Thursday, April 2, 2009

Four Terrible Horsemen


Four horsemen

The sixth chapter of Revelation brings us to the beginning of judgment of the wrath of God. It is not an easy passage to teach, but it is part of the content of blessing promised to those who read and keep the prophecies of this book (1:3).

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the
four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before
was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out
as a conqueror bent on conquest (Revelation 6:1-2 RSV)

There is much dispute as to what this rider on the white horse represents. Pastor Mark teaches this rider
is Jesus.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say,
"Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power
to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given
a large sword. (Revelation 6:3-4 NIV)

This rider is easy to recognize. It is war, of course, but not war between great armies --at least not at first. The word for slay is really the word "slaughter." It is a reference to civil war or civil anarchy where mobs of people group together to attack and destroy other people whom they do not like. In the days when John wrote they obvious did not have any of the modern weapons of warfare we have today. In that day a sword
was a powerful weapon of destruction. It is with good reason that many commentators have seen this as
a picture of the awesome power of a nuclear bomb, something that destroys enormous numbers of people.
If you read the 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel you will find a vivid description of such warfare, where
armies come down out of the north into the Holy Land and are decimated by what appears to be radiation
sickness. It is powerfully protrayed for us in those accounts. Then we have the third seal opened, in Verses 5 and 6.

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say. "Come!" I
looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in
his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures,
saying, "a quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages,
and do not damage the oil and the wine!" (Revelation 6:5-6 NIV)

Most scholars take this to be a reference to widespread famine on the earth. But perhaps this is not referring to famine because in the next sea, as we will see, famine is specifically mentioned as part of a
judgement. What else causes terrible shortage and creates high prices do that people cannot buy adequate amounts of food? It is inflation; economics out of control; panic in the market place! During the
days of the Weimar Republic in Germany after World War I, there are pictures of people taking ten thousand of German marks bills, loading them into wheel borrows, and taking them to market to buy a single loaf of
bread. That is what runaway inflation does. It makes money worthless. That in turn becomes an excuse for the rigid control over buying and selling which we find in Chapter 13 when, "no one can buy or sell without the mark of the beast," (Revelation 13:17) That brings us to the fourth seal, in Verse 7:

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature
say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! (The word actually is
chloros, from which we get the word chlorine, a pale green horse, like chlorine in color.)Its
rider was named Death;, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given
power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild
beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7-8)

This rider is named "Death" and floating along behind, was a figure that is identified as "Hades," or Hell.
Death takes the body and Hades takes the soul. There are four forms of death that are related to this attack. Firs, the sword, which here is not war but murder; individual assault upon one another. It is people
taking the law into their own hands and murdering other people without regard to justice or law. With murder comes famine and widespread starvation.When civilization begins to crumble, the defenses of mankind against disease are lost as well.

The wild beast of the earth multiply, and are subject to attack by these predators. The account says that a "fourth of the earth" is given over to the four attacks. There are approximately seven billion people on the earth today this means a forth of this number would be decimated by disease. It is a picture of a desolated earth caused by man's hatred and barbarity.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the alter the souls of those who had been
slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called
out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the
inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white
robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants
and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was complete. (Revelation 6:9-11 NIV)

John sees a great crowd which no man could number, from every tribe nation and language of earth, standing before the throne, all ;having been killed for their testimony. They are given a white robe and told to wait until their brethren would also be killed.

Notice the prayer these martyrs pray. It is a call for vengeance. These martyrs under the fifth sear are not living in days when God patiently endures the injustices of men. These are days of judgment; days when wrong doers are being called to account, the time of vengeance. The prayers, then, of God's people reflect the mind of God at that time.

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned
black like a sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned red, and the stars
in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.
The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed
from its place. (Revelation 6: 12-14 NIV)

This is a vivid description of chaos in nature! The whole natural world goes on a rampage.

These six seals have carried us almost to the very end of the whole seven-year period. We have been swiftly moving through this dramatic period. After the great tribulation, nature will be upset by some cosmic phenomenon. Perhaps it is the approach of an undetected heavenly body that will upset the gravity of earth.
Volcanoes will begin to spout lava; great earthquakes, much larger that the ones just experienced, will rumble through the earth; the stars will appear to be falling from the sky; the darkening of the sun and the
moon will result from the ashes and dust caused by these phenomena. (read Luke 21:25-27)

It will be a time of terror and anguish throughout the earth. That will be the effect of this on the people?

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich;, the mighty, and
every slave and every freeman hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.
They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face
of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of
their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17)

In that day, those who refuse to believe have reached a stage where they cannot believe. They are in such terrible fear and pray; to the rocks to destroy them. They; will manifest openly and publicly what they feel privately and secretly today. It is a strange phenomenon, but it is easily confirmed , that every unbeliever is convinced in his own hear that death is somehow an escape into oblivion! Somehow they think they can escape the terrible consequences of their evil by dying. That is why people commit suicide. They believe they are escaping their problems, that there will be no consequences beyond death. But he Word of God
assures us this is not true: "It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment, (Hebrews 9:27) also see (John 3:36)

Isaiah puts his finger on the reason for these judgments. It is "the pride of men shall be humbled," (Isaiah
2:17 NIV) The pride of man--this terrible lust within us :
to be in charge
to be in control of our lives
to be in control or other peoples lives
to run everything
to be the center of our own little universe
to judge everything as to whether it pleases us
or displeases us
that is the pride of man. Grace can humble it. The sight of God's Son dying in our place ought to make us see the evil of our hearts. But, if grace does not humble us, ultimately judgment must.

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