The red horse is mentioned only twice in scripture. Most people are aware of the horse of the apocalypse whose color is red but few realize this same horse is mentioned in Zechariah Chapter 6.
From our previous study on the white horse, we learned from Zechariah that the horsemen are spirits unleashed by God to enact judgments. The Second Seal judgment of Revelation Chapter 6 reads as follows: 3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say , Come and see . 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.
The dispensational or futurist view interprets this verse as taking place in the seven year period of time known as the Tribulation. Traditionally, their view is the white horse unleashes the Antichrist, Satan incarnated as a man, upon the Earth. The Antichrist rises to power on a peace platform but the unleashing of the red horse shows that this peace is only a false peace. War will be the fruit of the Antichrist ruling the world after a time of relative peace and prosperity.
This viewpoint is supported by scriptures like this one For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child ; and they shall not escape. 1 Thess. 5:3
The question is: Does this prophecy have a long range fulfillment or a short range fulfillment or both?
The Seal judgments are but the beginning of a series of twenty-one judgments that bring one horrible calamity upon another on our planet. The purpose of these judgments is to prepare the Earth for the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He who is without sin is cleaning up a world that is full of sin.
There is ample evidence from our history books that this red horse may have been riding for a long time. In all of recorded history, there have only been 268 years when there was only peace. When Word War I took place, 16.5 million people died and 21 million were wounded. A bloody sword had indeed fallen upon our world and the world thought there would be nothing like that ever again.
World War II came along and proved them wrong. The casualties of that war were the greatest in human history. Over 60 million people were killed. The collapse of the twin towers due to Islamic terrorists crashing planes into them took almost 3,000 lives. World War II was the equivalent of 20,000 trade centers collapsing.
Reflecting back on World War II, I am sure many people thought this was the Apocalypse. We had a type of antichrist, Adolf Hitler, persecuting the Jews. Two cities were destroyed by atomic bombs in Japan. However, there was no state of Israel then. There was no technology enabling a world economy and a world government. Although it may have seemed that the judgments of Revelation were being poured out, there were too many missing components for the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. World War II was just a preview of even a worse war coming. There will be a World War III and the rider on the red horse may be the beginning of that war.
In our study of the white horse, it was determined that the color white could be symbolic of a world power as the horsemen represent spirits sent forth by God. A power that has much influence on the affairs of the world whose symbolic color is white is Catholicism. The Catholic flag is white with keys on it and it has a yellow side to it as well. White represents purity as our sins are washed white in the blood. Catholicism holds the position there is no salvation outside of their church.
If the white horse is symbolic of a spirit controlling a world power, then what world power is symbolized by the color red? The answer, of course, is Communism. The communist flag is red. The red horse is definitely symbolic of war but could it also represent the rise of Communism?
Communist leaders have been responsible for the deaths of millions of their own people ("they should kill one another"). Anywhere from 49 to 78 million people died under China's Mao Ze-Dong's reign. Russia's Joseph Stalin was responsible for the deaths of 23 million people. These two Communist leaders led the bloodiest genocides in recorded history.
The red horse does seem to indicate that the peace taken from the Earth involves civil wars and brother against brother. There are those who maintain that the Roman Empire fulfilled these prophecies but I do not agree with them but they have interesting study material and I have posted a You Tube video below with their viewpoint.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse do seem to parallel the prophecies of Jesus in Matthew 24. When the disciples asked Jesus what the the sign of His coming would be, Jesus first talked about people claiming to be Christ (the white horse) then Jesus said, "6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled : for all these things must come to pass , but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:" This fits the description of the red horse to a tee.
The more I study this prophecy the more inclined I am to conclude that this prophecy has both a long term fulfillment and a short term fulfillment. Time will reveal the truth.