Riders in the Sky
Jesus Christ attracted a lot of attention with his miracles. He healed the sick and raised the dead. When word spread, thousands flocked to hear him. He preached about the Kingdom of God and promised a world at peace. He was the Messiah of whom the prophets had spoken – destined to rule.
Before he died Christ told his disciples that he would return with power and great glory. He is pictured in the Book of Revelation on a white horse, returning triumphantly to rule this earth, “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed him on white horses. Now out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And he himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God,” (Revelation 19:11-15).
Imagine the impact on the world if someone calling himself the son of God suddenly appeared, performing great miracles and putting the fear of God into the hearts of men. Would you, like millions of others who have been praying for God’s Kingdom think your prayers have been answered? What if his arrival was not quite as spectacular as described above? And instead of heavenly armies he worked together with a powerful nation or group of nations using their armies as international ‘peacekeepers’ to enforce and maintain world peace. How would you react?
The sixth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes an event similar to that which we just read in Chapter 19. It begins by saying - “And I looked, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer,” (Revelation 6:2).
Although chapters 6 and 19 both seem to describe the return of Christ they actually refer to entirely different events. Undeniably the rider in chapter 19 is Jesus Christ who returns to earth after the martydom of the saints and the heavenly signs described in Matthew 24:9-10 and 29-30 take place. But the rider of Revelation 6 arrives before the martydom of the saints and the heavenly signs occur, clearly indicating that they are quite separate events (Revelation 6:2, 9-17). If the rider in chapter 19 is Christ, then who is the rider in chapter 6?
Make no mistake, Jesus Christ is coming with great power and authority to depose his enemies and he will rule over the earth. But Satan, whose time is running out, is not going to stand back and wait for that to happen. He plans to pre-empt Christ’s return with a carefully staged counterfeit that will deceive the world, turning them against the real Christ when he does arrive. Jesus warned us to expect such events. He said, “For false Christs, and false prophets will arise, and shall show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive if possible even the elect,” (Matthew 24:23-24).
We know that Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36). But there is another described in Revelation who is “like a lamb”. A counterfeit who is like Christ, who has authority and “performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs,” (Revelation 13:11-14).
This is none other than, “the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,” (II Thessalonians 2:3-4). He is also called the false prophet, “Who worked signs in his presence by which he deceived them that received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image” (Revelation 19:20, 16:13).
The Beast mentioned in both Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 appears to be symbolic of a powerful world leader with whom no one would want to make war (Revelation 13:4). Billions deceived by the false prophet’s power, signs and lying wonders will eagerly support an alliance between this leader of the beast power and the false prophet (II Thessalonians 2:3-9, II Corinthians 11:14-15). Together they will crush all opposition and John’s vision in Revelation 6 reveals how this will be accomplished.
Following hard on the heels of the rider on the white horse of Revelation 6 is a rider on a red horse brandishing a sword symbolising military power (Revelation 6:3-4). The ability “to take peace from the earth” indicates that the threat of war will be enough to maintain a form of peace. Recent acts of terrorism have already heightened the desire in the minds of many for a global military force to maintain world peace. Whether this is accomplished by an aggressive coalition of nations or by a single, powerful nation with huge military resources remains to be seen.
A third rider on a black horse seems to portray a worldwide scarcity of basic food resources (Revelation 6:5-6). The pair of scales suggests that the beast power will be in control of the world’s vital food resources and will measure out grain for a price to those nations who need it. That ‘price’ could well be their submission to the beast’s authority. The words, “do not harm the oil and the wine” indicate that the nation, or nations, in control are prepared to provide much needed grain as long as their own standard of living is not compromised.
Genetic modification, hailed by many including the Pope, as the answer to the world’s food problems may be the means of gaining control over world food resources. Genetically modified crops with ‘built in’ sterility will require growers to purchase their seed annually. Whoever controls the seed source controls the world’s grain resources.
Many world leaders and their advisors believe fervently that globalisation holds the answers to their problems. They envisage a single world government controlling finances and resources for the ‘greater good of the world’. Control of strategic oil resources has already provided the incentive for a number of wars especially in the Middle East. Total control of resources is becoming increasingly more achievable.
The fourth rider of Revelation 6 graphically pictures the fate of those nations that do not submit to the beast power. They will either be crushed by superior military forces or simply - left to starve. Revelation 6:7-8 clearly states that one quarter of the world’s population will die at this time through military action or from hunger and disease.
In summary the four riders of Revelation 6 symbolise how a Christ-like religious leader allied with a powerful world leader will, in the name of God, gain global control through military superiority (John 16:2).
Many will be deceived into thinking God’s Kingdom is being set up here on earth. Any who dare to oppose this concept, including the saints, will be persecuted (Revelation 6:9-11, 13:7). At the same time the false prophet is exercising his miraculous powers and prophesying about world peace, there will be two witnesses sent by God to give testimony against the false prophet and beast. Although they too will have power to perform miracles and to prophecy they will eventually be killed (Revelation 11: 3-10). So powerful will the false prophet and the beast become they will even dare to oppose the real Christ when he does return (Revelation 19:19).
End time events described in Revelation, were given to John in visions similar to those described in Daniel 7 and 8. These prophecies, heavily laden with symbolism, define roles to be played and events yet to occur. However, they do not predict precisely when they will occur, nor do they reveal who will fill the various roles. They were written in terms applicable to the times in which the writers lived. Each generation has tried to interpret the prophecies to fit current events, often assigning end time roles to individuals and nations that exist in their own times.
While it is interesting to speculate as to who will do what, it is important to understand that not all has been revealed (Daniel 8:26-27 also Revelation 10:4-5). Some things may not occur as predicted by those who have attempted to interpret the end time prophecies (II Peter 1:20). More recent events are making it increasingly difficult to make their interpretations fit and today a whole new world order could emerge very rapidly.
Satan is very subtle and incredibly clever; he is the master of deception and if it is possible he will deceive the elect (Matthew 24:24, Revelation 12:9). Make no mistake. He will try every trick possible to convince us that the rider of Revelation 6 is the real thing. Remember Jesus himself said, “If any man shall say to you – Lo here is Christ or there, believe him not” (Matthew 24:23). He also said, “Take heed that you be not deceived. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them” (Luke 21:8).
We have been warned that great deception will take place. Already many are deceived! Even if world events do not unfold as we expect it is important to maintain a close relationship with God. Remember, Christ is our Rock – our Salvation and he will defeat the false prophet and beast when he returns (Revelation 17:14, 20:10).
In the mean-time we must watch our spiritual condition, praying always for truth and proving all things by God’s word. Let no one deceive you! When it comes to riders on white horses. Make sure you back the right one!