Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Last Days Session 5 - The Four Horsemen

The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is now doing a study of the last days which we define as the days that started with the beginning of Jesus' ministry until his return. 

In Session 1 and 2   we looked at what is yet to come. and we concluded that the coming of Jesus Christ could be very soon and Rapture the Church which was our focus in Session 3. In Session 4 we took a brief segway into a discussion of Israel's restoration as prophesied by Paul in ‭Romans 11:25-27

The implication is they will turn to Jesus as the Messiah, and God will pour out His Spirit on the nation of Israel again. 

In Session 5 we begin to look at the Tribulation period (remember the Church has been raptured) starting with the four horsemen of Revelation 6:1-8


We talked about Satan and the Anit-Christ being restrained by the Holy Spirit operating in the church. Then when things start to get really tough and evil there’s the Rapture which means there is nothing or noone  to restrain evil on the earth. 

 ‭2 Thessalonians 2:2-8 NIV‬ [2] not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. [3] Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. [4] He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. [5] Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? [6] And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. [7] For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. [8] And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 

Who is this “lawless one” or Antichrist and how will he come on the scene? 

He will be a charismatic world leader who will emerge with answers to the troubled economy of the world and he will be a man who will bring about a peace making possible the complete absence of war for three and a half years.

Keep in mind that an international focus on Israel is one of the distinctive signs of the last days.  Remember the church, those who believe and trust the sacrifice of Jesus for the remission of sin. It is important to understand that modern Israel today is largely a secular nation.

‭Romans 11:25-27 NIV‬ [25] I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, [26] and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. [27] And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Here Paul is implying a national turning back to God.  The implication is they will turn to Jesus as the Messiah, and God will pour out His Spirit on the nation of Israel again.  But before He does this and pours out His Spirit upon the Jews, the full gathering of the Gentiles must take place, the church will be Raptured.

Over most Jewish people today, certainly not all, there is a spiritual blindness in which they are not all that open to hearing about Jesus as their Messiah. God says that He will lift the blinders.         

Important Considerations:

  • God's Sovereignty: Ultimately, the timing and specific methods for removing spiritual blindness from Jewish people rests in God's hands.  Christians are called to share the Gospel and pray for Jewish people but respect God's ultimate plan.

  • Respect and Sensitivity: Discussions on this topic should always happen with deep respect for Jewish people and their faith. Avoiding any language that comes across as proselytizing or dismissive is crucial.

  • Focus on Love: The Christian worldview centers on love for all people, including Jewish people. Dialogue on this topic should be marked by love, understanding, and a genuine desire to learn from different perspectives

The Tribulation Period Begins

Once the Church is removed as the restraining force on Earth,     Satan will be able to do what he has wanted to do for a long time. While we see great wickedness in our world now, it will only get increasingly worse, culminating in the war to end all wars. Were it not for the intervention of God Himself, no one would survive.

Revelation 6.  provides an overview of the most difficult and devastating times that our planet will ever experience, the Great Tribulation period. It will be God’s final countdown for humanitybefore the personal, visible return of Jesus Christ to the earth. The Tribulationperiod will be such a severe time that it will be unparalleled in world history andnever will be equaled again.

‭Matthew 24:21-22 NIV‬ [21] For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. [22]  “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 

This period is symbolized by what we call the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, who come  with varying degrees of deception, war and plague.   

The First Horseman

 ‭Revelation 6:1-2 NIV‬ [1] I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” [2] 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.

By the way Revelation 5 says Jesus is the only one worthy to open the seals of the scroll.

‭Revelation 5:1-14 NIV‬ [1] Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. [2] And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” [3] But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. [4] I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. [5] Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” [6] Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. [7] He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. [8] And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. [9] And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. [10] You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” [11] Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. [12] In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” [13] Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” [14] The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

The seven seals are one of a series of end-times judgments from God. The seals are described in Revelation 6:1–17 and 8:1–5. In John’s vision, the seven seals hold closed a scroll in heaven, and, as each seal is broken, a new judgment is unleashed on the earth. Following the seal judgments are the trumpet judgments and the bowl or vial judgments.

We are only discuss the four horsemen of the first 4 seals 

If someone rides a white horse wears a white hat, he is usually the good guyAlthough it appears thatthe rider on the white horse is the hero, in realty he is the villain. This rider,  the first horseman of the Apocalypse, is none other then the Antichrist himself.

Don't be confused however because later in Revelation there is another person on a white horse 

‭Revelation 19:11-12 NIV‬ [11] I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. [12] His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. This rider is Jesus.   

 Here’s the difference: the first rider has one crown and the second has many crowns.  In the original language, the word “crown” used in Revelation 6:2 speaks of someonewho is conquering. In contrast, the word used for the crowns worn by Jesus in Revelation19 speaks of royalty.

When the Antichrist comes on the scene, he initially looks like a charismatic and visionary world leader. He brings solutions to the economic woes of the world. But ultimately, he shows his true colors. Remember, he will be successful in brokering a peace treaty between the Israelis and Palestinians thatthey will live by for a period of time. He will help the Jews rebuild their Temple, and some will even herald him as the Messiah of Israel. But at the halfway point ofthe Tribulation period, the Antichrist will commit what is called the “abomination of desolation”

‭Matthew 24:15 NIV‬ [15]  “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 

 Abomination of desolation" is a phrase from the Book of Daniel describing the pagan sacrifices with which the 2nd century BC Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes replaced the twice-daily offering in the Jewish temple.

In the 1st century AD it was taken up by the authors of the gospels in the context of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the year 70, with the Gospel of Mark placing the "abomination of desolation" into a speech by Jesus concerning the Second Coming.[3] It is widely accepted that Mark was the source used by the authors of the Gospel of Matthew and of Luke for their parallel passages,[4] with Matthew 24:15–16 adding a reference to Daniel[5] and Luke 21:20–21 giving a description of the Roman armies ("But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies..."); in all three it is likely that the authors had in mind a future eschatological (i.e., end-time) event, and perhaps the activities of some antichrist.

Let's get back to this horseman remember when the Antichrist comes on the scene, he initially looks like a charismatic and visionary world leader. He brings solutions to the economic woes of the world. But ultimately, he shows his true colors. 

The Antichrist will have established a new system of trade that will have effectively done away with cash.

‭Revelation 13:16-17 NIV‬ [16] It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, [17] so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Before we get too excited about this Mark let me say this. 

The apostle John was speaking from a first-century perspective. In first-century language, he was trying to describe things that are commonplace to us now.

Before computers became such a vital part of our lives, it was hard to imagine how this prophecy could be fulfilled, but no longer.,In our generation alone, we have seen the development of the technology that would be necessary for one person to have total economic control. We have methods of transmitting data instantly.     There has been talk of a national ID card, where key personal data could be placedon a tiny microchip in a plastic card that U.S. citizens would be required to carry at all times. All financial transactions will be done by some type of electronic transfer. I am not saying thata national ID card is the mark of the Beast that Revelation 13 speaks of. What I amsaying is that I find it interesting how we are moving toward this type of thing not only nationally but also internationally. 

The Second Horseman

‭Revelation 6:3-4 NIV‬  [3] When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” [4] 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.

The next horseman, riding a red horse, will bring war:When the Lamb opens the second seal, great warfare breaks out on the earth.

After the Antichrist harnesses the economic and military system,war will break out.

It is important for you to understand that the devil is behind the wars and struggles on this planet.  Even man at his worst is not capableof some of the horrific things that we have seen in our world. Yes, there is a devil, and he is behind these atrocities.

This planet has seen some horrible wars throughout its history. In World War I, more than 10 million people lost their lives.          During World War II, almost 50 million people died. But these wars, as horrible as they were, will be nothing compared to the scale of war that will be unleashed by Satan during the Tribulation period.

Currently, humanity has the capacity to fulfill what is predicted in Revelation 6. There are at least 60,000 hydrogen bombs in the world today, enough nuclear firepower to destroy the world 17 times over in a blinding flash.

One scientist was recently asked which weapons would be used in World War III. “I’mnot sure exactly which weapons will be detonated in World War III,” he said, “ButI’ll tell you which ones will be used in World War IV . . . rocks. Rocks will be allthat’s left if World War III ever takes place.”

The Third Horseman

‭Revelation 6:5-6 NIV‬ [5] 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. [6] 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!”

Following the red horse, the next horseman of the Apocalypse will ride a black horse:   The rider that John sees is riding a black horse and “holding a pair of scales in his hand.” Then John hears a declaration that people will have to work all day to earn just a little food.

This is a description of global famine. Scientists have predicted that, in the aftermath of a nuclear war, the world’s food supply would be affected. These verses possibly could be describing such a condition, giving you an idea of the radioactivity that would be present after the detonation of nuclear 

The Fourth Horseman

‭Revelation 6:7-8 NIV‬ [7] When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” [8] 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 result of this fourth seal is that one fourth of the earth’s population are killed “by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”

In the Bible, death (Greek, thanatos) refers to either the physical separation of the body from the spirit or the separation in relationship of the human being from God. In the scene that John records, he sees a horse rider who is called Death, perhaps because this rider is given authority to bring death to a fourth of the earth’s population. Hades (an English transliteration of the Greek word hades) refers to the grave, where people await resurrection for judgment (Revelation 20:13). The riders named Death and Hades are riding together to bring death and send people to the grave (Revelation 6:8). John does not say that Death and Hades were both riding on a pale or ashen horse, but rather that Death was riding on a pale horse and that Hades was following with him. John doesn’t describe what Hades rides, so it has been assumed by some that Hades was also riding a pale horse. Others see Death and Hades sharing the same pale horse. Either way, the fourth seal brings about the demise of many during the tribulation.

The pale horse that Death rides is of a sickly, corpse-like color. Some translations of Revelation 6:8 describe Death riding “an ashen (pale greenish gray) horse” (AMP) or “a pale green horse” (CSB). In this chilling scene, slaughter is personified as the earth experiences unparalleled, terrifying calamities. It is the Day of the Lord, and “who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears?” (Malachi 3:2).

To the eternal praise of Jesus, believers will triumph even over the rider of the pale horse: “‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’” (1 Corinthians 15:54–55).

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