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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 31

The Rider on a White Horse
 

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Let’s take a moment to pray:

Lord,

Once again we thank You for granting us the great privilege of searching and understanding the book of Revelation.

After studying the letters to the seven churches, we now wish to start on the subject of the seven seals, beginning with the rider on a white horse.

Please guide us during these lessons, so that we may grasp the important message You want to give us through the seven seals. In Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.




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Revelation 4:1

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven.

And the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said,

«Come up here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter.»

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As we saw in our last lesson, the apostle John, after having received the letters to the seven churches, got a second set of seven messages concerning «things which must be hereafter».

This new prophetic set is made up of seven seals.




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Revelation 5:5

Weep not.

Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

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We also saw that these seals have been placed on the scroll containing the destiny of mankind. Now, the Bible clearly explains what that destiny is: «The wages of sin is death.» (Romans 6:23)

By His sacrifice on the cross, only Jesus can offer us another destiny, that is, eternal life. This is why He is the only One able to open the seven seals.

Each seal describes a period of history between the first and second coming of Jesus.

At the opening of the seventh seal, Jesus will return, revealing at that time the eternal destiny of each one of us, according to the choice we have made here on earth.




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Revelation 6:1

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying,

«Come and see.»

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Jesus, the Lamb of God, now proceeds to open the first seal, which is the subject of this lesson.

One of the four beasts, presented in Revelation 4 and 5, witnesses the scene.

In fact, each one of these four beasts, which we will study in a future lesson, is assigned to one of the first four seals.




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Revelation 6:2

And I saw, and behold a white horse.

And he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given to him.

And he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

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The entire content of the first seal is contained in this verse. At first sight, it doesn’t seem to give us much information.

But if we analyze all its symbolism in the light of the Bible, we will see how the first seal perfectly applies to the historical period of the first letter, addressed to the church of Ephesus, which corresponds to the years A.D. 31 to 100.




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Revelation 2:1-3

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,

«These things said He that holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the middle of the seven golden candlesticks;

“I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you can not bear them which are evil.

And you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars: and have borne, and have patience, and for My name’s sake have labored, and have not fainted.”»

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The first letter, addressed to the church of Ephesus, describes the apostolic period from the year 31 to 100, marked by the zeal of the Church and the purity of its doctrine.




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Revelation 6:2

And I saw, and behold a white horse.

And He that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given to Him. And He went forth conquering, and to conquer.

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Revelation 19:11

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse.

And He that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He does judge and make war.

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Does the first seal also describe the apostolic period, from A.D. 31 to 100?

First, if we compare these two verses, we can easily identify the Rider on the white horse, who is none other than Jesus Christ.




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Psalm 45:3-5

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Most Mighty, with Your glory and Your majesty.

And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and Your right hand shall teach You terrible things.

Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under You.

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The picture of the first seal, that is, the Rider going out to fight and conquer, is already presented in Psalm 45 as a prophecy about Jesus Christ.

But does this prophecy really concern Jesus? Let’s read on...




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Psalm 45:6,7

Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of Your kingdom is a right scepter.

You love righteousness, and hate wickedness: therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness.

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Hebrews 1:8,9

To the Son [God] said, «Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness.»

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The victorious Rider is indeed Jesus Christ.

The Father Himself calls Him God.




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Revelation 6:4,5,8

And there went out another horse that was red. (...) And I beheld, and see a black horse. (...) And I looked, and behold a pale horse.

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Zechariah 1:8

I saw by night, and behold a man riding on a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.

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Now, let’s look at the horse.

The first four seals present four horses, each one having a different color. We can find a similar symbolism in the book of Zechariah.

What do those four horses represent?




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Zechariah 1:9,10

Then said I, «O my lord, what are these [horses]?»

And the angel that talked with me said to me, «I will show you what these be.»

And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, «These are they whom the Lord has sent to walk to and fro through the earth.»

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The horses, then, are sent by God to carry out His will on earth.

The color of the horse illustrates the conditions prevailing during the period which is concerned.

So the white horse displays a period of purity, such as the purity of the Church’s doctrine described in the letter to Ephesus.




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The horse also symbolizes determination: God will carry out His will.

«Have you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder? Can you make him afraid as a grasshopper?

The glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength: he goes on to meet the armed men. He mocks at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turns he back from the sword.

The quiver rattles against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swallows the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believes he that it is the sound of the trumpet.

He said among the trumpets, “Ha, ha!” and he smells the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.» (Job 39:19-25)




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As for white, it symbolizes purity, salvation in Jesus Christ:

«Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.» (Psalm 51:7)

«“Come now, and let us reason together,” said the Lord: “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”» (Isaiah 1:18)

«A great multitude (...) stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes. (...) “What are these which are arrayed in white robes, and from where came they?” (...) “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”» (Revelation 7:9,13,14)

«He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.» (Revelation 3:5)




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Revelation 6:2

And I saw, and behold a white horse.

And He that sat on him had a bow.

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Psalm 7:11-13

God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

If he turn not, He will whet His sword; He has bent His bow, and made it ready. He has also prepared for him the instruments of death; He ordains His arrows against the persecutors.

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The bow, too, symbolizes God’s determination to execute His judgments.

The Rider on a white horse brings us the good news of salvation, but His bow reminds us that rejection of this salvation leads to eternal death.




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Psalm 7:12,13

If he turn not, He will whet His sword; He has bent His bow, and made it ready.

He has also prepared for him the instruments of death.

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2 Corinthians 2:15,16

For we are to God a sweet smell of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.

To the one we are the smell of death to death; and to the other the smell of life to life.

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Paul properly explains the symbolism of the bow: the rejection of salvation in Jesus Christ leads to eternal death.

This is what Psalm 7 describes as God’s bow, the «instruments of death».




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The bow also symbolizes the work blessed and supported by God:

«Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall.

The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.

But his bow stayed in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob; (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel:) even by the God of your father, who shall help you; and by the Almighty, who shall bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb.

The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.

They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers.» (Genesis 49:22-26)




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Genesis 49:23,24

The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.

But his bow stayed in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob.

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2 Timothy 4:17

The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear.

And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

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As a symbol of the work that triumphs over adversity thanks to God’s support, the bow perfectly illustrates the evangelical work of the first apostles.




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Revelation 6:2

And He that sat on [the white horse] had a bow; and a crown was given to Him.

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1 Corinthians 9:25

And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things.

Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

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Finally, the Rider on a white horse receives a crown.

The apostle Paul indicates that an incorruptible crown will be given to all those who fight for God’s cause, zealously proclaiming the gospel, and trying to bring as many souls as possible to Jesus’ cross.




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The crown is the reward of those who persevere in God’s harvest:

«I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love His appearing.» (2 Timothy 4:7,8)

«Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him.» (James 1:12)

«Be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.» (Revelation 2:10)

«Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown.» (Revelation 3:11)




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Revelation 6:2

A crown was given to Him. And He went forth conquering, and to conquer.

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Colossians 1:6

[The gospel] is come to you, as it is in all the world; and brings forth fruit.

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The Rider of the first seal «went forth» to conquer, thus indicating that the work is only beginning.

Even though the work was just getting started, it grew very quickly during the years 31 to 100, as Paul illustrated when writing that the gospel, «in all the world, brings forth fruit».




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Revelation 6:2

He went forth conquering, and to conquer.

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Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and spoke to [His disciples], saying,

«All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth.

Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.»

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Jesus, the Almighty One, knew that His Church would grow very quickly...




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Acts 2:5-11 : The Holy Spirit was responsible for the Church’s lightning start!

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another,

«Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.»




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Then, the gospel quickly spread to all known countries:

«(...) the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven.» (Colossians 1:23)

«Have they not heard? Yes truly, their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.» (Romans 10:18)

«[I] showed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.» (Acts 26:20)

«I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not worked by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about to Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.» (Romans 15:18,19)




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Psalm 2:7,8

The Lord has said to Me,

«You are My Son. (...) I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.»

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Acts 1:8

You shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.

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The Rider on a white horse has gone out «conquering and to conquer», proclaiming the message of salvation in Jesus «to the uttermost part of the earth».




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Revelation 6:2

He went forth conquering, and to conquer.

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1 Corinthians 15:57

Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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2 Corinthians 2:14

Thanks be to God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the aroma of His knowledge by us in every place.

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As we spread the gospel, and as we fight against evil, let’s always remember that all our successes and victories are Christ’s work.




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Mark 16:15,20

And [Jesus] said to them, «Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.» (...)

And they went forth, and preached everywhere.

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Matthew 24:14

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations.

And then shall the end come.

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The first seal illustrates the victorious start of the Church.

But the work isn’t finished yet.

Jesus asks us to proclaim His message of salvation, with perseverance, to all nations before His imminent return.




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Revelation 19:11,14

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse.

And He that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He does judge and make war. (...)

And the armies which were in heaven followed Him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

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The beginning of the evangelical work of the Church is symbolized in the first seal by the Rider on a white horse, who goes out to conquer.

Interestingly enough, the conclusion of the evangelical work is also symbolized by the same Rider on a white horse, coming to conquer with His angels, all riding on white horses!




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Let’s thank God:

Our Father,

Some people said about the first apostles, «These that have turned the world upside down are come here also.» (Acts 17:6).

We too can turn the world upside down by proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Just like the Rider on the white horse, we want to war, not to kill, but to proclaim to everyone the only way to eternal life.

«We do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.» (2 Corinthians 10:3,4).

Please help us to always be faithful soldiers for you. In Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.


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