Apocalypse Now!

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08 The Four Horsemen Look “people of earth, look upon this! Look at your destiny! Here are your church age events!”

Have you read Parables, Anointings, Visions and Dreams? If you haven’t…tsk, tsk, tsk… please do now so you will be fully equipped to read this article.

If John’s revelation of Israel in Revelation 12 presents the best working picture of New Testament prophetic symbolism, the best example of key word connection is in Christ’s Matthew 24 prophesied “last days signs” and His opening of Revelation’s infamous seals.

There is no more controversial section of John’s Revelation than this one in chapter 6 where he witnesses Christ’s opening of the seals. To misinterpret them at this point of Revelation’s eschatology is to misinterpret the rest of the book. So in this article we will look at how the principles of prophetic symbolism, literal intent, chronological ascent, and Jesus’ key word connections work together to interpret the seal events.

As the first four seals are Messianically declassified, four horses; a conqueror ridden white, war ridden red, famine ridden black, and death ridden pale bolt into John’s prophetic view. They are Revelation’s infamous “four horsemen of the apocalypse” (apocalupsis: “revelation”; to uncover, or unveil).

The identities of horsemen one and four have been debated perennially. But as you will discover, the principles of prophetic symbolism and key word connections can clear it up.

07 Opening of the Sealed Scroll
Seven Seal Purpose
The culminating events of seal six will prove by their prophetic sequence the throne room seals’ purpose in providing a Spirit-breathed table of contents of our current age of the church. Key words describing the seal’s effects prove by their typology and Old Testament key word connections to be the infamous “Day of the Lord” (Is 2:11, Joel 2:10; Zeph. 3:15; 2 Thess. 1:6-10). It doesn’t happen twice in Scripture, is further revealed in Revelation 19:11-21 as the Second Coming of Christ, and because it comes at the end of our present church age, shows the mystery purpose in God’s seven sealed book.

Why A Table of Contents?
The table of contents in any literary work provides its reader with a framework of its content and a look at coming events. So it is more than reasonable to expect the Originator of both man and his literature to apply one to the opening of this text:

Revelation 6:1-2
1 And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.”
2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
When Jesus opens the first four seals, four horsemen race out of Revelation’s text. Expository controversy surrounds all of them beginning with the white-steeded conqueror first out of the gate.

Horseman 1: The Conqueror Controversy
Jesus Christ, Antichrist, or Someone Else?

A great majority of eschatologians type this first seal’s kingly conqueror with Christ and His church rapture. They do so by applying a typology of white horse and crown connections (Rev. 19:11,12) and Christ Himself as the dart for His “arrowless” bow.

Isaiah 49:2
2 And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has concealed me, and He has also made me a select arrow; He has hidden me in His quiver.

Other expositors type him as Satan’s antichrist. They do so because he isn’t identified as Christ in 19:11,12,16, and type his arrowless bow as representative of the false peace that will come initially through the antichrist’s rule.

In this position the white-steeded conqueror inaugurates the Great Tribulation while confirming traditional scholarship’s sequence of a Revelation 4:3 rapture of the church (see Rapture Right or Wrong, Are You a Pretribber?)

False Religion
My view, a third less popular view, types the first Horseman of the Apocalypse with the image of false religion that has convoluted the church and society since Jesus appeared. His royal appearance and symbolic lack of power (arrowless bow) present a convincing “style and no substance” picture of the wolf in sheep’s clothing Jesus warned of in Matthew

7:15:
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

This site is about giving you the tools to develop your own eschatology, not adopting some favorite expert’s interpretation of text. So that Billy Graham’s  shared view of  first rider false religion is only coincidental.  This man dedicated his life to wrestling the lost from this deluding first rider.

“Who, therefore, is the rider on the white horse? He is not Christ, but a deceiver who seeks to capture the hearts and souls of men and women. He is one who seeks to have people acknowledge him as Lord instead of the true Christ.

Satan’s greatest disguise has always been to appear before men as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Billy Graham
Approaching Hoofbeats, p. 88, 78

God’s Answer to Prophetic Guesswork: Connecting Key Words & Events
Of course my conclusions on the white-horsed ammuntionless rider are based on good hermeneutics, which are evident when comparing Jesus’ prophecy of last-day events. As the student of biblical eschatology keeps an eye out in the Old and New Testament prophets for KEY words, prophetic figures, and eschatological events, KEY words and events will perceptively repeat themselves. The Word of God is, after all, the verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs of God. The principles of hermeneutics presume each own an important communicative purpose in their individual biblical placements and purposes to know through studied observation why God breathed them into text.
A Parallel Look at Revelation’s Four Apocalyptic

Horsemen and Christ’s Olivette Discourse
Revelation 6; Matthew 24

The remarkable parallel progression of key eschatological words and events in Revelation 6 and Matthew 24 (including the parallel voices of the Synoptics [Mark 13 and Luke 21]) confirm the sequential probability that John’s first apocalyptic rider depicts the many false prophet-messiahs and their religions that have and have yet to come during our current age of the church.

Let’s look.
08 The Four Horsemen
A Striking Confirmation of Similar Events
Matthew 7:15
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

The principle of Chronological Ascent* (*see “Hunting for Key Words the Inductive Way”) puts in perspective a sequence of similar events in Jesus’ Matthew 24 prophecy of last-days church age events, and His opening of the seals in Revelation 6. Open your on-line Bible to recognize the chronology and you’ll see what I mean.

Matthew 24:3
3 And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

1. Admonition 1: “False Christs” and their huge “misleadings” (Matt. 24:4,5/ Mk. 13:6/Lk. 21:8) as paralleled by the attack and Messianic deception of horseman No.1 (Rev. 6:2):

Matthew 24:4-5
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.
5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

Seal 1
Revelation 6:2
2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer.2.

Admonition 2: Wars and rumors of war (Matt. 24:6,7a./Mk. 13:7/Lk. 21:9) as paralleled by the attacking warrior horseman of seal No.2 (Rev 6:4):

Matthew 24:6,7a.
6 “And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

Seal 2
Revelation 6:3-4
3 And when He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.”
4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

3. Admonition 3: Famines (Matt 24:7b./Mk 13:8/Lk 21:11) as paralleled by the black scale bearing horseman of seal No. 3 (Rev 6:5,6):

Matthew 24:7b
“and there will be famines and earthquakes.”

Seal 3
Revelation 6:5-6
5 And when He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” And I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
6 And I heard as it were a voice in the center 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.”

4. Admonition 4: The Antichrist’s Great Tribulation (Matt 24:15-23/Mk 13:14-21) and person (Matt 24:24/Mk 13:22) as paralleled by the fourth seal’s horseman named “Death” (Rev 6:8).

Matthew 24:15-21
15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains;
17 let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house;
18 and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak.
19 “But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days!
20 “But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath;
21 for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.

Seal 4
Revelation 6:8
8 And I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. And 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.

The description of the fourth rider’s events and his chronological sequence with Jesus’ prophesied Great Tribulation presents compelling evidence that he is symbolic of the Eschaton’s antichrist. The color of his horse is a pale “deathly” looking yellow/green (chloros “ashen” NAS, “pale”, KJV). His name is “Death” (thanatos: “terror”, or, “death, and the fear of it”), and the place of his work (hades) follows with him. One could almost imagine an entourage’ of disembodied spirits crowding behind his footsteps as he pulls an open grave.

Those who type the first conquering rider with Christ or the antichrist type the fourth rider with plague because of the tremendous amount of death he will produce. And they have reasonable symbolic grounds based on his sickly green color. But you have to discount a number of other hermeneutic principles to come to this conclusion, not the least of which is literal intent, when you objectively study the resources this death-dealer will have at his disposal.
His deadly arsenal listed in verse 8 is said to include, sword, famine, pestilence (thanatos, same as his name in the Greek meaning “death” and “the terror of it”), and the wild beasts of the earth. They are also authorized to do what they will do: another key word connection that helps interpret the pale (NKJV) rider as the antichrist.

He bolts out of seal four in sequence with Jesus’ next last-days prophesied event of the Great Tribulation to kill one quarter of the earth’s population during his “authorized” reign.

Revelation 6:8b
8 …And 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.

31 The Books Are Opened

How Much Is One Fourth?
If this rider’s dispensation were to occur within the next seven years (2019 A.D.), and if over the period until then the rate of population increases in proportion with the way that it already has, 7.3 billion people will inhabit the planet by the time of his latter day ride.

Subtracting the one third of this figure (2.4 bill) that are destined to perish as the result of God’s trumpets (Rev. 8-11); then subtracting one quarter the amount of the 4.9 billion that would remain; 1.2 billion people would perish as the result of this horseman’s coming profusion of death. That is one thousand two hundred million.

“Authority”
A “Tribulation” Key Word Connection to the Antichrist’s Coming Reign

Revelation 6:8b
And AUTHORITY was given to them over a fourth of the earth…

To set himself up as god while in the absence of any spiritual restraint be free to terrorize and exterminate all who oppose, is Satan’s long-range global goal (Is. 14:13,14; Ezek. 28:15,16; Rev. 12:4). He is the classical terrorist. Though he’s come very close in many murderous regimes of the past, it has only been for a lack of spiritual authority and power that his plans have fallen short.

Yet, for a brief period of time during the Great Tribulation, it will seem as though his wildest dreams have come true. Unprecedented spiritual manifestations will occur through animals, men, and a living Nebuchadnezzar-like graven image to kill and captivate the antichrist’s latter day world. During his designated time in history, God will simply turn His back on Satan’s growing menace, and as if a police force were to go on strike in a high crime area, AUTHORIZE this coming despot’s horrible forty-two month reign. The good news is, immediately with his authorized advent, Revelation’s bowls begin tearing his kingdom apart.

Revelation 16:2
2    So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

But in the meantime, he will be granted authority to act.

Revelation 6:8b
8 …And 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.

Revelation 13:5b-7
5    …and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.
6    And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
7    And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.

Wild Beasts of the Earth?
It isn’t hard to imagine the same sort of unbridled demonic power that is going to animate a statue during the Tribulation as capable of possessing wild beasts.

The Greek transliteration of these eschatological animals describes them as predators: therion: “wild beasts,” “a hunting, prey.”

Will they in a state of demonic possession during the Great Tribulation terrorize and devour whomever Satan desires? Or will his puppet statesman re-open Caesar’s coliseum in his rebirthed Roman Empire and again make sport of Christians as they’re thrown to such wild beasts? Both prophetic scenarios are possible.

09 Souls of the Martyrs
5. Admonition 5: The carnage of the Great Tribulation and the cries of the Antichrist’s martyrs (Matt. 24:22) as revealed in John’s Rev. 6:8-11 disclosure of seal No.5:

Matthew 24:22
22 “And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.

Seal 5
Revelation 6:9
9 And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained?

Eschatology has coined the word, “Trib-Saints.” That is who these “slain” of the fifth seal are. They are saints of the Lord Jesus who during their peril in the midst of the Great Tribulation are martyred for their Christian faith.

The prophetic scenario painted for John as he views these last-days Christian martyrs is one of tragedy and hope. At first their souls are viewed beneath God’s altar, appearing as a living sacrifice. They are next seen crying out for vengeance. In reply to their petitions they are given white robes and encouraged to rest “until the number of their fellow servants and brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should also be fulfilled.”

The White Robe Connection
In continuance of the seal’s table of contents purpose in Revelation 7, John sees these last-days Christian martyrs as an innumerable multitude praising God before his throne.

Revelation 7:9
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands…

But for the student of God’s prophetic, this glimpse would not be enough. So the Spirit called on an elder to more fully explain John’s view.

Revelation 7:13-14
13 And one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?”
14 And I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.?

These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation?” You can’t get more definitive than that.

24 King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Admonition 6
The Second Coming of Christ

6. Finally, culminating the prophetic key word connections in Christ’s Olivette Discourse and the unsealing of Revelation’s eschatological seals, is Christ’s predicted Second Coming (Matt 24:27-31/Mk 13:24-27/Lk 21:25-27) as revealed in the cataclysmic events of seal No. 6 (Rev 6:12-17).

Matthew 24:27-30
27 “For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
28 “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken,
30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Seal 6
Revelation 6:12-17
12 And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;
13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
14 And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;
16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;
17 for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”

HebrewmaidenApocalypse Now!
The culminating church age event of Christ’s second coming revealed in this passage proves by its prophetic sequence the table of contents purpose in Revelation’s seals. Revealed in verse 17 as “the great day of their wrath,” it doesn’t happen twice in Scripture, is further revealed in chapters 16 and 19 as “The Battle of Armageddon,” and “the great day of God,” and because of its late date in man’s history shows the church-age overview purpose in these prophetic seals.

So there you have it, the most cohesive sequence of prophetic key word connections in the Bible’s eschatological texts. Jesus is the revelator in both paralleling passages that describe key synchronized events that lead up to His Second Coming. The symbolism of each rider and their paralleling revelations in Jesus’ Matthew 24 prophecy lend understanding to their events. Seals five and six confirm that their preceding seals leave us with a comprehensive outline of coming events between now and the end of the age.

What do you think? Still believe the white rider Jesus or antichrist interpretation hold water and that everything which happens after their appearance happens after the church is gone?

Think about it. Pray about it. You decide.

In His Service Always,

Eschatology Today Publisher, Mark Norris, MA

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1 thought on “Apocalypse Now!”

  1. Regarding the “bow” possessed by the rider of the white horse in Revelation ch 6; I find it fascinating that everyone automatically assumes this is a weapon, like a bow that can shoot arrows. If you look at the Greek word used for bow in this verse, it is #5115; “toxon” – “a bow; apparently as the simplest fabric–bow.” A bow of fabric I believe, clearly suggests a sash or bow as worn by a statesman or delegate. This would indicate the rider/Antichrist figure is a politician or world leader of great significance.

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