Four Horsemen at the Gallop

– posted by meleti
Chapter 16 of the Revelation Climax book deals with Rev. 6:1-17 which reveals the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and is said to have its fulfillment “from 1914 up to the destruction of this system of things”.  (re p. 89, heading)
The first horsemen is described in Revelation 2:6 thus:

“And I saw, and, look! a white horse; and the one seated upon it had a bow; and a crown was given him, and he went forth conquering and to complete his conquest.”

Paragraph 4 states: “John sees him [Jesus Christ] in heaven at the historic moment in 1914 when Jehovah declares, “I, even I, have installed my king,” and tells him that this is for the purpose “that I may give nations as your inheritance. (Psalm 2:6-8)”
Does this Psalm really show that Jesus was installed as king in 1914? No. We get there only because we have a pre-existing belief that 1914 is when Jesus was enthroned in heaven. However, we've come to see that there are serious challenges to that particular doctrinal belief.  If you would like to examine these issues, we refer you to this post.
Does the second Psalm in any way give us some indication as to when this rider sallies forth?  Well, verse 1 of that Psalm describes the nations as being in tumult.

(Psalm 2:1)?Why have the nations been in tumult And the national groups themselves kept muttering an empty thing?

That fits with the First World War, but then it also fits with the Second World War, or the war of 1812 for that matter—what some historians refer to as the real First World War.   In any case, what we call WWI is not unique as regards the nations being in tumult, so we cannot use that to say definitively that the rider on the white horse began his gallop in 1914.  Let’s look then at verse 2 of the same Psalm which describes the kings of the earth taking their stand against Jehovah and his anointed one.

(Psalm 2:2)  The kings of earth take their stand And high officials themselves have massed together as one Against Jehovah and against his anointed one,

There doesn't appear to be any evidence that the nations of the earth where standing against Jehovah in 1914.  We might look at 1918 when the 8 members of the New York headquarters staff were imprisoned, but even that falls short of fulfilling this prophecy time-wise. First, that happened in 1918, not 1914. Second, only the U.S.A. was involved in that persecution, not the nations of the earth.
Verse 3 seems to indicate that the purpose of this stance against Jehovah and his anointed king is to free themselves of his bonds.  They somehow feel restricted by God.

(Psalm 2:3)  [Saying:] “Let us tear their bands apart And cast their cords away from us!”

This certainly sounds like a war cry.  Again, during any war fought over the last 200 years, the nations have been concerned with defeating each other, not God.  In fact, rather than warring against God, they constantly implore His aid in their warfare; a far cry from ‘tearing his bands apart and casting away his cords’.  (One wonders what “bands and cords” the nations are referring to here?  Could this be referencing the control that religion has imposed upon the kings of the earth?  If so, then this could be talking about the attack the nations of the earth launch on Babylon the Great.  That attack would include God’s people who are only saved by His cutting short the days. – Mat. 24:22)
In any case, nothing that occurred in 1914 fits with the scenario that Ps. 2:3 paints. The same must be said for what is described in verses 4 and 5.

(Psalm 2:4, 5) The very One sitting in the heavens will laugh; Jehovah himself will hold them in derision.  5 At that time he will speak to them in his anger And in his hot displeasure he will disturb them,

Was Jehovah Laughing at the nations in 1914? Was he speaking to them in his anger? Was he disturbing them in his hot displeasure? One would think that when Jehovah speaks to the nations in anger and disturbs them while in hot displeasure that there wouldn’t be much left of the nations. Absolutely nothing happened in 1914, nor the years that followed, to indicate that Jehovah addressed the nations of the earth in this manner. One would think that such an action by God would leave telltale traces—things like smoke and fire, and great craters in the earth.
But some might counter, “Don’t verses 6 and 7 indicate the enthronement of God’s messianic king?”

(Psalm 2:6, 7)  [Saying:] “I, even I, have installed my king Upon Zion, my holy mountain.”  7 Let me refer to the decree of Jehovah; He has said to me: “You are my son; I, today, I have become your father.

They do indeed refer to that. However, do they refer to 1914 as being the time that occurred? Here Jehovah is shown speaking in the past perfect tense. This action has already occurred. When was it that God said, “You are my son; I, today, I have become your father.”?  That was back in 33 C.E. When did he install Jesus as King? According to Colossians 1:13, that occurred in the 1st century.  We acknowledge this fact in our publications. (w02 10/1 p. 18; w95 10/15 p. 20 par. 14)  Granted, we believe it was a only kingdom over Christians and that he had not yet been granted the authority over the nations of the world . We have to believe that because our belief in 1914 as the beginning of Christ’s messianic rule demands it.  However, that doesn’t explain his words at Mat. 28:18, “All authority has been granted me in heaven and on the earth.” There doesn’t seem to be anything conditional about that statement. Having authority and choosing to exercise it are two very different things. As an obedient son who does nothing of his own initiative, he would only exercise his authority when his father told him it was time to do so. – John 8:28
So a solid argument can be made for understanding Psalm 2:6, 7 as referring to events that took place during the 1st century.
That Psalm 2:1-9 does not refer to 1914 but rather to some future date is indicated by the final verses which speak of Jesus’ breaking the nations with an iron scepter and dashing them to pieces as if they were a potter’s vessels.  The cross-references to these verses point to Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15 which all refer to the time of Armageddon.
However, the context of this vision indicates that it occurs before the end of the system of things. It does not tell us what year it begins any more than Jesus’ great prophecy of Matthew 24:3-31 tells us what year the last days would begin. We only know that the entrance of the rider on the white horse comes in conjunction with three other horses whose riders symbolize the presence of war, famine, pestilence, and death. So it seems that the rider of the white horse does sally forth at or before the beginning of the period that marks the last days.
Fair enough, but does not the crown that he is given indicate enthronement? Does it not indicate that he has been installed as the messianic King? Perhaps it would if there were other corroborating verses to indicate that Jesus would be installed as the messianic King at the beginning of last days. However, there are no such verses in the Bible.
There is also the phraseology which is odd if we consider this a picture of his installation as king.  When a king is anointed and installed, there is a coronation ceremony. A king isn’t given a crown as you would hand someone a staff.  Rather, a crown is placed on his head.  This symbolizes his anointment by a higher authority.  The king sits on his throne and is crowned.  He doesn’t sit astride his war horse, take up a bow and then get undergo coronation.  What an odd picture of enthronement that would make.
In the Bible, the word “crown” represents the authority of a King. However, it can also represent beauty, exultation, glory, and the granting of authority to perform some task. (Isa 62:1-3; 1 Th 2:19, 20; Php 4:1; 1 Pe 5:4; 1 Co 9:24-27; Re 3:11)  Within this context, the crown that was given to the rider on the white horse could well indicate that he had been released to exercise authority in some regard. To say that it represents his installation as the messianic King, is to assume facts not in evidence. The context surrounding the giving of the crown speaks of his conquering and completing his conquest. This does not refer to the destruction that he will bring upon the world as the messianic King when he manifests himself in his presence. Rather this is an ongoing conquest. During the last days, Jesus organized his people to be a conquering force in the world. This is in line with the conquest he made when he was a man on earth and which conquest he empowers his followers to make.

(John 16:33) I have said these things to YOU that by means of me YOU may have peace. In the world YOU are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.”

(1 John 5:4) because everything that has been born from God conquers the world. And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.

Notice that the white horse rides out first, then the three horsemen depicting the signs that are the beginning of pangs of distress ride forth.  (Mat 24:8)  Jesus began organizing his people decades before the outbreak of the last days.
Does this mean that Jesus as the rider of the white horse has been present before and throughout the last days.  Undoubtedly.  However, let’s not confuse this with the “presence of the Son of man”.  He  has been present with his followers since 29 CE, yet the presence of the Son of man is still in our future. (Mat 28:20; 2 Thess 2:8)
If, after reading this, you can see flaws in the reasoning, or if you know of Scriptures that would lead us in another direction than what we have taken here, please feel free to comment. We welcome the insights of serious Bible students.

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  • Comment by WT Study: “Let Your Kingdom Come” But When? | Beroean Pickets on 2014-03-31 00:11:59

    […] Really? And we know this how? There is scriptural evidence to support the idea that Christ began ruling in 33 C.E. There is also evidence that he will begin to rule as the Messianic King together with his anointed brothers at the time of his presence—a future event. There is no evidence that he began ruling in any sense of the word in 1914. Therefore, we have justification for believing that the events in the opening verses of Revelation 6 take place after 33 C.E. We also have reason to speculate that these events are yet future, occurring after Jesus’ enthronement as the Messianic King during his presence. However, there is no justification whatsoever for considering that 1914 plays any role in the ride of the Four Horsemen (For a more detailed consideration, see Four Horsemen at the Gallop.) […]

  • Comment by Sean from Oregon on 2014-06-16 02:58:46

    In my study I am inclined to think the first horseman is not Jesus but instead a false Christ or political power. Remembering not to accept an understanding just because it is what we have always believed have you gone back to properly identify this first horseman?

    • Reply by Andres on 2017-11-01 10:47:19

      Yo digo que es extraño que el jinete del caballo blanco se refiera al señor jesus en suposición de los otros jinetes representan situaciones mundiales,¿porque pensar que el jinete del caballo blanco es diferente? Es mi opinión que éste jinete representa castigo y disciplina al pueblo de Dios. Recordemos que el juicio empieza por la casa de Dios.

  • Comment by sarah smile on 2023-10-20 15:29:13

    Jehovah's Witnesses, and many other Christians, identify the first horseman of the apocalypse as Jesus Christ. This is an understandable interpretation. Surely Jesus is worthy of a crown. And the white horse, that must represent righteousness, cleanliness, and light; as the color white so often does in the scriptures. But are we being fooled? Consider the following scriptures.

    "Miriam was struck with leprosy as white as snow." (Nu 12:10) "Satan himself keeps disguising himself as an angel of light." (2 Co 11:14) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men's bones and of every sort of uncleanness." (Mt 23:27)

    I actually believe that there is a better way to get at the overall identity of the 4 horses, that doesn't include the need to speculate beyond what the scriptures offer. This is based on reasoning. I would like to share that with you.

    Reasoning Line #1: Numbers (4,7,12, etc.) in Revelation occur as sets. They belong together as a group, and they often have an owner. By this, I mean that they are on the same team. It's about more than just having something in common. There is something that binds them together. I encourage you to confirm this for yourself in your own Bible. Here are some examples.

    There are 7 congregations that belong to Jehovah and Jesus Christ. There are 4 living creatures in the midst of, and around Jehovah's throne. The Lamb has 7 horns and 7 eyes. There is a dragon with 7 heads, 10 horns, and 7 diadems. There are 12 tribes of Israel.

    In the vast majority of the book of Revelation, it's easy to see who these groupings belong to and what it is that binds them together. Not so with the passage at Re 6:1-8:6 regarding the 4 horsemen and the 7 seals. The passage keeps switching between goodness and badness and it is ambiguous in places. I'm suggesting that Jehovah's design is the same throughout the book, that we must apply ourselves to finding the answers.

    Reasoning Line #2: The 4 "living" creatures introduce the 4 horsemen.

    Let's review what the scriptures say about horse #2, the fiery-colored one: "to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him." And horse #4, the pale one: "the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Hades was closely following him. And authority was given them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with a long sword and with food shortage and with deadly plague and by the wild beasts of the earth."

    I think this juxtaposition between life and death is intentional. I think it clearly identifies that the horses are on Satan's team. If this theory is correct, then horse #1 and horse #3 must also have something to do with either literal death or spiritual death. And by extension, so must the remaining 3 seals of the 7.

    Let's say that horseman #1 is Satan and that he is going forth to mislead and conquer as many people as possible with lies and falsehoods. That could be death dealing. What if horse #3 represents darkness and the pair of scales represent famine and the proportioning out of food, or maybe it hints at inequities and injustice. Wouldn't that also be death dealing?

    Seal #5 can be just as confusing as horse #1. It is about the souls under the altar who clearly belong to Jehovah and Jesus. And yet it says they were slaughtered. They are told to rest "until the number was filled also of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they also had been." More death, more killing and done by those on Satan's side.

    Seal #6 is a great earthquake. No deaths are mentioned from the earthquake, though that can happen with literal earthquakes. The people say: "Fall over us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" This implies a fear of judgment. Notice that the text and entire chapter immediately following this account answer the question of "who is able to stand?" with the sealing of the slaves of God and the description of those who come out of the great tribulation. Again, we have a contrast between life and death.

    And lastly, seal #7 is when the angel takes the heavenly incense vessel, fills it with fire from the heavenly altar, and hurls it to the earth. Fire can certainly be death dealing. While the angel is clearly on Jehovah's team, the anger he is expressing is in response to the prayers of the holy ones, some of whom asked him earlier "until when...are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood upon those who dwell on the earth." Asked and answered. Good for some, bad for others.

    I hope this has been helpful to you, something to meditate on.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2023-10-23 19:06:02

      The problem with defining what Revelation means is putting things into a time frame. I've been shying away from it for some time because it has been a real trap for so many. I think about how many times it has been interpreted and reinterpreted by the Watchtower Society's leaders over the past 140 years. But since the subject has been raised, I wonder if the rider of the white horse is indeed Jesus as the newly crowned king of the kingdom. He was crowned in the first century when God set up a kingdom that would never be brought to ruin. (Daniel chapter 2).
      “. . .I have said these things to YOU that by means of me YOU may have peace. In the world YOU are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.”” (John 16:33)
      “. . .Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.” (Romans 12:21)
      “. . .I am writing YOU, young men, because YOU have conquered the wicked one. I write YOU, young children, because YOU have come to know the Father. I write YOU, fathers, because YOU have come to know him who is from [the] beginning. I write YOU, young men, because YOU are strong and the word of God remains in YOU and YOU have conquered the wicked one.” (1 John 2:13, 14)
      “. . .YOU originate with God, little children, and YOU have conquered those [persons], because he that is in union with YOU is greater than he that is in union with the world.” (1 John 4:4)
      “. . .For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome, because everything that has been born from God conquers the world. And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith. Who is the one that conquers the world but he who has faith that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:3-5)
      “. . .To him that conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” (Revelation 2:7)
      “. . .Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations: He that conquers will by no means be harmed by the second death.’” (Revelation 2:11)
      “. . .“‘Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations: To him that conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white pebble, and upon the pebble a new name written which no one knows except the one receiving it.’” (Revelation 2:17)
      “. . .And to him that conquers and observes my deeds down to the end I will give authority over the nations, and he shall shepherd the people with an iron rod so that they will be broken to pieces like clay vessels, the same as I have received from my Father, and I will give him the morning star.” (Revelation 2:26-28)
      “. . .He that conquers will thus be arrayed in white outer garments; and I will by no means blot out his name from the book of life, but I will make acknowledgment of his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
      “. . .“‘The one that conquers—I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will by no means go out [from it] anymore, and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God, and that new name of mine.” (Revelation 3:12)
      “. . .To the one that conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21)
      By the way, it seems relevant that after many of these references to conquering, we read this exhortation: “. . .Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.’”” (Revelation 3:22)
      Continuing: “. . .But one of the elders says to me: “Stop weeping. Look! The Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered so as to open the scroll and its seven seals.”” (Revelation 5:5)
      “. . .And I saw, and, look! a white horse; and the one seated upon it had a bow; and a crown was given him, and he went forth conquering and to complete his conquest.” (Revelation 6:2)

      Now we have two references to conquering what isn't related to Jesus nor his disciples: “. . .And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them.” (Revelation 11:7)
      “. . .And it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his residence, even those residing in heaven. And there was granted it to wage war with the holy ones and conquer them, and authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” (Revelation 13:6, 7)

      Back to positive references to conquering: “. . .And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death.” (Revelation 12:10, 11)
      “. . .These will battle with the Lamb, but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those called and chosen and faithful with him [will do so].”” (Revelation 17:14)
      “. . .Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:7)

      So if the conquering of the rider on the white horse relates to the conquering of the world by our faith, then the events depicted with the opening of the remaining six seals would follow from that point forward, but wouldn't be sequential but concurrent for the most part. Just putting that out there for consideration.

  • Comment by sarah smile on 2023-10-25 15:02:35

    The scripture at Revelation 5:5 says, "The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered so as to open the scroll and its seven seals." This could be making a connection between Jesus and the 1st living creature which is like a lion (Re 4:7). This living creature introduces the 1st horseman, the one on the white horse. If this horse is opposed to Jesus, then wouldn't that counterpart be Satan who "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone?" (1Pe 5:8) The first part of that scripture reads "Keep your senses, be watchful!"

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