Sun, Apr 30, 2000

Wars, Famines, Pestilence: Revelation 6:3-8

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

WARS, FAMINE, PESTILENCE

REVELATION 6:3-8

Some fifteen years before Gandhi’s death, he wrote:

"I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being, and I find a solace in the Bhagavad and Upainshads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount."

Then, just before his death, Gandhi wrote:

"My days are numbered. I am not likely to live very long - perhaps a year or a little more. For the first time in fifty years I find myself in the slough of despond. All about me is darkness, I am praying for light."

How sad a story this is, to live your whole life believing a lie, only to find at the end of your life you are in darkness. And like Gandhi, many people do the exact same thing today. They reject the truths found in the Word of God to believe what they feel is right. And during the tribulation period, we see the very same thing taking place.

Last week, with the emergence of the Antichrist, the rider on the white horse, the world began a period of peace that would last some 3½ years. Let’s pick-up our study in Revelation chapter 6, beginning in verse 3, with the opening of the second seal. (Read Revelation 6:3-8).

Notice all the death and destruction that comes on the scene after this time of false peace is over. And it reminds me of what Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:3, "For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape." That is what we are seeing here. I believe at this point we are entering the last 3½ years of the 7 year tribulation period, known as the Great Tribulation. And the tribulation period is a time of God’s wrath being poured out upon a Christ rejecting world. These things have not happened yet, but the day is getting closer, the world is on the verge of God’s judgment!

With the remainder of our time this morning we are going to be looking at the next 3 seals, the next 3 horsemen of the Apocalypse!

REVELATION 6

THE SECOND SEAL - THE RED HORSE - WAR

VERSES 3-4

If you want to see the true colors of the Antichrist you will see them as this Cherub calls for this rider and his horse to go forth, and its color is fiery red, the color of blood, the color of war! At the end of the first 3½ years of the tribulation period, the time of peace is over, and the Antichrist enters the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, goes into the Holy of Holies and demands to be worshiped as god. And thus, he comes out in vengeance upon all those who refuse to worship him, all those who refuse to bow to his lordship!

And he is allowed by God to exercise his right to take life so he can gain more power. Now, for the last 3½ years, we will see a time of slaughter that is unprecedented in world history. As bad as Hitler was, as bad as the killing fields were, and-so-on, it will in no way compare with the destruction that this man will cause. Jesus said of this time, "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened." Matthew 24:21-22.

And in Daniel chapter 12 we are told that this will be the worst time that the nation of Israel will ever experience. And this killing, these wars will continue from the time of the abomination of desolation, when the Antichrist stands in the Holy of Holies of the rebuilt temple and demands to be worshiped as god, till Christ returns to set-up His kingdom on this earth and then righteousness will flow throughout this land, then there will be true peace.

Where do wars come from? James tells us when he says "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in yourmembers?" James 4:1. James says that wars come from our desire, our lusting after things we don’t’ have so that we may obtain them. We want property, we want possessions, so we do whatever it takes to obtain them, even murder!

Back in the late 1960's and into the early 1970's the hippies tried to bring about world peace, but that did not come to pass, even in their own lives. Then in the 1980's and 1990's we saw the New Ager’s try to bring about world peace through meditation, but that didn’t work. We see political leaders, governments attempt to bring about peace and all have failed. Why? Because the heart of man is wicked and his lust for power and possessions is manifested in wars, but many times they are disguised to make them more acceptable. But, in God’s eyes, they are not! And these 3½ years of false peace will erupt into violence.

And now we see this man of peace turn into a madman. His desire for power, for world dominance is out of control. He wants the world to bow down and worship him. It is so bad that in Revelation 13:6-8 we are told, "Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, toblaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to himto make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." And the idea here is if you refuse to worship him, it can cost you your life if he catches you!

As you look at the violence, the hate, the struggle for power, it seems like things are getting out of control. But, make no mistake about it, things are only going to get worse, climaxing with this man of peace turning into a man of war! And as Christians, it is easy to get discouraged as you look at the state of this world. And if you are discouraged this morning, you have your eyes focused on the wrong object or place. Jesus said in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Jesus is telling us, don’t be afraid, don’t be troubled by what you see, look to Him and He will give you His peace, not a false peace like the world tries to give to us, but a true peace that comes from the Prince of Peace.

Again, God has not lost control of things, but everything is happening according to His plan. Jesus, again speaking to us words of comfort, said in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We find our peace through Jesus Christ, not from any political leader, government, man or anything else. Keep your eyes focused on Him as you go through the storms of life, the battles of life, and you will find peace not in the absence of these things, but through these times! Also, as Psalm 61:1-4 says, "HEAR my cry, O God;attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart isoverwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me,a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in theshelter of Your wings."

THE THIRD SEAL - THE BLACK HORSE - FAMINE

VERSES 5-6

As this man continues to pillage this world and gain control by military force, he will also gain control of the world’s food supply. You see, what comes after massive wars is famine. The crops are destroyed, no one is planting crops, people are fighting for their lives. We saw this in Europe in the aftermath of World War II. And we see this today in the war-torn third world nations like the Sudan and-so-on. Devastating famine secondary to wars!

Also, in Revelation chapter 13, since the Antichrist is in control of the food supply, we are told that in order to purchase anything, even food, you must have a mark on your right hand or on your forehead. If you refuse this mark you will not be able to buy or sell anything. But, if you take this mark you will not enter the kingdom of God. Starvation and death versus eternal separation from God. And understand this, when the credit card came out many thought this was the mark of the beast, not at all! Make no mistake about it, you will not be tricked into receiving this. When you receive this mark it will be a willful rejection of God and a allegiance to the Antichrist.

Again, not only will the Antichrist have control over the food supply, but a severe famine will also add to this problem. Scientists today are telling us that "The human race now appears to be getting close to the limits of global food productive capacity based on present technologies...It would also require that grain be used largely as food for people with little use for animal feed." You see, with wars ragging on, little effort will be focused on food production and thus, these wars will lead to famine!

Now this rider on a black horse, representing famine, carries with him a pair of scales in his hand. You see, the cost for food, the basic necessity of life, was going to be extremely high. Here we are told that it will cost a denarius for 1 quart of wheat or a denarius for 3 quarts of barley.

To put this in perspective, a denarius was a working man’s wage for a day. So that means to get 1 quart of wheat, which was a daily ration for a man, it would cost you a day’s pay! Barley though was cheaper and you could buy 3 times as much and thus provide more food for you family. Barley was the food of the very poor and it was also the food that was given to feed horses and mules. So much for this man of peace and his plans for a good life.

Well, I guess I should clarify that statement. You see, some will be living the good life. Even with all this turmoil, even with all this famine and wars, we see an interesting thing taking place. The Scriptures say that the oil and the wine were not to be hurt through this. That tells me that the very rich will not be affected by this famine. They will continue on living a life that is filled with luxury while the very poor will have a difficult time just to feed themselves.

And understand this, it seems that at this point in history there is only two classes of people, the very rich and the very poor. There is no middle class as we know of it. The middle class is absorbed in with the poor. Not a pretty picture that is being painted for us. And as bad as things look now, it is only going to get worse as Jesus opens the fourth seal!

THE FOURTH SEAL - THE PALE HORSE - DEATH

VERSES 7-8

The fourth horse with its rider is sent out and its color is pale, the color of death! If you have ever seen death you know it is cold, lifeless, without feelings. That is what is expressed here as this rider sets out to kill 1/4 of the earth’s population with a sword, with hunger, with death by pestilence, and by the beasts of the earth.

Right now, in the year 2000, the earth’s population is about 6 billion people. If 1/4 of the earth’s population was destroyed, that would mean 1.5 billion people! It is estimated by the year 2025, only 25 years from now, the earth’s population will be around 9 billion people. If 1/4 of the earth’s population were destroyed then, that means 2.25 billion people will be destroyed by this rider!

I don’t think we can even comprehend these numbers of people that will be destroyed. Just counting to 1 billion at the rate of 1 per second would take nearly 32 years! Can you imagine the devastating effects of 1.5 or even 2.25 billion people being wiped out!

We are told that his will happen through war, the sword. Think of the millions of men and women that have lost their lives to war, and yet it does not compare to what is coming! It has been estimated that well over 100 million people were killed in wars on this earth since the 19thcentury began, and it is only going to get worse, it will happen in a very short period of time. All this death and destruction will take place in just 3½ years!

Famine again will kill people, as we have seen throughout history, but never on this scale! Dr. D. L. Umali, who was the Assistant Director-General of United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization reported that "about 460 million people are at the brink of starvation daily, some 200 million children slip into some form of mental retardation and blindness due to lack of food, another 10 million or so give way finally to hunger-related diseases." The World Health Organization estimated that approximately one-third of the world is well fed, one-third is underfed, and one-third is starving. And yet, when compared to what is coming, this is nothing!

Pestilence will run rampant, especially with all the decaying bodies spread all over the land. We see today all kinds of increases in deadly disease’s and this will continue to grow. Disease’s we thought we had under control, are now stronger and harder to treat, sometimes there is no known treatment at this time for them because they have become resistant to our antibiotics. To just give you an idea of what is happing now, "An estimated 3,500 Africans are infected with the AIDS virus every day and the continent is moving toward a catastrophe - ‘a deluge of disease.’...If the spread of the fatal disease is not arrested ‘it is possible that within 10 years the elite in African countries will be simply wiped out.’" Daily Herald, Friday, December 10, 1993.

The Ebola virus is deadly, killing its victims within 2 weeks. And it is a horrible death as the victims of this virus bleed to death and there is no known cure for it. We have the E. Coli bacteria that has killed many people, especially the young and the old. We have a drug resistant Staphylococcus bacteria. We have the flesh eating bacteria. We have rats that carry and spread all kinds of diseases and death. And with all the dead lying all over the place, it will be a great breading ground for rats and diseases. Today, over five billion rats continue to spread disease through the earth. Thus, there are almost more rats than people. And with favorable conditions and no deaths, two rats can produce 359,000,000 descendants in three years! And you won’t be able to call Orkin for pest control!

And I think you get the idea, with all this death around, pestilence will run rampant! As you look at the statistics for pestilence type disease today, they tell us we are ripe for the rider on the pale horse to come forward!

And lastly, the beasts of the earth will come against us. We have seen killer bees that have been spreading to this country, but that is nothing compared to what is going to happen. Imagine a world wide famine, that will not only affect the people of this world, but also the animals that are living here. And these animals will do whatever it takes to survive, even attack us! Let me give you this example, that is kind of wild when you think about it.

"Lurking vultures make for real-life reprise of The Birds. The L. A. Times reports, ‘With a loaded shotgun sitting next to her back door, Lynn O’Hara-Yates says she’s living in terror of the dozens of black vultures that gather each morning on her back fence to stretch their wings, sharpen their talons and wait for lunch. Recently, ‘lunch’ has meant assorted pets in the Stafford County, Virginia neighborhood. When O’Hara-Yates tried to rescue one of her ducks last month, a vulture swooped down, whooshing within three feet of her head. The birds attacked again last week as she filmed them circling over children getting off the school bus. Local residents are frightened. In the past month eight ducks have been lost from the pond, all of them picked clean to the bone. A neighbor’s cat was grabbed by the tail and carried 25 feet in the air for a distance of 100 yards. Dog’s and horses have also been attacked.’"

Now I am not trying to scare you with these things, but to make you aware that the world we are living in is not the world that God created. In the beginning everything was very good, the animals all got along, it was truly beautiful. But with the sin of Adam all of creation was affected, and during the tribulation period, this violence, this destruction will reach its peak!

Also, as you read of these devastating judgments that are coming upon this world, you may wonder how God can do these things? If He is a God of love why does He allow these things to happen? Why does He pour out His wrath on mankind? First of all God is holy and righteous and He must deal with sin. His eyes are so pure they can’t look upon wickedness.

Secondly, listen to the heart of God spoken of in Ezekiel chapter 18. And as you are listening to these verses, try to picture the tone in which God is speaking. The Lord said "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself...‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord GOD, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?’...‘For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore turn and live!" Ezekiel 18:20, 23, 32.

That is the heart of God, that is His great love for you and me. He wants us to turn from our wicked ways and live. Paul tells us that God "...desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all..." I Timothy 2:4-6. All you have to do is turn to Christ, let Him be Lord and Savior of your life, and He will forgive you of your sins, and you will not die the death of the wicked, but enter into eternal life with Him!

But, if you refuse, you will die in your sins. It is as Hebrews 2:3 says, "how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him." You can’t escape, and the reality of this is spoken of in Hebrews 10:31, which says "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Outside of Christ there is only death and destruction, and we will see that as we continue our study through the book of Revelation. But you don’t have to go down that path, God has done everything possible to save you from these things, all you must do is receive that free gift of life by faith, ask Him to be Lord and Savior of your life. As Isaiah 55:1-3 says, "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you--the sure mercies of David." Come and drink from Him and He will give you that everlasting life that is only found in Him. He will give to you that peace with God so you may experience the peace of God in your life! Don’t be like Gandhi, who all of his life believed he was in the light, the truth, until the time of his death came and he found himself in darkness, believing a lie, and looking for the LIGHT!

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