Revelation 6:1-8 / The Four Horsemen

Posted on May 17, 2015


This is the seventeenth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Revelation. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of May 17, 2015. This message explains the Biblical account of the famous “four horsemen” as the beginning of the tribulational judgments. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.


Rev. 6:1-8



Now we finally get a vision of what is going to happen during the tribulation. We’ve all heard of the four horsemen, and here they are, riding forth after the rapture.

With the church removed, and therefore the restraining work of the Holy Spirit removed, the earth is about to suffer catastrophes of an unheard of magnitude. The first seal is broken, and these four horsemen are here to fire the opening volley of God’s wrath upon the sin cursed, unbelieving world.

As these events are poised to unfold, John is told to “come and see.” As we witness Christ break the seven seals of the scroll, We’ll see that each seal unleashes a new judgment on the earth. 

These seals include all the judgments of the tribulation. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpets; the seventh trumpet contains the seven bowls.

The first seal lets loose a rider on a white horse, and the description is stunning. However, appearances can be deceiving, and we need to take a closer look at this rider. He is carrying a bow, has a crown, and is a conqueror, but a simple comparison will confirm that this is not Jesus Christ.

  • Revelation 19:11-16

In Chapter 19 we see the arrival of Christ on the scene, and the millennium follows. Christ is also a conqueror, but He is referred to as faithful and true, He is said to judge in righteousness. These descriptors are missing in regards to our horseman here in chapter 6.

Jesus has eyes of fire, meaning that He can see into the deepest and darkest depths of your soul. The Horseman in chapter six has no such ability.
Our horseman here has a crown, but Christ has many crowns. The robe of Christ is dipped in blood, representing His work of salvation, yet our horseman has done no such thing. In fact, he comes to steal and destroy.

  • John 10:10

Jesus does not carry a bow, but a sword. He is identified as The Word of God, The King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Our horseman has not been identified by name. Make no mistake, this horseman is a counterfeit Christ, he’s an imitation. The true identity of this horseman is the antichrist.

The bow is a symbol of war, but the absence of arrows implies that this victory will be won primarily by covenant, not by war.

  • Daniel 7:8
  • Daniel 7:24-27
  • Daniel 9:24-27

At first, the majority of his conquering will be done through treaties and false promises of peace. He will start out as insignificant (little horn), and shrewdly work his way to world dominance. People will voluntarily follow him. People will speak his name with reverence, and he will be worshipped. Jesus prophesied about this:

  • John 5:43

The fact that he appears with the breaking of the first seal, is reinforcement that the antichrist is revealed at the beginning of the tribulation. This is further confirmation of a pre-tribulation rapture, rather than mid or post-tribulation.

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Although the antichrist will attain much power on the world stage, total domination will escape him. Though many will follow, not all will, and his treaties and promises of peace will not be able to ensnare the entire world. Ultimately war will ensue, and on a global scale, as God gives this horseman the power to create worldwide war. We see some of these things happening today. We have unrest and war, famines and increasing earthquakes, but they have not yet risen to the scale that they will during to tribulation. The pieces are all being put into place, but they are just the beginning of sorrows.

  • Mark 13:7-8

When war ensues, people no longer till the fields, and food often becomes more scarce and expensive. The results of this worldwide war will be more catastrophic than ever. This third horseman will bring the destruction of the majority of earth’s food supply. Food will be rationed, and it will drive the prices to unbearable levels. It will cost a day’s wage to buy enough food to sustain a person for a day. Simply put, people will be driven to poverty in their attempt to procure even a meager amount of food. It will be a miserable time, but it will get worse.

The fourth horseman will bring the resulting death from the miserable conditions created on the earth. ¼ of the population will be killed. This death will be the result of war, hunger, disease, and even animals. In today’s numbers, with a population of about 7 billion, the result would be about 1.75 billion people.

With the church removed, and no consistent witness for Christ, few people will yet have come to salvation after the rapture. That means that the vast majority of these deaths, will be those who die outside of faith in Christ. For them, death will not be an escape from the horrors of this world, it will lead to something far worse. .  hell.

As believers, we must redeem the time that we have on this earth for the glory of God. That means that we need to be His witness today. That means that we need to be sharing the Gospel now. We need to be making disciples while there is still time.

The Tribulation will see a staggering number of souls killed, only to find a worse fate than what they left behind in death. The best work that we can do now, is to see as few people enter into the tribulation as possible.

We need to be about Christ and His work.