Third Seal: Yoke of Bondage—Revelation 6:5-6
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say: “Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil or wine.”
Traditionally, the instrument held in the hands of the Black Horse Rider, has been described as a balance scale. In light of what the masses experience from the actions of this Spirit Rider, a balance scale does fit the scenario. The Greek noun used is “zygos” or “zugos” (another form of the word) and has several meanings, but most translators have decided the appropriate meaning is a “balance scale” due to the description of certain measurements of grain and barley and the exorbitant cost of purchasing them in verse 6 of the passage above. In the Septuagint translation, the word is found as a balance scale in Leviticus 19:35 and in Isaiah 40:12.
35 You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. 36 You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin…Leviticus 19:35-36a
Who has measured the water in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Isaiah 40:12
The primary translation of the word in the Septuagint Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, however, is “yoke”—in the sense of joining or binding together—for example, binding two oxen together for plowing. In every other New Testament usage of the noun, aside from Revelation 6, “zugon” is translated as “yoke” with a context of burden or opposition. Examples found in Scripture are in Acts 15:10; and Galatians 5:1.
Now therefore, why do you test God to putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Acts 15:10
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
A third Scripture passage using the same Greek word and translated as “yoke” is found in Matthew 11:28-30. It was used by Jesus when describing the light burden “yoke” he has to offer those carrying heavy burdens.
28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
It is interesting to note that in each passage, the Greek word is translated, “yoke”. Yet, we find an exception made with the very same Greek word, yet translated “balance scale” in our Revelation 6 passage. The “yoke” Jesus offers in the above passage is an easy burden to bear, whereas the disciples described the prescriptions of the law of Moses as a “yoke” around their necks. In Galatians, the Apostle Paul referred to the “yoke” of slavery. Taking the meaning of “yoke” in these Scripture passages provides us excellent insight into the true meaning of the “zugon” in the hand of the Black Horse Rider. “Zugon” must represent more than simply famine and rationing of food. When we discuss the fourth horse and rider, famine is mentioned again. Why would both the third and fourth Seals refer specifically to famine?
If the word “zugon” were translated “yoke” in Revelation 6:5, what type of bondage would it be representing? I believe we find the answer in the next verse when it mentions the cost of basic staples such as wheat, barley, oil, and wine in first century life. This is describing a financial bondage and oppression sent out into the earth. Has this happened throughout history? Yes, many times over the past centuries. I believe we are seeing it again today and here are some examples:
- The increasing price of the necessities of life, including food, without wages keeping pace with rising inflation
- Controls on production causing scarcity of necessities, as well as the destruction of hundreds of production facilities (many by suspicious fires), and major supply chain problems
- Currency values being manipulated by many governments
- The supply of money being expanded or contracted by governmental authorities
- Implementation of the “Great Reset” across the globe by leaders of the World Economic Forum in order to bring about a totalitarian world government
These types of financial and economic controls are nothing new; they can be found all through history. The Roman Empire was known for such controls, especially as it was in decline. One empire after another has put some type of controls into place ever since. Some found a semblance of prosperity for a time but eventually the controls failed. The failures involved lost wealth, scarcity of goods, excessive taxes, and of course, debt that could never be paid. And, it has always been innocent common civilians who had to carry the burden.
Of all the world’s empires, the United States has likely been the most successful. The cycle of decline that all empires eventually go through is unfortunately now the case with the US. Prices of goods have been inflated several times over, and the national debt numbers in the multi-trillions of dollars with nothing to back it. Inevitably this brings about a total meltdown. Top economists are warning that this is the status of America’s economy today.
Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States warned the fledgling nation with these words:
“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude.”
“If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds…(we will) have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers…And this is the tendency of all human governments.”
“A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for (another)…till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery…And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”
Governments have been used for the last two millennia to bring havoc on the economies of the world. It has not just been corrupt leaders that have brought injustice, oppression, and inequity to the common people, but a spirit being behind all of the human actions. Governments have put unsound economic practices into place, requiring unjust taxation to be put into law. The root cause of it all is greed and lust for power. Behind all is the spirit symbolized by a Black Horse and his Rider carrying a “yoke” to represent bondage and oppression of the masses.
That bondage and oppression has brought about untold famines over the centuries. Various famines in Western Europe were associated with the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and its sacking. Between 400 and 800 AD, the population of the city of Rome fell by over 90%, mainly because of famine and plague. Another example was a severe drought in 800-1000 AD that killed millions of Mayan people due to famine and thirst and initiated a cascade of internal collapses that destroyed their civilization. See below a short listing of some of the serious famines listed in history since the year 1 AD.
- Great European Famine: 1315-1317 AD — 7,500,000 dead
- China: 1333-1337 AD — 6,000,000 dead
- Russia and Estonia: 1601-1603 AD — over 2,000,000 dead (⅓ of Czar Godunov’s subjects lost and ½ population of Estonia)
- India: 1630-1632 AD — 7,400,000 dead
- Korea: 1670-1671 — 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 dead
- France: 1693-1694 — 1,300,000 dead
- Southern India, Deccan Famine: 1702-1704 –2,000,000 dead
- India: Great Bengal Famine: 1770 — 10,000,000 dead
- India: Chalisa Famine: 1783-1784 — 11,000,000 dead
- China (four famines): 1810, 1811, 1846, 1849 — approx. 45,000,000 dead
- Ireland Great Famine: 1845-1849 — 1,000,000 dead
- China: as a result of the Taiping Rebellion, drought, and famine, population of China fell over 60,000,000 — 1850-1873
- India, Upper Doab Famine: 1860-1961 — 3,000,000 dead
- Persia: 1870-1872 — 3,000,000 dead
- India, China, Brazil, Northern Africa + : 1876-1879 — 9,000,000 – 13,000,000 dead — British policies and drought were responsible for the deaths in India. The famine in China was influenced by the El Nino–Southern Oscillation.
- East-Central China: 1907-1911 — 20,000,000 – 25,000,000 dead
- Persia: 1917-1919 — approx. 3,000,000 dead
Adding up the approximate number of casualties attributed to some of the worst famines in Russia, Ukraine, China, Kazakhstan, Soviet Union, Bangladesh, Vietnam, North Korea, and The Democratic Republic of Congo between the years of 1921 and 1998 shows statistics confirming over 111 million dead—only counting the famines with over 1,000,000 deaths. This does not count the many famines that death counts in the tens or hundreds of thousands of victims.
In the period of time beginning in the first century AD, statistics show 400,000,000 deaths due to famine. It is reasonable to assume, however, that the number was much, much higher. Of the 269 other famines listed, the death count was not known or at least not historically confirmed.
It is impossible to accurately separate all categories of death, one from another, whether they were from war, famine, political purges, religious inquisition massacres, disease and plague, or geological or cosmic caused catastrophes. It is abundantly clear, however, that the death toll from famines alone over the past 2,000 years has been staggering! The Black Horse and Rider have had a devastating ride since the first century. I believe they are now preparing for their last stampede around the globe with their fellow Riders.
–Continued in Part Five–