Each piece of the vision represents something. Nothing is there unnecessarily. So we will look at each symbol individually and as a whole. We also want to take symbolic meaning from scripture as much as possible and not from culture.
The Color Black
What does the color black represent from a Biblical context? There are many things that black represents. We can have black hair, or a black heart. Black can even be a good thing like “black gold”. But what we need to see is black used to represent anything specific in scripture. And first we must see if the English word for black is always translated from the same word in Hebrew and Greek. I can say a cloud is dark, or gray or even black and still be talking about the same cloud. We want to know if it is an exact black, or a concept of shade so that we are comparing the right idea when looking for contextual symbolism.
In Revelation 6, each horse is given a color, except for pale, which we will establish is really green. The other colors red, and white, are definite colors. The other cases for the Greek word for black used here also seem to refer to color. It is always very helpful when we are given an object we know the color of and have it described with that color as in the case of green grass. The English word “black” is only used 3 times in the new testament. They are all translated from the same Greek word. One is in the same chapter of Revelations “black as sackcloth”. This helps a lot. Sack cloth was commonly made from black goats hair (unlike flour sacks or burlap sacks that we use today). So that is a really long way to say, black means black. The other place is Jesus telling us that worrying cannot change the color of our hair either white or black.
To look at Old Testament use of the color black, we have to consider all the different words that the English word Black is translated from. This sounds confusing, but again, if I say your eye is black, I mean it is bruised. It might be purple or green. If I say your heart is black, I don’t mean a color at all, but evil. So if we are using contextual symbolism, we want to be very careful to only consider the actual color black and not its euphemisms.
So honestly, at first this sounds like a huge pain, because there are seven different Hebrew words that get translated “black”. But, we actually have the four horsemen in Zechariah, likely the same four horsemen in Revelation, and those colors are named (red, black, white and grisled). So we need only to look at the Hebrew word here “shachor”.
So something very interesting here: you expect black to turn up uses like rotten, dead, and soiled. But that is not the case. There are 6 verses, and every one, except for the 2 naming the color of our horses are actually pictures of health. Literally.
Black hairs growing where there was leprosy mean the leprosy is healed.
Black as used in the passage of the 4 horsemen
Black in all of these has a very positive connotation. It shows health and beauty. Now, that makes me want to check out the other uses of black, because I find this to be very odd. Is black used to describe the color of bad things elsewhere with another Hebrew word? Could another word have been used that would have had a negative connotation yet the author chose the “healthy” black?
Qadar, the next most often Hebrew word translated “black” is definitely more figuratively used. It is also translated
mourn (6x), black (4x), dark (4x), blackish (1x), darkened (1x), heavily (1x). It is not primarily color related as much as it is a concept of darkness. There are four more different Hebrew words translated to black. Each is only used one time. Black marble, black skin and burned bones, black as night, black appearance because of working in the sun, and black like an oven. These all have the negative connotations that we would associate with black. The author it seems had his pick of words he could have chosen, but he chose the healthy black. This should absolutely play into our interpretation of the symbolism.
And I find this very exciting, because at first glance you just want to say, black is black. But EVERYTIME you dig, you find pretty revealing things.
Next the verses tell us that the rider is holding a balance. For the longest time I thought the balance was holding things in it, but it is not. The angels make a proclamation about wheat, barley and pennies, but it is not said that there is anything actually in the balance. The balance is used to measure an exchange. The horseman is specifically affecting the exchange of food.
The Proclamation of the Angel.
Rev 6: 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say,
A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
A penny or denarion is said to be equivalent to a day’s wage. So it really depends on how much a measure is. If a measure is like a month’s worth of bread, then its good, right? I spent a lot of thought time spent on how much food should a day’s worth of work buy. But it wasn’t until I went to look at the way the word “measure” is used in the Bible that I finally understood.
The following verse is an example of how the word is used as a portion. The verse talks about the size of the curtains in the tabernacle. And how all the curtains will be the same size. “of one measure”.
Job refers to the measure of the sea
So it is not a specific amount like a pound of butter and a loaf of bread. It might make more sense to think of the word like allotment or portion or serving. Someone decides how much will be appropriated.
The last point of the proclamation is “hurt not the oil and the wine”. It sounds like we can hurt the wheat and barley and not the oil and the wine. Someone mentioned oil and wine being used as a medicine. They thought that maybe it meant that food will be scarce but food used for medicine will not. Another opinion was that oil and wine were commodities of the rich and the rich would have luxuries of oil and wine and only the poor would be affected. Another opinion was that it was a short term dearth where the grains didn’t get enough water but the deeper rooted plants like olive trees and grapevines were ok. This sounded good to me as well, which I should not have consulted anyone before I went digging. I don’t like to have my ideas pre-formed. So I looked up oil and wine in the Bible word search. I found that EVERYTIME oil and wine were mentioned (including our topic passage) also mentioned is some form of grain, be it corn, dough, bread, wheat, or barley. They are EVERYTIME mentioned together. If one does well, they all are plentiful. If there is drought, they all do poorly. There is no instance where the grains are destroyed but oil and wine are just fine. And I am not saying that those ideas are not viable ideas, but there is no contextual precedent of that being the case in Biblical text anyway.
So in light of our three symbols, the horse, the balance and the proclamation, I believe all three are showing a manmade famine. Our horse is the picture of health, and food is being measured and it is not because of conditions that affect farming.
Putting It All Together
Prophecy is designed to be very shadowed until the fulfillment comes to pass. It is not meant to predict the future, but to be recognized when it happens. And there is that dread or awe that washes over you when you see it and you know that this is “it”.
This is a link to the World Economic Forum “How Life Could Change by 2030” Their goals are to measure out everything you need to live. It is designed as a picture of society in perfect health. And that sounds great if you get what you want. But it will never be designed to give you what you want, but what someone else deems you SHOULD have. And we need only to look at the track record of government to see that this is going nowhere good. We already are being portioned how much toilet paper packages we can buy. It is a bit of a joke, because some packages have 4 and some have 32, but you can only buy 2 packages. And it doesn’t matter if you are buying for an orphanage or for a single person. The cashier doesn’t care. And what about large families? Will they get a greater portion? Maybe. Or maybe the WEF who is all about population control will set an amount of children a couple is allowed to have and it will be like China where you must abort extra children or hide them and then try to exist on enough food for what you SHOULD have. Everyone will have a base income and a digital currency, so no going out and getting a second job to get something special or build dreams. A person who believes in self-government and free-will recognizes this for the true and horrifying judgment that it is. If the WEF agenda is not the 3rd horseman, it is the perfect picture of it.
Finally, I would be amiss not to mention the historical account where we see the phrase “a measure of flour for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel.” When you see it in it’s historical context, it truly does make your blood run cold. The story begins in 2 Kings 6:24 when Benhadad, King of Syria besieges Samaria causing a famine. Here there is plenty of rain, no problems with crops, but a political ploy to make people desperate. Things become so desperate that “an ass’s head was sold for 80 pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver. When the king heard of two woman who had resorted to eating their babies, he cursed God and cursed God’s prophet Elisha. The king sent a messenger to take Elisha’s head and Elisha prophesied, “To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.” The servant of the king didn’t believe it. He said, there was no way that could ever be possible even if the widows of heaven were opened. Elisha then said, “Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.”
The story then reveals that outside the gates, the lepers had decided that their best chance at survival would be to surrender to the Syrians, but when they went out to the Syrian camp, the Syrians had all fled at some non-existent threat. How long the city was besieged without real danger is not stated.
At the very least, I feel that the use of the statement of a measure of wheat and two measures of barley for a shekel is a purposeful reference and only strengthens the idea of a manmade famine. It also should give us, as God’s children under his protection, hope and wisdom. Wisdom to know that scarcity is coming and to store up, and hope not to get scared and desperate and do stupid things like eat your baby hours before relief comes. Elisha, though experiencing the same conditions, did not appear to be in a cannibalistic panic. I think it is appropriate also to note here that the goal of the Syrians was to put their prey in such a state of fear that they would eat their young, and the recent promotion of lab grown human steaks in the news should not fail in it’s parallels.