Animals, Colors, Metals, Numbers and Signs in Scripture.
Many of the animals in the scriptures are closely associated with particular bible subjects of bible principles. The horse in the scripture is very closely associated with the subject of armies and war. The word, horse, appears 144 times in the scripture and more than 120 times it is directly correlated to the subject of armies and warfare. The Lord often uses objects such as bible colors, or bible numbers, or bible metals, or bible animals, etc. to teach us spiritual lessons based on their correlation to bible subjects or principles and he often uses the nature of the object to illustrate those spiritual lessons.
In our study of the horse and its correlation to the subject of armies and warfare, we will look at three instances in the scriptures where that correlation teaches us some great spiritual lessons:
1. The four horses in Revelation chapter 6.
2. The four chariots of horses in the book of Ezekiel.
3. The rider upon a white horse that leads an army of riders on white horses in Revelation chapter 19.
In this study we will look at the association between the bible number, four, and the work of the Holy Spirit and the association between the bible animal, horse, and the subject of armies or warfare. This study will consider the four horses in the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation. 6:1 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:
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 but not now prove that bible colors are also associated with specific bible subjects. The color white is associated with righteousness. The color red is associated with war. The color black is associated with sin. 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.
In this essay we will look at the relationship between the bible animal, horse, and the subject of armies and warfare, and the bible number four and its association with the work of the Holy Spirit.
Zec. 6:1 “And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. 2 In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; 3 And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. 4 Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? 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. 6 The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country. 7 And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth. 8 Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.
It will be noted that the horses in this passage are somewhat different from the horses in Revelation. First the order of the horses is different. In Revelations the horses are in order, white, red, black, and pale. In Zechariah the horses are in order, red, black, white, and grisled and bay. Second, there is no pale horse in Zechariah, but rather grisled and bay horses. In studying the horses in Revelation we noticed that only the Lord could successfully ride the horses there. In Zechariah there are multiple horses in each chariot, suggesting that many people could ride the horses.
The four chariots came out from between two mountains of brass. Brass is indicative of affliction and suffering. When God’s people in their experiences first get a glimpse of God’s holy law they see themselves under the affliction and suffering of the commandments contained in that law. The two mountains of brass would be typical of the law and the prophets.
Red is used in the scriptures to represent the shedding of blood in warfare. After that a child of God is born of the Spirit of God he begins to encounter a warfare, whereby the flesh lust against the spirit and the spirit the flesh. Paul described the warfare this way in Rom. 7:15 “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”
This warfare takes place because of the two-fold nature of a born-again child of God. He has a carnal nature that Paul says “dwelleth no good thing.” He also has a spiritual nature that John says “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” Thus these two natures are at war within the child of God. There is an inward longing within the child of God to get right with God. But with all of his efforts to do so, sin keeps dragging him down and showing him that he has failed to satisfy the laws demands.
This leads to the second chariot in which there are black horses. Black is used in the scriptures to represent sin. The more we fight to get right with God, the more that we see our sins under God’s just and holy laws keeping us from accomplishing our goal. We end up saying as Isaiah said, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” We are as the publican who came to the temple to pray and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” As we engage in this warfare we become more and more aware that we are sinners under the law. Paul wrote in Rom. 3:19 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” This knowledge of sin and the exceeding sinfulness of sin, eventually leads us to the third chariot.
In the third chariot are white horses. White is used in the scriptures to represent righteousness. In the second chariot as the publican we have concluded ourselves to be devoid of any righteousness of our own, and thus cry out for God’s mercy. It is when we are deeply convicted of our sins that we begin to see the need of a Saviour. The scriptures tell us that Jesus came to save sinners from their sin. But to be able to save sinners from their sin, it was necessary that he be without sin. As he was born of a virgin by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, he was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. It was also necessary that he keep the law that we could not keep. He said in Matt. 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Thus Jesus fulfilled the law to the very jot and tittle. Next, it was necessary that he make an atoning sacrifice for the sins of his people in order to deliver them out from under God’s wrathful judgment of sin. This he did on the tree of the cross. He suffered the just for the unjust. As it is written in 2 Cor. 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Thus all for whom Christ died are made to ride in the third chariot of white horses.
The fourth chariot had grisled and bay horses. The word grisled means spotted and the word bay means deep red. The word, spot, in the scriptures is associated with sin. However, we have been redeemed from our sins as stated in 1 Pet. 1:18 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” While we walk in this life we know that we are sinners still, but we also know that we have been sprinkled by the blood of Christ in the new birth as the following verses show:
1. Heb. 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
2. 1 Pet. 1:2 “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
Thus we go forth in this life with the knowledge that we are sinners (spotted) and that we are cleansed by the sprinkled blood (bay) of Christ.
Rev. 19:11 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war."
" And behold a white horse" is a phrase used to indicate a warrior going forth to war. In the scriptures, the horse is an instrument of warfare:
1. Ex. 15:1 "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."
2. Ex. 15:19 "For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea."
3. 1 Kings 10:29 "And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means."
White is associated with righteousness in the scriptures. Therefore, one who rides a white horse would be a warrior that goes forth fighting a righteous war. Since we know that the rider is Jesus Christ, we know that he is the one who fought the battle of righteousness on behalf of his people.
"And he that sat upon him was called Faithful." God is faithful to his promises. He keeps his promises. God promised before the world began to save his elect from their sins and because he is faithful they will all stand before God saved from their sins.
"He that sat upon him was called True." The word "True" comes from the Greek word "alethinos" meaning truthful. It also carries with it the meaning of being genuine or authentic. Certainly all of this applies to our God. There are not shades of truth. God is true in all of his ways.
Christ is described as being the true light, vine, branch, bread, and God. When coupled with the fact that Christ is faithful we see that he will keep his promises and accomplish everything that he sets out to do.
"And in righteousness he doth judge and make war." There is an old saying that anything goes in love and war. That certainly is false when it comes to our Lord Jesus Christ. What he does, he does in righteousness. The Lord said, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." All God's judgments, both timely and eternal, are righteous judgments. God is just. Similarly, all God's warfare is righteous warfare. When he did war against our sins, he restricted himself to keep the whole law and to fulfill all prophecy. Likewise, when he leads us in our daily battles, he does so in righteousness. There are no shortcuts with God.
Rev. 19:14 "And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean."
The following verses speak of the army of heaven:
1. Dan. 4:35 "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
2. Rev. 19:14 "And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean."
3. Job 25:3 "Is there any number of his armies? and upon whom doth not his light arise?"
4. Joel 2:11 "And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?"
Just as the captain rode on a white horse, so do the armies, which follow him. However, the Captain was righteous in his own right, the armies which followed him were righteous through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. Since the horse is associated with warfare and in Righteousness Jesus, does judge and make war, so the armies, which follow, judge according to the judgment that God has given them and make war according to the directions of their Captain.
In modern day warfare, the Generals send the men out to do battle and hazard their lives while the Generals stay behind to strategize the war in a much safer environment. Our Captain has gone before us into the very forefront of the battle and we follow him.
The warfare and the armies referred to above are engaged in a timely warfare here on earth. There will be no warfare in the glory world even as there will be no armies in the glory world. The armies in heaven spoken of in the scriptures are the armies in the kingdom of heaven here on earth. There are numerous verses of scripture, which speak to the fact that the church comprises the armies of heaven:
1. 2 Tim. 2:3 "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2. 2 Cor. 10:3 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
3. 1 Tim. 1:18 "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare."
4. Rev. 12:17 "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
5. Rom. 13:12 "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light."
6. 2 Cor. 6:7 "By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left."
7. Eph. 6:11 "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."
8. 1 Tim. 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
9. 2 Tim. 4:7 "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"
10. 1 Cor. 9:7 "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"
The armies are clothed in fine line, clean and white. Verse 8 tells us, "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 Lord has made us righteous through his shed blood and now we are to go forth and fight the good fight of faith.
The ass, in the scriptures, has reference to what we call today a donkey. There are four main Hebrew words that are translated “ass” in the Old Testament:
1. “chamowr” – This is the male donkey and the Hebrew indicates that it was red in color.
2. “'athown” – This is the female donkey.
3. “pere'” – This refers to a wild donkey that has not been broken.
4. “'ayir” – This is the young donkey or otherwise referred to as a colt.
The word, ass or asses, appear in the scriptures over 130 times. Most of the time, they are presented as a beast of burden. Their main function appears to be to carry a burden. Moreover, they provided a sure, but slow, means of transportation.
There are at least four noteworthy occasions or things in which we are taught significant spiritual lessons through the use of the animal known as an ass:
1. First, in the case of the prophet Balaam, God caused the dumb ass to speak and forbid the madness of the prophet (Num. 22:21-30). This showed us that God is all powerful and even to make an animal that otherwise is incapable of speaking to speak with man’s words and to speak in man’s language and logic. It also shows us that God is a God of providence and able to bring about what He pleases, even when man may have other ideas or purposes.
2. Man is compared to a wild ass’s colt: Job 11:12 “For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.” A wild ass’s colt has to be broken before it is suitable for the work it is designed to do. For a man to be a servant of God, requires that man must be broken before he is fit for that service. A good example for us in this regard is the man of Gadarea: Mark 5:1 “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.” We are all like this man spiritually. Until we have been born of the Spirit we cannot be tamed by the fetters and chains of law service. Moreover, we are dead in trespasses and sins, thus having our dwelling among the tombs.
When Jesus came on the scene he cast out the unclean spirits out of the man and afterwards the man was clothed and in his right mind and desired to be with Jesus: Mark 5:15 “And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” Likewise, after Jesus has caused us to be born of the Spirit we are clothed with the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and given a spiritual mind to know the Lord.
3. The Lord as he went up to Jerusalem, he fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy and sat upon an ass’s colt on which no man had ever sat:
a. Mark 11:2 “And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.”
b. John 12:14 “And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.”
c. Zec. 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
There are several lessons brought out to us on this occasion. First, Jesus was not riding upon a mule as was the custom of Old Testament kings. Jesus is different from any other kings just like his kingdom is different from any other kingdom. We normally think of Kings as being high, yet Jesus comes as the meek and lowly lamb of God.
Second Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies, just as he said he would: Matt. 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Third, Jesus demonstrated his great power when he sat upon the wild ass’s colt and immediately the colt was tamed. This is in harmony with #2 above.
Fourth, Jesus coming up to Jerusalem this way was not only fulfilling a prophecy but was also a sign given to the children of Israel that they might know for a certainty that this was the promised king: Matt. 21:5 “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. Instead of paying attention to the signs given, the children of Israel rejected Jesus as the promised King.
4. The male ass, which is the one which was most often used as a beast of burden was red in color. The color, red, is associated in the scriptures with blood and warfare. The male ass, is like the Lord’s disciples. We are to be servants and laborers in the Kingdom of God. But before we were worthy of being servants and laborers in the Kingdom of God it was necessary that a war be fought and blood shed. Jesus fought our war for us as he redeemed us from our sins at the cross of Calvary. He got the victory for us over our enemies: sin, death, devil, hell, and the grave. Thus, we have been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus and made righteous in God’s sight.
The mule is mentioned in nineteen verses in the Old Testament. While there are a couple of references to the mule as a beast of burden (2 Kings 5:17; 1 Chron. 12:40) the most significant use of the mule seems to be the favored riding animal of kings and of the kings sons:
1. 2 Sam. 13:29 “And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.”
2. 1 Ki.1:33 “The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon:”
3. 1 Ki. 1:38 “So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon.”
4. 1 Ki. 1:44 “And the king hath sent with him Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and they have caused him to ride upon the king's mule:”
There are two types of animals referred as mules in the Old Testament. Those mentioned above have the Hebrew word, “pered.” Also, there was another beast referred as a mule and carrying the Hebrew word, “rekesh.” These “rekesh” mules were used to carry the post and are also called dromedaries and were considered swift beasts:
1. 1 Ki. 4:28 “Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge.”
2. Est. 8:10 “And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:”
3. Est. 8:14 “So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.
4. Mic. 1:13 “O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.”
The mule, whether used to carry the king and his sons or the swift beast to carry the post, does not appear to be used to convey any significant spiritual lessons. The word, mule, does not appear in the New Testament.