The Third Seal (Rev. 6:5–6)
6:5 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.
As the Lamb of God opened the third seal, the mighty voice of the third living creature heralded the coming of the third horse and its rider.
A Black Horse
Scriptures connect the color black with famine. Thus Jeremiah said, “Our skin has become as hot as an oven, Because of the burning heat of famine” (Lam. 5:10, NASU).
Having a Pair of Scales
The balance (scales) symbolizes judgment. So to pronounce God’s judgment to Belshazzar, the king, God said to him, “You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting” (Dan. 5:27).
Balance also symbolizes famine. A shortage of food will always increase prices and force the government to ration what is available. “To eat bread by weight” is a Jewish phrase indicating that food is scarce (Lev. 26:26).
6:6 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.”
Following the appearance of the black horse and its rider, John heard something like a voice in the center of the four living beings. Since the four living beings were around the throne (Rev. 4:6), this is likely the voice of God, the One sitting on the throne (Rev. 4:2–3).
God’s pronouncements revealed how devastating the famine would be. A quart of wheat is barely enough to sustain one person for one day. At the same time, a denarius represents one day’s wages for an average worker.
In (Rev. 6:5–6), those scenarios represent how drastic the curse is because of disobedience to God. Curse brings “four dreadful judgments, sword, famine, wild beasts and plague—to kill its men and their animals!” (Deut. 28:46–48; Ezek. 14:21, NIV).
We were all under the curse of the law before the death of Christ; as the scripture pronounced, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Gal. 3:10, NIV).
The imagery of the black horse and its rider with the balance in his hand presents God’s plan to make His Holy Son a curse as a mandate for redemption. Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ became a curse on our behalf on the cross, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Gal. 3:13; Deut. 21:23). Thus, God redeemed us from the curse in Christ.
No Harm to the Oil and Wine
Despite those extreme conditions, the voice of God commanded not to damage (waste) the oil and the wine. Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and wine is a symbol of joy. Likewise, nothing has affected the fullness of the Spirit in the Lord Jesus Christ and His pleasure. The Lord Jesus Christ had become the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2).