Rev 6:1-8  "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. 3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 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. 5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. 7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." 

In the 5th chapter of Revelation we read of a book sealed with seven seals that only the Lamb could open.  In the 6th chapter we see the Lamb as he opens the first four seals and we see four horses and a rider or riders on the four horses.  In Zechariah chapter 6 we see a somewhat similar set of four horses and the meaning of the horses is given to us in verse 5: "And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth." 

Therefore we can conclude that the four horses in Revelation as well as the four horses in Zechariah represent the “four spirits of the heavens.”  Also we will note that bible colors are also associated with specific bible subjects.  The color white is associated with righteousness: 

          1.  Judg 5:10 "Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way."

          2.  Song 5:10 "My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand."

          3.  Is. 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

          4.  Dan 7:9 "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire."

          5.  Dan. 11:35 "And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed."

          6.  Dan. 12:10 "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand."

          7.  Matt. 17:2 "And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light."

          8.  Rev. 17:9 "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"

          9.  Rev. 19:8 "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." 

          The color red is associated with war:

          1.  Nahum 2:3 "The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken."

          2.  2 Kings 3:22 "And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood: 23 And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil."

          3.  Josh. 24:6 "And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. 7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season."

          The color black is associated with sin:

          1.  Job 30:30 "My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat."

          2.  Song 1:5 "I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. 6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept."

          3.  Jere 8:21 "For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me."

The “pale” horse in verse 8 we are told is associated with Death and Hell.  Based on the above we are brought to understand that the four spirits that the four horses in Revelation represent are the spirits of righteousness (white), warfare (red), sin (black), and death and hell (pale)

While I am not an experienced horseman (I have spent less that 5 min. on the back of a horse in my lifetime), it seems to me that there are at least two very important things that you want to do when you ride a horse.  You want to stay on the horse without falling off and you want to complete your task(s).  Staying on your horse and completing your task would seem to make for a successful ride on a horse.         

We will now look at possible riders of the horses.  It is easy to see where Adam rode all four horses, however, he didn’t ride them successfully.  Adam began by riding the horse of righteousness, for God made man upright in the beginning.  Adam, in a sense, went forth conquering and to conquer as he was given dominion of the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and the beast of the field.  He gave names to all the creatures that God had made.  He was doing okay in riding this horse for a short time, until the serpent engaged him in warfare, first, indirectly (thru the woman) and then directly.  When Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he fell off the horse of righteousness.  He went immediately to the black horse of sin.  He, however, could not complete the task of the rider of this horse as he could not balance the scale of justice or keep from hurting the healing ointments.  Thus Adam failed to stay on the horse of righteousness and he failed to perform the assigned tasks.  Subsequently, none of Adam multiplied can successfully ride the horses as Rom. 3:10 tells us, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”  Since we all fell under the law of sin and death, we cannot, in our natural state, ride the horse of righteousness. 

There remains only one who can and did ride all four horses successfully.  That one is the Lord Jesus Christ.  According to the scriptures, Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.  He was born of a virgin and thus was born without sin, being conceived of the Holy Ghost.  He kept the law to a jot and a tittle.  He fulfilled all that was written of him.  He rode the white horse of righteousness successfully.  He also rode the red horse of warfare as he was engaged in the greatest of all wars.  He fought successfully against sin, Satan, death, hell, and the grave.  He successfully withstood the assault of the devil and his angels in all the temptations and trials hurled at him. He did this by taking the great sword of God’s word and yielding it against all our enemies.   He did all this while successfully continuing to ride the white horse of righteousness.  Next, he mounted the black horse of sin, not that he ever sinned (he never did), but the scriptures say that he was “made to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  On the cross Jesus took our sins upon himself and became sin for us.  He rode this black horse successfully as he maintained the balance of God’s justice (a measure of wheat for a penny and three measures of barley for a penny), satisfying God’s justice on our account.  He also “hurt not the oil and the wine,” that is the healing ointments as he healed us from our sins thru his atoning sacrifice.  As he mounted the black horse, he also mounted the pale horse and suffered the wrathful judgment of God to atone for our sins.  God executed his judgment of our sins on our sin-bearer, Jesus Christ.  Thankfully, our Saviour successfully rode all four horses on our behalf and has made us righteous thru his atoning sacrifice. 

As a side note, we see that the balances are associated with the balance of justice in the following verses: 

          1.  Job 31:6 "Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity."

          2.  Ps. 92:9 "Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity."

          3.  Pro. 11:1 "A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight."

          4.  Dan. 5:27 "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting."

          5.  Pro. 16:11 "A just weight and balance are the Lord's: all the weights of the bag are his work." 

Similarly, the "oil and the wine" are used as healing ointments in the following passage: Lk. 10:34 "And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him." 

"And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."  This same one who has through his sacrificial atonement on the cross redeemed his people from their sins, now goes forth with judgments, both timely upon the elect and the non-elect and eternal upon the non-elect.  God's four sore judgments are set forth in the reference to the sword, hunger, death, and beasts of the earth: Ezek. 14:21 "For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?"  The execution of both timely and eternal judgments will be brought out abundantly in the remainder of the book of Revelation. 

In summary, when the first seal of the book of salvation was opened we see the Lord as the Lamb of God going forth in the Spirit of righteousness fulfilling the law and the prophets to a jot and a tittle.  When the second seal was opened we see the Lord going forth in the Spirit of warfare, defeating our enemies: Satan; sin; death; hell; and the grave.  When the third seal was opened we see the Lord being made sin for us on the tree of the cross who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  When the fourth seal was opened we see the Lord suffering death and hell for us in our room and stead on the cross of Calvary and in so doing God's wrathful judgment of sin was satisfied.  In addition the Lord having accomplished and satisfied God's eternal judgment on behalf of the elect, we see him going forth with timely judgments upon the elect and the non-elect and with eternal judgments upon the non-elect.