When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. Rev 6:3-4
The symbols of the red horse and horseman are as follows: the color red in Scriptures indicates shed blood, and sinfulness. The rider takes peace from the earth, and people kill one another. The Greek word used for kill here means “to kill a person by violence,” and directly implies murder. The fact that it is one another who is killed indicates internal strife, or civil war. The great sword indicates the great numbers who are killed.
Now because the same symbolism of a horse and a rider is used with this seal as with the first seal, traditionally, it was believed that this seal is related to the first in both time and meaning. So let us look at the history of Rome immediately following the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the last of the emperors of the white horse.
The period of 96 to 180 ad is termed the Pax Romana by historians, and 180 to 280 ad is termed the Period of Disorder. Eighty emperors ruled in the space of ninety years (for some time there were three emperors at a time, set forth by the armies in different parts of the Empire, who fought one another for supreme control); and most met death by violence. It became so bad that the position of emperor was bought and sold at public auction to the highest bidder. Warring factions trying to gain control of the Senate and the Empire plunged the people in a constant state of civil war for most of the period.
“For fifty years there was no public order at all, as the plundering troops tossed the scepter of Rome from one soldier- emperor to another. Life and property were nowhere safe; robbery and murder were everywhere. The disorder and fighting between rival emperors hastened the ruin of all business, till national bankruptcy resulted. In this tempest of anarchy during the third century of our era the civilization of the ancient world fell into final ruin.”
— History of Europe: Ancient and Medieval by James Robinson and James Breasted.
“Above all, the general morality was continually becoming worse and worse. Despite a few bright examples in high places, the tone of society grew everywhere more and more corrupt. Purity of life, except among the despised Christians, was almost unknown.”
— Manual of Ancient History by George Rawlinson.
Truly the red horse and horseman of sinfulness and bloodshed took peace from the earth, as the Pax Romana of the white horse was completely revoked, by violent murder and civil war.
revelation 6, the second seal
revelation 6, the third seal
revelation 6, the fourth seal
revelation 6, the fifth seal
revelation 6, the sixth seal: the great earthquake
revelation 6, the sixth seal: sun and moon in eclipse
revelation 6, the sixth seal: stars from heaven fallen
revelation 6, the sixth seal: mountains and islands removed
Christine’s book The Revelation of Jesus Christ Revealed, based on these studies but greatly expanded, is now available at Revelation Revealed Online. You may also be interested in reading the Book Extras and joining in on the Discussion.