Four Horsemen

The four horsemen of the Apocalypse have perhaps attracted the most interest out of the many symbols in Revelation but are perhaps the least understood. The four horsemen describe the history of the same nation that is the subject of the seven trumpets. The horsemen are part of seven seals. The seals describe a complete sequence of events culminating in the complete fulfillment of the apocalypse.  The four horsemen are followed by religious persecution and fearful signs in the heavens. The four horsemen ride at the beginning of the decline, and describe the collapse of the political, economic and social infrastructure upon which society is built. The horsemen have already ridden three times during the Jewish, Christian and our modern Secular age. They will ride once more leading into the final apocalypse.

four-horsemen

The history of the nation(s) described by the horsemen begins with a period of military expansion and ends with the dissolution of the nation(s). In the Jewish era, beginning with the subjection of Israel to the neo-Babylonian empire the horsemen describe the succession of  gentile empires that would dominate the world leading to the rise of the Roman empire that would bring about the end of the Jewish era. In the Christian era the horsemen describe the collapse of the Roman Empire leading to sounding of the trumpets and the rise of the Holy Roman Empire that would bring about the end of the Christian era. In the post Christian, modern secular era that began circa 1798, the rise of the US as a nation and leading to the end of the secular era is the subject of the four horsemen. Finally the horsemen ride again in the post-secular era bringing about the collapse of the American empire during the final apocalypse that the world is now entering into. Click on the links below to read about how the four horsemen were fulfilled in each era.

Horseman

Jewish Era

Christian Era

Secular Era

Final Era

1 – Crowned + Conquering

Babylonian Empire

 31 BC – 192 AD Rise of Caesars

US sovereignty & expansion

2013-… Rise of US Caesar

2 – Sword: kill one another

Medo-Persian Empire

193-235 Civil War Severan Dynasty

US Civil War 1861 – 1865

Coming Civil War 2017?

3 – Food shortages

Greek Empire

Crisis of 3rd Century

 Econmic Panic of 1873

Transporation Fails – Famine

4 – Death and Hell

Rise of Rome 200-168 BC

300-538 Fall of Rome – plague

1888-1919 Spanish Flu

Coming Deadly Pandemic

5 – Martyrs

167 – 163 BC Persecution

500 -1798 Inquisition

Mark of the Beast Imposed

6 – Signs

27 AD – 34 AD

1798 – 1833

Signs of Mat 24

7 – Silence

70 AD Jerusalem Destroyed

1840-1860 End of Christendom

End of Mystery Babylon

Seven trumpets follow the four horsemen

The  seven trumpets follow the four horsemen and describe the military events leading to the end of the age. They are essentially  a continuation of the four horsemen and begin sounding immediately after at the time of the fifth seal. This synchronism is confirmed when we note that the seals are divided into four horsemen followed by the three final seals. There is clearly a break in the narrative of the seals after the horsemen with a change of focus. The object signified by the horsemen becomes subsumed by something more important. The symbolic representation gives way to a seemingly literal description for the final three seals. Yet the political (or military) history of the nation after the fourth seal is continued by the trumpets with the final three seals being almost parenthetical to the theme of war in the prophetic narrative of the trumpets and four horsemen.

That the trumpets are a continuation of the four horsemen is further supported by the fact that both form part of a single vision. The seals are introduced following the churches by saying “after this I looked” and “immediately I was in the spirit” as John entered into a new vision.

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit. Rev 4:1-2

The seven trumpets are introduced immediately after the seals without any break and with a copulative and cumulative article translated as “and” joining the two. This word is most often translated as “also” 540 out of 830 times in the Bible and is also translated in other places as “then, now, moreover, therefore, thus.” Thus the trumpets must be considered together as an extension or consequence of the seals. We deduce that the first trumpet follows the fourth seal.

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. Rev 8:1-2

Why the horsemen describe the history of  nations

All the other sets of seven symbols in Revelation describe the history of either a nation or the church and the same applies to the seven seals. They also represent the entire history of either a nation or a the church. This is a fundamental principle that must be understood if we are to understand the horsemen correctly.

So do the horsemen represent the history of the church or of a nation? If we say they represent the history of the church and we say that the first horseman is God’s church in the first century, that same church can not later be called Death and be accompanied by Hell under the fourth seal since Christ, the head of the church “is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” (Luk 20:38) Another common approach is to say that the horsemen don’t represent the church but the progress of the gospel in the world. If so how then is the “gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15; Rom 10:15) given power 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). Jesus did say that he came “not to send peace but a sword” (Mat 10:34) but while the gospel brings division it does not lead men to condemn and kill one another. There is no time in the history of the gospel that its progress can be represented as it having been given power “to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” (Rev 6:8) Another alternative is to say that the horsemen represent the material condition of God’s church during the ages but if that is the case how does the experience of the first century, during which the believers were persecuted, exiled, and lived in poverty, relate to the first seal? The first century believers were anything but materially prosperous. Whatever interpretation we choose we must be consistent we cannot say that one horsemen represents the spiritual prosperity of the church while another horsemen represents its material prosperity.

These inconsistent interpretations reveal a weakness with the understanding many have of the horsemen; they are neither interpreted to describe the history of God’s church,  nor the progress of the gospel, but are allegorized to be a bit of this and a bit of that. All the other narratives in Revelation have consistent interpretations, and any correct interpretation of the horsemen will also be consistent. The seven trumpets describe God’s judgements on a particular nation; the seven churches describe the experience of the church of God, as do the narratives in chapters ten to twelve.

The horsemen cannot consistently describe the history of God’s church so how are we to interpret the symbol of the white horse?

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 6:2

The traditional  view of this first seal is that the white horse represents the apostolic church and its rider represents Christ following the imagery in Revelation chapter nineteen of the Word of God. Apart from the inconsistency we noted before there are three main problems. The first horseman’s weapon is a bow whereas Christ is depicted as being armed with only the words that proceed out of his mouth symbolized by a sword (Rev 19:15). The bow is a symbol of battle (Zech 10:4; 9:10; Hos 1:7; 2:8 etc) hence the horseman uses physical force to conquer whereas Christ uses only His Word. The first horseman was given a single crown and is therefore a king whereas Christ has many crowns, as He is the “king of kings” (Rev 19:12,16). That the two cannot be one and the same is further emphasized in that red, black and pale horses follow the first horseman whereas the armies of heaven follow Christ on white horses like His own (Rev 19:14). Unlike the harlot Babylon that rides the beast, Christ does not ride His church as if it was a dumb beast, but he marries His church as his spouse.

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Psa 32:9

Only once is the church represented as a horse in the bible and that is in the context of victory in battle. Yet this application does not coincide with the black or grey horses of Revelation, which represent anything but a victorious church.

the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle. Zec 10:3

Nowhere else is the church represented as horse or ass except for when Israel was in irredeemable apostasy, where it is a symbol of its denigration and obstinacy:

Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself. Hos 8:8-9

A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her. Jer 2:24

John was told that the seven seals and hence the four horsemen were in the future relative to the churches (Rev 4:1) yet those who hold the view that the white horse represents the apostolic church begin the seals and churches at the same time namely in the first century. This contradicts the very explanation that Jesus gives of the horsemen. It is therefore not possible for the rider of the white horse to represent Jesus Christ.

What then does white horse as well as the others represent? In the scriptures horses either alone or with chariots represent instruments of war.

The horse is prepared against the day of battle. Pro 21:31

We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble! The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land… the city, and those that dwell therein. Jer 8:15 – 16

Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield; and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow. Jer 46:9

Apart from any other details provided, the four horsemen represent warfare, conquest and the effects of war. Horsemen are symbols of political not spiritual power and so we must look for a fulfilment of the horsemen in the political not spiritual or ecclesiastical realm. This means we are discussing the history of a nation and not the church. The last three seals are different and tell us about the martyrs, the signs in nature of the Lord’s return and silence in heaven. These are not political but neither are they spiritual or ecclesiastical, they are just events that follow in the history of a nation in succession from those of the four horsemen.

If the horsemen describe the history of a nation, what nation is described by them? The fifth seal gives us the answer; it is that nation which enforces the death penalty against the saints. In other words it is that nation to which the church is under civil subjection. In the book of  Revelation  the history or experience of the church is described many times over from different perspectives; the seven churches, the seven voices from heaven; the woman and her seed and the mighty angel and two witnesses. Would it not make sense then for the history of the nation that persecutes the church to be also described from different perspectives? We saw the history of this nation described in the seven trumpets and now it is described again in the seven seals. Interestingly both the horsemen and the trumpets are symbols of war, one being an alarm of war and the other being the means of war

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