The four horsemen of the apocalypse are well known to students of Bible prophecy, but for many, the pale horse remains a mystery. What does it represent? And what do the other three bring with it? This article will explore the role of the white horseman in Revelation 6 and what it tells us about how the Bible explains these terrifying judgments.
Unlike the other three horses, the white one seems bent on conquest. It has a rider who is crowned with a bow, and his purpose is to conquer through the communication of lies. He shoots false ideas and plausible but erroneous beliefs into the minds of those cut off from God and opposed to His way of life. These deceptions are meant to distract and entrap people into embracing false religion, which is the first of the seven deadly sins.
As a symbolic picture, the horse and its rider symbolize a certain type of religion that spreads through the world in the end times. It is a false gospel that resembles Jesus’ message and claims, but is ultimately a lie. It may seem like a small detail, but this is an important aspect of how the Bible describes the end of the world.
The color white often represents purity or victory in the Bible. That makes the white horseman a symbol of peace and righteousness, which would fit with Christ’s second coming as a victorious conqueror (Revelation 19:11). However, this interpretation is flawed because the rider is crowned with a bow, which indicates that he will go out “conquering and to conquer.” The wording also implies that this crown was given by God, indicating that He is sovereign over all authority in the world. This is in direct contrast to Christ, who wears many crowns, indicating His ultimate triumph and supremacy over all authority.
This is not the only view that sees this horseman as a form of Jesus. Others see him as Satan, because his purpose is to conquer through false religious communication. In the end, he will do so with such intensity that nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom (Matthew 24:6).
The third horseman carries with it a sword that is ready to kill. This is a picture of war, and it will be devastating. It will cause famine, pestilence and wild animals to kill a fourth of the earth’s population (Revelation 6:8).
The fourth and final horseman is Death, riding an ashen or sickly-looking horse. The Greek word for ashen means greenish gray. Interestingly, this horse is also used in the Old Testament to describe those who are dead (Numbers 16:31). Those who die from the effects of this judgment will be the first to experience the horrors of the tribulation. These descriptions are a terrifying glimpse of what the world will become during the end times. Fortunately, this time, it will only be for a short period of time (Revelation 3:10).