First 4 Seals of Revelation
Do the 4 colors of the seals have any modern significance?
Guest Author: D.J. Maxwell
An Examination of the First 4 Seals of Revelation
A few months ago, I was thinking over the role the King of Jordan was playing in resent Middle-East peace talks, his royal ancestry and potential political influence in the region, when I came across a brief history of Arab Rebellion. This rebellion, coming at the end of the Ottoman Empire, birthed several nation states. But, what literally caught my eye was the flag of the Arab Rebellion.
It is a seemingly simple emblem of an aggressive political movement. But, emblems are created with a purpose – honor history, rally for a common cause and project a vision for the future. This leads to the questions:
Why these 4 colors? What is the history behind them? What is the common cause? What is the vision for the future?
A second look at these colors brought this to mind: the colors of the four horses sent out with rider and seals in Revelations 6:2-8.
“And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come and see." Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.
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. 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 and the wine."
When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth” (NKJV).
Is it just a coincidence that each of the 4 horses in John’s revelation are given a specific color (white, “fiery red”, black and “pale”)? The identification of horse an rider are sent out with specific objectives. Could it be that there is a correlation or relevance with 4 colors representing the great Arabic political, military, social and religious powers throughout the history of Islam, known as Caliphates?
These questions are briefly explored with information obtained from multiple sources. In light of current events and the coming “Beast” who will hold authority over world commerce, command vast military power and establish a one-would religion worshiping him as the supreme deity – there may be something to learn in anthropology and history of Islam and the Caliphates.
The Four Seals
Rev 6:2. “…white horse: w/bow [strength], w/ crown given to him, conquering and to conquer [prevail/gain the victory].”
§ Bow: a weapon without the arrows (political power/ authority)
§ Crown: kingdom and positional power given [not earned]
§ Conquering and to conquer: seeking to prevail and gain the victory; to mastering and then to master the world.
§ The Arab Rebellion flag, horizontal bands of white, represents the Umayyad Caliphate.
Rev 6:4. “…fiery red, was granted take peace from the earth [his particular region/terrene], and that people should kill one another [rebellion]; and there was given to him a great sword” (Amplified Bible).
§ Takes peace from “earth” – correctly translated – “region/terrene”
§ “Rebellion” – consider Egypt, Libya, Syria, and other countries in the “region”.
§ Great Sword – great strife
§ A red isosceles triangle on the hoist side, representing the Great Arab Revolt and the color banner for the Khawarij Caliphate.
Rev 6:5-6. “…black horse, a pair of scales…"A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine."
Pair of scale – economic / weight and measures
A representation of high inflation.
“Oil” represents the Holy Spirit and those believers that are “anointed”. “Wine” represents the New Covenant and these are “true” believers in Christ Jesus as Lord. These are not harmed by the events.
Black representing the Abbasid Caliphate and it the banner of Muhammad
Rev 6:8. “…pale horse, Death, and Hades followed with him…power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”
§ Pale: [Original Word χλωρός, ά, όν.] Part of Speech: Adjective. Transliteration: chlóros. Definition: green, pale green.
§ Sword – war and violence
§ Death, and Hades (demonic spirits) follow after the 4th horse
§ Hunger, with death, famine /shortages
§ Green is considered the traditional color of Islam. Green represented paradise (the Persian word for garden) to desert-dwelling Bedouin tribes when they gathered at an oasis.
§ Green represents the Fatimid Caliphate
§ Muslim nations/ centers of religious culture cover ¼ of today’s population (Indonesia, Pakistan to the Middle East and North Africa. Culture centers within Europe).
Arabic Flag Colors
The Arab Rebellion flag, holds three equal horizontal bands of white, representing the Umayyad Caliphate, black representing the Abbasid Caliphate and it is the banner of Muhammad, and green, representing the Fatimid Caliphate and also the color representing “paradise” in Islamic culture; a red isosceles triangle on the hoist side, representing the Great Arab Revolt and the color banner for the Khawarij Caliphate.
A Caliphate is the Islamic form of government representing the political unity and leadership of the Muslim world. The Caliph’s position is based on the notion of a successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s political authority (Academic, 2000-2010). Caliphate is also referred to or described as an empire by some historians.
All four colors are incorporated into the flags of Jordan, Kuwait, Palestinian Authority, Sahrawi Republic, Sudan, Libya and the United Arab Emirates. A sub-set of the Pan-Arab colors are the Arab Liberation colors, in which green is less significant. These appear on the flags of Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
One or more of these colors are represented or applied within the flags of all Islamic states in the Middle-East, from West Africa and to Pakistan.
White represents the Banner of Umayyad Caliphate (661-750). This “empire” was centered in Damascus. The Umayyad caliphate, at its greatest extent, extended more than five million square miles, making it the fifth largest contiguous empire ever to exist.
The Umayyads "regarded themselves as God’s representatives at the head of the community and saw no need to share their religious power with, or delegate it to, the emergent class of religious scholars” (The First Dynasty of Islam).
The Umayyad caliphate was marked both by territorial expansion and by the administrative and cultural problems that such expansion created. Despite some notable exceptions, the Umayyads tended to favor the rights of the old Arab families and in particular their own, over those of newly converted Muslims (mawali). Therefore they held to a less universalist conception of Islam than did many of their rivals. As G.R. Hawting has written, "Islam was in fact regarded as the property of the conquering aristocracy." (G.R. Hawting, "The first dynasty of Islam: the Umayyad caliphate, AD 661-750" (London, 2000), 4.)
According to one common view, the Umayyads transformed the caliphate from a religious institution to a dynastic one. However, the Umayyad caliphs do seem to have understood themselves as the representatives of God on earth, and to have been responsible for the "definition and elaboration of God’s ordinances, or in other words the definition or elaboration of Islamic law." [P. Crone and M. Hinds, "God’s caliph: religious authority in the first centuries of Islam" (Cambridge, 1986), p. 43.]
During the period of the Umayyads, Arabic became the administrative language. State documents and currency was issued in the language. Mass conversions brought a large influx of Muslims to the caliphate. The Umayyads also constructed famous buildings such as the Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem, and the Umayyad Mosque at Damascus.
It is notable that the Umayyad caliphs referred to themselves, not as "khalifat rasul Allah" ("successor of the messenger of God," the title preferred by the tradition) but rather as "khalifat Allah" ("deputy of God"). The distinction seems to indicate that the Umayyads "regarded themselves as God’s representatives at the head of the community and saw no need to share their religious power with, or delegate it to, the emergent class of religious scholars." (G.R. Hawting, "The first dynasty of Islam: the Umayyad caliphate, AD 661-750" (London, 2000), 13.)
Modern Arab nationalism regards the period of the Umayyads as part of the Arab Golden Age which it sought to emulate and restore. This is particularly true of Syrian nationalists and the present-day state of Syria, centered like that of the Umayyads on Damascus.
For centuries the Hashemite family (King of Jordan) has been the traditional keepers of the Holy Muslim Cities and being descendent from the family of Prophet Muhammad, the Hashemite hold a strong prestige over all the Arab Nation. Politically, the Hashemite are known to be moderate. King of Jordan is a direct descendent to the Prophet Muhammad and his kingdom is at peace today. This family they trace their clan back to the Umayyads.
`Abdu’l-Bahá, asserts that the Umayyad dynasty was the "great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads" referred to in the Book of Revelation and that the Umayyads "rose against the religion of Muhammad and against the reality of Ali". [Abdu’l-Bahá. 1908. Some Answered Questions. page 69). Throughout the Occident and the Orient, `Abdu’l-Bahá was known as an ambassador of peace, a champion of justice, and the leading exponent of a “new faith”.
Abassids brought about a dynamic fusion of Persian and Semitic culture centered in Babylon (758-1258). When the ‘Abassids took power, the center of Islamic culture shifted from the Semitic world in Arabia and Syria to the Iranian or Persian world in Iraq, developing the Shi`ite movement.
The ‘Abassids were descendants of al-Abbas, the paternal uncle of Muhammad. Like the followers of ‘Ali and the Kharijites, the ‘Abassids believed that the spirit of Islam had been betrayed by the secular-minded Umayyads—as relatives of Muhammad, their pietism had a concrete character to it” (The America-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise).
The Kharijites (690- 730) set of power was within the city of Basra, Iraq. The Caliphate thought that the outcome of a conflict can only be decided in battle and not in negotiations. This is known as a group seeking to overthrow the true appointed Imam (leader) upon whose leadership the majority is in agreement is called a Khariji. The Kharijites movement continued to be significant on the Persian Gulf coast in the ninth through the eleventh century. It continued to play an important political role in eastern Arabia, North Africa, and eastern Africa. Over time the views of the movement moderated
The Fatimid Caliphate (909-1171) ruled over varying areas of North Africa, Egypt, the Levant, and even Sicily and Yemen. It is considered by some to be the fourth and "final" "pure" Arab caliphate. Fatimid are regarded as holding religious tolerance towards non-Ismaili sects of Islam as well as towards Jews, Maltese Christians and Coptic Christians. There set of power was Cairo.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: the Center of the Covenant. http://info.bahai.org/abdulbaha-center-of-covenant.html
The America-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Umayyad.html
G.R. Hawting, The first dynasty of Islam: the Umayyad caliphate, AD 661–750 (London, 2000).