QUESTION: "What is the scriptural basis for your statements in the November 1973 Good News which classify the white horses of Revelation 19:11-14 as symbolic?"
North Hollywood, California
ANSWER: The book of Revelation is literally filled with symbolism. (This is also true of the book of Zechariah in the Old Testament.) God often uses symbols to create a certain timeless imagery in the prophetic sections of His Word.
In Revelation 19 we find quite liberal use of such imagery or symbolism. For example, verse 2 uses the term "fornication" to represent an illicit political relationship between the great false church (symbolically called the "great whore") and the governments of this world.
In verse 7 the "Lamb" represents Jesus Christ (John 1:29). Verse 15 contains the imagery of a sharp sword proceeding from Christ's mouth. Rather than a literal sword, this sword represents the Word of God (Heb. 4:12).
Now, regarding the white horses, we must realize that physical horses are confined to this earth. They are made of flesh and do not dwell in heaven. It would seem a little ridiculous for the living Christ to return in the space age on a literal physical horse! So we may deduce one of two things: 1) the horses are spiritual, or 2) they are symbolic.
Since the rest of the chapter, and indeed the book, deals heavily in symbolism, we may conclude that the latter is also the case here.
Q. "I would like a question answered. I asked three ministers for a short memorized prayer when we sit down to eat our meals. They gave me no help. Can you?"
A. You don't need a memorized prayer to give thanks to God. God wants us to thank Him from our hearts. Christ specifically instructed His disciples: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions... " (Matt. 6:7).
Prayer before a meal should express our gratitude for the food itself — "our daily bread." If some unusual or unexpected blessing has occurred, you may want to mention it as well. Whatever you say should be brief and sincere.
Q. "Please tell me which night goes with the Sabbath day — Friday night or Saturday night?"
A. According to the Bible, a day is a period of time from sunset to sunset. Read Genesis 1:3-5, 14-19 and focus your attention on the words evening and morning, night and day, darkness and light. Notice that the sun was appointed "to divide the light from the darkness" — to divide day from night.
We are instructed in Leviticus 23:32 to observe the Sabbath from evening to evening. So the Sabbath begins at Friday sunset and ends at Saturday sunset — a period of approximately 24 hours.
A much more detailed explanation of this whole Sabbath subject can be obtained by writing for the free booklet entitled Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?
Q. "Revelation 16:21 predicts the fall of hailstones 'about the weight of a talent.' How heavy is that?"
A. Many of the weights and measures of antiquity are imperfectly known today. Unger's Bible Dictionary states: "The talent was used by various nations, and differed considerably" ("Metrology," p. 722).
Many Bible margins will give the weight of a talent as being as much as 130 pounds (100 lbs. — avoirdupois system). But the golden crown of the king of Ammon, later worn by David, weighed a talent (II Sam. 12:30; I Chron. 20:2). It is very unlikely that either man could have long endured a 100-pound crown.
However, Unger's states the following about the Greek talent (remember, the book of Revelation was written in Greek): "... Sixty [minas] went to the talent. It [a mina] weighed one hundred drachmae, or fifteen ounces eighty-three and three quarter grains" (ibid.). This would make a talent of approximately 58 pounds. Some current authorities, however, calculate the Attic mina (from Athens) to be even less than that — about 330 grams (Scientific American, October 1973, page 39). With this value, a talent weighs approximately 43 213 pounds.
Q. "I've heard Garner Ted Armstrong ask people to write him when they find a verse in the Bible saying 'you'll go to heaven,' 'he went to heaven,' etc. I believe the eleventh verse of Revelation twelve says something like that."
A. Revelation 11:12 reads: "And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud...."
There are three heavens mentioned in the Bible: 1) The heaven of God's throne (the third heaven — II Cor. 12:2). 2) The heaven of the great universe where the sun, moon, stars, comets and planets are (Ps. 8:3; Gen. 1:15-17). 3) The atmosphere surrounding the earth where the clouds are (Gen. 1:20; 27:28; Deut. 33:28).
Notice that in Revelation 11:12 the two witnesses ascended up to heaven in a cloud. Clouds are in the atmosphere of the earth — not the heaven of God's throne.