The last horse that John saw was, in the original language (Greek), a green horse. Our translations say Ďpaleí, perhaps because a dead personís face may have a pale green colour.
John gives the name of the rider of the horse: it is Death, which Paul calls the last enemy in 1 Corinthians 15:26. These passages seem to show that death is not merely the event at the end of a personís life on earth. It is a powerful evil spirit that is constantly trying to put people into hell. So, John saw that another evil spirit called Hades came with the spirit called Death. Hades is another name for hell.
God did not want people to suffer death. Death entered the world because people refused to obey God (Genesis 3:3; Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:12). Since then, death has used its cruel power against all people. However, Christ came so that Godís people will have life (John 10:10). Death may kill their bodies but their spirits are safe with God in heaven (see Revelation 6:9-11).
Death is very powerful, as John saw. People may escape the swords of their enemies but then starve because of the lack of food. It they do not starve, they may die because of a terrible illness. It they are still not dead, wild animals can kill them. There is no escape from death (compare Amos 5:19).
Death does not have absolute power. That is why everyone is not already dead. God places a limit on the power of evil forces. In the terrible war that John is describing, God only permits Death to kill a quarter of the people. All people deserve to die because of their evil deeds (Romans 6:23). However God delays the punishment because, perhaps, some people may still turn to him (2 Peter 3:9).
Death and Hades are cruel and wicked spirits. In the end, God will give them the punishment that they deserve (Isaiah 25:7-8; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Revelation 20:14).
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© 2016, Keith Simons.