The question is why does the book of Revelation use superimpositions to reveal “Jesus Christ”?
The first borrowing is from the book of Zechariah. In Revelation we see a “white horse” – Rev. 6:1-2, then a “red horse” – Rev. 6:3-4, then a “black horse” – Rev. 6:5-6, and then a “pale horse” – Rev. 7-8.
In Zech. 6:1-3 we are told there are four chariots – the first chariot was drawn by red horses, the second chariot by black horses, the third chariot by white horses and the fourth chariot by bay (pale) horses. The question is asked “what are these, my Lord?” and we are told these are the four spirits (ruwach, means breath, wind – personalities) of the heavens (shemayin, the heaved up things) – four encompassing all types of personalities from all quarters. These four chariots come out between mountains of brass (Media and Persia/Grecian rule) after Babylonian captivity. The superimposition from Zechariah is of a book that records, “in the second year of Darius,” written of the time of the end of Babylonian captivity down to the fight against the Grecians. The time quoted in Zechariah for the white horse appearance is when, “I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion against thy sons, O Greece” – Zech. 9:13.
The book commences with the red horse rider – Zech. 1:8 standing (motionless) amongst myrtle trees in Jerusalem. And this is a superimposition of earlier writings. An important question must be answered. Why was the rider of the red horse standing among the myrtle trees in the post-exilic Jerusalem? He was waiting for his bride. We, likewise, in our post–Judeo-Christian society are waiting for the Testaments to be opened. Enlightenment will be like the bride coming to the wedding feast.
Post-captive Jerusalem was the capital of the kingdom of the Jews. A new era was dawning. The rider under the myrtle trees represented the new kingdom. His older brother was a personification of the pre-captive kingdom of Judah, or the last seven kings of Judah. The older brother (Pre-exilic) had died of apostasy. But his wife, the populace of Judah (the woman, the enabler), was taken captive to Babylon.
Now the Jews were returning to Jerusalem. These people, figuratively speaking, were to be the red horse–rider’s bride, according to the ancient descriptive law: “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the born first which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel” – Deut. 25:5–6. You can see how each story has its place fittingly described by the scribes within the traditions of their society. Judah had died, having been taken captive. A new birth was required from the kindred and wife of the deceased. Likewise, Revelation’s trumpets sound and call for a rebirth of a revitalized Judeo-Christianity. We also stand among our myrtle trees in this apocalyptic age.
Soon there would be a wedding, a great atonement or reconciliation, followed by the Feast of Tabernacles in the season for plowing and sowing, perennially. A new Jerusalem, the city of peace would be reborn. This celebration initiates the new rule, the Davidian prodigy redeemed. In Revelation’s “the marriage supper of the lamb” is the story of redemption, refurbishment. And Revelation 22:16, states, “I am the root and offspring of David.”
70 years of captivity have ended and God was very jealous and displeased with the regression into Babylonian captivity of Israel and Judah. God wanted the house rebuilt and wanted the “four horns” of the Gentiles to be defeated by the “four carpenters.” A man with a measuring line is said to come and measure the new Jerusalem. There is a quest to “flee from the north”, to “deliver from the daughter of Babylon” and to return from Egypt, Assyria, Lebanon and Gilead – Zech. 10:10. Joshua the high priest is said to wear “filthy garments” needing a “change of raiments” (to white) and a “fair mitre upon this head”.
Zechariah with the help of an angel saw the restored Jerusalem – “candlestick all of gold”, with “seven lamps”, “two olive trees” to furnish oil to the right and left sides. The great mountain “Babylon” shalt become a “plain”. Their world was to be governed “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit” the breath of the populace. We are told that the new Jerusalem would “formeth the spirit of man within” … and “I will smite every horse of the people with blindness” – Zech. 12:4. Zechariah was told “the prophets shall be ashamed” and will say determinately “I am not a prophet” – Zech. 13:4.
The “wickedness” of the past is described as “a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah (a measure)” and lead was cast “upon the mouth thereof” – a parody repeated in Rev. 17 – the woman on the beast. Obviously it was the wickedness of the mouth (speech) that had caused declension, a worsening falling away. This woman had certainly had weighed down the measure. But “two women” with the wind – ruwach – in their wings lifted up the ephah between the earth (governance) and the heaven (heaved up things) and carried it to Shinar – Babylon (In Rev. 18 tribes turn on her and dump her into the lake of brimstone and fire), to set her upon her own base. This was certainly quite an expulsion then and now.
But the western world ecclesiastical authorities over the centuries have prophesied that the book of Zechariah predicted, dare we say prophesized, their Christ by quoting verbatim these phrases of Zechariah:
- “thy King cometh unto thee … riding upon an ass” – 9:9
- “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver” – 11:12
- “What are these wounds in thine hands?” – 13:6
- “Behold the day of the Lord cometh” – Zech. 14:1
- “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives” – 14:4
Zechariah’s would be familiar to “whirlwind” NT students those who “would not hear” that Zechariah recalls only Pre-exilic and Post-exilic eras and that any prophesying (projecting specifically forward) was frowned upon. It is time to recognize crafted Jewish portrayals of philosophical and theological ideals that referenced their recollection of their governance for their remembrance of the bondage. It is time to admit that the NT utilized the content of fables and tales of the long past in their construction of the battle against the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ dual ruler-ship of sacred-civil pretense.
Other parts of Zechariah are distorted in a range of heretical theological teachings:
- Some commentators view these two mountains as the Mount of Olives and Mount Moriah.
- The bronze mountains could symbolize the kingdom of God, sending out judgment to the nations.
- The White Horse represents a false peace, established by military might. This false peace erupts into war with the emergence of the Red Horse.
- the rider has a bow and goes out conquering, his peace, however is false, since it is followed by war, the Red Horse.
- We end up with a picture of Jerusalem in the days of Messiah. In chapters 3, we read about Joshua (Jesus) the High Priest who pre-figures the servant called the BRANCH.
- In Zechariah the tribulation is followed by the establishment of the Messianic kingdom, where Joshua (Jesus) the High Priest will reign over the earth as both king and priest.
- The North Country in Jeremiah, and defeated by Cyrus the Persian – Isa. 44:28, 45:1-2 – the long term fulfillment being at the times of Messiah.
- The High Priest wearing the crown, presents the dual office of the Messiah, who will be both a priest and king. Psalm 110:4 declares he will be a priest after the order of
- Joshua the High Priest serves as the model for the Messiah, in Zech. 3:8 Joshua is seen distinct from the servant called the Branch.
- Joshua the High Priest has the same name as Jesus, which the world knows him by today. Just as Joshua and Zerubbabel, as king and priest, they worked together to build the 2nd Jesus Christ, the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
- He is called the branch because he is a stem of David’s line – see Isa. 11:1-3, Isa. 4:2, Jer. 23:5-6. The Branch will rule Jerusalem in the Millennium as both King and Priest.
- In the Mosaic Law, the priest and king were separate; therefore, this is clearly a picture of the rule of Messiah, who will be both king and priest on His throne.
What needs to be determined is why John of Patmos used the same colored horses in Rev. 6 albeit in a different order. For John, Zechariah’s colorful horses foreshadow apocalyptic times in a universal world. The above five phrases were later to be used in the Synoptic books after the completion of the apotheosis, a transformation or epiphany of humankind disclosed by Revelation’s revealing of Jesus Christ.
So let’s fully examine how John incorporated the old sayings of Zechariah into an apocalyptic epiphany that would come to the enlightening universal age.
John of Patmos’ Superimposition of Zechariah’s images
There is a great stampede at the beginning of Revelation of a Jesus Christ of the apocalyptic age. Four horses are portrayed representing four kinds of personalities. It is best to become familiar of how John extended the seen from Zechariah and what the colours indicate. Four beasts from round about the throne open the first four seals.
Revelation 6:1–2 — White Horse
John says, “And I saw when the lamb opened one of the seals.… And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering and to conquer” – Rev. 6:1–2. The white horses go to Jerusalem. “Thus saith the Lord, I am returned unto Zion” (Zech. 8:3):
- “White horse”: White comes from the Greek lĕukainō, meaning “light.” Light shines and is illuminating. The full potential is about to be unleashed. Obviously something unknown is pending. White horses are returning home.
- “Bow”: Bow is from the Greek tŏxŏn /tiktō and means “to produce as a seed,” “bring forth as a mother delivers a child.” Bow in Hebrew is qesheth, in the sense of bending. The bow in the cloud was a token indicating a covenant between God the Maker and the earth. Humanity would always be delivered from a flood of violent, fighting warriors bent on destroying all. The bow of Revelation is paramount to a new apocalyptic covenant – that John emphasized was “unseen”.
- “Crown”: Crown from stĕphanŏs means “a symbol of honor.” The rider is Faithful and True. Note that the word is not faith but faithful. There is no faith (bondage) to behold, only embodying faithfulness. Crowned, from the Hebrew atar, is to encircle, encompass for attack and protection. There is no cowering as modernity’s life is infinite. “What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hath made him a little lower than the angels, and has crowned him with glory and honour” – 8:4–5; Heb. 2:6, for the archetypical brings it to today. “To day if ye will hear his voice” – Heb. 4:7.
Revelation is the master of superimposing for archetypal application. We all learn from types all of our lives, whether it be poetry, drama, books, stories, tales or fables. The archetypal application occurs when the book is opened. To this day, the book has not been opened, but now, “To day, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” – Heb. 4:7. To the scribes the book was open. They knew what they were doing – as portrayed in Immanuel (Hezekiah’s restoration), Daniel (Judas Maccabees, the Rock, great victory) and Paul’s epiphany (enlightenment of the open writing of the scribes).
The coming of the white horse, the new covenant, and a crown predicates a great awakening (much greater than the Reformation era). A cultural metamorphosis is about to engulf the universe far greater than any clash of cultures. A new marriage is pending signified by white raiments.
Revelation 6:3–4 — Red Horse
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard a second beast say, Come and see. 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 unto him a great sword – Rev. 6:3–4.
There was given to the rider on the red horse a great sword. With this powerful weapon he could help the white horse to bring light. The sword, from machaira, is an instrument of war, or judicial punishment used against the defiant deceivers of death – represented by black and being pale. The sword of the Spirit is the, “Word of God”, the word of probity, compassion, justice, and mercy. The red horse rider in waiting patiently reveals storm clouds forming. Peace is taken from the earth, and people kill one another in a struggle between the overly possessive (Cain – narcissism, vainity and self-love) and the philanthropic (Abel – generous, charitable and altruistic).
Theological pretense has made a complete error in interpretation. The white (light – renown – Shem) and red (remnant warriors) horsemen are positivity compared to the black (death – Japeth – Nimrods – giants) and pale (bay – spotted – greenish – Ham).
In apocalyptic times, we see a man riding again on a red horse and he stood among the myrtle trees. Behind the waiting man were red his horses. Myrtle trees had a part in the Feast of Tabernacles, the restoration process, way back in Nehemiah 8:14–15, so here again is the constant system of rejuvenation. The interpreter has to see the components — red horses and myrtle trees — there is always onward soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before! They certainly hold a sword.
The angel that talked to Zechariah said, “I will shew thee what these (horses) be” – Zech. 1:9. The man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, “These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of the Lord that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and behold, all the earth stoodeth still, and is at rest.” Yes the world has stood still in possessiveness, warring, ideological confrontation, death. The walkers, the movers have been patient too long. But the hare will always catch the tortoise. In Zechariah, it is in the time of the rule of Darius the Mede, and the Jews are returning from Babylonian captivity to rebuild Jerusalem their culture. Interference and delays in rebuilding Jerusalem are graphed in Ezra and Nehemiah. Patience under shade is required. The Jews are promised a leader, Zerubbabel, and Jerusalem is to be finally restored.
Zechariah, in chapter 6, reiterates the vision of the horses, enhancing the narrative. This is very important to John, the revelator, as he looks forward to the apocalypse way beyond his period of time.
There were red, black, white, and grisled and bay horses. They came out from between two mountains of brass (the extant powers). The angel told Zechariah, “These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.” “The black horses … go forth into the north country” –
Zech. 6:6. T his was despite being warned to “flee from the land of the north” – Zech. 2:6. “Then cried he (the angel) and said, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit” – Zech. 6:8. Black horses characterize those who persisted with obtrusive, rebellious, captive hearts. Everyone can point the finger.
In symbolism, the north country illustrates an opposition to the south — the Negeb, southern Judah, including Jerusalem. In Zechariah, the north represented Babylon. But in Revelation, it points at pagan-Christian Babylon. The hearts and minds of those who went to the north were Babylonian predisposed, possessed with institutional imprisonment of the mind and soul. And they have succeeded for two thousand years of denominational schisms.
Now we return to the four chariots with horses coming out from Media- Persia and Greece times. The white horses go forth after the black go forth into the north. But the white horses do not follow the black horses. The book of Zechariah opened with an early vision of post-exilic Jerusalem. The book soon transcends several centuries, as prophetic books do. In long-since desolated Jerusalem, restored and reasonably peaceful, disaster strikes. These are the days of the Greek rule, and many Jews have apostatized at noted in 1 Macc. They have joined the ranks of Antiochus Epiphanes plundering the temple and exterminate the faithful, steadfast citizens of Jerusalem.
Here, God sends a “valiant man” to deliver Israel. The savior was Judas Maccabees, son of Mattathias of Modin, an Ephramite. And he went forth, conquering and to conquer. Here is the white horse and his rider, Messiah; Faithful and True is Judas Maccabees. The white horse, in the days of the kingdom of the Jews, was in Judah; hence the horse is mentioned in Zech. 1. The grisled horses also go forth toward the south country – Zech. 6:6. The bay sought to walk to and fro through the earth. So they did – Zech. 6:7.
The book of Zechariah commences with the rider of the red horse already in Jerusalem, standing among the myrtle trees. That is where he stayed to help the conqueror, and he is not mentioned as going anywhere in Zech. 6.
The black horse does not appear in Zech. 1. His rider is going to Jerusalem’s northern enemy and this black horse rider had nothing to offer … but death of the soul and mind.
One has to have an appreciation of Zechariah and reorder this to Revelation chapter 6’s last days pending the great Apocalypse, which was very distant in time. The space would be global, with many horses to ride.
And a lot of images would be transposed from local to ultimate apotheosis – where mankind reaches beyond the possessive to the highest level, glory. Mankind is then likened to God, one could say transformed into deity.
The vivid portrayal of the four horsemen in Revelation, seen in high brassy statues, is a parody of the churches’ having theologically gone astray, in the wrong direction. Let us not err. The Bible has never been opened and is not something simply learned by rote and annual festivities. Revelation’s four horses have to be drawn out of Zechariah’s Grecian episode and transmogrified to the time when the book is opened. Luther never opened the book of Revelation. Many reject the book of Revelation. Bertrand Russel could make no sense of Revelation. Atheists, agnostics and academic lights have been turned off.
So the horsemen of late Christendom gallop similarly when it comes to finding the truth of the superlative – the layer on layer pedagogical teaching. Though not judgmental, the four seals, the opening of the four horses of personality, are introspective, asking each of us to examine our own feelings, knowledge and the correctness of ideas. A great inspiration battle springs forth. Minds chatter, What is the book about? The battle takes peace from the earth as the conflict intensifies.
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not come to send peace but a sword” – Matt. 10:34. And it is written, “They should kill one another.” Again, the gospel narrative is inscribed. “I am come to set man at variance against his father” – Matt. 10:35-36. All great change comes with upheaval, intellectual controversy about to be debated.
Revelation 6:5–6 — Black Horse
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine – Rev. 6:5–6.
Throughout the OT, the overarching message to ancient Israel and Judah was the condemnation of the worship of idols “Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods” – Lev. 19:4. This message is a main theme, Nothing is to be melted into a molten image. With the nation regressing, visible images of invisible doctrines become false exegesis.
Ezekiel described irrelevancies as idolatry. Time and time again, only to be delivered by a wave of uprightness, God’s peculiar people habitually slid into meaninglessness; described as abominations, whore mongering, divinations, sorceries, lies, or soothsaying. Uprightness, steadfastness, and faithfulness were personified by a merciful, forgiving leader. The judges were an example. They were personifying types, real-life beings helping community. In Hebraic terminology, this incessant decline was known as “that curse of the flesh.”
This is the incident when talking about the “black horse.”
Zech. 6:6 states, “The black horse went forth into the north country,” with north coming from tsaphon, which means “hidden, unknown, darkness.” North symbolizes a dark power; repressiveness; contrasted to the south, the Negeb, Judah. According to Zech. 6:8, “Those that go toward the north country (darkness) have quieted my spirit.” No messianic revival happens during the opening of third seal; it is all very dark, murderous and deadly. In a country where men loved darkness rather than light, there was no nourishment. Starvation in other words. Food portions were measured. Only a pair of balances in the hand (point of action) of the black horse rider. There was great famine in the land. The “north” land is a void, at war and death at every corner.
The man with the balances in his hand is cunning and deceitful. Israel and Judah are represented as Ephraim in Hosea 12:7–8, where the balances are found “in the hand”. This is in direct contrast to the parallel imagery in John’s reflection. In Hosea, the saying is, “He is a merchant (Canaan), the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress” – Hos. 12:7. And Ephraim self-accusingly said, “Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find no iniquity in me that were sin.” Cultural stimulus was diminished. Charmed by self-glorification and self-importance the shadows of darkness covered the land. John, in a vision, saw this arrogant condition recurring. “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” – Rev. 3:17, boasted the Laodiceans, tokening denominations’ arrogant failure to come and brilliantly sensed by John.
In these words the cry is heard, “Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth” – Joel 1:5. “Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl O ye vine dressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished” – Joel 1:11. In the language of a portrait, their judgment is given. “Behold, the days come, saith 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 word of the Lord” – Amos 8:11–12. All will be weighed in the balances at the time of opening. A cultured life has to be the fabric of whiteness, the clean linen one can wear.
However, we leave the end of the third seal with the eternal flicker of light: “and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” – Rev. 6:6. The servants of God, the solders, are never to be stifled. There are always a remnant whose appetite is for the ancients’ message.
Oil was for lighting lamps as well as for anointing the light-bearers. The wine was to be kept for the celebration of the victory of the saints who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb and his wife.
Revelation is a one-step-at-a-time book. Each unsealing brings to our attention to the particular. Each opening seal needs time to ponder, consider, and digest. Don’t rush, stand amongst the myrtle.
Revelation 6:7–8 — Pale Horse
And when he 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 unto them (or to him) over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth – Rev. 6:7–8.
These fourfold calamities (sword, hunger, death, and beasts) were promised to ancient Jerusalem. Revelation draws the lesson from the time of Ezekiel but projects it into the reign of the end times for Christendom as we have known it. “The elders of Israel had set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face.” “So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; I will bring the sword upon thee” – see Ezek. 5:5–17 and 14:1–23.
The “pale horse” comes with four curses. This is a very grim picture. To begin, the word pale is from chlōrŏs and means “greenish,” the same as the “green” grass mentioned later with the first trumpet. The rider is bringing maledictions to those who are verdant, inexperienced, or naïve — those who make no effort to understand anything. The word chlōrŏs is derived from chŏlē, a female Christian name. So the seal is clearly directed at the churches of our dispensation. A female name is used as woman is symbolic of the life-giver. The pale horse is used to bring punishment to those who have blindly and without question or effort accepted maxims. His rider’s name is Death, and hell followed with him.
The writers of the seals proceed to relate the four torments — sword, hunger, death, and beasts. Why four? Four illustrates the four points of the compass, inferencing global, “the four winds of the earth.” This seal reveals a worldwide judgment within ecclesiasticism. But those outside ecclesiasticism are also caught up in the web. No one escapes scrutiny:
“Sword”: This sword is a counterfeit. It is not the word of the Spirit of God (not the sword machaira of the red horse rider). Coming from the word rhŏmphaia, meaning “saber” or “cutlass,” it is a very malicious, ravaging weapon, spitefully triumphing over torpidity, those ignoring the spirit of cultural ascent (The Written Word), in favor of possessiveness and passiveness.
“Hunger”: From limŏs, hunger is a scarcity of sustenance for the soul. The previously mentioned famine (third black rider) has intensified. There is a longing for the food of mercy. Is it genuine? Isaiah vividly assigns the following: “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for a time to come forever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophecy deceits.” Is this the food that the “green” grass will accept? “Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in the high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant” – Isa. 30:8–13.
“Death”: Literal death means permanent cessation. Death is loss of a cultural life for the material. John is writing in the spiritual sense. It is interesting to consider OT quotes regarding life and death in the flesh. The ancient writers are exemplifying the imperishable life. They uplift the food of the Spirit that the faithful hand to others. As they ingest their gift, a “higher heaved thing”, they in turn offer renewed real sustenance evident in the written word over phonetics. This artisan possesses everlasting life. But death — how is death presented. Many quotes could be given, but a two shall suffice: “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” – Ps. 6:5. “Consider and hear me. O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I should sleep the sleep of death” – Ps. 13:3; see Ps. 115:17, Eccles. 9:5–6, 10.
Ezekiel has much to say concerning “death”, mainly using the word pestilence, in a vision of the fourfold punishment brought upon Jerusalem. Ponder the reason this calamity that befell Jerusalem. Today those professing godliness are the corresponding part of ancient Jerusalem, tied to pretense and a foundation of conformity. Think about this:
“The elders of Israel … Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and have put a stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? … Every man of the house of Israel that setteth his idols in his heart, and putteth before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations” – Ezek. 14:1-6.
“For thus saith the Lord God; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast? Yet behold therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it. And they shall comfort you, when you shall see their ways and their doings, and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord God” – Ezek. 14:21-23.
We are looking for the remnant in the end of days. We have to find that remnant, here and there.
The “beasts of the earth”: These are a similitude of the two beasts described in Rev. 13:1 and 13:11. Revelation is saying that the former beasts in kind will arise again in the end times before the new age. They are types, metaphors, and parameters for sumperimposed application.
The initial, typical “beasts of the earth” vision was taken from OT Bible history and from prophetically written in Daniel 7–9 concerning the kings and kingdom of the pre-exilic, pre-Babylonian captivity. The second, a beast with two horns, is again referring to Jewish governance of the Pharisees and Sadducees in the NT. It is not Rome. The book is all about Jewish governance. The second beast with two horns, it is said, should make an image of the first beast. Rome is not the subject, just as it could not have been in Dan. 2.
Both these two “beasts of the earth” show powers that arose quite unpretentiously but declined into treacherous corruption and tyranny.
Let’s quickly reiterate a brief outline of these “beasts of the earth” as they are emphasized by the fourth rider of Revelation 6:8.
We find the ten-horned beast and the seven-headed beast in Revelation 13:1. As the story proceeds, we see that the Hebrews left repression in Egypt (the dragon — Ezek. 29:3). They probably left in little groups and journeyed to Canaan, where they settled as a boisterous, rebellious, brutalized mob. Israel of old was unrefined in the time of Judges even to the time of King Saul, the first king. Then the kingdom of Israel was given to David, and progress began with the command to Solomon to construct the temple. Israel divided into two kingdoms, with ten tribes (the ten horns) to the north and Judah’s two tribes to the south.
Israel apostatized and was assimilated into Assyria, never to rise again. Judah followed the Davidian line and had many ups and downs. Judah continually backslid into idolatry up to the time of Hezekiah (Immanuel who restored the virgin without God, to the virgin with God) and then regressed further during the last seven wicked kings (the seven heads) of Judah, with minor reforms under Josiah that did not take hold.
Thus we have the two pre-exilic kingdoms:
- Israel: destroyed
- Judah: two captivities to Babylon; briefly in Jehoiachin’s reign (606 BC) and then in Zedekiah’s reign (588 BC).
The second beast of Revelation 13:11, reflects the beast of the NT era. It also is a forewarning of much more ferocious beasts that would arise dominating universally in a foreseen global milieu. Again, this beast with the two horns is a transposition from the kingdom of the Jews. Post-Babylonian captivity saw the kingdom rise to power, prepared to reinstigate anew. All was quiet for some time. Gradually, Jews took an interest in idolatrous Hellenism – see 1 Macc. 1:11–15. Their own culture began to wane. The renegade Jews hardened their hearts, blinded with Grecian mores. Renegade Jews joined Antiochus Epiphanes (the Greek-Syrian leader) to plunder the temple. Many Jews became hellenized and translated their sacred books into Greek. Daniel termed the idol worshipping Jews as, “an host that was given him (Antiochus Epiphanes) against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered” – Dan. 8:12. Daniel confirms this conspiracy in Daniel 8:24, “but not by his own power.”
Here in Greek days, the post-exilic era of the Jewish kingdom originated in all sincerity, but it ended in turmoil and hostility due to the traitorous rebellion of Jews to Antiochus Epiphanes and despair of Jewish governance. This despair grew until the victory by Judas Maccabees over Antiochus Epiphanes. With Judas Maccabees’ victory, the temple was repaired and rededicated – 2 Macc. 10:1–8. So peaceful a nation was it, that Zechariah records, “There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof” – Zech. 8:4–5.
The Hasmonean kingdom of the Jews established official contacts with the Romans, leading to the Roman invasion of Judea in 63 BC, with the Hasmoneans being displaced in 37 BC and the appointment of Herod the Great. Although Herod rebuilt the temple, many Greek-Roman style sporting contests were introduced, including gladiatorial combats and chariot races held in the new arenas. Within Judea, four groups were identified: the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots. Pharisees claimed to be keepers of the oracles of God and unwavering retainers of Levitical law. The Sadducees held the civic power. Both were tyrannical and oppressive. Both were to be held responsible for silencing the messianic body some of whom were Essenes and Zealots. The two-horned beast of gospel days, we are told, “spake as a dragon.” Some matters were referred to Rome but were always sanctioned through the Jewish councils, Sanhedrin, and high priests. Rome reluctantly and at last resort intervened in the life and times of the early messianic movement, personified in the likes of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
Paul’s writing reflected the true inspiration in the OT, passed down in textual form. Paul, a Pharisee, grasped the intent of the Testaments by the Scribes and saw that light shine a pedagogical teaching layer upon layer. The synoptic, using midrashic techniques, were supplementary to Paul by recording the angst against Jewish leadership in detail. The synoptic list chapter after chapter of the questioning misdemeanors and crimes with intent by the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and other administrators. The messianic awakening realized too well that the two-horned beast would eventually lead to the total collapse of the Judean society, but that did not eventuate until long after the dating of the Messiah with the burning of Jerusalem in AD 70.
A superficial interpretation of the messianic catastrophe would be indelibly etched in the minds of future generations. Its resurrected body and second coming would have to wait until apocalyptic times. The uprising had been inspired by Judas’s victory over the Grecians with Judas being the stone setting up the everlasting kingdom. The persecution and crucifixion was to be recorded in the NT documenting the long struggle over the restrictive latter-day Pharisees and Sadducees. John, the revelator, pictured these former beasts, arising again in earthly end times. The year AD 70 was not the subject of the NT but initiated the permanent end to old Judaism and was the perfect environment for a new, watered-down version of theological philosophy to merge with Greek philosophy of idealism. It lead to an extensive Age of Darkness – a complete tunnel of darkness.
Enough said about the pale horse’s – Rev. 6:7 power over the fourth part of earth. The pale-greenish horse, usually those deeming themselves knowledgeable, is likely to be those proffering violence for resolution of contentious issues. This violence comes to the fore in Rev. 13 when these former beasts of the earth have prominence. The fourth seal — pale horse, sword, hunger, death, and beasts — forewarns us of apocalyptic times.