Rev 6:1-8 The Four Horsemen Working Together 5/21/2017 ßà
#1. This Is God’s Kingdom (1Cor 10:31, Luke 4:5-6, Matt 28:18)
#2. The Same Causes, But Not the Same Effects (Heb 6:4-8, Rom 8:28)
#3. The Effect of the White Horse on History
Please open your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 6:1 (2X). This is the second sermon on Revelation chapter 6. Two weeks ago we have seen “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” who rode out into the world to do the job they had to do. Each one of the four horsemen had a different task and superficially it seemed as if each one of these four horsemen were operating independently. But now we know that this is not the case. In the sermon today we will see how these four horsemen are working together toward the same goal. That is why the sermon today is titled, “The Four Horsemen Working Together” (2X). Let us now read again Rev 6:1-8,
Re 6:1 ¶ And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
Re 6:2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
Re 6:3 ¶ And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
Re 6:4-5 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
Re 6:5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
Re 6:6-7 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
Re 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
This is a very scary passage. Do we realize who is doing this? The Lord Jesus Christ takes full responsibility for sending these four horsemen into the world. It is the Lamb who opened these four seals. It is the Lamb who took the Book out of the right hand of Him that sitteth upon the throne.
The content of this Book was not unknown to the Lamb, because He is God the Son. He was there when this Book was written. He knew what the purpose was of this creation, because “All things were made by Him, and for Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made”. It was not a surprise to the Lamb when He opened the first four seals that suddenly these four horsemen appeared, as if these were four genies that suddenly escaped from a Pandora’s Box. Quite the contrary! He designed it this way! These four horses and their riders represent powerful forces that are directed by the intelligent will of God, and they do their work at the bidding of the Lamb. We have already seen last week that the white horse and its rider is the picture of an armed warrior, going forth in righteous battle, whose victory is assured him beforehand. It is a picture of the victorious progress of the Gospel throughout the world. The red horse and its rider is a picture of an armed warrior, going forth to battle for the sake of heated passion and wrath among the nations of the world, and he is going forth to do his work on the earth. It is a picture of physical war and all the terrible consequences of war on the earth. The black horse and its rider represent the social contrasts in the world: the contrasts between poverty and riches, between bare subsistence and luxurious living. It is a picture of the contrasts between wealth and miserable poverty. It is the cause of misery, rebellion, revolution and bloodshed. The pale horse and its rider represent death in all its various forms. He kills by homicide and by suicide, in pestilence and in epidemics, by storms and by earthquakes, and more often silently by infection and disease. All four horses and their riders were unleashed by Christ when He opened the first four seals of the Book. And thus it is His will, and in His plan, that there will always be wars in this world, and there will always be rich and poor in this world, and there will always be death in this world. In addition, there will always be a certain amount of progress in the furtherance of the Gospel, which means that there will always be people who become saved as long as this world exists. The questions before us are now these: What is the reason for the other three horsemen to ride simultaneously with the rider on the white horse, and how might this be of benefit to Christ in bringing to completion the Kingdom of God? Before we answer these questions, we first have to summarize a few facts:
#1. This Is God’s Kingdom (1Cor 10:31, Luke 4:5-6, Matt 28:18)
Originally God created this world to be His kingdom, to manifest His glory. God created Adam and Eve, and all mankind, and you and I, for His glory. We were created to glorify Him, and when we do not do that we are living in sin. God says in 1Cor 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”. But since we live in a body that is inclined not to glorify God, we are sinning every day. This is our nature before our salvation as well as after our salvation. And thus we need a God who is a merciful Savior. We do not desire a God who will be just with us, for then He will cast us into Hell, but we need a God who will be merciful to us. And He placed us in this world. This world is His kingdom. And when we speak of the kingdom of God in this connection, we refer to all of creation, in its widest conceivable sense, with earth and sky, animate and inanimate creation, rocks, plants, animals, and man, as well as the angels in heaven, with all the hidden and revealed powers which the Almighty Creator has stored from the beginning in this mighty product of His omnipotent will. God made that entire world a kingdom over which God is King supreme, and in it all the name of the King supreme is glorified. And if we ask, “What is the common purpose of all that exists?” The answer is that “All the world must reveal the glory of its Creator”. Moreover, God created His kingdom with order and gradation. It means that there are various officials who carry out the will of the King in all His kingdom. And of these officials man is created as the highest creature, destined to rule over all things in the name of God. Man is made king over God’s creation, but under God. Even as king, man is always a servant under God. This is how God made Adam. Then the Devil came on the scene. We must understand that sin and the Devil could not change the works of God in such a way that it was no more a kingdom. The Devil could not change the order and the gradation that God established. The Devil could not change man into another being. The Devil could not create another kingdom next to the kingdom of God. Satan is a creature and a creature can never create. But what the Devil could do, and this he did, was that he caused the entire kingdom of the world to be subject to himself. As long as Adam was serving God only, the world was connected through Adam as a kingdom of God. But the moment Adam rebelled against God, and this he did, the world stood in rebellion against God, and the world became a kingdom of the prince of darkness. Man did not cease to be king over this creation, but now under Satan. Satan did not replace God. Satan took a position between God and man. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke 4:5 (2X). When Adam sinned, man the king of creation delivered himself and his kingdom into the power of Satan. And instead of remaining obedient to the God who made him, man served the Devil and became an ally of Satan against God. It was not that another kingdom was created, but that the world as a kingdom was delivered to Satan, and has become a kingdom of darkness. And so, when the Devil tempted the Lord Jesus, he said in Luke 4:5-6, “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it”. Was the Devil bragging when he said this? Was he lying to the Lord Jesus? Of course not! The Devil knew that the Son of God would detect a lie immediately as it was spoken. The Devil did not lie during this temptation of Jesus; otherwise it would not have been a temptation at all. But what was the situation at that time? Satan had taken up a position between God and man. Satan was still subject to God, but mankind was now subject to Satan instead of directly under God. But what is the great switch occurring when we become saved, or when we become “Born Again”? At the moment of salvation we are no longer subject to Satan, but we are now directly under God, in the Kingdom of His dear Son. For us who have become saved Satan has been removed from his position between God and man, and Christ has conquered a section of Satan’s kingdom for Himself. After Christ had gone to the cross and was raised from the dead, we are faced with this most significant truth: The entire kingdom of this world, all the world in its most comprehensive sense of the word, is given unto Christ, to be saved by Him, to be put into complete subjection under God once more, and to bring it to its highest possible glory in the Kingdom of heaven. After Christ was raised from the dead He said to His disciples in Matt 28:18, “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”. And now the battle begins. What we are seeing is:
Please turn to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 8:19 (2X). You find Romans immediately after the Acts of the Apostles. Unfortunately we are accustomed to run in the narrow track of our individual salvation, and usually we focus heavily on the salvation of our soul. We were conceived and born in sin, we lived a life that was only pleasing to Satan, and so we were by nature children of the wrath of God even as others who never become saved. But God had mercy on us, and God chose to save some of mankind by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth to take upon Himself the guilt of all the sins of a certain number of people whom God elected to save, and then He saved them by paying for the guilt of all their sins on the cross. Then in the course of history God the Holy Spirit revealed to those same elect that they became heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, of the Kingdom of God. He gave them faith in Christ, He delivered them from the bondage to sin, He gave them to the church for their edification, He sanctified them, or set them apart from the rest of mankind, and destined them to go to heaven. All this, pretty much, focuses on the salvation of our soul, and it lodges in the minds of many of us. Even the redemption of our body recedes into the background. And all this is perfectly true, but it is not the whole truth, only part of it. It is not the whole truth as Scripture presents it, nor is it the truth by which we can understand the prophecy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. For example, when we read in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”, we realize that the Lord of heaven and earth will lead that world to final glory, for He cannot give His glory to another. Because He loves the world, He sent His Son, that in Him all things might be united. It is the same truth that states:
Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Ro 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
And thus we see that the subject matter in this passage is the redemption of the body. Christ did not just die to save our soul, but He died to save us body and soul, and to save the world as well. And therefore there must necessarily be continual war in this world between God and the Devil, until the Kingdom of God shall have been completed and shall have appeared in perfect glory. Please turn to Gen 3:15 (2X). There are two powers that fight for dominion over that one kingdom of the world. Or rather, there is one power that fights for that dominion, while God never fights, but He simply rules over all, and God works through the sins of Satan to accomplish His goals. And thus we can see in history:
We can read about the declaration of this war in Gen 3:15 where God says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel”. Man had become the friend of the Devil, his ally against God. But God declared here that He will break that alliance by putting enmity into the heart of man against his ally, the Devil. Before the flood of Noah’s days there was distinction between the saved and the unsaved in the world. The Bible is silent about how they were kept distinct from each other. But when “the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” the human race tended to become one homogeneous whole. The seed of the serpent threatened to exterminate the seed of the woman, and God stepped in: God saved His Kingdom through the flood. Some time later the human race again attempted to realize one world-kingdom of darkness with the tower of Babel at its center. Again God stepped in and confused their languages so that the human family was divided into nations, and the nations were driven apart from each other. Again through history we read about the same tendency of certain nations to establish the ideal of a world kingdom by subduing other nations under them. But God stepped in: God separated Abraham and his seed and God established the nation of Israel as a type and figure of His Kingdom. After the cross the battle reaches a higher stage of development and assumes a different form. The Kingdom of God breaks the bounds of Israel’s national existence and becomes international, but at the same time it also becomes purely spiritual. Christ has received the Kingdom and He now gathers His subjects from all parts of the world and out of every nation and tongue and tribe and people. It is no more a battle between nations. The Kingdom of God now fights a spiritual battle, but the battle between the children of light and the subjects of the children of darkness is still the same as it has been throughout the ages. On the one hand Satan still aims to establish his kingdom through the whole world, and on the other hand the power of grace through Christ is fighting the battle of the Kingdom of God. These two powers in the world are both making use of all the institutions God has given to this present world. There is the institution of the state. Government was established by God and equipped with the sword to punish evil doers, in order that the Kingdom of God might have a place to develop. But in recent times the forces of evil have influenced state governments to join hands to establish one world power, like that of Babel. There is the institution of the church. God established the church for the upbuilding and edification of the saints. But especially in our time the forces of evil have used the institution of the church for the advancement of the kingdom of darkness. There is the institution of society in general, like the home, the school, business and industry. All these institutions were designed to be serving the Kingdom of Christ, but one by one they are falling away and are being used by the kingdom of Satan to establish his kingdom. These two kingdoms fight for the possession of the whole world. But God never fights! God simply uses the powers of the kingdom of darkness to realize His own everlasting decree, and through the sins of mankind God establishes His own Kingdom. Now when we look at the actions of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, we must remember this one truth:
#2. The Same Causes, But Not the Same Effects (Heb 6:4-8, Rom 8:28)
The same causes do not necessarily produce the same effect. The forces that these four horsemen
symbolize are affecting all mankind without distinction. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 6:4 (2X). As the white horse represents the spreading of the Gospel through the world, it affects only the people of God, the elect, and leaves no impression upon the children of the kingdom of darkness. To the seed of the woman the white horseman is a benevolent power, leading them to repentance, salvation, and faith, through which they are translated from darkness to light. But to the seed of the serpent the white horseman becomes a curse, because they remain unsaved and become ripe for judgment. The same causes do not produce the same effects. The receptivity of the people who hear the Gospel is not the same. This is beautifully explained in Heb 6:4-8. Recently you may have heard on a certain radio-station a great deal of misinformation about this passage, as if this passage should support the “depart-out-theology”. But that information is false. Let us read Heb 6:4-8,
This is a scary passage. This passage says that it is possible for men to come to a very close contact with the Word of God and with the blessings of God’s Kingdom and His covenant. Yet they may fall away so deeply that they become hopelessly lost, and that they become the bitterest enemies of the Kingdom of God, so that they crucify again the Son of God and put Him to an open shame. In other words, the same power that makes subjects of the Kingdom of Christ, also accentuates the enmity in the hearts of the seed of the serpent, and makes most bitter enemies of God and of His cause in the world. And look how the context of verses 7-8 beautifully supports this interpretation. A field is blessed with abundant rain. But under the influence of that same abundant rain the thorns and briers also develop. The more abundant the rain falls and the sun shines, the good seed sprouts and the grain ripens, but also the more intense the thorns and the briers will grow. This then is the result of the white horseman being sent out into the world. But there is also a general influence of the Word and of the Spirit, so that in some way a moralizing influence upon all society is felt where the Word is preached and where the Spirit moves. As a corollary, wherever crime increases and morals are degrading, like in these United States, it can be said that the true Gospel is no longer preached like it has been in the past. Please turn again to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 6:3 (2X). When the red horse makes its drive through the nations the seed of the woman fights side by side with the seed of the serpent. They both must go when the call to arms comes. They both will suffer the evil effects of war. But for example in the foxholes the seed of the woman will be driven closer to Christ, whereas the seed of the serpent will curse the day that the war was declared. When the black horse appears the people of God are not exempt from its influence. They live in the same society as the seed of the serpent. And in general they belong to the poorer class of people. But the same adversity causes the one to rise in rebellion and curse God, and it causes the other to humble himself and pray. The same affliction hardens the one and brings the other to repentance. The same tribulation that brings despair to the one causes the other to glorify his God. Likewise the pale horse knows no distinction, but it enters the homes of the righteous and the wicked alike. But the same causes do not cause the same effects. To the seed of the woman death is only a stepping stone to coming into the presence of Christ. Whereas to the seed of the serpent death is a frightening prospect, because deep in his heart he knows that there is a God, and that this God demands payment for sins. And thus we can already discern how these four horsemen will bring the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, while at the same time they will lead to the defeat of the power of Satan in the world. Here again “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Now we can discuss:
#3. The Effect of the White Horse on History
What is the effect of the first rider on the world? In general it causes separation. If there had never been any influence of the Word and of the Spirit there would never have been a separation between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Grace is the wedge that in this sinful world makes separation and divides all men into two different and opposing camps. On the one hand, a people of God is called into conscious existence. The Spirit of God regenerates, so that the inmost being of man is placed in a new relationship to God and to the entire world. The Christian has become a new man. The people of God have their own life view with regard to every sphere of life and every institution of the world. The home, the school, society must all be controlled by the principles of the Word of God. They are members of God’s covenant, His friends in the world, and subjects of His Kingdom. In principle at least, they want to live the life of that Kingdom also in the present world.
On the other hand, the white horse also has an influence upon the ungodly. It accentuates their hostility against the Christian community. They deny the civilizing influence of the Word and the Spirit. They deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. They remain antichristian in their deepest principle. And thus they also want to establish a kingdom in form like the Kingdom of God, whose beauty they have learned to see. But it is a kingdom without Christ, and without His atoning sacrifice. In their kingdom man must have dominion over all things. Also in this kingdom they speak of righteousness and brotherly love, and only clean men and women can enter into it. They extend their brotherly love to include fornicators and homosexuals. They demand outward righteousness and they insist on brotherly love. They strive to realize the universal brotherhood of man and they want to establish universal peace. They want to abolish sin in the world. The result is that their kingdom is after all no kingdom of God, but a kingdom of man, by man, and for man. The state must legislate men into this kingdom, and by force of law they are made to practice their love to the brother. The state, in combination with other states, will enforce universal peace. All the nations must unite in order that war may be abolished and the kingdom of peace may be ushered in. The cooperation of the church is also invited. The church must preach a social gospel. The old message of sin and guilt, of total depravity, of righteousness and holiness, of the necessity of atonement through the blood of Christ, and regeneration by the Spirit of Christ has become antiquated, and must be adapted to the needs of the present time. And thus a new gospel must be brought to the forefront: the gospel of love and peace for all men, without Christ. Man is not spiritually impotent, but rather he is divine. Man is not guilty and condemned, but rather he is by nature good and a child of God. And the church must establish herself as a powerful agency for the establishment of this universal kingdom of peace and righteousness. The school then must serve the same purpose. It must not be separate. It may not teach a definite religion, but it must teach the universal brotherhood of man. Therefore the school must teach children the general principles of love and respect for all people, including those living a homosexual lifestyle. Society must be transformed according to the same principles. Differences must be removed. Competition must cease. The socialistic state of things must be established to cover up the sore spots of covetousness and greed. If the murder of children is advantageous to the establishment of the kingdom, its practice must be encouraged. And so, the great aim is to establish a kingdom that is outwardly like the Kingdom of God. But the principal motive is enmity against God and against His Christ. This is the influence of the white horse on the people of the world, and so the world is prepared for its final intervention by God.
Just imagine what would have happened if the white horse would run alone. There would be no war, no social struggle, no death. The result would be that the one kingdom world would have been established long ago. Peace and happiness would reign supreme, and that without Christ. All things would be under control of this world power, including the church, the state, home, school, business, industry, and commerce, and so on. And this world power would not leave any standing room for the true church of God on this earth. It would persecute and, if possible, destroy the Kingdom of God in the world. And therefore, Christ, who possesses all power in heaven and on earth, sent the red horse into all the earth. It is not that Christ is the sinful cause of war, but the principle of sin must manifest itself in some way. If you check the pages of history you may observe that never any great and powerful nation was allowed to exist for any length of time as the sole lord of the universe. There are always two or more nations which rival one another for the control of the world. Christ in His wisdom has sent out the red horse to keep the world from uniting into one great world power. All throughout history things are so controlled that the end cannot come yet. But when the world will have united, then that period of world peace will be the most dangerous period of history for the church of God in the world. But that time is not yet, and therefore wars must come.
The same can be said for the rider on the black horse, which symbolizes the tremendous contrast between rich and poor. Whatever men may do, this contrast cannot be eliminated. And it is this continual contrast between poverty and luxury which causes society to be a house divided against itself, and it is the source of strikes, of social convulsions, of panics, of insurrections and revolutions. Just think of the bloody scenes of the French Revolution, and you will be able to understand how the drive of this black horse prevents the establishment of the kingdom of outward peace & righteousness. It is not impossible that this social contrast will find a final solution in a socialistic state. Even in these United States socialism is advancing with tremendous strides.
Last but not least the pale horse must serve the same purpose. You will understand this when you realize that death mows away the proper persons at the proper place at the proper time. When Pharaoh and his powerful army became a real threat to the children of Israel during their exodus out of Egypt, the pale horse appeared and destroyed both Pharaoh and his army. When the Assyrian army really endangered the gates of Jerusalem, the pale horse appeared and removed 185,000 soldiers from the scene of action. The pale horse entered the palace of Alexander the Great and killed him by a fever just before he would be lord of the whole world, and that his kingdom may be divided. Always this terrible rider on the pale horse selects the proper persons at the proper time and place.
And thus, when anyone asks: “Why these horses? Why war? Why social contrasts? Why death in all its forms?” Then the answer is: to prevent the premature establishment of the imitation kingdom of Satan; a kingdom that resembles in outward form the Kingdom of Christ, but which is based on the principle of enmity against God and against Christ. All these three horses make the world power too busy with itself so that it will postpone the attack upon the children of the Kingdom of God. And so we see that these last three horses are not harmful, but that they are of great benefit to the children of the Kingdom. Wars and revolutions, famines and pestilences and death cannot injure the Kingdom of God, for the simple reason that as yet it exists purely spiritually. And thus we see how all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Therefore God says to us: “Be not afraid, therefore, ye people of the Kingdom!”
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.