Updated: Dec 9, 2021
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.
I have never been a fan of last days hyper-faith idealism that promotes periods of time, or a separate dispensation of time only revealed during what is defined as the dreaded "seven-year period" where numerous catastrophic events occur to a specific set of mankind, (you know mostly those terrible sinners) events which are so debilitating that no one can live though them. Proponents of this kind of sensationalism parlay their ideas via books, sermons and even movies that picture those times in holographic imagery that is fanciful and way outside of reality. The dangers of buying into these kinds of narratives are multiple and not only detached from biblical truth but foster a sense that the bible is a fairy tale, full of fantasy and make believe and not a trusted source for living. I had thought it potentially possible but looking at numerous historical events where believers where persecuted to the point of utter antihalation...example, China where almost all remnants of that church were wiped out, changed my thinking! Tragic periods of time pepper all of the historical record with periods where devastation of every level highlighted in Matthew 24 have happened.
So then what does the book of Revelation describe?
Revelation is an illumination of events that occurred, are occurring, and will continue to occur throughout the history of time associated to the fallen broken state. Revelation 1:19 describes Johns commission from the Great IAM. "Write the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that shall be hereafter." I was taught by most of my bible college teachers, most were pre-tribulation though some were mid-tribulation or post-tribulation, that the things hereafter meant those things that would only happen after the Rapture of the Church and the end of the church age. The actual Greek word μετά- transliterated Meta
A primary preposition (often used adverbially); properly denoting accompaniment; "amid" (local or causal); modified variously according to the case (genitive case association or accusative case succession) with which it is joined; occupying an intermediate position between, close than, against among, follow hence hereafter in of and setting since (un-) to, together when with. Often used in composition in substantially the same relations of participation or proximity and transfer or sequence, throughout till to (be the end -ward). In other words, Thayer's interpretation of "with, after BEHIND" has been faultily utilized by those in the church age whom I will not be unkind and call them charlatans, has been used to define a dispensation called end times that does not exist! The "End Times" is, that period in which John writes to the churches. ALL of them, from beginning to end. To put it in laymen's word, these events will be ongoing as long as the church age exists.
This makes biblical concepts relevant, timely and current. The narrative is highlighting the daily occurrences in everyman's sphere of daily activity whereby eking out a living becomes more and more impossible with each passing day. I heard an old song sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford when I was just a lad, redone by Geoff Castellucci. It says, " you load sixteen tons and what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt, St. Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go, I owe my soul to the company store." Here is the full rendition of the song if you want to listen.
Each day, Madison Avenue merchandises commodities ever increasingly on every media source the prices of wares necessary for everyday existence in higher escalating inflationary values relative to those items.
Again, the Greek wording here describes those quantities necessary for everyday existence.
χοῖνιξ transliterated choinix = of uncertain derivation; a chaenix or certain dry measure: - measure. a choenix, a dry measure, containing four cotylae or two setarii (less than our quart, one litre) (or as much as would support someone of moderate appetite for a day) in other words, meager rations. In ancient times, a denarius would buy eight to ten quarts of wheat, not one! Obviously, these are disastrously outrageous and artificially inflated prices intended to enslave the common man in never ending turmoil and endless drudgery. The "denarius" was equal to an ordinary worker's daily wage, as Christ illustrates in His Parable of the Laborers in Mathew 20:1-16. These prices, then, give a person an unenviable choice. If single, they can buy the more expensive, more nutritious wheat, yet have nothing left over, or buy the cheaper, less nutritious barley and save the remainder for the next day or so. However, if there are dependents, one can choose only the barley because someone needs more than one quart of grain for bare subsistence. None of these choices really allows the person either to get ahead or to stay healthy, especially if they have responsibility for others.
How you may ask is this relevant to today, showing we are living in times predicted by biblical writers? Have you bought a hamburger recently? How about a new vehicle, or house? I remember a few years ago, I could by a nice cabin in the mountains for 100K, now it just a few years later with the increasing push to change local markets into global markets you cannot buy a hamburger with a common person's average wage because those flipping them are making 15-20 dollars an hour. The push has been ongoing and sustained by a global force determined to create what is called an equitable climate in the current world system. I remember over twenty years ago on my first return from India. I had been there for a month and eating nothing much except a vegetable diet and rice mainly. I got to Germany on the plane and had a several hours layover. I was told I could go out into the main concourse where every type of fast food could be found. I had a hankering for a hamburger! I stepped to the counter and ordered; the attendant then told me my price in U.S. dollars. A single hamburger, small frys and small coke costed twelve (12) dollars U.S. I had been working doing labor in construction the year before making ten (10) dollars an hour, so it costed more then I made!
And that 100K cabin is a million dollars while gas prices continue to skyrocket to higher and higher levels! Items of necessity are increasingly more expensive, while a big screen TV or that cell phone that costed ten thousand dollars when first arriving on the scene 25 years ago can be purchased for as little as fifty bucks!
For people my age the starkness of difference in today and say 50 years ago is staggering. I remember going to the store as a youth and momma would give me a dollar. My task, get two loafs of bread, a gallon of milk and I was allowed to buy a couple pieces of bubble gum and a slow poke or slow cow sucker and bring back a quarter in change! Not in these times of escalating prices and greediness!
Many commentators think the sparing of the oil and wine are related to only luxury items. This is not the case as in ancient times olive oil and wine were ingested as part of the standard diet along with grain supplying a significant proportion of the intake of necessary nutrients needed to maintain a healthy and vibrant lifestyle.
It is interesting that while people look well fed today, they are overweight and fatigued and depressed, ever dependent on some magic formula diet or a pharmaceutical quick fix to extract them out of their current condition. Reality is one cannot live on just one or the other, just bread or oil and wine, both are needed! Scientific evidence suggests the need for both, but in today's economic climate there is only enough allowance for one, and even that is insufficient to provide what is needed to maintain equilibrium in a physical sense.
So, we see the riders of these horses rampaging across human history with increasing ferocity and detrimental consequences. The biblical injunction is unequivocally vivid, these events are ongoing though punctuated by times of plenty lull people into a false sense of security and comfort in men's attempt to manage his affairs. Genesis 3:17-19 is then prophetic in that the experience of history is that most of the time, the ordinary individual is just getting by exhausting toiling eking out a miserable living only to end up worn out and broken in a few, short years. The third horseman's job is to follow his red brother's devastating wars with oppression, corruption, and scarcity so that men stay weak and poor and many die never looking for the One who comes victoriously ridding on A White Horse.