And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. (Revelation 6:3)
The first seal released the white horse whose rider carried a bow, but no arrows, and he was “given” a crown – not a diadēma (a royal crown) but rather a stephanos (a victor’s wreath). The first seal begins what we know as the seven-year Tribulation that opens when “the prince that shall come … shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” that brings “peace” to Israel. Considering the placement of this seal (first) and that he carries a bow and no arrows, we can conclude that this rider represents the Antichrist that will come on the scene.
Following close behind the white horse, the second seal brings the red horse. “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” (Revelation 6:4).
The first thing we notice about this rider is that “power was given to him.” He does not get this power on his own. So, from where does he get this power? Since the rider of the white horse is Antichrist (arguably), it could be assumed that Antichrist gives him the power. At this point, we need to remember who controls the opening of the seals. “And [the Lamb] came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne … 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” (Revelation 5:7; 6:1). Make no mistake, the One who gives the power is the One who holds the title deed to the earth, i.e., “the scroll.”
In Revelation, John provides, more than any other prophetic book, a detailed description of the events that will take place during Daniel’s 70th week. This time is also known as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” as coined by the Prophet Jeremiah. “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7, emphasis mine). Jacob’s other name is Israel. The Tribulation serves to “save” Israel and turn their hearts to their Messiah. Jesus says by way of the Prophet Zechariah, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10, emphasis mine).
Another reason for the Tribulation, in brief, is for God to “clean house” on earth. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). During this awful time, God’s wrath will be unleashed against a sinful world. “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6, emphasis mine). “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Colossians 3:6, emphasis mine). This is one reason that the Church, i.e., Christians, will be taken out of the world to escape the wrath to come. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
A third reason for the Tribulation is to give the world one last opportunity to repent and turn to Christ. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Revelation gives three examples of God’s attempt to save rebellious sinners during this time: 144,000 “evangelists” to proclaim the Gospel, two witness preaching in Jerusalem for three and one-half years, and even an angel proclaims the Gospel to the world. Jesus said of this time, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14, emphasis mine).
The red horse brings the first signs of serious trouble ahead. He is given power “to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Revelation 6:4). He carries “a great sword” which is an implement of war. War takes peace from the earth and it cannot be prosecuted without people killing one another. The red horse brings global war.
Of this time Jesus said, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom …” (Matthew 24:6-7). The Old Testament predicts some of the wars involving Israel in the “last days.” Psalm 83 speaks of a time when Israel’s neighbors will surround her with the aim to “cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (Psalm 83:4). Arguably, this has taken place at least twice. Once when Israel declared itself a nation on May 14, 1948. On that very day, the Arab nations attacked defenseless Israel to prevent her from establishing her nationhood. Miraculously, Israel defeated her enemies. The second time was in the  Sixty-seven War, when once again they were outnumbered and outgunned, they took back their beloved capital of Jerusalem and conquered the Sinai Peninsula, which they later gave back to Egypt in a foolhardy land-for-peace deal. However, there are some who believe the Psalm 83 war is yet future.
Isaiah speaks of the overnight destruction of Damascus. “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap … And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.” (Isaiah 17:1, 14, emphasis mine). Even today, as Iran continues to ship and store missiles in Syria and especially in Damascus, Israel periodically makes air strikes on Damascus. Current pictures of Damascus make it look like a war zone. However, it continues to be a city. Israel possesses nuclear weapons that could flatten Damascus with one bomb. As tensions build in the Middle East, we might soon wake to the news that Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, is no more. It is also possible that its demise will happen after the Rapture of the Church.
Ezekiel 38-39 foretells that a confederation made up of Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria, and their allies will come against Israel. Israel will find itself hopelessly outmanned and outgunned. However, God will intervene and destroy her enemies in such a miraculous way that it will leave no doubt that it is God that saves Israel. Today, we see the stage being set for this prophesied war. All of the nations mentioned by the Prophet Ezekiel have armies and weapons staged in Syria. All they need is a good reason to invade. Could the destruction of Damascus be the catalyst?
All of the end-times prophecies focus on the nation of Israel. However, all the world is involved. Today, Russia wars against Ukraine. North Korea threatens South Korea, Japan, and the United States. China rattles its sabers against the United States. Russia threatens NATO with nuclear retaliation if it interferes with its campaign against Ukraine. There are wars going on in Africa. There is unrest in South America and Europe. Peace is all but gone from the world.
The red horse is saddled and its rider is ready to mount and ride. Will you be around to see peace taken from the earth, or will you be rescued in the Rapture? If you are not sure, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”