The Bible tells us about the end times, when there will appear Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; as described in the Book of Revelations the last book of the New Testament. Believers view this story of fear and damnation. The chapter tells of a book in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals. Jesus opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses.
The Book of Revelation was written sometime around 96 CE in Asia Minor. The author was probably a Christian from Ephesus known as “John the Elder.” According to the Book, this John was on the island of Patmos, not far from the coast of Asia Minor, “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 1.10). This has traditionally been taken to mean that he had been exiled there as a martyr for his Christian faith. I have been to church many times of the years and have yet to hear a preacher talk about this part of the Bible – like it is the forgotten text!
The four riders are seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and the last rider is Death. Yes, this is scary stuff, but to most believers it is expected and very real. Could it be upon us now? Revelations also speak of an Anti-Christ that will appear to bring about damnation. They, white folk, use to believe this person has arrived in the form of our current president, but after seeing the GOP nominee – that guy seems more like the perfect fit! So it’s reasonable to view this obstructionist as purveyors of doom. But in reality, the real false idols intent upon destroying the world as we know it are the Republicans and the Tea Party types.
The first horsemen called represent Conquest, and we have seen and can confirm that this rider has visited because the rich get richer, and the powerful has conquered the least of thee. The second horseman as depicted in a thirteenth-century Apocalypse manuscript is a fiery red horse whose rider is given the power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other and to him was given a large sword. [Revelations 6:3-4] This horseman may represent civil war, as opposed to the war of conquest that the first horseman is sometimes said to bring.
The third horseman rides a black horse which is generally understood as Famine. The horseman carries a scale, indicating the way that bread would have been weighed during a famine. The indicated price of grain is about ten times normal, with an entire day’s wages buying enough wheat for only one person, or enough of the less nutritious barley for three, so that workers would struggle to feed their families much in the way life is today.
The fourth horseman who is the most ominous has a rider whose named is Death, known as the pale rider. These horsemen are to be given the power to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. Unlike the other three, the fourth horseman is not described as carrying a weapon although illustrations commonly depict his carrying a scythe – like the Grim Reaper. In the verse “they were given power over a fourth of the earth” is generally taken as referring to destruction.
As I wrote this piece, I could not help but compare this story of the end times to what I see in our political environment, particularly from the real obstructionists. The ideology the “right-wing”, supporters of States’ Rights, and the injustice of stand your ground laws enacted by those who call themselves conservatives; people who would love to take us back to days of the Citizens Councils of old. Like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, their purpose is to bring Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…