The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
October 7-8, 2017
John is in the spirit and he has been given a view into heaven and what he sees is magnificent. There is a sea of glass like crystal, I love this pondering what that might be and in the center one sitting on the throne then there are 24 thrones which surround it with 24 elders sitting upon it, the living creatures which we looked at last week are there also before the throne. The one who was sitting on the throne had a scroll all written on the inside and the back but it was sealed with seven seals.
Now a strong angel proclaimed who is worthy to open the book and to break it seals, now he says no one was found worthy. John has an emotional response to this he actually starts to cry, weep when he hears that no one is found worthy to open the seals of this book he begins to weep and one of the elders on the throne says to him, “Stop your weeping for the Lion from the tribe of Judah has overcome” So as to open the book and it's in his seals the Lion of the tribe of Judah is none other than Jesus Christ.
He says I looked and standing in the center between the throne and the 24 elders I saw a lamb. He just heard that there was the Lion but he says I looked and what I saw was the Lamb as though slain. What a picture, you know that worship song we love the Lion and the lamb it pictures for us both right that He is the lamb who was slain, who has taken away the sins of the world but he's also the Lion from the tribe of Judah.
He stands as the Lamb and He takes hold of the scroll of the book that is in the hand of the one sitting on the throne as soon as he take it, the four living creatures and the 24 elders they fall down and they worship and they sing a new song which we want to look at those things on Wednesday but they sing this new song and they worship and then he takes this book, the scroll and He opens the seals. With the opening of each one of these seals, there is the release or the setting forth of critical and important last day’s events.
These first four seals released what is famously known as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. We want to look at each one of these and the significance to last days events. Let's read it. Chapter six, beginning in verse one. I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals and I heard one of the four living creatures say as with a loud thunder, “Come.” Now some translations say, “Come and see”. But it's more literally come and goes forth. He--the living creature is issuing forth then what the seal of brings.
I looked and behold a white horse and one who sat on it had a bow although noticed there are no arrows just the bow which represents the authority and a crown was given to Him which represents the fact that He is a world leader.
He went out conquering and to conquer. He has no arrows in his bow, how does he conquer and conquer? That we'll see. Verse three, “And then He broke the second seal and I heard the second living creatures say come and then another horse this time red, the horse went out. To Him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth and that men should slay one another” Now the word slay in the Greek could be translated to the word slaughter. “Also” now that's key we're going to look at that but then “Also it says a great sword was given to him” which suggests war as well as the slaughter. That's really important, we're going to look at this as I say. Verse five, “He then broke the third seal and I heard the third living creature say come and I looked and behold this time a black horse. He who sat on it had a pair of steel in his hand and I heard as it were the voice in the center of the four living creatures say a quart of wheat for a denarius and three quarts of barley for a denarius do not harm the oil or the wine.” A denarius would be like a day's wage.
Can you imagine working a full day and what you earned for that day could only buy a quarter wheat or three quarts of barley? I mean hyperinflation, economic collapse, but don't harm the oil and the wine which suggest that the wealthy still have plenty. “When he broke the fourth seal I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say come and I looked and behold this time an ashen horse or a pale he's the color of death. He who set on it had the name deaf and the Hades, some translate it hell but Hades is a better Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
I. The White Horse – The Antichrist
Starting with the first horse, the White Horse which is none other than the anti-Christ. Now somebody might say well I thought I read somewhere that Jesus comes portrayed as coming on a white horse, you are correct. Revelation 19 does demonstrate or picture of us Jesus coming on a white horse but that's not this white horse and Jesus, not the one sitting on it, this is the anti-Christ.
It's important to put this together to recognize that the anti-Christ will not be revealed until the Lamb breaks the seal which helps us to understand that the times and ages and epics are in the hands of God. Jesus spoke of the times no one knows the time but the sovereign hand of God is such that the anti- Christ is not revealed until the Lord breaks the seal. Now let me give you some context because Paul speaks about this also in II Thessalonians Chapter 2.
These verses he writes, “Now let no one in any way deceive you for He will not come” and speaking here of the return of Jesus Christ. “He will not come until the apostasy comes first” which is the great falling away and we're seeing and a rising of that even as we are entering into these latter days. “The manner of lawlessness is revealed” that is the anti-Christ that says the son of destruction what a description, who is the destroyer. Jesus said, “The enemy comes to steal kill and destroy. I have come that you would have life and life to the full”
This, the anti- Christ is the son of destruction but He says, “You know what restrains Him now also that in his time He will be revealed only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” and that's the Holy Spirit. “Then that lawlessness will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by the appearance of His coming.” That's important to put that into context when we understand the anti-Christ.
A. He comes as a deceiver
Let's look at the nature of the anti-Christ. First of all, we have to recognize that he comes as the deceiver. Now the fact that he is on a white horse should not surprise us because he presents himself as a great leader and many perceive him to be perhaps the Messiah. The twelfth Imam of Islam, he is either the Messiah of Israel. He's considered an astounding amazing leader but the word anti-Christ, anti in the Greek is not only against but it's also instead of.
He presents himself as the one, who can do then unthink--the amazing diplomacy, genius, strategy, influence but he's a deceiver and he comes as a white horse. The nature of deception is to deceive which makes it difficult right? When it better if things could be revealed and make themselves known for what they are, like maybe you remember back in the days when Western movies were the thing, Western movies were always conveniently such that the bad guys always wore the black hats.
You could always tell okay, you can get theplot easily because the bad guy always wears the black hat. Will that be helpful? Right but that's not the way it is or wouldn't be nice if you're going to buy a car or something and the salesman who's actually the deceiver. Where's the plaid jacket? Right, I don't want thank you. I don't want you. I prefer this guy wearing the white jacket. Wouldn’t it be nice but that's not the way it is. The nature of deception is to deceive. He speaks about this in II Corinthians 11, where Paul writes about these are the agents of Satan. Such men, are false apostles. They are deceitful workers. They are disguising themselves as apostles of Christ and no wonder, even Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of light. That is a rather shocking thought.
Do we have this in mind? He's the devil with the red suit with the pitchfork. Well, no. He comes as an angel of light and he rides a white horse. Therefore, it's not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose endwill be according to their deeds. Deception is like you look at a culture and society. It's almost like it's ripe. It's like ready to be deceived. Like the deception is part of the nature. Advertising is a great example of that. There's deception in advertising, right. I remember many years ago cigarettes were advertised as good for your health.
This was before my time, but I read about this. Cigarettes were advertised as good for your health. Of course, then, now they knew all along but nevertheless, it came out that it wasn't good for your health. Then they changed the advertising so that it portrays the one who used them as ready and handsome and good looking. The Marlboro Man on the horse in the cowboy hat and the tough rugged guy. I think he died from cancer but you know what I'm saying, right? The nature to deceive. In the last days, people will not value the truth. It's important to recognize, they will not value the truth.
They will simply desire to have their ears tickled. 2 Timothy Chapter 4, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but wanting to have their ears tickled they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires and will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
B. He comes as a man of peace
All right, he comes as a deceiver but it's also important to recognize that he comes as the man of peace. Now, setting the stage for this. When you look at prophecy throughout the Scriptures you have to recognize that Israel and Jerusalem in particular, become the central focal point of Latter Day events.
That is why Jesus said in Matthew 24:9, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation.” He's speaking here to Israel “And will kill you and you will be hated by all nations because of my name.” There's a rising animosity against Israel today in the world. In fact, there I read a poll that was done somewhere recently of college students across America in regards to their opinion about who held the more correct position. Israel or the Palestinians? Now, I am of the mind that those who bless Israel will be blessed. I just want to reveal my position in advance here and that those who curse Israel will be cursed.
I believe that should inform our foreign policy and I believe that that is a scriptural foundation promise. That we must continue to hold on to as a nation and particularly as a church. Paul indicated the vast majority believe that the Palestinians held the more correct position. Which helps us to understand that there is a growing trend in the world that is growing increasingly against Israel. Tells us Jesus said, ”You'll be hated by all nations because of me.” Jews, Islam and even the Catholic Church believe they have a claim on Jerusalem itself.
Not only the Jews is the Biblical position but that is all background to say that this man of peace so-called man of peace, comes onto the scene and by amazing skill of diplomacy is able to negotiate a covenant of peace between Israel and the nations of the world. He foreseeably can do the impossible. He can bring peace to the Middle East. Presidents have tried it one after the other has been an impossible task but this leader, this world leader rises who is able to somehow to bring this covenant of Peace. Daniel 9:27, speaks to it. “He will make” this is the antichrist, “He will make a firm covenant with the many,” speaking of the nations of the world, “for one week.” Which is literally seven years but in the middle of that week or seven-year period of time he will put a stop to the sacrifice and grain offering. He will betray Israel.
Now, we see that also as the fulfilling of Revelation 6:1. Where it says that the one who is riding on the white horse has a bow in his hand a crown on his head and goes forth conquering and to conquer. Now, he has no arrows but somehow he's able to take authority over many nations. How is that possible? Through his amazing diplomacy and skill in intrigue. Would you open your Bibles, please? To Daniel Chapter 8. I want us to read in Daniel Chapter 8. Want you to read it for yourself. Daniel 8:23. A detailed and amazing prophecy of the antichrist.
Okay, I want you to see this. Because this isn't marketing your Bibles. It is the fascinating prophecy of detail regarding the antichrist. Daniel 8:23.”In the latter period of the rule when the transgressors have run the course, a king will arise insolent and skilled in intrigue and his power will be mighty but not by his own power.” Now that is fascinating because as we go through the Book of Revelation you'll see that the power behind the antichrist is none other than Satan himself. It says that he will destroy to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will and will destroy mighty men and the holy people.
The people of Israel. He's speaking of here.
He's just giving us a little glimpse into the fact that Scripture tells us there will be a massive army coming from the north. That will actually invade Israel with this massive army and will encounter Israel's forces on the valley of Megiddo, which is the famous battle of Armageddon. Which is a different horse but will get there soon. Verse 25, still in Daniel 8, “Through his shrewdness he will cause the seed to succeed by his influence and he will magnify himself in his heart and will destroy many while they are at ease.” Jesus said when you hear peace and safety don't be deceived, right.
He will even oppose the prince of peace through his thought or the Prince of princes rather. That is none other than the Messiah himself and he looks at this phrase. “He will be broken however without human agency.” The intervening of the Lord Himself will destroy the antichrist. Now that, of course, Paul also spoke to which we read earlier. Let's go back now to Revelation Chapter 6. He then comes. Yes, he's the quote the man of peace but he also comes as the traitor. Now, at first, he will appear to be a protector of Israel. Highly regarded and accepted by Israel. He will be respected by Arab nations.
C. He comes as a traitor
He will arise out of Europe.
Out of one of the nations of the former Roman Empire. More on that on Wednesday but this is important to recognize where he comes from and yet, he holds the respect of the Arab nations and Israel. That is going to be the key to drawing the nations and drawing the covenant together but he's a betrayer. For when he has won the loyalty and admiration of the leaders of the world he then reneges on that covenant with Israel and betrays Israel. It says in Daniel 9, I'm going to read the full verse now.
Verse 27, “In the middle of that week or that seven-year period, he will put a stop to the sacrifice and grain offering and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate.” You've heard no doubt the phrase the abomination of desolations. This is exactly where it comes from here in Daniel. It says, “Welcome one who makes desolate even however, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” In other words, he himself will be destroyed by the Word of God and the setting forth of his son. Jesus referred to this when He spoke of the latter days. This is Matthew 24:15-16, Jesus said, “Now when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the Prophet, standing in the Holy Place. He said, now let the reader understand that those who are in Judea, so very Israel Jerusalem Centric Prophecy, let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Many believe they will flee to the Jordan in particular area of Petra. Where they will find safety and protection because it's a city built literally into the rocks. This abomination of desolation is like when you see this, it's real now. Interestingly, there was this picture of like a typology that happened in history.
Do you remember after Alexander the Great died? Now, you were paying close attention in your history class, I'm sure. When you heard that after Alexander the Great died his kingdom or his empire was divided amongst his four generals. The area of Israel was eventually given to or led by a man named Antiochus Epiphanies IV. Antiochus Epiphanies was just a despicable person. He tremendously hated Israel because he wanted that area to be Hellenized or made into a Greek culture. He wanted Judaism to be nullified. He did everything possible to try to nullify it including bringing in the Greek games right into Jerusalem itself. Now, you might know in your history how offensive the Greek games would be to Israel because the Greek games were done naked back in those days.
I mean, they didn't have television, you can imagine that wouldn’t work, right? That was the way the Greek games were done. They were trying to get all of the young people to be involved in the Greek games. You can imagine the offense. Then he just kept taking a step upon step. He removed the high priest and put his own man there who had no business being a high priest. He is offending Israel one after the other. Then, thinking somehow that this would nullify Judaism, he took a swine, a pig and had it sacrificed in the Holy of Holy places in the temple. Now enough is enough, right? All hell broke loose as Israel rose up against it.
It's amazing that the small army that Israel was able to put together was able to throw off and to destroy the great vast army that Antiochus Epiphanies had. It's celebrated today every year in the Jewish Holiday called Hanukkah. It's a celebration of that very event I was describing to you. It is a picture of what Jesus described as the abomination of desolation. When you see this standing in the Holy Place, let the reader understand that those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Now, in order for the abomination of desolation prophecy to be fulfilled, there were needed to be a Jewish temple. Many believe, and I am of the same mind of course, that this is a vital part of that covenant that he negotiates to bring peace to the Middle East. That there would be the allowance of a temple built in Jerusalem.
In fact, if you go to Google Earth and look at that area where there is Olx of the Mosque and the Dome of the rock there is actually land that is there that could foresee believed was used to build the temple. Which makes us intrigued by the thought that perhaps this could be a fulfillment of Ezekiel 42 which describes that there would be a divide between the Holy and the profane on that place.
Notice he measured it on the four sides. It had a wall around. The length was 500 the width 500, speaking of that wall, to divide between the Holy and profane. What an interesting and intriguing thought. Now, back to Revelation 6.
II. Three Horsemen Follow
We've been speaking here all along of this one Horse, the Antichrist, The White Horse, but three more seals are broken and three horsemen follow. The scroll itself has not yet opened. These are only the breaking of the seals which seal it. The next horse is the Red Horse.
A. The red horse of war
This is the Red Horse of slaughter and of war. Now, this is during the period of time which is known as The Great Tribulation period. This is that seven-year period of time whereby this covenant of Israel is made. It has to do with a famous prophecy of Daniel which we will look at on Wednesday. This is an important understanding that sets us forth because the red horse is part of the Great Tribulation period.
It represents of course war yes, but also in the Greek the word is slaughter. Now, some suggest that it includes the violence that we see on the rise today around the world. You know sectarian violence has been in the Middle East for hundreds of years. Now we are seeing it spreading throughout the world. As what's happening in London and in Paris, even the United States and San Bernardino. Even what happened in Las Vegas this week is like a tip of the iceberg of what is coming in the latter days. As men slaughter one another, the prophecy of scripture indicates. The rising of Islam then becomes a part of the latter day’s fulfillment of prophecy. John writes that the writer will have a large sword, which suggests represents the devastation of war. Today we're seeing a new alignment of nations as the West is drawing harder and harder lines against the coalition of Russia and China and North Korea.
Now you know North Korea is a very poor nation yet they have a massive army. The combined armies of North Korea, China and Russia would form an army the world has never seen the likes of. The Scripture tells us that an army of massive dimension comes out of the North. Which would suggest immediately Russia but would come out of the north into an invasion into the valley of Megiddo. You see this horse is the breaking forth of war, hell breaks loose as this is released.
B. The black horse of famine
Then, the next horse is the Black Horse, which is the horse of famine, pestilence. The black horse represents also economic collapse. You know at first, war actually helps an economy.
You might know in history that the United States came out of the Great Depression because of the World War II. The spending on that war machine by the government actually brought it out of the Great Depression. War at the beginning actually brings forth a help to an economy. At some point, War destroys too much and the economic systems are destroyed with it. A quart of wheat for a day's wage is just disaster, but three quarts of barley for working all day long, disaster. You can now see glimpses of that where there is economic collapse.
For example today, maybe you're following what's happening in Venezuela. Where hyperinflation has taken such a toll that average person cannot afford just the basic things. In fact, I read a report that the average person of Venezuela has lost like fifteen pounds just this last year because they cannot have the basic necessities. They're too expensive. Hyperinflation has destroyed them. I remember back in the 90s when Russia was going through just the tragedy of hyperinflation and economic collapse. We would take teams to minister in Russia. I remember one of those trips in particular we had to carry wads of money in order to just buy the basic supplies we needed to feed the team. I mean, our pockets were just swelled and we're just carrying a hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Rubles for just basic things like food. I remember very amazingly that Russia set a date. Our palm that date three zeroes would be taken out of the value of the Ruble. Can you imagine on one day, 100,000 Rubles would instantly be worth 1,000 Rubles? I mean, life savings gone in a moment. The devastation of their economy. Now, they eventually began to. Stabilize and strengthen again their economy as Russia discovered vast supplies of oil. Which is what is strengthening them and emboldening them today. You see the indication that in the latter days it will have everything to do with the ability of buying and selling because of economic collapse. In fact, you know this one right in Revelation 13. He, the anti-Christ causes all small and great rich and poor free and slaves to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead and he provides that no one will be able to buy or sell except the one who has the mark.
C. The ashen horse of death
Either the name of the beast or the number of his name. We know that in those latter days in the tribulation period economic collapse goes with it. Which brings us to the fourth horse. The Ashen. It's the pale horse. The ashen horse is that of death. Is given the name Death on the writer and is the color of the paleness of death. It says that Hades which is the place of the dead or hell follows close behind. In other words, death takes the body, hell takes the soul. Now, many are disturbed by the thought of hell but I'll tell you that God is a just God. He will deal righteously and justly with those who have rejected Him in this world. We'll talk more about that on Wednesday.
You see this fourth horse and there are several ways that death comes. Will take a fourth of the population. Just devastating to think. In World War II 50 million people died. Which the world is never heard of such things. But the devastation of this is beyond the mind's ability to comprehend. Now, when you see these prophecies. First, I think it could be very disturbing. Like there is going to be a collapse in this world. That is quite alarming to consider until you also understand that the scripture tells us that all of those things described are what could be called the wrath of God poured out.
The great tribulation period is, in fact, the wrath of God poured out upon the world. But we have this hope and this promise. That the church is not destined for the wrath of God. We, in fact, are given the hope and the promise that the church will be raptured in advance of those things. You can see the scriptures we've talked about the many times but we have this great hope and this promise. 1 Thessalonians 5.”God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we will live together with Him.”
Lastly, it's also important to recognize that we are not to be a people given to fear. I like what Paul said. “I know in whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day.” There is the substance of our faith that believes that God, in fact, has given to us. 2 Timothy 1:7. “God has not given us a spirit of fear but a power and love and a sound mind.” What we need now is the strength in our faith and to recognize that the promises of God are sure and the promises of God for us are sure.