The Revelation Given to John by Jesus Through the Angel
Before we get started with the four horses, we need to take a look at the pattern, and the departure from that design, in all 21 of the signs – the seals, trumpets, and bowls. Each tells of four tragedies related to naturel phenomena[i], and the two visions of events either in heaven or on earth. Before the series of seven is complete, each of the signs ends with the assurance of Yahweh’s commitment to us and his final triumph over evil.
The four signs consist of:
- The white horse, signifying a powerful invading army.
- The red horse, signifying war and bloodshed.
- The black horse, signifying famine and inflation.
- The pale horse, signifying death by weapons, hunger, the beasts[ii]of the earth, and death.
- Hail and fire mingled with blood.
- Volcano emptied into the sea turning 1/3 of the sea to blood, killing 1/3 of the sea life and destroying 1/3 of the ships[iii].
- Star falls from heaven burning. 1/3 of the waters become bitter and kills anyone who drinks it.
- 1/3 of the sun, moon and stars is eclipsed, diminishing energy by 1/3.
- Unsaved mankind is tormented by the eruption of loathsome and stinking sores on their bodies.
- The sea coagulated into blood killing everything in it.
- The water in the rivers and springs turn to blood.
- Fire blazes from the sun and scorches those without Yahweh’s protective seal.
The visions in the 21 signs are:
- The fifth seal, white robes righteousness are being given to the people of Yahweh.
- In the sixth seal, there is silence in heaven for “about ½ an hour.”
The next four of the signs are plagues for unregenerate mankind. They are:
- The bottomless pit opens and the: locusts” are released to torment mankind for five months. This is vengeance for what Yahweh’s people suffered at the hands of the world system.
- Next the four angels are set free from the Euphrates for one hour, one day, and one month to slay 1/3 of mankind by fire smoke and brimstone.
- Darkness, thirst, pain, and sores invade the throne of the Beast.
- The Euphrates River is dried up in preparation for Armageddon.
The last three are declarations, starting silently and building up to the climax of heavenly victory.
- The ½ hour of silence in heaven.
- The King reigns! Time is no more, the mystery og Yahweh is finished.
- It is done, Accompanied by a great earthquake[iv]that divides the city; the islands flee, the mountains disappear, and hail falls from heaven.
Revelation 6:1-8 compares to Zachariah 6:1-8. In Zachariah the four horse groups representing the four winds – from east, west, north, and south – are bid by Yahweh to deal out vengeance on Babylon, Egypt and other nations who have opposed Yahweh’s people. It is interesting to note that Babylon and Egypt are the two Muslim nations not listed in Ezekiel’s prophesy of Gog and Magog[v].
In Revelation the horse with the victor’s crown is characteristic of the great ambitious Roman Empire. The bow is a sign of mighty power[vi]and the white horse is a sign of conquest.
As I pointed out before, during the reign of Nero, Titus, and Domitian Christians and Jews suffered terrible cruelty. In the year 250 intense persecutions began again with Emperor Decius, but the worst persecution began in 284 under Emperor Diocletian and continued through Emperor Constantine[vii].
When Constantine the Great became emperor, he realized that if Rome were to survive it needed to be united, and he rightly assumed that Christianity could unite the empire. So Christianity became a state sponsored religion and Christians began slowly to accept compromise in exchange for freedom from intense persecution. Perhaps they became convinced they were seeing the thousand ear reign of Mashiach on earth.
After all, during the reigns of the above mentioned emperors Christians lost all their rights of freedom and were treated like the vilest of slaves. Their sacred writings were burned, they lost any right of gainful employment, and many were burned or roasted by slow fires, while others filled the jails to overflowing. Relief from that would have seemed like heaven on earth.
In spite of all the persecution though, Christianity flourished during those years. Between A.D. 100 and 313, the Church’s endeavor for unity resulted in the canon of the New Testament, the authority for faith and practice; a statement of the creed (belief); and bishops to give a cohesive bond to the Church’s constitution. The Church was calling itself Catholic (universal) around 170 A.D. the books that were included in the New Testament had to agree with the accepted books of the Old Testament. The books of the Old Testament were selected by Old Testament authorities through much prayer and study to make sure they were all in agreement with Torah (books of law).
Because one Bishop’s position in each congregation was over the others, he was thought to be superior. Because of persecution and heresy the Bishop’s power was necessarily expanded. Out of this the doctrine of apostolic succession developed. By the middle of the second century – 150 A.D. the exaltation of the monarchical bishop led to special honor given to the bishop of the church in Rome. This was partly the result of an argument that said that Mashiach gave Peter (“the first bishop of Rome”) primacy among the apostles and the keys to the kingdom, along with his admonition to Peter to feed the flock. The Roman church was also the largest and wealthiest by 100 A.D.[viii]
It was into the world of persecution and confusion that Constantine[ix] came riding in on his white horse. He issued the verdict of Milan in 313 that was supposed to bring freedom of worship to all religious traditions. Tradition says he saw a vision that told him to conquer in the name of the cross and he proceeded to do just that.
H. G. Wells says that the violent and vulgar fraud of Roman imperialism with its politicians, adventurers, landowners, and financiers collapsed. It left an age of war, robbery, famine and pestilence. Constantine saw the church as way of bringing unity and stability to the empire. The Church of Rome was to play the part of a magician who would keep the corpse of the empire alive. The ascendant rulers also seized upon Christianity as a unifying force to cement their conquests. Official Christianity became accustomed to ignoring Yeshua and became a political body for eleven centuries.
To be continued
[i] Matthew 24:4-8
[ii] As they were by the Roman Empire: Christianity through The Ages, page 93. Leviticus 26:21; Ezekiel 14:21-23; It is also interesting to note that there are more wild beasts coming into the domain of humans as humans invade the domains of wild beasts.
[iii] The Archaeological Study Bible, page 1857
[iv] Haggai 2:6, 7
[v] Ezekiel 38, 39
[vi] Jeramiah 51:56; Hosea 1:5
[vii] The Fight For Jerusalem, pages 66-68
[viii] The development of the primacy of the Roman bishop into the supremacy of the Roman bishop as the Pope of the church came later, but apostolic succession in the hierarchy was promoted originally to promote unity and guard against schism.
[ix] State Of Emergency, Patrick J. Buchanan, 1006, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York, N.Y., page 1 “After the collapse of the Roman empire and the barbarian invasion, Toynbee concluded, the Catholic Church had solved the crises of the ages; divinity and chaos…thus begin the history of “Christendom” [parenthesis mine] …the Christian countries of the world…ruled virtually the whole world.”