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7On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.

8During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

Zechariah 1:7-8 NIV

And here's the parallel in Revelation 6

1I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

3When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given the power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

7When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Revelation 6:1-8 NIV

Between the two passages, there are similarities of horses and those of red and white coloring. The pale, brown, and black shades of horses do not repeat or correlate between the two passages. So are the riders on the horses the same or similar between both passages?

4 Answers 4

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So are the riders on the horses the same or similar between both passages?

Before we begin in earnest, there are some key differences between them:

  1. We do not know how many horses are in Zechariah; but we know there are more than one of each colour.
  2. The horses in Zechariah are not sealed.
  3. The horse in Zechariah patrol the Earth, not bringing suffering but observing that the land is at peace (Zechariah 1:11), this is rather different.

There are also a few things we should bear in mind when looking at these two passages, to check if they are actually linked:

  1. These passages are both from apocalyptic texts and will share apocalyptic images (such as horses), espeially since John will have been well-versed in the book of Zechariah.
  2. They are both (messianic) Jewish apocalypses and thus there is an even closer link, for example redness is explained by Isaiah 63.
  3. Horses were more important at these times than during our own century, we might make horse-links more readily than their first readers.
  4. Four is quite a common number, both symbolically but also in a list. Here, what we have is an unknown number of horses in three colours with red being mentioned twice, that can't even be called a coincidence.

So are the riders on the horses the same or similar between both passages?

Personally, I think we're dealing with talking horses in the Zechariah. (Or talking horse-looking angels, rather.) It symbolically helps the Angel of the Lord stand out. The commentators that I've read just assume a synecdoche, so take that for what it is worth.

But what is key is that the leader of the horses in Zechariah does stand out, is the Angel of the Lord (Zechariah 1:11), and is riding a red horse. Now, if that leader is the pre-incarnate Jesus, then that rules out straight away that this is the rider behind the second seal.

However, even putting that aside, in Zechariah the leader rides a red horse. In Revelation, it is the second horse that is red and it is the fourth pale one that is the only one named. And Revelation describes the fourth rider being given a sword and given power, the Angel of the Lord already has power.

In conclusion, these are not the same horses. Nor, do I think John is making a reference to Zechariah here. But instead the two books share symbols, and this is a shared symbol.

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In both scriptures there are horses of different colors. The four horses are spirits

Rev 6:1-8 and Zechariah’s 6:1-8 These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

Zechariah 6

2 In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; 3 And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. 4 Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? 5 And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. 6 The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country. 7 And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth. 8 Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.

  1. The first horseman, a conqueror with a bow and crown, rides a white horse, = Catholicism (the pope wears a crown and catholicism has conquered many nations)

  2. The second horseman is given a great sword and rides a red horse, symbolizing war and bloodshed = Communism

  3. The third carries a balance scale, rides a black horse = Capitalism

  4. The fourth horseman rides a pale (chloros/green) horse = Islamism

The Red Green Alliance is Coming to America

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  • Hi Sharon, thanks for contributing! This answer has a good starting level of detail, but muddles two different Bible passages together and does not really give a clear justification for its reasoning. For example, 1) Zechariah's first horse is red. 2) Catholicism was never really a 'conquering' power, 3) Communism came after Capitalism, 4) Islam started more than a thousand years ago. The answer feels remarkably focused on the past 50 years and sort of skims over everything that happened in the 1900 years prior.
    – Steve can help
    Oct 26 at 13:48
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The appearance of the horses written in Zechariah 1 was at the time the exiles returned to Jerusalem. So the timeline is not in par with the book of revelation.

Zechariah 1:8 (NIV)

8 During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

Note the leader was among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Isaiah 41:18-19 read;

18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.

19 I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,

Isaiah 55:13 read;

Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”

The myrtle is a symbol of reconciliation between God and Israel. The angel replied Zechariah that they were sent by the Lord to go throughout the earth (vv10). The horsemen (red, brown and white) replied the angel that the whole world at rest and in peace (vv11). Then the angel pleaded the Lord His mercy to lift His anger against Jerusalem after seventy years (vv12).

So these horses (teams) in Zechariah were peace envoy whereas the four horses in revelation bring destruction and death.

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ZECHARIAH 1

In Revelation 6. there are four horses of different colors; white, red, black, and ashen.

Zechariah’s visions also have colored horses. Zechariah 1 might have four horses; “red, brown and white” (Zech 1:8). The LORD sent them “to go throughout the earth” and they reported back to “the angel of the LORD,” saying, "We have … found the whole world at rest and in peace" (Zech 1:10-11). In other words, the riders and horses of Zechariah serve as scouts and signify God’s awareness of what is happening on earth. This is substantially different from the horses in Revelation, who first bring the gospel and then major calamities.

In Zechariah 1, “the angel of the LORD” then asked, "LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem … which you have been angry with these seventy years" (Zech 1:12)? This refers to Jeremiah's prediction that Israel will be in exile for 70 years. The “how long”-question is parallel to the fifth seal, where the souls under the altar also ask, "How long, O Lord?" (Rev 6:10)

“The LORD Almighty” responded that He is angry with the nations that have caused so much calamity over Israel and that He “will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house (the temple) will be rebuilt” (Zech 1:14-16).

In conclusion, since there are similarities between Zechariah 1 and Revelation 6 and since, in Zechariah 1, the LORD will judge Israel’s enemies, some propose that the seals are also judgments on Israel’s enemies. However, this conclusion is not strong because the functions of the horses in Zechariah and Revelation 6 are substantially different.

ZECHARIAH 6

In Zechariah 6:1-8, there are four chariots:

“The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled.”

There are also parallels between the four horses in Revelation 6:1-8 and these four chariots:

Firstly, in both, we find horses of different colors, linked to the number 4.

Secondly, the four horses in Rev 6:1-8 are related to the four winds of Rev 7:1-3 and these four winds are related to the four chariots of Zechariah 6. To explain:

  • The four horses in Rev 6 are related to the four winds of Rev 6 because both groups are four in number and both are controlled by four angels: Each of the four horses is controlled by a living creature and each of the four winds is held back by one of the four angels.

  • Zechariah’s four horse-chariots are explained as “the four spirits of heaven.” Since “spirits” can also be translated as "winds," this implies a relationship between the four chariots and the four winds in Revelation 7.

[The four winds of Revelation 7 are an end-time final escalation of the four horses; both of the gospel preaching of the first horse and the consequential calamities of the other three horses. Another article identified the four winds of Revelation 7 as the seven last plagues (see, Sealed for the plagues).]

However, Zechariah’s four horse-chariots are substantially different from the four horses in Revelation 6:1-8 because the chariots merely ”patrol the earth” while the four horses bring the gospel and the subsequent calamities.

Therefore, in conclusion, Zechariah 6 does not help us much to explain the four horses of Revelation 6.

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