I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.Revelation 6:8(NASB)
The world is only too familiar with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Books have been written, poems have been penned, and pictures have been painted in an attempt to portray the carnage that is to befall the world during the great and terrible Day of the Lord. Songs have been sung, orchestras have fiddled, films have been produced, and preachers have proclaimed the happenings of the Great Tribulation when the wrath of God will be poured out on a God-hating, Christ-rejecting, sinful world.
But no matter how graphic the description, how terrifying the producer's script, how realistic their props and production, or how satisfied the viewing audience, there is nothing that can begin to describe the horror and carnage that will accompany these four, formidable horsemen who appear on the world scene after the Rapture of the Church at the end of this dispensation - nor of the satanic evil that must follow in their destructive wake.
While people who do not know the Lord are crying out, 'peace and safety' and probably cheering for the first horseman on his white horse - who will deceive the world with his peace plans... sudden destruction will come upon them all as the next three horsemen gallop onto the world stage - the red horseman of war and conflict - military action and bloodshed, the black horseman of plague and famine - scarcity, and inequality... and finally the fourth, terrifying horseman of death, on his pale green steed.
As John the revelator continued watching the opening scene of the Great Tribulation, he looked, and saw an ashen green horse... and the one who sat on its back was named Death, and Hades was following after this grim reaper. These four horsemen were given authority to slaughter over a quarter of the earth. They went out to kill by the sword, by famine, by plague, and by the wild animals of the earth.
It is as the Lamb breaks the fourth seal on the seven-sealed scroll and the fourth living creature booms out his ominous command to "COME", that the final, formidable horseman emerges on his pale-green steed. The rider is no respecter of persons. No-one is exempt from the icy fingers of Death or Hades - the place of the dead. Shockingly, a quarter of the population of the earth will be slaughtered as the floodgate of evil is unloosed.
Throughout the history of the earth, evil dictators have massacred millions, emperors have instigated war, and famines have resulted in the death of untold numbers of men and women. There is hardly a time in the entire history of humanity when nations have not risen up against other nations and death and destruction have resulted from man's lust for power, through the enslavement of others. But these former times of conflict pale into insignificance, by comparison with this future bloodbath and carnage which will commence with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The Lord Jesus Himself was speaking of this period, when he answered His disciples' question about His return and the end of the age to set up His kingdom - which will end Satan's authority over this world and his enslavement of mankind. Jesus also said of this terrible time - "For then there will be Great Tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be."
The rider on the fourth horse was called 'Death', but he was followed by Hades - which is the place of the dead. The question is often asked why both Death and Hades were mentioned, and the answer must be that Death refers to physical death, when life expires and body and soul are separated. While the body rots in the earth, the immaterial part of man - the soul, goes to Hades - the place of the dead. Hades is that dreadful place in hell where the souls of unsaved men are kept incarcerated, until the great and awful White Throne judgement of unrepentant souls - i.e. unsaved man.
But take heart! Christ conquered death for all who believe. Death has no power over the saved man, for when the physical body expires, both the spirit and soul of the righteous go to be with the Lord forever, while their empty, bodily shell, waits in the grave for the glorious resurrection of the dead. While the dead in Christ will be raised before the Great Tribulation, the Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints will be raised later. But when death claims the body and soul of the unsaved man, his eternal destiny is sealed as he awaits, in Hades, for the final judgement, at the end of the Millennium - which is followed by the lake of fire, with its inextinguishable flame.
Let us consider those that are lost, who will one day face this horrific future, and do what we can to tell the good news of the gospel of grace to those in need of redemption. Let us testify of the joy that could be theirs in Christ and warn of the wrath to come and the eternal sorrow that awaits those who refuse to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God for the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting.
Heavenly Father, as the time for the appearance of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse draws ever closer, be merciful to those that are dead in their sins, at enmity with God, and are facing the great and terrible Day of the Lord... and all that rejection of Christ's redemptive work on the Cross entails. Thank You, Lord, that I have been saved by grace, through faith in Him, and I pray that You would use me to alert many who will have to endure the coming time of Great Tribulation if they do not repent of their sin by turning to Christ for forgiveness. Look down in pity on those that are being deceived by Satan and open their eyes to the truth of the gospel of grace - before it is too late. This I pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.