Rev 6:8 - I 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.

"They" refers to the four horsemen. I am interested in the last sentence. Are those powers respective to the four horsemen? The first kills by sword, the second, by famine, and so on? Does it mean Death kills "by the wild beasts of the earth"?

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The 4 symbolic horses ride forth at the opening of the first four of seven seals. To the first rider (on the white horse) a crown is given. To the second rider (on the red horse) a great sword is given. The third rider (on the black horse) has balances in his hand. To the fourth rider named Death (on the pale horse) is given authority to kill (over a quarter of the land) via sword, hunger, death, and the beasts of the land. That same authority is given to Hades, which follows close behind.

"They" in verse 8 refers to Death and Hades. This is shown in verse 7 by the voice of a heavenly living creature telling John to come and behold as the fourth seal is opened by Christ. This makes a clear distinction between the previous three seals being opened.

If all of the riders on all of the horses were to be viewed as having the same powers and authority, they would have been released at the same time, with the opening of one seal. But each one requires a fresh opening of a fresh seal.

You ask specifically about the last sentence relating to the power and authority of Death and Hades, namely, "There was given to them authority to kill, (over the fourth part of the land) with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and by the beasts of the land."

Showing that such powers are distinctive, consider how the rider on the white horse has a bow, but no arrows are mentioned. He goes forth to conquer, and he is a King, but he conquers due to his authority as King, not by exercising violence or death. I suggest that he conquers in love, for this one is no other than the resurrected Christ. Indeed, if all of the series of opening seals throughout Revelation are seen to follow Christ's triumphant ascension to the throne of God in heaven, then it means that from that time onward, all of those horsemen have been riding forth, throughout the earth, doing what they do. While the other three wreck havoc, misery and death, the King on the white horse conquers without violence. He draws to himself all those who are to be subjects of his kingdom, drawing them with the cords of love, for they willingly bend their knee to this King of Kings.

Of course, although peace has been largely missing from the earth, with war, famine, disease and death in every century before Christ, Revelation shows a new development on a greater, and increasing scale after Christ appears to John in that revelatory vision near the end of the first century A.D. The opening of the first 4 seals signifies the start of the build-up of God's judgments on earth, which will culminate in Christ's spectacular return. This (Rev. 19:11-16) is where Christ is, again, identified as the rider on a white horse, with many diadems on his head, and the name 'King of kings, and Lord of lords'." But this time he has a sharp sword to smite the nations. His peaceful conquest of the hearts of the redeemed is over. Now is the Day of Judgment.

It is necessary to detail this to show why the rider on the white horse in 6:2 cannot square with the idea that the "They" in 6:7 includes this King. Nor can the next two riders be included because the format of 6:2-8 shows a clear distinction between all of them, requiring four separate seals to be broken.

Then you ask if Death kills by the wild beasts of the earth. Death is the result of deadly animal attacks, so certainly Death and Hades are both involved in that form of unleashed deadliness. Yet it could be that we need to expand our thinking beyond tiger maulings, elephant tramplings, rabid dogs and the likes. Consider the way viruses in much smaller animals can so mutate that they cross from animals, over the species barrier and into the human species. That's just my own thought, in light of much more recent deaths of millions of people via mutated viruses. The answer to your last question is a simple, "Yes". That is what the scripture says. And the answer to your main question is, "The 4 horsemen have particular and distinctive powers, requiring particular and distinctive seals to be opened to reveal all of that."

Finally, do bear in mind that all those horsemen have been riding forth from Christ's ascension to this present day. But there are other seals opened, with more plagues poured out from heaven on to an increasingly godless, wicked world, until Christ comes to deal with those who refuse to repent, who refuse to fear God and to worship him. Revelation describes the 7 last plagues in 16:1-11, and the final global warning in 14:6-7. The 4 horsemen appear first (after Christ's ascension) and they are still riding forth, but many other things happened after their unsealing. The complexities of all of this are detailed in a 600-page book called "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" by John Metcalfe (published 1998). Pages 146-162 deal with those first 4 seals. The book can be obtained via http://www.johnmetcalfepublishingtrust.co.uk/contact_us.htm


The word 'They' in Revelation 6:8 refers to the fourth horseman and Hades. However, the Book of Revelation is highly symbolic and requires cautious comprehension to read.

The calamity intensifies from the first horseman to the fourth. The first horseman symbolized an invincible power, followed by a world war (second horseman), with a sword as its symbol. Subsequently, uncontrollable inflation follows, and a shortage of supplies that oil and wine must be preserved (third horseman). This is a symbol of famine. When the fourth horseman arrives, wars and famine continue, and plague and wild beasts follow. The wild beasts, if not taken literally, can be a wildcard which means people die from all sorts of things, even though they escape the war, the famine and the plague.

The image of calamity is highly parallel to the Book of Jeremiah, which frequently contains the three elements (sword, famine and plague) as symbols of the Lord's final judgement to Jerusalem. The same is found in the Book of Ezekiel, where the symbol of God's Razor in Ezekiel 5:1-12, and in Ezekiel 14:21, in which the Lord proclaims these exact four calamities;

Ezekiel 14:21 NIV

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments—sword and famine and wild beasts and plague—to kill its men and their animals!

Therefore, it is worth noting that the Lord's final judgement has come when the first horseman appeared, and the calamity will intensify over time. However, there is still hope. The wicked have been given a last chance to repent, if they can notice the signs. The Lord has made a promise;

Ezekiel 33:11 NIV

Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’


First, the "sword, famine, plague and wild beast" is what happens under the fourth seal/horse of Rev 6. The antecedent of "they" is the two personifications: (literally) "The Death" and "The Hades", ie, the rider on the horse and the one following close with him. That is "Death and Hades" were given power to kill by sword, famine, plague and wild beasts".

I also note that the authority given to Death and Hades to kill come directly from Jesus and His declaration in Rev 1:18 that He has the keys of Death and Hades, implying that He has authority over them.

Second, this sequence of death by "sword, famine, plague and wild beast" is deeply significant as it alludes to some important antecedents as follows:

  • In Jesus final sermon in Matt 24:7, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:11
  • In part of the consequences for unfaithfulness in Eze 5:17, 14:21 - see also 2 Chr 20:9, Jer 14:12, 21:7, 9, 24:10, 27:8, 13, 17, 18, 32:24, 36, 34:17, 38:2, 42:17, 22, 44:13, Eze 5:12, 6:11, 12, 7:15, 12:16.
  • The language of sword, famine, plague, and wild beasts is reserved in the Bible for God’s efforts to correct wayward saints (Lev 26:14-45, Deut 32:24, 25, 2 Sam 24:12, 1 Chr 11, 12, 2 Chr 20:9, Jer 14:12, 21:7, 9, 24:10, 27:8, 13, 17, 18, 32:24, 36, 34:17, 38:2, 42:17, 22, 44:13, Eze 5:12, 17, 6:11, 12, 7:15, 12:16, 14:21) by waking them from spiritual lethargy.

That is, notice that the "promise" of death by "sword, famine, plague and wild beast" is part of the Israelite Covenant "blessings and curses" as found in Lev 26 and Deut 28. That is, the fourth seal of Rev 6 uses the same language as Jesus' sermon in Matt 24 which, in turn, draws on the Covenant promises and curses in the OT.

By remaining faithful, we enjoy God's rich spiritual blessings; however, unfaithfulness removes us from God's protection and makes us liable to these disasters.


I believe that the four horsemen in Revelations refers to the rise of Islam and the first four leaders that make up the Umayyad Caliphate

Mohammed is also a direct descendant of Ishmael, the firstborn son of Abraham. So what do know about Ishmael? Lets see what the Bible says.

Genesis 16:12

And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

Genesis 21:20

And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

Since the he was wearing a crown, we know that he was an important figure and he did go forth and conquer.

Mohammed is the first horseman

Revelation 6:2

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

Another interesting fact is that if you search the word Baal, the idol they worshipped back in the day, in Strong's Dictionary the number is H1167 you get the following:

H1167 בַּעַל ba`al (bah'-al) n-m.

  1. a master.
  2. (hence) a husband.
  3. (figuratively) owner (often used with another noun in modifications of this latter sense).

[from H1166]
KJV: + archer, + babbler, + bird, captain, chief man, + confederate, + have to do, + dreamer, those to whom it is due, + furious, those that are given to it, great, + hairy, he that hath it, have, + horseman, husband, lord, man, +married, master, person, + sworn, they of.
Root(s): H1166

Abu Bakr is the second Horseman

Revelations 6:4

And there went out another horse [that was] red: and [power] was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

He crushed the rebellion of the Arab tribes throughout the Arabian Peninsula in the successful Ridda Wars. Though the period of his caliphate covered only 27 months, it included successful invasions of the two most powerful empires of the time: the Sassanid Persian Empire and Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire.

Umar is the third Horsemen

Revelation 6:5

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

Revelation 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.

Among the many things Umar did was impose a new tax system. Umar - "The King will do as he pleases" in Daniel 11:36-45. Daniel was taken captive in 605 BC as part of the Babylonian captivity of Israel. Daniel finished his work around the year 530 BC, shortly after the capture of Babylon by Cyrus of Persia in 539 BC. In the book of Daniel (Daniel 11:36-45 and 7:23-25) he sees a future king who treats the Holy People very badly. This King defeats three kings and changes the set times and laws. In all, Umar fulfilled 31 prophecies of Daniel. This king has many battlefield conquests and invades the Holy Land. Today many people think this king is still in the future (perhaps the “Antichrist”), but almost certainly Daniel was writing about the second Muslim caliph after Mohammad named Umar. Daniel wrote this 1,200 years before Umar. Umar was murdered in a mosque in Media, and no one came to help him.

Uthman is the fourth Horsemen. Revelation tells us the fourth rider is on a pale green horse

Revelation 6:8

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Uthman is critically important in Islamic history because after his death marked the beginning of open massive religious and civil war conflicts within the Islamic community (called the “Fitnah”). Uthman was also murdered by other Muslims. Following his death, Ali was chosen as the fourth caliph, but not before violent conflict broke out. War erupted when Ali became caliph, and he too was killed in fighting in the year 661 near the town of Kufa, now in present-day Iraq.

Revelation tells us the Four Horsemen will have power over one-quarter of the world. (Revelation 6:8 "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.") The Four Horsemen set in motion the Umayyad Caliphate.

At its greatest extent, the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) covered 15 million square kilometers (5.8 million square miles) and had power over 62 million people (estimated between 25% to 29% of the world’s population at that time), making it the one of the largest empires in history in both area and proportion of the world’s population. Today about 28% of the world is Islamic. The "Rightly Guided Caliphs" is a term used in Sunni Islam to refer to the 30-year reign of the first four caliphs (successors) following the death of the Islamic prophet Mohammad, namely: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali.

The Bible says the colors of the Four Horsemen are 1) white, 2) red and 3) black, these colors are the colors of Islam. Many translations give the fourth color as "pale". The correct translation is green, or pale green. The Greek word in Revelation 6:8 for the fourth color is chlóros: or pale green.


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