The Seals and the Horsemen
One might suggest that with the opening of the seals, the Book of Revelation begins in earnest. I wish to discuss this passage in relation to two other passages. The first is Daniel 2 where the Kingdom of Christ and his Church smash all prior earthly kingdoms. This passage reminds us that God’s Kingdom shall ultimately conquer regardless of outward circumstances. The second is our Lord’s “Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). In this passage we are reminded that “the end is not yet” but that there shall be wars and rumors of wars, false christs and gospels, betrayals, and most of all, persecution of God’s people, for an unspecified amount of time before our Lord’s return, and that in the interim we are called to faithfulness. This and other passages (e.g., Matthew 25:14-30) remind us that our God intended that His people live in this time between his Son’s first and second comings.
In light of these two passages, I take what comes of the “four horsemen” of the first four seals (namely, war and its inevitable results of civil unrest and crime, famine, and death) not solely as something that shall happen in a future “great tribulation” (though I do not doubt that all these terrible things shall then happen) but as what our Lord told us would happen until his return. Our Lord’s coming has put Satan on defense. And though matters on earth have measurably improved since the founding of Christ’s Church, Satan still manages a full-court press and especially of God’s people and will until the end of time. For this reason, we should not be surprised that there are wars, nor should we believe promises from politicians, regardless how sincere, that wars shall one day cease. They won’t; evil is too rooted in the heart of man. But we should also steer away from thinking that some particular war is the war that shall bring the end, some particular dictator the Antichrist. We learned from John’s First Letter that there have been and shall be antichrists galore before our Lord’s return.
So how should we live in light of the opening of these first four seals. Understand first that it was the Lamb that opened them and the cherubim that commanded each horseman to “Come!” In other words, all happens according to our Father’s sovereign will. Second, that we live in a time where we are called to faithfulness. We are not home; we are aliens in a strange land. We will experience tribulation and persecution; indeed, we should expect it. Our time here is a call for endurance while we live godly lives in witness for Him. Third, He shall one day call us home!