“And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, come and see. And there went out another horse that was red; and power was given to 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” (Rev. 6:3-4).
As John’s graphic heart-stopping vision continues, Jesus opens the second seal and John sees a red horse. Its rider is given authority to remove peace from the earth. The absence of peace is war. The red horseman obviously represents the scourge of war.
Even though Revelation 6:4 clearly interprets itself, further proof is given in the parallel prophecy of Matthew 24:6-7. In Jesus’ own words, the second horseman represents “wars and rumors of wars.” But hasn’t man always had wars? To which wars is Christ referring? What war does the second horseman represent? All war or one specific war? These questions are answered from your Bible.
Jesus first prophesied a general condition of war on earth that would continue from His day until the very end of man’s government on earth. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars (plural).”
Immediately after giving this warning of many wars, He said, “See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” These many wars, therefore, represent a general condition of mankind. “Don’t let it worry you overmuch,” Christ warned. For nearly 6,000 years, there have been alternating generations of war and peace: big, small, civil, and uncivil wars.
But the remaining verses of Matthew 24 and the second horseman of the Apocalypse refer to more than brushfire wars. They refer to one specific, end-time war of great magnitude. It is the first and last war of its kind: a world war of cataclysmic proportions.
After the many wars of Matthew 24:6, the next verse speaks of “nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” This indicates world war, with one group of allied nations attacking another group of nations. It represents more than “wars and rumors of wars.”
This world has already suffered through rounds 1 and 2 of world war, but neither were of the nuclear world-killing proportions of Matthew 24:22: “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” This refers to total war, with the annihilation of all mankind as the probable outcome barring divine intervention.
World War II could not be that war. The Atomic blast at Hiroshima was only a firecracker compared to today’s hydrogen bombs, each with hundreds and thousands of times the explosive power of this primitive A-bomb. There was no threat of world “overkill” in 1945 (or ever before), but there is approximately 150 times world overkill at the latest count.
Never before has total cosmoscide – world-death-- been at men’s fingertips. “For the first time in history, human beings hold the power to destroy mankind,” wrote the Associated Press in 1970. “There are no precedents in political science or in history to guide men who command modern power.”
Mankind may have “always had war,” but never yet on the scale Jesus Christ predicted in Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. Never before has man had the potential for the total obliteration of human life. And just as man has always used the weapons in his possession, mankind will use the nightmarish weapon now in his arsenal: nuclear warheads, laser beams, chemical and biological warfare, nerve gas, heat-seeking (called “smart bombs”), and who knows what other “science fiction-fact” items that may still be classified information in governmental files around the earth.
These are the weapons of the second horseman of the Apocalypse. Notice in Revelation 6:4 that he has power to take peace from all the earth. This involves world war, not local wars, civil wars, or even conventional international conflicts such as Korea and Vietnam. Also notice that his second horseman has a great sword. This represents the ability to kill millions, not just the few thousands killed in such “normal” wars.
Finally, notice the specific time and place of the second horseman’s grisly ride upon the earth. As the first horseman rides forth “conquering and to conquer” in the name of his false religion, the second horseman – war is quick on his heels as that instrument of conquest. Prophecy labels this political instrument as “The Beast,” a future ten-nation alliance which is now forming in Central Europe.
Included in the horseman’s victims are (as identified in Bible prophecy) the descendants of the ancient ten tribes of Israel. These represent the present white English-speaking members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States, and some of the democracies of Northwest Europe.
Even today, the political and military polarization is taking place – power blocs are being formed that will eventually clash in the most titanic series of battles in human history. It will be a war so intense and so destructive that unless God intervenes to forcibly stop it, all of humanity would die.
How destructive will it be? Whole metropolises will be vaporized by nuclear attack, with tens of millions dying instantly: “Thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant” (Jer. 4:6-7). How many will die? Military experts estimate that about a third of a nation would be killed by a full-scale nuclear first strike. But more important than what experts can see, your Bible predicted the exact same kill ratio some 2500 years ago.
“A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword (war) round about thee” (Ez. 5:12). This is a direct prophecy of how many will die as a result of the sword given to the second horseman, and the famine and pestilence of the third and fourth horsemen of the next two articles.
These are frightening words. But, there is no need for the “elect of God” to be frightened. Christ said to His true followers, “see that ye be not troubled.” Likewise, if all mankind would turn from their wrong ways of war, disobedience to God, false religion, vanity, greed, and all that causes man’s wars, in deep heartrending repentance before their Maker, the blood-red second horseman need never ride!
But mankind gives little indication of wholesale repentance. The second horseman of the Apocalypse will have to help teach man that lesson through bitter pain.