Can I ask you something?
What do you honestly expect to get out of reading these visions of
heavenly seals and apocalyptic horsemen? Are you one of those people who
think these verses will help you interpret CNN? Do you believe there
are clues here about the blueprint of the future?
If not—great!—but if so…why?
Clearly no one imagines that there will be a literal collection of
demonic horsemen riding through town like Clint Eastwood’s scary
friends. We all know these horsemen represent something. Almost
unilaterally biblical scholars agree that these riders represent
conquest, violence, economic hardship, and death. But I confess that I’m
puzzled as to why people are always looking to uncover who these
horsemen ‘really are.’ After all, when has there ever been a season in
human history in which conquest, violence, economic hardship and death
were not glaring fixtures? These “horsemen” are always present. Since
Cain murdered Abel, and David conquered Jerusalem; since the widow gave
up her two mites and the thieves expired beside Christ on the
cross—these things have always been prevalent in the human condition,
and always will be.
And maybe that’s the point. Rather than trying to figure out whether
the red horse is a nuclear threat from the Orient, maybe we’re better
off simply acknowledging that any time we choose to live according to
the principles of power (war, violence, economy, death), we are
simultaneously choosing to live contrary to the Lamb. And—whereas the
sacrifice of the Lamb gives life—these manifestations of earthly power
rob us of life. The horsemen, then, represent the inevitable
consequences of people who try and rule the world in opposition to God.
If ambition leads to conquest, and hate leads to violence, and greed
leads to oppression, and recklessness leads to death…shouldn’t we be
cautious about our own ambitions, hate, greed, and careless disregard on
a small scale?
Shouldn’t we learn how to live like we’re not trying to self-destruct?