beast can speak with a thundering voice should not surprise us, since the beasts hold the throne from which proceed voices, thunders, and lightnings).

John sees a white horse. The rider of the white horse had a bow and had been given a crown. The rider went forth on his horse conquering and to conquer.

In the book of Revelation (as in the rest of the Bible), white is a color that represents the desirable attribute of purity (Revelation 1:14, 2:17, 3:4, 3:5, 3:18, 4:4, 6:2, 6:11, 7:9, 7:13, 7:14, 14:14, 15:6, 19:8, 20:11). In fact, the Lord's own horse is white (Revelation 19:11), and the horses of his armies are white (Revelation 19:14).

Is the rider of the white horse, therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ or one of his saints? Not necessarily. Zechariah also saw in his visions horses that were white (Zechariah 1:8, 6:3, 6:6). The white color of these horses did not serve any other purpose than to distinguish them from the colors of the other horses. It may be that John's vision is following the pattern of Zechariah's vision.

Zechariah's horses were red, speckled, and white; John's horses are white, red, black, and pale. Obviously, the primary purpose of the colors of the horses is to distinguish them one from the other. Whether the white of the horse represents purity or not, should be something we derive from the rest of the vision.

What John clearly tells us in this vision is that the rider of the white horse had a bow, was given a crown, and had the purpose and destiny of conquering.

Although the bow is a common weapon in the Bible, it is seldom associated with God and the Messiah, as it is in Psalm 7:12-13 and Psalm 45:4-5.

In regards to the crown, crowns usually represent (not only in Revelation, but also in the rest of the Bible, that one is a king or that one has victory (Zechariah 6:11, 1 Corinthians 9:25).

Moreover, the crown had been given to the one riding the horse. Now, it is God who gives crowns, whether it be on the unbelieving or on Christ Himself (Psalm 8:5, Daniel 2:37, Zechariah 6:11, Hebrews 2:9).

Thus, the vision of the horseman on the white horse seems ambiguous, and there are numerous interpretations of it. Some regard it to be Christ, some the church, some a conqueror, and some the Antichrist.

Contrast between the Horsemen in Revelation 6:2 and Revelation 19:11

Nevertheless, I think we can safely conclude that the horseman in Revelation 6:2 is not the Lord Jesus.

First, every time the Book of Revelation depicts Christ, it makes it clear that it is talking about Christ. For example, when John sees the Son of Man in Revelation 1:13, the Son of Man tells us that He is the one who lives, was dead, and now lives forever (Revelation 1:18). There is no question that John has seen the Lord.

Moreover, when John sees the Lamb with Seven Horns and Seven Eyes, Revelation makes it clear that this Lamb had been slain to redeem humankind with his blood (Revelation 4:6 and 9). There is no question that the Lamb represents the Lord.

Then, when John sees a rider on the white horse in Revelation 19:11, he immediately identifies the rider as Faith, True, having many Crowns, the Word of God, having eyes like flames of fire, and having sharp sword in His mouth. There is no question that John is describing the Lord Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, when John writes about the horseman on the white horse in Revelation 6:2, John is silent about the identity of this horseman. Because John does not identify the rider as Christ, it is very unlikely that the rider is Christ, for John always tells us when he is talking about the Lord.

Comparison between Revelation 6:2 and Zechariah 6:5

There is a strong connection between John's horses and Zechariah's horses, even though John is using his horses in a completely different way and to represent something completely different; for John loves to use in Revelation symbols that have already been used by the Old Testament prophets.

Zechariah first sees horses that are white, red, and speckled (Zechariah 1:8). Then, Zechariah has a second vision that includes horses, and in this second vision Zechariah sees sets of horses pulling chariots, and the horses are grouped by colors: the horses pulling the first chariot are red, the horses pulling the second chariot are black, the horses pulling the third chariot are white, and the horses pulling the fourth chariot are both bay and grisled.

Like Zechariah, John presents us with four colors to distinguishes the horses he sees, but John's horses are individual horses, and the colors are different too.

The most relevant clue regarding the riders in Revelation 6, however, does not come from the color of the horses (as I have stated before, the main purpose of the colors is to distinguish the horses from each other), but from Zechariah's inquiry about the identity of the riders.

In Zechariah 6:4, Zechariah asks the angel that was talking with him who these were; and the angel answers that these are the four spirits of the heavens that stand before the God of all the Earth. This is consistent with the answer that Zechariah receives in Zechariah 1:10, that these are they whom God has sent to and fro through the Earth. In other words, they represent spirits.

Consistent with the rest of the book of Revelation, there are several spirits (angels) who influence events on Earth (Revelation 7:1-2, 9:15). Events on Earth are influenced by the action of angels, or spirits.

Identity of the Horseman on the White Horse

The identity of the horseman on the white horse should not be forced. Like the horsemen of Zechariah 6, the horseman on the white horse is a spirit (or angel) who enables a conquest to take place on Earth.

This is conclusion is consistent with the interpretation of the other three horsemen in revelation. No interpreter has concluded that any of these other horsemen represent Christ, the church, or the antichrist; but rather, they easily determine that these other horsemen represent events: war, famine, and deadly diseases, all of which are events brought about by spirits under the Lord's direction.

What the book of Revelation appears to be indicating is that God's judgment of the world begins with a conquest. It is a war in which the aggressor is the victor, much like Persia under Cyrus the Great, Greece under Alexander the Great, Rome under Titus, France under Napoleon Bonaparte, and Germany under Adolf Hitler, to name a few.

It is therefore easy to deduce that the conquest brought about by the horseman on the white horse is related to that person we call today The Antichrist. The Antichrist may as well be a ruler and a conqueror who will declare war on some nation, defeat it, and overtake it. But the horseman himself is the spirit that makes these things possible.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Is it significant that historical events and human affairs are influenced by spirits?
  2. How likely is it that a great conqueror would yet arise?
  3. What were the key events that caused World War I and World War II, and how is humanity in danger of repeating the same mistakes?
  4. How is the author's interpretation of the horseman on the white horse similar or different to your own?

Pray with Me

Lord God, history and the world are under your control. Humanity may choose to submit to you or to rebel against you, but your throne is in Heaven, and you rule over history and all human affairs.

There is none that can resist your will, there is none that can change your purpose. Those who submit to you and trust in you are wise, because they have made The Rock of Ages their refuge. Le me trust in you.

© 2019 Marcelo Carcach

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