"The Beginning of Sorrows" by Tricia Tillin
SEAL FOUR: The Pale Horse
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
- Sickly green
- Hell (Hades)
Here John names the Riders - Death and Hades - so it's a simple task to identify them. To the Greeks the King of Death was a god whom we would now readily picture as the "Grim Reaper" with his sickle: CRONOS (or, Kronos) and the Lord of the Underworld was named HADES-PLUTON (or, Hades-Pluto). The Romans called Cronos SATURNUS (or, Saturn).
John sees them riding out on a horse whose colour in Greek is "chlorus" or green from which we get the word chlorphyll (the green colouring in plants) and chlorine, a yellow-green poisonous gas that was used to devastating effect on the soldiers of world war one. (What better illustration of the work of the pale horse rider than the battlefields of that world war?)
Kronos was the Greek god of time. The Romans, in Latin, referred to Kronos as Saturn. Kronos, according to ancient myth, ate his own children, as seen in this detail from 'Saturn Devouring His Children' by Goya (1820).
We also see him portrayed in modern cultures as as a skeleton or very old man in a cloak, holding a sickle to reap the dead, and an hour-glass showing that time is running out.
He is still honoured as Old Father Time at Yuletide. This is because of his identification with SATURN the god of THE SATURNALIA festivals around the same time as our Christmas ceremonies.
The Saturnalia, an ancient Roman festival, was a seven day romp when everything was turned upside down, black was white, clothes were worn inside out, women dressed as men and vice versa, and a slave was elected as king of the feast, with the name "god of misrule".
(Today we know him as "Father Christmas"). It is interesting to note that Aristophanes, writing around 400 BC, uses the term kronos to mean "old fool". This fits well with the image of Kronos as Saturn the King of Fools at the Saturnalia.
He was a very high god, however, and he was supposed to have been king of the Golden Age in pre-history. And of course the Saturnalia was a time of unrestrained merrymaking. But when the world - or even the Church - turns to other gods and seeks pleasure in free love, alcohol and drugs instead of the love of God, then the result is - DEATH!
Part of the judgement of the fourth rider is even now being poured out, in all the plagues brought about by immorality and drug-abuse. The world may see itself as conducting one long Saturnalia party, but Hades is waiting in the background to claim its victims.
Hislop in "The Two Babylons" writes:
From Fuss we learn that "gladiatorial shows were sacred" to Saturn; and in Ausonius we read that "the amphitheatre claims its gladiators for itself, when at the end of December they PROPITIATE with their blood the sickle-bearing Son of Heaven." On this passage, Justus Lipsius, who quotes it, thus comments: "Where you will observe two things, both, that the gladiators fought on the Saturnalia, and that they did so for the purpose of appeasing and PROPITIATING Saturn."
"The reason of this," he adds, "I should suppose to be, that Saturn is not among the celestial but the infernal gods. Plutarch, in his book of 'Summaries,' says that 'the Romans looked upon Kronos as a subterranean and infernal God.'" There can be no doubt that this is so far true, for the name of Pluto is only a synonym for Saturn, "The Hidden One."
"The name Pluto is evidently from "Lut," to hide, which with the Egyptian definite article prefixed, becomes "P'Lut." The Greek "wealth," "the hidden thing," is obviously formed in the same way. Hades is just another synonym of the same name."
Hades, surnamed Pluto or Pluton "giver of wealth" was lord of the underworld, ruling over the dead. Just as Zeus ruled above, so Hades ruled below; considered to be the god of wealth, due to the precious metals mined from the bowels of the earth - but these days the evil spirit behind this mythology is frequently invoked by those who are prepared to sell their souls into bondage to this devil in order to gain extraordinary power, wealth and fame.
Rarely do they consider that those who look to Hades, the lord of the underworld, for fame and riches, will have to spend eternity paying the bill.
Hades wears a helmet that makes him invisible but this is just a symbolic device denoting his hidden, secret, occult nature - he is "the hidden god" worshipped by those who practice the black arts. There is very little that needs to be said about the twin riders of the pale horse, Death and Hades. They have come to claim their own.
For scriptural reasons, it is believed that this fourth seal has to do with "pestilence" or the effects of a terrible illness. (For more information read this article by Chuck Missler) It could equally be the effects of biological warfare, or a dreadful error with genetic engineering; possibly also some kind of mutation to a known bacteria or virus could set off a reaction in the food-chain or in human beings in the same way that AIDS sprang (supposedly) from a mutated virus first found in monkeys.
Tiny Beasts of the Earth
It has been pointed out that "killing with the beasts of the earth" could refer to the tiny beasts that we know as bacteria or viruses.
Whatever they are, they are given authority over a quarter of the earth (therefore the scope of their activities is limited by God). Alternatively, the permission is given to ALL four horse-riders equally, each to affect one quarter of the earth (see Revl 6:7). However, in either case this does NOT mean (as some say) that a quarter of the earth's population will be wiped out. No, these spirits are set loose but in a limited fashion and with restrictions. Not everyone they touch will die; however, many will be affected drastically by their attacks; many will be in mourning and many more will be weakened, ill, depressed and unable to work.
We have seen forerunners in history. In the 14th century, the Bubonic Plague - known as "The Black Death" because of the black spots it produced on the skin - killed 25 million people in five years (one-third of Europe's population).
But there has been another catastrophe, a pandemic that killed at least 25 million people in one year. It was the influenza of 1918-1919 that killed more people than the First World War.
However, the effects of the pale horse riders will be worse than anything we have seen in days gone by, possibly because it is more widespread, since international travel has grown exponentially since 1918. And because so many will be affected, there will be an international outcry against anyone perceived to be "the culprit" for this devastation.
Already, in the media, the anthrax scares have been attributed to Patriot Groups in America and these have been (wrongly) linked to "Evangelical Christians" some of whom consider the terrorist attacks to be a judgement from God. In the public mind, a scapegoat is needed and it seems to me that "fundamentalists" will be elected as that scapegoat, and blamed in some way for the spread of the diseases, especially if they foolishly predict a special immunity for themselves and have no pity on others.
That will move us into the next phase of what Jesus predicted in his summary of the seals: persecution and tribulation for all who love His name.
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another". (Matt 24:9-10)
How can we escape?
God's perfect justice is shown in that he will give men and women over to what they worship, whether it be dominion, the sword, riches, a strong leader, or the spiritual search for hidden wisdom and immorality.
So if our hearts are set on God and our lives demonstrate our worship of Him, then we can know a heavenly reward!
We who are truly in Christ have received his pardon from Adam's sin, and already partake of his perfect life - eternal life, no less! We have been restored to the Father. We know peace and love in the Spirit; we know perfect provision of all our needs from the Father, and we have the power of prayer and the goodness of God to keep us from both sin and its consequences in the flesh. PRAISE GOD! We need not be any part of these judgements! But even if we are, we can know peace from God.
Those who do not, and have not, worshipped at the altars of the world's false gods can justly claim God's mercy for what is coming. Especially so since the chapters in Revelation that speak of the seals also speak of a protective sealing of those who are God's own. (Rev 7)
UPDATED 2020: "The Fourth Seal"
"....kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ". (1 Pet 1:5-7)
"To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish..." (Rom 2:7-8)
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown". (Rev 3:10-11)
TO CONTINUE: Click on the next in the series:
- CONCLUSION - Things to Come