(EDITOR NOTE: The following insightful entry was written for Dr. Thomas Horn and Defender Publishing years ago by our friend Mike Bennett)
The key passage in the New Testament that sheds light on the nature of how resource shortages will influence humanity in the last days is in Revelation chapter 6, in which the Lamb unseals the third seal of the scroll. John witnessed the following scene: “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. 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” (Revelation 6:5-6).
Sincere, Bible-believing scholars have debated for millennia the actual meaning and significance of the seals in this enigmatic book of prophetic revelation, such as whether it describes events that have happened historically during the church age (similar to theories regarding the deeper historical allegories attributed to the letters to the seven churches just beforehand), events just prior to the Rapture, during the Tribulation period, or as having multiple eras of fulfillment (interested readers are advised to review the recent unique and provocative theories proposed by Goodgame [i] and Lowe[ii], [iii] in their publications regarding these seals). Such a debate is beyond the scope of this treatise, and not essential to considering its relevance to our topic. However, if the events described in this passage are relevant to a period we or our descendants will yet experience, then this description reveals a time when we shall be exposed to blatant manipulation and exploitation by the control of our access to essential resources by earthly rulers, and likely their supernatural guiding entities.
What has just been discovered by the author are the unique implications in the original language (Greek) of key words in these passages, which have been largely masked by the various English translations. First, please note the key word translated as “scales” in verse 5, which has been the most identifiable symbol associated with this passage. Through the years, countless pictures illustrating this passage have depicted a scale/balance-wielding horseman. However, a brief review of the Greek word zygos, from which the English translation “pair of balances” is normally employed, is revealed in Strong’s reference (entry G2218) to primarily refer to a “yoke,” such as “is put on draught cattle,” “used of any burden or burden,” or “as that of slavery.” A secondary reference is to a “balance” or “pair of scales.” In fact, every other use of this word in the Bible is translated as a “yoke.” The consideration of this device as a “yoke” is a much more enlightening translation, since it implies an economic “yoke” of slavery to debt and limited access to essential economic and other resources controlled by the evil entity who places the yoke. This picture is reminiscent of the scenario in Egypt where the citizens took the yoke of servitude to Pharaoh, using their own yokes that were then the property of the state in order to receive sustenance, since they had no other assets by which to otherwise obtain essential goods. We see in the modern era these same activities by globalist groups like the International Monetary Fund, which burdens entire third world countries with deep levels of debt in exchange for bare essentials in a vicious cycle from which they cannot escape, even if their era of crisis was initially only temporary. In fact, John Perkins, in his shocking, best-selling 2004 book, Confessions of An Economic Hitman, [iv] describes his duties on behalf of the IMF in such a role. The following excerpt of his concise description of this role exhibits disturbing parallels to the aforementioned passage in Revelation: “Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources… They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization” [italics added].
This is a hauntingly plausible description of how the black horse (as in the black ink of economics—in fact, the Greek word melas used for “black” here was commonly used by the Greeks to particularly denote “black ink”) can realistically control the fate of millions of humans, without guns or other coercion. One last comment regarding this verse is directed to the last Greek word cheir (Strong’s 5495), translated as the word “hand,” as the instrument of holding and controlling the yoke. One of the more intriguing historical definitions of this Greek word by Strong’s is the phrase “symbolizing … might, power, activity, in determining and controlling the destinies of men.” Many times in Scripture, it is apparent this word is used to describe the actions and ability of God himself, dependent upon the context present in the passage. But, in this passage in question, it is clear that it is used by malevolent forces for diabolical purposes.
One might presume that the “balance” or “scales” translation might be more appropriate for this passage, given the further elaboration in verse 6, which states: “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” (Revelation 6:6).
This can illustrate a picture of one “balancing” money and commodities in the pans of a scale, as one possibility, and that may indeed be the intended metaphor. However, the device known as a “yoke” in Scripture and in the ancient world was a device to join two entities together, such as two oxen. This understanding of their ancient procedures better illustrates the possible relationship Christ has to His followers when He says, “take My yoke upon you.” Many have seen this as our installing the yoke of labor and servitude upon ourselves, with Christ behind the reins as the master directing from behind. However, it can also be envisioned as Christ applying the yoke on us, with himself in the other side of the yoke, pulling as the lead ox. Because of this leadership role, He bears the brunt of the burden; thus, our burden is light in comparison. In fact, the previously discussed Greek word zygos for “yoke” is described by Strong’s as “to join, especially by a yoke.” Therefore, the “yoke” analogy can also be perceived as the joining of the value of money to precise quantities of critical resources such as food, under the control and whims of the “hand” wielding it, much like world bankers sometimes peg the value of currency to fixed assets such as gold, or in setting price controls, which can wreak havoc on the entire economies of countries and make large people groups rich or poor overnight at the determination of remote and dispassionate forces. In the case of this passage, a “measure” (Greek choinix: an amount of food sufficient to sustain a man for a day [Strong’s G5518]) of wheat for a “penny” (Greek denarion: understood to be equivalent to a day’s wages) and three measures of barley for a penny show that members of the populace will only be given a day’s food for a day’s work, with no other compensation for other needs implied. This illustrates the ultimate in irredeemable, irreversible dependency and servitude (no explanation is implied for the reason that three measures of barley are given; possibly it is less nutritious and requires more, or perhaps people are given weekends off after “Barley Friday”!). Other basic needs may be met in government housing, or even internment camps, to meet catastrophic needs or merely for population control, albeit with the need for detainees to supply a full day’s work to receive their essential food needs. This scenario is eerily akin to the Egyptians, who lived in government-owned housing in the cities as they worked for the state in exchange for their minimal food needs.
The last portion of this verse exhibits a number of unremarkable words (in English); however, they yield a wide range of possible scenarios when considering the range of definitions of the original Greek words used. (This author is not a Greek scholar, or even a linguist, so any assertions submitted here should be verified by diligent students of the Word). First, the phrase “[see] thou hurt” is a translation of the Greek word adikeo, which Strong’s (G91) lists as having a range of meanings, such as “to act unjustly or wickedly, to sin,” “to be a criminal,” to do wrong,” “to do hurt.” In Revelation 22:11, for example, the word is translated as one being “unjust.” Even more curious is the range of meanings possible for the Greek word me (Strong’s G3361), translated in English as simply “not.” It suggests possible translations such as “lest” or “God forbid”; it suggests “qualified negation” as opposed to “absolute negation,” such as when the Greek word ou is translated as “no” or “not.” Other meanings such as “unless” and “if not,” among others, are also listed. Since this simple word has so many complex meanings, one must use extreme caution in committing to a single interpretation of this phrase, and it is prudent to consider a range of possible interpretations of how this passage could possibly be fulfilled. In modern vernacular, phrases such as, “God forbid they act unjustly with the oil and the wine,” or “…unless they act criminally regarding the oil and the wine,” are a few of a wide range of possible interpretations in the mind of this untrained linguist. The key point here is that one cannot confirm that the “wine” and “oil” will not be harmed or exploited in any case with absolute certainty, when considering only the range of interpretations of the Greek words used in this verse, regardless of the common English words chosen by modern translators.
Speaking of the “oil” and “wine,” the Greek word used here (oinos, Strong’s G3631) for the English word “wine” can pertain to the simple beverage known as wine, or as a metaphor of God’s wrath, as it is used elsewhere in the book of Revelation. It is uncertain why this substance is chosen as a commodity in this reference, although it has been speculated upon by many. For example, maybe the totalitarian state will allow a form of “Victory Gin,” as was available to the masses in the seminal book 1984 as a means of keeping the populace pacified, and their senses dulled. However, the findings are even more intriguing for the companion commodity translated in English as “oil,” known in the Greek as elaion (Strong’s G1637). This word is shown as representing a form of olive oil used for fuel oil for lamps, for healing the sick, and for anointing, but not for consumption. This particular word for oil is only used in Scripture for representing a fuel oil or as a medicine (as used by the Good Samaritan). This might imply that the substance is indeed heating oil, representing energy resources in general. If this is true, then determining the proper interpretation of the preceding phrase is paramount; it would hence reveal whether energy supplies might also be restricted and controlled alongside foodstuffs, or alternatively prevented from such manipulation, and thus might influence the priorities one makes to prepare for such days (if “those days” will be indeed be experienced by the reader).
These same diabolical characters are described in Revelation chapter 18, and are known as “Babylon, the Great City.” I personally believe (at this time) that this passage describes the judgment and eventual, sudden downfall of the tyrannical economic institution that is described in the third seal (an unsealed indictment of sins, if you will), and which has been operating since the days of the Tower and the great kingdom of Babylon, being made manifest thence in numerous forms.
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Let’s consider a number of the verses from this passage:
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities…Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong [is] the Lord God who judgeth her. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more … and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing…For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off… saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. Rejoice over her, [thou] heaven, and [ye] holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast [it] into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all… And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth (Revelation 18:2-5, 8-11, 13-15, 17, 19-21, 23-24).
We see in the first verse that (a) the institution is known as “Babylon the Great”; (b) “devils” and “foul” spirits are behind its operations; (c) all nations, as well as individual world leaders (“kings”) and merchants, have participated in her sins; and (d) the nations will also share in the wrath poured out on her. We see next a very important admonition: God’s children should “come out of her” and “not be partakers of her sins” so they would “receive not of her plagues.” The biggest question is this: How do we do this in a manner that God intends from this passage? This matter is worthy of all our prayer, meditation, contemplation, and discussion over the days ahead. If we are truly entering the last days, then we need to know how to recognize when and how this Babylon body forms to a degree, so that we can flee, if not earlier, like Lot did before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed within hours. Furthermore, one could interpret that we should consider leaving “Babylon” right now, and the command is for the reader of the book right now, and not just one found to be living in the “last” of the “last days.”
We also need to consider how to accomplish this, as well as the scope and intent of this admonition. Does it mean that we get out of the world’s financial, investment, and credit systems? If so, how do we do it? These things are the questions groups of Christians need to be discussing over coffee in homes and other venues. Are you affiliated with economic and financial groups that exploit other people by taking advantage of the poor or the third world, or by employing predatory credit practices? Would God consider these things the “sins” Babylon will be judged about? Pray about this issue—you may decide not to participate in the Federal Reserve-controlled, fractional reserve credit and finance system, instead keeping your investments “honorable” endeavors such as local food production and crafts, as in your own efforts of labor. One can see the wisdom that taking such a position would have in the future days of food control by world powers—direct access to the basic assets of life could make the difference between life and death for members of your family, your church, and your community, as opportunities arise for you to bless others out of your excess, as the Lord provides. Activities and investments that do not involve bankers, and that do not exploit workers in far-away lands are honorable, and will be prudent when those days arrive—even though you may not make much money while others are making windfalls via the Babylon financial system in the meantime, and even though you may be subject to taunts from many, including even your Christian brethren. When operations are justified of a scale of capital that individuals cannot practically save for sufficiently (such as even procuring modest farms), then Christian groups need to start thinking about starting financial co-ops to provide honest investments “within the body” to support such honest and healthy commerce “out of Babylon,” but such positive ideas will be discussed in a later section.
Further in this passage, it is clear that God sees these exploitative economic practices as sins that are important and grievous to the Lord. We also see that “the shoe will be on the other foot” as God issues a judgment of famine upon those who have artificially created local famines to control others in the past. Notice here that the kings of the earth stand “afar off, for fear of her torment,” yet they mourn over her destruction; they had “good times” with her and used her while it lasted (like a prostitute), but when she meets her end, they want to be far enough away that the sulfur and brimstone don’t land on them. (Don’t worry, their just desserts will be meted out soon in a valley in Israel.) Men of evil are like this: They join together to pillage, exploit, and enjoy their plunder, but when the hard times come, they are nowhere to be found. (Heaven forbid when we treat other Christians like this!) Notice that the products Babylon was known to sell in the past included the “wine and oil” of Revelation chapter 6, and a host of nonessential but extravagant delicacies for the wealthy, as well as “the souls of men.” That is what these wealthy cartels—particularly the ultra-wealthy, Rockefeller types who have no need for more money—really want to control. As the ultimate “power trip,” they want to manipulate people as they like, including their very basics of survival, as the third seal of Revelation 6, the indentured servitude of the citizens of Egypt in Genesis 47, and the generations of people in between imply.
The writings we have from these types of people today confirm this very agenda (the content of which is beyond the scope of this chapter). All the merchants, including the international traders in ships, stand afar off, noting (a) how she had made them so wealthy, and (b) how rapidly she was destroyed (“within an hour”). I believe this destruction will be supernatural, physical, and clearly from God himself, but the way our current economic system is leveraged, with fractional reserve lending, one can see that even if it shakes financially, the whole system comes crashing down instantly, particularly if confidence in the artificial system is lost. While they are mourning, “heaven, the apostles and prophets” are told to “rejoice over her,” because “God has avenged you on her.” Later, this is explained because “in her was found the blood of prophets, and saints, and all that were slain upon the earth.” I think this suggests that the Scripture here makes a point that the traditional “conspiracy theorists” make: that the wars of the world are typically fought for economic reasons and interests, and not for the reasons that kings tell their people to inspire patriotic fervor. The United States is not immune to this: We killed the Indians to get their valuable land for the railroads and settlers (and the British before that due to high taxes!), killed the Confederates to keep access to cheap raw materials, killed the Spanish to obtain imperialistic lands far away for their economic and strategic value, and the list goes on and on. Even the children of God have been killed for related reasons: They removed spirits from mediums who made money for their handlers, they did not provide money for the coffers of the institutionalized church, or they did not cooperate with state power structures when their consciences forbade them, and exhibited an air of even quiet rebellion that threatened the system (such as by merely refusing to briefly mention that “Caesar is Lord”), from Rome to the modern day, that “kings” felt might “catch on” with others, and threaten their lucrative positions at the government treasuries. These latter concerns were the kinds of reasons the Pharisees arrived at with Roman leaders to squash Christ and His followers to maintain the “status quo” in the religious, political, and economic realms. (I’m sure they never forgave Jesus for turning over the money changers’ tables—where the presence of “Babylon” temporarily occupied and “conquered” the Temple in its own way, and by which Jesus displayed the need for followers to separate themselves from it, by chasing them out from this area.) The end of this passage also says that “thy merchants were the great men of the earth,” which we understand and have established are the true power brokers of this age, as opposed to kings—be it the Rockefellers, Rothchilds, Morgans, etc., who have kept the nations and their kings on a leash for centuries. The passage also says that “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” God says that their seduction had a spiritual component, and was a “sorcery” of some sort—who knows what types of spirit communications these mysterious, powerful families conduct? In any case, entire nations in history were “deceived” by these economic power brokers, their motives, and how they had planned to enslave them, and possibly they had spiritual help in their deceptions.
Let’s briefly look at Jesus’ direct words regarding the role of famines in the last days: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these [are] the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24: 7-9).
In this brief passage, Jesus warns that part of the tribulations falling upon the earth, even during the “birth pangs” prior to the seventieth week of Daniel, will include famines and pestilences. Certainly the widespread outbreak of wars (possibly originating over limited critical resources), and natural disasters like earthquakes (which is why I don’t go scuba diving, because of this threat in the last days of earthquakes “in divers places”—wink!) will compound the problem by curtailing food distribution, farming, and harvesting.
Here is another admonition from the Lord about those days: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and [so] that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:34-36).
Our Lord Jesus warns here about “riotous living” in terms of exploiting and wasting the resources God gives us. He also warns about focusing (“hearts being ‘overcharged’ with … cares of this life”) either on (a) your enjoyment and more accumulation of these resources and extravagant trinkets and delicacies, or (b) becoming obsessed with issues of this life (versus the things of heaven), even if well-intentioned in terms of trying to be prepared. If this is done at the expense of other duties the Lord gives us, our ability to spiritually be prepared and watch for His coming will be inhibited. He says these things will be a “snare” for everyone, possibly even Christians (hence the need to get out of “Babylon,” even if only “in between the ears”!), and alternatively focus on watching and praying.
How do we “watch”? That is a good question! I submit that some activities that could possibly comprise watching, from what Scripture suggests, include:
(a) studying diligently to understand what the Bible says about the signs leading up to the last days;
(b) purposefully studying what is going on in the world, and even within the church that reveals evidence of the things prophesied in Scripture;
(c) listening to the Holy Spirit’s suggestions and enlightenment (while confirming its origin from Him by comparing the understanding with the immutable Word of God); and
(d) listening to mature Christian teachers on the topic, etc., for a good start!
The interesting thing about the conclusion of this passage is that the Lord says that if we do these things, we may be accounted worthy to “escape all these things that shall come to pass.” I know that Scripture is clear that we cannot be worthy of righteousness and salvation in our own strength (as opposed to the Lord’s, through His atoning sacrifice), because the Bible is clear that “our righteousness is as filthy rags” and that “all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.” Therefore, I presume that the Lord may choose to spare, to some partial or full degree, some believers who are found “with their lamps lit” as an expression of their faith and belief, from at least some of the tribulation to come. I do not know if this refers to a Rapture prior to days of such suffering, or whether God will spare His faithful servants of the ongoing suffering to some degree. In any case, it is yet another reward Christ promises to those who are diligent and obey Scripture in faith, coming from the One whose nature is to richly reward His servants!
UP NEXT: Admonitions
[i] Peter Goodgame, Red Moon Rising (Xulon, 2004) ISBN-10: 1594679622.
[ii] David W. Lowe, Earthquake Resurrection (Lulu, 2005) ISBN-10: 1411639707.
[iii] David W. Lowe, Then His Voice Shook The Earth (Seismos, 2006) ISBN-10: 0615136141.
[iv] John Perkins, Confessions of An Economic Hitman (Berrett Koehler, 2004).