Monday, March 15, 2021

Black Horse

When the third seal was opened in his vision of Revelation, John saw a rider on a black horse.

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds[a] of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Rev 6:5-7).
A horse represents government force – often military force. Scales represent justice. The black horse is a government that goes out to establish justice in the world using political, economic and military pressure (sometimes called R2P).

The Greek word translated scales is “zugon”. It comes from a root that means “joining”. It can refer to “scales”, but it can also mean “yoke”. When Jesus called us to take his yoke upon him, the gospels use the same word “zugon” (Matt 11:29). 1 Tim 6:1 used the word to describe a yoke of slavery. In Acts 15:10, Paul challenges that Christian leaders not to put a yoke on the neck of new disciples that they cannot bear.

Translating the word “zugon” as “yoke” gives a different insight into the rider on the black horse. He held a yoke in “his hand”. That hand is a symbol of political power. The rider on the black horse uses political power to impose an economic yoke on peoples and nations. This powerful ruler uses trade sanctions, trade regulations and tariffs to control other nations.

These sanctions and economic pressures have a serious effect on prices. Economic sanctions make it difficult for nations to buy food, so food prices rise. The Greek measure, translated here as a quart, was a "choinix". It was the daily ration for a soldier in active service. The coin mentioned is a denarius, which was the equivalent of a day's wages. John says that the shortage of food will be so severe that a daily ration of wheat will cost a day's wages. Barley was a little cheaper as it was considered to be of poorer quality.

The situation will be so severe that ordinary people will need all that they can earn to buy food, but the wealthy will not be affected. Luxury items like oil and wine are not to be damaged. They are not essentials but will be more readily available. The real shortage will be for basic food items.

According to Zechariah, the black horse moves to the North (Zech 6:6). The United States has engaged in intensive efforts to establish democracy in Eastern Europe and the Middle East using economic power.

More at Black Horse.

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