When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine. 6:5-6
The Black Horse
The third creature, which had a face like a man, introduces the third horse and its rider. This rider had a pair of scales in his hand. These represent business dealings, and of course, creatures other than humans are not familiar with business transactions. Therefore, it seems proper that the creature, which had a face like a man, should introduce this rider.
A quart of wheat, as much as one man would eat in one day, is the amount that is to be sold for a penny or about one day's wages as seen here. When he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. Mat. 20:2 KJV. So what can a family man do to support his family? By working a whole day, he can earn only enough to feed one person. Starvation seems inevitable!
do not harm the oil and the wine. It seems that the olive oil and the wine, have not been priced above tolerable levels as the wheat has. Wuest. The Living Bible has added an interesting, and an unlikely, interpretation to, do not harm the oil and the wine, by changing it to, but there is no olive oil or wine.
Mr. McGee* makes the following interesting statement. The oil and the wine are luxuries that are enjoyed by the rich. Oil would correspond to our toiletries, the beauty aids and the body conditioners that we use today; that is, the luxuries of life. The wine corresponds to the liquor that will be in abundance. Isn’t it interesting that there will not be enough foodstuff, not enough barley for food, but there will be enough barley to make liquor! They will make it in that day, and the rich are the ones who will get it. It is worthy of note, though, that, in this connection, the Bible says nothing about liquor, or barley being used to make liquor. It speaks only of wine, and at that time it would have referred only to grapes.
The Pale Horse
When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. 6:7-8
On this theme, 6:8 is interesting; the power to kill by war, by famine, sickness and by the wild beasts of the earth was given unto the riders on the pale horse but the power to kill was not given to the first three horses. The rider of the white horse goes to war but the riders of the pale horse are there also. The one is there to cause death and the other is there to take the souls of those who have died into the unseen place (Hades). This same reasoning is used of the presence of the pale horse in the case of the red horse and the black horse.
Power was given unto them (the two riders on the forth horse) over the fourth part of the earth. One tends to read this verse as though Death and The Unseen were given power over twenty five percent of the world's population, but what it actually does say is that they were given power over twenty five percent of the geographical earth. Perhaps it is that area, found in Bible history: Eastern Europe, areas around the Mediterranean Sea, Northern Africa and East as far as the Euphrates River.
In speaking of two of the horsemen, who had gone riding into the North Country, God said, these have given rest to My Spirit. Zech. 6:8. In other words, God's will, is now accomplished, and his anger is abated, because they went riding. For John, the North Country would be either Syria or Russia (which in John’s day was called “Gog”). Later in his book, John writes about Gog, therefore it is reasonable that in this case, Zechariah also was referring to Russia. According to Bible prophecy Russia will play a major role in the last war this world will ever see.
After reading of the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse" the mind tends to make a break. However, a break does not occur here, since only four of the seven seals have been opened.
* Through the Bible with Dr. J Vernon McGee.