"The Rider on the White Horse" by Tricia Tillin
Why the First Seal Rider of Revelation Cannot Be The Antichrist
For many years, the classic evangelical interpretation of the first seal opened in Revelation - the Rider of the White Horse - is that it's the Antichrist. It is said he comes at the beginning of a seven-year tribulation before which all the Church is taken out of the world by the Rapture. This bedrock teaching has hardly ever been challenged in the modern day, except perhaps by those who see the first seal as Jesus Christ, or as a metaphor for a historic event. [Note One]
Let's deal with the first theory which began to be taught from around 150AD. The white horse rider cannot be Jesus Christ, because He is seen in Heaven when the four riders are sent forth (and the living creatures do not command Jesus Christ but the other way round.) To say that the first rider is Jesus Christ is inconsistent with the nature of all four horsemen, who are spirit beings causing chaos on Earth. They cause a series of preparatory disasters and judgements, leading to mankind's yearning for a new messiah.
- The Preterist viewpoint - that Revelation has been fulfilled - can be explored here
- The Historicist teaching - that Revelation refers to historical events since the time of Christ - can be found here
- The Post-Millennial teaching can be researched here
The Pre-trib viewpoint is summarised here from the website 'People Get Ready'
"The Antichrist riding a white horse is a counterfeit of Jesus riding a white horse.... The Antichrist's reign will initially appear righteous and helpful to the nations. [His] Crown [is] a symbol of authority over the nations. He will rise suddenly to a place of international authority. Satan and the Antichrist are both described as having crowns (Rev. 12:2; 13:1-2, 7). The seal judgments target the nations that align with harlot Babylon. The Antichrist conquers these nations using force, which results in a world war, economic crisis, famine and disease. The harlot religion will be destroyed by the jealousy of the ten kings who serve the Antichrist . They will burn the harlot at the time of the first seal which is when the Great Tribulation begins."
I cannot think of a more muddled view that flies in the face of so many plain scriptures, not the least of which states categorically that the Beast Empire is given authority by the Dragon, Satan - not God - (Rev 213:2) and that both have authority only for 42 months, not seven years. (Rev 13:5) Furthermore, the Harlot who is seen riding the Beast seems here to be destroyed on day one, as the White Horse Rider appears, instead of near the end of events!
The Antichrist is here identified only because his white horse is similar to that of Jesus.
Nor is the timing correct. We can easily see when and by whom Harlot Babylon is destroyed. It is by the ten horns of the Beast kingdom who (Revelation 17:12) receive authority for one hour as kings with the Beast. (Not seven years.) And the events happen close to the second coming of Jesus (Revelation chapters 18-19).
Already therefore we are in very muddy waters.
So it is time to glance briefly at the classic viewpoint, exemplified by this quote from Clarence Larkin in his comprehensive study "The Book of Revelation" written in 1919.
Who is the "Rider" upon this White Horse? He is not Christ, as some claim, for Christ, as the LAMB, is holding the "Seven Sealed Book" and breaking its "Seals." ... This "Rider" has a "bow," no arrow is mentioned, and he is not crowned at first, but a crown will be given to him later, the "Stephanos" or "Victor's Crown," as a reward for his victories which are prolonged and bloodless. This is the picture of a brilliant, strategical, and irresistible conqueror, whose victories will dazzle the world, and elevate him to a leadership that will place him at the Head of the Ten Federated Kingdoms of the revived Roman Empire. As a subaltern, like Napoleon I, he will rise from the ranks until a crown will be given him. His triumphs will be due to his skilful diplomacy. Like Antiochus Epiphanes, his prototype, he "will come in peaceably, and obtain the Kingdom by flatteries." Dan. 11:21.
As the "Tool of Satan" he will be endowed with wonder working powers, and when he comes, he will find the world ready to receive him, for God will send upon its inhabitants a "strong delusion" that they will believe a LIE, or "THE LIE," for that is what he will be. 2. Thess. 2:9-11.
In other words this White Horse Rider is the ANTICHRIST. He is the "PRINCE WHO IS TO COME" of Daniel's Vision of the "Seventy Weeks," and who will confirm the Covenant for "ONE WEEK," the last or "Seventieth Week," with Daniel's people the Jews. ...
The rise of this White Horse Rider necessarily antedates the beginning of the "Seventieth Week," or the "SEVEN YEARS" of his reign, for he must have reached a position of power to make a Covenant with the Jews at the beginning of the "WEEK," but he does not become "THE BEAST," as described in chapter 13:1-8, until the "Middle" of the WEEK, that is, until after Satan is cast out of the Heavenlies and incarnates himself in him. His rise to power and the rebuilding of Babylon will take time, so the Rapture of the Church will doubtless antedate the beginning of the WEEK by some years.... [Page 103].
I think this passage typifies almost all of the current pre-trib teaching.
Yet immediately we see that he has had to skip round some biblical problems. For instance, Larkin knows that the rise of the Beasts in Revelation doesn't happen until midway through the book. Equally he states that "when [antichrist] comes, he will find the world ready to receive him, for God will send upon its inhabitants a strong delusion that they will believe a LIE! " But none of that is allowed for when the very FIRST event is the coming of Antichrist.
So Larkin is forced to relocate the Rapture. He claims that "the Rapture of the Church will doubtless antedate the beginning of the week by some years" while having absolutely NO scriptural support for such a thing!
Larkin got so much correct. but was writing in his own time, at a distance from events. For instance, he had not witnessed the return of the Jews to their homeland in 1947-48. He had not been through the horrors of the Second World War and its consequences for Israel. Further light has been given progressively on the prophetic scriptures since the day of Larkin, which "those who are wise" (Daniel 12:3) have been able to incorporate, building on the foundation of the previous years.
Clarence Larkin and others who came before and after him were tremendous thinkers with a brilliant intellect worthy of admiration. However, should we stop at their teaching and never go beyond, as if it is some kind of sacred holy writ that can never be challenged?
Seeing the deceptive work of the Antichrist in the first seal was an inspired teaching, but it did not correctly identify that work as a spiritual deception. The one is not the other. Apostasy comes to prepare the way some years before the End, but the full horror of the incarnate Antichrist and Beast Kingdom comes ONLY after the Dragon is cast out of the heavenlies, and then it lasts precisely three and a half years according to scripture (not seven as claimed).
Therefore this first-seal timing of the Antichrist's arrival is wrong! Only when we push beyond this classic pre-trib teaching do we see the full truth.
The Origin of the Four Horsemen
The four riders bring trouble and sorrow. Nonetheless, by these means, GOD is putting the world under stress, to see who will cling to the promises of the Lord, and who will worship another. As a consequence of chaos, trouble, want and the risk of martyrdom people are put to the test, to discover their true faith and allegiance.
Thus these spirits are (as Zechariah chapters 1 and 6 also demonstrates) sent forth FROM God and BY God. Yes, even Death and Hades, for Jesus "has the keys of Death and Hades". (Rev 1:17-18) Did God not send the Angel of Death in Egypt?
Earlier in scripture (Ezek 14:20-21) God predicts these four horsemen:
Even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live," says the Lord God, "they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness." For thus says the Lord God: "How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem—the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence—to cut off man and beast from it?
Notice that these four judgements that befall God's people in Jerusalem are "MY [that is God's] four severe judgements". They belong to and are directed by GOD and not Satan. And they are identical to the four judgements that befall the four quarters of the earth in Rev 6:8 And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.
Beasts = Deceivers!
The four judgements listed here and in other places such as Deut 32:23-25 includes "beasts". In Ezekiel they are (Seal Two) Sword (Seal Three) Famine (Seal One) Beasts and (Seal Four) Pestilence. Three of these line up directly with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but the White Horse Rider appears not to be mentioned. Is scripture contradicting itself?
No doubt this judgement of wild beasts did have a literal fulfillment in days gone by. Today we see a more spiritual interpretation, because in the New Testament it is deceivers, false teachers and those who persecute the Church who are called beasts.
That would fulfill the meaning of the First Seal Rider.
- Acts 20:28-30 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
- 1 Cor 15:32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me?
- Titus 1:12-14 Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables.
- 2 Peter 2:10-13 They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption.
- Jude 10-11 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts , in these things they corrupt themselves.
There are other problems with the evangelical interpretation, i.e., that the first seal rider is the Antichrist. It introduces several inconsistencies with other bible passages and since the bible is always consistent a red flag is immediately raised. To begin with:
- NO BIBLE WITNESS - Nowhere does the bible teach that the first seal rider "is Antichrist" himself. If it were so, the bible would tell us, for the angel in Revelation is more than happy to explain who are the Beast, the Dragon and the Harlot.
- SPIRIT NOT FLESH - Not only are the four seal riders not human beings nor even incarnate demons, but they are clearly spirit beings. However the Antichrist and his cohort are in human flesh.
- WRONG LOCATION - The riders are sent out from heaven at the command of God, via the four Living Creatures around His Throne. In contrast, the two beasts of Revelation arise "from the bottomless pit" and "from out of the earth". [Note Two]
- MISTAKEN AUTHORITY - The two beasts of Revelation are given their authority by the Dragon (Satan) after he is thrown out of the heavenlies. But the crown of victory is given to the first seal rider by Jesus or by the Living Creature in Heaven.
- INCORRECT TIMING - Antichrist does not arise on earth BEFORE the scroll seals are opened, but long AFTER. His reign is not the full SEVEN years but THREE and a HALF.
This last point is very important for us today. The classic teaching that was no doubt useful years ago is now counter-productive. For it removes the awareness that Christians should have of the Beginning of Sorrows. It teaches that the very FIRST sign of the End cannot happen until the Church is raptured.
That overthrows the clear teaching of scripture on the timing of the Rapture! Waiting for the earthly appearance of a man called Antichrist, as the very first event of the endtimes, pushes all other events into the middle chapters of Revelation where they do not belong. That apostasy comes first is the teaching of Paul in Thessalonians. It is also the plain teaching of the Apostles and of the Lord Himself, as we shall see. Dare we disagree?
The Subtle Persuasion of the First Rider
Who then is the white horse rider of the first seal? What is his role? He carries a bow but not arrows, and he went forth "conquering and to conquer". His goal is to woo, dominate and overcome the people. The Greek word for "conquer" is used only in this one place in Revelation 6. It is NIKEO, meaning to subdue, overcome, prevail, get the victory. [NT:3528] The only other place we see the word Nikeo is when we Christians are told that we are HYPER-NIKEO, more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37) We are destined to stand, and overcome the last deception of mankind. We are the true 'Overcomers'.
The Greek goddess of victory was NIKE. Can you see in the illustration of the goddess Nike at Ephesus what she is holding? Yes, a laurel crown, the very "stepahnos" crown that is GIVEN to the white horse rider.
Nike, Victory Goddess in Ephesus Holding Laurel Crown
And who gives him this crown? This laurel wreath, given to all who win the race, was not snatched from the nations in an act of war but "was given" to him (6:2). Admittedly, the scripture does not specify WHO gives it to the white horse rider, but the context makes it pretty clear that the crown was provided from the same heavenly source as the sword to the red horse rider (6:4) the white robe of the martyrs (6:11) the reed of John (11:1) and other such objects provided during the heavenly vision.
Indeed, it is not through direct means of war that this being conquers. The victory is handed to him "on a plate" without violence and bloodshed. This conquering is without arrows, meaning it is done through subtlety and deception - through a false religion. The bow is a mere threat, a show of dominion. It is a statement of intent rather than a means!
The rider on the white horse brings APOSTASY. He is DOMINION - a spirit who causes false doctrines to prevail in order to prepare mankind for what is to come. The deception is that which allows the coming Antichrist to woo mankind, and could rightly be called therefore "the Spirit of Antichrist" but still the white horse rider is NOT the Antichrist himself. We need to be exact in our understanding, so as not to miss the events that are unfolding at this very time in history.
The Nicolaitans - a Foreshadowing
As we have seen, NIKEO (to conquer) means to prevail over a person or nation, to dominate them and get the victory over them. But can this be used of apostasy or religious deception? YES. From the same word we get the Nicolaitans whose pseudo-christian dominion doctrine God said he "hated" (Revelation 2:6)
The name "Nicolaitans" is derived from the Greek word nikolaos, a compound of the words nikos and laos. Nikos = conquer, and Laos = people. When these two words are compounded into one, they form the name Nicolas, which literally means one who conquers and subdues the people. It is taking lordship over the people, an apt description of the false pastors and apostles of today! [Source]
C. I. Scofield, considered by some to be the fount of all pre-trib knowledge, so much so that the Scofield Reference Bible listed his own thoughts alongside the scripture text, stated that there is no historical record of a cult called the Nicolaitans. He was wrong. [Note Three]
From the earliest days of the Church, men tried to "lord it over the flock" (1 Peter 5:3) and the idea turned into a full-on religious dogma eventually. So from this we can understand what is behind the NIKEO oppression and domination of the first seal rider.
He comes as a man of peace wearing the "stephanos" or wreath of laurel, without sharp arrows. He rides into town adored by all on his gleaming white horse, as the mimic of Christ. He is therefore exactly as Jesus predicted as the first sign of the End, where "false prophets and false christs will arise to deceive if possible even the very elect".
The Bible interprets itself! If the first seal rider were antichrist, the bible would say so. But what we DO see in the scripture are forerunners of the four coloured horses, and there it is established that they are spirit beings commanded by God, and sent out by God. This is critical. We find our first confirmation in Zechariah Chapter 6.
And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits [winds] of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the LORD of all the earth. Zechariah 6:1-5.
The chariots and their horses are spirits that stand before God but manifest as a chariot and horses when they come to Earth. They appear very like the horses of Revelation (and no wonder, for Heaven never changes.) The color 'grisled and bay' corresponds to the pale horse, and in the Septuagint the fourth horse is called 'ash-coloured'.
In Zechariah Chapter 1:8-11, the prophet receives similar confirmation:
I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon 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. Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. And the man that 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 sitteth still, and is at rest.
So we have seen these horses and chariots before, and been told that they are the "Four Winds of Heaven" that go at the Lord's bidding on a mission to earth. Daniel also saw the Four Winds or Spirits in a vision. Daniel 7:2 "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea."
Identifying The First Horseman by Scriptural Comparisons
We can work out the timing of events by comparing scripture with scripture. In particular, we should compare what Jesus said in what is called the 'Olivet Discourse' with John's description of the Seven Seals in Revelation. [See Below]
No Novel Interpretation
Incredibly and unfortunately, Clarence Larkin did list the prophecies of the Olivet Discourse alongside the seals of Revelation, but never grasped the full import of what he was saying. You can see Larkin's explanation here: "Comparison of Christ's Olivet Discourse and Revelation Six". Despite seeing that, Larkin did not waver from his belief in the first seal rider being Antichrist himself.
Nonetheless, it proves that this idea is not strange or novel. It is certainly quite apparent that what Jesus taught was identical to John's Book of Revelation. How could it be otherwise, because that book was given to Jesus Christ, "who sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John" Revl 1:1. We would hardly expect Jesus Christ to contradict himself.
What can also be gained from comparing the words of Jesus is this: when the spirit of deception is loosed - given permission by the Lord Jesus to test us - it is not yet the end! "This is not the End" Jesus says. We ought to trust his words.
Likewise the Apostle Paul confirms it, the Apostle John confirms it, John of Revelation confirms it.
1. The Testimony of Jesus Christ
Jesus' prophecies in Matthew 24:3-8 line up exactly with the seals of Revelation 6. Thus it's not difficult to work out what the first seal is.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them -
- Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
- and ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
- and there shall be famines
- and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. ALL these are the beginning of sorrows.
So Jesus lists - in the same order as in Revelation - the four seals that we call the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. That being the case, Jesus identifies for us the first Horseman as the power of DECEPTION, false christs and false prophets. Matthew 24: 23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance." Jesus confirms the same in Mark 13 and Luke 21.
So once more the identification of the White Horse Rider as ONE man, the Antichrist, is shown to be incorrect. It is the Spirit of Apostasy!
This false spirit gains entry into whoever will offer themselves up. How many times have we seen footage of people willingly "imparted" with a spirit that makes them shake, shout, roar, bark, laugh, fall, and exhibit manifestations that until recently were only associated with demonic possession?
2. The Testimony of 1 John 2:18-26
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
Writing in the first century, the Apostle John had already identified the spirit of false Christianity that was operating in the church. He called the early false deceivers antichrists - forerunners of the final individual Antichrist of the latter-day persecution. Thus John identified the spirit that would be loosed into the Church and world as the first sign of the End. It was not a political dominion as some teach. It was not a peace treaty with Israel. It was religious deception!
3. The Testimony of 2 Thessalonians 2:2-5
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him [the Rapture], we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [apostasy] comes first.
In scripture we learn that the falling away from the faith, the apostasy resulting from the Spirit of Delusion - the First Horse Rider - PRECEDES the great DAY when we see the Lord in the air and gather to Him, being raptured away from this horrible world. The Man of Sin who is to rule this world cannot come, says Paul, until the world has been prepared to receive him. Apostasy first, Antichrist afterwards! Thus the first Horseman CANNOT be Antichrist himself.
4. The Testimony of Revelation Chapters 5 and 6.
Almost the first event John witnesses in Heaven involves the opening of the seven seals. Until the seven-sealed scroll is opened, nothing else can happen! Has there ever been a reading of the will in the Solicitor's office where the relatives dance out of the room joyfully proclaiming their inheritance (or else tearfully lamenting their loss) BEFORE the Solicitor has even opened or read the words of the will?
No, each opened seal launches another phase of preparation, but "the End is NOT YET". The End cannot come until all seven seals are fully opened. Therefore Antichrist and the Beast CANNOT arrive with the first seal.
It is not until AFTER the opening of the seven seals, that John stands on the sands of the sea and watches the Beast arise. (Revelation 13:1 ) [Some ancient translations of the bible read that HE stood on the sand of the sea, that is, the Dragon instead of John, the Dragon having just been cast out of the heavenlies. Thus it is the Dragon who oversees and encourages the rise of the Beast.]
It is not until AFTER all the seals are opened that John watches the False Prophet in person coming out of the earth, possibly rising from the demonic underworld. These two different events CANNOT be the same.
It is not until AFTER the war in heaven (at which the Dragon Satan is cast out), that he is given authority to overpower the nations. (Revelation 13:2). Since the war in heaven does not happen until after the Woman's 'man child' is born, he cannot come at the first seal.
WHEN will Jesus come?
As I said earlier, one of the most unfortunate aspects of misidentifying the First Horse Rider is to miss the obvious timing of the Rapture. Waiting for a human - albeit possessed - False Prophet, and a global Beast Empire, and supposing those to be associated with the opening of the first seal of Revelation is a huge mistake.
It means that the clear and obvious signals of the birthpangs, the beginning of sorrows, that are happening all around us are overlooked, in favour of something much more remote.
Even more so, it overturns the words of Jesus in answer to the question "when will you return for us?" From the gospel passages we see that Jesus gave preliminary signs such as deception, wars, famines, earthquakes, and other troubles. They line up perfectly with the Revelation given to John.
COMPARISON OF REVELATION AND THE PROPHECIES OF JESUS ABOUT THE ENDTIMES
The Woman of Revelation Gives Birth
Contemporary with the words of Jesus above, is the picture John gives in Revelation of the Woman, Israel, in great pain crying out for deliverance. She is surrounded by the forces of Satan the Dragon. It is the Day of Jacob's Trouble, when they will hold their stomachs like a woman in childbirth.
Rev 12:1-9 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.
She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
For thus says the LORD:
'We have heard a voice of trembling,
Of fear, and not of peace.
Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob's trouble ,
But he shall be saved out of it.
It is identical to Isa 13:6-11
Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore all hands will be limp,
Every man's heart will melt,
And they will be afraid.
Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them;
They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth ;
They will be amazed at one another;
Their faces will be like flames.
Behold, the day of the LORD comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not give their light;
The sun will be darkened in its going forth,
And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
How does this help us eliminate Antichrist (so-called) as being the First Seal Rider?
I should point out that I am using the word 'Antichrist' as most people do, in recognition of the common teaching. However I have previously shown that the terminology is incorrect, because Revelation does not mention the Antichrist as such. The Seven-Headed Beast is the political megalomaniac, and the Lamb Beast is the religious deceiver. We should really use the term the Lamb Beast or the False Prophet of Revelation.
But to continue, the passages that speak of the "Day of Jacob's Trouble" are synonymous with the Woman Israel being "in pain and crying out" as the Old Testament passages show. That does NOT come at the very beginning of the endtimes events, but after the birthpangs. Has there ever been a birth that came BEFORE the labour pains? The Manchild born of the Woman is brought forth as a result of great turmoil, terror and pain for Israel. During her pains, the Dragon (Satan) is still in his place in the heavenlies. (Revelation 12:7-9) and is only cast out onto earth for his earthly reign AFTER the child is born.
Bearing in mind that the Dragon, Beast and False Prophet do not take up their authority until that moment, how can we say that he comes at the first seal which is at least three and a half years earlier. It is only when the Dragon is cast out onto earth that he gives his authority and command to the Beast Empire and its head. Revelation 13:2 "The dragon gave him his power, his throne and great authority".
If this discussion were of mere academic value I would probably not bother to contribute to it. Theological discussions are all very well, but today we need practical help to prepare for the events to come. Part of that preparation is to divest ourselves of anything that might be a hindrance to understanding, anything that has the propensity to stumble us when it comes to seeing the signs of the End.
Moreover, we need to cling onto HOPE. It is hard enough today, looking all around us, to maintain an attitude of hopeful and faithful watchfulness without having the rug pulled out from under our feet, as it were, by false expectations that are shattered by world events.
It seems to me that we are closer now to the Lord's Coming than ever before! That is because I no longer spend my time eliminating everything that doesn't fit the pre-trib pattern. I am able not only to see the signs the Lord spoke of, but to line them up with his prophecies, and understand that I am not watching for Satan, nor the Antichrist, but - as he said - the events that begin to herald my redemption! The budding of the fig tree is well in hand:
Luke 21:29-32 Then He spoke to them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near".
If you have read any of my other studies you may realise that I have gone far beyond the elimination of the Antichrist as the supposed First Seal! I believe in the Seven World Days of a thousand years each, and the two thousand years since the birth of Jesus Christ came to an end in 1993-4. (Jesus having been born in 7-6 BC as Israel counts years.) Therefore the END period of time began in January 1994 when the Spirit of Delusion descended into a group of people in Toronto, thereafter to spread its way right round the world and to capture the hearts and minds of thousands.
But that is another story. Here I simply want to warn against looking for a seven-year "tribulation" that begins with the coming of Antichrist. That will not happen, at least not in the way many today are expecting. Even more important, the Rapture (in which I believe) will NOT come without warning [to those who are watching] and will NOT come prior to the first seal being opened. I say that not as idle speculation but with many proofs of scripture to back me up!
If you have the courage to read this article, to study the scriptures given, and to shrug off the usual pre-trib teaching that - like me - you imbibed as the very milk of the gospel, you may be able to see a NEW reason for hope, that Jesus Christ is nearer to coming back than we ever believed. The seals began to be broken in 1993/4 and in seven year intervals have happened ever since.
We are now at the breaking of the fourth seal (2015) and so it's timely that I write this new article. I wish I could tell you that you will not be tested and tried. I wish I could promise exemption from all kinds of suffering and trouble. I am not keen on suffering either but I would rather be prepared for the worst than be deceived by the best and miss the signs of His Coming!
So may God give you a courageous heart and a mind that is set on knowing His will.
NOTE One - Different Approaches to the First Seal
I found it interesting to research what early Christians (or at least church leaders) thought, before the 18th-19th century. Victorinus (about 250-300 AD) taught that the first seal rider was the preaching of the word of God by the Holy Spirit -
"The first seal being opened, he says that he saw a white horse, and a crowned horseman having a bow. For this was at first done by Himself. For after the Lord ascended into heaven and opened all things, He sent the Holy Spirit, whose words the preachers sent forth as arrows reaching to the human heart, that they might overcome unbelief. And the crown on the head is promised to the preachers by the Holy Spirit. ... Therefore the white horse is the word of preaching with the Holy Spirit sent into the world. For the Lord says, This Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world for a testimony to all nations, and then shall come the end."
[from the 'New Advent' Catholic Website, containing the Church Fathers documents http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0712.htm]
Second-century St. Irenaeus of Lyons was amongst the first to say that this horseman is Jesus Christ, His white horse representing the successful spread of the gospel.
"The Second Horseman rides on a red horse, in hand with a large sword. He represents war and mass slaughter. Some say that he represents civil war, while others have associated this with the persecution of the Early Church and the martyrdom they had to endure. The Third Horseman, who rides on a black horse and carries scales, is generally understood as famine. The Fourth Horseman is Death or Hades, who has the power to kill by sword, famine, plague and by the wild beasts of the earth (Rev. 6:7-8).
Others have said that the Four Horsemen symbolise the history of humanity. In the words of Bishop Alexander (Mileant) of the Russian Orthodox Church:
"The crowned rider on the white horse 'emerged in order to be victorious.' He personifies those good beginnings, innate and blessed, with which the Creator endowed mankind: the image of God, moral purity and innocence, aspiration toward goodness and perfection, the ability to believe and to love, and individual "talents" with which man is born, as well as the blessed gifts of the Holy Spirit which man receives in the Church. In the Creator's plan, these good beginnings should have been victorious; they should have been able to define a happy future for humanity. However, already in Eden, man had fallen prey to the Tempter. ...The ruinous actions of the passions are symbolized by the fiery red horse and rider, who took "peace away from man." ...
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse depict in the simplest way the history of mankind. At first, the blessed life in Eden of our forefathers, called upon to "rule" over nature (the white horse); then their fall from grace (the fiery red horse); after which the lives of their descendants were filled with various sorrows and mutual annihilation (the black and the pale horses). [ Source ] The Significance of the Apocalypse by The Book of Revelation by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
Edgar J. Goodspeed of Chicago: Illinois. wrote "An Introduction to the New Testament" published September 1937. It said that the first seal was a warlike invasion::
The first vision, chapters 4-11, is that of the Roll of Destiny. ... As one seal after another is broken, the most woeful portents appear in heaven: the angel of invasion, the angel of war, the angel of famine, and the angel of death.
First seal notes by Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_seals]
Johann Jakob Wettstein (18th century), identified the first Horseman as Artabanus, king of the Parthians who slaughtered the Jews in Babylon. However, Ernest Renan, a 19th-century modern rationalist preterist interpreted the First Horseman to be symbolic of the Roman Empire, with Nero as the Antichrist. This rider who "went forth conquering" was Rome's march toward Jerusalem in the year 67, to suppress The Great Jewish Revolt.
In the historicist views of Nicholas de Lyra (14th century), Robert Fleming (17th century), Charles Daubuz (c. 1720), Thomas Scott (18th century), and Cuninghame, they agreed that the First Seal opened thereupon the death of Christ. Puritan Joseph Mede (1627), associated the opening of the First Seal to year 73, during the reign of Vespasian, just after The Great Jewish Revolt. Campegius Vitringa (c. 1700), Alexander Keith (1832), and Edward Bishop Elliott (1837), considered this period to have started with the death of Domitian and Nerva's rise to power in the year 96. This began Rome's Golden age where the spread of the Gospel and Christianity flourished. To 17th-century Dutch Protestant theologian, Vitringa, it lasted up until Decius (249). However, a more common historicist view is that the Golden age ended with Commodus making peace with the Germans in year 180.
This rider represents the antichrist who will head the revived Roman Empire at the end of history, shortly after the Rapture of the church.
This rider is a symbol of the progress of the gospel of the conquering Christ mentioned in Rev. 5:5; 19:11-16.
William Branham's view
The rider is Satan's attempt to impersonate Christ to gain control of the Holy Spirit-led Christian Churches. It operated from around AD 53 up until the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Branham links this to the Nicolaitane move within the early church where clergy were claiming special relationship to God to rule the laity.
NOTE Two - The Abyss
The website below has a useful description of the different bible words translated 'hell'. The King James translates every individual word alike as 'hell' whereas other translations give the names as different places. See below.
The Abyss is a place where God imprisoned the angels that sinned (2 Pet 2:4) that Enoch describes being shut up in the valleys of the earth (1 En 10:12). The KJV calls the place where the fallen angels were cast hell in 2 Pet 2:4, but the Greek word is 'tartaroo'. ... Tartaroo is the deepest abyss of Hades (Strong, G5020), the place where the fallen angels are kept until the day of judgment (Ewing). It is the place into which the souls of the giants, the sons of the angels, are to be cast on the day of Judgment (1 En 56:1), where they will be joined with their fathers (the fallen angels - 1 En 89:24).... The Abyss, the bottomless pit, and Tartarus are all the same thing.
John sees the Beast with seven heads and ten horns coming from "out of the sea", under which the Abyss or Bottomless Pit may be located. It is hinted at in Revelation where the sea "gives up its dead" in the resurrection. (Rev 20:13) This too is where the Legion of demons was flung when they went into the bodies of swine - into the sea - although they begged Jesus not to send them to the Abyss, their own choice of fleeing into the pigs caused the same fate that Jesus had intended. It is said that abyss or 'bottomless pit' is the place where the spirits of the damned have been bound since the days of Noah. This abyss is also where the Dragon is re-bound when Jesus comes to earth: Revelation Chapter 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.
NOTE Three - Who were the Nicolaitans?
Ireneus and Hippolytus, two leaders in the Early Church who recorded many of the events that occurred in the earliest recorded days of Church history, said the Nicolaitans were the spiritual descendants of Nicolas of Antioch, who had been ordained as a deacon in Acts 6:5. a verse that tells us that Nicolas was "a proselyte of Antioch."
According to the writings of the Early Church leaders, Nicolas taught a doctrine of compromise, implying that total separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was not essential. From Early Church records, it seems apparent that this Nicolas of Antioch was so immersed in occultism, Judaism, and Christianity that he had no problem intermingling these belief systems in various concoctions and saw no reason why believers couldn't continue to fellowship with those still immersed in the black magic of the Roman empire and its countless mystery cults.
It is significant that the "deeds" and "doctrines" of the Nicolaitans are only mentioned in connection with the churches in these two occultic and pagan cities. It seems that the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans was that it was all right to have one foot in both worlds and that one needn't be so strict about separation from the world in order to be a Christian. This, in fact, was the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans that Jesus "hated." It led to a weak version of Christianity that was without power and without conviction - a defeated, worldly type of Christianity. [Source] See also http://www.theopedia.com/Nicolaitans