Here is another one of my papers I wrote this semester.
This one was a lot of fun to write, hopefully I do good on this one...
THE DARK RIDERS: THE 4 HORSEMAN OF THE APOCALYPSE
The sound of hoofs stopped. As Frodo watched he saw something dark pass across the lighter space between two trees, and then halt. It looked like the black shade of a horse led by a smaller black shadow. The black shadow stood close to the point where they had left the path, and it swayed from side to side Frodo thought he heard the sound of snuffling. The shadow bent to the ground, and then began to crawl towards him.
J.R.R. Tolkien describes terrifying things in his first Lord of the Rings book, and to some,
it is often considered that his concept of the “dark riders” could be taken from the passage that John mentions in Revelation 6. Tolkien places blame for the creation of his Nazgul under men who were driven by greed and wickedness, and were corrupted by evil due to their innate desire for power. There were 9 of these men, and in John’s Revelation, he receives a vision (Cf. Revelation 6:1-11) in which he sees 4 terrifying horseman who bring judgment and destruction upon the earth.
If this passage were in a literal sense, one would have a most terrifying notion that God brings forth such horrors that one should really fear him in a sense of their literal annihilation, but these horsemen are actually spoken in a symbolic sense. The representation of what the four horseman mean for the end of days should 1) frighten the unsaved for the realization of their wickedness, 2) encourage believers that God is coming to fulfill his promise, and 3) God is a God who is holy and we should have reverence for him and fear for him. This paper will examine these 3 aspects of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse and help believers and unbelievers understand this frightening and awesome truth that God’s Word reveals in the book of Revelation.
The Apocalypse and its background
It would be considered a frightening thing to witness what John witnesses throughout the book of Revelation. “This association of horsemen with armed forces perhaps sparked the use of the four riders of Rev. 6:2-8 as symbols of military conquest, war, economic injustice, and death and Hades”. The visions are very detailed and offer insight into what “is to come”. John’s theology describes this sense as “consummated eschatology” as in the sense of things that have not yet happened. The American Journal of Biblical Theology describes the coming of the end in this sense especially concerning the four horsemen in a way that makes it clear it is to represent what God intends to do in His timing, not in man’s:
The revelation of the content of the scrolls takes place in a sequential manner that may imply a chronological sequence. Though we might find comfort in interpreting the events of the seven signs as taking place in the order that is implied, there is little need to actually do so. We know these things will take place, and that may be sufficient for us.
Historians and scholars alike have tried to interpret the things that John has described, but it is an often futile effort, because the interpretations of this book of the Bible have led to so many debates, but their symbolic representation is so in depth that one cannot help but look to this passage of Scripture and see that God is at work and is doing something so unbelievable; because the current state of affairs we are in; in this world, has one wondering if God will do what is incredible, and the answer is yes, and the symbolic representation of each horse has to give believers and unbelievers hope and shock, because God is going to bring about the end of days so fast, that things are bound to happen that cannot be stopped. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13, ESV). What that statement is saying is that God’s role in the end of days is one of fulfillment and fruitful joy we can hope for in our salvation through Christ. His hand is moving and even amidst the chaos that John describes in Revelation 6, the people of God should always be quick to remember that he is in control.
The White Horse
The greatest deception of the Apocalypse is the falsehood that John presents in that there is described a “false trinity”, the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet. The Beast is the mockery of the Son, Jesus Christ, and the people of God know him to be the “Antichrist”. John makes it clear that there is a terrible and twisted sense of authority coming into the world in his Revelation, chapter 6:
Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1-2, ESV)
John seems to want his readers to understand that there is a conquering king coming
to bring what would be considered peace to many, but would also be a terrifying realization that the deceiver is at work and wants the people of God to feel that there is a hope that can be achieved, but the reality is that nothing can be fulfilled apart from salvation in Christ and in Christ alone. The prophetic vision that John presents about the conqueror riding the white horse is only fueling the truth that the Reverend Billy Graham describes in his book Approaching Hoofbeats, stating that
“Satan is a liar and a deceiver. He is a great imitator. As we have seen as far back as the Garden of Eden. Satan’s purpose was not to make Eve as ungodly as possible, but to make her as godlike as possible without God. Satan’s plan has always been to imitate God.
Satan’s tactic is to get people on earth to see that God is a liar and that Satan’s
ways are the true ways, ways that lead to life and promise of a bright and glorious future,
while we as the believers truly do understand that God’s gift is in His Son,
son, and in that we have eternal life that only he can bring. The representation of the Antichrist brings the shocking truth to light that God will allow this deceiving conqueror John describes into the world bringing his sick and twisted lies. Not only does this fuel the deception, it prevents believers from reaching others with the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. The Messiah was described in the Old Testament as the “Suffering Servant” (cf. Isaiah 53), and to the average everyday Jewish person, the Antichrist will seem pretty enticing as the “Messiah”, the “political leader” that they had previously been seeking but never got the chance to find. With the coming of the antichrist, the biggest deception will be to the Jewish people who have found their “savior”, but the reality is that they have found the “man of sin” . Everything that makes God a holy and perfect God has been mirrored in an image of perpetual falsehood, that mocks God’s truth, and mocks the promise that we as believers have found in Christ. As a part of the “Unholy Trinity”, the Beast’s power lies in his followers, and he aims to gain as many as he can possibly gather. The conqueror that John describes symbolically represents not just the White Horse coming in under this falsehood that he is going to bring about a great “victory” and conquer lands, he is also going to conquer hearts and captivate people into an eternal separation from God.
The Red Horse
With everything that has been seen on the news and media in this modern age, it is easy to see where John was going with the second part of this passage out of Revelation.
When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword. (Revelation 6:3-4, ESV)
A lot of people in today’s day and age are video game enthusiasts and there is a series called “Call of Duty”. While video games offer hours of entertainment, many players do not stop to realize the subliminal messages that are embedded in the games. The Modern warfare series offers a frightening aspect to Satan’s tactic, in which warfare and violence are being brought into the minds of young people and adults alike bringing a liking to violence and it only will get worse as the end of days gets closer. Tanine Allison in his journal article from Literature Film Quarterly mentions how there are transitions being made from the World War II aspect of video games, where there was not a complicated variety of technologies available versus today’s day and age where warfare has gotten more complicated, and more focused on the violence that the gaming system offers to its players. The author mentions that
the mode of warfare of these games reflects not World War II, but modern
warfare (appropriately, the name of the newest Call of Duty games), which is, in many ways, merging with and emulating video games—not just in training, but in remote guidance systems, automated weapons, and digital technology being used on the battlefield. Ironically, then, these games fail at simulating the history of World War II, but succeed in reflecting contemporary combat conditions, or at least the American
fantasy of what modern warfare is. The digital interface of a video game mirrors the interface on dozens of computerized instruments and weapons currently being used by the American military.
With the change of the technological era, advances in weaponry offer a shocking realization. With the coming of the end of the age, Satan will have a deeper ability to conquer the people of the world and bring war upon people who truly cannot fight back. The simple truth is that with stimulation embedded in the video game industry, not only does it strip down the history of past wars which brought peace to the world as the article’s author has expressed, it approaches violence in a sense that glorifies it and gives it an appealing nature rather than a fearful one, which God does describe.
John mentioned to his readers that the White Horse would bring out a false peace upon the world. When this false peace ends, the next seal will be opened (cf. Revelation 6) and thus comes out the dark period of war that Satan will bring it out upon the earth. The other factor to consider with why John mentions such frightening aspects of the end of days is that God brings true peace and true hope and the only thing that Satan has been bringing to the table is fear, destruction and death. John MacArthur mentions in his Commentary on the Bible that “violent slaughter will become common place. SWORD. Not the long, broad sword, but the shorter, more easily maneuvered one that assassins often used and that soldiers carried into battle”. This should be a resounding statement considered what was just mentioned in the above paragraph, concerning the use of violence in video games in correlation to the end of days. Glorifying violence is just another way that Satan is using his tactics against those who follow whole-heartedly after Christ.
The Black Horse
This is a complicated issue, but at the same time one of the darkest parts of the apocalypse that is yet to come. The black horse represents a coming death, a death to the things that give people life. Famine! In this day and age, the age of advances in technology and science the last thing that world needs to hear is that there is a shortage of food, or of water, and in famine situations, the worst possible outcome is a shortage of food. The End of Days that John is describing seems to get worse and worse with each seal that the Lamb opens. In this sense the readers of this letter are seeing that God’s intent is to give believers hope that the worst of things may be coming, but there is always something glorious and something better on the other side.
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!” (Revelation 6:5-6, ESV)
The government of the devil will bring about a total state of dependence on his rule.
In the sense that the deceiver would come and bring people to follow him, this would not
just be in the sense of the falsehood that is being offered through the acceptance of
Antichrist as Messiah and taking his Mark and so forth, but it also involves the following
in his provision. “The scarcity of food” was so severe, that John was indicating that the
world was indeed going to change into a haywire evil situation that only the powers of darkness could control. It has been seen in history before on a smaller scale. Could this be that the End of Days is gaining its evidence through historical events? In Ireland, there was a great potato famine during the 19th century, historians believe that the turmoil throughout the country fueled this famine. Politics fuel disagreements in nations, and this article by David Nally only fuels such things to be true.
For Foucault, governmentality is essentiality the growing awareness of a new ecology of everyday life connecting human populations to hazards, propensities, dispositions, and patterns of living, socioenvironmental risks, and so forth. It is precisely these new interrelationships that become legitimate objects for state manipulation and control
Nally seems to believe that in the sense of control, a government system would infiltrate
a food supply controlling everything. In popular culture, Suzanne Collins popular classic
The Hunger Games, Collins describes a collapsed system of government in which society
is dependent upon the government’s aid and gets food as a result. Katness Everdeen, the
protagonist in her story, relies on her victory in the hunger games to get food for her
family. Nally had mentioned in his article that the government had tampered with society
and ended up giving people less food, Collins stated this in her novel, concerning what
would happen if people resisted against the government.
Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen. To make it humiliating as well as torturous, the Capitol requires us to treat the Hunger Games as a festivity, a sporting event pitting every district against the others. The last tribute alive receives a life of ease back home, and their district will be showered with prizes, largely consisting of food. All year, the capitol will show the winning district gifts of grain and oil and even delicacies like sugar while the rest of us battle starvation.
Collins may not even be a believer, but her example in the fictitious story presents a clear representation of the horrifying life that John describes await those who do not follow Christ. The main thing that the readers of Revelation must take away is that God punishes unbelief and does not reward those whoa re against him. Much like the government of the collapsed and twisted society of Panem that Collins describes in the Hunger Games, John seems to describe how the world will be relying on what the Beast and his False Prophet for their sustenance. The people in the End of Days need the evil ones to provide for their needs.
This is by far the worst of the 4 Horsemen, because in this instance God allows the harshest judgment to be poured out upon the earth; death. Death serves its purpose as being the worst kind of judgment that the world can endure.
When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7-8, ESV)
The passage that John expresses is interesting, because this is the only horseman that is
accompanied by other figures. Death comes swiftly and it comes in the sense that it is
punishment. In the book of Romans, Paul describes God as just and the justifier of the
one who is in Christ Jesus. (Cf. Romans 3:26), and because believers are protected by the
blood of Jesus. In the modern era, there are examples of what it is like for diseases to
enter the world. This passage in John is not specifically clear as to how the end of days
would come with the plague that the Pale horse brings, but it will be death that is brought
in a number of ways, not just violence, but diseases as well. Believers and people of the
world can see it now, in modern times, diseases are becoming more and more prevalent.
Doctors in India posted in a medical journal about the spread of the Swine Flu epidemic.
Swine influenza virus infections in humans have been reported in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. There are no unique clinical features that distinguish swine influenza in humans from typical influenza. Although a number of the case patients have predisposing immunocom promising conditions, healthy persons are also clearly at risk for illness and death from swine influenza. Sporadic cases of swine influenza in humans, combined with seroepidemiological studies demonstrating increased risk of swine influenza in occupationally exposed workers,
highlight the crucial role that this group may play in the development of new strains of influenza virus.
Modern technology, modern medicine, everything that has happened in this world, is in preparation for what God is doing. God is stirring in the minds of men to help them see that while he is a terrifying God, and that all that is happening in the world today is proof that God keeps all of his promises and does not hold back his judgment upon the world.
John’s presentation of the Four Horsemen is not something that should present an instance of fear for the people who read Revelation 6, but rather, it is a reminder of the power of God. While each of the four represents a very real judgment that the world brings, it is always the Lamb who opens the seals. John’s theology needs to be carefully observed in this passage of scripture because always, while it is terrible and real, the judgment that God pours out upon the world, these judgments may seem demonic and horrifying, the four creatures who worship and serve the Lamb are the ones calling the Horsemen to ride and bring their plagues upon the world. John reminds his readers that while the end is coming, yes, and that the end is a terrible thing to face; the world need not fear because God is the one bringing about the end, and bringing about the glorious future. The tribilatuoon that is coming, it is all a part of what God is doing to prove who he is. The judgment is to punish sin, and bring about the end of all things. This passage of Scripture serves as the reminder of who God is and what he does to prove that he is God. His power is greater than that of the world.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. (3 book, 1 volume edition) New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994.
Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, and Archie England, ed. 2003. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
“Revelation 6:1-17. The Four Horsemen.” Accessed 3 April 2012, available from http://www.biblicaltheology.com/rev/rev_06_01.html.
Graham, Billy. Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Minneapolis: Grason. 1983. 236pp.
Weinland, Ronald. The Prophesied End-Time. Dallas: the-end.com, inc. 2004. 288pp.
Allison, Tanine. 2010. "The World war II Video Game, Adaptation, and Postmodern History." Literature Film Quarterly 38, no. 3: 183-193. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed April 11, 2012).
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary: Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 2005. 2040pp.
Nally, David. "“That Coming Storm”: The Irish Poor Law, Colonial Biopolitics, and the Great Famine." Annals Of The Association Of American Geographers 98, no. 3 (September 2008): 714-741. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed April 12, 2012).
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic. 2008. 374pp.
Anjur Tupil Kannan, et al. "A Study of the Swine Flu (H1N1) Epidemic Among Health Care Providers of a Medical College Hospital of Delhi." Indian Journal Of Community Medicine 36, no. 3 (July 2011): 187-190. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed April 13, 2012).