In thinking about what has changed in a world that has experienced the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it points us to the forces undone. Believing that much of what we read in Revelation has happened already, or is happening now, it’s always made me wonder about this rider that was given “a fourth” of the earth.
In Revelation 6:7, “When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, “Come!” I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and (death), and by the wild animals of the earth.”
Honestly, I’ve not done much studying on the specifics of these symbols in a while. Growing up in the land of “Rapture Readiness” and extremely skewed/blurred vision in regards to this book about Jesus, I was finally freed (thank you Jesus, college, and NT Wright) from those chains.
In listening to Dr.Mulholland from Asbury recently, he talks about this rider and the authority that’s been given. Unlike many of the sky-watchers like the site linked above, Dr.Mulholland offers a much more reasonable translation. Throughout scriptures, we hear the phrase “to the third and fourth generations”. (Ex. 20:5, Deut. 5:9, 2 Kings 15:12, etc.) It was common to think in terms of generations when it came to family life and blessings. You have a first generation (children), second generation (parents), third generation (grandparents), and fourth generation (great grandparents).
Influenced by this, it wouldn’t be a large leap to interpret these words as pointing to death having authority over the 4th generation. It just so happens that most people usually die when they’re in that 4th and oldest stage of life, if things like the sword and famine (riders 2 & 3) don’t first.
This can be a hard interpretation to swallow, if we view Revelation as a secret time line meant to tell us how the world will come to a close, step by step. But when we read these words as pointing to Jesus, the world He has entered, and what He is accomplishing/He will accomplish…it can be a very healthy thing for our celebration of all it contains.
Yes, God has allowed “death” to have authority over a fourth. But here we see Jesus on a white horse (Rev. 6:2), ahead of the others in the picture. They are following His lead, and in Easter we continue celebrating that Christ goes ahead of us, calling us into New Life!!!