Four horsemen appear when the Lamb of God opens the first four seals on the scroll he receives from God.
These four horsemen represent threats that would have been real for people in New Testament times as well as for people of later times. The first horseman represents the threat of conquest. The second signifies the violence that people carry out against each other. The third points to economic insecurities, for it shows people spending their entire day’s pay simply to put bread on the table. The fourth horseman personifies the power of death. The vision of these horsemen is designed to make people aware of their own vulnerability. As these and other threats appear in relentless succession, people are moved to ask, “Who is able to stand?” (6:17). This question prepares for the chapter that follows, where readers learn that those who belong to God and the Lamb are able to stand in the face of these threats.