The rider on the Black Horse is usually depicted as a mysterious skeletal figure, draped in a black hooded robe, holding out a pair of scales in his thin bony hand, unleashing famine on the earth but is this picture correct?
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I believed the interpretation described above for over 30 years as I left the study of the book of Revelation up to the experts to explain. However a few years ago I began to research the barley plant in Scripture and as part of this research I discovered a Jewish website which stated that whenever ‘barley’ is mentioned in the Old Testament, the outcome always resulted in the Israelite’s receiving protection and deliverance from hunger and death.
After conscientious study I found that this statement was absolutely correct!, even in the New Testament. A particularly interesting phenomena I discovered was, that it didn’t matter whether if it was 3 Measures of Barley, a Barley Cake, some Barley Bread, or a Field of Barley the outcome was always the same DELIVERANCE FROM FAMINE AND DEATH. However I discovered that just one reference to ‘barley’ in connection with the Black Horse of Revelation 6 did not line up with all the other references, as I had believed for over 30 years that the Black Horse of Revelation ‘brought famine’. The fact that each mention of ‘barley’ in all of the other passages consistently saw the Israelite’s ‘delivered from famine’ aroused my curiosity to look further. I spent almost two years researching the 7 symbols associated with the Black horse using the ‘the law of first mention’ (The ‘law of first mention’ is a Biblical principle whereby the first time a subject is mentioned it establishes a consistent pattern right throughout Scripture.) and I unearthed some surprising and unexpected results that brought to light an entirely different and positive message through the Black Horse of Revelation!
Here are the verses in question – Revelation 6:5
When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
I will first examine the denarius coin looking at the context, or what message is put forward, in every passage that the denarius appears in Scripture (which is seven times), to help arrive at the correct interpretation for this coin in Revelation 6. (Please note that all portions of Scripture below are paraphrased)
The denarius is first mentioned in Matthew 18:28 and is the parable of the unforgiving servant.
The unforgiving servant had owed a thousand bags of gold, but after begging his master to be patient, was freed of that debt. The harsh servant then went on and ordered his own fellow servant to pay back a one hundred DENARII DEBT OWING and took no pity on him, even after he begged him to be patient. Jesus concludes the parable with these words – ‘You wicked servant! I FORGAVE YOU all your ‘DEBT’ because you begged me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’
So the message is; THE DEBT OWED THE DEBT PAID. Who paid the debt in this parable? JESUS DID!
The second mention of the Denarius is in The Parable of Landowner who owned a Vineyard” in Matthew 20:2 – The landowner in this parable hired some men to work in his vineyard ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. (These men were standing in the market place – doing nothing – they had no work – their ‘DEBTS’ could NOT be ‘PAID’!) Each man was ‘PAID’ a ‘DENARIUS’ for the day; whether they worked a Full Day, a Half a Day, or just a Small Portion of the Day. So for the man who was hired at the end of the day, the denarius was actually worth three times more! Jesus is the landowner in this parable and the message that he is conveying, is that no matter what time that ‘anyone’ either Jew or Gentile enters ‘the kingdom of Heaven’, the REWARD is always the same ‘ETERNAL LIFE’ through ‘HIS PAYMENT’ – represented by the ‘DENARIUS’;
The message is; THE DEBT OWED THE DEBT PAID. Who paid the debt in this parable? JESUS DID!
I find it interesting that Bible Scholars and Teachers often use the above parable as evidence for their interpretation of the meaning of the Denarius. The argument commonly put forward is that the Denarius represents a ‘day’s wage’ – (Their reasoning is that the Denarius would only buy a meagre amount of food for the day); but when you examine the CONTEXT in which the Denarius is presented in this parable, it represents the same payment/reward for us all, which is ‘eternal life’. (I encourage you to take a look at this link for more understanding about the parable. https://www.gotquestions.org/parable-laborers-vineyard.html )
The third mention of the Denarius is about the paying of the imperial tax to Caesar – Matthew 22:19; Mark 12:15. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus by asking Him if it was right to pay the imperial tax. Jesus however asked them ‘Show me the coin for the tax.’ A DENARIUS was presented to Jesus who replied to the Pharisees. ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.’ In Matthew 17:23-27, the tax collectors came around to collect the taxes from Jesus and the disciples, and Peter asked if they had to pay them. Jesus replies that the ‘sons are exempt from paying the taxes’, but JESUS PAYS them for Himself and the disciples by way of a silver coin found in the mouth of a fish. Romans 13:7. PAY to all what is OWED to them: TAXES to whom taxes are OWED.
The message is; THE DEBT OWED THE DEBT PAID. Who paid the debt for the taxes? JESUS DID!
The fourth mention is where Jesus is anointed by the sinful woman at Bethany – Mark 14:5; John 12:5. After Jesus’ feet were anointed with very expensive perfume by a sinful woman at Bethany, one of the Pharisees became indignant and asked the woman, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for over three hundred DENARII and the money given to the poor.’ Jesus responds to the Pharisee: in Luke 7: 41-42 ‘Two men were DEBTORS to a certain moneylender. One OWED him five hundred DENARII, and the other fifty. When they were unable to REPAY him, he FORGAVE both of them. Which one, then, will love him more?’
The message is; THE DEBT OWED THE DEBT PAID. Who paid the debt that could not be repaid JESUS DID!
The fifth mention sees Jesus feeding the 5,000 – Mark 6:37 & John 6:7. The disciples were worried that Jesus’ 5,000 followers were hungry and approached Him to see if they could send the people off to nearby villages to buy some food; but Jesus’ answer to the disciples was, ‘You give them something to eat.’ Confused the disciples reply ‘Shall we go and buy two hundred DENARII worth of bread and give it to them to eat?’ We all know how the story ends as Jesus multiplied the bread and fed everyone with more left over. The bread would have cost Two Hundred DENARII, which the disciples could NOT have PAID for, but instead Jesus provides the equivalent of the 200 DENARII of bread and more.
The message is; THE DEBT OWED THE DEBT PAID. Who indirectly paid the debt for the Bread? JESUS DID!
The 6th mention is the parable about the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25. On one occasion an expert in the law tests Jesus and asks him, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus goes on to tell the parable about a man who was attacked by robbers and left for dead and how only ‘a Samaritan man’ (not considered one of God’s people) went out of his way to help the injured person. The next day the Samaritan took out two DENARII to give to the innkeeper to care for the injured man and affirms that he will PAY any extra expenses (DEBT) incurred for his care.
The message is; THE DEBT OWED THE DEBT PAID
Until recently I knew that five of the accounts about the Denarius showed that Jesus definitely paid the debt but I wasn’t sure about the parable of the Good Samaritan at all until I found this verse.
John 8:48 “The Jews answered him (Jesus), “Aren’t we right in saying that YOU ARE A SAMARITAN and demon-possessed?”
I had always thought that the parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrated that we should be the Good Samaritan (Which of course we should always be ready to rescue our neighbour, who has been beaten about by life’s trials – for that is the message that Jesus is conveying to the ‘Expert in Jewish Law’ here) but I do believe that Jesus is specifically referring to Himself as the ‘Good Samaritan’ and that those who have been attacked and robbed – “by Satan” – my conjecture here (John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy) are the ones who are left by the roadside. Jesus demonstrates in the parable how the ‘expert man of the law’ should treat his neighbour/those who have been attacked and robbed and he distinctly points out that a priest didn’t go to the man’s rescue, he passed by on the other side of the road; and even a Levite – who was a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi, where his job was to specifically assist the priests in Jewish Temple Worship also passed by on the other side of the road. It was only a ‘Good Samaritan’ man (which the Jews referred to Jesus as “an Evil Samaritan” in John 8:48) that helped the injured man. In other words the ‘teachers in the law’ must do what Jesus the Good Samaritan Man would do; which is to have mercy on the man who had been attacked and robbed. The symbolism in this story is interesting too because we find that the Good Samaritan bandaged the man’s wounds and poured oil and wine on them.” (Oil and Wine signifies the Holy Spirit and the Blood of Christ – which bring cleansing, healing and life to us). We must carry the Oil of the Spirit with us and the message of the Blood of Christ to bring cleansing, healing and life to those who have fallen by the wayside.
So ‘Who paid the Debt’ in the parable about the Good Samaritan? I believe JESUS DID!
Now if you apply the “Law of First Mention” (which is a Biblical principle whereby the first time a subject is introduced it sets the pattern in Scripture) then you would expect with such a consistent and unchanged message that is presented in all of the references above in Scripture, that the Denarius would represent ‘JESUS PAYMENT’ in REVELATION 6 as well, and I believe it definitely does particularly when you examine every other symbol connected to the Black Horse with what the rest of Scripture says.
Sadly Bible Scholars and Teachers have ignored the context in which the Denaruis coin presents itself in Scripture, and instead have taken just one very small portion of a verse to arrive at their conclusions, which has presented an inaccurate interpretation for Denarius Coin of Revelation 6.
Just to finish: If you examine the picture above you will see that the Denarius makes the balances even. “An even balance is always a GOOD thing in Scripture.”
For example Job said in Job 31:6 “let me be weighed in an even balance”. (Job’s scales were evenly balanced)
God says in Isaiah 40:12 “Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” (The earth is precisely balanced or there would be no life, if it were not.)
Belshazzar scales however were of differing weights. God said in Daniel 5:27 Tekel: “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” (Belshazzar’s scales were not even like those of the Black Horse of Revelation.)
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These pages look at a couple more of the symbols of the Black Horse of RevelationClick the image below for a comprehensive study of the White Horse of Revelation 6
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