The Four Horsemen in Bible Prophecy

Some people claim that the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” represent Communism (red), Catholicism (white), Islam (pale/green), and Capitalism (black). However, the bible already defined what each horse means. If the bible gives a parable or metaphor and then explains it, then there should be no speculation because an explanation is already given. The four horsemen represent exactly what the bible says they represent, and nothing more.

The four horsemen are found in Zechariah 1:7-11, Zechariah 6:1-8, and Revelation 6:1-8. They are already defined in the bible and they not are related to modern religions or economic systems, but they represent specific categories of God’s judgment for the world. In Zechariah 1:10 it says the horsemen are, “they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.” In Zechariah 6:5 they are defined collectively as, “the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth”. Meaning they were sent by God to judge the world, and they do not represent non-Biblical political or religious ideologies. Why would God send communism or capitalism to judge the world? In Revelation 6:1-8, they are defined individually: The white one is Conquest, the red one is War, the black is Famine, and the pale/green is Death (which uses famine, disease, war, and wild animals). The same categories of famine/plague, war, conquest, and death are in pre-exile prophecy (Ezekiel 5 and Jeremiah 14,15,16,21) when God warned Israel of His judgment through Babylon. We shouldn’t reinterpretation things that already have explanations. Imagine someone taking the parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-9 and re-explaining it with a different meaning, even though Jesus explains the meaning in the same chapter in verses 10-20. There is no need to reinterpret signs that have already been explained.

Ezekiel chapter 5 is when God has Ezekiel do a demonstration of his Judgement against Israel using his hair. At the beginning of the chapter, He shaves off a large portion of his hair (head and beard) and cuts it into 3 equal parts. He places them in the small clay model of Israel that he made in the previous chapter. Then he burns one-third of the hair in the city, then cuts up another third around the city, and scatters the last third to the wind. Later on in verses 11-13 God then explains what the signs mean. The first third that was burned resents those who will die from famine/pestilence, the next third are those killed by the sword, and the last third are scattered away from Jerusalem and eventually captured and taken in Exile. Sounds like the four horsemen in Zechariah 1 and 6, and Revelation 6.

Likewise with Jeremiah chapters 14,15,16, 21, 24, and 27 (as well as chapters 29, 32,34,38,42, and 44). Jeremiah says multiple times that coming judgment will result in Death, War, Disease/Famine, and Conquest/Captivity. He says those specific things in that order in Jeremiah 15:2: “…Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.”

In Jer 14:11-16 he criticizes the false prophets who claim that there will be no famine/disease or war, and God himself makes this same critique back in Jer 5:12. In Jer 16:1-2 God warns Jeremiah not to get married because these people and their families will mostly die from war and famine. In Jer 21:1-11 God says he will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone in Jerusalem who survived the disease, war, and famine, into Babylonian captivity. God continues in Jer 21:9 saying that everyone who stayed in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live, in captivity. In Jeremiah ch. 24, God uses the analogy of good and bad (rotten) figs for the people of Judah. The good figs are righteous who will be taken into captivity and God will renew their descendants in the future (70 years), and the bad figs are the wicked who will be destroyed by war, disease, and famine (Jer 24:10). In Jeremiah 27 God reiterates what was said in Jeremiah ch. 21, he warns the people of Judah to submit to Babylon because God is using them to judge Judah, but those who don’t submit will be condemned via war, disease, and famine. He says this not just to King Zedekiah of Judah but to the nations he has allied with like Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. I can go on and on but you get the point.

These categories don’t happen at random but are a result of the curse that was promised to come upon Israel if they didn’t keep God’s commands in Deut 28:15-68. This curse includes being defeated in battle and being scattered by their enemies, conquest and enslavement, famine and pestilence, all-around terror, and exile from the land. Sound familiar? It should be because it is the same things that the horsemen represent and it is the opposite of the blessing in the earlier part of the chapter (Deut 28:1-14). This curse was God’s judgment against them because they broke the covenant by rejecting his rules as his representative son on earth. When they failed he treated them like the Canaanites whom he drove out for them. This is fair since they are being judged by the same standard they were used to execute judgment. These same methods of judgment are the same things he used against Egypt, Canaan, Assyria, Babylon, etc and it will apply to the Anti-Christ regime in Revelation’s generation as well. The imagery in Revelation is not all new imagery and when you look in the Tanakh (old testament), you will find the initial definition of everything that is prophesied in the New Testament.