Rider on the Red Horse
Transcript © Faith Dialogue, Inc 2020
The Rider on the Red Horse, Pastor Ken Behr
Welcome today to our Wednesday message. We are in our new series called “Pondering Prophecy”
Thank you for tuning in today. In our services on Sunday we are presently going through the Acts of the Apostles, verse by verse in a series called “unstoppable” Be sure to tune in on Sunday’s to hear that complete worship service.
Last Wednesday, we introduced the first of the seven seals and spoke about the “Rise of the Antichrist” which is from Revelation 6:2 that says, I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John is shown the judgements of God that come upon the entire earth and he sees a series of seven seals followed by a series of seven trumpets and then a series of seven vials or bowls. The first four of the seven seals are symbolized by a rider on a different color horse: The colors are identified with these four horsemen in the first four seals are WHITE, RED, BLACK and PALE GREEN.
Last week, we said that the rider on the white horse was the antichrist and the horse was white for two reasons: one, he is a conqueror, he will ultimately rule over 10 Kings and control all of the nations. Secondly, the horse is white because the rider is the antichrist who deceives the whole world. Good guys ride on white horses and Jesus returns at the end of the book of Revelation on a white horse and the antichrist is masquerading as a good guy. People will be drawn to him, he’ll be a master politician and very popular but ultimately will reveal his true colors, his hatred for the Jews and Jesus Christ.
Today, we are going to be looking at the second seal in the 6th chapter of Revelation. While the first seal was the actual beginning of the tribulation, now as the second seal is opened, we have the beginning of the end. Jesus describes these events particularly in the first six seals as ‘birth pangs’ Just like a woman in labor, they start off relatively mild but then get progressively worse and progressively closer together.
This passage today from the sixth chapter of Revelation is relatively short. I’d recommend that you read the entire sixth chapter of Revelation as these seals that are opened are all related and we’ll see that as we continue through the first of these four seals.
Revelation chapter 6 verses 3-5
When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.
Let’s unpack these verses and as we do, we’ll fill in what other scripture also says about this event, this seal that is opened at the beginning of the tribulation, the beginning of the end. In this way, we will use scripture to interpret scripture.
First, the one that is opening the seal is the LAMB, the Lord Jesus that was said to be worthy to open the seals in the previous chapter. Jesus is the one that is opening these seals that are sequential, these birth pangs.
This rider on the red horse was granted the authority to take peace from the earth.
Notice that with this second seal, peace is taken from the earth, it isn’t as much that war comes initially. The second seal follows the first. This rider on the red horse follows the first rider and the first seal which is initially characterized by a short time, a brief period of peace….if it’s a world peace that is promised by the antichrist, it won’t last long. If it’s peace in the middle east…..the peace treaty with Israel we know from scripture that it will only last 3 ½ years according to Daniel 9:27. And in any case, the world will fall for this promise of peace. The antichrist becomes famous for it; he is thought of as a natural leader, the one that can actually be trusted to rule and to reign. Ultimately, he rules over 10 kings but at the beginning of the tribulation, people will not recognize who he truly is. He will wait his time, he’ll be patient as he is a master deceiver. What we do know for sure is that when this second seal is opened the peace and safety that the world is experiencing is cut short. It could be that the peace that is ‘taken’ actually propels the antichrist to a position of authority….people often turn to the government and leaders when their safety is threatened.
The Apostle Paul reminds his readers regarding this time of the end “While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” That is from 1 Thes 5:3.
Also, notice when peace is taken away, and this verse in Revelation 6:5 says that people should kill one another. We know that during or just preceding the tribulation the Bible says there will be two specific military engagements, the War of Gog and Magog and also Battle(s) that is plural (s)…the battles of Armageddon that specifically will occur during the Tribulation.
However, as the scripture says here regarding this second seals that with this second seal, peace is taken it could be that specifically at the beginning, the peace is taken through violence, mob riots, brutality and chaos. We have a clue that this will be true as Jesus said that the end times would be like the days of Noah. Genesis 6:10 & 11 says in speaking of Noah “And Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and full of violence.”
I think all of us can agree that we have already seen the ugly head of violence on the earth. Not that this is an indication that the tribulation has begun. The tribulation will not begin, the Apostle Paul made this clear, until AFTER that which is restraining is taken out…or departs. That departure to be with Christ is described in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4 and will include every born-again believer, every true disciple of Jesus Christ whose sins have been blotted out…removed as far as the east is from the west.
What we are seeing today in places like Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, New York, Louisville….in numerous cities and likely to a neighborhood near you is what happens when hatred rules in the hearts of men and women. When people are easily deceived and believe that there is a huge conspiracy a systemic bias against minorities, against women, against people that look or live or believe differently than you do.
This deception is called ‘identity politics’ and it is interesting that the slogans that we see increasingly painted on signs in the United States….have been also printed on signs, become the graffiti on the buildings all around the world. The slogans, the riots, the blood shed, and violence doesn’t speak as much of solidarity with the Americans as the major news media want you to believe but speak instead to a powder keg of people that are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power…..a fulfillment of the prophecy about the last days made by the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy.
The color red of this horse in the second seal, actually ‘firely red’ is also symbolic as red is one of those colors we see often in the Bible. Red is the color of blood, it is the color of wine. It is also the color of the Dragon that we’ll see in Revelation 12. I believe it is especially relevant that Red is said to be the color of sin. Isaiah 1:18 says,
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
The people on the earth that go through these terrible seven years, the seven years of tribulation including what Jesus refers to as the ‘Great Tribulation’ during the final 42 months have not dealt with their sin problem. There is a remedy and that remedy is Jesus but for the unbelieving world, the tribulation is when God’s judgement is being poured out, always with the promise that people can repent, and believe.
Isaiah 24 is considered a ‘tribulation’ prophecy and reads in verse 5
5 The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.
God has ruled, he has judged the earth and it is been found wanting, the earth itself has been condemned.
Believers living today will not be present during the tribulation. They will be with Christ in the heavens and we actually see them represented in Revelation 4:4 as John writes: “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.
There is so much speculation about who these 24 elders are that John sees before the throne of God. Are they angels are they the Old Testament saints? Again, we let the Bible interpret the Bible and we see that they are, or represent the CHURCH.
The word “elders”, “priests” and “crowns” are words associated with the New Testament believer, the church. The number 24 is likely not as much a symbolic number but a representative number as King David established 24 priestly divisions and 24 Levitical divisions to serve in the temple. All of the priests and Levites belonged to one of the 24 divisions and each had a turn, an opportunity to serve in the official capacity.
It is for this reason that many scholars say that these 24 elders before the throne of God represent the church in it’s entirety.
Going back to our scripture verse for today..
Note that this rider on the red horse was given a mighty sword . As I mentioned before the rider is not personified….there is no specific person, the only identifiable person riding any of these horses is the rider on the white horse that we have already spoken of at length and that rider is the antichrist.
The mighty sword mentioned here in connection with the second seal is interesting. In paintings and drawings dating back to the early middle ages, this sword is often represented by the artist as being very large and upright like a warrior riding into battle.
What I find interesting is the Greek words that are used and translated here as mighty sword are “machaira megas. (Mach-Hara-Megas) Sometimes these words are translated as a mighy sword, a large sword, or a great sword and while this machaira is often the word that is used for the soldier’s sword, the Greek lexicon says it literally can be translated as a slaughter-knife; a short sword or dagger mainly used for stabbing; It was the short dagger that the romans carried when they got in close. According to my lexicon, it’s (figuratively) an instrument for exacting retribution and depicts war and assassination and rebellion and revolt and massacre.
This kind of dagger combined with the fact the scripture says that people should kill one another, reminds me of more than one incident in the Old Testament when the enemies of Israel suddenly began to kill each other. In 1st Samuel we are told of a war with the philistines and the scriptures say, “Then Saul and all his troops assembled and marched to the battle, and they found the Philistines in total confusion, with each man wielding the sword against his neighbor”
In the book of Judges we read of Gideon and While Gideon's men were blowing their trumpets, the LORD made the enemy troops attack each other with their swords.
This tells me that when peace is taken from the earth, people will slay one another. Whether that is by kings and governors and armies or mobs with firebombs and guns and knives. Peace is taken from the earth and this happens at the beginning of the tribulation. This rider on the red horse however, doesn’t go away…..The Anti Christ, War, Famine and Death, the first four seals, the first four horsemen will continue through and into the great tribulation and we’ll see them all again in the seven trumpets and seven seals.
As we are talking about these seals, don’t fall for the common explanation of this seal that the rider on the fiery red horse is already loose and it is Russia, or Communism or Islam or Marxism. We heard the same when this COVID-19 pandemic began and people were equating the COVID-19 pandemic with the famine that is represented by the 4th seal with the rider on the pale-green Horse that brings death and pestilence or epidemic and disease.
But here is the thing….None of the previous wars, plagues and famines, including the present have done sufficient damage to make them ‘tribulation worthy.’ Jesus describes the time of the great tribulation a time that is unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again Jesus says in Matthew 24 verse 22 If those days had not been cut short, nobody would survive.
In our remaining time, I do want to relate to you what the Bible tells us about one of these wars that are coming and I mentioned it earlier. While we have already described that this second seal represents a ‘taking of the peace’ and that it can be through civil unrest, mobs, riots and violence, it is also typically understood to be through war. In fact, in order to be ‘tribulation worthy’ it needs to include a world war, a massive outbreak of nations aligning themselves together against a common foe. Interestingly, the Bible speaks of a specific war a specific gathering of nations that happens in the end time.
I’m referring to what is spoken of by the prophet Ezekiel and is commonly known as the ‘the war of Gog and Magog’ from Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39.
Let me read from the beginning of chapter 38 and then we’ll take some time and talk about typically who scholars believe are the nations involved in this war
38 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, [a]the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.
Let’s pause there….this wording is unclear at our first reading because Ezekiel is using apocalyptic language and is also using names for nations or people groups that we don’t presently use. We do know however that whatever these nations are planning…God is against it.
Scholars have been able to identify these uncommon names: First, the word ‘GOG’ doesn’t refer to a nation it refers to the king, the prince, the ruler. However, the other nations in this alliance, including the others that come with them have been identified and include Russia (Magog), Iran (Persia), Sudan (Cush), Libya (Put); and Turkey (Gomer).
Scholars are able to track down these nations by looking into where each tribe had settled during the time of Ezekiel. Also, Ezekiel 38:15 says that Gog would come out of the “far north’ and if you take a look at a map of the world and draw a line directly north, the far north from Israel is Russia.
We don’t know exactly when this war that is described by Ezekiel will take place but we do know that it has not yet happened and my guess…and it’s just an educated guess, that it will happen towards the beginning of the tribulation and we’ll see why that is in a moment.
Let’s read a little more of this prophecy….verse 4
I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you. “Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.
After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.”
So, let me summarize, let me give you the ‘cliff notes version’ of this war…..this alliance of nations: Russia, Turkey, Iran, the Sudan…decides to come against Israel. The prophecy says this is the latter years when Israel has been gathered, when the land is no longer desolate and where they dwell in safety. These nations all come against Israel.
While there are nations today that have pledged to defend Israel, they have signed ‘mutual defense pacts’ Israel is on their own. Notice in the next verse that there are some nations that object…but it’s words, not might… Verse 13
3 Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’ ” ’
These nations Sheba and Dedan are referenced in the Bible. These were the names of the great grandsons of Noah and for centuries, people known as Sheba and Dedan were a wandering people, migrating back and forth through the desert wastes of Arabia. Scholars identify Sheba and Dedan as the area of Saudia Arabia likely including other countries on the Arabian Pennisula like the UAE that in September of 2020 has signed a peace treaty with Israel.
People that read bible prophecy have asked often if the United States is in the book of Revelation. The United States today is not only a world power but the pre-eminent world power however, most conservative Bible scholars, (meaning they take the word of God for what it says, not what they want it to say) Most of these scholars agree that we don’t see a major role for the United States in the Bible. From my perspective it is likely a result of millions of patriotic, flag waiving Christians being taken up into heaven in the rapture just prior to the tribulation. Think what that would do regarding our relationship with the world and with Israel!
However, we may see a possible reference the United States. Verse 3 said:
The merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions
The Apostle Paul was from Tarsus, not Tarsish. This Tarshsis is associated in Scripture with the far West and a verse in Psalms even mentions Tarshish with Sheba.
The western kings of Tarshish and other distant lands will bring him tribute. The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba will bring him gifts. ”(Psalm 72:10, NLT).
For years, we’ve had Bible scholars tell us that Tarshish could likely represent England. The reason for tht is that in Ezekiel we find that Tarshish traded tin with Tyre (Ezek 27:12) so Tarshish must have been a tin producer and the English isles were known to be tin producers by the Romans.
The verse says, and “all the young lions” England has been represented by a lion for centuries, and many speculate that the young lions spoken of by Ezekiel are the English speaking offspring of England: Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Interestingly, all of these countries are presently ‘friends of Israel’ However in this prophecy, they object but don’t lift a finger.
Now I said that I believe it is likely that this war of Gog and Magog happens at the beginning of the tribulation and the reason I believe that is because of the outcome:
Chapter 39 verse 1 : Behold, I am against you, O Gog, [a]the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; 2 and I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel. 3 Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand. 4 You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 5 You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken,” says the Lord God. 6 “And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.
God does it, God fights the Battle for Israel…God does it by himself. Verse 3 3 Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand.
This could refer to a massive failure to be able to launch their weapons and all of these armies perish on the hills of Israel.
At the end of this prophecy, Ezekiel makes reference that the people recover the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires (Israel recover the implements of war turn them into energy) for seven years.
If Israel is using these recovered implements of war for fire or energy for seven years…there to be seven years between the beginning and just happens the end of the tribulation, the days of Jacobs Trial.
Also, notice the very last verse I quoted said Then they shall know that I am the Lord. The nation of Israel needs to know the Lord. This deliverance in the last days opens the eyes of the people of Israel and their hearts become tender. During the tribulation, many in Israel will die but at the end, all that remain will be saved. (that’s Romans 11:27)
My friends, we are close…very close to the beginning of the end. I’m not setting a date, not being an alarmist, I’m just telling you that we are seeing nations, technology, all of the signs that speak to the end-of-days coming into place. Like one huge jigsaw puzzle that is missing only a few pieces before it is complete.
Don’t let your ears not hear what the scriptures are clearly saying. Today is the day of salvation, open your heart to what God is saying to you. The Book of Hebrews says in chapter 3 verse 7&8 “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,