"And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I Heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, 'Come.' And I looked , and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer." (Revelation 6:1, 2 NASB).
Much has been said about the first seal, the white horse, of Revelation; the traditional dispensationalist's view generally agrees that this is the Antichrist conquering and consolidating the nations in the beginning of the seven-year period referred to as Daniel's seventieth week, the last seven years of history as we know it. May I suggest an alternate view, that this is a deceptive peace in the making with the nations. [Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. Click here to visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.]
Six seals of Revelation have their counterparts in Matthew chapter twenty-four. Seals one through three are compared with "the beginning of birth pangs" (Matt. 24:3-8). The forth seal, the ashen horse, is often compared with persecution (Matt. 24:9-14). The fifth seal, the martyrs, is compared with the "great tribulation" ( Matt. 24:16-22). And the sixth seal, the sun, moon, and stars, is logically compared with the sign of the sun, moon, and stars in Matthew (Matt. 24:29). What follows in the book of Matthew is the second advent of Christ and the rapture of the church, according to the pre-wrath rapture view (Matt. 24:30, 31). With this view, at this point, one can also see the raptured body of Christ in heaven in the book of Revelation (Rev. 7:9-17). Following the rapture, then, with the seventh seal of Revelation (its counterpart is not included in Matthew) begins God's wrath on the inhabitants of the earth (Rev.6:17; 8:1).
As we can readily see, six seals of Revelation have a hand in glove fit with the events described in Matthew chapter twenty-four. Upon a closer examination however, the comparison of the first seal, with its one rider, with the many "Christs" misleading many in Matthew seems to create a problem. If this is the Antichrist then how can the one also be the many? The second seal of the red horse of Revelation gives us a clue as "it was granted to take peace from the earth." This confirms for us the first seal's role. What human agency then is both "the one" and "the many" that causes a world peace that the second sea, the red horse, "takes" away. The only known organizations in existence today that meet this criteria are the United Nations and NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, formed after World War II). The U.N. Charter became effective on October 24, 1945. Also on that day, Senator Glen Taylor (D-Idaho) introduced Senate Resolution 183, calling upon the U.S. Senate to go on record as favoring creation of a world republic, including an international police force. The United Nations building even has inscribed on it the millennial promise for peace, "And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks" (Isaiah 2:4). The only problem is that they left out the first part of the verse which reads, "And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples." Historically, during the cold war, the United Nations was paralyzed and thereby ineffective, until the breakup of greater Russia. We now see this struggling world order becoming more effective, such as with the recent gulf war; and even more recently, the Bosnian/Serbian ethnic conflict in former Yugoslavia. Late July 1991, on a CNN program, former CIA director Stansfield Turner (CFR), when asked about Iraq, responded: "We have a much bigger objective. We've got to look at the long run here. This is an example--the situation between the United Nations and Iraq--where the United nations is deliberately intruding into the sovereignty of a sovereign nation...Now this is a marvelous precedence (to be used in) all countries of the world..."
If the United Nations is indeed the white horse seal of revelation and the "Messiahs misleading many" in false peace of Matthew chapter twenty-four, then we can expect its ultimate success in former Yugoslavia. This view need not be of a religious nature either; such as "Messiahs" representing false world religions, et al. Any entity promising a world millennial peace, even secular, would qualify for this explication. Are we then already within the first seal of Revelation?
Most eschatologists, at this point, would loudly cry "foul!" But what is the exegesis that prevents us from placing the first seal outside and prior to Daniel's seventieth week culminating with the confirmed seven-year peace treaty with Israel (see: Daniel 9:27; Isaiah 28:15, 18), instead of beginning with it? [Whenever we note the 1,260 days, the forty-two months, the 3 1/2 years, or the time, times and half a time we know this always refers to the last half of Daniel's 70th week, seven-year period which includes at least seals five through seven; because prior to mid-week are "merely the beginning of the birth pangs" as we see in Matthew chapter 24:3-8, in which these events, noted earlier, align with the first three seals of Revelation. Therefore, the placement of the first seal is presently still debatable. The second "red horse" seal, then, must be just inside the beginning of Daniel's 70th week since it "takes peace away". And Daniel's seven-year period begins with a seven-year confirmed peace treaty which will probably include an accord to begin negotiations of Jerusalem within this seven-year time frame; only they will break down and fail (Zechariah 12:2, 3 ). Nor are the last three seals arguable as to their position after "midweek" (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15)]. And what exegesis demands that this first seal be the Antichrist, rather than he being the rider of the red horse, the second seal, which "takes peace from the earth" after the confirmed seven-year peace treaty? [It is not certain that the rider of the red horse is the Antichrist, as he is not revealed until midweek (1 Thess. 2:3, 8; Daniel 7:25); although with probable certainty, this does represent Gog of Magog (see: Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39)]. "While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (1 Thess. 5:3 NASB). So we see that while the world is celebrating "peace and safety", and having been deceived by a peace by human effort, then sudden destruction follows with the second seal "red horse."
Finally, if we are indeed within the first seal, the white horse of world peace by human agency, then we can expect this world peace effort to be consummated by a seven-year peace with Israel, followed by a sudden destruction of it by the red horse seal, then followed by the other seals [not to mention the Abomination of Desolation at midweek (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:27)] until our rapture shortly after the sixth seal and sign of the sun, moon and stars. We can thereby readily see that the Bible does not teach a secret pretribulational and imminent rapture of the church. But it does clearly teach an expectant rapture preceded by events and signs. Let us therefore not be misled by an unrealistic imminence that one can not prepare for, rather let's be aware and prepared for the coming events and signs preceding our Lord's return and the rapture of His body, the church.
Since the writing of this paper in early fall (of 1995), current events have rapidly progressed. With the sad tragedy of the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin on Saturday, November 4th, the peace process is now in high gear. In a quote from The Daily Oklahoman, Thursday, Nov. 9th, 1995, the AP article titled "Israeli Security Breached During Rally, Report Says" on page 3 we read, "The Labor Party...wants to move swiftly in the stalled talks on a land-for-peace deal with Syria. Peres' confidants were also pushing him to speed up and finish negotiations with the PLO, going beyond Rabin's autonomy agreements to a permanent solution." Also in the Monday, Nov. 20th, 1995 edition, an article titled "Jewish Extremists Face Crackdown" is quoted, "The United States also forged ahead on the toughest track of the peace process, stalled negotiations between Israel and Syria, sending peace envoy Dennis Ross for talks with Acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. Ross goes on to Damascus in an attempt to restart talks on the return of the captured Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace." Yitzhak Rabin, a former war general, would have never negotiated away the strategic Golan Heights nor have ever considered Jerusalem! And further, all this while peace negotiations are being finalized in Dayton, Ohio with the Leaders of former Yugoslavia of which our troops will play a large part within the NATO peace keeping forces. Surely, this is evidence that we may already be within the "white horse," first seal, of the book of Revelation!
A final note: Recently (1996), the United Nations' 420 page report, "Our Global Neighborhood," was published. It outlines a plan for "global governance," calling for an international Conference on Global Governance in 1998 for the purpose of submitting to the world the necessary treaties and agreements for ratification by the year 2000. Also this year, a conservative of the Likud party in Israel became Prime Minister ("BiBi" Netanyahu). The peace process will continue, but with a different tone. Watch, the Orthodox Jews may soon now be able to finally build their Temple (Rev. 11:1+2). Israel will have been a nation forty-nine years this year since her inception on May 14, 1948 as an independent state. That's a period of seven sabbatical years (7 x 7 = 49). I believe Daniel's 70th week (7 years) may fairly soon follow. Israel will celebrate her 50th Jubilee year in 1998. I don't believe God was willing to again "move" with Israel until after the time of her jubilee. In a recent "Conversation" with Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, he's quoted in U.S. News & World Report (May 4, 1998; p. 44) as saying, "...We're in the process of completing a circle of peace around us....The first task before us and before me is to complete the peace agreements with our neighbors--a final peace settlement with the Palestinians and security and peace arrangements with Syria and Lebanon. I believe that this is achievable, but it requires firm adherence to the principles that will make peace enduring and secure."
Update: The Miami Herald (7/7/99) is quoted from Wednesdays edition as stating: "JERUSALEM -- Ehud Barak, Israel's former army chief of staff, assumed the ``historic duty'' of bringing the nation and its Arab neighbors a future of peace and security as he was sworn in as prime minister Tuesday...Barak has put together a seven-party coalition that hopes to negotiate peace with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon." Barak Defeated Netanyahu in the Israel Elections in May of 1999. With Barak expected to begin his Washington visit on July 15, 1999, the peace process is once again moving forward. Also, the final status talks, concerning Jerusalem, are scheduled to begin May 2000 (Zech. 12:2, 3).
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Personal Update, The News Journal of Koinonia House, Vol. 7, No. 3 & 4, March & April 1997.
The Daily Oklahoman Newspaper.