The third seal continues this progressive unfolding of antichrist. “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.” The color and nature of antichrist has progressively become darker and grimmer. Here we see the absolute control that he has over the world markets. In the thirteenth chapter we will find that no man can buy or sell without giving allegiance to him. Black is the color of mourning in one sense. More accurately it is the color of famine in the scriptures: “Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick. They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field” (Lam. 4:8, 9). The balances used for weighing food are a symbol of scarcity and famine. I believe it is more than that though, it is a symbol of his power. The wars have left the world in famine and have given the antichrist almost absolute power. Now we see the world looking to him to mete out their bread.
Thanks to the god this world chose the world is now starving. An explanation is given from the throne to the saints of heaven as to what is being seen. A measure of wheat is being sold for a penny and measure of barley is being sold for a penny. This also is part of the beginning of sorrows as Christ simply stated, “there shall be famines” (Matt. 24:7). Gill commented that “the measure here used, signifies as much as was sufficient for a man for one day, as a penny was the usual hire of a laborer for a day, Matthew 20:2.” It will take a full days wage to buy enough food for one person to sufficiently eat. For the poor there will be barley for sale at the price of a day’s wage. Jamieson stated that barley was “the cheaper and less nutritious grain, bought by the laborer who could not buy enough wheat for his family with his day’s wages, a denarius, and, therefore, buys barley.” This represents a grand shift in the world’s economy but it also represents a huge shift in the world power to which will bring all men to the feet of the antichrist in order to have their daily sustenance. He is the one with the scales. Special care will also be given to protect the supply of oil (for which we presently fight many wars) and of wine. These are the luxuries of life also in control of the antichrist. There is rationing of the worlds good and the antichrist is the grand Pharaoh with the full garners of which men will have to bow to have their part. The antichrist emerges as the controller of the world’s markets. The world will rely on him for the bread and circus.