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  "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.  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." Rev. 6:5, 6.

   As we have seen, the white horse represents man's government of earth while still pure and free.  And now, since black is the opposite of white, the black horse must  represent man's government in spiritual darkness and captivity -- a condition opposite to that represented by the white horse.

   This is confirmed by history: Even as far back as Abraham's time, only about three hundred years after the flood, idol worship had overwhelmed the inhabitants of the world.  It was then that Abraham left Haran, his father's house and country (Gen. 11:31; 12:1).  His descendants, Israel, at length became slaves to Pharaoh, and afterwards to Nebuchadnezzer, King of Babylon.

   The pair of balances in the rider's hand should even more definitely point out the period into which the black horse and its rider extend, and which they represent.  As we have already seen the bow of the first horseman represents the means by which Adam subdued the earth (for all the human race came through him); and the sword of the second horseman, the means by which Adam's descendants took peace from the earth.  In similar manner, the balances of the third horseman must necessarily represent that which humanity next introduced.  And what besides some sort of commercialism could the symbolism portray?  Anyone can readily recognize that a man with a pair of balances must have something to do with buying and selling.

   In Abram's time, commercial trading between nations was unknown.  But during the following period, the period represented by the black horse, the idea was born.  It was then that Sidon and Tyre became the chief commercial centers.  And Inspiration propounds the question: "Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?" Isa. 23:8.

   Tyre, the queen of the Phoenicians was but a short distance from Sidon.  "In time they were  to spread their trade-colonies all over the Mediterranean, and up into other lands, ever on the search for new trade areas and commercial centers.  They were the bees of the ancient world carrying the pollen of culture wherever they went.  The necessities of trade and commerce drove them to perfect an alphabet, and from them the western world obtained it.  In some respects they were unique in the ancient world, and this distinction was interred with them.  For they were not interested in conquests, save commercial; they did not mind paying tribute to military powers, as long as those powers did not interfere with their rights of trade.  They had a Greek-like capacity for assimilating to themselves whatever Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Persia or any other phase of civilization offered; but their chief genius lay in invention, technical skill, business activity, and in industry.  In the working of iron, gold, ivory, glass, and purple dyes they stood in the ancient world without a peer.

   "... Through their cities flowed the highly profitable trade of Arabia and the East: and their manufacturers were kept busy turning out their products of metals, glass, and purple.  By sea and by land they traveled everywhere -- missionaries of trade -- the master-bargainers of the Old World." -- Essential Knowledge, The Phoenicians, Vol. I, pp. 69, 70.

   The command, "Hurt not the oil and the wine," came from the midst of the throne, from the Ancient of Days, not from the horseman.  Hence, the two commodities, oil and wine, represent not only something which only God can create but also that which He determines to preserve while wicked men would destroy it; thus the necessity for Him to command against anyone's hurting them.  And what other such spiritual commodities could the oil and wine at that particular time -- the time of the black horse -- represent but those products which the Bible then brought forth?  Moreover, it is an accepted fact by nearly all Bible students, that "oil" symbolizes prophetic, truth, truth that throws light on the future, that lightens the traveler's path (Ps. 45:7; Zech. 4:12); and that wine represents that part of the truth which makes the recipient of it glad, makes him act differently than before (Isa. 61:1-3).

   To summarize, it is obvious that the command, "Hurt not the oil and the wine," forbade interference with the writings of the Scriptures, again showing that the breaking of the third seal unveils the period in which the alphabet was invented and in which commercialism was originated; the period in which the Bible was being written, and in which one nation subjugated another; the period that gave birth to Empires.

   Hence, while the Old Testament time is closed with the third seal, the commencement of the New is unveiled in  THE FOURTH SEAL.