The Preterist view sees this passage as nothing significant happening until chapter eight; this is just a “predatory show,” a seal玅breaking ceremony and introduction to what will take place soon, and thus, already has. Some see this as the Judgment of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as horsemen represent war and conquering by Rome. Others say these are the tribulations the seven churches faced (Luke 21:22). Some see the white horse as Christ and His victory. They see the second seal as a loss of peace from the land because of the fighting between the Jews and Romans and the slaughter of the Jews prior to the destruction of the Temple. In actuality, what Zechariah predicted is not necessarily about end times (Zech. 11:10-14). The black horse is the famine during the Roman siege (Deut. 28:53; Lam. 5:10; Luke 21:20-23; 23:28-29). They see the pale horse and third seal as pestilence, carnage, and death during the Roman occupation.
The Futurist view sees this passage as the state of the tribulation. Many see the while horse as Christ and His victory, but this contradicts their theory. Some see these as symbols of materialism, government, or a new world order rule in the last days. Others see this as representing the antichrist or a counterfeit leader. This is “isagesis,” or reading into the text something that is not there and taking Daniel 9:26; Luke 4:6; Rev. 13:2 and 2 Thess 2:8-10 out of context and/or sequence. The second and red horse and seal they see as war before Christ’s climatic return. Some commentators love to read the newspaper into these images and say that the red horse is Russia or Gorbachev or whoever the evil dictator of the day is. Further, the large sword is the battle of Armageddon or nuclear war, a bit of a stretch. The black horse is the famine, inflation, and calamity during the tribulation. They see the pale horse and third seal as pestilence, carnage, and death during the tribulation. “Fourth of the earth” means one quarter of the earth’s population will be killed (Matt. 24:21).
Idealist view: They also mistakenly see the white horse as Christ or the progress of the Gospel. Others see this as the universality of war, conquest, and the rise of empires that bring death and suffering, a process continually repeated throughout history (Prov. 17:11; Dan. 2:21). Others see this as the downfall of Rome. The second and red horse and seal are seen as general conquest and the propensity of man to wage war and, some say, Judgment (Amos 3:6; Matt. 26:52). Others have said the persecution of the church and application perhaps, but not what the passage means. The black horse represents the consequences of war, such as famine. Many see it as a drought (Ezek. 5:16). They see the pale horse and third seal generally as famine and death. They see these images as repeating throughout history, and when you study history, they are correct. However, this is an application, not necessarily the veracity of the meaning here in the text. They see “fourth of the earth” as a coming global catastrophe or as referring to the general woes of the world population as they live in a sinful earth.
The Historicist view sees the white horseman as representing the period of Roman occupation and the evil of Domitian. “Peace,” in this passage, means the period of peace and prosperity that was from after the death of Domitian in 96 A.D. until after Aurelius in 180 A.D. The bow refers to the dynasty of Rome and the Cretians who were raiders and horsemen at that time. The breaking of the seven seals is considered the same view as that of the Preterist. Others say this passage represents the person and dignity of Christ, His mild judgments and grace and His triumph over all over paganism and evil. Others have said that the bow refers to the rapid spread of Christianity during this time. The see the red horse as depicting civil war and the second seal as the period 180 to 280 A.D.玆a period of many wars and unrest. “Take peace from the earth” means to deprive the Jews of tranquility; in addition, there will be further judgments. The black horse is the oppression imposed by many of the Roman emperors and the period of 218-222 A.D. when Caracalla granted citizenship to any man who could pay taxes. This caused heavy taxation and an economic depression with food shortages. They see the pale horse and third seal as the period of time from 268-248 A.D. that produced shame for the Romans because of the barbarian raiders and Rome’s inability to deal with them. “Fourth of the earth” is viewed as the four Roman providences into which Rome was divided. Normally, this view is the more correct one; here, the historicists’ focus is only on the possible applications, missing the point and context of the passage.