Closer Look at Scripture

Horses Are a Symbol of Control in the Bible

This is a picture of 3 powerful, beautiful horses because horses are a symbol of control in the Bible.

There is no doubt about it: God is in control. He was in control when He created the universe, and He is in control of the earth and what happens on it today. When Lucifer fell, it was because his pride put him in rebellion to God. That same spirit of rebellion is the motto for everyone who would live apart from Him now: “Do what thou wilt.” Do whatever you want. It’s about controlling your own life, independent of God. In the Bible, we see a picture of that control in the horses of man and the horses of God. Whether they be of man or God, horses are a symbol of control.

God’s Rule Against Horses

 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’”

Deuteronomy 17:16

In Deuteronomy, God lays out several instructions for His people, including the kings that would rule Israel. In it, He specifically forbids breeding horses. He didn’t want His people counting on them for the various things they came to be known for in the ancient world. They were powerful weapons of war, they showed strength and promised freedom, and they brought glory as a show of riches and majesty. Just having them made the people confident in themselves instead of God. Again and again in the Bible, God pits horses as the opposite of God for control and shows Himself strong against them.  

Horses as Weapons of War Instead of God

Deuteronomy 20:1-2 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

Psalm 33:17 “A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.”

Proverbs 21:31 “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.”

Isaiah 30:16 “And you said, ‘No, for we will flee on horses‘— therefore you shall flee! and, “We will ride on swift horses”— therefore those who pursue you shall be swift!

Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!”

Ezekiel 17:15 “But he rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and many people. Will he prosper? Will he who does such things escape? Can he break a covenant and still be delivered?”

Hosea 14:3 “Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’ for in You the fatherless finds mercy.”

Amos 2:15 “He shall not stand who handles the bow, the swift of foot shall not escape, nor shall he who rides a horse deliver himself.”

God Destroys Horses as a Means of Man’s Earthly Strength

Exodus 15:1 “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying: ‘I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! the horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!'”

Psalm 76:6 “At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse were cast into a dead sleep.”

Isaiah 31:3 “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, both he who helps will fall, and he who is helped will fall down; they all will perish together.”

Jeremiah 51:21 “With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider; with you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider;”

Micah 5:10 “’And it shall be in that day, says the Lord, ‘That I will cut off your horses from your midst and destroy your chariots.'”

Haggai 2:22 “I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them; the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.”

Zechariah 12:4 “In that day,” says the Lord, ‘I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.’”

God’s Horses Bring His Control Over the Earth

On the other hand, God’s horses are His instrument for achieving His purposes in the spiritual realm. They carry His armies and His messengers, and they will be with Him when He comes again to the earth.

They bring His armies to fight our battles & execute His orders

2 Kings 2:11 “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

2 Kings 6:17 “And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

They carry His angels to watch over the earth.

Zechariah 1:8-11 “ I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white. Then I said, ‘My lord, what are these?’ So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ And the man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, ‘These are the ones whom the Lord has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth.’ 11 So they answered the Angel of the Lord, who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly.’”

Zechariah 6:1-5 “Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of bronze. With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot dappled horses—strong steeds.Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these, my lord?’ And the angel answered and said to me, ‘These are four spirits of heaven, who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth.'”

They bring riders of judgement

Revelation 6:2 “And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”

Revelation 6:4 “Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”

Revelation 6:5 “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.”

Revelation 6:7-8 “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”

Revelation 9:17-18 ”And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths.”

They will carry and accompany Christ at His coming

Revelation 19:11-14 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”

What Can We Learn From the Horses in the Bible?

“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.”

Psalm 147:10

Historically, men have used horses as their human means of controlling their environment. They brought strength and power in battle and glory and honor when amassed in number. Biblically, horses are a symbol of control. But, God consistently speaks against allowing anything apart from Him to be our strength power, glory, or honor. Instead, we are to look to Him and Him alone. He fights for us, watches over us, and will judge us when this age is done. Finally, a horse will bring Christ, our King, to the earth to reign forevermore.

As we get nearer to His coming, we should all examine our own lives. While very few of us own horses, I think many of us are guilty of the same things as the ancient Israelites. We find ways to be independent from God. Are we trying to fight our own battles? Do we search for worth in collecting treasure or earning position? Do we resist the hand of God’s providence on our lives? Now, more than ever, it’s time to set our hope in God and look to Him alone. The facade of earthly strength is coming to an end, and God alone will be victorious.

P.S. A Late Illustration

My blogs are always written before Sundays. I wait to publish just in case the pastor mentions something that I feel I should add. This morning on my way to church, a run-in with a colleague via email had me angry and resentful. The teachers on my team usually teach the same lessons to keep things consistent for the kids at our school, but this time, there was a real difference of opinion over a particular course of action.

As soon as I got the email, I said to myself, “Well, I’m just going to do it my way, and she can just get over it.” But, a few minutes into service, Sister Belinda sang one of my favorite songs, I Just Want to Please the Lord. Within just a minute of sitting down, it came to me that this was an example of me trying to fight my own battles.

I remembered what David did in 1 Samuel 30 after his wives and children were taken from him at Ziklag. He had every right to be angry and to saddle his horse immediately to get them back, but instead, he asked God what he should do. 1 Samuel 30:8a says, “So David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?’ Instead of doing what he wanted to do, he asked God what He wanted. And the back half of that verse is very best part. “And He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all’” (1 Samuel 30:8b). David now had assurance that God would give him the victory.

After deciding to let God decide for me, I felt truly and honestly free. All the anger, resentment, and distress about which decision was best was just gone. It was taken out of my hands and off my shoulders, and I really felt the blessing of God. My pastor said again this morning that we have been bought with a price. I praise God that He takes very good care of His own.

If you like symbolism, check out The Red Heifer is a Symbol of Jesus and Sanctification. Or, Try Water Is a Symbol of Power in the Bible. Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list on the upper right corner (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read my blogs out loud. I also have a separate playlist of hymns from our talented, anointed 16-year-old-worship leader Hannah.

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