The four horsemen of the first four seals are found elsewhere in the Bible, not just Revelation. Zechariah describes four horses with similar colors and riders. Ezekiel describes four judgments that appear to be the same as our riders in Revelation as well. Together, we can paint a more complete picture of who these riders are and what they do. The number of horses, their colors, and what their riders carry help clarify who they are and what they do.
The four horsemen of Zechariah’s Vision
Zechariah mentions four horses of different colors with riders in Zec. 1. Interestingly, he opens up his prophecy with them, just as John does in Revelation.
The colors are significant, but they change in every passage and they do not show consistency between the Hebrew, Septuagint and English. Red, Black and White are the most common, with red and white in every translation and every passage. There is a divers horse that ranges from paint, grizzled, “diverse” and speckled. I would guess that to be our “pale” horse in Revelation. But KJV translates the word for “pale” as “green” in 3 other passages. It’s our “horse of a different color” I guess The green/pale does match up with our noisome beast judgment in Ezekiel as it has green living things connotations in the Greek word translated “beast”
The mountains in Zechariah chapter 1 are missing and replaced with myrtle trees which is how the Septuigent reads. KJV may be referring to the shady place as the place of the trees. Revelation does not mention the mountains in conjunction with the horsemen.
The horsemen show up again in Zechariah 6 and this time with chariots (again in different orders) and the mountains are brass. Brass usually represents judgment, but I will not take time here to provide evidence of that. Zechariah gives a description of the duties and purposes of these horsemen:
So here it appears that the horsemen patrol the entire earth and quiet the spirit of God by judging the transgressions. Ezekiel will shed light that these are actually judgments. Ezekiel does not mention horses or riders, but speaks of the four judgments which sound very similar to our Revelation riders who we know are executing judgments.
The Four Judgments of Ezekiel
Vs. 21 and following I believe are our four Revelation horsemen.
The Four Angels in Enoch
Enoch speaks of four men, and following the format seen in Zechariah, one leads the other three. This is an allegory, in Enoch and the four men represent angels and the peoples and nations are represented by different animals. In this allegory, one of the four men gave the animals a sword to kill (the sword is one of the four judgments in Ezekiel) and the angel which went first bound up the stars (which represent the fallen angels also described as having a form like horses).
There are four angels which stand before the Lord listed in Enoch chapter 40
Perhaps these are our four horsemen with Michael as their leader. I suppose we shall find out when we get there!
The Four Horsemen are Executors of Judgment
It is my opinion that these angels have been going throughout the earth with judgments of sword, pestilence, death and famine at least since the dividing of nations in Babel. Their purpose is to appease the wrath of God by sending hard times on sinful nations in order to provoke them to repentence. Once they repent, the wrath of God is appeased. In that respect it is a form of mercy, keeping the nations from a worse fate. It is always God’s purpose to redeem mankind back to himself.
Evidence of this can be seen in the account where David sins in numbering the people and is given a choice what the judgment should be. He is given three of the four judgments listed in Ezekiel to choose from: famine, pestilence, or war. An angel is sent to deliver the judgment of pestilence and is stopped when the people repent.
In Numbers, a plague was stayed when the leaders of Israel brought an Israelite man to judgment who was committing fornication openly and in public with a Midianite woman, presumably as a ceremony to Baal. Again there was judgment by a plague that was stopped once the people repented.
There are other instances where angels are smiting sinners. The death of the firstborn in Egypt, Sennacharib’s army in II Kings, and the followers of Korah (I Cor 10:10).
If what Paul says, that evil men shall ‘wax worse and worse” in the end times, it only makes sense that the horsemen would be busy in the last days bringing judgments to entice sinners to repentence. However, in the last days, instead of nations repenting, they begin to martyr God’s people. The fifth seal shows that mankind has progressed from its regular form of evil to apocalyptic evil. It is upon this response to the merciful judgments of God that the remnant is removed (the sixth seal) and the judgment trumpets are sounded.