The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
March 18th, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-18-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the 11:00 o’clock morning message entitled The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The reading of the Scripture is in chapter 6 of the Revelation. And if you would like to turn to the passage, you can easily follow the message of this morning’s hour, Revelation, chapter 6:
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seal, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four cherubim say, Come . . .
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 in order that he might conquer.
And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second of the cherubim say, Come . . .
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.
And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third of the cherubim say, Come . . .
And I beheld, 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 cherubim say, A choinix of wheat for a denarius, and three choinikes of barley for a denarius; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth of the cherubim say, Come.
And I looked, and behold a greenish horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hades – the grave – followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
This is no pretty picture. But God is the Lord of truth, and He writes here things as they are, as they will be. It is for the cheap and worldly optimist to speak words of “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” [Jeremiah 8:11], and to paint rosy pictures of human nature and of the destiny of nations, when God says, “It will end in a flood; war and desolations are determined to the end” [Daniel 9:26], so God says. However man may say it, however the false leader may deceive a nation, God says this is the future. And He unveils it to us in His honesty, that we might prepare ourselves, and save our souls, and deliver our people.
Now the action of the Book of the Revelation begins here in chapter 6. This is the act of our goel, our kinsman Redeemer, in whose hands God Almighty has placed the authority of this universe [Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 28:18]. This is the act of that great sovereign Lord who takes back out of the hand of the usurper and the interloper and the intruder and the stranger and the alien. This is the act by which, in the judicial proceedings of God, our Lord and Savior takes back out of the hands of Satan our rightful inheritance [John 12:31; Revelation 12:7-10].
And the Lord God says, “Would you like to know how it will be? How God shall place in the hands of His Son all of His creation, who shall give it back to us who lost it in sin? Would you like to know?” Then God says, “I have unveiled the glory and the wonder and the grandeur of that conquering Christ” [Matthew 16:27]: how He shall liberate God’s creation from the encumbrances sin and Satan and death and the grave have laid upon it, and how He shall give back to us these things that we have lost in our transgression [Hebrews 2:7-14]. This is the casting out of the dynasties of evil; this is the forever casting away of the powers of darkness, and this is the bringing in of light and life and liberty and everlasting righteousness [1 Corinthians 1:28, 15:54].
Now those seven seals [Revelation 5:1] encompass all of the story of God, from the rapture [Revelation 4:1] until the return [Revelation 19:11-21]. These seven seals include the whole proceedings of the Almighty after God’s people are taken out of the earth [1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17] and until they come back with their reigning Lord, given the possession of God’s inheritance [Revelation 19:14, 20:4].
The seventh seal is the seven trumpets [Revelation 8:1-2], and the seventh trumpet is the seven golden bowls, of the seven vials, of the wrath and plagues of Almighty God [Revelation 11:15, 16]. And when they are finished – when the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet and the seventh bowl, when these are finished, then is finished the judgment of God upon sin and upon iniquity [Revelation 15:1]. Then is the cleansing of this earth [Revelation 19:1-3]. Then is the binding of Satan [Revelation 20:1-2]. Then is the establishment of the millennial kingdom in which God’s children shall reign with Him in this earth [Revelation 20:4].
“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the cherubim saying, Come [Revelation 6:1], or, “Go,” or, “Proceed.” In the King James Version you have it translated, “Come and see,” as though it were addressed to the apostle John. No, for John is already there looking; and if he needed to be told to come nearer, then there was no need for it to be repeated four times, as it is here in each instance. And if it were addressed to John, it was no need that the cherubim cry in a voice of thunder [Revelation 6:1].
The cherubim are the administrative agents of God toward this earth, and this is the Lord God Almighty casting out of the powers and principalities of darkness. And when [the] cherubim say, “Come,” it is addressed to one of the agencies by which the denouement of this time in history comes to its final consummation. And the best way to see what it is that the word means is to see what comes when the cherubim cries, “Come!” [Revelation 6:1]. What happens?
This happens in each instance: when one of the cherubim cry that erchou, “Go!” “Proceed,” or, “Come!” there comes across the stage of human history a horse and his rider [Revelation 6:2-8]. It would be almost impossible for us today to realize the awe and the reverence by which an Oriental looked upon the strength and the power of a horse. I haven’t time, but you can read in Job  verses 19 through 25, a magnificent tribute to the strength and power of a horse [Job 39:19-25]. You’d find the same thing in Zechariah 1 [Zechariah 1:8], and especially in Zechariah 6:1-7. These tremendous beasts, these great animals represented to an Oriental mind, a conquest, fearlessness, the attack, battle. And you’ll see it as these four horses proceed across the stage and history of the world at the command of the cherubim:
And I heard one of the cherubim, with a noise of thunder –
a commandment –
say, erchou! And behold a white horse –
a charger, a sign of conquest and of victory –
and he that sat on him had a bow; and a stephanos, a crown, was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and in order that he might conquer.
The first horse is a charger of victory, a white horse. And he that sat upon him is a conqueror and a victor. He has a crown and he has a bow.
Now, because in those ancient processions of triumph the victor, the conqueror, the leader rode on a white horse, and because in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, when our Lord comes again out of heaven, He comes riding a white horse [Revelation 19:11]; and they who follow Him, God’s sainted people, blood-bought, blood-washed, victorious – because they follow Him on white horses [Revelation 19:11-14]; therefore, practically all commentators and scholars and students will identify this rider as Christ [Revelation 6:2]. He comes, the first of the apocalyptic horsemen, he comes riding on his white charger with a stephanos and with a bow [Revelation 6:2]; they identify the first horseman as being our Lord.
Now there are several things to be said about that before such an identification is made. The first thing is this: there is an incongruity about it to start off with. There is a – I don’t know whether they have any rules or laws or principles they follow in dramatics or not, but this would be a funny thing to do. Here is the Lord Christ, the Lamb, Lion of God. He pulls aside the curtain in order that you might see. And then as He pulls aside the curtain as the Lamb of God, in the snap of His finger He changes into the garb of a soldier and He comes riding out in a white horse. The idea of it is sort of incongruous to begin with.
There’s another thing about it that is sort of incongruous as you look at it: evidently these four horsemen have a common denominator. There is something common to all four of them. They all four ride in some particular meaning together – the white, the red, the black, and the greenish pale – they all have some kind of a meaning in common.
Now, if the first one is Christ, if the white horse and its rider is the Lord God [Revelation 6:2], then He is associated with the bloodiest and the most pestilential and the most terrifically horrible of all of the associates that mind could imagine. Now, I can imagine the Lord with Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; the Lord walked with His three children [Daniel 3:23-26]. I can imagine the Lord Christ with His disciples of His heart; there He is with Peter and James and John [Matthew 17:1-2]. But somehow, I don’t fit in the Lord with Ahab and Jezebel, or with Baal and Aphrodite. Somehow, I don’t fit in the Lord with Herod the Great, who killed the babes at Bethlehem [Matthew 2:16], and Herod Antipas, who slew John the Baptist [Matthew 14:1-12], and Herod Agrippa I, who slew James, the brother of John [Acts 12:1-2]. And somehow, I can’t quite fit the Lord Christ into the blood of war and carnage and murder in the red horse [Revelation 6:3-4], and the awful raging famine in the black horse [Revelation 6:5-6], and the pestilential death of that pale ghastly green horse [Revelation 6:7-8]. They just don’t fit.
All right, another thing to be considered: when the Lord Christ comes, He comes in the nineteenth chapter, in the eleventh verse of the Apocalypse, in its consummation and its denouement and its great, final, crowning victorious day [Revelation 19:11-16]. We look for the Lord from heaven, we look for Him to come with His people, we look for Him to come in triumph and in glory, and He does come. But He comes in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation [Revelation 19:11], and He doesn’t come here [Revelation 6:2]. It doesn’t fit.
Then another thing: when you look at those two; the Man who rides on the white horse, the Lord God our Christ, in the nineteen chapter of the Book of Revelation, He has on His head a diadema [Revelation 19:12]. That’s a Greek word, a diadema, a diadem. Never in the language is that word used for any other except the crown of a reigning sovereign monarch. And that is the kind of the crown that we would expect to grace the brow of the Son of God and our Savior. He comes with a diadem, a diadema, and His weapon is the sword of the Word [Revelation 19:12-15]. This white horseman is not like that at all: his crown is a stephanos, something a man could win down here in this earth, as in a race. And he has in his hand, not a sword of the Word of the God, but he has a bow, and that with no shaft and no arrow [Revelation 6:2].
Well then, what is this, this white horseman [Revelation 6:2] that precedes the red of carnage and blood, that precedes the black of famine and dearth and want, and the ghastly green of Hades and of Death? [Revelation 6:3-8]. Well, to me now, to me, as I read the Book, I think that our Lord has given, in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, in the apocalyptic address of our Savior [Matthew 24:4-31] – I think our Lord has given us the outline of this time of the end.
Now if the Revelation is a picture of the time of the end, then it ought to fit exactly with the outline that our Lord gave in Matthew 24. Surely, what our Lord said in Matthew 24 will fit what our Lord reveals to John in the Apocalypse. Now if you will look at the outline that our Lord Christ gives in His great apocalyptic discourse in Matthew 24, you will find it fits exactly with the thing that happens in the visions given to John in the Revelation.
All right, look at the outline; in Matthew 24, starting at verse 4, first, Jesus said, He is answering the question of the disciples, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?” [Matthew 24:3]. And the Lord replies, “First, take heed that no man deceive you [Matthew 24:4]. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am the great Fuhrer; I am the great Il Duce, I am the great savior, I am the deliverer of the nations. I am the leader of the world; I am the great Stalin, ‘steel,’ or I am Tojo to bring my nation to victory. There will be deceivers, there will be many deliverers, there will be many self-styled saviors, there will be many” [Matthew 24:5]. That’s the first thing the Lord says about this outline of history, “There will be false Christs.” First, that’s the first thing He says.
Then the next thing He says, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” [Matthew 24:6-7], that red horse of war and blood [Revelation 6:4]. Then He said, “And there shall be famine” [Matthew 24:7]. The third thing our Lord says, just following it piece by piece as our Lord outlined it: that black horse [Revelation 6:5-6], “Our [skin]” says Jeremiah, “was black like an oven, because of the terrible famine” [Lamentations 5:10]. And then He says, “And there shall be pestilences” [Matthew 24:7], that fourth horse of pestilential death [Revelation 6:7-8], following bloodshed and war and carnage and famine.
Well, if I can trust the Lord in what He says [Matthew 24:4-7], and if I can trust the Lord in the revelation that He gives to the apostle John [Revelation 6:2-8], then I have the identification of those four horsemen. The first one represents the great deceiver, the great and final Antichrist [Revelation 6:2], the great and final false deliverer of whom all of these others are but adumbrations, portents, prefigurations. They’re just sketches, they are just shadows of that final great world dictator that is yet to come: just following the outline of our Lord. Then He said, following his appearance as he comes in peace, and as he comes promising victory, and as he comes making treaties, and as he comes and upon him the eyes of all the nations of the earth [Revelation 6:2]; then following him, there are these indescribable bloodsheds and murders of the red horseman [Revelation 6:3-4]; then following him, the awful, awful want and famine that inevitably goes with war [Revelation 6:5-6]; and following that, the terrible pestilential presence of death and the grave; unsatiated, swallowing up its illimitable victims [Revelation 6:7-8].
Then if I can do this: if I can follow the outline of our Lord in Matthew 24 [Matthew 24:4-7], I can see the same thing as it is revealed to the apostle John in the Apocalypse [Revelation 6:2-8]. “First,” the Lord God says, “first, there will come on the scene the great deceiver, the great world deliverer, the great world savior” [Matthew 24:5], he is Satan’s masterpiece. Satan always is an imitator. There in the court of Pharaoh, when Moses and Aaron showed their signs before the king, Satan had his sorcerers and his witch doctors and his necromancers; he had them able to do those same marvelous signs [Exodus 7:11, 22, 8:7]: he’s an imitator, nothing original about Satan. He never whispered a single new reason why a man should reject God since the days of the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-5]. And the things he whispers in your heart today about rejecting God are the things he’s been whispering ever since the beginning of creation. There’s nothing original in Satan, nothing. There’s no new quirks, there’s no new device, there’s no new appeal; it’s the same old thing through every generation. He’s a great imitator, and so he imitates the Lord Christ here.
As Christ is God’s Man, so Satan has his man; and his man will ultimately and finally appear [Matthew 24:5; Revelation 6]. When God’s people are taken away [1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; Revelation 4:1] and the days of that terrible tribulation begin, the first thing that shall happen is: in the restlessness and in the revolution and in the prospect of a catastrophic war, there will appear this great, final dictator, this great, final world tyrant [Matthew 24:5]. And he will bring peace and he will bring every promise of affluence and prosperity. And the nations of the world and the peoples of the earth shall flock after him. “This is our Fuhrer, this is our Il Duce, this is our great leader, this is the savior and the hope of the world.” And he comes riding a white horse, conquering and to conquer [Revelation 6:2]; the entire military and economic and political resources of the world are at his disposal and in his hands.
Now, when you do that, when you make that identification, you will find that it will fit every prophecy in the Bible precisely. For example: in the second Thessalonian letter, and the second chapter, God says, after this falling away, after this apostasy, and after God’s people are taken away, “The man of sin will be revealed” first [2 Thessalonians 2:3]. That’s the first thing that happens, the coming across of the stage of history of this white horseman [Revelation 6:2].
The first thing: “That man of sin will be revealed, the son of damnation, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God . . . [2 Thessalonians 2:3-4] the mystery of iniquity already works; only He that now preventeth prevents until He be taken out of the way” [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. God’s Holy Spirit in God’s people are here in this earth and as long as we’re here, that great denouement will not come to pass, Satan’s masterpiece cannot be revealed, the tribulation cannot come. The fire and the flame and the fury cannot fall upon Sodom until Lot be taken hence, said the angel; “I can do nothing until thou be come hence” [Genesis 19:22].
First, God’s people have to be taken out. But the minute Lot, even though he was a compromised Christian vexing his soul with the filthy conversation of Sodom [2 Peter 2:7], even though he was a compromised Christian, yet he was God’s man; he was a saved somebody. And the angel said, “I can do nothing until ye be come hence” [Genesis 19:22]. And after Lot was taken away, the fire and the flames fell, the brimstone and the judgment of God [Genesis 22:24-25]. So it is here. There is in this world what prevents this great and final judgment – it’s you! It’s God’s people. But there is coming a day when the Holy Spirit, housed and templed in the hearts of God’s people [1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19], will be taken out of the way. And then the first thing, “And then shall that wicked one be revealed” [2 Thessalonians 2:8].
He will appear, Satan’s masterpiece, “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His parousia, His appearing, His coming” [2 Thessalonians 2:8], in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation [Revelation 19:11-20]. I’m just trying to say, to show you, that when you make that identification, it fits the prophecy all the way through.
Now, let’s take one other, one other prophecy out of so many that you could discuss: and you would need a month solid speaking to follow through this prophecy in the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel. One of the most significant and meaningful of all of the prophecies in the Word of God is the prophecy of the seventy weeks in Daniel. It says there that this prince, this Antichrist, this Satan’s masterpiece, this great, false deceiver, it says that he will come in peace, and he will make his covenant with the people [Daniel 9:27]. He’s going to have the great systems of religion in this world back of him and for him. The Roman church is going to acclaim him, just like it did Il Duce, just like it does any other Fuhrer or dictator by which they think they can strangle the life of a nation and of a people. The Roman church is going to hail this dictator, this coming world tyrant.
And the Jewish people find in him a marvelous surcease from the terrible afflictions that beset them on every hand. And he’s going to write a treaty – all of this in the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel – and he’s going to write a treaty with the Jewish people, and they’re going to have their homeland, and they’re going to rebuild their temple, and they are going to reinstitute the Mosaic rituals and the sacrifices [Daniel 9:27]. And for a while, he is truly the savior of the world. And the whole unbelieving world acclaims him, this masterpiece of Satan [Revelation 13:3].
Then according to the prophecy and according to the Revelation, then according to Daniel 9:27, and according to the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation [Revelation 13:7-8] – then in the midst of his meteoric rise to power and to conquest, then it is revealed what he really is: he’s the fiend of hell. He’s the masterpiece of the devil. He is the great Antichrist, the opposer and blasphemer of God [Revelation 13:6]. And in the midst, and in the midst of his career, he turns and he becomes the enemy of the Jewish nation [Revelation 13:7] and there is a wave of antisemitism like the earth has never known before [Revelation 13:15-17].
And then he turns on the Roman church, and according to the seventeenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation – and all of these things will come as we go through the book: that leader, that beast, that ruler with the ten horns, he shall hate the whore, and he shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire” [Revelation 17:16]. Oh, what this world dictator does as he moves across the stage of human history!
Now I want you to remember and to bear in your mind that what you are reading here isn’t a peculiar thing, separate and apart from anything else that you have ever heard of. This is the pattern of all history. This is the story of all such Fuhrers. I followed the career of four of them in my brief lifetime, and all four of them appeared in this same way. First, he is the liberator of his people; he is the conqueror in the name of the great nation he represents. He leads his people to conquest and to victory and then, and then the fiendish spirit of hell appears in him, and the world is plunged in blood. Whether that Fuhrer or that Il Duce be Napoleon Bonaparte, or Frederick the Great, or Kaiser Bill, or Hitler, or Tojo, or Il Duce Mussolini, or Stalin – whatever his name – Caesar, Alexander the Great; named any time, anywhere in history, it follows the same pattern.
I just want you to see that these principles that God exhibits here in the Bible are eternal principles, and these things that happened before and these things that have happened in your lifetime are but adumbrations. They are but sketches. They are but outlines of that great and final denouement that shall come across the history of the world in that final and ultimate tribulation.
So he comes [Revelation 6:2]. He comes first as the friend of humanity. He is the patron of the Roman church. He’s the friend of the Jewish nation and the people. He gives each one what each one wants, and he leads this world out of death, and out of war, and out of all of the restless, convulsive revolutions by which it ferments. He leads them into great heights: a white horse with a bow. That is a bloodless conquest: no arrow, no shaft, and a stephanos, a crown of victory, and, “Conquering and to conquer” [Revelation 6:2]. He’s the world’s great dictator, sovereign ruler.
And then, and then, these are the things that we shall follow after in the Revelation. And then – now, all of that on the first horseman; just as rapidly as we can, keep your mind open, and let’s look at these other three:
And there followed him –
when the second of the cherubim said, erchou, Go, come, proceed –
There came a red horse:
and power was given to him over the earth to take peace from it,
and that they shall kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword.
Now, I want you to look at something here. There is a Greek word for a sword of a soldier when he goes marching to war. That’s a rhomphaia, a rhomphaia, the sword of a soldier as he walks, as he marches into battle, a rhomphaia. But there is another Greek word for a sword: we’d call it a “dirk,” or a “knife.” It’s a machaira. And the word that is used here is machaira: that is, the kind of a weapon that you would hide, you’d conceal beneath your coat. A machaira would be a knife like you would cut the throat of an animal, or cut the throat of a man.
The kind of a red horseman that that refers to is not only nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom, but it is more nearly the idea, the picture of class fighting class and party fighting party, the kind of a thing you’d find over there in Algiers today, where Frenchmen are murdering Frenchmen. And they do it in the night, and they do it in the day, and they do it at twilight, and at noontime; and everyone lives in the fear of his life, and there’s murder and bloodshed everywhere. The red horseman: the earth bathes in one another’s blood, “That they should kill one another,” Americans killing Americans, Britishers killing Britishers, Frenchmen killing Frenchmen, Germans killing Germans, Russians killing Russians; the whole world in a ferment of blood and revolution [Revelation 6:;3-4].
And then that black horse [Revelation 6:5-6]: that choinix, the Greek word choinix, when you turn it into English it comes out “key-nix.” A choinix – just a little bit of wheat; a choinix sells for a denarius. The denarius is the wage of a working man for one day. A man works hard for a whole day, and he’s able to win just enough for one meal for himself, beside all of the rest of his household. It’s a picture of famine: a black horse, a black horse of want [Revelation 6:5-6].
And then finally that chloros horse, pale [Revelation 6:7-8], ghastly green: in Leviticus, that’s the color of leprosy. You would think we had exhausted all of the colors; there is this one still.
And I saw the pale, ghastly horse.
And his rider was Death and the Grave –
swallowing up his victims –
And power [was] given unto them . . . to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, with pestilence.
And depopulated, the beasts and the vermin of the earth crowd over the face of the globe. What a picture! What a picture! What a picture! This is evil running rampant when God’s Spirit and God’s people “that now prevent are taken out of the way” [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. This is the ultimate issue of unbelief and rejection and blasphemy and refusal. This is the world, plunged under the leadership of the powers of sin and of darkness. And that is the lot of any man who turns aside from the true God and follows after the will o’ the wisp promises, the deceiving promises of these who entice us into the life of this earth.
O Lord, that for You, that for us, that we might bow only before the one true God, that we might give our life to the one true Prince, that we might be numbered among those who call upon His name, that His Spirit lives in our souls and the praise, and honor and adoration and love of our lives might flow unto Him.
It’s always dark for the wicked; it’s always dark for Satan. It’s always dark for his dupes and his followers – it’s always dark when sin reigns in the earth; but it’s always light for the people of God. In the days of the Flood, there was an ark for the family of the people of God [Genesis 6:12-7:24]. In the days of the Israelites, there were cities of refuge for the one who had inadvertently shed innocent blood, who fell into sin but asked God’s forgiveness [Joshua 20:1-3].
In the days of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD there was Pella, the refuge for the saints, of those who loved Jesus. And there is a refuge today for God’s people. If I face death tomorrow, if I face death tomorrow, yea, if I face him today, my home and my refuge is not in the grave. The glory of God is not under the ground. The glory of the Lord is the pavilion of heaven [2 Corinthians 5:1]. And God’s people, and God’s people – in their house, and home, and inheritance, and destiny – for God’s people, it is glory, and life, and victory, and heaven.
That’s the call the Lord extends in this day of grace to your heart, to our heart, to His people in the earth. Come! Come! Come with us. In a march to glory, march with us. In a prayer of adoration, pray with us. In a hymn of love, sing it with us. And as we avow publicly our faith in Jesus, stand with us. Do it, and God speed you and bless you as you come.
While we sing this invitation hymn, somebody you, give his heart to Jesus. Somebody you, put your life with us in the fellowship of the church. While we sing this appeal, to come by letter, to come on confession of faith, as God shall say the word and lead the way, make it this morning, make it now. On the first note of this first stanza, “Here I come, here I am”; while we stand and while we sing.
THE FOUR HORSEMEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. The main action of the Revelation begins in this vision
1. This is the act of our Kinsman Redeemer – the judicial proceedings by which He takes back out of the hand of Satan our rightful inheritance
2. The casting out of the dynasties of evil
B. The seven seals encompass the whole course of the deliverance
C. The Lamb opens the first seal
1. One of the cherubim responds – they execute the decrees of God
2. Erchou – translated “come and see”; actually “come, go, proceed”
3. Each cherubim cries “Erchou!”, and in each instance comes a horse and rider across the world’s stage
a. To an Oriental mind a horse represented a conquest, fearlessness, battle(Job 39:19-25, Zechariah 6:1-7)II. The white horse and rider
A. First horse is a charger of victory, with a crown and bow
B. Most interpreters say this is Christ Jesus, but things to consider first
1. Incongruity – He opens the seal then changes into garb of a soldier and comes riding out on a white horse
2. The group evidently goes together in some way common to them all – Christ does not fit the group
3. When Christ comes, He comes with His people in triumph and glory(Revelation 19:11)
4. The rider has a crown stephanos, and wields a bow; Christ comes with a crown diadema, and wields a sword of the Word of God
C. Who is the rider?
1. The outline of our Lord’s apocalyptic discourse fits exactly with the vision in Revelation (Matthew 24:5-10, Lamentations 5:10)
a. He is the last and greatest of the many who claim to be the savior, deliverer of the world – false Christs
b. He is the final workmanship of Satan, the masterpiece of deception
i. He comes in bloodless conquest, with a bow (no arrow), heralded as the prince of peace to deliver the world
2. This identification fits every prophecy in the Bible
a. God’s people are taken out first(2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, Genesis 19:22)
b. The seventieth week of Daniel, divided into two parts(Daniel 9:25-27, Revelation 13, 17:15-18)
i. Comes first as friend of humanity, patron of Roman church, friend of Jewish nation – then revealed in all his hideousnessIII. The red horse and rider
B. Terrible weapon in his hand – not the rhomphaia, the sword of a soldier as he marches into battle, but a machaira, a concealed knife used to cut the throat of an animal or a man
1. Refers to not only nation rising against nation, but class fighting class, party fighting partyIV. The black horse and rider
A. Choinix – a little bit of wheat; it sells for a denarius, the wage of a workingman for one day
B. A picture of famine, wantV. The pale horse and rider
A. Chloros – pale, ghastly green; refers to the sickly(Leviticus 13:, 14:37)
B. The name of the rider is Death
1. Inevitably follows war, famine
2. Devastating pestilence, depopulation with resulting predatory animals in excessVI. It is always dark for the wicked – but always light for the people of God
A. A way of escape for God’s children
1. An ark for Noah in the days of the flood
2. The cities of refuge
3. Pella for the saints when Jerusalem destroyed in 70 AD