The First Seal:
The White Horse Rider, False Peace
When the first seal is broken by the Lamb, one of the four living creatures in a voice of thunder tells John to “come” so that he might behold the vision of the breaking of the first seal
The “voice of thunder” is naturally symbolic of judgment as a coming storm. I was born and raised in Texas and spent many of my years of ministry there. It was not uncommon for us to have some pretty awesome thunder and lighting storms with heavy down pours of an inch or more within just a short period of time, but most of the time, we could hear the thunder long before the storm ever hit.
After the command to “come” John says, “I looked and behold.” This stresses the effect on John, He was startled and he exhorts us “to behold” what he saw so that we too may grasp its significance. What John saw was a white horse rider with a bow. A crown was given to the rider and he went forth conquering and to conquer. Each aspect of this is significant.
“White” is a symbol of peace and righteousness. For this reason some have tried to identify this rider as Christ, but “white” is the only similarity between this rider and the white horse rider of Chapter 19:11 which is clearly Christ.
Reasons this cannot be Christ
(1) This occurs too early in the Tribulation. At this time Christ is in heaven rewarding His bride while at the same time pouring out wrath from the throne mentioned in chapter 4:2. Christ’s coming on a white horse is at the end and is the culmination of the Tribulation. Also, note that Revelation 6:16 views the Lamb as still in heaven.
(2) Further support that the white horse rider is not Christ is the parallelism with the other three horses which are instruments of judgment. Each rider is an instrument of evil and judgment on the world. The Lamb is viewed as the One who opens the seals allowing the riders to go forth and would not be one of the riders.
(3) In Revelation 19 no more judgments follow. Christ’s own coming puts an end to the Tribulation judgments. Here, however, the judgments of the entire Tribulation have yet to unfold.
(4) The crown which this rider wears is the stefanos crown, a single crown and a victor’s crown, not the crown of a sovereign who wears the diadem crown. In chapter 19 the white horse rider wears many crowns, and they are the diadem crowns, the crowns of sovereignty.
The Identity of the Rider
This rider is the Antichrist, the false Christ who comes as a peacemaker. Later he will show his true colors and will then be called the beast. This is undoubtedly the prince who is to come and who will make a peace treaty with Israel according to Daniel 9:26-27. This fits with the picture Paul gives us in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. The world will be trusting in the peace and safety brought about by the tactics of the white horse rider, but it will be oblivious this very peace has inaugurated the Day of the Lord which will quickly usher in destruction.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3. for you know very well that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (NIV).
(1) White is a symbol of peace and he comes as a peacemaker. According to Daniel 9:26-27, one of his first feats will be to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute by a peace treaty with Israel. This evidently begins Daniel’s 70th week, the unprecedented time of Jacob’s distress (Jer. 30:7).
(2) His weapon is a bow, yet no arrows are mentioned. The bow is a symbol of distant victory and since no arrows are mentioned it seems to indicate that he gains his victory by bloodless tactics.
(3) That all this is true is indicated further by the fact that peace isn’t taken from the earth until the second seal.
(4) He has a hidden agenda. His purpose is not world peace, but rather world domination. He goes out conquering and to conquer. He is the false Christ.
So, Revelation 6:2 says “he went out conquering and to conquer,” but the picture given here of a bow (perhaps a symbol of distant victory), but with no arrows mentioned, suggests that he conquers by cold war tactics through a one world order mentality that has been growing for years and continues to do so. Today the world is ripe for the rise of such a man with his world government as an answer to international problems. Prominent world leaders and movements have posed the idea that what we need is a world order with a charismatic leader who can mold the world into harmony and peace. In his book, written in 1973, The Day the Dollar Dies, Willard Cantelon quotes a number of world leaders to this effect. He writes:
Harold Urey said, “The only escape from total destruction of civilization will be a world government.” Robert J. Oppenheimer stated, “In the field of atomic energy, there must be set up a world power.” Arthur Compton added his word, “World government has become inevitable.” Dr. Ralph Barton Perry of Harvard said, “One world government is in the making. Whether we like it or not, we are moving toward a one-world government.” Professor Hocking wrote, “Therefore the alternative is that we vest all political power in one agency and resign that power ourselves.”94
James Warburg says, “We are living in a perilous period of transition from the era of the fully sovereign nation-state to the era of world government.”95 In Between Two Ages, Zbigniew Brezinski, former assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, openly advocates a one world government as a necessity. And this is not even the tip of the iceberg. Such thinking is all part of a deluding influence that will continue to grow as a product of the blindness and rebellion of man against God, being blinded by his own natural blindness and by the deceptions of Satan, and even by God’s own sovereign judgment (cf. Eph. 2:1-3; 4:16-17; 2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:26). Undoubtedly, this kind of thinking among world leaders will pave the way for the white horse rider who comes proclaiming peace, but it is really the system of the beast in disguise and a precursor to the horrible world conditions that will follow. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, the Apostle Paul warns:
8 And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
This passage pertains to the end times, but the same thing is happening today, though in a lesser degree. Concerning this, Ryrie writes:
The deluding influence comes from God; it is both a punishment and a moral result of their rejection of the truth (vv. 10, 12). These verses reflect the OT concept that God is sovereign even in the activities of the powers of evil (cf. Ex. 4:21; Josh. 11:20; 1 Kings 22:19-23; 1 Chron. 21:1; cf. 2 Sam. 24:1). The result will be that men will believe what is false, as Satan works through Antichrist.96
Ironically, a large part of the world has greater access to the Bible and its revelation of the good news of the Lord Jesus than at any other time in history through the many translations of Scripture, through books, tapes, videos, radio, the internet, etc. In its moment of greatest need, however, the world will turn to a man who goes forth with a plan for peace just as our Lord Himself stated in John 5 when He was on earth.
43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?