By: Nelson Walters
Author: Are We Ready For Jesus? How to Prepare for His Return (May 2015)
THE FOUR HORSEMEN
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Rev. 6:1-8) are probably one of the most enigmatic prophecies in all of scripture. Everyone seems to have ventured a guess as to their identity. In this post I am going to propose a theory that is consistent with the Old and New Testaments and integrates the Jewish Feasts.
The Horsemen have multiple interpretations. They have even appeared in popular culture. A famous Notre Dame backfield was named the Four Horsemen. Irenaeus, of the 2nd century interpreted the first horseman as Jesus, with his white horse representing the gospel. The Jewish Encyclopedia calls the first horseman Pestilence or disease. Billy Graham interprets the first horseman as the Antichrist and his white horse is a cheap imitation of the white horse Chirst will eventually ride back to conquer the Earth (Rev. 19). My good friend Mark Davidson interprets the first horseman to be Saddam Hussein as an integral part of his Signpost interpretation. And these are just four views of the very first horse!! There are literally hundreds of different views on the horsemen.
I believe everyone has seen the Four Horseman based on their own particular reference point. I am no different. I have held at least three views of who the horsemen are.
- First I believed they were general conditions that would exist before the Great Tribulation: Deception, War, Famine and Death.
- Next, based on Mark Davidson’s signposts, I integrated these general conditions with his Four Signposts, and saw the horsemen as riding before the 70th week of Daniel. I wrote about this view on this website less than a year ago. Some long time readers may remember that.
- After much meditation and prayer, I have changed my mind yet again. I do not claim this new view is the only possible interpretation, but given my current knowledge of scripture, it seems the best “fit” with the entire canon.
Might I assume yet a fourth position or return to my earlier theories? Possibly. Truth is all that matters. If another viewpoint better matches scripture, then that is the view I will take.
Here are the events I think might fulfill the Four Horsemen Prophecy:
|White||First||Antichrist signs Deceptive Peace Treaty, False Prophet Arises|
|Red||Second||Antichrist begins “Tribulation Wars” detailed in Daniel 11:23-30|
|Black||Third||Economic Collapse and Famine brought on by Antichrist’s control of oil, leads to institution of the Mark of the Beast|
|Green/Pale||Fourth||Great Tribulation persecutions begin|
Let’s now take a look at the Biblical and logical support for these ideas.
THE SEVEN SEALS
One aspect of the Four Horsemen that many interpreters seem to miss is that they are the first four in a series of seven seals that Christ opens on a heavenly scroll in Revelation 5 and 6. Any view of the Horsemen must include their position and function within these seven seals.
In order to understand the seals, one must identify the scroll written on two sides that is opened by Christ. Some view this as the Book of Daniel (the only Book of the Bible that is sealed.) The weakness in this theory is the scroll of Daniel was only written on one side and Daniel 12 describes its unsealing as people going “to and fro” (throughout scripture) and knowledge (of scripture) increasing. Also, why would the Father hand the Son the book of Daniel as pictured in Revelation 5? This theory has problems.
Others view the scroll as the Wrath of God. It is entirely true that after the seventh seal is broken, the Wrath of God commences, so this is a potentially legitimate view. The question, however, is why is the scroll written on two sides if it is only the Wrath of God? Writing on two sides might imply blessing and curses. If it is Wrath, it is only curses. Also John weeps when at first it appears no one is worthy to open the scroll. If it truly is a scroll of curses (the Wrath of God) why would John weep?
The view that I like the best is that the scroll is the Title Deed to the Earth. Adam lost his dominion over the Earth when he sinned. Satan then became the temporary archon or ruler of the Earth. We learned about this in the post DID SATAN FEAR THIS PROPHECY AND TRY TO KEEP IT SECRET. The Father commissioned the scroll to be written as soon as Adam lost dominion. Ancient title deeds were written in exactly this way. One side of the scroll detailed the current ownership and the other side detailed what was necessary for the property to revert back to its original owner. This mirrored the year of Jubilee where property reverted to its original owners. These scrolls were then sealed with seven seals. Jeremiah the prophet was instructed to buy land right before the Babylonian invasion as a sign that Israel would return to the land. You can read about this title deed in Jer. 32.
The Lamb who was slain, the second Adam, is the only one worthy to open the scroll, and His blood was the price. The opening of the book is also pictured in Daniel 7:9-10 at the heavenly court scene. John weeps when initially, no one can open the scroll (Rev. 5:4) because he knows what the scroll truly is. If it were God’s Wrath or the Book of Daniel he would not weep. This scroll is our inheritance. That is why he initially weeps. Of course, the Lamb is worthy to open the scroll exactly because he is the Lamb who was slain. He paid the price for the Earth. He undid the sin that caused the title to fall to Satan. As each of the first four seals break, Satan reacts to his coming loss of the Earth. The pain associated with these seals are the birth pangs Jesus refers to in Matthew 24. Sin is more horrible than we can imagine and removing it from the Earth will be more painful and difficult than we imagine. It required the death of our Lord and the it will require the events of Revelation.
IMO, only a proper view of the identity of the scroll with the 7 seals can provide us with a clear understanding of what the seals represent. The first four seals are all horsemen. The other three are not. The first four have a unified purpose. They are Satan’s plan to retain control of the Earth and thwart God’s redemption of it.
Let’s now turn our attention to the timing of the seals detailed in this Old Testament story.
Anytime I see a Bible Story that seems to include “crazy” instructions from God, I look for a prophetic meaning to the story. This is true of Noah and the Ark. He received “crazy” instructions to build an Ark when it had never rained. In Matthew 24, Jesus clearly showed us that “as in the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” So, the real life events of Noah’s life reflect what will be real life end time events.
The same is true of the Conquest of Jericho by Joshua. God instructs them to do some “crazy” things. This story contains 7 trumpets, a harlot, a scarlet cord, falling walls, and a conquering hero named Yeshua. It is absolutely a picture of events in Revelation. I note with interest that the battle is seven days long while the 70th week of Daniel is seven years long. Are each of these days symbolic of a year of the Tribulation period? I also note with interest that once a day during the first six days of the battle, the children of Israel circle the city. On the seventh day they circle the city seven times and blow seven trumpets. Are the first six days encircling the city symbolic of the first six seals? Are the 7 trips around the city and the seven trumpets symbolic of the seventh seal and the 7 trumpets that follow? I think they are! If this is true, we gain amazing insight about the seals. This would mean that a seal will be broken during each calendar year of the 70th week of Daniel. Let’s see how a-seal-a-year might look imposed on this 70th week.
|Seal/Year||Rev. 6||Matt. 24||Description||Events|
|First||vv. 1-2||vv. 4-5||White Horse, rider with a bow, deception by those claiming to be Christ||Antichrist negotiates False Peace Treaty (Dan. 11:23, Dan. 9:27) and False Prophet arises|
|Second||vv. 3-4||vv. 6-7a||Red Horse, war and rumors of wars||Antichrist fights wars detailed in Dan. 11:24-30|
|Third||vv. 5-6||v. 7b||Black Horse, economic collapse and famine||Economic collapse gives Antichrist opportunity to institute Mark of the Beast|
|Fourth||vv. 7-8||v. 9-14||Green Horse, death and the Great Tribulation||Great Tribulation in Daniel 11: 33-35|
|Fifth||vv. 9-11||v. 21||Great Tribulation persecutions continue||Daniel 12: 1|
|Sixth||vv. 12-17||v. 29-31||Celestial Earthly Disturbance events followed by the Rapture of the Church||Daniel 12:2|
|Seventh||7:1-8||The sealing of the Jews prior to the Wrath of God beginning|
Wow! This perfect match of the seals with the Jericho story, the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24) and Daniel’s Great Vision Prophecy (Dan 11-12) is striking. Let’s take a closer look at what these 7 seals might look like
FIRST SEAL/WHITE HORSE (Rev. 6:1-2)
A white horse is symbolic of peace or purity. We know from Daniel 11: 23 and 9:27 that the Antichrist will sign a peace treaty to initiate the 70th week of Daniel. We also know Muslims fully expect their messiah, their Mahdi, to ride a white horse. (See THE ANTICHRIST BEFORE THE GREAT TRIBULATION for more information). A bow without arrows is carried by the rider symbolic of peace and possibly nuclear disarmament. The parallel verse in Matthew 24 tells us to be observant to not be deceived as many will claim to be Jesus by name. Muslims fully expect Isa (their false Jesus) to accompany the Mahdi. This verse tells me we should look for the rise of Isa during the first year of the Tribulation as well.
SECOND SEAL/RED HORSE (Rev. 6: 3-4)
In THE ANTICHRIST BEFORE THE GREAT TRIBULATION we discussed how the Antichrist will attempt to use the notoriety he gains from signing his False Peace Treaty with Israel into being named Caliph or Mahdi. When he sees that his efforts have failed, he will try to take those titles by force. Daniel 11:23-30 reference these Tribulation wars. Please see the above post to gain insight into why these wars in particular might take peace of mind from the Earth. Is the “great sword” mentioned here the use of nuclear weapons. Is this also the seizmos Jesus references in Matthew 24:7? Might the Antichrist also use biologic weapons and are these the pestilences listed in Luke 21? Again, see the prior post for more detailed information, but all the clues certainly indicate these things might happen.
THIRD SEAL/BLACK HORSE (Rev. 6: 5-6)
Revelation mentions tremendous price inflation and Matthew 24 mentions famine in many places. We know from the Jericho model of one seal/year that this will likely occur in the third year of the Tribulation period. A little logic needs to be applied to understand why this is the perfect timing for a world economic collapse. It is likely that the Antichrist will capture 1/4 of the world’s oil in his warfare. It is also possible he will use biologic and/or nuclear weapons on the “strongest fortresses” (the western nations.) It is not hard to imagine the combination of these events leading to total economic collapse.
After a collapse and famine, the world will be hungry and poor. It will be the perfect time to institute a program like the Mark of the Beast. We know from Rev. 13 that the those who do not take the Mark of the Beast will not be able to buy or sell. Doesn’t it make perfect logical sense for a program like the Mark to come on the heels of economic collapse?
FOURTH SEAL/GREEN (PALE) HORSE (Rev. 6: 7-8)
In the fourth year of the 70th week of Daniel, at the midpoint of 3 1/2 years, we know the Antichrist will conquer Jerusalem, declare himself god, and will begin to persecute Jews and Christians in the Great Tribulation. (see MIDPOINT OF THE TRIBULATION: EARTH’S PERSPECTIVE)This persecution is the death horse. Again, look at how perfect the timing and fulfillment of this horse is! In the exact correct year (the fourth year), the most intense persecution the world has ever known begins. The fourth seal also gives us insight into the methods the Antichrist will use to persecute the Jews and the Church.
- Sword: beheadings
- Famine: starvation of those not taking the Mark
- Pestilence: perhaps from biologic/chemical weapons?
- Wild beasts: might feeding Christians to the lions return?
THE FIFTH SEAL/MARTYRS (Rev. 6: 9-11)
Many commentators (me included) once believed or still believe that this seal is broken at the midpoint of the Tribulation. Logically, this isn’t correct. If multiple martyrs are beneath the altar, isn’t it logical that the Great Tribulation is already well underway? Here the Jericho model of one seal/year makes perfect, logical sense placing this seal in the first year. This somewhat somber passage indicates that there is a set number of those who will be martyred in the Great Tribulation.
THE SIXTH SEAL/CELESTIAL EARTHLY DISTURBANCE (Rev. 6: 12-17)
This passage references the same event found in Isa. 13:6-13, Joel 2:30-31, Matthew 24:29-31 and Luke 21:25-26. This is the event that these passages tell us comes before the Wrath of God. Matthew and Luke tell us that the Rapture occurs after this event as well. In the Revelation passage we see Jesus’ presence (Parousia) occurs after this event as well. This is the Pre-Wrath rapture of the Church which the Bible clearly teaches. For the best book on why this is so, see Alan Kurchner’s Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord.
Now the Jericho model implies the rapture will occur in the sixth year of the Tribulation Period. Is there any evidence this is true? Yes! Shockingly in Leonard and Zoller’s The Last Shofar! they present that the rapture will occur on Yom Teruah (the Day and Hour No Man Knows) at the last moment of the sixth year of the Tribulation Period.
This post is too short to examine either of these teachings in detail so I highly recommend both books for your study. Both of these teachings are consistent with the Jericho model.
THE SEALING OF THE JEWISH ELECT (Rev. 7:1-8)
The next event that occurs is the sealing of the Jewish Elect to protect them during the coming Wrath of God. The Church is not pictured because they were just translated (raptured) off the Earth. If Leonard and Zoller are correct and the rapture occurs on Yom Teruah at the last moment of year six of the Tribulation Period, then the sealing of the Jewish elect will most likely occur during the Days of Awe (the ten days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur). These are the days where Jewish Tradition states the fate of persons are sealed for the upcoming year. Interesting coincidence.
Again, the timing of this Jericho model we are following is uncanny.
THE SEVENTH SEAL/THE DAY OF THE LORD (Rev. 8:1-6)
The remainder of Revelation Seven shows the Raptured Church before the throne in heaven. This further strengthens the case for the rapture occurring at the sixth seal.
Chapter Eight of Revelation then shows the seventh seal being opened and the Wrath of God (7 Trumpets and 7 Bowls) about to be poured out on the Earth. The breaking of the seventh seal opens the Title Dead to the Earth and Jesus is now going to respond to Satan’s attempt to hold on to his dominion. (Satan’s attempt was the four horsemen).
When might this seal be broken? We know from the Jericho model that it will be in the 7th year of the Tribulation Period. Immediately after the Days of Awe are completed comes Yom Kippur. I propose this is the date of the seventh seal. We know that the Wrath of God lasts a year (Isa. 34:8). It is then likely that Yom Kippur of the following year will mark the physical return of Christ to the Earth! The Second Coming.
Again, the timing of Rev. 6-8 is exactly mirrored in the Jericho model.
ZECHARIAH’S HORSES (Zech. 6: 1-8)
The same four colored horses first appear in scripture in Zechariah. If this theory is correct, this original mention of the horses should be consistent with Revelation’s passage.
Zechariah wrote this from Susa, Persia and saw the horses coming out between two mountains of brass. The directions and timing are critical. We know from Nebuchadnezzar’s statue that the brass kingdom was Greece. The two mountains (kingdoms) of brass almost assuredly are the King of the North (Assyria) and the King of the South (Egypt.) When do the King of North and South appear on the end times’ scene? Right before the Tribulation of course! This is consistent with Revelation. We also see the Black and White horse both go north to Assyria. This is entirely consistent with Revelation as well. The death horse, the dappled horse goes south. This could be south to Egypt where great bloodshed will happen or it more likely is south to Mecca, the home of the Beast religion, Islam. Islam will be the vehicle for the persecution of the Great Tribulation. We don’t see the red horse going in a direction because the struggle between the King of the North and South is between them! Again this is amazingly consistent with Revelation.
CAN MULTIPLE VIEWS BE CORRECT?
When I saw this amazing parallelism between OT and NT scriptures, I knew it had to be very close to a correct interpretation. So the question entered my mind, how could I have been so wrong about my earlier views of the Four Horsemen? The idea then entered my mind that maybe I wasn’t wrong after all.
Scripture is full of near/far fulfillments. Could an early foreshadowing fulfillment of the Four Horsemen occur during the Signposts and a final fulfillment during the Tribulation? It absolutely could. And this is what I suspect will happen.
If you believe the four horsemen ride during the Signposts or during the Tribulation, it doesn’t have to be either or. It can be both. Only time of course will tell.