Previous posts seek to reconcile secular observations with the Judeo-Christian worldview. This one is prompted by the question, “So who is the first horseman or when does he appear?”. The Bible often personifies tribes, nations, or movements as individuals. Looking at the rider with a bow, I think the first horseman has come and gone, and we missed him because we thought in the wrong context.
The First Horseman of the Apocalypse
Rev. 6:2, New International Version
I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
After Constantine chose Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Church was co-opted by secular governments. It shared power and wealth with various rulers, and served to legitimize and enforce feudalism. The seven churches of Rev. 2-3 predict the gradual changes, strengths, and weaknesses in the institution over a millennium or so, through the Reformation and into the present.
Ephesus – the apostolic church
Smyrna – the persecuted church
Pergamum – the early Roman church
– the first three are now gone.
Thyatira – the Roman Catholic church
Sardis – the major churches of the Protestant Reformation
Philadelphia – the faith-filled churches of all later denominations
Laodicea – the modern, casually apostate churches; falling away; Jesus on the outside (3:20)
– the last four coexist and compete for followers. The Catholic church seems to be at its limit according to the prophecy of St. Malachy, with this being the last Pope.
After the Reformation broke the dependence on Latin scriptures, the different denominations spent most of their energy on persecuting each other. While the conquest of South and Central America perpetuated the old feudal system, some North American colonists began to translate Scripture into the native languages and teach them about Christianity. This was the first effort in about a thousand years to spread the faith into other languages and cultures.
After the religious wars had burned themselves out in Europe, the British empire realized it could not impose military control over the huge populations of India and all its other territories. They set about establishing the institutions of western civilization within the context of other languages and cultures. The basis of that civilization was Christianity, so it became necessary to translate the Bible into other languages rather than attempt to impose English on all those language groups. Also in the early 1800’s, the first missionary societies were founded in America for the purpose of translating and teaching the faith in alien cultures. This proved useful for the empire, and worked well in India; less so in Africa and elsewhere.
Europe and later America appear to be places where the ‘lost ten tribes’ of the northern kingdom were scattered by the Assyrian conquest; they were referred to by later prophets as ‘Ephraim’ (Ez. 37, Hosea 9, Zech. 10, Jeremiah 31), in terms that imply God had not forgotten them. See also ‘The Covenant’ by Tim Ballard. These missionaries, then, were the far-flung descendants of Ephraim.
The rider with the bow: Christ, as the head of the tribe of Judah, energized Ephraim to serve the faith in the missionary movements which began in England and America in about 1800.
Zechariah 10:4 New International Version
From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler.
Zechariah 9:13a New International Version
I will bend Judah as I bend my bow and fill it with Ephraim.
English Standard Version
For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow.
Those arrows of Ephraim fought for righteousness in the Civil War and World Wars I & II. President Truman, more Christian than politician, even rebuilt the old enemies and set them free. After that our military has been guided by the grand designs of politicians, and the sacrifice of our troops has largely been in vain. Christian witness is now being punished in our military.
So, the first horseman of the Apocalypse came forth about 200 years ago, and has gone.
The second horseman;
Rev. 6:4 New International Version
Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.
Now we see the entry of the second – the Islamic Ottoman empire, defeated in WW I and dismembered by the Sykes-Picot Treaty, is taking shape again as ISIS. This takes us into the vast overview of history in Revelation 12-13, and the seven heads of the beast. Those represent the seven major empires of history (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, Islam) and the wound was the Sykes-Picot treaty. The rise of ISIS begins the healing of the wound, and the Caliphate will be the eighth king of Rev. 17:11.
Turkey seems to be taking the course predicted by Walid Shoebat in ‘God’s War on Terror’. Its military would enable it to take charge of whatever develops to its south. The Shiite goal of global chaos to bring the 12th Imam may not fit with Turkey’s ambitions, so that remains to be seen. ISIS will surely try to take terrorism to the Western nations in the short term, and that has long-term consequences. But Ezekiel 38-39 may take down ISIS and leave the field to Turkey as the controlling interest in the Caliphate.
The ISIS interest in terrorism brings the circumstances in which the third and fourth horsemen can enter. Without peace, commerce of all kinds becomes difficult. Large-scale governments cannot control or withstand it, and peace will have to be established within defensible local borders from which it may be expanded.
Rev. 6:5-8 New International Version
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!”. I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
The previous post offers a likely timeframe for the action to begin, and an escape route. The trends and prospects are largely unchanged, except that the world grain supply is better due to good harvests in 2014. There is no appreciable improvement in the trustworthiness of political and economic ‘leadership’.