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.
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?
Yo digo que es extraño que el jinete del caballo blanco se refiera al señor jesus en suposición de rey.si 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.
[…] 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… Read more »