3 ¶ And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
Keep in mind that these events are occurring in a relatively short time span of 3 ½ years.
The Beast’s reign;
Revelation 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
The Jews flight to the wilderness as prophesied by Christ in Matthew 24 and Luke 17 mentioned previously (1260 days or 42 months of 30 days each are 3 ½ years);
Revelation 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
And the ministry of the two prophets of God in Jerusalem as the rebuilt temple is misused and abused (see Jesus comments about the abomination of desolation mentioned previously);
Revelation 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
3 ¶ And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
The focus on the tribulation manifested in Revelation is a 3 ½ year period of time. Students of the Bible have derived a seven year tribulation from several Old Testament and extra-Biblical sources such as Daniel as the 70th week of his prophecy;
Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
And some have insisted that the translation of the church, or rapture, must take place before the seven year period starts because of extra-Biblical information such as Michael Satlow’s book, Jewish Marriage in Antiquity and comparing Jacob’s seven day celebration after his wedding celebration of a week with Leah before he could have Rachel in Genesis 29 with a required seven year marriage supper of the Lamb mentioned later in Revelation. There are other references to seven day celebrations, as well, such as in Esther. Some Islamic groups have an end-times prophecy of a person called the Mahdi, who will rule for seven years and destroy Christianity. This person would be equivalent to the Beast of this prophecy. However, in Revelation, literally, in the text, the reference is the 3 ½ years as great tribulation so if there is a specific 3 ½ years of peace prior to that time it is not mentioned. The Beast comes in with a fury of conquest and slaughter and that characterizes his short reign on earth. I’m not arguing against traditional evangelical interpretation of these events. I am simply saying be careful of what you cannot prove from the text but surmise by association. Cross-referencing verses is important for Biblical understanding but must be done very carefully to keep from error. Think of Hitler's six year position of power after being elected to power contrasted with six years of war that destroyed him and 60 million other people.
The opening of this seal released a red horse. Obviously, there is a rider on the horse and he has power to cause war. This is not the red horse rider in Zechariah as he is observing the world, not causing war.
Zechariah 1:8 I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white 9 Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. 10 And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. 11 And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
We have a conqueror and then war over the earth. Killing by the sword is a characterization of war and not necessarily referring to a specific weapon as people are killed in war by catapults, spears, knives, and clubs among other weapons. Don’t get hung up on God not mentioning AK-47’s or hand grenades which would have meant nothing to most readers throughout history.