The Signs of the Times (10): Riders

editor - 26 August 2018

“…I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.…”
Revelation 6:1-2 NIV

The disciples’ three questions in Matthew 24:3 were: When will all of this happen? What will be the sign of Your coming? What will be the sign of the end of the age? And Jesus gives them His answers.

The destruction of Jerusalem took place 40 years later. He sums up the ‘signs of the times’ in the sermon on ‘the End of the Age’ in that chapter Matthew 24. All kinds of signs that are intensifying in our time and that are increasing becoming more and more dramatic, leading to a climax.

There have always been wars. But just recently, humanity ended a century in which not just one, but two World Wars took place. These wars left more victims than all the previous wars in history before these wars, even combined.

There have always been earthquakes. But one who studies the statistics of earthquakes and tsunamis in recent decades will find that their number is increasing very rapidly. Especially the number of so called ‘killer quakes’, which are earthquakes with the highest death toll.

Contagious diseases – old ones and new ones – keep breaking out and take more and more people down. Because the bacteria and viruses that cause the diseases are becoming increasingly resistant to medication like penicillin and antibiotics and other remedies. It sometimes feels like we are fighting a losing battle in the medical world.

In the book of Revelation, John sees apocalyptic riders. Who compares chapter 6 with Matthew 25 will see many parallels. We’ll follow them one by one.

Who is this first rider on the white horse, with a victor’s crown on his head and a bow in his hand? In the book of Revelation in general, the colour white always represents something relating to God and Christ. Christ Himself will later in the Book appear on a white horse, the bride of the Lamb is dressed in bright and clean fine linen, and the armies of heaven follow Him on white horses, and are dressed in fine linen, white and clean. The multitude that no one can count is wearing white robes. Christ promises the ones who are victorious a white stone and to be dressed in white. The elders are dressed in white, and the martyrs are given white robes. Christ is seen with hair white like wool, and is seen on a white cloud. At the last judgement God is seen on a white throne.

There are no disasters happening when this first rider on the white horse appears. It can’t be Christ Himself. He doesn’t appear until Revelation 19:11-16. It can’t be the anti-Christ either. He doesn’t appear as the beast until Revelation 13.

So then what is it, or who is it? He/it rides victoriously (crown) across the earth bent on conquest (bow), as the first one to appear on the scene of the world. Mark 13:10 says: “…and the Gospel must FIRST be preached to all nations…” After this the other riders follow who will sow death and destruction, spreading the wrath of God and of the Lamb over the earth and its inhabitants, Revelation 6:16-17.

From the similarity between Jesus’ Sermon on the final things to come and the Book of Revelation, in which everything is discussed in more detail, there’s a strong argument for regarding the rider on the white horse as the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom in the entire world. That Gospel is breaking forth, violently, and the grace of God is irresistible. The crown shows that the Gospel shall go forth victoriously, in spite of hate, contempt and persecution. This comes first, but after that other apocalyptic riders ride out. Ghost-riders in the sky, scourging the earth.

The Signs of the Times
Many people are afraid of the future. Will the turmoil in the world lead to World War III? Or is there still hope? What do the ancient prophecies of the Bible teach us? Are we at the beginning of the end of this world? Or are we approaching a new beginning? Could Israel be a sign of hope? In this new series Rev. Willem Glashouwer looks at 52 of the many signs of the times that are mentioned in the Bible.The English edition of ‘The Signs of the Times’ will be published by Christians for Israel International in the coming months.

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