The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Ambassador College Publication
Like ghostly specters of dread disease, death, and warfare, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appeared to John in vision at the close of the first century A.D. What do the legendary Four Horsemen really represent? Who has the authority to reveal their meaning to us today? Who can know when they will ride, where, how, or why? Were they merely a vivid nightmare of the elderly Apostle John's imagination? Or are they a living prophecy soon to unfold in our generation? You'll be shocked to see how Jesus Christ Himself revealed the true meaning — for our day, right now — of the four mysterious riders of Revelation.
Christ the Revelator
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass." — Revelation 1:1 THE first five words of the Book of Revelation reveal two vital keys to 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 a dime a dozen. The Book of Revelation has spawned millions of words of human thought over the 19 centuries of its existence. Some of man's interpretation is correct, but that is not the point. The key question is asked by a "strong angel proclaiming 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). Jesus Christ is the only "worthy" interpreter of the Book of Revelation. "Worthy is the Lamb" (verse12). 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 — the "Gospels." Since it is a prophecy of the future ("... things which must shortly come to pass... "), we must turn to the prophecies — future predictions — of the Gospels. 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 earlier — 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 visionary description of the same series of events described in capsule news-brief format in Matthew 24. This is clearly 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 re-enactment 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 70 A.D. (see Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, for a full graphic description of this first prophetic fulfillment). John's vision of Four Horsemen. however, occurred twenty 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, an "anti-typical" 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 men 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 to ride! This understanding of the duality of prophecy is vitally important. The words of Matthew 24 refer to 1) a first. "typical" fulfillment in 70 A.D., 2) a long-term condition prevailing from 70 A.D. until now, and 3) an end-time "anti-typical" fulfillment yet ahead. The Four Horsemen 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 Four Horsemen bring the final culmination of these end-time conditions to their cataclysmic conclusion and to the ushering in of the age of God's rule. The Four Horseman are yet future in fulfillment. The exact time of their full rampage is unknown, but world conditions show they will strike in the near future, in this generation, in your lifetime. 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
"Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. " — Matthew 24:2-5 "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 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. " — Revelation 6:1-2 THE FIRST horseman of the Apocalypse 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. The context of Revelation 6 interprets itself in regards to the final three horsemen's identity. But the identity 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 men, 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 is the advent of many false preachers, misleading and deceiving the many, not the few. This condition began immediately after Christ's death and resurrection. The Apostle Paul warned that the spirit of iniquity was al ready 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 6actually represents.
It is true that 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 subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in 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 he 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 confessing 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 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 aboard 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 versus 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 hardly be the same horse and rider, being so widely separated. The time sequence of Matthew 24 also reveals that counterfeit Christ's appear 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 70 A.D.), and has increased for over 1900 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 is unknown — just prior to all other cataclysms at the time of the end. He will signal the beginning of sorrows: the first horseman. Notice his description in II Thessalonians. "And then shall that 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 be fore men. Only the "elect" — those already led by God's Spirit and obedient to His laws — will be able to recognize the true course 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 Dark Ages 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, however, 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 the vital key to the understanding of 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, come out of the first horseman: counterfeit Christianity — the root cause of the war, famine and pestilence prophesied to come on all mankind, during your lifetime!
A World at War
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom... " — Matthew 24:6-7 "And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 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. " — Revelation 6:3-4 AS JOHN'S graphic heart-stopping vision continues, Jesus opens the second seal and John sees a red horse. Its rider is given authority to remove peace from the earth. The absence of peace is war. The red horseman obviously represents the scourge of war. Even though Revelation 6:4 clearly interprets itself, further proof is given in the parallel prophecy of Matthew 24:6-7. In Jesus' own words, the second horseman represents "wars and rumors of wars." But hasn't man always had war? To which wars is Christ referring? What war does the second horseman rep resent? All war or one specific war? These questions are answered from 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 rumors of wars [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 brushfire wars. They refer to one specific, end-time war of great magnitude. It is the first and last war of its kind: a world 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 rumors 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 approximately 150 times world overkill at the latest count. 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," wrote 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 represents the ability to kill millions, not just the few thousands killed in such "normal" 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 that instrument of conquest. Prophecy labels this political instrument as "The Beast," a future ten-nation alliance which is now forming in Central Europe. Included in the horseman's victims are (as identified in Bible prophecy) the descendants of the ancient ten tribes of Israel. These represent the present white English speaking members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States, and some of the democracies of Northwestern Europe. (For proof of this national identity of our peoples, write for our free book, The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy.) Even today, the political and military polarization is taking place — power blocs are being formed — that will eventually clash in the most titanic series of battles in human history. It will be a war so intense and so destructive that unless God intervened to forcibly stop it, all of humanity would die. 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). How many will die? Military experts estimate that about a third of a nation would be killed by a full-scale nuclear first strike. But more important than what experts can see, your Bible predicted the exact same kill ratio some2500years ago. "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 of the next two chapters. These are frightening words. But there is no need for the "elect of God" to be frightened. Christ said to His true followers, "See that ye be not troubled." Likewise, if all mankind would turn from their wrong ways of war, disobedience to God, false religion, vanity, greed, and all that causes man's wars — in deep heartrending repentance before their Maker, the blood-red second horseman need never ride! But mankind gives little indication of wholesale repentance. The second horseman of the Apocalypse will have to help teach man that lesson through bitter pain.
Famine Stalks The Earth
"... And there shall be FAMINES... " — Matthew 24:7 "And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. 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 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. " — Revelation 6:5-6 AS RAPIDLY as the third horseman appeared on the heels of the second, famine follows rapidly on the heels of war. Starvation and scarcity are the natural and immediate results of crop damage. defoliation, contaminated water supplies, destroyed livestock, and the unusually high food demands of a standing army — all caused by war. In Matthew 24, Christ spoke of this general condition of famine in the context of war. He again used the plural, famines, referring to many re-occurring instances of famine over the centuries, increasing at a time just prior to His return.
Famines of the Past
The well-trod path of 1) (also religion, leading to 2) war, leading to 3) famine is an oft-repeated chapter of man's sordid past. The latest repetition of this formula was the India-Pakistan war of December, 1971. 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 500,0(0). Just previously, an other chapter of similar grief was written in Biafra, where famine killed perhaps millions 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 of The New English Bible: "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 despicable 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 grisly de tails 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 wide spread, and there was even cannibalism in many instances. Though such war-caused famines still strike the earth periodically (note Biafra and India-Pakistan again) a new kind of famine threatens the Twentieth Century.
Famine in the 1970's
Despite the occasional war-caused famines, the bulk of humanity faces a different kind of famine, which is built into their life and society from birth. It is fueled by the twin problems of the population explosion and dwindling food supplies in poor lands. For a complete description of the world's greatest single problem, be sure to write for our 64-page full-color booklet, Famine — Can We Survive? It is available free of charge from one of the offices listed at the end of this booklet. Below is just the briefest summary of the hunger problem facing mankind in the last one fourth of the Twentieth Century. The very day you read this — and repeated each day — 350,000 new babies cry their way onto planet earth. The tragic fact is that 300,000 of those infants are destined to live out their brief life in one of the dirt-poor "have-not" nations. During the same 24-hour period, 150,000 human beings will die. The tragic footnote to this statistic is that over half of these deaths are children under five. More than 10,000 of today's deaths are due to starvation (not enough food), while the majority (about 100,000) are due in some form to malnutrition (wrong kinds of food). The net increase every day, then, is 200,000 human beings, a city the size of Basel, Switzerland or Haifa, Israel. For American readers (especially Texans), we can picture world population dynamics by saying that an El Paso is born each day, an Amarillo dies, and the net in crease is a Corpus Christi. The tragic fact, as you can see by the above example, is that people are not dying fast enough! The net increase among the 2.6 billion poor people of the world is 2.6% annually, or 67.6 million new people yearly, while the 1.1 billion richer peoples increase by only 1.1%, or 12.1 million new people each year. This leaves nearly 80 million new mouths to feed each year (roughly equal to four Canada's), mostly in the poor nations. While world food production maintains a pace of increase roughly equal to population, the unequal distribution of food increase is the primary problem facing our hungry planet. While grain crops grew ten percent last year in the seven major rich exporting nations, grain crops declined or remained level in impoverished Asia, while gaining only slightly in the poor nations of the Southern Hemisphere (Latin America and Africa). Food is not being harvested where it is needed, and the excess food of rich nations can not 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 GREAT Famine
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 in the future. Following great religious confusion and world war, the current "have" nations of today — the rich few who wallow in the lion's share of the earth's wealth — will have their turn to suffer want and deprivation. After one third of America and the British Common wealth are liquidated in the initial outbreak of war, Ezekiel 5:12 shows that another one third will die with the combined ravages of the third and fourth horsemen, famine and pestilence. These prophecies are yet ahead of us. The black horseman's future ride will reduce the proud faces of white America, Europe, and the British Common wealth into the blackened skin of starvation such as now afflicts the vast majority of mankind. The rich few are soon to inherit the lot of the poor majority. Eventually 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 only 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: One Billion
"... And there shall be... pestilences" — Matthew 24:7 "And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and be hold 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. — Revelation 6:7-8 AS THE fourth seal is opened, John sees a pale horse. It is not clear from the context of Revelation 6:8 exactly what this horse represents, but a clue is found in the word "pale." The word "pale" is translated from the Greek word chioros. 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. Here is how the word chioro is rendered in 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). Pestilences are, by definition, disease epidemics of world proportion — pandemics!
The LAST Horseman Rides
Almost overlapping the third horseman, worldwide disease epidemics will strike hard on the heels of famine. Millions more will die, even though they survived the initial nuclear blasts and the ensuing famines. This last of the four horsemen will bring the total death toll of all four to one fourth of mankind (Rev. 6:8). As world population reaches four billion (by 1975), this death toll represents about one billion human beings. The only reason for such global genocide is man's disobedience to God. Notice the parallel prophecy in Deuteronomy 28, "... if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God," warns man's Creator, "The LORD will make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you from off the land, which you go to possess. The LORD will smite you with consumption [wasting, degenerative diseases], with fever and inflammation [communicative diseases]... and the tumors [cancer], the scurvy [deficiency diseases] and the itch, of which you cannot be healed [incurable diseases). The LORD will smite you with madness [mental illness] and blindness [birth defects] and dismay of heart and mind [emotional traumas] (Deut. 28:15, 21, 27-28,Amplified Version). That's quite a complete 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 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, man would be literally outnumbered by rabid or ravenous beasts. Such massive plagues are not now happening in America and other developed countries 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 breakdown. Witness again the modern examples of disease epidemics in the wake of war in Biafra and India-Pakistan. Even in the supposedly sanforized United States, as late as the early Twentieth Century, about 100 Americans died of Bubonic Plague in and around San Francisco following the destructive earthquake and fire of 1906. There have been "only" 50 documented cases of Bubonic Plague in the last decade (1962-1972) in America, but the important point is that the threat continues. Other nations have not been so fortunate of late. In war-torn Vietnam, there were 370 confirmed cases of Bubonic Plague and 72 of cholera in just one six-month period in 1970. During the same period, cholera killed more than 1,500in India and Pakistan alone. But these are just minor warnings of the vast potential for plague in the future. The only prerequisites are the great famine and war which must precede epidemics.
But There Is a Way of Escape
"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. " — Matthew 24:22 "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.... After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number.... These are they which came out of great tribulation. " — Revelation 7:3, 9, 14 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 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 experience? Millions of Jews and other nationalities perished under Hitler's reign of terror. Many could have read the signs of the times and escaped, but they didn't. Likewise, the million" of the majority of people will be caught by surprise when the four horsemen ride over this earth in the near future. They could escape if their eyes were opened to the Bible and world trends, but their eyes are closed — willingly or in ignorance. Other 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? Storing up food? Fleeing to 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 man's 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 "top the death stroke of the fourth horseman before it sweeps all mankind from off the earth. For the elect's sake, mankind will survive into the Wonderful World Tomorrow. To these 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). You need to find out where that WORK is being carried on! Why? Because it is only those having a part in that Work who have any guarantee of safety. 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. To this end-time "elect" doing God's Work, Jesus says, "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door" (Rev. 3:8). This door refers to a way being opened to preach the Gospel (II Cor. 2:12). Today, that way is through the mass media of radio, television, the printing press, and personal evangelism. "... And no man can shut it: for thou hast [only] a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name" (Rev. 3:8). The very elect would NEVER be come corrupted by false doctrines, or be muzzled by boards of men — they would never deny Christ's name or His doctrines! 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. He said, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10). Later in the Book of Revelation, an entire chapter is devoted to God's loving care for his end-time Church, the elect. The Church is personified as a woman, God'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" (Rev. 12:14). 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 3 1/2 years they will be untouched by Satan (the serpent) and the cataclysmic world at war around them. God promises miraculous, supernatural, spiritual and physical 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" (Rev. 14:12). 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. Some that do acknowledge these commands refuse to obey other laws of the Bible. Don't confuse any church which has the name of Christ as being a church that obeys Christ. Don't swallow mainstream Christianity, which lies exposed as the first horseman of the Apocalypse. Instead, study what Christ Himself said, study the Bible's true doctrines (which are in most cases the direct opposite of men's ideas about God), and search for the one group that obeys all of God's commands in sincerity and truth. Believe it or not, that group exists! The "elect" are on earth at this moment, doing God's Work. A way of escape is available and attainable to you!