The second rider was sent to “remove peace from the earth” and to cause men to “slay one another” – Revelation 6:3-4.
As with the first rider, the second one was commanded by one of the four “living creatures” to “go forth.” Although each seal is opened by the “Lamb,” the involvement of the “four living creatures” serves to emphasize that heaven remains in firm control over the earthly events represented by each “rider.”
The ordering of the “four living creatures” in chapter 4 corresponds to the order of the four “riders.” Thus, the “second living creature” commanded the second “rider.” There were four “living creatures” and “four riders.” For that matter, the four “living creatures” are only involved directly with the first four “seals.” Thus, the two groups are connected on some level.
- (Revelation 6:3-4) – “And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature, saying, Go! And there went forth another, a red horse, and to him that was sitting thereon, it was given to take away peace from the earth, and that one another they should slay; and there was given to him a great sword.”
This “rider” is on a “fiery-red” horse (purrhos). The term occurs twice in Revelation; here and when John saw the “great fiery-red dragon.” The color links the second “rider” to the “Dragon,” and the latter symbolizes Satan in his attempt to destroy the messianic “son” and the “seed of the woman” – (Revelation 12:1-17).
And the color suggests bloodshed, for it “took peace from the earth so that men should slay one another.” The description may point to civil strife and warfare. However, the use of the verb sphazō here for “slay” rather than the more generic term “kill” (apokteinō), which may suggest the “slaying” of saints by malevolent forces – (Revelation 5:6-12, 6:9-11, 18:24).
The Greek noun rendered “sword” wasa term used for the short sword carried by Roman legions. It symbolized Roman authority to impose law and justice, including the authority to execute offenders. In Revelation, machaira or “sword” occurs two additional times; for the sword-wound received by the “beast,” and for the death of the “saints” by the “sword” at the hands of the “beast” – (Revelation 13:7-10, 13:14).
Thus, the second “rider” removed “peace from the earth”; however, he did so in an ironic fashion, by causing the “inhabitants of the earth” to slay the followers of the “Lamb” – (Revelation 6:9-11, 13:7).
The “removal of peace” indicated war. In Revelation, “war” is waged by the “Dragon” and its earthly agents against the “saints,” those who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” – (Revelation 11:7, 12:7-17, 13:7-10, 16:12-16, 20:7-10).
God responded to the attacks on His “saints” with two series of judgments, the “seven trumpets” and the “seven bowls of wrath,” both of which culminated in the overthrow of the “beast” and “Babylon,” the final destruction of Satan, and the condemnation of the “inhabitants of the earth.”
Thus, by “slaying” the followers of the “Lamb,” the “Dragon” and his vassals succeed only in removing “peace” from the earth and sealing their own horrific fate.
Likewise, the “inhabitants of the earth” thought that by killing the “two witnesses” they would end the “torment” they had endured from their prophetic testimony. However, the celebration by the nations over their deaths was short-lived. The murder of the “witnesses” was followed by the sounding of the “seventh trumpet,” which ushered in the final judgment and the destruction of “those who destroyed the earth” – (Revelation 11:3-19).