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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 34

The Rider on a Pale Horse
 

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Let’s pray together before beginning this lesson:

Our Heavenly Father,

We humbly ask You to guide us in our study of Your prophetic Word, as we continue our lessons about the seven seals.

May these lessons teach us to better love and serve You.

In the precious name of 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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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 made possible, reveals to us «things which must be hereafter».

Let’s study the fourth seal.




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Revelation 6:7

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

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Revelation 4:7

The fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

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As we have seen in the preceding seals, each beast introducing the first three seals looks different one from the other.

Their appearance helped us to better understand the prophetic content of those seals.

So, what does that «flying eagle» mean?




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Daniel 7:25

He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws.

And they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

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To understand the symbolism of the flying eagle, let’s remember our lesson «The Four Mythical Beasts», in which we saw that a religio-political power, the «little horn», would persecute the people of God during the Middle Ages, more precisely for «a time and times and the dividing of time», that is, 1260 years.

Now, the fourth seal, which is parallel to the letter to the fourth church, Thyatira, also covers the events of the Middle Ages.




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Revelation 12:6,14

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days. (...)

And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

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This 1260 years’ persecution is also reported in the book of Revelation, symbolized by the serpent, Satan, attacking the pure woman, the Church of God.

By receiving two wings of an «eagle», the woman was able to «fly into the wilderness».




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Revelation 4:7

The fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

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Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.

They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

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The flying eagle therefore carries a message of hope for the people of God.

In spite of the severe persecutions of the Middle Ages, the saints were able to rely upon God to grant them the courage and strength they needed.




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Lamentations 4:19

Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven.

They pursued us on the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.

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Matthew 24:28

For wherever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

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But the flying eagle does more than simply carry a message of hope for Christians.

It also announces a time of violent persecutions, a period marked by the slaughter of a lot of believers, accurately describing what happened during the Middle Ages.




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The flying eagle is the symbol of a nation which hunts down and kills:

«The Lord shall bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies.» (Deuteronomy 28:49)

«Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make her nest on high? She dwells and stays on the rock, on the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From there she seeks the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.» (Job 39:27-30)

«Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.» (Habakkuk 1:8)

«Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hastens to the prey.» (Job 9:25,26)




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Revelation 6:7,8

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

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

And power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

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The word «Hell» (in Greek, «Hades») simply means «the abode of the dead».

The content of the fourth seal thus confirms without a doubt that the period described is really marked by persecution and death.




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Revelation 6:8

And I looked, and behold a pale horse.

And his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

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Habakkuk 2:5

Yes also, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man, neither keeps at home, who enlarges his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied.

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The «Death and Hell» of the fourth seal describe very well the work of a «proud man».

What does that mean?




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Habakkuk 2:5

Yes also, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man, neither keeps at home, who enlarges his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied.

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Daniel 7:8

Another little horn (...) [had] a mouth speaking great things.

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Once again, the words of the fourth seal refer to the work of the «little horn», this proud power whose mouth speaks pompous words, the power which killed millions of faithful believers during the Middle Ages.




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Habakkuk 2:5

[The proud man] enlarges his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathers to him all nations, and heaps to him all people.

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Revelation 13:5,7,8

And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. (...)

And power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him.

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As we will see in a future lesson, this Middle Ages power will come back in force in the last days, deceiving all the nations.




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Revelation 6:8

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

And power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

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The fourth seal does not only describe the terrible persecution of the believers during the Middle Ages. It also recalls the plagues which struck Europe during this period.

The words «the fourth part of the earth» indeed indicate that those plagues hit only a part of the world.




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Revelation 2:18,22,23

To the angel of the church in Thyatira write,

«(...) Behold, I will cast [that woman Jezebel] into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death.»

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The letter to Thyatira also foretold the «great tribulation» that Europe, steeped in apostasy, experienced during the Middle Ages.

After a great famine, the epidemic of bubonic plague killed 40% of the population of Europe. Then the Hundred Years’ War added to these scourges.




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Revelation 6:8

Power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

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Ezekiel 5:11

Surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things, and with all your abominations, therefore will I also diminish you; neither shall My eye spare, neither will I have any pity.

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The nature of these four plagues also indicates that they were linked to the general apostasy of the Middle Ages.

Let’s look at them one by one.




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Revelation 6:8

Power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword.

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Ezekiel 33:2-4

When I bring the sword on a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: if when he sees the sword come on the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet, and takes not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be on his own head.

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First the sword is sent to awaken the people who are in the process of forgetting God...




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Ezekiel 33:4

Then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet, and takes not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be on his own head.

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Revelation 2:18,21

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,

«(...) I gave [Jezebel] space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.»

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As we have seen in our lesson about Thyatira, the Church of the Middle Ages was called to repentance by many Christians torn by its apostasy. But it preferred to turn a deaf ear.

Even worse, it killed many of them.




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Revelation 6:8

Power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill (...) with hunger.

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Matthew 4:4

[Jesus] answered and said,

«It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”»

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The famine announced under the third seal went on under the fourth seal.

As we have seen in our previous lesson, it was a spiritual famine, indicating the scarcity of the Word of God, because of the general apostasy.




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Amos 8:11,12

«Behold, the days come,» said the Lord God, «that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.»

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Under the fourth seal, false doctrines continued to invade the Church, at the expense of Biblical truth.

The progress of this apostasy had already been noticed in the letters to the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira.




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The spiritual famine hits the third church and the fourth church




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Revelation 6:8

Power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

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Ezekiel 14:21

[The Lord said,] «I send My four sore judgments on Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast.»

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The third plague is death.

By comparing this verse with another set of four plagues found in the word of God, we notice that the word «death» can be replaced by the word «pestilence».




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Ezekiel 14:13,15,17,19

When the land sins against Me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out My hand on it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine on it. (...)

If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts, (...) or if I bring a sword on that land, (...) or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury on it (...).

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Ezekiel 5:17

So will I send on you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave you: and pestilence and blood shall pass through you; and I will bring the sword on you.

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The plague of the fourth seal indicated by the word «death» is pestilence, that is, a virulent and fatal epidemic disease.




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Pestilence is added to sword and famine to punish apostasy:

«Therefore the Lord does not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. (...) When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.» (Jeremiah 14:10,12)

«And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; (...) I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave to them and to their fathers.» (Jeremiah 24:8,10)

«But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by My name, to defile it. (...) This city (...) shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.» (Jeremiah 32:34,36)




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Revelation 6:8

Power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

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Jeremiah 21:7

I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life.

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The last plague of the fourth seal is «the beasts of the earth».

By comparing this list with other sets of plagues in the Bible, we notice that wild beasts represent warlike nations.




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Daniel 7:23

The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth.

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Daniel 8:20,21

The ram which you saw having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.

And the rough goat is the king of Grecia.

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In Bible prophecy, beasts symbolize nations, political powers.

So, the beasts of the earth contained in the fourth seal announce many deadly wars during the Middle Ages.




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Pestilence, beasts, sword, famine: the four plagues punishing apostasy.

«If you will not listen to Me, and will not do all these commandments, (...) I also will do this to you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague. (...)

And if you walk contrary to Me, and will not listen to Me; I will bring seven times more plagues on you according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children. (...)

And if you will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will walk contrary to Me; then will I also walk contrary to you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword on you, that shall avenge the quarrel of My covenant. (...)

And if you will not for all this listen to Me, but walk contrary to Me; then I will walk contrary to you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. And you shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall you eat.» (Leviticus 26:14,16,21-25,27-29)




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Revelation 6:8

And I looked, and behold a pale horse.

And his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

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Revelation 20:13,14

Death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to his works.

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

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Let’s end this lesson on a hopeful note and talk about good news: death and hell, that is, the abode of the dead, will soon be destroyed!




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Revelation 1:18

I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen.

And I have the keys of hell and of death.

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Hosea 13:14

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.

O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction!

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Jesus overcame death.

Even more, He wants to share with us this victory over death and the grave, and offers us eternal life.




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Persecution, suffering and death will soon disappear forever!

«One of the elders answered, saying to me, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And from where came they?”

And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”

And he said to me, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the middle of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”» (Revelation 7:13-17)




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Let’s pray together:

Our God,

It is written, «Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (...) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.» (Romans 8:35,38,39).

May the assurance of the apostle Paul be ours, in all circumstances, until the glorious return of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

In His name we pray.

Amen.


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