The Four Horses of the Apocalypse

Complimentary Story
September 2023

  I have been teaching through the book of Revelation for the past three years. It will likely take another two-three years to conclude the study. Many fascinating things have been revealed and worthy of our attention. This is true because the days in which we find ourselves most certainly give illustrations, examples, and types of what we read in the Scriptures. You might be surprised at the applications you will find.

   In the next several articles I want to take you on an investigative journey into the first four “seal judgments.” So, grab your Bible and Turn to Revelation 6 and follow along. You are in for a treat.

   There are seven seals presented in Revelation 5:1 and the breaking of the first four seals reveal “the four horsemen of the apocalypse” as they are popularly named. The fifth seal reveals the martyrs under the altar, having been slain because of their testimony for Jesus. The sixth seal reveals that a massive earthquake is in earth’s future, accompanied by the splitting of the sky, the moving of mountains and a terror of such magnitude that earth’s inhabitants cry out for death to take them so that they would not have to abide in the presence of Yahweh and Jesus. 
   Next, we read about the sealing of Yahweh’s bond servants, the 144,000 Israelites, twelve thousand from each tribe, and a thunderous celebration in heaven. Then the seventh seal is opened which begins the trumpet judgments. Fire and hail mixed with blood fall upon the earth and one-third of the earth is burned up. The sea will also be impacted as one-third of sea life perishes, and one-third of all the ships sailing on the seas in those days are destroyed. There is much more but this gives you a quick snapshot of what lies in the future.

   This is intense and highly prophetic material. It is one of a few reasons many believers do not read or study the book of Revelation. The result of refusing to consider the details contained in the book of Revelation is a general disinterest in and comprehension of prophetic biblical material. This is an unnatural characteristic of the believer in Jesus Christ. I call it “unnatural,” because a conservative estimate is that ~25% of the Bible is prophecy. The Gospels contain an even higher percentage, perhaps as much as 33%. Of those percentages, some scholars estimate about 50% has already been fulfilled precisely as the Bible stated it would be. That would mean that the remaining 50% has yet to be fulfilled. Given this amount of prophetic material and the pristine record of fulfillment, why would Christians not study the book of Revelation?

   In verse 1, we read that when Jesus receives the scroll from the Father, He breaks the first seal. Upon that breaking one of the four living creatures, who are identified elsewhere as cherubim, speaks in a loud voice a single word, “Come.” The Greek word for come is “erchomai” (Strong’s #2064), and means “to proceed, follow, to appear, come forth, and/or to go.”

   That is precisely what we read in verse 2. The cherubim’s command results in a rider on a white horse moving forward. We are informed that this rider has a bow. He is given a crown and is dispatched to the earth “conquering and to conquer.”

   What are we to make of this first seal and the first of four horsemen dispatched to the earth? The first fact to take note of is that it is Jesus who initiates the events these four horsemen unleash. These events are both redemptive and judicial in nature. This is because the opening of the seals leads to the trumpet judgments, which in turn lead to the bowl judgments, and all these together picture for us Yahweh’s judgment upon those who dwell on the earth. Simultaneously, this is also picturing the preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus. What happens when Jesus returns? Evil is dealt with; the enemies of God will be judged and dispatched to their fate, and the new heavens, the new earth, the new Jerusalem become a visible reality. So, redemption and judgment are in view here. This is very much Day of the Lord language. 

   We must also take note of the fact that this rider had a bow. Many commentators say that this bow is a weapon. That is the traditional interpretation. However, there is another possibility that fits biblically, and in my opinion is a better interpretation for what we understand will take place. My friend David Paxton subscribes to this alternative view, as do many respected Bible researchers.

   The word “bow” is used in Scripture to refer to a covenant. The Hebrew word is “qesheth” (Strong’s #7198) and can mean weapon or covenant. Missler, for example, considers this latter possibility likely.  This word is used in Genesis 9:13 to refer to the covenant that Yahweh made with Noah demonstrated by the rainbow.

   If this bow is referring to a covenant, then it certainly fits the coming world leader we refer to as the Antichrist who does in fact deceive the world by making a “bow” or covenant with Israel for seven years. The prophet Daniel was speaking about the last days world ruler when he wrote these things in Chapter 8 and 9:

   “And through his shrewdness he will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; And he will magnify himself in his heart, and he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, but he will be broken without human agency.” (Daniel 8:25).

   “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”  (Daniel 9:27).

    There is another possible interpretation for this bow. I was speaking with someone about this recently. Could this bow also be a rainbow flag? The rainbow flag has become a symbol of rebellion against Yahweh and His standard of righteousness. If this is true, then the many private homes, businesses, and churches that fly the rainbow flag are testifying that they are rebels.

   The rainbow flag symbolizes the wickedness of those whose hearts are turned against Yahweh, against the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, and against His commandments concerning sexual behavior. If this is the case, then the rider on the white horse is signaling his allegiance with those who shake their fist at Yahweh and proclaim their independence from His moral rule. Do not miss the fact that transgenderism has hitched its wagon to the LBGTQ+ train right alongside of pedophilia. If the bow includes a rainbow flag, it is representative of the foundation of rebellion – denying the Creator’s design and His rule over us.

   As you have already heard, I believe this figure is the Antichrist. Some people attempt to argue that this rider on the white horse is Jesus. It is not Jesus. How can Jesus be the one who breaks the seal and then is called forth by the first living creature to mount the white horse and return to the earth? Jesus will bring peace, but only after He returns to establish His kingdom.

   Authors Derek and Sharon Gilbert provide a compelling argument that this is not Jesus.

   “…the rider on the white horse is not Jesus. Yes, Christ will return riding a white horse to the Battle of Armageddon as described in Revelation 19, but the evidence here points to this rider as a deliberate, but rather poor, imitation of Messiah. First let’s examine his weapon: The first rider of Revelation 6 carries a bow – in Greek, a ‘taxon.’ This is the only place in the Bible where the word is used…Taxon is the etymological root of our English word ‘toxic.’ It came the long way around; ‘toxikon’ in Greek refers to an arrow dipped in poison. That’s actually the shortened form of toxikon phdrmakon (bow poison). The Romans imported the word toxicus (poisonous), derived from toxicum (poison) and by the middle of the seventeenth century it made its way into the King’s English. The toxon is not the weapon Jesus wields in Revelation 19: ‘From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.’” 

   This rider represents the Antichrist. After the rapture of the ecclesia, he will publicly arise on the scene. Because Satan does not know the exact time of the return of Jesus for His ecclesia, I believe he always has someone he can possess and empower waiting in the wings. Over the years we have witnessed many individuals who are clearly demonic in their beliefs and actions and could easily have been the Antichrist in waiting.

   The Bible speaks often of this man of sin, the lawless one. Here are a few of the many names for this personage in the Hebrew Scriptures:

• Seed of the Serpent – Genesis 3:15 

• Idol Shepherd – Zechariah 11:16-17 

• Little Horn – Daniel 7:8-11, 21-26; 8:9-12, 23-25 

• Prince that shall come – Daniel 9:26 

• Willful King – Daniel 11:36 

   In the Apostolic Scriptures we find these titles:

• Beast – Revelation 11:7; 13 

• False Prophet – Revelation 13 

• Antichrist (Pseudo-Christ) – 1 John 2:22 

• Lawless One – 2 Thessalonians 2:8 

• Man of Sin – 2 Thessalonians 2:3 

• One come in his own name – John 5:43 

• Son of Perdition – 2 Thessalonians 2:3 

   Here are a few of the characteristics of the Antichrist that we find in the Scriptures:

• An intellectual genius – Daniel 7:20; 8:23; Ezekiel 28:3 

• A persuasive orator – Daniel 7:20; Revelation 13:2 

• A shrewd politician – Daniel 11:21; 8:25 

• A financial genius – Revelation 13:17; Ezekiel 28:4-5; Psalm 52:7; Daniel 11:38, 43 

• A forceful military leader – Daniel 8:24; Revelation 6:2; Revelation 13:4; Isaiah 4:16 

• A powerful organizer – Revelation 13:12; 17:17 

• A unifying religious guru – 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:3, 14, 15 

   Some people attempt to argue that the idea of an antichrist is a foreign concept to the Jewish mindset and was instead an idea given to the apostle John initially, and to the Christian movement generally. This is simply not true. The Jews of Jesus’ day and before, already had a developed idea of this figure as an enemy of Yahweh.

   Dr. Michael Heiser informs us that, “Scholars of Second Temple Judaism have known for quite some time that there was, in fact, a theological profile of a great eschatological enemy of God – a profile that New Testament writers followed in their own descriptions of the Antichrist.”  Heiser then cites William Horbury’s work on the Jewish literature of pre-Christian days related to the enemy of God.

   Jewish notions of an opponent of the messiah are commonly thought to be less well attested, or not attested at all, at the beginning of the Roman imperial period. The earliest full descriptions of Antichrist, identified by name, are Christian, and they come from sources of the second and third centuries – Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origin, and the exegetical works attributed to Hippolytus. Moreover, the first attestations of the Greek antichristos are Christian, being found in two of the three Johannine epistles of the New Testament…Antichrist, then, was certainly an important early Christian conception. Nevertheless, the Christian references to him include much to suggest that, like the figure of the Christ or messiah, he derived from pre-Christian Judaism in its Greek and Roman setting. This view is consonant with the lack of explanation of the Antichrist figure in the New Testament, and it is supported by sources from the end of the Second Temple period which describe an Antichrist-like figure without using this term, naming him rather as the wicked one, Gog, or Beliar. These sources can be said to bridge the gap between the biblical passages already noted, which attest the expectations of messianic victory and of a final arch-enemy of Israel. 

   If we see this rider on the white horse as bringing forth a covenant to offer peace upon the earth, then things fall into place nicely. Another factor weighs heavily on this perspective. The rider has a bow but what does he not have? He has no arrows. What good is a bow without arrows? What we are meant to understand from this picture is that this covenant of peace will be bloodless. It will be achieved by an intellectual genius, a persuasive orator, a shrewd politician, a financial genius, a forceful military ruler, a powerful organizer, and a unifying religious guru. In other words, a person who is empowered and possessed by a power not of this world. That description fits the Antichrist.

   In fact, I will argue that we are seeing this kind of thing happen right now. The entire world is being brought under a covenant of wickedness and evil, not by the sword, but in peace. Some might say, “Mike, you’re crazy. We are not experiencing peace; we are a nation and world in turmoil.” I would not argue that, but would say in response that we are in the process of being conquered, not by a foreign army of invaders, but by the steady unseen hand of a powerful manipulating force that is persuading the masses that peace is within our grasp. The only thing mankind needs to do is to stop dividing over religion. More specifically, the world is adopting the idea that if the born-again, blood bought, Holy Spirit filled, Christian can be dealt with, peace will come to the earth.


Signed copies of Mike’s book, The Four Horses of Revelation 6: A New Prophetic Interpretation is available from the author by sending your money order or check for $23 which includes shipping cost to:

Dr. Mike Spaulding
P. O. Box 3007  •  Lima, OH 45807

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