Saturday, 12 November 2016 00:10

39. Opening the second seal: Who is the one riding the red horse? * Revelation 6:3-4

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3  And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, Come and see.

4  And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

 

*** The color red ***: Before we talk about the second living creature, we must first understand the significance of the color red (scarlet). The greek word is purrhos, which means “fire-colored red”. In the Old Testament, red is associated with bloodshed (2 Kings 3:22-23; Nahum 2:3); and with sin (Isaiah 1:18). But an interesting reference, is Numbers 19:2, where God commanded the Israelites to bring a “red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came a yoke”. They were to bring it to the priest, so he could offer it as sacrifice to God. And so, red was also associated with sacrifice. In the New Testament, the color red is associated with Satan (the red dragon, Revelation 12:3); the beast (Revelation 17:3); a prostitute dressed in scarlet “having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication”, and “ the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Revelation 17:4,6). So, based on both Testaments, the color red represents bloodshed, sacrifice, and persecution due to the presence of sin in the world.

*** The second living creature ***: Based on the meaning of the color red, we can imagine that the living creature calling forth the red horse and rider, was the one who looked like a calf. Calves were animals used as part of the sacrificial ritual in ancient Israel. This ritual pointed to the sacrifice Christ would one day offer for His people. Before Jesus came to the Earth as a human being, God’s children were supposed to offer God a sacrifice, as they looked forward to the Messiah. After the cross, we have to look back at the sacrifice He offered for our sake. Just as in the opening of the first seal, the second living creature called forth another rider and horse, who came out from Heaven and headed to Earth.

*** The rider received the power to take peace from the Earth *** The Bible says that Jesus received His authority from the Father (Matthew 28:18; Matthew 11:27; John 3:35; John 5:22; John 13:3; John 17:2; Ephesians 1:19-23)). The Father gave the Son authority to make it clear to the people on Earth, they have a choice. Revelation 6:4 parallels the message of Matthew 10:34-36, where Jesus is instructing His disciples: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” After receiving the message of the Gospel (as portrayed by the first horseman), people are faced with a decision: accept it, or reject it. Either way, peace is removed. Those who reject the message miss out on the spiritual peace that fills the believer, even when going through hard times. Because they oppose those who do accept the message, persecution starts in various degrees and forms. Those who do accept the Gospel message, may feel spiritual peace, but are the center of opposition from the non-believers.

*** A great sword ***: The verses in Matthew 10:34-36, Ephesians 6:13,17, Hebrews 4:12, Revelation 1:16, Revelation 2:16, Apocalipse 19:21, e Apocalipse 19:15 bring us to believe that the Word of God is the great sword of Revelation. Jesus said His Word causes division, and division leads to persecution. This division makes us think about the persecution Paul suffered while preaching in Asia Minor. The persecution the early church suffered, mentioned in the letter to the Church of Smyrna (study #15 and #16), also comes to mind. The bottom line is, there are only 2 sides in this spiritual battle: those who are with God, and those who are not. The boundaries set by the Word of God are clearly demarcated, and separate the two sides. Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

*** Question: isn't it Satan the one who causes division in the church? ***: Answer: not exactly. Satan wants the people of God to sin and break away from a true relationship with God. And he does work in that direction. But his ultimate overall strategy seems to lean more towards the seamless blending of philosophies. When people cannot distinguish spiritual truths from half truths, false doctrines become more acceptable. Revelation 18:3 says that all nations have been deceived with the lies of the end time power seeking to position itself in the place of God (represented symbolically by Babylon). This deception is global. Satan wants to blur the picture, while Crist wants to make His people and His truth stick out.

*** That they should kill one another ***: Interestingly enough, the rider with the sword is not the one doing the killing. The rider takes away the peace, but PEOPLE are killing each other. To better understand why Jesus allows His people to be persecuted (as He takes away the peace), we need to understand the role of the sword. Imagine that every person on Earth is a name on a piece of paper. God wants to identify each of His followers. He wants to make it clear to the world that those people belong to Him. The Sword is like a great ink pen, that God dips in the blood of Jesus, and uses it to underline the names of His followers. This way, the believers and God's truth become easily identifiable. In contrast, this makes God's people vulnerable to persecution. They seem to become easy targets for enemy attack. Satan then seeks to erase such names from that page. God allows this to happen because Satan can only erase them from this temporary page, which is just a draft. The enemy cannot erase the chosen people of God from the Book of Life.

Literal casualties of war exist in this battle, on both camps. Jesus warned His people that whoever follows him will suffer persecution (John 16:33), and that whoever wants to gain their eternal life, may lose their temporary Earthly one (Matthew 10:38-39). Attacks can come directly, as an attempt to eliminate the believers through persecution. Attacks may also come indirectly, when different enemy groups are fighting each other, but causing the people of God to be caught in the middle. In reality, Satan is often the driving force behind two seemingly opposing groups.

*** Symbolic and prophetic application ***: The fighting, killing, and persecution can be understood both literally and spiritually. Let's for a moment, think about how many wars were fought worldwide in the name of religion, or associated with religious beliefs. Let's also scale it down, and think about how many times discord and heated discussions occur inside the church. If the most important thing when debating an issue in the church is that one individual opinion prevail over all others at all cost, without compassion and love for one another, then, according to Christ, murder has occurred. (Matthew 5:21-26). Every time we choose not to live and behave according to the example set by Christ, we turn to the opposite behavior, and we spiritually kill one another.

The prophetic time matching the opening of the second seal, is the same as the one seen in the church of Smyrna. They experienced a severe persecution during the second and third centuries. (See study #15 and #16). But this is a pattern that we see in all times of History, and even on a personal basis. Application goes beyond a specific period of time.

*** Overview ***: Jesus is the second horsemen, as He received all power from the Father. He brings in His hand the Word of God. The decision people make after hearing His message is crucial, and determines on which side of the spiritual war they will be. The war that God is more concerned with is not the one we fight with earthly weapons, but the one with eternal consequences, where we fight with God’s truth and obedience to His commands (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Accepting Jesus's sacrifice for us is our only protection. When people present themselves to God, under their own merit and blood, they are stating that they do not need a Savior. And so, this means they accept the price of eternal death. When we present ourselves before God, under the blood of Jesus, we come as redeemed people, whose debt of eternal death has been paid in full. Just as He promised to the overcomer in the church of Smyrna, Eternal Life is our reward when we allow Him to underline our lives with His redeeming blood.

   
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