The forgotten fourth horseman
In his 1984 book, "Approaching Hoofbeats: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", Billy Graham said that, "We already see its shadow creeping over the Earth. It is estimated that 40 wars are going on somewhere in the world at any given time. Any one of them could be the beginning of the beginning of the end." Deftly avoiding the trap of time setting, yet without encouraging complacency, he added, "I have heard the distant sound of hoofbeats and seen the evil riders on the horizon of our lives." Now, some 24 years later, those who, like Billy Graham, believe that the visions of Revelation foretell real world events leading up to and culminating in Jesus' return would probably unanimously agree that these events are all "closer" than when Billy Graham wrote, but beyond that unanimity gives way to total confusion. About the only thing that all would agree on today is that we are twenty four years closer!
This blog will not attempt to systematically present the arguments that this author believes suggest Jesus' return is some decades off yet; rather, we will note one fundamental component of the horsemen passage that pulls the rug right out from under those numerous prophecy buffs who claim "it is near, even at the doors". I feel impelled to comment on this topic now because an old acquaintance, who always appeared sound-minded, has committed himself, body and soul, to a virtually memberless church headed by a self-proclaimed prophet who declares that the 1260 days of Revelation 11:2-3 begin in three days - April 17th, 2008. (See Ronald Weinland.) This "prophet" has pretentiously announced himself to be the chief of the two witnesses and claims that he will reveal the name of the other during his sermon this Sabbath, 19th April. One can understand people becoming hoodwinked by their own egos and setting themselves up as great servants of God. But how can sound-minded people be hooked by such nonsense and follow a Pied Piper who can't hold a tune? Many, many proofs could be called upon to burst such eschatological bubbles; we will resort to just the one — the
oh-so-forgotten fourth horseman:
So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth (Rev. 6:8).
Before "the end" that Jesus spoke of comes (Matt. 24:14) and the 1260 days preaching of the two witnesses begins the fourth horseman is to kill one quarter of the earth's population. That's way over one billion people. Perhaps one may try to interpret this passage to mean that of all people who perish, one quarter will die by the means mentioned. But that view fails at two points: 1) surely it has always been thus; 2) this reading seems impossibly strained. What could be plainer; before we reach "the end", involving massive martyrdom and tribulation (Rev. 6:9-11, Matt. 24:9-22), heavenly signs (Rev. 6:11ff), the seven last trumpets (Rev. 8:6 ff.), and the two witnesses, mankind is to be savaged by a paroxysm of [probably human-induced] "sword, hunger, death, and beasts of the earth". When it happens, what could be more obvious? The end-is-at-the-door school of thought always fails this simplest of all possible tests as to the potential proximity of the parousia. How it can be so readily dismissed defies this author's comprehension.
How does the above-mentioned "end-time prophet" ignore it? By wresting its plain meaning and interpreting the fourth horseman in a supposedly "spiritual" sense. The death of one quarter of the earth becomes the "taking of spiritual life away from brethren" (Ron Weinland, The Prophesied End-Time, p. 175). Sigh! Oh well, we only have a few months at the most to wait. If by September, say - by which time we should be well into the seven trumpet blasts - everybody's lawn has turned to dust and a third of all trees are charcoal (Rev. 8:7), this author will be eating a mess of humble pie. Or does that trumpet blast affect only Christians, too?