So we enter into the second phase of antichrist and we begin to learn that he will not be all that is promised. The bloom comes off the rose. “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” We note that it did not say that it was “another” rider but it did say that it was another horse. I believe that the “another” here is used to highlight the complete change in the mode of this rider. He came peacefully conquering; he came as a Savior, at first. But suddenly the way of his coming changes in that it can only be considered as “another” way. He is no longer seen as coming on white but now is observed as coming in another color; red. Red is the color of blood and therefore a symbol of violence. Christ by opening this seal has given permit to antichrist to show a different shade of himself. Just as the devil needed permission to inflict from the throne of God in the days of Job so the antichrist is unleashed here to inflict the people of the earth.
This is yet part of what Christ rightly described as the beginning of sorrows. Mankind has from the days of Babel tried to create a utopia without God, a brave new world. These are the birth pangs of that brave new world; the beginning of sorrows. It began very promising as it always does with every utopian dream and it ends in the same sorrow and death. Christ said that after the false Christ with his false message is received by the inhabitants of this earth that “ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:6, 7). I would describe this phase of antichrist as the increasing of power. On the white horse he came conquering with peace and in ambition desired to conquer more. On the red horse he is not conquering through peace but through social and political unrest. Hitler was not satisfied with the peaceful conquest of Austria but went on to a bloody conquest of Poland and France. This the Antichrist will do on, no doubt, a larger scale.
I think it is interesting that the peacemaker turns into a warmonger. The process of the riding of the red horse goes like this: First, the rider enters originally with nothing in his hand but is described as having power given unto him. This no doubt is connected with the power gained on the white horse. He had power due to his position and the authority of his person to take peace from the earth. He will turn out to be no Savior at all, but a divider of men. A power is given to him to take peace from the earth, to threaten war and wage war and cause by his words and actions others to threaten or wage war. He will provoke men to kill one another and move their perspective governments to wage war; thus the wars and rumors of wars. Political and social unrest are and always have been tools for gaining and cementing power. Talbot, “Not only will there be war between nations, but there will also be war between classes. The world has never seen such conflict as will arise after the restraining power of the Holy Spirit has been removed.”
That brings about the second part of our text; the cementing of power. The Hegelian dialect will always pit the thesis and antithesis against one another in order to bring about the synthesis. The antichrist will push the social and political buttons to cause unrest and war and bloodshed and it will only help him to gain more power. He rides in with nothing but power and leaves with the people giving him “a great sword.” All of the unrest of the earth results in greater authority and power given to this man. The social and political unrest will cause men to rely more upon the beast. They will exchange their freedom for security. I am not sure what the great sword in our text refers to. Maybe it refers to some new kind of weapon or powerful deterrent. Maybe it will be some new kind of position of power that will be given to him that will enable him to rule over the nations. One thing is for sure; what he did not do through peace he did through war. And at the end of the unrest the rider of this horse stands as the conqueror of this world.