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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 balances in his hand.”  The white horse is a symbol of purity, being submerged by the red which is a symbol of sin, and the red being succeeded by the “black” denotes spiritual darkness, or mental blindness.  Therefore, the color (black), signifies misconception of God’s personality.

As man plunged into sin, his moral and spiritual powers were weakened to the extent that his vision of God’s invisible presence was blotted out.  The sinner’s spiritual corruption and immoral inclinations demanded a visible deity to redeem him from everlasting ruin.  Thus the worship of the unseen and omnipresent One was forsaken, and the adoration of idols substituted.  This state of spiritual darkness had overwhelmed the inhabitants of our world in the days of Abram, only about three hundred years after the flood.

As there is no record of idol-worship before that time, the black horse must represent the period from that date to the Christian era.  Evidently Israel after the flesh comes under the period of the black horse.  In each instance, when the world reached the climax of Satanic deception, God, in His mercy and love for sinners, was compelled to make certain moves to preserve human probation.  At that time He could not destroy the sinners from the face of the earth and yet keep His promise to Noah.  To assure the preservation of the covenant He called out Abram from idolatry to the worship of the true God, starting out a separate nation by one family similar to that of Adam and Noah; and the result was that the twelve Patriarchs of Israel came forth, of whom God made one great nation. 

The Balances In The Rider’s Hand

Rev. 6:5, last part, “And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.”  As the white horse rider’s crown and bow refer to his privileges, and the great sword in the hand of the red horse’s rider shows his prerogative, just so the balances in the hand of the rider of the black horse must have reference to the people and their characteristics, in that period.

Balances are used for commercial purposes.  Therefore, the symbol denotes the first introduction of a commercialistic idea.  Prior to, or about Abram’s time, commercial trading between nations was unknown.  But in the period represented by the black horse this idea was born.  The Phenician-Semitic race are credited with the ever-increasing discovery, with Sidon and Tyre as their chief commercial centers.  “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.)

“We must mention another ‘Little’ people of this Semitic race whose influence upon the world has been more potent than that of Egypt, or Babylonia — the Phenicians.  Their state also was one of the smallest in antiquity…. Their two chief cities were Sidon, and, a short distance away, the queen of Phenician cities, Tyre.  But 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 the 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; and 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.

“We recall from the Old Testament the story of David’s wish to build a temple worthy of the worship of the God of Israel.  It is intimated to him that the work had better be left to his son Solomon.  So we see Solomon making a treaty with Hiram, King of Tyre.  Hiram was to furnish cedar and cypress-wood, together with carpenters and stone-masons for the building, and to ship the materials on rafts to Juda.  Much of the external splendor of Solomon’s brilliant and showy rule should be credited to the technical skill of these master-craftsmen of Phenicia.  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.  At the time of Homer the Phenicians were credited with being pirates — robbers — and merchants only by virtue of necessity.  Possibly nothing worse than legend, but we are told they brought their trinkets beads, and cheap baubles, which they sold at high prices and kidnaped boys and girls to be sold in the eastern markets as a sideline.” — “Essential Knowledge, — The Phenicians,” Vol. 1, pp. 69, 70.

Hurt Not The Oil And The Wine

 Rev. 6:6, “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say,… and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”  According to Revelation 4:6, the four beasts are round about the throne.  Therefore, the throne is in the midst of the beasts.  Says John: “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts.”  One of the things he heard was, “See thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”  Therefore, whatever is meant by the symbol, it is not of men, but of God, for it was He who commanded, “Hurt not the oil and the wine.”

It is an accepted fact by nearly all Bible students that “oil” is used by the Scriptures as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, as in Psalms 45:7; Isaiah 61:1-3; Zechariah 4:12.  “Wine” is used as a symbol of the blood of Christ, and as the “life is in the blood,” the wine denotes life eternal, found only in “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.”  Said Jesus, “The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life” — “oil” and “wine.”  The words in the Bible are the “Spirit” and the “Life.”  Therefore, the command, “hurt not the oil and the wine,” has reference to the Bible — the Spirit and the Life.  But why was the command given to this particular rider?  Why not to one of the others?  The only answer that can be given is that the period under the black horse and his rider gave birth to the Bible.  The command was obeyed and the Bible came.  In time of idolatry and dense spiritual darkness, God, in His never failing love, blessed the human family by the gift of His written Word for a Light to the world.  The voice from the throne “Hurt not the oil and the wine,” is the voice in the Bible and the words of Jehovah.  The remaining part of verse six will be explained in another study.