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Third Seal - Agony/Famine 6:5-6

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. 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." - Revelation 6:5-6

When He (Jesus, the Lamb) opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." John reminds us that, in his vision, he was an eye-witness to these events.

So I looked, and behold, a black horse. Black, in this case represents something negative-a dark period of time in the future.

And he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. A third rider appears on a black horse holding a pair of scales. Today a scale is usually a machine that shows the weight of something. Originally it was a beam with a pivot in the center and pans, or trays, of equal weight on both sides. A weight of a known value (8 oz., 1 lb., etc.) was placed in one tray and food was loaded into the other until the two trays balanced.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures. Many commentators believe this is the voice of God the Father, because His throne would be surrounded by the four living creatures.

This voice was saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius."

This expression symbolizes a terrible famine, probably as a result of the previous world-wide warfare. Famine proceeds from war directly when crops are destroyed by the warfare, and indirectly when the process of farming and distribution of food is disrupted by blockades and the diversion of manpower and resources for the war effort.

In His Sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus had predicted famine as one of the signs of the times even before the Tribulation

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. - Matthew 24:7

In our generation hunger has always been a serious problem because of wars and natural disasters. The "Arab Spring" revolutions of 2011 were caused by food shortages in the Middle East and Africa. These popular uprisings led to changes of government, but did not solve their hunger problems.

Reliable statistics are hard to obtain, but according to some experts, approximately one-third of the world's population does not have enough to eat.
(, and -starving-economic-crisis-no-excuse-98434/)

Over 3 million children die from malnutrition every year (more than 8000 per day).

Economic turmoil is another contributor to the famine problem. Financial malaise is already growing before the Tribulation begins. The unity and prosperity of Europe is threatened by the possibility of bankruptcy in Greece and other European Union members. China has become an economic giant, but a stock market crash there in June and July of 2015 caused the loss of 25% of their wealth.

During the Tribulation Period, after the great war of the Second Seal, the planet will face its greatest famine of all. A quart of wheat will cost a denarius. The New International Version translates this statement this way: "Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages." A loaf of bread typically weighs about two pounds. At today's prices it costs almost two dollars.

So, a person earning today's minimum wage could now buy 29 loaves with a day's wages. How will people survive in that dreadful future when all they can buy with a day's wages is one loaf of bread?

The voice also said, "And do not harm the oil and the wine." These represent luxury foods, which only the very rich will be able to afford. Unfortunately, in that day of mass poverty, there will be the super-rich who will callously live a decadent life-style at the expense of the suffering masses. This has happened throughout history. A 2014 report issued by the British charity, Oxfam, says that the 85 richest people across the globe own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion-about $1.6 trillion; and 1 percent of the world's richest people own 46 percent of the world's wealth--$110 trillion.
(Charity: 85 Wealthiest as Rich as Half the World,

This future crisis is obviously caused by a lack of food, but it may also be made worse by run-away inflation. This is a devaluation of money that results when governments spend more than they have, and resort to printing more paper money, without having anything valuable in the bank-like gold-to back it up. When this happens, people's savings and their incomes shrink in buying power. This happened during the dark days of Germany's Weimar Republic in the 1920's when it literally took a wheelbarrow of paper money to buy a few groceries.
(Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic, Wikipedia,

In our days many countries, including the United States, are spending far more than they should. They borrow with the hopes of increasing their income, but end up inflating their currency to pay the interest on their loans. Today, in 2015, our national debt is over $18 trillion.

The economic impact of this famine during the Tribulation, and an economic collapse, will prepare the people of the world to accept a benevolent dictator.

Next: Revelation 6:7-8


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