Revelation 6: The rider on the blood-red horse takes away peace
According to a recent poll by Pew Research, 39% of people in the US believe that “we are living in the end times.” However, most people in America, 58%, say they don’t believe these are the last days of the world.
Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of Bible prophecy can easily see that world history brings us closer to the return of Jesus Christ every day. How can we be sure that this event will take place?
John F. Walvoord, past president of Dallas Theological Seminary, answers the question by saying:
“Since about half of the Bible’s prophecies have already been fulfilled literally, it provides a reasonable intellectual basis for assuming that prophecies yet to be fulfilled will also be fulfilled literally. At the same time, it justifies the conclusion that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and that prophecy goes far beyond any human scheme, but is instead a revelation of God of what is about to happen.”
Think carefully. If every prophecy about Jesus’ first coming has been fulfilled, then shouldn’t we logically expect that every prophecy about his second coming will also be fulfilled? Not a prophecy of Scripture has ever been wrong. Many have already been remarkably fulfilled. Some await fulfillment, but none have ever been shown to be wrong.
The Book of Revelation is prophecy. The book offers a figurative landscape that shows the entire story down to the last tick of the world clock. Those who study the book seriously will find that its insights reveal Christ, “who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 1:4). Its content shows what God has done in Christ, what God is doing in Christ, and what He intends to do in Christ.”
We would all do well to know and heed his message.
In Revelation chapter 6, the apostle John is in heaven. He witnessed Jesus being given the title deed to the earth, which he redeemed for mankind after Adam, man’s representative, lost his place as vice-regent over it. This title deed is a scroll with seven seals, and when each seal of the scroll is broken, a new chapter in God’s plan for the climax of the end is revealed.
When the first seal was broken, John said he saw a rider on a white horse crowned for conquest with a bow and no arrow, indicating a powerful and persuasive ruler who will win over the nations through diplomacy. This imposter masquerades as the Messiah who brings peace and prosperity, but is in league with the devil himself, and his quiet reign is short-lived.
When the second seal is broken by the Lamb of God (Christ), John says:
“I heard the second being say, ‘Come!’ Then another horse appeared, a red one. Its rider received a mighty sword and the authority to take peace from the earth. And everywhere was war and slaughter” (Revelation 6:3).
The second rider sits on a blood-red horse. In his hand is a “mighty sword” and the power to take peace from the world. This horseman is war, murder and terrible bloodshed.
Why is there so much war in mankind’s short existence? In his classic book, The Christian Attitude Toward War, the late Reformed minister and author Lorraine Boettner explains:
“’Where do wars come from and where do fights among you come from? Don’t they come along, even from your joys getting in your limbs? You desire and have not: you kill and desire and cannot obtain: you fight and fight; you have not, because you do not ask.’” With these words James (4:1,2) gives us the divine assessment of human nature and the real causes of wars. Covetousness, greed, excessive pleasure-seeking, and the friendship of the world, he says, are at enmity with God.
“In an ideal world there would be no sin and therefore no war. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world of deep turmoil, a world invaded by sin with devastating effects. Although not a common teaching today…the Scriptures clearly and repeatedly teach that we are of a fallen people. They teach that as a result of Adam’s sin, every human being born into this world enters it not in a normal but in an abnormal spiritual state, and that the root cause of quarrels between individuals and wars between nations is the unregenerate, sinful human nature is. As long as people’s hearts are full of sin, it is vain to expect them to live together in peace and harmony. War is only the outward symptom of a disease that runs much deeper. And while we are right to do everything in our power to treat the symptom, it is vain to expect any real or lasting cure until the disease itself is brought under control. God does not forbid war because He does not forbid the consequences of sin. War is not an isolated and separate spiritual or religious problem, but merely part of the much larger and more central problem of sin.”
It has been calculated that out of the last 4,000 years, humans have only lived in peace with each other for 268 years. It is estimated that between 150 million and a billion people were killed in the war. In the 20th century alone, 108 million were killed.
According to Isaac Davis in a 2015 article titled“The 239-year timeline of American involvement in military conflicts“ Davis argues that four facts about America’s military conflicts should be considered. He says:
“1. Pick any year since 1776 and there is about a 91% chance that America was at war that calendar year.
“2. No US president truly qualifies as a peacetime president. Instead, all US presidents can technically be considered “war presidents.”
“3. The US has never gone a decade without a war.
“4. The only time the US went five years without a war (1935-40) was during the isolationist period of the Great Depression.”
David concludes, “As the world moves closer to an official start of World War III…it is important to recognize that the US state and people are simply not equipped or conditioned to seek and achieve peace.”
It’s exceedingly sad, and we may not want to admit it, but it seems that war is part of humanity’s DNA.
The late WA Criswell, former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, points out that there are two Greek words for “sword.” One is romphaia, the type of sword a soldier uses in battle. But another Greek word is machaira, which is like a short dagger or knife. Machaira is the Greek word translated “sword” at Revelation 6:3.
“A machairah was a type of knife used to cut the throat of an animal or a human. [The significance of this is] The red horseman represents not only nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, but rather the terrible carnage of civil war-like class and factional struggles,” writes Criswell, “The fighters ambush in the night; they murder by day; they kill at dusk and at noon, and each lives in fear for his life. There is murder and bloodshed everywhere. The red rider bathes the earth in blood.”
There have always been wars, big and small. God never had to make people kill each other. Nonetheless, as David Chilton asserts in Days of Vengeance, God need only command His angels to withdraw and the peace will be taken away. He writes:
“Why in a sinful world aren’t there more wars than there are? Why isn’t there more bloodshed? This is because there are limits to man’s wickedness, to man’s freedom to work out the enduring implications of his hatred and rebellion. But when God removes the shackles, man’s ethical depravity is revealed in all its ugliness.”
Over the centuries, numerous “Christs”, often perceived saviors, have risen to power and brought peace, wealth and prosperity. But eventually, as with all charlatan leaders, their lies are exposed and control begins to waver. Civil war breaks out, or worse, nations are plunged into bloody conflicts. These circumstances foreshadow, foreshadow, or miniaturize the great day of God’s coming wrath, when He will remove all fetters and the “man of sin,” also called “the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the antichrist is revealed.
The Antichrist is the deceitful rider on the white horse who comes and negotiates world peace under his reign. The crowds will flock to him. And shortly thereafter, the rider of the blood-red horse will ride and take the peace from the whole world, and the blood of mankind will flow like never before.
In his anger God will say to the world; you rejected my son the prince of peace, so now your peace is taken away from you. You flogged his body with the bloodshed whip, the cat-o’-nine-tails. Broken and bleeding you bared him and in his humiliation nailed him to a tree, the cross of Calvary. Anyone who has never been washed in his atoning blood for the forgiveness of his sins has his blood on his hands, and therefore the blood of all the earth is needed for this iniquity.
Don’t you want to repent of your sins and surrender to Christ and be saved from the wrath to come?
Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before accepting that position, having served in five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York had served .