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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 24, 2020 7:00 am

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 24, 2020 7:00 am

The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse: pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV and youll find evidence of their work in this world. Wars, bloodshed, famines and death. When our world feels like a chaotic mess of sin and injustice, we wonder Has God been kicked off His throne? In this message, Dr. Boice explains how these horsemen and the realities they symbolize relate to Gods ultimate plan.

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of finance confessing even gelatin featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically. One of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen is Francis Ford Coppola's epic on the Vietnam War called Apocalypse now describes the journey of American officers sent up River into the war-torn country side to find and eventually assassinate a renegade commander who has hold up an inaccessible region deep into the battle area. A arrives at a remote River outpost in the midst of a firestorm. Shells are exploding all around them are being blown to pieces. Those who are fighting have the wide-eyed, desperate look of men who are virtually insane of all seen is made in the red orange glow of the exploding shells seen right out of Dante's Inferno is really a scene from hell.

The officer as he comes ashore as his question. He says who's in charge here. Nobody answers this question. Other many observers of the word world seen today would say that the aptly describes what's going on.

Things are out of control and there's nobody really was in charge of politicians, not the people, not those who are in positions of economic power. Just no one that's not the answer. The Bible gifts and certainly not the answer. The John is giving the book we know as Revelation what John says here is that God is in charge of world events, even those that are most terrifying are controlled by the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Lord of history states is boldly in these chapters as he describes how it's the Lord Jesus himself and takes the scroll from the hand of God Almighty and begins to break the seals.

Breaking of the seals in Revelation 6 through eight chapters we come to now are a continuation of the scene in heaven that we have seen in chapters 4 and 506 chapters describe what's going on around the throne scroll is there Jesus is there. Said Matt setting that the seals are broken. We do have a shifting of perspective here that is along the lines that I alluded to earlier when I was trying to suggest how the flow of the book keeps going on. We have seen in heaven and we have a seen on earth in the scene in heaven, and the scene on earth it's very significant way of handling this data we have had the scene in heaven now, although it continues in heaven. Our minds are directed to earth and what is actually happening here is Jesus breaks the seals the events that they portend begin to unfold symbolized in the case of the first four seals by these various colored horses and their riders go out from the throne of God to bring suffering earlier resource, but a very well-known called the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is an echo in this passage of two scenes from the book of Zechariah in the Old Testament.

Certainly, John had this in mind. The first chapter, verses 8 to 15 Zachariah others, a description of a writer on a red horse standing in the grove of myrtle trees and behind them are three other horses red-brown and light there sent out to survey the earth might come back and report to the war that the earth is at peace.

Verse 11 of the second similar vision is in chapter 6 the beginning verses one through eight hits of four chariots that are pulled in turn by for various colored horses. Those horses are red, black, white, and dappled describes the spirits of heaven going out to the ends of the article.

John doesn't tell us in that passage, what it is that they're doing. John must have had this in mind as he's writing the sixth chapter of Revelation that the situation in Revelation 6 is quite different. Revelation 6. The world is not at peace, war is most significant is God himself was sending out the messengers not to discover whether the world is at peace or not, but actually to bring or and its terrible aftermaths to those who have not heeded his call to repentance and now most experiences just judgments. It's Jesus who breaks the seal after all, in case we miss the significance of this. Even the call to call the rest of the poor writers on the horses is spoken by the four living creatures who surround the throne and who speak for God, said agree comparative haircut who can mean either, go here.

Or it could mean be going dark come mountain and get going, which is the idea that we need to look at each of these horses what they signify the Lord Jesus breaks the first of the seals and the four living creatures cry, Whitehorse appears in heaven. Verse two there before me was a white horse and its rider held above was given a crown and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. The question is who is this writer I've said several times as we study Revelation that anybody was ever tried to study this book does look at any number of commentaries at all that any one of the symbols is given diverse interpretations by the commentators, some of them or perhaps all that significance for an overall understanding of the book.

Some of the Martin someone you have to take time with them. I think I have to do that here with his white horse or three general views. One is that horse and its rider represent Christ and the extension of the gospel throughout the world. Writer goes out conquering and to conquer. It is with the gospel. Second, you is that they writer represents antichrist released false teaching false prophecy. Third, you is that the writer represents the spirit of conquest or as we might say military figures for the tyrants cause trouble and they are not a few commentators, maybe even the majority see the writer as Jesus Christ and the gospel of Christ being preached and winning converts in the earth, George Eldon Ladd is one he says the writer is not Christ himself, but he symbolizes the proclamation of the gospel of Christ in the world. William Hendrickson has another I referred to them favorably on many occasions. He argues that the writer actually is Jesus Christ supports is viewed by a number of arguments. I know the people who don't like this kind of argumentation that's the case, and only last for two pages going to get on to the other ones you bear with it but I'll let me explain why Hendrickson thinks this writer is the Whitehorse. First of all, he says the view is in harmony with the context means by that is that in chapters 2 and three. Jesus is pictured standing in the midst of his churches. He says wherever Lord Jesus Christ is present in the gospel is proclaimed the devil gets busy first to Revelation 55 see, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David is triumph. Secondly, thinks his view is in harmony with the careful word study horses, white on white is generally associated with purity with heaven or forces Hendrickson writer can't be the devil or the antichrist writer receives a crown so does Jesus in Revelation 1414 book of Revelation the words to conquer used here are most often used of Christ are believers of our few exceptions is his third reason this interpretation is demanded by the parallel passage of the book of Revelation itself. This is probably the strongest of the reason. Revelation 1911 you have a figure on the Whitehorse and not very clearly as Jesus Christ because he carries the name King of Kings and Lord of lords is no question that's Jesus.

It is natural and some people's thinking to see the same figure here. The idea that the conqueror upon the Whitehorse is the Christ is in harmony with the very genius and purpose of Revelation. This is Hendrickson's main argument he finds is a pattern throughout the central chapters of Revelation is this verse the gospel is proclaimed when the gospel is proclaimed to have persecution, persecution, result in death. You have martyrs and then God intervenes to recognize and validate the testimony of his people.

While the wicked are judged as the fifth you view that the writer in the Whitehorse is Christ is in line with what's found in Matthew 1034 Jesus says he's coming to bring the sword of the earth below.

In this passage, he doesn't have a sort remember that many find several parallels from Old Testament passages.

Psalm 45 in the passage in Zechariah that I mentioned is his conclusion, our Lord Jesus Christ is conquering now that is throughout this present dispensation his causes going forward.

Reason exercising both his spiritual and his universal kingdom kinship by means of the word. That is the gospel and the spirit. The testimony and the tears of his disciples, his own intercession in their prayers. The Angels of heaven and the armies on earth.

The trumpets of judgment on the bowls of wrath.

Our Lord is writing forth victoriously conquering and to conquer that in all probability is the meaning of the rider on the white horse when you read arguments like that. That's very impressive may be right, but there are some reasons for questioning it and that reason a second class of commentators comes along and sees the rider on the white horse is the antichrist, or at least representing false or deceptive teaching. Almost all dispensational lists are in this camp but is not restricted just to dispensation, SJ, Ramsey Michael says the concern over false prophets in chapters 2 to 3 suggests false prophecy is the most likely interpretation and to the degree that the antichrist figure in the book of Revelation is associated with false prophecy first writer is antichrist as well and it probably doesn't carry a whole lot of weight with you. But here's an interpreter who should Billy Graham Billy Graham in his book approaching meets the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse devotes three chapters was study a false or deceptive religion, which he thinks is what's represented by this writer. Well on the gifts of arguments here. Devon turned out to your own listening all right number one the language of conquering is not you so exclusively is Christ is Hendrickson suggests Jews elsewhere of the beast and his war against the saints number two horses in this passage, and I think this is significant, as well as the Old Testament background of Zechariah are all in the same category as they have the same nature and they seem to do the same things. So Revelation judging by the lastly they must be agents of evil can very well put Christ in the back. I would support the view at least that it could be antichrist number three being white suggests Christ. It might also suggest an imitator of Christ who would be the antichrist.

This is the case, and if the writer also stands for false religious teaching in the pattern of the horses and their riders also fix things that you find in Matthew Matthew 24 four through 14. For example, in a general way. Jesus is speaking of the signs that are not signs of his final coming but are things that are characterized the entire age until he constantly mentions false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions and apostasy aligning those of the two main views.

I'm a bit of a maverick and I don't think either one of them right. I identify with the third view, namely that the rider on the white horse merely represents the spirit of conquest or militarism that leads naturally to the evils that are symbolized by the writers following are not alone.

GK Beale probably scholar who was done the most impressive modern commentary on the book of Revelation sees it that way. He says conquest.

The first writer together with civil unrest, especially for persecuted Christians. The second rider leads to famine third writer and death. The fourth writer.

Let me explain my thinking. I think this is too early in the book of Revelation read into the vision of the rider on the white horse. What is said of the antichrist doesn't appear until later in the similarities between this writer and the vision of Christ's in Revelation 19 are all week Christ. Chapter 19 carries a sort and it's identified as the word of God.

This writer carries above Christ of chapter 19 is been crown with many crowns. This writer only has one crown and the words for crown are not even the same chapter 19 the word for crown does die a dame refers to the royal diadem of authority here were to Stefan since the reef of victory of the athletic games. Furthermore, Christ has triumphed and here the writer is merely as it says, bent on conquest under a few historical details support this interpretation. The writer Revelation 6 has above and the significance of the blow is that it was the characteristic weapon of the Parthian cavalry, for whom interestingly enough, the whites was also a sacred color dimension Parthians doesn't mean much to us, but it certainly did in John's day because the Parthians with the great enemy of the Roman empire on its eastern flank is the direction in which John himself was situated. Moreover, Parthians said defeated a large Roman army not many years before this. In A.D. 62 or John may be suggesting is that a successful Parthian invasion to disrupt the Roman peace which would mean world war. Incidentally, we have historical memory of the Parthians and the phrase we sometimes use we talk about a parting shot parting shot usually means that if somebody's leaving an argument to go out. They give a final word that's unanswerable because I don't stick around here. The answer now, the origins of the latter, not a parting shot but the Parthian shot reason the Fraser Parthian shot was used is because Parthian archers were famous for galloping in close on their horses, firing a devastating but accurate shot from their bows and then galloping off again. All that I suggest may very well be the historical background and there's a slot to verse two may be a picture of any conquering general, when a Roman general celebrated the triumph the either road through Rome on a white horse or he entered it on the chariot pulled by white horses and some commentators see this person like Leon Morris is rightly in my opinion.

Four Horsemen will surely be taken together, and they all indicate destruction for terror this one surely stands war.

Robert mounts another commentator says John has in mind military conquest in general.

It's all going to the next course to see if we can settle on the identification of the first and even if we camp the identification of the second third and fourth writer isn't all that difficult because they clearly would stand for wars, destructive slots, particularly bloodshed, poverty and famine which often follows conquest and death which is wars ultimate legacy first symbolized by a red horse color blind black associated with the plague of the third horse actually color corpse I may be moving just a bit too quickly. Let me back up a moment, I described the second horse red one as describing the destructive swath of war, particularly bloodshed.

Almost all of the commentators agree with that, in general terms, but Hendrickson whom I mentioned narrows it down a bit he believes is bloodshed but that it refers specifically to the persecution of Christians rather than the war in its results. In general, this fits the pattern he sees in these chapters, namely the advance of the gospel, resulting in the persecution of believers judgment on the wicked and the salvation and vindication of God's people gives a number of reasons he thinks is in accord with the context of already discussed that he thinks it's confirmed by the passage in Matthew 1034, which I had mentioned earlier, points out that slaughter is not the normal word for killing, but for the killing of believers. At least it's often used that way mentions that when the next seal is open. The fifth John sees the souls of those who have been slaughtered for the word of God. And that's the word and in the short sword that's mentioned mitochondria signifies a sacrificial life will that last point is questionable, but it does seem significantly when the fifth seal is open.

What we see are those who have been killed for their testimony, and I have to say when I read verse four. It doesn't seem to be speaking to me about persecutions says that the rider on the red horse was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other's describing worldwide slaughter the indiscriminate, not just the persecution of believers is what's going on every day throughout the world. People killing one another as far as that word for sword is certainly translators of the new international version. Don't take it that way, they translated large sword because of the many who were killed us quite a different idea. We should remember at this point when John was writing the people of his day were well aware of the slaughter of the company's war in the 30 years before the reign of Herod the great.

In Palestine alone no fewer than 100,000 men perished in one abortive revolution or another civil wars were launched by the assassination of Julius Caesar been settled by the triumph of Octavius Augustine's thousands of lost their lives. No civil wars untold suffering in England in A.D. 61. Not many years before this queen bought SC had rebelled against Rome. She'd been crushed by Rome's armies. She ended up committing suicide, but 150,000 of her men perished in that conflict. So they were well aware of that sort of thing in John's day.

Just as we are today. They were aware of it, even without television, radios in such return to this next dorsal black horse poverty. Hendrickson says it's a poverty that would've overtaken many Christians who refuse to worship Caesar because they would've been shut out of the guilds require that kind of allegiance but at the red hearse horse doesn't refer to persecutions of Christians. Specifically, there's no reason to restrict poverty symbolized by the rider on the black horse to Christians either. This would just be the normal deprived nations of the company war and the regular avenues of supply are interrupted and the fruit of that years harvesters destroyed the languages interesting port of wheat was enough for one person for one day a denarius was a working man's wage for a day or six actually says a quart of wheat for a denarius normally denarius would have bought 8 to 16 quarts of wheat or barley, but in the times that are described here. It took a whole day's wages to buy, not merely to keep one person alive if he were buying wheat by cheaper grain barley which mice suffice for his family, but wouldn't have enough for anything else as his bare subsistence living or over side-by-side with this. You have these reference. This reference to the oil and the wine do not damage the oil and the wind. It indicates the protection of the luxuries of the rich side-by-side with the scarcity of poor are well aware of how that happens is an example of a from the very time in which John may have been writing many people think he wrote during the reign of Domitian and something happened during the reign of this particular Emperor, that's interesting. There had been a serious shortage of grain throughout the Empire, but there had been an abundance of wine sodium Domitian did what politicians often duly ordered a change decreeing that no more vineyard should be planted in that half the vineyards of the provinces should be cut down this cause riots in Asia minor.

Because wine was the large source of their income on the word see Psalm one problem by creating another which often happens by government. He did however react to that reaction and so he backed up he changed his law and he issued a contrary edict that the effect that those who allow their vineyards to go out of production should be prosecuted and the result was an exact picture of what John seems to be describing in Revelation a case in which corn was scarce, in which it was forbidden to interfere with the supply of wine and oil. Last courses this live at her pale greenish color symbolizing disease or death color. There is hard to get into the English language, which is why it's translated pale, especially the Greek word or loss. We got the words chlorophyll plants that makes them greener chlorine is a pale greenish gas behind this fourth pale horse and Hades the abode of the data access.

These two are given power over 1/4 of the earth to killed by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. It's a natural progression sword is a sort of war wars followed by scarcity, leading to famine those who are starving are susceptible to plague which kills many of that last one. The restraining forces of civilization were dissolving the beast moved in from the forest pray upon the week. Interesting that God warned the Jews about that very thing. In Ezekiel 1421.

Here's an important thing. Even these terrible judgments are controlled by God, the power to kill possessed by the pale horse and Hades is power that has been given to them. Verse eight is a buy home owned by Don. Of course, and by the Lord Jesus Christ breaks the scrolls, seals remain sovereign, even over the worst of wars horrors some students of Revelation have trouble with that trouble believing that Jesus is actually controlling war, bloodshed, famine, plague and death.

And since the lows portrayed by these horsemen.

They don't want to think of him as the immediate cause of these judgments, arguing that the only permits her tolerates what unfolds.

But that's not the message of this book message of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is totally sovereign over all things, including the forces of evil in this world and that he actually uses them for his own purposes as he always has. As far as the wicked are concerned. Revelation teaches that if Jesus himself who is the judge and the executor of the judgments but are these persons do. Moreover, these things are going to get worse.

Which is what the unfolding series of seals, trumpets and Bowls of wrath to follow for horsemen and their judgments portend because after all, this is just war or horsemen of the apocalypse release only what human beings unleash against one another every single day. Bruce Metzger says there are a few chapters in Revelation that speak more directly to our time in this part of chapter 6 books and newspapers and magazine articles and radio broadcasts. We read here about the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were riding across the earth. Today we hear the cry for justice, since there must be a judgment in which the guilty will not be able to was very true. One of the days that are still to come when God will display his equally just judgments by breaking up nature and releasing destructive forces and permitting the workings of the antichrist beast and false prophet who will strike the world. Even with satanic evil number than in the days of Abraham. When God foretold the history of the Jewish people. He said that the Canaanites would be able to remain where they were for 400 years, while the Jews were slaves in Egypt because as God said, the sin of the Amorites is not yet full. 400 years for their sin to become full but it did become full and in the end were destroyed by the Jewish invasion of Canaan under Joshua pictures painted by John in his last book of the Bible are like this there not for our amusement are not puzzles merely to exercise our minds. They are warnings of how seriously God takes sin of how he is going to judge it fully and perfectly in its own time. Let me make it personal. The evil that is portrayed by the four Horsemen is not merely something that's out there somewhere in the world.

Practice by other people.

The problem here is that it's in ourselves because the seeds of all destruction are in ourselves. Billy Graham had it exactly right when he wrote the four horsemen are God's picture warn us of our own sinfulness. They do not cause evil. They are a picture of a very human process with the four Horsemen do we do, or at least were very capable of doing the meaning of this is that we need to repent of our sin and turn to Jesus Christ were alone.

Salvation can be found blame others for the blame yourself in early edition of the Anglican prayer book has it exactly right in the prayer that reads this way by my fault by my own fault by my own most grievous fault and that's it exactly where you will start because it's only when you return from your own self-righteousness and recognize your sin but you confide in God's mercy in Jesus Christ our father we bow before you to confess our sin is nothing we read about here or anywhere else in the Bible see on television come across in the magazines of the newspapers, however evil it may be, is not merely a projection of the very system that resides deep and everyone of us in this answer. Sins committed and those that might under other circumstances of been committed that we need to have covered by the blood of Christ we recognize as we study these passages are not given for our amusement is a puzzle to try to figure out in the intellectual sort of way, what it is that John may possibly have had in mind the road down these terrifying images there to warn us that we have to deal with you one day we have to stand before the bar of your justice and give an accounting for what we have done neither be condemned for our said and received because what Jesus Christ is done for us to impress that upon our hearts, and for any ravens, in faith, Jesus Christ, to trust him grant that they might do it in this hour, we pray in his name is you are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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