Sunday, May 29, 2011

Time of Distress (3) - Red Horse

The Red Horse releases Ethnic Wars throughout the world.

Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword (Rev 6:3-4).
A terrible time of warfare emerges on earth. Peace disappears men begin to slay each other. The world has experienced times of war right through history, but the war described here will be different from anything experienced before. This is signified by the fact the horseman is given a very large sword. Peace will be gone from the earth.

Red is the colour of Esau and his descendants the Edomites. Esau was red when he was born (Gen 25:25). His name comes from a root meaning "to press or to squeeze". Esau was told that he would live by the sword (Gen 27:40; Num 20:18). The word Edom, which is the name given to the nation which he founded, comes from a root word meaning "red". The life of Esau and the experience of Edom is the key to understanding the rider on the fiery red horse. Their history is a story of conflict between two families or tribes squeezed together in the same land. The struggle continued when Edom obstructed Israel on its return from Egypt to the promised land (Num 20).

The rider on the fiery red horse represents an outbreak of inter-tribal warfare throughout the world. Tribes that have lived together in an uneasy peace will go to war with each other. Disputes that have been festering for hundreds of years will come to the surface. The new generation will turn weapons onto their neighbours to settle the old grievances. The tribal groups going to war may often be quite closely related. They will often have intermingled through marriage. This will add to the bitterness of the struggles.

These struggles will be characterised by:
  • bitterness (Gen 27:34)
  • revenge (Gen 27:41)
  • fury (Gen 27:44)
  • betrayal (1 Sam 22)
  • retaliation (Ez 25:12)
  • concealment (Jer 49:10)
  • lack of wisdom (Jer 48:7)
  • rebellion against parents (Gen 28:9)
  • grief (Gen 27:35)
The war will often begin with a guerrilla army fighting against government forces (Gen 25:27). They will be so ruthless that they will inspire great terror (Jer 49:6). These armies will plunder with glee and with malice in their hearts (Ez 36:5), often shedding innocent blood (Joel 3:19). Amos said of Edom:
He pursued his brother with a sword,
stifling all compassion,
because his anger raged continually
and his fury flamed unchecked
(Amos 1:10).
The Red Horse has been at work in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, Ireland, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,Pakistan and Libya, to name a few. The revival of Islam feeds these wars in parts of the world, but Christians are not immune. These ethnic disputes will become so common, that the resources of the United Nations will be unable to cope.

These ethnic disputes are not new. The difference is the ferocity and destruction produced by modern weapons. This is the significance of the big sword.

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