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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE SECOND SEAL IS OPENED

Rev 6:3-4 And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

With the opening of the second seal, the second page was revealed. Here, the second beast, or living creature, invited the apostle John, to come and see its revelation. It seems that immediately after the first vision disappeared, the second replaced it. What John saw was a second horse, not white as the first, but red as blood in color. Again we need to remind ourselves that horses were only used in warfare. This train of thought continues with this vision, with the exception of the color of the horse. The white horse and its rider represented a period of triumph, prosperity, and peace within the Roman Empire, which allowed the infant church of Christ to grow and prosper.

This time the rider, seated upon this red horse, was armed with a great sword, and his mission was to take peace from the earth. Notice that the peace existing throughout the Roman empire, under the reigns of previous Roman emperors, would not be taken away by the invasion of foreign governmental powers. The destruction would come from within. The peace that had existed for almost one hundred years within the Roman Empire would be destroyed by blood-drenched civil wars that would rage among a succession of evil Roman emperors - they should kill one another.

The period of history symbolically depicted, when the second seal was opened, was a prophetic vision of the bloodiest, and longest lasting, civil war in the history of mankind, one filled with extreme vindictive strife, bloodshed, and murder. This internal civil carnage had its beginning when Commodus replaced Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and ascended to the throne of emperor in A.D. 180. During the first few years of his reign there was relative peace, but he soon became a bloody tyrant having no pity, or remorse, for those that opposed him. Historians tell us that, while in a drunken stupor, he was assassinated without resistance in his bedchamber.

With his assassination in the year 193, the long-existing state of peace within the Roman Empire began to crumble. Pertinax was elevated to the emperorship of Rome, but after a reign of only eighty-six days, he too was murdered. A wealthy Roman senator, known as Julian actually purchased the rights to the throne from the praetorian guards, but he also, could not find any support from the Roman elite, and neither from its common population. With public discontent raging, an army commander, named Septimius Severus entered the palace, beheaded Pertinax, and placed himself on the throne. Although this emperor was equally evil and could gain very little following, by his military might, he vanquished all rivals, and ruled for a few years until his death.

Afterwards, his two sons, Gata and Caracalla, contended for the throne and Gata was slain by his brother. Without continuing to enumerate each ruthless successor to the Roman throne, it is expedient to say that civil war raged for approximately ninety-two years - until the year 284. Some historians tells us that during this chaotic period of civil war there were thirty-two emperors that assumed Roman rule, and twenty-seven other tyrants attempted to gain this title without succeeding. It is also recorded that, of these fifty-nine rivals desiring to rule the Roman Empire, fifty-seven died a violent death at the hands of their own relatives, by other Roman rivals, or by their discontented followers.

As previously stated, there has never been another period of unrest among the people of a nation, and never such violent civil warfare existed among would-be militant leaders of a nation, than what took place during this ninety-two year period of the Roman Empire. Considering this historical account, one can easily understand how the vision seen by the apostle John could very well have been the fulfillment of the prophecy uncovered, when the seals were removed from the book, revealing the red horse and its rider. Indeed, the slaughter and carnage that took place during this era took peace from the earth. The prosperity, peace, and tranquility that had existed for the previous eighty-four years was destroyed and replaced by an era of bloodshed, which resulted during this period of vengeful civil war.