5 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.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A MEASURE of wheat for A PENNY, three MEASURES of barley for A PENNY; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
I wonder when this prophecy was fulfilled.
It's interesting to note that modern misrenderings of the above verses (such as the NIV) allow room for popular, modern end-times views; whereas the proper rendering of these verses (such as the KJV) lends stronger support to the more historically standard end-times view.
The proper rendering specifies that the unit of measurement was to be the “measure” – not a quart, nor a bushel, nor a loaf; it specifies that the currency in use was to be the "penny" – not “a day’s wages” in general, and certainly not the Dollar, nor the Euro, nor any other currency; and it specifies that the price of a measure of wheat was to be precisely "one penny" – nothing more, nothing less.
As John Wesley explained: “The word translated measure, was a Grecian measure…the Roman penny, as much as a labourer then earned in a day…THIS MUST HAVE BEEN FULFILLED WHILE THE GRECIAN MEASURE AND THE ROMAN MONEY WERE STILL IN USE; AS ALSO WHERE THAT MEASURE WAS THE COMMON MEASURE, AND THIS MONEY THE CURRENT COIN".
In other words, the prophecy, if taken literally, most likely had to have been fulfilled somewhere in the Roman Empire soon after John wrote to the seven churches.
But should the text be taken literally? Approaching any text with integrity normally requires that we take the text to literally mean what it says, unless the text itself indicates that we should take it another way. We certainly shouldn’t attempt to make a text mean something that it doesn’t actually say just so it fits our presupposed eschatological idea.
Otherwise we could end-up mistakenly looking for future fulfillments of a prophecy which may in fact have already been fulfilled. Could this be a core reason why, in recent generations, we are becoming all-too-familiar with the repeat cycle of failing end-times predictions? I wonder.
And as we have seen above, some modern mistranslations (such as the NIV) may actually be a contributing factor in such errors. Perhaps a return therefore to a more faithful rendering of the Scriptures (such as the KJV) could prove to be an aid towards a helpful avoidance of modern eschatological misprojections, and perhaps it could also result in a rediscovery of some worthwhile components of the historically standard end-times view which for centuries was espoused by many of the great reformers, revivalists, missionaries and evangelists of the Church. Just wondering!
In any case, as for the real meaning of the prophecy, time – if nothing else does – will tell. And in the meantime, the intention of the Scripture is always that believers draw strength from what is written by remembering that although hard times may come, it shall all be more than worth it in the end for those who overcome.
Jesus is coming soon!