Jan Markell recently wrote about the church’s silence regarding current events and the end times. I had to smile as I read it, as I was in the process of putting this article together. She closed with “You can almost hear their hoofbeats.”
I say they are here and have been for some time. The four horsemen mark the beginning of God’s first set of judgments in the book of Revelation. Judgment occurs because of man’s rejecting God’s laws. We have the free will to make that choice, but it comes with consequences.
The purpose of God’s law is to defend us from the consequences of our actions. They instruct us not to do violence against the innocent. That is why they are almost always expressed as things we are not to do. God’s laws do not change. God’s truth is timeless as God is eternal. However, we apply His law differently as we mature. Just like the difference between the Old Law (Ten Commandments) and the New Law (Gospels). The first concerned actions alone, while the second also concerns itself with the heart behind the actions.
Man needs law. Law prevents or corrects injustice. When man rejects God’s law, he makes his own. Man’s values replace God’s. Witness abortion, same sex marriage, gender confusion—anything and everything that should be moral. Man’s appetite replaces God’s gift of reason, man turns from what he should do to what he wants. He focuses on his rights rather than duties to others.
What Do the Horsemen Represent?
The four horsemen embody what occurs when man rejects God’s laws; conquest, war, famine, and pestilence. They are the consequences of turning away from God’s laws; consequences man brings on himself through his choices.
I’m going to present each horsemen in context with today’s events. Each description will open with the relevant scripture, using The Complete Jewish Bible. Much of Revelation takes place on two levels, one in heaven and the other on earth. Both occur at the same time. We’ll see that throughout these descriptions.
I looked, and there in front of me was a white horse,
the rider had a bow and was given a crown,
and he rode off as a conqueror to conquer. (Rev. 6:2)
When man turns away from God, he turns toward himself. Self-interest replaces self-sacrifice. He desires things he doesn’t have. Once man sets himself on that path it takes great effort to turn back to God. Man must put away his pride. Think of China’s recent actions with the Coronavirus outbreak; both in covering it up and letting many of its people leave although they were infected. But it can also occur in more subtle ways. Consider the modern Democratic party’s lurch to the left and socialism. Socialism is an ideology embodying man’s rejection of God’s law. It begins with desire.
On the heavenly plane, white represents divinity and the rider is given a crown. One interpretation is this rider represents Christ. He is riding off not to conquer, but in judgment unleashing his arrows—the remaining three horsemen. In short, Christ leaves man to the consequences of man’s choices.
Another horse went out, a red one; and its rider was given the power
to take peace away from the earth and make people slaughter each other. (Rev. 6:4)
When man wants things he doesn’t have, he will often try to take them. He will most likely use force or fraud, Machiavelli’s lion and fox. When fraud fails, man turned from God resorts to force—violence. Red denotes war, persecution, and bloodshed. But it’s more than war, it is the loss of peace. True peace comes from God. When man turns toward himself, vice replaces virtue because he is no longer grounded in God’s values. God is Good, and the source of all morality. The result is jealousy, envy, and division. Man turns from self-sacrifice to self-interest. It becomes about me.
Look at the division in America today. With the rise of ideologies like socialism comes division. Division is socialism’s fruit. It is not a coincident that division has increased as more people lean in that direction. It is cause and effect. Consider all the war in the Middle East, Africa, and the rise again of open anti-Semitism.
Abortion is another instance, the killing of our society’s most innocent—exactly those whom God’s law is intended to protect. It is a stain that can only be removed by our turning as a people to God and repenting. Virginia’s governor signing a bill into law removing many abortion restrictions on Good Friday is appalling, but somehow very appropriate. It reveals the character of a man whose actions are aligned with man’s values rather than Gods.
I looked, and there in front of me was a black horse, and its rider held
in his hand a pair of scales. Then I heard what sounded like a voice
from among the four living beings say, “Two pounds of wheat
for a day’s wages! Six pounds of barley for the same price! But don’t
damage the oil or the wine. (Rev. 6:5-6)
The result of man’s turning to his own ideas and values starts with violence, and leads to society’s breakdown. Political and economic systems based on man’s ideas collapse. Scarcity and high prices follow. The result is often starvation and death. We can look to the scarcity of basic goods in Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China, and Russia for examples. Even in America, the panic buying done out of fear around the Coronavirus created shortages and placed limits on many basic items. Meat, boxed and canned goods, eggs, paper products, detergents, and cleaners were all in short supply. The result of hoarding instead of continuing to get what one needs when they need it.
Black is the color of death, disaster, bondage, and famine in the Bible. They follow war and violence. It will bear a greater weight on the poor—the innocent. The prices represent working an entire day just to make enough to survive, if you’re lucky.
I looked and there in front of me was a pallid, sickly-looking horse.
Its rider’s name was Death, and Sh’ol (Hades) followed behind him.
They were given authority to kill one-quarter of the world
by war, by famine, by plagues and with the wild animals of the earth. (Rev. 6:8)
The final horsemen represents the end result of man rejecting God’s laws. Disease, plague, and sickness follow from death and famine. This horse’s pallid color represents sickness and disease. Hades is the gathering place of the dead, and one quarter of the world’s population will die.
Mentioning wild animals in this passage is also interesting. China has been experimenting with the coronavirus and others that come from animals. The current disease appears to have originated in bats, and current thought is it came from a lab in China’s Wuhan province. Other virus’ have been transmitted to man from birds, pigs, and now bats. Could it be the deaths of many could come from plagues originating from diseases transmitted to man from animals? History’s Black Plague serves as one devastating example. It has happened before.
I submit we can not only hear the horsemen’s hoofbeats, we see evidence of them all around us today—or should.
Is This Inevitable?
What was man’s reaction to God’s first judgments?
Then the earth’s kings, the rulers, the generals, the rich and the mighty—
indeed, everyone, slave and free—hid himself in caves and among
the rocks of the mountains (Rev. 6:15)
They tried to hide from God. They hid because they knew they did wrong. It is no different today.
At one level, yes it is inevitable. It is prophecy and occurs in God’s time. However, we have a choice. We each choose whether to follow God’s laws or mans. The choices are mutually exclusive, meaning you can only pick one or the other. This is the story of Noah, that even in an immoral society we are each personally responsible for our choices, decisions, and actions. One’s choice leads to either salvation or death.
However, God’s judgment is not inevitable today. We can choose to live according to man’s ways and end up trying to hide from God, or we can choose to follow God’s laws and live freely. Choosing the latter, we become His adopted sons and daughters—his heirs. It is enough to choose God, and say “Not today, not on my watch.”