Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] The book of Revelation gives us hope. It gives us something that no other human writer, no other human source, no other medium or part of culture can give us. It is the hope of God’s intervention upon the world.
The Bible contains many dramatic scenes but nothing grabs the attention of readers of the Bible like the 4 riders of the horses of Revelation.
Across the landscape of history these 4 riders on these multi colored horses ride with dramatic fear, uncertainty, and wonder upon the world scene.
A white horse, a red horse, a black horse, and a pale horse all bringing scenes of judgment, all bringing a message of warning upon a world that is out of control at a critical moment in human experience. But also at a time that will show the dramatic ability of the God of creation to control history.
This story begins with a scene in heaven and a voice of great thunder. It begins with a scroll that has 7 seals that are found to be at the very throne of God. Multiple angelic beings are there at the presence of the Father and of the Son and the Lamb and no one is found worthy, it says in the scriptures, to open that particular scroll with its seven seals except for the one describe as the Lamb. Only the Lamb, we are told, is worthy to open and to reveal the meaning of these scrolls that will unfold.
The story begins in Revelation 5 and let’s read that for a moment and look and before we go into the story of the 4 horsemen that begin their ride upon human history in verse 8 of chapter 5 in the book of Revelation. The Lamb takes that scroll and it says when He had taken that scroll the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. The Lamb represents Jesus Christ. Each have a harp and golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints and they sang a new song saying you are worthy, meaning the Lamb, to take the scroll and to open its seals for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation and have made us kings and priests to our God and we shall reign upon the earth.
It’s fitting that the Lamb is the one who has the ability to take the scroll and open and break all of the seals. Because what we read here beginning in chapter 6 of Revelation is a parallel to the Olivet prophecy that Jesus Christ himself gave to his disciples as recorded in the book of Matthew the 24th chapter in what is called the Olivet prophecy of scripture. There the disciples came and they asked Christ, what will be the signs of your coming and of the end of the age? Christ began to unfold to them specific details about what would be taking place at the end of the age that would herald His appearance, His second coming and this parallels what we read in Revelation chapter 6.
So again it is fitting that it is the Lamb or Jesus Christ who is the one who is able to unroll the scroll and the seals and reveal what these horsemen all represent. So let’s look at the book of Revelation and what we are told from Christ who is the Revelation and what He says. Let’s look at that 1st seal and that 1st horseman.
In chapter 6 of Revelation we read this. John writes “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder saying, ‘Come and see.’ 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.” So here’s the first rider on a white horse. Now some commentators will look at this and they will think that this is Jesus Christ, a picture of Jesus Christ, but this is not Jesus Christ. In fact Revelation 19 a few chapters further into the story shows the actual appearance of Jesus Christ indeed on a white horse but with a sword, not with a bow. That sword will come out of the mouth of Christ and He will be wielding that and that represents the Word of God a two edged sword.
Some also say that this rider, this first rider, is an angel that appears. It’s not an angel. What is it? It’s a false christ. It is one who does appear like Christ and the very deception we find that people will have regarding this first rider tells us exactly why and how there is this misunderstanding about who Jesus Christ was and is and what his purpose is all about.
In fact Jesus Christ gave that very warning back in Matthew 24 when He said to His disciples beware. At the first sign of His coming He said many will come in my name saying they are the Christ and will deceive many. And that has happened throughout history beginning almost in the very beginning of the church in message of the gospel that did go to the world there was deception, there was false teaching, there were those who bore the name of Christ who said they represented Him but for a different teaching, a different gospel. In fact they came with a different spirit.
Given the history of experience from that time until present day of the 21st century tell us exactly what has happened in regards to so many different brands of religion.
Spirituality. Seeking to help people understand who God is and what God’s purpose is but also preaching a false version of the gospel and really in essence a false Christ. This is what is being described here. False religion sets up the scene for the 2nd seal that is unfurled or the 2nd horseman because that 2nd horseman brings something upon the earth that so often we find as we study history comes because of religious strife and religious confusion.
Let’s read what the 2nd seal or the 2nd horseman has to tell us as we look at this in Revelation 6 beginning in verse 3. John records this as he looks and he said “When He [meaning the Lamb again] opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ 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.”
This red horse with this rider brings war. To take peace from the earth means to leave it in a state of conflict. We’ve seen a great deal of that in human experience since Christ uttered these words and since John saw this Revelation. Some will say as they look at this and seek to understand it for modern application, well we’ve always had wars. That’s true. But this is different. This war that is described here again when we go back to Matthew 24 and we look at what Jesus described as a war that would come upon the world at the time of end as one of the signs that would have the ability to take not only take peace from the earth but also all life and a total war we come to a point where we have to understand that in the light of events from 1945 with the explosion of the first atomic bomb and then a few years later with the coming of the hydrogen bomb and the nuclear proliferation that has taken place ever since that has created the potential to kill all life on this planet with nuclear war.
We have been living under that mushroom cloud of uncertainty ever since 1945 and still do to this day. As I look at this and you consider war and consider the scriptures and what we are actually being told in Matthew’s account and by this rider of war, we have to come to the point where we realize that it is only in today’s setting that we have this ability.
I have lived all my life under the threat of nuclear war. I remember as a young man going into my physical education class in my junior high school and walking by a civil defense sign which was kind of a yellow and black warning sign indicating this was a safe place in the event of a nuclear war for you to gain shelter. It made us feel good at the time but the reality was we probably never would have made it into that shelter should our area have come under such an attack.
We’ve lived in a very dangerous time all of our lives. For all the treaties, for all the negotiations that have been made in recent decades, well-meaning and well-intended, the world is still very dangerous. Today we see nations like Iran and North Korea developing nuclear weapons with overt threats as to how they would use them upon what nations and still creating a very tense and dangerous situation in the Middle East, in Asia and frankly for all of the world. It hasn’t changed. That ability to bring upon mankind events that these verses describe, a total war, is at the biggest peak that has been at any time in human history.
So when this horse rides we are seeing a time of not only more war but almost total war. But we have to remember that god controls history god controls these events and in fact it is the Lamb who is even controlling the breaking of these seals.
Matthew 24:22 Christ says that were it not for a group of people called the elect, all human life would be dissolved. But He says I will intervene for that. Understanding that gives us hope and hope is ultimately the message that we take away from the book of Revelation and must always remember.
This topic that we are going through in a very short time here in this program has a lot more detail to it. For those of you that are watching at home I want to make sure that you get this booklet, this Study Aid that we have The Horsemen of Revelation and you can get this by calling the number that is on your screen or writing to that address that is there as well and requesting a copy of a very helpful guide that will take you into greater detail in helping you to understand what these horsemen are all about and also the fuller message about the book of Revelation on this particular topic. So be sure and get your free copy of that. Call the number that is on your screen and look at that.
Now let’s go back into the book of Revelation. Let’s go back to the 3rd seal. Let’s talk about what we are seeing. We talked about religious strife and we’ve seen war and now let’s look at this 3rd seal beginning in verse 5 of Revelation 6. It says “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. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘a quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’” These are symbols of the basic substance of food to nourish people. Oil and wine and grain and it indicates scarcity. It indicates a famine. What we are seeing with this third horse is that of famine. Now when you trace the progression that happens with religious confusion so often creating conflict historically and even to this day between nations and people the result is war and war always brings with it impoverishment and famine upon people.
Again, people will say well there’s always been famine. But what is described here is something even bigger and it almost seems like it is a contradiction of terms in our modern setting with so much food and the abundance that we have but if you look back at just even recent history and the 20th century we had famines in multiple part of the world that led to the deaths of upwards of 70 million people history tells us as a result of famine usually caused by politics in the 20th century.
In the 1930’s in Ukraine during the time of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin the dictator of the Soviet Union at that time engineered a famine among the Ukrainians and upwards of 4 million people died because he wanted to take out that group of people within the Soviet Union.
In china in 1958 20-55 million people are estimated to have died again by another politically socially engineered famine under Mao Tse Tung.
In Ethiopia more recently in 1984 100’s of thousands of people died as well because of political strife, war, and the famine that resulted from that. And even as I speak here at this time in Yemen millions of people are at the brink of starvation as well again because of war and political mismanagement. Human cruelty sometimes upon its own people is unimaginable but we look at what is taking place here on a global scale and just multiply it out many many times.
Again people, the skeptic, will say there is food there is abundance, there is genetic engineering that has modified food created a Green Revolution and all of that is true. Remember again in the 1970’s the book called the Population Bomb that predicted millions of people in the world would die of starvation because there was not enough food to feed them. You know what happened? A man, a scientist, genetically modified the wheat corn grain and he multiplied the harvest and the millions of people in the developing world were saved and live today because of genetically modified food, what is called the Green Revolution. Yet today there is still the potential for even millions of people to die by famine all because of the events that are described here in religious spiritual strife and war, political confusion. It is still with us today almost as a warning for us to look at and realize that these dangers are still out there. For all of our science for all that has been done to seek negotiations of arms to create peace among even various religions there is still conflicts and there is still the resulting fruit from that of war and famine to warn us almost that it can come upon an even bigger scale as told here in the prophecies of Revelation and the book of Matthew in the hands of Jesus Christ who is the Revelator.
We’ve covered 3 horses. There is one more. A 4th. Let’s read about that in Revelation chapter 6 beginning in verse 7 this time. “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 [from death comes the grave] 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.”
This 4th horse is a pale horse. It’s green, some translations put it and that is the color of sickness. And what is being described here again is the natural flow from religious strife, war, and famine and that is disease, pestilence. Today we use the term called pandemic meaning a disease that can reach virtually around the globe and affect millions and millions – hundreds of millions – of people.
Again this might seem like something that might not be possible in our world today because we’re living longer. Science has done a great deal to extend life to alleviate pain or other diseases and extend our lives by years and even decades in some cases by comparison with previous generations. We get our flu shots, we take our vitamins, we take our drugs and our medicines and we live in one sense in a very health world and something like this might again seem to be unlikely except when you look at history, even recent history, you look at what is available and possible today we see that there is still something that could be done to bring about what we are reading of here with this ride of the 4th horseman.
Let me take you back to 1918. An event called the Spanish flu took place. 1918 brought the end of what is called World War I and in the last months of that war an epidemic broke out they think it began in Kansas among troops that were being mustered and then sent to Europe in the final months of WWI and people began to die and they began to die very quickly and multiply. What was happening was that a flu virus was beginning to spread among soldiers and then to the general population and in a few months, actually about two years as it ran its course around the world, what is called the Spanish flu killed an estimated 50-100 million people in the world at that time a hundred years ago at the end of WWI.
Could that happen today? Well, you don’t have to google too far to find the answer to that question. Today scientists worry that a flu virus could begin in Asia, mutate very quickly, pass from fowl to the humans, from pigs to humans, and before a vaccine is created people could begin to die in parts of the world and because of the global travel that is available today what begins in Asia or in India or some other remote part of the world can be taken virtually to any part of the world in a matter of hours, a few very short days.
And it could happen again today under the best conditions and 200-400 million some experts say could die from even a flu virus that could erupt upon mankind before steps could be taken hopefully to create a vaccine to stem that problem. So it could happen today. Think about the world that is described in these verses that we’ve been reading about. This is a time of total war. This is a time of conflict that is unimaginable and unheard of in human history when these four horsemen begin to ride.
Revelation is describing human civilization that is coming apart. Spiritual deception, war, famine, and plague. That’s what’s being described here. Events that have always been with us and are still with us to this day, we can‘t ignore that. It is reality.
But as it is put within the context of the book of Revelation it is at a time when God’s judgment is coming upon a world that essentially has run out of time. God’s purpose and plan and it is a time of world trial.
Now we want all of us to have a very thorough understanding of what we are talking about in this and I’m only reading today a few verses out of the book of Revelation to describe this. The booklet that we are offering, the study guide, is something that we put together over the years and over a great deal of research that for those of us who are here today and those who are watching this later online or on television will want to go deeper into it. The guide that we have here called “The Horseman of Revelation” goes into more scriptural detail and more understanding from today’s events and history in the world seen today to describe exactly what is behind the ride of these four horsemen. We want all of us to have that understanding so that it is not lost upon us as to what we have, what is potentially there, but most importantly to have something beyond what is normally there when people talk about the horsemen of Revelation and it’s described in one word, hope. I want you to remember that word. Hope. Because as we’ve been talking about four horsemen, a white horse, a black horse, a red horse, and a pale horse, there is actually in the book of Revelation described a fifth horsemen. That fifth horseman has upon its back the one who is opening the scroll and unleashing the seals. It is Jesus Christ. He appears. Let’s read about that appearance in chapter 19 of the book of Revelation.
It is one of the great scenes too of the Bible but it is a scene of hope for it says in verse 11. “Now I saw heaven opened [again it’s almost like, you can imagine, a scroll being rolled back, the skies rolling back in that sense like a scroll but here is a different scene], and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. [You can see the similarity here and why people would get that confused with Revelation 6 again on a white horse but there is a difference here.] It says “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.” So there is a multitude here and what is critical is in verse 15 because “Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
This is a different horse, this is a different rider. This is the true Christ that appears at a critical moment in human history to stop what is taking place. The God of heaven will intervene to save mankind from killing himself at this particular point. This is what is going to happen. Now it describes in a sense another general time of warfare but I want you to stop and consider this. Sometimes people look at this and they see more carnage and more problems that take place but it’s more than that. This is a time when God intervenes upon the human scene and yes there is a time of intervention to save human life and it is one final war that takes place but in the context of all the other seals of Revelation it is a war that takes place almost like the explosion that takes place when they have to cap a burning oil well that is raging out of control and is an explosion of dynamite that stops the fire. When Christ intervenes it will be like that explosion that stops that fire in an out of control oil well that stops the carnage that stops the problems of human existence and actually spares mankind. That’s what happens when Jesus Christ intervenes. That’s why it’s different. That’s why the rider of the 5th horseman gives us a message of hope that is far different from any other message that we have.
Look, people read the book of Revelation. Sometimes they cannot understand what that book is saying because of the symbols and signs and all the images that are there and that is understandable, again, if you don’t have the proper understanding. But that can be put aside. There is also sometimes a bleak message that people only take away from the book of Revelation but when you go all the way to the message of the fifth horseman and beyond you have a message of hope and that gives us something far more than anything else we have in the world today by any other apocalyptic message that is available from culture, from media, from religion, from any other source that you look at. Look at the post-apocalyptic movies that are made about a world post nuclear war. They’re gray, they’re dark, they’re bleak, they’re hopeless. The book of Revelation gives us hope. It gives us something that no other human writer, no other human source no other media, no other part of culture can give us. It is the hope of god’s intervention upon the world and that’s unique. That’s why the book of Revelation is important and that’s why a proper understanding of where these four horsemen fit in human experience help us to that point along with what is there with the fifth horse.
So we want you to be sure to get that booklet that is available, a study guide that will go into more detail and show exactly what is here and what is behind that hope that we all have.
The four horsemen of Revelation, they’re going to ride in the last days. But it’s the ride of the fifth horseman Jesus Christ that will end spiritual deception, war and suffering. When Christ rides to end human history then “the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign for and ever.”
Let’s all pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom to this earth.
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