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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 32

The Rider on a Red Horse
 

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Let’s pray together:

Lord,

We now wish to deepen our study of the seven seals, and we humbly ask You to guide us by Your Holy Spirit, during this lesson.

We know that we aren’t worthy to understand these things, not even worthy to search Your Holy Word.

But we have confidence in Your promises, and we know that You will answer our prayer, not due to our own merits, but thanks to those of Jesus Christ our Savior. In His precious name 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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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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The opening of the seven seals, which Jesus has made possible, reveals to us «things which must be hereafter».

Now, let’s study the second seal.




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Revelation 6:3

And when [the Lamb] had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say,

«Come and see.»

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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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The second seal immediately brings out a detail which was not so obvious in the first seal.

The rank of the four beasts corresponds with the rank of the first four seals: first beast with first seal, second beast with second seal, etc.




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Revelation 4:7

The first beast was like a lion.

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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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Though we will study more closely the four beasts in a future lesson, we can already see that the first beast, which is like a lion, is similar to the Rider of the first seal, Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.




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Proverbs 30:29-31 [Darby]

There are three things which have a stately step: (...) the lion, mighty among beasts, which turneth not away for any; a horse girt in the loins; (...) and a king, against whom none can rise up.

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Proverbs 28:1

The righteous are bold as a lion.

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The lion, just like «the horse girt in the loins» and «the king against whom none can rise up», is a perfect illustration of the first seal and its Rider, Jesus Christ, the victorious King of kings, who «went forth conquering, and to conquer.» (Revelation 6:2).




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Revelation 6:3

And when [the Lamb] had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, «Come and see.»

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Revelation 4:7

The second beast [was] like a calf.

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Now, let’s move on to the second seal.

The second beast, which introduces this seal, is like a calf.

While the lion is associated with conquest and victory, the calf carries a completely different symbolism. What is this symbolism?




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Numbers 15:8,9

When you prepare a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings to the Lord: then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering.

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The calf (or bullock) refers to the sacrificial system instituted by God under the Old Covenant.

Besides the burnt offering, the sacrifice of a calf was meant to fulfill a vow, or, as a peace offering, to express one’s gratitude towards God.

Is the symbolism of the calf relevant to the second seal?




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Revelation 6:4

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 to him a great sword.

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The entire content of the second seal is contained in this verse.

The calf is indeed very relevant in illustrating this seal, marked by the shedding of blood.

The second seal corresponds to the second letter, addressed to the church of Smyrna, which describes the period from A.D. 100 to 313, a time marked by the horrifying persecution of the believers.




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Revelation 2:8-10

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,

«(...) I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days.

Be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.»

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Just like the second seal, the letter to the church of Smyrna describes a period when blood is shed.




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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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In our last lesson, we saw that the first four seals present four horses, each of a different color.

We also noticed that a similar symbolism can be found in the book of the prophet Zechariah.




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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 the earth.

The color of the horse illustrates the conditions prevailing during the period described in the prophecy.

So the red horse reveals a period of persecutions, like that announced in the letter to the church of Smyrna.




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Nahum 2:3

The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet.

The chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.

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2 Kings 3:22,23

The sun shone on the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood.

And they said, «This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another.»

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The color red represents violence, bloodshed.




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Just like the color red, the sword indicates violence and bloodshed:

«I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and put My sword in his hand: but I will break Pharaoh’s arms, and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded man.» (Ezekiel 30:24)

«For thus said the Lord God; “The sword of the king of Babylon shall come on you.”» (Ezekiel 32:11)

«For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Him of His adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord God of hosts has a sacrifice in the north country.» (Jeremiah 46:10)

«Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.» (Acts 12:1,2)




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Revelation 6:4

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 to him a great sword.

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But now, an important question must be considered: if the red horse is sent by God to carry out His will on the earth, does it mean that God is behind those terrible persecutions?

A close study of the words used to describe the second seal will explain exactly what brought about all those years of martyrdom.




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Revelation 6:4

And power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, (...) and there was given to him a great sword.

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Matthew 10:34

[Jesus said,] «Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.»

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First, let’s notice the striking parallel between the text of the second seal and the words of Jesus Christ Himself.

How did the coming of Jesus take away peace on earth, and bring a sword?




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Matthew 10:34-36

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.

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We have surely noticed that when we decide to follow Jesus, this decision often becomes a source of conflicts and divisions in our family and with our friends.

And, in the most dramatic situations, «a man’s foes shall be they of his own household».




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Revelation 6:4

And power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another.

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Matthew 10:34,36

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (...)

And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

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The second seal is a perfect illustration of Jesus’ prediction.

Indeed, the persecution of the believers, between the years 100 and 313, didn’t come only from the Roman emperors. It also came from the Jews themselves.




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Acts 14:2

But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brothers.

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Acts 17:13

But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

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In the time of the apostle Paul, it was already possible to see that the Jewish community, while professing to serve God, was persecuting the Christians.

And this persecution increased more and more as the years went by.




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Revelation 2:9

I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

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The letter to the church of Smyrna clearly indicated that false Jews, that is, Jews in flesh but not in heart, would participate in the persecution of Christians.

This confirms the two prophecies we have just seen:

- «that they should kill one another» (Revelation 6:4);

- «a man’s foes shall be they of his own household» (Matthew 10:36).




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Revelation 6:4

And power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another.

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Psalm 37:14

The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.

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These verses indicate that those who are persecuted are righteous and innocent people, representing the murder of the defenseless and unprotected, the murder of those who shouldn’t have died.




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Psalm 44:22

Yes, for Your sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.

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Revelation 18:24

And in [Babylon] was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain on the earth.

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Both the picture of the slaughter and the word «slain» pinpoint the murder of all those who lose their life for God’s cause, hoping that their blood may become a seed to bring a harvest of souls to Jesus’ cross.




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Leviticus 1:5

He shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

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The spilled blood also calls to mind sacrifice, such as the sacrifice of a lamb, symbolizing the redeeming death of Jesus on the cross.

The second seal, whose corresponding beast is like a calf, describes another type of sacrifice, «in performing a vow, or peace offerings to the Lord» (Numbers 15:8): the faithfulness of the believer until death.




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Numbers 15:8,10

When you prepare a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings to the Lord, (...) [it is] an offering made by fire, of a sweet smell to the Lord.

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Romans 12:1

I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

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Just like the aroma of the calf consumed by fire, we offer a sweet sacrifice when we choose to follow God and dedicate our life to His service.




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John 15:20

[Jesus said,]

«Remember the word that I said to you, “The servant is not greater than his lord.”

If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.»

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Jesus sacrificed His life to grant us access to eternal life. Now He calls us to faithfully follow Him.

He frankly warns us that following Him won’t always be easy. He Himself had to suffer persecution to obtain our salvation.

And many believers have in turn sacrificed their lives for Jesus’ cause.




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Revelation 2:10

Fear none of those things which you shall suffer.

Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days.

Be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.

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The second seal thus corresponds to the letter to Smyrna, describing the period of persecution the Church experienced between 100 and 313, the year when the Edict of Milan made Christianity the Empire’s official religion.

The faithfulness of the believers during this period will be, for each one of us, a source of inspiration when we face difficult days.




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Dear friends, let’s pray together before ending this lesson:

Our Father,

Jesus said, «He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for My sake shall find it.» (Matthew 10:39).

These words surely comforted the believers who suffered the persecution described in the second seal.

We sincerely ask You to grant us the same courage You gave to Your martyrs, so that we too may remain faithful to You until the end, whatever persecutions we may go through.

Please help us to always remember these words of Jesus, «I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.» (John 11:25).

In His name we pray.

Amen.


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