Revelation Chapter 6:6
Revelation 6:6 – 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…”
The voice John heard is presumably that of the Lord, as He is the one in the midst of the four living creatures in Heaven:
Revelation 5:6 – And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
It appears that a denarius was a fair day’s wages in the first century:
Matthew 20:2 – Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
A quart of wheat or barley is enough to feed one person for a day. After Jesus breaks the third seal, a person working might make enough wages to eat, but not enough to cover any other necessities of life, let alone feed more than a few family members, that is if they buy barley instead of wheat. Therefore, the picture painted here is of famine, which causes rampant inflation. Incidentally, inflation and famine usually follow war. Therefore, it is no surprise that after peace is taken from the earth (Revelation 6:4) both famine and inflation become a global issue.
As noted in the last section, the color black denotes desolation and famine. Wheat and barley are staple grains used to make bread. The following passages confirm that eating “bread by weight” signifies famine:
Ezekiel 4:16-17 – Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, surely I will cut off the supply of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and shall drink water by measure and with dread, that they may lack bread and water, and be dismayed with one another, and waste away because of their iniquity.”
Leviticus 26:26 – When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.
The voice from the midst of the four living creatures orders the third horse not to harm the oil and wine in this judgment. The popular belief is that not harming the oil and wine indicates the rich and elite are not affected by this judgment, because oil and wine are not necessities for life, and therefore considered luxury items. However, oil and wine were not considered luxury items in ancient times, but common staples, as well as wheat and barley:
Deuteronomy 7:13 – And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you.
2 Chronicles 2:15 – Now therefore, the wheat, the barley, the oil, and the wine which my lord has spoken of, let him send to his servants.
2 Chronicles 31:5 – As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.
Nehemiah 5:11 – Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.
Historically, it is true that the rich generally benefit from inflation. The drought in the Middle East at the time of Joseph demonstrates this:
Genesis 47:13-17 – Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed.” Then Joseph said, “Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year.
Genesis 47:18-22 – When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate.” Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands.
Genesis 47:23-25 – Then Joseph said to the people, “Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones.” So they said, “You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.”
Pharaoh became exceedingly wealthy as a result of the drought, simply because of the nature of supply and demand. As the supply of grain went down, the price went up, until the people sold themselves into slavery. Generally, the wealthy are able to buy up whatever is of value during hard times and make a profit in the long run, whether it is in food or other commodities. It is interesting to note that by the end of the Tribulation, Babylon will be a rich city marked by an ample supply of all sorts of merchandise and food, including oil and wine. The world’s wealth will be poured into this great city, while most are starving in the world:
Revelation 18:10-13 – ‘…Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.”
Another possible interpretation of not harming the oil and wine is that olive trees and grape vines have deep roots, which make them more drought resistant than other plants. In other words, the famine brought by the black horse will not become severe enough to harm the olive trees and grape vines. The prophet Haggai spoke of a drought that was severe enough to harm even the wine and oil:
Haggai 1:10-11 – Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.
I favor a literal interpretation foremost, so I believe the famine will not become severe enough to harm olive trees and grape vines, unlike the famine in Haggai’s day. That being said, history has proven over and over that the rich prosper in difficult times. The city Babylon, being full of luxury in the midst of a world in devastation, supports the figurative view that the rich will coast through unaffected by the inflation brought on by the famine that ensues, when the black horse rides out. In other words, this prophecy may have both literal and symbolic fulfillment.
“A measure of wheat”: The approximate amount necessary to sustain one person for one day.
“For a penny”: One day’s normal wage. One day’s work will provide enough food for only one person.
“Three measures of barley”: Usually fed to animals, this grain was low in nutrients and cheaper that wheat. A days’ wage provides enough for only a small family’s daily supply.
Since in biblical days a penny was a common wage for a day’s work, and a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley are basically subsistence diets, John is indicating that a man will have to work all day just to get enough food to eat, with nothing left over for his family or the elderly.
In the parable of the vineyard (Matthew 20:2), a day’s work was a penny. This “penny”, in the verse above, means a full day’s pay. I believe this means that a loaf of bread will be so inflated in price, because of scarcity of food, that it will take a whole day’s wages of a man to buy one loaf.
We surely know that it is a “measure”, which is a very small amount. Barley seems to be a third the cost, so perhaps a meager meal of barley for three could cost a whole day’s wages. The famine will be so great, that food will be weighed by the ounce and dispensed carefully.
This is run-away inflation to its worst possible conclusion. In many parts of the world inflation is already to that terrible extreme.
When inflation is coupled with famine, we see a situation more horrible than we care to imagine. We must stay closely in tune with God. If He tells us to dig a very deep well, we must do that. If He tells us to plant a garden, we must do that. It is going to be very important to be able to take daily instruction from God. Not to question, just do it. I believe God is even now setting up places of refuge for Christians.
On the other hand, the call to not “harm the oil and the wine,” are symbols of wealth, indicates that the rich will do just fine. Or it could mean something referring with Spirit-filled Christians. Oil and wine are symbolic of the Holy Spirit of God. That His Hand will be on the Tribulation Saints protecting them during the tribulation.
I cannot stress enough, that this famine may not be just physical but spiritual, as well. During this time, I believe that many churches will teach false doctrines. Even now there is a terrible famine of truth in the church. Never have so many denied: the virgin birth of Christ, the Red Sea parted, Jonah being swallowed by the large fish, God as Father, or Jesus is God with us, “Immanuel”.
Many churches are ordaining homosexuals to preach. Secular Humanism makes man a god.
How much more famine of the Spirit can we take? Truly there will be a physical famine, as well. Stay tuned to the voice of God. He will see you through it all.
The third horseman of the Apocalypse, who rides out early in the Tribulation, will take a heavy toll in deaths and sickness. The black horse he rides is an obvious symbol of famine and disease, which often follow war.
This could be a message of hard times for all of mankind. “black” symbolizes:
- Terrible times;
- Famine, physical or spiritual;
- Opposite of goodness;
- Everything that opposes God.
Christian Saints will be saved “in” the famine and not “from” the famine. Noah was saved “in” the flood, not “from” the flood. God can rain manna from heaven if necessary. I believe God will set up places of refuge where believers can run, so they can have physical and spiritual food.
There is a great deal of difference in accepting Jesus as your Savior and accepting Jesus as your Lord. When He is Lord, He is totally in control, and we follow His instructions without questioning. The only thing required of us, for Jesus to be our Savior, is for us to believe. For Jesus to be our Lord, we no longer make our own decisions. He makes them for us. It is so much easier when He is Lord. God will not forsake the righteous.
image courtesy: Revelation 6-6 – Tammy Castel
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We are now living in the absolute End Times as per biblical prophecy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ – King of Kings. 2nd Coming and return is IMMENENT!.
Please do not waist another a minute.
No matter what religion you serve, there is only one God.
If, you want to be assured that you will not have to endure the perilous times that will befall you.
Irrespective, of what sins you may have committed at any time of your life. If you humble yourself and ask for God’s forgiveness. He will forgive you and wash them all away and welcome you as his beloved son or daughter with open arms.
If you are not a child of Father God or have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life yet?
I implore you to do this without delay.
Read this prayer of Salvation and ask God to forgive you now and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will be assured of eternal life.