|The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, artist unknown|
Volume 5 - October/November 2011
Written by Don Wiest
Contrary to popularly held beliefs, the account of the 4 Horsemen, visualized and subsequently penned by John the Beloved while exiled on the Isle of Patmos, is not a prediction concerning key political figures, natural disasters, super plagues, aliens from space, or catastrophic events raining down upon the earth from the heavens. John himself tells us that he had no idea of the purpose or meaning behind these mysterious yet ominously foreboding visions but he faithfully recorded what he saw.
It is important to note that this particular vision lies within the book of Revelation (Chapter 6: 1-8) which means it was specifically intended for people witnessing last day prophesies scheduled to occur prior to the return of Christ. It is also necessary to point out that the practicalities of presenting a prophetic vision of events, set to occur almost 2,000 years after the death of its author, was a considerable challenge for the heavenly messenger as well! This could only be accomplished through the use of symbolic images which might be gibberish to someone in John's time but completely understandable and meaningful to modern day readers. Christ employed this strategy very effectively in His teachings when He conveyed complex ideas through the use of timeless symbolic parables.
This particular apocalyptic vision was actually intended to herald the emergence of major geo-political institutions. Human governments have always been necessary as a means of avoiding anarchy and civil breakdown which undoubtedly occurs in their absence. Unfortunately most human governmental systems are created and deployed by its ruling class, who inevitably manage to live above the law while effectively subjugating, persecuting, or decimating its populations. If this statement seems harsh then consider the staggering death tolls represented by some of these apocalyptic institutions. It is conceivable that the true villains of humanity may not be plagues, wars, or natural disasters, but instead human governments.
The description of each horse along with its rider is significant therefore they are presented below in the order of their appearance. Each symbolic horse and rider can be categorized within two types of governing institutions. The first and last horses represent religious governments. By this we mean their primary method of control is through religious-based political intrigues to subjugate its masses. For example, "do as we say or we will punish you with excommunication, starvation, military invasion, selective execution"...and the list goes on. The second and third horses represent governments which are based on economic principles. A good analogy for these governments would be "eat what you kill," or the polar opposite which is, "we will confiscate what you kill and redistribute it as we (the government) decide".
The first vision to appear was a white horse bearing a rider with an enormous crown and holding an empty bow. We are also told that this horse rode out to win many battles and gain the victory. This was the first appearance of a major religious-based government and it was called Catholicism. In its hay-day the Catholic Church represented a very powerful ruling force throughout the known world. Its political strength was not gained through provincial commerce or the maintenance of its own standing army but through the control of secular rulers who could be threatened with excommunication, economic sanctions, or invasion by other allied countries, if they didn't obey. The political intrigues initiated by the Holy Roman Empire, against secular kingdoms, was extremely effective, empowering them to instigate numerous battles where victory for the church was assured. The fact that the church used other countries to fight their wars is represented by the empty bow. The extensive use of white within the papal diocese leaves no doubt as to the symbolism of the white horse, and the large oversized shape of the distinctive Papal Tiara explains the enormous crown worn by the symbolic rider.
|Papal Tiara, Clement VII|
The second vision to appear was a red horse bearing a rider holding a large broadsword and the authority to remove peace from the earth. This major government is based on economic principles and is embodied in the Utopian doctrines of Communism. Few will argue the fact that the national color representing Russia is, without a doubt red, thus validating the red color of the apocalyptic horse. The fact that the rider carries an oversized sword is also an indicator of its militant source of power. Since its revolutionary inception in the 1900's, the advance of Communism has historically been recognized by its ability to destabilize all other forms of government and thus replace peace and tranquility with conflict. The reason for this is that Communism successfully incites the masses against the ruling aristocracy via the doctrine of revolution. This, in turn, usually results in a civil bloodbath. Even in its own country, the Russian Revolution was responsible for the deaths of countless millions. The infamous Stalin purge alone murdered 35 to 50 million of its citizens, depending on which historians one chooses to read. No one really knows how many millions perished during the Chinese Civil War as a result of military clashes between Communist and Nationalist parties. At present the doctrine of Communism appears to be waning in popularity since many nations now recognize that socialistic ideals encourage laziness because the working class invariably lacks the incentive to work harder when the reward is an equally distributed portion.
The third symbol to appear was a black horse with a rider holding a pair of balance scales and chanting "a loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley for a day's pay. And don't waste the oil or wine." The balance scales, along with the chant of a proportional exchange rate, instantly gives our horse and rider away as representing the institution of Capitalism. Though the color black has historically represented death, in this example that is not the case. Economically speaking, the most lucrative shopping day of the year in the United States is the day after Thanksgiving, the day we universally refer to as "Black Friday". It is named as such because it represents the expectation of every merchandiser to balance their ledgers in the black instead of the red. The "Don't Tread on Me" black snake on a yellow background or orange snake on a black background, were the dominant battle flags used during the American Revolution.
The Declaration of Independence was a unique document that, for the first time in history, placed the power of the individual first, the power of the state second, and the power of the nation last. This revolutionary concept transformed an insignificant collection of 13 colonies into the richest and most powerful governmental institution on earth. On the other hand government intrusion through prohibitive taxation, over-regulation, and excessive entitlement programs, is an anathema to the principles of Capitalism. If allowed to flourish, it will quickly destroy this form of government.
|Artist, Durer - Revelation 4 Riders|
Today Islamic doctrine along with its form of religious government is the fastest growing institution in the world with over 1.5 billion souls in attendance (which incidentally is approaching one quarter of the earth's population). There is no doubt that once Islam's fanatical rulers gain control over a population they routinely instigate its slaughter by starvation or by the sword if the religion of Islam is refused by its victims. If the reader doubts this then observe the current on-going destabilization efforts conducted in many African countries where an Islam-based government has infiltrated! It is by far the most ruthless and oppressive form of government ever conceived by man. It is so devastating that it is prophesied to herald the advent of global catastrophes and the subsequent appearance of the antichrist along with the final wars of annihilation. While it has not yet achieved its stated goal of taking over the world and dispatching the last infidel, it continues to use relentless subversion and terrorism in an all-out effort to achieve its mandated mission.
What all this means is that we are left with choices. If we are a Humanist, we must believe that man carries within himself the immutable hope for a future which embodies the gradual improvement of human-kind through knowledge, spirituality, technology, and social enlightenment. We must embrace the expectation that as a species we can eventually overcome this specter of corruption which seems to creep in and remind us of our human failings...yet despite these failings, we remain determined to strive towards a more peaceful, considerate, and loving world.
If we are a Believer we must accept that imperfect man, if left to his own devices, is decidedly incapable of sustaining a perfect government. We must also accept that even when humans manage to envision a perfect government, the seeds for its eventual corruption and downfall will invariably rest with evil men who will always empower themselves at the expense of others. The unshakeable hope of a Believer is the Biblical promise that human governments will end when King Jesus returns and establishes the Millennial Government...a perfect government ruled by a perfect Creator and intended for recreated humans who are made perfect through the elimination of evil.
By Don Wiest, author of The Expendable Pawn
Don is an enthusiastic student of history and archeology, especially as it relates to the Bible. As well as writing a book, he has directed and produced a number of multi-media presentations and has been the featured guest speaker at numerous churches, symposiums, and public functions.
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