Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] The four horsemen of Revelation. What are they? What do they mean? Jesus Christ revealed them more than 2,000 years ago, yet these icons of Bible prophecy continue to fascinate us even today.
When will they ride? And what will happen when they do?
Whether you’re a Christian or not, you need to understand this prophecy of the horsemen. Join us on Beyond Today as we look at Christ’s warning about “The Four Horsemen of Revelation.”
[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Darris] Few biblical images have so captivated people down through time as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse.” Jesus Christ told the apostle John to write it in a book. Jesus Christ intended for people living in John’s time to read this book, but not just them–He meant it for us as well.
> …And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow…Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth… I saw a black horse… and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand…I saw a horse and his color was pale green. Its rider was named Death…and his companion was the grave (Revelation 6:2-8).
[Darris] The four horsemen don’t appear until chapter 6 of the book of Revelation. What triggers their ride? Let’s take a look at how Christ sets the stage in the book of Revelation.
Revelation starts with John recording a vision that he had while exiled on the prison island of Patmos. John was given a vision from the Son of Man–Jesus Christ, and that vision he was told to record.
John points out that we are blessed if we read and if we obey what the book of Revelation says (Revelation 1:3, NLT).
John starts telling of a vision, of a scene, that he saw coming from in heaven.
> “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this’ ” (Revelation 4:1, NIV).
[Darris] Christ revealed to John what would happen during the end times, a time when you will need God’s protection and care as much as anybody else has ever needed it in all of history.
John goes on in the book to describe a scroll that was given to the Lamb, who is Jesus Christ.
> “Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?’ But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.
“Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals’ ” (Revelation 5:1-5, NLT).
[Darris] The scroll is given to Jesus Christ, and has seven seals that must be broken to open the scroll–seven events by these seven seals that will take place as it is opened.
The first four seals are symbolized as four terrifying horsemen. At the time that the Bible was written, warriors on horseback were one of the most effective forms of fighting. A full grown horse weighs close to 1,000 pounds, so the image of a horseman was one of the most frightening things that could be shown to John.
The horsemen will ride at a time when the fabric of culture and civilized society is on the verge of unraveling. Have we seen anything like this in our own time?
> The market fell over 700 points.
[Darris] In 2008, a global financial crisis brought major nations within hours of financial collapse and chaos.
Now let’s imagine, for a moment, if the crash had been only a bit worse. After all the banks crashed, our debit cards would stop working at the gas pump or at the grocery store. Without fuel, our supply lines are cut. Local grocery stores have only a few days of inventory in stock and not enough to go around for everyone. The future at that time looks pretty bleak. It is within such a scene that these horsemen of Revelation begin to ride.
Now let’s look now at the first horseman. John writes this:
> “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, ‘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.”
[Darris] The first horseman rides on a white horse, appearing on the world scene in a valiant display. With a bow in his hand and a crown on his head, he is determined to gain a victory and dominate mankind.
But this is not the only rider on a white horse in this book of Revelation. As many of you know, there is another rider on a white horse described later in chapter 19 of the book. That rider is Jesus Christ when He returns to earth as King of kings.
This first horseman, in chapter 6, is masquerading as Jesus Christ. He wants you to believe that he is Christ. Most people who see him will even think that it is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself warned us of such a horseman to ride.
Back in Jerusalem, when the disciples had asked Christ for a sign of His coming, He told them to beware of people who will come in His name.
That prophecy is told in Matthew 24–which is one of the most famous prophecies that Christ gives. He says, “…many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).
Christ goes on to warn us further in verse 24. He says, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See,” he says, “I have told you beforehand” (Matthew 24:24-25).
Jesus Christ said that He would build His church with one faith. In the past 2,000 years since He lived, since He established His body of believers, there has arisen nearly 10,000 distinctive types of religions. Ten thousand–think about that. No wonder we have such religious strife during that 2,000-year period. Look at today’s headlines. Religious strife in the form of radical Islamic terror continues to threaten our world.
Religion today is looked upon by many as a leading cause of conflict and suffering in the world. Not only has Islamic terror created great skepticism, but so has organized religion’s inability to provide answers for the critical questions of life about God, about mankind and the purpose for the creation. Religious confusion and division has failed to provide order and security for the people on the street. Look at the violence done to mankind in the name of religion. The suffering of children, women and the poor, they all cry out for help.
The Bible shows that before Christ returns there will be another period of religious-driven conflict. As horrible as today’s religious terror is, it is only a forerunner of a greater period of religious deception.
As we read through the book of Revelation, we see this first horseman leads into the next.
> “When He 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.”
[Darris] The second horseman described in this prophecy rides on a red horse. This horseman has a great sword in his hand, and he sets out to incite war throughout the earth. This horseman, on this red horse, is ready to take the nations of the world to war with each other. We see this happening more and more in our world today, and with the strife and conflict that erupts all over the world, it is very evident. The horseman on that red horse is certainly riding right now.
The nations today are being shaken from their moorings. Whether we look to Asia, Europe or Russia we are seeing a realignment of power and influence that is reshaping world affairs. God it seems is moving among the nations to fulfill His purpose and His eternal plan. This amazing prophecy in Revelation shows the key elements of the events.
Christ warned us directly of this second horse’s coming–again, back in Matthew 24–right after He had warned us of false preachers and the white horseman. In Matthew 24:6, we read this:
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7).
The red horse brings war to this earth and fulfills the prophecy that Christ Himself foretold when He walked the earth.
War technology has been advancing faster and faster. The human race constantly finds new ways to destroy itself. We can push a button in one country, wipe out an entire other country on the other side of the world. A full-fledged nuclear war could end human life on this planet.
Fortunately, we know this will not be the case. When we look ahead, again, back in Matthew’s prophecy in chapter 24, it says this:
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).
The war brought on by the red horse will not end all life, but it will certainly lead to more human suffering, as we see with the third horseman. False religion and global war–these are some pretty scary concepts.
You will need God’s protection, and you will need God’s mercy more than ever in the not-too-distant future.
> “When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, ‘Come!’ I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, ‘A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine’ ” (Revelation 6:5-6, NLT).
[Darris] The rider on the black horse has scales in his hand, and he brings even more bad news for mankind. The voice heard by John tells us that scarcity and famine will follow the war brought by the red horse.
After the world is ravaged by wars, the earth will be barren and fruitless. Food will be so scarce that people will be willing to give an entire day’s wages to purchase a small loaf of bread to feed their hungry family. Billions will go hungry.
When we think of hunger in our recent history, we might think of hungry people standing in the breadlines in depression-era America, or in Soviet Russia, waiting to get food for the day. Unfortunately, the hunger that will grip the world as the black horse rides will be much more widespread. Government breadlines will not be the answer. There simply will not be enough food to go around. Society will continue to break down into chaos, and people will turn on each other for a few bites of food.
“How can this happen?” you might ask.
Well, hunger is a very powerful urge. Hunger taken to that extreme can lead people to do unthinkable, barbaric things.
In January 2013, the Daily Mail reported that after a famine in North Korea, a man reverted to basic, disgusting animal instincts, and he ate his own children to survive. This is the kind of hunger that we will see all around the earth–one capable of turning people into animals (Lamentations 4:10).
The threat of worldwide hunger will drive society to its breaking point. In John’s vision, humanity is now starving, weak, and they’re broken. And this brings on the fourth horseman.
> “When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living being say, ‘Come!’ I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green. Its rider was named Death, and his companion was the Grave. These two were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals” (Revelation 6:7-8).
[Darris] The fourth horseman brings the death of billions to a world that has been already ravaged by false religion, war and famine. No place is safe. If you had the means to go anywhere in the world, you could not avoid the pale horse. Societies have broken down, with our world torn by large-scale warfare and worldwide hunger. Governments won’t be able to step in and they’ll not be able to provide aid.
Disease pandemics can spread globally within hours. With international air travel the way it is today, what begins in China or in the Middle East can spread before we can even detect something has happened.
What’s described here is an event so big that life could not be sustained on this earth. A disease that kills quickly, efficiently and mercilessly.
We read that nature itself turns back against man. Wild animals start to hunt in our cities and towns. With civilization all but gone, the weak are picked off.
Casualties of famine, war and disease–they’re massive. Billions die, and even more will suffer. These first four seals show us just how bad things will be at the time of the end. Revelation is a book of warnings that both fascinates and confuses readers. Christ, the Lamb, orchestrates and controls an unfolding period of judgment upon the world.
The four horsemen picture four great eruptions of trial and turmoil. Now some who study this part of Revelation will say, well there has always been religious strife, war, and famine and disease have been a part of the human condition. And, that would be true. What we should learn is that these are all problems that come by the choices people make. God uses our own twisted human nature to be our undoing. Greed, treachery, violence–they are not curses that God creates. They’re curses caused by sin, and the rejection of God and His sovereign Kingdom. God simply steps out of the way and lets humanity tear itself apart. It’s a period of trial that comes rapidly upon the world. These seals represent God’s judgment on a world that has knowingly rejected Him. Civilization is brought to a point where God must step in to save human life.
Those who dismiss Revelation as an apocalyptic horror, they all fail to understand the ultimate message of hope that is contained in this last book of the Bible.
The takeaway from the book of Revelation is a wonderful time of peace under the rule of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
The hope though, lies in Jesus Christ, Who appears near the end of the account as a fifth horseman riding a white horse and intervening to end the horrible period of war and suffering.
You may not have considered that there is a fifth horse in the book of Revelation. As the horsemen ride, it leads to a time when Jesus Christ returns to this earth. He comes bringing a swift sword of judgment. The judgment brought upon the nations is so severe that when it is finally carried out, men will seek death and it won’t be found. It will be like no other time of trouble in the past.
As the horsemen ride, you and I will need God’s protection, His care, and His mercy.
Christ begins with the opening of seven seals, the first four set the stage in an unforgettable manner. The dramatic ride and the imagery of the four horsemen vividly paints the picture of a world careening out of control toward a near final moment of history.
Fortunately, the book of Revelation does leave us with hope. Christ gave John the vision of one more horseman that we mentioned earlier in the program.
Let’s go back to that horseman. That horseman is Jesus Christ. When He returns, riding on the true white horse, He rides as the King of kings, and He rides as our Savior.
>”Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns… He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19:11-16, NLT).
[Darris] Read in your own Bible the words describing this dramatic scene at the end of this present age of human misrule. While not pretty, it is the only solution to the continual wars that plague mankind.
It fulfills what Christ promised when He spoke of the time before His coming as one of war and turmoil that could bring humanity to the brink of extinction. And He said, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).
I want to invite onto the program now my fellow Beyond Today presenters for more discussion about this important topic. The prophetic horsemen pictured in the book of Revelation show what lies in our future, and Beyond Today offers a message of hope–a light in an often dark world.
Welcome Steve and Gary.
Looking at these four horsemen–false religion, war, famine, pestilence–it’s a pretty grim situation. At times, reminds you what you might be watching on television news headlines even today.
[Steve] Doesn’t take much to recognize, look around! Turn on the news. You see these horses are already riding, and they have been riding for a while. And it’s going to get worse and worse. You look at history, look at mankind’s history in governing himself. Does he really know the best way to go? And I think you have to come to the conclusion, these horses are riding and they are getting closer all the time.
[Gary] Anyone who studies history looks at trends. Because an event doesn’t come out of a vacuum, it happens because of things that led up to it. And we’re watching these trends get worse and worse and worse. We’re not there yet. We’re not at the point where it culminates yet, but it is headed in that direction. So yeah, when we look at the news, we’re watching these events being stacked up.
[Darris] So how would you answer the skeptic that says, well human history, as you point out, has always had this. And there have been some pretty bad times in the past, the Black Plague for instance of the Middle Ages, and great wars. So, how do we know that this hasn’t been fulfilled or even in Christ’s time, how do we answer that skeptic as we look at what is prophesied here in Revelation?
[Steve] The Bible deals directly with that. Christ even said that these things are going to happen. These are prophesied. Even though people will say, well it’s always been this way. And so He points to that very fact and He says there is a time of Great Tribulation coming. And we can look at past prophecies and the things that had been fulfilled and recognize when Christ says this will happen, it is going to come about. It is something that’s on the horizon.
[Gary] You know when you look at just the passage in Revelation, the four horsemen ride until they culminate, it says, in 25% of mankind dying. You talked about the Black Plague. I mean, there was a time in Europe’s history where 25-50% of all the people died, but that wasn’t all of humanity. So, what makes this so different is that the entire world, not just a region, is affected. And 25% of all human beings die because of the events of these four horsemen. So that gives us the focal point that this hasn’t happened yet.
[Darris] That’s true. I think that’s very helpful to put this into the modern context because really there are certain aspects of the book of Revelation that can only be understood if it is on a global perspective, far different from some of the more localized issues of past history.
You know, when we look at the flow of Revelation–I did not have time to talk about this in the program–but these first four seals, these four horsemen, actually represent things that are even before even larger issues that come upon mankind, they seem to be almost a part of what man brings upon himself by his human mistakes, by sin.
[Steve] Yeah, there is no doubt that you can see the result. False religion–when we don’t want to follow God and we make up our own ways of worship, that certainly rides that horse a little bit farther down the way. And the same things with the challenges that we face–whether it’s starvation in the world, whether it’s pestilence, whether it’s the wars. Those things are our own choices. And by our choices, those results are evident.
[Gary] Later in the book of Revelation, we have God directly intervening in human history.
[Gary] But when we look at the four horsemen, what we’re looking at is what we do to ourselves. This is Satan’s world. We bring about the wars, the pestilence, the diseases. This is what humanity, under Satan’s direction, what will do to ourselves. God intervenes at the end–in fact, Jesus sad if He doesn’t come when He does, all human beings would be destroyed. All life would be destroyed.
[Darris] So it is a judgment, but it is a judgment more directly related to mankind’s sins…
[Darris] …His own decisions to reject God. To go to war against himself.
[Gary] That’s right. A little later in the book, God does directly become involved in what’s going on.
[Darris] Which is an even more horrific picture but the judgment of God is a very interesting matter to study from the Bible. Which brings up the question, how do you square that with the concept of a loving, kind, merciful God, which is, but yet these horrific scenes are there as well?
[Steve] The interesting part is the doom and gloom that seems so evident is not really the focus. Certainly those are the consequences of man’s choice and his sin, but ultimately God’s pushing us to understand there’s a better way, and we need to repent and we need to change. And so we can’t forget about that fifth horse which becomes the important one. Where Jesus Christ is going to intervene and we have an opportunity then to change our thinking, to change our actions and fall in line with what God has in mind for us and what really is the best.
[Gary] You talked about that fifth horse? I mean here is the Prince of Peace coming back to save humanity, and what happens? It says humanity comes together to fight against Him. Actually resist His coming. So yeah, God wants to bring peace, it’s our resistance to it that’s going to cause Gods judgment on the earth.
[Darris] And again, the little understood fact even of the book of Revelation is that in spite of man’s own mistakes, in spite of fighting against Christ at His appearance, there is a message of hope there. That it doesn’t end the way modern culture will present it. There is hope, God does intervene to save mankind.
[Steve] By saving him, He does away with man’s rule, man’s government. The results of all of these years of man striving to find a way to live and shows him, this is the way. Here’s the government. Here’s the righteous government that you need to learn to live by.
[Darris] This is weighty stuff, and yet, I hope you’ve been encouraged to look into the Bible and examine more about what we’ve covered on today’s program. To help you do this, we have produced a free Bible study aid titled: The Horsemen of Revelation. This valuable booklet will help you grasp what these menacing riders represent and what future implications they may have for you, your family and all mankind. I highly encourage you to read this important and revealing free study aid.
To request your copy, just call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Again, that’s 1-888-886-8632. Or you can go online at BeyondToday.tv or write to us at the address shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
And when you order your study aid, we’ll also send you a free subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Each issue of Beyond Today includes educational, inspirational articles on practical Christian living, prophecy, doctrine and current events in relation to the Bible. We highly encourage you to read Beyond Today magazine. It can help you better comprehend the dynamic teachings of God’s Word.
Again, to order our fee study aid, The Horsemen of Revelation and your free subscription to Beyond Today magazine call: 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download these informative publications.
The four horsemen of Revelation represent Christ’s judgment on mankind prior to His coming. Are they a harbinger of end times? Yes, they are. They are riding today, right now. But as their ride continues to intensify, you will need God’s mercy and compassion more than ever.
You need to be prepared. Will you recognize the signs that the entire world is about to change? Will you see them riding toward you? Study your Bible and get close to God. And pray every day for His guidance. Watch and understand today’s world.
You can survive the end times, but you can’t do it alone. God will help you through all of this. May His Kingdom come. For Beyond Today , I’m Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !