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In my vision this is how I saw the horses

and their riders:

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They had breastplates

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that were fiery red,

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like hyacinth,

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and sulfur;

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the heads

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of the horses were like the heads

of lions, and out of

their mouths came

fire and smoke

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and brimstone.

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In my vision this is how I

saw the symbols of power and swiftness, and those accompanying them: They demonstrated what was in their hearts by being fully obedient to God in the unpleasant tasks of punishing,

shedding blood on many occasions, and bringing noxious ruin. The chiefs among the powerful and swift were similar to the chiefs of the

fierce and the strong; and the words they spoke resulted in punishment, lasting destruction and noxious ruin.



The emphasis is on the horse more than the rider.

2: “breastplate”

It covered and protected the heart which is symbolic of one’s moral center. Do angels have morality? Yes, but the context in which it is expressed is different. The idea of protection for the hearts of the angels, in light of the images about punishment that follow, does not seem to fit. Therefore, the emphasis here seems to differ from the norm in that it does not point to the protection of the heart as a breastplate usually would, but rather this image seems to be a substitute for the heart itself.


Red and fire meant the same things—they referred to punishment or purification. In light of the other characteristics listed next, punishment fits best.


“Hyacinth” was best described as the color of dried blood—a dark red or purple, almost black. Greek mythology claims that when Hyacinth died, Apollos did not allow Hades to claim the young hero, but rather he made a flower from his spilled blood, the Hyacinth flower. This is most likely different from the flower we now call the Hyacinth. The point here is that the original readers of John’s vision would have thought of a color similar to dried blood, which in turn points to victorious warriors who have spilled much blood on many occasions of battle.


“Sulfur,” is also called brimstone, is a noxious substance smelling like rotten eggs. This is the smell volcanoes produce; the sulfur dioxide from volcanoes can erode airplane engines while in flight if the airplane comes within several miles of the eruption. Sulfur is yellow, not red. Here its color is not important, but its deadly or destructive qualities are.

6: “the heads of the horses”

Any group of warriors, especially a large horde like this, must have leaders if it is to be effective. The mention of heads indicates that this fighting force will indeed be able to execute punishment and ruin because it is well organized and has capable leadership.


“Smoke” demonstrates that the destruction has been complete and all that is left is smoldering ruins.


Or sulfur.