The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Like ghostly spectres, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appeared to the apostle John in vision at the close of the first century A.D. What do these four horsemen really represent? Were they merely a vivid nightmare of the elderly John's imagination? Or are they a living prophecy soon to unfold in our generation? Here is how Jesus Christ himself revealed the true meaning - for our day, right now - of the four mysterious riders of the book of Revelation!
CHRIST THE REVELATOR .................. 1
A COUNTERFEIT CHRIST .................... 5
A WORLD AT WAR ..............................11
FAMINE STALKS THE EARTH ............15
MORE THAN ONE BILLION ................21
BUT THERE IS
A WAY OF ESCAPE..............................25
CHRIST THE REVELATOR
The first five words of Revelation reveal two vital
keys to understanding the book: that Jesus Christ is the Revelator; and that this
book is a revelation. Ignoring these vital keys, men have viewed the
"revelation" as the opposite: a hidden, closed, cryptic, sealed document
contrived from the angered and elderly mind of the apostle John in prison on Patmos.
The reason is clear: men have not let the Bible interpret itself! Turn to the inscription below the title of Revelation in your own Bible. It says, "The Revelation of St. John the Divine" in most versions. Men added those words! God's word starts out by saying the direct opposite of man's words. If men cannot even compose the title correctly, it is no wonder they are confused with the contents! Because of this confusion among Bible scholars, the average Christian has assumed that the word apocalypse - the Greek word for "revelation" - means a hidden, dark, cryptic message of doom. In truth, "revelation" means just what the dictionary says, "the act of revealing; the disclosing to others of what was before unknown to them."
In the case of the book of Revelation, the "others" to whom truth is "disclosed" are "his servants" (Rev. 1:1), and the One who is able to REVEAL is Jesus Christ.
"Who Is Worthy ...?"
Interpretations of the Bible are plenteous. Millions of words of human
thought about the Apocalypse have been written over the last 19 centuries. Most of these
efforts have fallen far short of the truth. Notice the question asked by a "strong
angel ... with a loud voice" in Revelation 5:2. He asks, "Who is worthy
to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?" Who has the right, the privilege?
The answer: "No man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon" (Rev. 5:3). If the book was closed to human understanding, how then was it to be "revealed"? "Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book" (verse 5). Only Jesus Christ is "worthy" to interpret the book of Revelation. "Worthy is the Lamb" (verse 12).
But where does Christ reveal the meaning of the book of Revelation - specifically the "Four Horsemen" which represent the first four of the book's seven sealed messages? How does the Bible interpret itself?
By parallel prophecies. Since Christ is the Revelator, we must turn to his own words as recorded in the scriptures. Since the Apocalypse is a prophecy of the future ("... things which must shortly come to pass..."), we must turn to the prophecies - future predictions - as Jesus himself spoke them.
The "Olivet Prophecy" is the longest and most pivotal prophecy uttered by Jesus Christ on earth. The apostle John himself was there - on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, some sixty years previous to his experience on Patmos - when Christ gave his followers the signposts of his Second Coming and the end of man's government. It is the same time setting as the book of Revelation.
The book of Revelation is an expanded description in vision of the same series of events described in capsule news-brief format by Jesus in Matthew 24. There we find Christ's own revealing of Revelation, his very own words.
The Time Setting
In Revelation 6:1-8, John sees the Four Horsemen, a symbolic reenactment of the bold,
straight-forward, easily understood Olivet Prophecy. They differ only slightly in
fulfillment. Matthew 24 had a first "typical" fulfillment in the war, famine,
and disease epidemics in and around Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (see Flavius Josephus, Wars of
the Jews, for a full graphic description of this first prophetic fulfillment).
John's vision of Four Horsemen, however, occured twenty-five years after the local Jewish wars, the fall of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the Temple. This vision does NOT refer to any past fulfillment or present condition, but to a future series of specific events, a final fulfillment of Matthew 24.
One way to prove that these events are yet future is the contextual evidence in the book of Revelation itself. John speaks of an army of 200 million in Revelation 9:16. There were barely that many men, women, and children on earth in the days of Christ or the apostle John. The world did not pass the one billion mark until as recently as 1850. No army from a group of nations could possibly reach the prophesied size of 200 million until the earth housed at least a billion.
The context of Matthew 24 also shows the ultimate fulfillment of these prophecies to be yet future, not in the past or present. Jesus Christ said his messages would be fulfilled at a time when total human annihilation was possible (Matt. 24:21, 22). This period began with the Nuclear Age. Only since 1950 has mankind lived on his short-fused nuclear time-bomb. Only in this Nuclear Age have the Four Horsemen saddled up for their final ride!
This understanding of the duality in prophecy is vitally important. The words of Matthew 24 refer to 1) a first "antitypical" fulfillment in A.D. 70, 2) a long-term condition prevailing from A.D. 70 until now, and 3) and end-time fulfillment yet ahead. The Four Horsemen on their final ride refer only to the last of these three fulfillments. They represent an intensity of these conditions far beyond the "normal" wars, famines and disease epidemics that periodically scourge mankind.
The knowledge of who these horsemen are, and how you can escape their destructive force is vital to you. Don't ignore it. Read Jesus Christ's revelation of what they mean to you in the chapters ahead.
A COUNTERFEIT CHRIST
The first horseman of the Apocalypse was described
this way by the apostle John: "And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat
on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering and to
conquer" (Rev. 6:1-2).
The identity of this first horseman has caused more confusion and consternation among Bible critics than the other three horsemen combined! The majority of Bible commentators are at least partially correct in determining the meaning of the red, black and pale horses which follow. Revelation 6 is quite clear as to the final three horsemen's identity. But that of the first horse is almost universally misunderstood because scholars have neglected the clarifying words of Christ the Revelator in Matthew 24:4-5.
Many, using human interpretation, have looked ahead to the 19th chapter of Revelation, to the description of the glorious Second Coming of Christ on a white horse. They have made the error of equating the white horse of Revelation 6 with the true Christ of chapter 19.
This basic misinterpretation appears in many forms. Some say the white horse of Revelation 6 represents the worldwide preaching of the Gospel, to "conquer" men's minds. Some say it is an angel preparing the way for Christ. Some say it represents Christian governments conquering heathen nations in the name of Christ. Some say it is the church. Some say it represents "Elijah," preparing the way for Christ. Some say it represents the Second Coming, while others think it is a flashback to Christ's first coming.
Nearly all commentators label the white horse rider as Jesus Christ, or some form of his Work on earth. But what does Christ himself have to say about the white horse? Believe it or not, he prophesied that this very deception and misunderstanding would occur!
A Counterfeit Creeps In
The very first world development Jesus Christ warns about in his
discourse in Matthew 14 is the advent of many false preachers, misleading and deceiving
the many, not the few (verses 4-5). This condition began immediately after Christ's
death and resurrection. The apostle Paul warned that the spirit of iniquity was already
working, even as he wrote.
Jude, the younger brother of Jesus Christ, exhorted early Christians to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness" (Jude 3, 4).
In the first century true Christians witnessed a counterfeit Christianity creeping in, deceiving many. Such religious deception has now increased in intensity until the whole world has become deceived about the true message of Christ. By the time of the end, your Bible says that Satan the devil "deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9).
There is no greater sign of this universal ignorance about God than the misunderstanding of who the first horseman of Revelation 6 actually represents.
It is true that the rider of the white horse represents a Christ,
but it is a false Christ. It is true that the first horseman represents a
gospel and a church, but it is a false gospel and a false church -
all in the name of Jesus Christ, but in truth a deception and a counterfeit. Jesus
Christ says so himself in Matthew 24, and the apostle Paul amplified Christ's words very
plainly in II Corinthians 11.
"I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in the Christ. For if he that cometh preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted" they might be deceived. "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (II Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15).
Your Bible identifies Satan's ministers as being professing Christians! They don't appear Satanic, of course. They appear as "angels of light." They look like the white horse of Christ's return, but they are in truth a clever counterfeit of the true Christ.
Paul isn't warning us against obviously false religions - such as pagan animism, Eastern occult sects, outright Satan worship, or bizarre semi-Christian cults - but rather against a subtle counterfeit. Counterfeits, like bogus money, attempt to be as close as possible to the original, yet with subtle flaws discernible only to experts. Counterfeit Christianity is the same. It may appear biblical or Christ-like, but subtle flaws exist throughout its beliefs. The horseman riding the white horse in Revelation 6 is just such a subtle counterfeit.
The Two White Horses Compared
If you will carefully compare Revelation 6:1-2 with Revelation 19:11-15,
you will see that this first horseman is no more than a clever counterfeit Christ,
one close enough to fool the majority, but not the "elect."
Notice first that the returning Christ of Revelation 19 brandishes a sword out of his mouth, not a bow in his hand, as in Revelation 6. The sword is his Word the Bible. The Word of God is called, in symbol, a "two-edged sword" (Heb. 4:12). Christ comes reproving nations with his Word, while the counterfeit horseman of Revelation 6 comes with another source of power. Regardless of the precise meaning of the "bow," it is clearly not the Word of God - the two-edged sword.
The time setting of Revelation 6 contrasted with chapter 19 also proves they could not be the same Christ. In fact, the two could hardly be further apart in the time flow of the book of Revelation. The white horse is the first seal opened, the very first event in the unfolding drama of the end times. Christ's Second Coming, on the other hand, ushers in the end of the drama. It is the last portion of the last seal, just prior to the 1,000-year reign of the Saints of God on earth. The two events are years apart in fulfillment. They could therefore not be the same horse and rider, since they are so widely separated.
The time sequence of Matthew 24 also reveals that counterfeit Christ appears first, while the Second Coming of Christ follows many other signposts, and is the last event to unfold. The general condition of false religion appeared first after Christ's death (even before war, disease and famine in A.D. 70), and has increased for over 1,900 years. But remember that Christ's prophetic words refer to both a long-term world condition and to an end-time specific event, at "the end of the age."
The End-Time Fulfillment
The long-term condition of false religion described above will culminate in the
end-time fulfillment of the white horseman of Revelation 6, in the person of a great False
Prophet. From the midst of many conflicting nominal Christian sects and arguing religious
leaders will emerge a single individual of immense personal power and magnetism, eclipsing
all others. He will rise to prominence in the near future - the exact year in unknown -
just prior to all other cataclysms at the time of the end.
Notice his description in II Thessalonians. "And then shall the Wicked [One] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders..." (II Thess. 2:8-9).
This powerful instrument of Satan will have unusual charisma and power! He will dazzle the world with miracles, mobilizing vast armies of formerly lukewarm professing Christians to his sinister service. This "wolf in sheep's clothing" will appear innocent, sincere, and righteous before men. Only the "elect" - those already led by God's Spirit and obedient to his laws - will be able to recognize the true power behind of these deceitful wonders (Matt. 24:24).
This end-time professing Christian leader will arrogate to himself titles and honors equal to, and attempting to exceed, those of God himself! He "exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (II Thess. 2:3-4).
After this "White Horseman" proclaims himself to be God, his believers will "go forth conquering and to conquer" in the name of their god, this false prophet. A series of religious wars dwarfing the Crusades will scourge the earth. This leads directly into, and overlaps with, the second horseman of the Apocalypse: WAR!
All three of the remaining horsemen have their basis in this world's false "Christian" religions. So few understand this first horseman - since so few listen to Christ and his interpretation - but it is a vital key to understanding the remainder of the book of Revelation.
If you are still part of this world's religious Babylon, this very book of Revelation warns you to, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4). To escape the following three horsemen, the world would have to come out from under the influence of the first horseman: false religion - the root cause of the war, famine and pestilence prophesied to plague all mankind.
A WORLD AT WAR
As John's astonishing vision continues, Jesus opens the second seal and
John sees a red horse. He recorded: "And there went out another horse that was
red; and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that
they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword" (Rev. 6:4).
This rider is given authority to remove peace from the earth. The absence of peace is war.
The red horseman represents the scourge of war.
Even though Revelation 6:4 clearly interprets itself, corroboration is given in the parallel prophecy of Matthew 24:6-7. In Jesus' own word, the second horseman represents "wars and rumours of wars."
But hasn't man always had war? To which war is Christ referring? Which wars does the second horseman represent? All war or one specific war?
These questions are answered in your Bible.
First: MANY Wars
Jesus first prophesied a general condition of war on earth that would
continue from his day until the very end of man's government on earth. "And ye shall
hear of wars and rumours of wars [notice the plural!]."
Immediately after giving this warning of many wars, He said, "See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." These many wars, therefore, represent a general condition of mankind. "Don't let it worry you overmuch," Christ warned. For nearly 6,000 years, there have been alternating generations of war and peace: big, small, civil, and uncivil wars.
But the remaining verses of Matthew 24 - and the second horseman of the Apocalypse - refer to more than brush fire wars. They refer to one specific, end-time period of war of great magnitude. It culminates in the first and last war of its kind: a war of cataclysmic proportions.
Second: WORLD Wars
After the many wars of Matthew 24:6, the next verse speaks of
"nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." This indicates world
war, with one group of allied nations attacking another group of nations. It means more
than "wars and rumours of wars."
The world has already suffered through rounds 1 and 2 of world war, but neither were of the nuclear world-killing proportions of Matthew 24:22: "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved." This refers to total war, with the annihilation of all mankind as the probable outcome - barring divine intervention.
World War II could not be that war. The atomic blast at Hiroshima was only a firecracker compared to today's hydrogen bombs, each with hundreds and thousands of times the explosive power of this primitive A-bomb. There was no threat of world "overkill" in 1945 (or ever before), but there is immense overkill in military stockpiles today.
Never before has total cosmocide - world-death - been at men's fingertips. "For the first time in history, human beings hold the power to destroy mankind," reported the Associated Press in 1970. "There are no precedents in political science or in history to guide men who command modern power."
Mankind may have "always had war," but never yet on the scale Jesus Christ predicted in Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. Never before has man had the potential for the total obliteration of human life. And just as man has always used the weapons in his possession, mankind will use the nightmarish weapons now in his arsenal: nuclear warheads, laser beams, chemical and biological warfare, nerve gas, heat-seeking missiles (called "smart bombs"), and who knows what other "science fiction-fact" items that may still be classified information in government files around the earth.
These are the weapons of the second horseman of the Apocalypse. Notice in Revelation 6:4 that he has power to take peace from all the earth. This involves world war, not local wars, civil wars, or even conventional international conflicts such as Korea or Vietnam. Also notice that this second horseman has a "great" sword. This certainly represents the ability to kill tens of millions, not just the millions killed in past wars.
Finally, notice the specific time and place of the second horseman's grisly ride upon the earth.
World War III
As the first horseman rides forth "conquering and to conquer" in the name of
his false religion, the second horseman - war - is quick on his heels as the means
of conquest. Prophecy labels the final political instrument as "the beast," a
future ten-nation alliance is to form in Central Europe.
Included in the horseman's victims are (as identified in Bible prophecy) the descendants of the ancient ten tribes of Israel. (To understand who they are today, write for our free booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)
How destructive will it be? Whole metropolises will be vaporized by nuclear attack, with tens of millions dying instantly. "Thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant" (Jer. 4:6-7).
"A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee" (Ezek. 5:12). This is a direct prophecy of how many will die as a result of the sword given to the second horseman, and the famine and pestilence of the third and fourth horsemen described in the following two chapters in this booklet.
FAMINE STALKS THE EARTH
"And I beheld," John wrote, "and lo a black horse; and he
that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of
the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a
penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine" (Rev. 6:5-6).
As surely as the third horseman appeared on the heels of the second, famine follows on the heels of ongoing revolutionary and counter-revolutionary struggles and warfare. Starvation and scarcity are the natural and immediate results of crop damage, defoliation, contaminated water supplies, destroyed livestock, and the unusually high food demands for the sustenance of a standing army - all caused by war.
In Matthew 24, Christ spoke of this general condition of famine in the context of wars and rumors of wars. He again used the plural, famines, referring to many reoccurring instances of famine over the centuries, increasing at a time just prior to his return.
Famines of the Past
Historical famines are, by definition, "cyclical famines,"
meaning that they are caused by unusual weather conditions, plagues, animal or insect
infestation or a similar interruption of normal cycles. These cyclical famines are far
different from the "structural famines" which much of mankind is experiencing
Even righteous Abraham suffered temporarily from such cyclical famines (Gen. 12:10). When Canaan's rains failed, he went to Egypt for food. In the days of his great-grandson Joseph, the rains and rivers everywhere failed for seven years, "and the famine was over all the face of the earth" (Gen. 41:56).
The historical books of the Bible speak frequently of "a famine in the days of David," "a sore famine is Samaria," or a "great famine was throughout the land" (II Sam. 21:1; I Kings 18:2; Luke 4:25). One very graphic incident is described in II kings 6:25-29; "There was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver [about $50], and the fourth part of a cab [a pint] of dove's dung for five pieces of silver [about $3]."
Between A.D. 1050 and 1350, severe famines struck all known lands, becoming especially severe in Egypt around A.D. 1065 and 1200, England around A.D. 1314, and all of Europe during the so-called "Black Death" of the 1350s.
Around 1065, the combined ravages of war and drought caused a famine in Egypt which must have rivaled in severity the seven-year famine under Joseph, approximately 2800 years previous. During the famine of 1065, a single cake of bread sold for about $40 (modern equivalent), eggs $30 a dozen, and bushel or grain for more than $50. One woman, according to a historian of the time, gave a necklace worth thousands of dollars for a mere handful of flour. Others flung their jewels into the street.
Finally, the desperate Egyptians resorted to cannibalism. Butchers of men actually "fished" for their victims, letting down ropes attached to meat hooks in search of unwary pedestrians. After the shrieking victims were "hooked" and cooked, they were sold on the open market to the most desperate of Egypt's hungered masses.
In the England of Edward II, a great famine struck in 1314 as a kind of prelude to the upcoming "Black Death." Food was so scarce that even the king had a hard time securing food for his table. Men ate dogs, horses, cats, and tragically, human babies as well. Thieves and cannibals were arrested, but when a new criminal was thrown into jail, he was quickly seized upon by the starving inmates and literally torn to pieces for food.
In 1845, the entire potato crop in Ireland rotted from an unexpected blight. Ireland was as dependent on potatoes as many Asian nations are now dependent on rice as a main staple of life. The hunger was so severe that the death toll in Ireland was between 200,000 and 300,000. A greater number emigrated to England and America, while thousands of others died on board the emigrant ships. Ireland, a great nation of 8.3 million people in 1845, lost 2 million people to death and emigration in just five years. Even today Ireland has but one half of her peak population of 1845.
China is another land in which periodic famines strike unexpectedly. Severe famines in 1906 and 1911 were caused by the flooding Yangtze River basin.
The well-trod path of 1) false religion, leading to 2) war and revolutionary struggle, leading to 3) famine is an oft-repeated chapter of man's sordid past. The India-Pakistan war of December, 1971 was a prime example. Conflicting religions led to conflicting political and social demands, which led to war, after which famine and disease ran rampant (aggravated by horrible natural disasters: in this case a typhoon which killed 500,000). More recently, other chapters of similar grief have been written in Cambodia and in Ethiopia and the Republics of Mozambique and the southern Sudan, where famines killed more than a million as the direct result of war.
This principle of war-caused famine is described in grisly detail in two parallel chapters of the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. The nation Israel was here warned that if they did not obey God (that is, if they practiced false religion and neglected God's Commandments) they would be overtaken by national curses leading to war. Read it in Leviticus 26 in a modern translation:
"If after all this [internal, domestic curses] you have not learnt discipline but still defy me, I in turn will defy you and scourge you seven times over for your sins. I will bring war in vengeance upon you... you shall be herded into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be given over to the enemy. I will cut short your daily bread until ten women can bake your bread in a single oven; they shall dole it out by weight, and though you eat, you shall not be satisfied.
"If in spite of all this you do not listen to me and still defy me, I will defy you in anger, and I myself will punish you seven times over for your sins. Instead of meat you shall eat your sons and daughters" (Lev. 26:23-28, New English Bible).
This prophesied pattern of national decline and deprivation has been followed many times in history, and it will be followed again! Less than 40 years after Christ uttered this prophecy of famines, a Roman war siege on Jerusalem caused such severe famine that even cannibalism reared its ugly head in the so-called "holy city" (read Josephus, Wars of the Jews, for the details of this siege).
Throughout the Middle Ages, such war-caused food shortages forced whole cities periodically into starvation, often followed by the bubonic plague or other diseases. At the very close of the Middle Ages, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was especially ferocious in this regard. Whole cities were sacked and destroyed, starvation was widespread, and there was even cannibalism.
Though such war-caused famines still strike the earth periodically (note Cambodia, and East Africa today) a new kind of famine threatens the Twentieth Century.
Famines to Come
Despite the occasional war-caused famines, many today face a different kind of famine,
which is built into their lives and societies from birth. It is fueled by the twin
problems of the population explosion and dwindling food supplies in poor lands.
The very day you read this - and repeated each day - hundreds of thousands of new babies cry their way onto planet earth. The tragic fact is that most of those infants are destined to live out their brief lives in one of the dirt-poor "have-not" nations. During the same 24-hour period, nearly half as many human beings will die. The tragic footnote to this statistic is that over half of these deaths are children under five.
While world food production has maintained a pace of increase roughly equal to population, the unequal distribution of food increase is the primary problem facing our hungry planet.
Food often is not being harvested where it is needed, and the excess food of rich nations cannot be bought by the poor nations.
This is the dilemma of food distribution. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. And ironically, the rich few within the poor nations increase their ownership of the rich parts of their land, while the poor masses have their already poor lot diminished.
Jesus Christ predicted this condition when he said, "And there shall be famines...." But he meant more!
The third horseman of the Apocalypse doesn't primarily refer to the cyclical famines of the past, or the "structural famines" of the present, but to a specific great famine now beginning to stalk Africa, and destined to spread to other continents later. Following great religious confusion and war, the "have" nations of even the restored 10-nation Roman Empire in Europe - will have their turn to suffer want and deprivation. These prophecies are yet ahead of us.
This great famine will spread to all peoples and nations of earth until mankind turns to God in total surrender. These dire plagues are allowed by a loving God to teach man obedience. Peoples and nations will have brought this pain upon themselves, by man-devised religion and man-devised war. God is allowing man to reap what he sows, so that mankind will learn the bitter lesson that sin brings pain! After man learns this lesson, God will shower down a world of plenty once again, in the wonderful World Tomorrow.
But first, the fourth horseman must ride.
DEATH TOLL: MORE THAN ONE BILLION
As the fourth seal is opened, John sees a pale
horse. "And I looked," he recorded, "and behold a pale horse: and his name
that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over
the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and
with the beasts of the earth" (Rev. 6:7-8).
What is this fourth horseman of Revelation 6:8? A clue is found in the word "pale."
The word "pale" is translated from the Greek word chloros. It is the same root word from which we derive the term "chlorophyll" (a substance which helps make leafy plants green). It means, in biblical usage, a pale-green, the sickly yellowish-green color of disease.
Notice the descriptive terms of various modern Bible translations: "a pale-green horse" (Beck), "an ashen horse" (The New American Standard Bible), "a horse sickly pale" (The New English Bible), "a horse sickly green" (Phillips), "a pale-colored horse" (Weymouth), "an ashy pale horse" (The Amplified Bible), and a "livid horse" (Rotherham).
Jesus Christ, the Revelator, fills in the most correct word to interpret the meaning of this pale green horse: "...and there shall be...PESTILENCES..." (Matt. 24:7). The pestilences referred to by Jesus are disease epidemics of world proportion-pandemics!
The LAST Horseman Rides
As the fourth horseman follows the third, worldwide disease epidemics
will strike hard on the heels of famine. Millions more will die. This last of the
four horsemen will bring the total death toll of all four to one fourth of the mankind
(Rev. 6:8). This death toll represents more than one billion (one thousand million) human
The only reason for such global genocide is man's disobedience to God. Notice the principle underlying the parallel prophecy in Deuteronomy 28, "...if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God," warns man's Creator, "The LORD will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess. The LORD will strike you with consumption [wasting, degenerative diseases] ... with fever, with inflammation [communicable disease] ... with tumors, with the scab [deficiency disease], and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed [incurable diseases]. The LORD will strike you with madness [mental illness] and blindness and confusion of heart [emotional trauma]" (Deut. 28:15, 21-22, 27-28, New King James Version.
That's quite a medical listing of what "pestilence" actually means in fulfillment! But there is more. God further warns that, "I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate" (Lev. 26:22).
This Old Testament prophecy is echoed by the apostle John in his last words concerning the four horsemen vision. Man will also be killed, he said, "with the beasts of the earth" (Rev. 6:8). This refers to animal-borne epidemics as well as animals literally attacking human beings for food. In fact the very word "pestilence" is derived from its animal-borne origin, "pest."
It is a recognized historical fact that the greatest plagues mankind has ever
experienced have been animal-borne. When food is scarce for man, it is scarce for wild
animals too. They not only attack humans for food, but they also become weak and
disease-ridden themselves, carrying historically mass killers such as bubonic plague
("The Black Death"), or rabies.
Even in modern civilized Western nations, rats, skunks, foxes, bats, and other rabid animals are often found in close proximity to large cities. If, in a future time following war and famine, such animals came in contact with multiple millions of household pets, people would be outnumbered by rabid or ravenous beasts.
Such massive plagues are not now happening due to existing sanitary standards, medical science, and the organized security measures which separate "civilization" from wilderness. But the point is that the potential for epidemic is always there, dormant, latent, ready to strike when such protective conditions break down.
Witness again the modern examples of disease epidemics in the wake of war in Cambodia and East Africa.
BUT THERE IS A WAY OF ESCAPE
Hundreds of thousands were caught unprepared in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
when two atomic bombs plummeted out of the sky and cremated the two Japanese cities on
August 6 and 9, 1945. Days previously, the U.S. Government had warned the Imperial
Japanese government that the bombs were to fall, but the message was garbled in the
translation. Had any heeded the warning, they could have escaped - but no one could
foresee what happened from the warnings given. Can we, today, learn from their ghastly
Millions of Jews and other nationalities perished under Hitler's rule. Many could have read the signs of the times and escaped, but they didn't.
Likewise, the majority of people will be caught by surprise when the four horsemen ride over this earth for the last time. They could escape if their eyes were opened to the Bible and world trends, but their eyes are closed - willingly or in ignorance.
Millions will see the signposts of religious deception, war, famine, and pestilence, but will not know where to turn for escape. Bomb shelters? A hideout in the mountains or desert? A church? Stored up food? Refuge in South America, Switzerland, or the South Seas?
No, in the age of nuclear war, human hideaways offer no hope for permanent escape. The only escape from the grisly realities on earth is recourse to the greatest reality in the universe - GOD!
For The Elect's Sake
Jesus Christ promised protection to his own elect. He promised they
would survive the prophesied holocaust to strike this unsuspecting world. That is
the only hope for survival - the intervention of God.
Fortunately for mankind, God is not only going to save these "elect," but millions of others will be protected "for the elect's sake." God will stop the death stroke of the fourth horseman before it sweeps all mankind from off the earth. For the elect's sake, some of mankind will survive into the Wonderful World Tomorrow.
To the elect, Christ said, "FEAR NOT, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). He also promised that this "elect" would always be on earth. The end-time remnant of that group would have special strength to preach Christ's Gospel to all the world for a witness (Matt. 24:14).
Others may survive after years of ordeal and pain, but the path of the "elect" is safe and sure.
The elect are those who are the called and chosen, who have truly repented of their own carnal ways, and have accepted the holy ways of God. They are the ones who have been made members of the very BODY of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 12:13) performing his Work.
As a reward for this faithfulness, Jesus gave this exhilarating good news to those faithful ones who put the Work of God far above their own personal desires.
The entire twelfth chapter in the Apocalypse or book of Revelation is devoted to God's loving care for his end-time Church, the elect. The Church is personified as a woman, Christ's betrothed wife. "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent" (verse 14).
This end-time prophecy tells of an "escape" from terrible war and tribulation signified by the four horsemen and the events that follow in their wake. For 3½ years the elect will be untouched by Satan (the serpent) and the cataclysmic world at war around them. God promises miraculous, supernatural and spiritual shelter!
Who Are The "Elect"?
The elect are the end-time remnant of the Church of God and Work of God on earth. By
God's definition, this "remnant of her seed...keep the commandments of God, and have
the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17). "Here is the patience of the
saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus"
The elect obey God's Ten Commandments! They obey God's will in everything, and they have the love and faith of Christ. Don't make the mistake of following the false counterfeit Christianity which may masquerade as God's "elect" but refuse to obey God's Ten Commandments and believe the true gospel of the kingdom of God.
There is a way of life that is pleasing God and that will protect you from the very real plagues destined to be unleashed in the final ride of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!
For those who choose to disobey God, these horsemen will not ride just in vision, but in reality.
But you can choose life!