"The Beginning of Sorrows" by Tricia Tillin
SEAL THREE: The Black Horse
And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
- Balances (scales)
- Bread scarcity
- Preservation of oil and wine
To understand the depth of meaning in the judgements of the third seal, we can look at the gods worshipped by the world and church, and see how the "punishment fits the crime".
Although we no longer set up a physical idol in a temple and bring offerings to it (in the West anyway) the demonic beings behind those ancient gods still draw attention and worship to themselves by governing man's desires and activities. And to put any idol in the place of God in our lives brings eventual judgement.
What we can discover about the black horse rider and his balances, and the gods who personify this judgement, adds enormously to our understanding of what will actually occur during this judgement.
Weighed and Found Wanting
Starting with ancient Egypt, we see the gods THOTH and ANUBIS who weighed men's souls.
Look at the illustration above and you will see a papyrus depicting this very thing. It shows the ceremony of "weighing the dead" with a huge pair of balances. Maat (personification of truth) sits in one side of the scales, while the soul of the dead is weighed in the other pan by the black-headed jackal Anubis.
"Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting". Dan 5:27
This is just one occasion where God made reference to false religious beliefs, and turned them against idolaters as a judgement of his own.
Hislop, in his book "The Two Babylons" says this:
"Wilkinson states that Anubis and his scales are often represented; and that in some cases there is some difference in the details. But it is evident from his statements, that the principle in all is the same. The following is the account which he gives of one of these judgment scenes, previous to the admission of the dead to Paradise: 'Cerberus is present as the guardian of the gates, near which the scales of justice are erected; and Anubis, the director of the weight, having placed a vase representing the good actions of the deceased in one scale, and the figure or emblem of truth in the other, proceeds to ascertain his claims for admission. If, on being weighed, he is found wanting, he is rejected, and Osiris, the judge of the dead, inclining his sceptre in token of condemnation, pronounces judgment upon him, and condemns his soul to return to earth under the form of a pig or some unclean animal...But if, when the sum of his deeds are recorded by Thoth [who stands by to mark the results of the different weighings of Anubis], his virtues so far predominate as to entitle him to admission to the mansions of the blessed, Horus, taking in his hand the tablet of Thoth, introduces him to the presence of Osiris'..."
The Recording "Angel"
Thoth is the Egyptian god who recorded the result of the above transaction. He is a god of calculations, mathematics, geometry, weights and measures and - by an extension of that idea - justice.
Today the nearest we get to this picture is the statue of blind justice, holding aloft her pair of balances.
But the more esoteric aspects of the balances - truth, wisdom and justice - are expressed in the world in ideas of calculation as a whole, thus in terms of mathematics, chronology, coinage, trade and commerce.
THOTH (equal to the Greek god HERMES and the Roman god MERCURY) was a god of wisdom and understanding; the principal pleader for the soul at the judgment of the dead. He was depicted as a man with the head of an Ibis Bird and carried a pen and scrolls with which he recorded all things.
Thoth was considered the inventor of the Hieroglyphs, god of time, the calendar, language and writing, and was therefore the patron of scribes. He was associated with mathematics, geometry and also magic incantations. These are linked by the power of the word, both spoken and written. (Thus he was the herald of the gods, equal to MERCURY in Roman religion). He wrote all the ancient texts, including the most esoteric ones, which taught humans how to become gods.
ANUBIS, also identical with Hermes/Mercury, weighed men's souls and conducted these souls of the dead to the underworld. Shown as a BLACK god with the head of a jackal, or sometimes (as here) as the jackal itself, he was the "Opener of the Way".
So instead of Jesus the Truth and Jesus the Way, the Egyptians worshipped Thoth of the dark arts, and Aunbis who conducted their souls to hell.
Hermes and Mercury
Thoth/Anubis entered into later mythologies as Hermes (Greek) and Mercury (Roman).
Both of these had wings, to show that they were intermediaries between the gods and men, messengers that were fleet of foot and swift to mete out justice or to bring a word of advice.
The name Hermes appears to have originated in the word for "stone heap" and such heap of stones were used as boundaries or as landmarks for wayfarers. Like Anubis, Hermes led men's souls down the path to the underworld and was thus the god of travel.
All of the qualities of Hermes were about GOING TO AND FRO, assisting the exchange of ideas and commercial goods. Therefore Hermes came to be known as the god of commerce, trade, prosperity and good fortune, the protector of merchants. A pair of scales could almost have been his trademark.
Interestingly, in the light of the Third Seal, Hermes was also noted for cunning and for fraud, perjury, and theft.
MERCURY is portrayed wearing a broad-rimmed traveller's hat and is also frequently pictured carrying a purse of coins signifying his role as the Greek god of riches, trade and good fortune (Hermes) and the Roman god of commerce, profit, merchants and travellers (Mercury).
Mercury's name derives from merx or mercis, wares or trade. He was particularly the god of merchants and merchandise. Amongst Mercury's personal favorite commercial activities was the corn trade. The Temple of Mercury on the Aventine Hill was erected in an attempt to alleviate a grain shortage! In other words, Mercury was asked to help in time of FAMINE.
One web article says that "Most people are not aware of it, but black is the official color of Capitalism and Democracy. The balances in the hand of the black horse rider symbolize trade, the central message of Capitalism." Now, this leads us to another fact pertinent to the Third Seal, I believe.
The Guilds of Merchants
We have already seen that the ancient balances, or scales, were symbolic of much more than simple weights and measures. They were a symbol of the gods who controlled trade and commerce, the monetary system, travel, riches, and prosperity. These same gods, through Thoth and Hermes, were considered to have deep esoteric wisdom and the understanding of magical incantations.
In the Middle Ages, Hermetic religion developed into alchemy, gnosticism and the kaballah; and secretive sects practiced what amounted to intellectual witchcraft. Around the same time we see the rise of a group that we today call "Freemasonry", founded on the ancient magical texts, secret wisdom and the worship of idols.
How are the two linked - the gods Hermes/Mercury, and Freemasonry? Well, the festival of Mercury (March 15th) was celebrated mostly by "mercuriales" or MERCHANTS' GUILDS, clubs of merchants and businessmen formed in the honour of Mercury and for their own advancement. The businessmen and merchants who prayed to Mercury for favour would visit the Temple of Mercury, and Mercury was honoured in centres of business and trade where little altars and statues of him were placed.
The Mercuriales, The Men of Mercury, were perhaps the largest corporation of ancient Rome. This feast-day to Mercury would surely have been a corporate holiday for the entire firm, and many other Roman businesses, as they would give homage to Mercury for their continued success. Rites would be performed at the Temple of Mercury in Rome in which those who desired his favors would sprinkle their heads, their ships and merchandise, and their businesses with water taken from the sacred well at Porta Capena.
The Third Seal Judgement
You may recall from the Introduction that each seal judgement has relevance to a blessing bestowed upon mankind by a gracious God, which had been either despised, misused, refused, corrupted or turned to man's own advantage.
In the case of the Third Seal, this blessing was prosperity and fertility, good harvests, plenty of fresh drinking water, rain, provision for all man's needs.
When God cursed the ground as a result of the Fall, Adam was forced by the sweat of his brow to tackle thorns and thistles instead of fruit trees and grain. Adam was forced into hard labour, and his children were likewise born through hard labour. The fertility of the earth decline steadily and drought and famine became frequent visitors.
Ever since, mankind has chased the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, looking for ease from his labours, prosperity and security in riches. This drive took the ancient Romans to the temples of Mercury to seek a blessing on their commercial interests; today the guilds of merchants and businessmen gather in Freemasonry Lodges for much the same reason.
Wherever there exists the desire to overthrow God's curse by human means, there is also greed, corruption, theft and every kind of evil. For "the love of money is the root of every evil".
"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." (1 Tim 6:7-11)
So God will permit a spirit to come that reverses the fortunes of those who seek after wealth and ease for themselves. Since powerful men control the economies of the world, I see a judgement upon their activities and a downturn in the world's economic system, leaving many rich men destitute. The banking and commercial systems in which men trust will shake, the Stock Markets and Trading alliances, so often riddled with Freemasonry, will stagger and fall.
Along with this will come a blight on the world's grain supplies so that the staple food of mankind will falter, and those who formerly spent their money on fast cars and designer clothes will barely scrape together enough for a loaf of bread.
9 The LORD's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.
10 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?
11 Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?
12 For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
13 Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins.
Already we see traces of this judgement appearing. In the UK there have been diseases upon cattle, cows, sheep, chickens and pigs, EU regulations are making it harder and harder for the country to be self-sustaining with regard to food, and the grain harvests are being struck by bad weather year after year. The price of bread flour is already on the rise.
The stock markets are already shaking after the events of September 11th, the aviation industry is cutting back, unemployment is on the rise everywhere, and the threat of our entry into the European Monetary System and the Euro single currency is destabilising the UK's economic prospects.
The Oil and the Wine
However, there is a note of hope, I believe, contained within this Third Seal. The bible says "see thou hurt not the oil and the wine."
First of all, this tells us that God is still in charge, even during times of severe judgement. God is merciful and limits the effects and jurisdiction of this spirit.
Secondly, the command MAY refer to Israel and the Church! Opinions are divided on how to interpret these words, but some see here a symbolic reference to the olive tree (the Church, filled with the Holy Spirit) and the vineyard - (a symbol of Israel.) If so, then the spirit is specifically warned not to hurt Christians and obedient Jews. The times of hardship and want will not substantially affect those who love the Lord!
However, even if taken literally, the restriction means that two of the three staples of Israel, corn, oil and wine, are preserved from harm. This will therefore be a limited famine during which it is possible to live, following the Lord's direction and guidance. With his blessing, no harm will befall.
The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says:
[A measure]-- [choinix] While making food scarce, do not make it so much so that a choenix (a day's provision of wheat, variously estimated at two or three pints) shall not be gotten "for a penny" [denarius, eight-and-a-half-pence of British money: probably the day's wages of the labourer]. Famine generally follows the sword. Ordinarily, from 16 to 20 measures were given for a denarius. A spiritual famine may be included <Amos 8:11>.
But those who worship the false idols of merchandise and riches (such as Hermes and Mercury) will certainly receive their just reward from God.