Unless you have been living under a rock, you should be familiar with the political and social unrest that has been occurring throughout the world.
This unrest includes mass riots spreading across entire countries, escalating tensions between nations, viral outbreaks, and claims of pending ecological disaster. Many people believe that these global tragedies are signs of the end times, and they point to bible prophecies as proof.
In particular, these “end-time believers” commonly point to Revelations 6:1 – 8. Revelations is the last book of the New Testament that describes the end of the world, which is brought forth by the so-called “four horsemen” of the apocalypse. These are horsemen that believers of the prophecies contend, are “riding” in today’s modern world.
According to scripture, The Lamb of God, interpreted as Jesus Christ, breaks four of the seven seals on a scroll he took from God’s right hand. This scroll is believed to be God’s ultimate plan for the world.
Breaking the four seals brought forth the four horsemen in which each rides a horse of a particular color: white, red, black, and pale. These are commonly interpreted as Conquest, War, Famine, and Death.
Though the white horse is sometimes interpreted as disease, as a measure of comparison I am going to stay with the original verbiage. Even so, many believe that the proof of the four horseman’s presence is all around us.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The rider of the white horse is often described as a conqueror. He is described as having a victor’s crown and a bow.
However, no arrows are mentioned in the description, leading many to believe that the conqueror is not so much a warrior, but a military leader or military strategist.
With that description in mind, several of history’s military conquerors have been thought to be the anti-Christ: Bonaparte, Hitler, and Mussolini to name a few. (1)The next rider, who rides the red horse, is said to represent war. Usually it is the bringer of the war planned and organized by the rider of the white horse.
Believers contend that mankind is in a constant state of war, with peace only being an intermission to prepare for the next war. (2) They state that the escalating tensions we see today are only the beginning.
“The sword in the hand of the red horse rider will first slash across all nations of the world. It will then move to the comfortable suburbs and idyllic countryside of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Scandinavia, and certain other countries.” (2)
The Black horse is associated with famine, and to prove its existence, believers point to the ever-increasing price of food. The price of corn is on the rise and WorldBank.org recently published a report that food prices have jumped 10%. (3) Believers also cite the nearly 1 billion starving humans on the planet as proof that the horseman of famine rides today.
Finally, the rider of the pale horse was actually named: Death. Though this is the only named rider in the scripture, its interpretation is the most varied. It is often interpreted as death as a result from wars. However, the “pale” description leads many to believe it is a result of the famine or even pestilence (plague).
A Rational Perspective
Although it is easy to connect the descriptions of the four horsemen of the apocalypse with modern events, I would not go as far as to state that it is proof that they are riding today.
Those same scripture descriptions can be compared to the same events of today with “proof” that are not riding today.
For example, the conqueror on the white horse, or the Antichrist, has yet to emerge. Those called the antichrist (Bonaparte, Hitler, etc.) failed to position themselves as a global “willful king.”
The rider of the red horse, or war, is easier to compare to events today. It is true that mankind is a warring species. There is no denying that man as fought wars over power, land, money, beliefs, and even love. However, just because war breaks out does not prove that the red horse of war is thundering across the globe. It only proves that mankind has long way to go before learning understanding, acceptance, and social tolerance.
The black horse of famine is somewhat easier to refute. It is true that there are nearly a billion people starving in the world. Honestly, that is too many starving people in this day and age; however, that amounts to only about 13% of the global population. That means that 87% of the world’s population has enough food to eat.
Finally, the pale horse, Death, is always here. Death is part of the natural world. However, large scale death of one-quarter of the world’s population (as interpreted by many believers) has not yet emerged. While it is not impossible, such a scenario is not very likely to occur.
The events that are occurring today are not proof that the Four Horseman of Apocalypse are riding among us. The troubles we face today are the same as the troubles that people faced 100, 500, 1000 years ago, and the yet the long-anticipated apocalypse has yet to occur.
While politics, technology, and people may have changed, but the sentiment is still the same. War, famine, and death is only proof that mankind still has not learned how to live civilly with one another.