"The Third Seal of Revelation" by Tricia Tillin

Part Three: Difficulties

And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 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.

Now I want to consider, if possible, exactly what the third seal of Revelation has in store.

But it's not easy to know! For one thing, the text itself was written in Ancient Greek and has been translated in a number of different ways. How sure can we be that we have the accurate meaning of it?

Rev 6:6
of the four beasts say, A measure
toón tessároon zoóoon légousan Choínix

of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley
sítou deenaríou kaí treís choínikes krithoón

for a penny; and the oil and the wine.
deenaríou kaí tó élaion kaí tón oínon

not (see thou) hurt
meé         adikeésees

The first part is pretty clear. A measure (day's meals's worth) of wheat will cost a denarius, which was the equivalent of a soldier's take-home pay for one day. Barley - an inferior grain - was slightly less expensive.

The poor people used barley. Their financial burden is therefore easier. The fact that the poor are taken into consideration in this time of want is due to the mercy of God.

The second half of the verse is more problematic. It is often translated "the oil and the wine see thou hurt not" as if the spirit is being given specific instructions to avoid tampering with the prices of oil and wine - the two other staples of ordinary life. Thus the judgement was that a third of daily necessities would be affected, which makes sense according to the seal judgements as a whole.

That may be so. BUT, the word used for "hurt not" is in Greek adikeo (ad-ee-keh'-o); from Adikos (injustice) and it means to be unjust, i.e. (actively) do wrong (morally, socially or physically).

So this may be (like the other seals) a command to apply the judgements fairly and justly, avoiding hurting those who trust in God, ie, the oil and the wine.

Significance of the Oil and the Wine

It has to be remembered that in the bible, the oil and the wine have special significance. Oil - a symbol of the Holy Spirit - was used in anointing priests and kings, and in the church was used for healing and the olive tree was a symbol of spirituality. Wine as well as oil was used in sacred festival rites and temple offerings to God.

The olive tree that produced the oil was a symbol of God's people, at first the Jews, then the Gentile Christians also (a wild olive branch grafted into the cultivated tree).

The vine that produced the wine was also such a symbol, but of earthly blessing rather than spiritual. In many places God likens Israel to a choice vine giving sweet fruit, but that vine was plucked up and destroyed. Jesus then reminds them that HE Himself is the "true vine" to which every believer should belong (not just Jews incorporated into the nation of Israel.)

Thus both the oil and the vine are biblical symbols of God and his people united in spiritual and earthly blessing, if they are consistently obedient to his will.

I am inclined to see the third seal restrictions in that light. In other words, the spirit was told, "allow want to come, but see you don't do any injustice to My people! Judge according to people's faith and standards, not in an arbitrary way."

So we move on to the present-day outworkings of this seal judgement.

There are signs everywhere that we are entering a time of recession. If you do a web search you will find many sites predicting the trends, such as this one: The Recession Is Coming! Currency rates are falling, the stock market is faltering, prices are rising, shortages are coming, famine is here!

Watch these videos for example and other similar ones:

Grain prices are spiraling ever upwards, while yields are falling. Can it be long before the predicted situation of the third seal is upon us? Indeed, in some countries it already is, with families spending half or more of their income just on feeding themselves.

Nobody seems to know exactly why it's happening, or how to stop the slide. Certainly in the UK we are told that we will be hard hit, as we have no buffers left to soften the blow, thanks to the incompetence of this Labour Government and their slavish attitude towards EU directives.

Let's take a very brief glance at the situation as of Autumn 2008.

  • Housing - hit by high stamp duty, expensive "Home Inspection Packs", artificially inflated prices that are now falling like a stone, unavailability and expense of mortgages, high interest rates, negative equity, and in the US too the high default rates on "subprime" and adjustable rate mortgages. (source)
  • Travel - air travel companies going bust, oil prices inflating the costs, petrol prices sky-rocketing, tax on fuel unjustly high, car tax and insurance rising, speeding and parking fines...and so on (XL Travel Group collapses)
  • Jobs - recession causing redundancies and company closures, fewer jobs and more immigrants to take them, lower wages, doubled income tax, more bureaucracy and petty regulations from EU forcing up the prices of produce and crippling exports, and a drastic cut on all government benefits if you are out of a job. (Unemployment rising)
  • Fuel - oil prices causing cost of everything we depend upon to rise, petrol very expensive, profiteering rife, gas and electricity companies constantly raising their prices and news that the UK will run out of power in about five years due to over-dependence on "renewable sources" of energy. (UK Running Out of Power)
  • The Economy - The now well-known "credit-crunch", banks and mortgage lenders shaking, rising interest rates, high inflation, falling house prices, staff cutbacks, and much higher cost of living all round (UK Economy Heading for Recession)
  • Food - prices continue to rise dramatically, while world harvests fail due to poor climate, and the insane dependence on "biofuels" removes land from arable use. (Widespread Panic at Food Prices)

It is this last area that the third seal especially covers, although poverty and want seem to be hovering on the horizon in every sphere of our lives.

A Man Made Disaster

Nothing demonstrates the way mankind digs a hole for itself more graphically, I think, than the current situation with food production.

There is, by the Lord's grace, more than enough fertile land, water and meat to sustain earth's billions of inhabitants. However, because of mismanagement and selfishness, many are still are dying from starvation. (World Food Shortages Directly Linked to Oil)

Incredibly, cakes of mud are now a staple diet in parts of Haiti as the poor can no longer afford to feed themselves (source).

Mere bad luck accounts for only a small proportion of food shortage in my opinion. In today's world, the failure of one local crop or herd need not spell disaster as it once did. The problem is global, and it is largely the fault of monetary interests and an incorrect belief system.

In essence, possessions have become more important than people, and the planet more important than its population.

For example, a certain ideology that elevates nature and animal welfare above the human population has been lobbying powerfully behind the scenes for decades to change the face of agriculture and fishing. This and the protectionism of EU countries has reduced our once proud and self-sufficient nation to a joke; our fishing and farming industry decimated to the extent that the suicide rate amongst farmers and farm workers is the highest of all social groups in this country. (see this)

There are other man-made factors, too, as a result of what is basically idolatry, or the worship of false gods, precisely what God told us to avoid. Yes, worshipping nature and basing every policy on "saving the planet" IS idolatry. (See Site)

For many years this doctrine (alongside the greed of food production conglomerates) has brought about destructive changes in farming practise and food production, such as experiments with genetically modified foods, bans on previously safe and nutritious cheaper foods, reduction in- or conversely, dependence on - fertilisers and insecticides, Orwellian levels of surveillance and control of animals from birth to death, and above all the massive amount of land now given over to the production of "bio-fuels" instead of edible crops.

It is estimated that 75 percent of the food shortages have been caused by bio-fuel crops. (See for example)

According to U.S. food policy expert Lester Brown, if all the ethanol plants that have been approved for the next year are built, ethanol will be more than 40 percent of the entire U.S. grain crop by 2008.

The ramifications of the global push toward biofuels are overwhelming. Not including the environmental impact, the strain that expanding biofuel usage puts on food prices is quite scary. The knee-jerk reaction to find alternatives to oil has led to what could become a far greater problem. Simply: These price increases are a result of man trying to solve one problem, but ending up creating another. (Source)

In the days of abundance (the seven years of plenty in Egypt, if you will) we did NOT act wisely as Joseph did, planning for the future provision and wellbeing of our citizens. Stockpiling was done merely to control prices. (EU subsidies) One EU answer to the "problem" of over production was to PAY farmers to set aside land, in other words, give them money for not producing anything!

Other Factors

On top of those ever-present facts, recently there have been other (third-seal) factors affecting the price of food. Droughts, floods and other climate disasters have been ruining the harvests.

In China the harvest is being attacked by excessive rainfall and insects. In Europe cold wet weather has had a similar effect. America's grain harvest has suffered from both drought and flooding in recent years. (source) Australia has had unprecedented drought conditions for many years. (source)

Prices of rice have shot up 30 percent in the two years from 2005 to 2007 and 40 percent since the middle of last year alone. These have reached a level, like wheat prices -- which are 130 percent up -- that have made governments nervous. India has banned the export of most varieties of rice, except the high-end basmati rice, to conserve as much rice at home as possible. Other rice surplus countries have followed suit. They are scared of shortages at home and the unrest that follows shortages.

A Chinese saying of earlier times is directly applicable to today's food shortages: "When the price of rice goes higher than a common man can pay, heaven ordains a new ruler."

Floods, hailstorms, high winds and unexpected droughts have all come along to spoil global harvests and drive up the prices.

Australia has suffered drought for a number of years and seen its food production drop dramatically. The record drought, which has gripped much of the country for close to a decade, was the worst in 117 years of record-keeping, with 80 percent of eucalyptus trees already dead or stressed in the region as large as France and Germany combined."It seems to me from what we've seen to date, there's no indication that it's going to end in the immediate future" (Source)

Farmers in the UK have been hard hit again by the abysmal summer weather and fields lay under flood water or are too damp to harvest for anything other than inferior cattle feed. See one website predicting global famine.

I give many web links in these pages, but it doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with the websites
in question, and certainly have no connections with them. Just use them for your own research.

Any one single factor affecting food and fuel prices could perhaps have been dealt with and avoided, but so many different unavoidable events have combined at this point in time that I am convinced a Higher Power is involved!

That is, the Lord who so richly provided for us and who is now being insulted and pushed aside by the human race.

In the final pages I want to look at our response to these things.

Go to Part Four

© 2013 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website:  This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information.   One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.