The World Tomorrow

Prophecy - Revelation 2

by Herbert W Armstrong


Greetings! You’ve heard of 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.' Several years ago a very famous football team from Notre Dame had a backfield, a very famous backfield of four in those years, who were called the four horsemen. I'm sure they were national champions that year as Notre Dame very frequently is anyway, or near the top. But 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' really means the four horsemen of the book of Revelation, because the word 'apocalypse' is a Greek word and originally the New Testament of the Bible was written in the Greek language. And in our English translation the book 'Apocalypse' is called, 'The Book of the Revelation,' or, 'The Book of Revelation.'

Now these four horsemen forecast the tremendous, staggering event, a world event that soon now is to explode and to shake this world as it has never been shaken since human beings lived on this earth: a staggering event, far worse than anything that has ever happened before.

Now the last two or three programs I've been talking about this mysterious book of Revelation. It is a book that it seems nobody understands. In fact, does anybody understand the Bible? But of all of the Bible, this last book – it's the very last book in all of the Bible, which is composed of a number of books – this book of Revelation has been an enigma. It has been closed and sealed and indeed, men have never been able to understand it.

Now in going through it I have come to the four horsemen which are in chapter six. But let me go back and just read the first verse in the first chapter once again. It is not, 'The Revelation of St John the Divine,' as the caption over the beginning of the book will appear in many, many Bibles; it is, 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ'. So here are the words of the very first verse:

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants [He got the revelation, but] to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass [in other words, to show future events before they happen. It is, therefore, a prophecy]. And he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John" [who wrote it in this book]. (Revelation 1:1)

Day of the Lord (Play from 2:38)

Now the theme of the book, that is the subject matter that the book covers, is mentioned in the tenth verse of this first chapter, where John says:

"I was in the spirit [that is, he was in a vision. Actually, he was on the Isle of Patmos when it happened – which is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. But in spirit he was taken in a vision] on the Lord's Day" [or that's just another expression for The Day of the Lord]. (Revelation 1:10)

Now as I've explained before, we've been for 6,000 years in what we might call 'The day of man'. I know it's not very fashionable to believe there is a devil, but there really is. The Bible speaks a great deal of the devil: one who tempted Adam and Eve at the very beginning – the first humans that God ever created. And I'm going to have to read a scripture or two to you about that that applies to a time 4,000 years later and even in our day now.

Anyway, in vision John was taken into this Day of the Lord. That is the time when the 6,000 years of the day of man – which might be called the day of Satan – because Satan has influenced man for all of that 6,000 years. And it is the time – the Day of the Lord – when the Lord, Jesus Christ, is going to intervene in world affairs. He's going to intervene supernaturally. Now I'm going to come to some scriptures that'll show you that we're coming to the place if He did not intervene there would not be a human being left alive.

My friends, we have come to the place, now, when the weapons of mass destruction exist, for the first time since man has been on this earth, that can completely obliterate all humanity – can erase human life from this planet. Men have never had weapons that they have not used; they have always used them. And I can tell you that they're going to try to use it. Just thinking that it's so tremendous, that it's so absolutely great that no one would ever dare to use hydrogen bombs or the many kinds of mass destruction that are available now. That's only kidding ourselves – just to think that the trouble will go away. It isn't going to go away!

Now I'm going to show you the prophecies written by your God in His book to us that says it isn't going to happen because He's going to intervene. It's going to come right down to the time when humanity would be erased from this earth! But God Almighty is going to intervene and save humanity from itself. And there's going to be a happy world of peace such as we have never had: peace, universal prosperity, universal education that'll be right education! And not the kind of education we have today, which is materialistic and false.

But now to get back to this: the theme is the Day of the Lord. He's covering that time. Now we have not come to that time; it's just around the corner now. We're in the generation when it is going to happen. I can't tell you just how soon it's going to happen; I can't set dates. I don't think the Day of the Lord can happen within three and a half years because there's a thing I'm going to show you here, if we have time in this program, that will take three and a half years before the Day of the Lord sets in. And that's a time of trouble and we're in the preliminary rumblings of it right now. It hasn't struck us, yet. This is just like the preliminary rumblings; it's like the foothills before you come to a real mountain – if I could express it that way. We're in trouble such as the world has never had right now, but it's going to be far, far worse!

But God Almighty is going to deliver it. And you are betting your life on that! That is the only hope that it is a sure hope. And this world is going to be saved, because there is a God of love who is going to intervene and is going to save us from ourselves, if necessary.

Now then, in chapter two and three, I've skipped over it because it's a message to the seven churches and I want to get the prophecy; I'm interested in bringing you the prophecy. And that is not concerned too much with the prophecy except in the churches.

But in chapter four it speaks in the first verse about John sees a scene up in heaven and One is sitting on the throne. Well, of course, that is God – that is God the Father sitting on a throne.

A Closed Book (Play from 7:10)

And then we come to Revelation 5:3: Revelation five now let's come to verse three:

"And no man in heaven, nor on earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book [that was in the right hand of this One sitting on the throne. That is, in the hand of God], no man was able to open the book, or to look thereon." (Revelation 5:3)

Well no wonder it's been a mystery. No man can reveal the book. And it is in symbolic language; it's not in plain language, at all. And it's intended to be that way, because the book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. No man! Men had been trying to understand it, but they have never understood it. They have never understood that book of Revelation, but God's time has come for it to be revealed. And Jesus is the One to reveal it, not myself. I have to go to see how Jesus reveals it in His own words – and how He said it!

Now John saw Christ before that throne. We come to verses six and seven, now. {1} John's telling what he saw, here, in this vision. He says:

"I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders [that is elders, or presbyters, among the angels that he was seeing there], stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes [well that's the Lamb of God, who is Jesus Christ; and it's just symbolically, there, speaking of Jesus Christ], And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne" [Jesus comes and takes the book out of the right hand of His Father]. (Revelation 5:6-7)

Now it wasn't a book like we have here. I have a book, the Bible, and it's so many pages that you flip and turn. Well, in those days they had long scrolls. It was just one long piece of, maybe a skin or papyrus or whatever. But it was rolled up. And it was sealed; this had seven seals on it to seal it so you couldn't open it and unroll it and read it. And no one could understand it.

You know, I'm thinking that just a little over a year ago I was in Peking, China, as the guest of the Chinese government – the People's Republic of China. And I was in their library, in the, as a matter of fact, the man who was the president of the educational division of everything in China. And he was there showing me in their library and he showed me some of their ancient manuscripts. Well, they weren't books like this. They were long scrolls and they were all rolled up.

A Closed Book now opened (Play from 9:54)

Well this scroll, this book, and I'm in the book of Revelation, the mystery book you might call it, it was sealed. And unless you could open the seals you couldn't see what was in the book.

"[So] "...when he had taken the book, the four living creatures, and the four [and twenty]{2} elders fell down before the Lamb [which is Christ], having every one of them harps [and so on], which are the prayers of saints, and they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain [He was crucified on the cross] and hast redeemed us to [our] God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." (Revelation 5:8-9)

So it was Christ who came and had opened the book. And now we come to the opening of the book in chapter six. And I had just come to that in a previous program. Let me read the first two verses first. In chapter six, six of the whole seals – there are seven seals on the book - closing it to understanding, but six of all those seals are opened in this one chapter. And ALL the rest of the book of Revelation is concerned with what is after they strip off that seventh seal and what they see then. But I'm going to give you, now, some of the first six seals, which are recorded in chapter six of the book of Revelation.

"And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were, a voice of thunder, and one of the four living creatures say, Come and see. And I saw, and, behold, a white horse [now here's a white horse with someone riding the horse. Who and what is this horseman on the white horse?]: And he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer." (Revelation 6:1-2)

Who and what could that be? That is the first of the so-called, 'four horsemen', because following are riders on: next one is a red horse, and then a black horse, and then a pale horse. And so there are four riders on four horses: the four horsemen of the apocalypse, or of this book of Revelation.

But who are they? Well, let me tell you this, no man in heaven or earth is able to tell you. I just read that to you. Only Jesus Christ is able to interpret and to reveal to us. Now the book of Revelation is not a concealing; it's not a hiding. Revelation means, 'revealing'. It means opening up to our understanding so we can really understand.

But man can't open it up and man can't understand it. Jesus Christ, alone, is the One who can do it. And we have to look to His own words where Jesus Christ, in His own words, explains what it means.

Now many humans have had many interpretations. A lot of people think it meant the Second Coming of Christ, which is described in the nineteenth chapter when He comes there, pictured symbolically, on a white horse. Some people say it's the church preaching a gospel to conquer men's hearts. There're seven or eight different ideas that men have as to what this white horse is. None of them is right; not one is right.

Now I read to you, "[this is] the Revelation of Jesus Christ." It had been closed and sealed. The time had come for Christ to open it; and only Christ can open it to our understanding. It is not open here; it is not open here! But Jesus is the Revelator; He is the One that has to reveal to us the meaning.

The Revealing of Revelation (Play from 13:43)

Well where is He going to reveal it? He doesn't reveal it here in the book of Revelation. He did reveal it while He was on earth. And His account revealing it is in capsule form – just in condensed form – in one chapter: Matthew 24. Also in another chapter – where the same thing is revealed by another writer – Mark 13 and, still another, Luke 21. It's all the same speech by Jesus; and it's one chapter in each of those books.

Alright, let's turn, in Matthew 24 now. And I'd like to read where Jesus explains the very same thing in plain language! He is the one to reveal. It's not my interpretation; I'm the one to show you what Christ Himself said. Now in Matthew twenty-four we find, beginning with verse one that:

"Jesus went out and departed from the temple [now He and the disciples were in the temple in Jerusalem]: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple [and they were at the temple]. And Jesus said to them [while they were there by the temple], See ye not all of these things [that is the buildings of the temple]? Verily I say unto you, There shall not one stone be left [here] one stone on another that shall not be torn down [or thrown down. Well, now then] As he sat upon the Mount of Olives [this is sometime later. They were now up on the Mount of Olives. And remember what they'd asked Him, “When will these things be?” Well, what He'd been talking about was the destruction of the temple], And as they sat upon the Mount of Olives the disciples came unto him privately saying, Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming [that is, what kind of sign will let us know just before You come – that You're coming? How are we going to know when the time has come of You to come? I hope I can get to that and show you what that sign is, because that sign is here now and we're just that close to it. Well they said]? Tell us, when shall these things happen, AND [now they asked Him something else] the sign of thy coming AND the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:1-3)

Now that doesn't mean the end of the earth; it's the end of this civilization – this world. It's the end of the governments of human beings on this earth – that's what it is. It's the end of Satan's reign – who's been influencing men and they don't know it. Satan has deceived all nations; he's deceived even their rulers. You know a deceived person doesn't know he's deceived. If he knew it, he isn't deceived – then he just knows it! But Satan has this world deceived. He has produced counterfeits; he has produced clever deceptions. And the world is deceived!

Well now they asked Him those questions – well, they asked two questions: when will the temple be destroyed; and what will be a sign of His coming? They thought He was coming in their lifetime. They thought He might come the very next year again. They knew He was going to go to heaven, but He was going to come right back.

White Horse: False Religion (Play from 16:52)

Well, "Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name saying that I am Christ; and shall deceive many." (Matthew 24:4-5)

Now He said, "many". He said that to them – that in their lifetime – that's back in the very first century – between 31 AD and from there on during the first century – many would come "in His name!" If you will look up in your Bible every place it speaks about anyone coming in Christ's name, you will find that someone claiming to represent Christ – to be His minister or to be representing Him in speaking for Him, and saying that Jesus is the Christ! It doesn't mean saying that they themselves, that the man speaking - the human man - is the Christ. Oh no, there've been very few of those.

There was one, I think, that an Annie Besant, brought over here many, many years ago from India – his name was Krishnamurti and she tried to claim he was Christ. Of course, he wasn't. And I know that someone – I don't know who he was – he was a stranger who walked in to one of our offices one time and he said, "I am Jesus Christ." Well the official in our office said, "Well if you're Jesus Christ, I wouldn't be able to take hold of you and shove you out of here. But I'm going to do just that." And he did clapped his hands {3} and said, "No, you're not Christ, I couldn't have shoved you out."

No, there're not many that come and say that they, themselves, are Christ. But many have come saying that Jesus is the Christ! And that's what He meant; that's what He said. Let's get it straight, because that's what He said and that's what He meant.

"and shall deceive the many." (Matthew 24:5) Now how in the world could that be? "Many shall come and say that I am Christ – and yet deceive the many!"

We've heard Christ preached to the world! Many are going out and saying, “Christ,” that Jesus was the Christ! That has gone all over. Now then, how were the apostles – I don't think they were deceived, but many people were.

Well, let's turn for a moment over to II Corinthians, the eleventh chapter where the apostle Paul – this was in his time along around 50 AD or somewhere along in the middle, there, of the first century – and Paul is speaking here to the church at Corinth, in his second letter, then, in chapter eleven – II Corinthians. So Paul says, to the people in that church at Corinth:

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety [he's very clever, very subtle. There it mentions the devil as a serpent], so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ. For if he that cometh preaches another Jesus..." (II Corinthians 11:3-4)

They have come preaching a Jesus that did away with His Father's law and His Father's commandments! Jesus said, "I have kept my Father's commandments " (John 15:10). He said, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done!" (John 13:15 paraphrased)

But many have come in the name of Christ and preaching that Jesus is the Christ and saying, "the law is done away." That's a different Jesus; that's a smart-aleck Jesus that knew more than His Father and did away with His Father's law. That is not the real Jesus. The real Jesus KEPT His Father's commandments and told us to do the same thing. Go back and read Matthew and Mark and Luke and John and see what He did.

"For [he continues] if he that cometh [that is false preachers, now] if he that cometh preaches another Jesus [another Jesus that knows more than His Father] whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit which you have not received, or another gospel which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him." (II Corinthians 11:4)

Now he goes on talking about these false apostles coming in sheep's clothing and claiming to represent Christ. In the thirteenth verse – just a few verses later – thirteenth, and fourteenth, and fifteenth verses – II Corinthians, the eleventh chapter:

"For such are false apostles [now here they are described – false apostles], deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel [now they're not real apostles of Christ. But it says]; no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed as an angel of light. And therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (II Corinthians 11:13-15)

So it shows there false apostles coming to deceive the people. And that was even in the first century.

Now in Paul's letter to the Galatians, written about 53 AD, in the first chapter and verse six, he says:

"I marvel that YOU [you people up there in the church in Galatia who had accepted Christ, who had come into the church] that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel [another gospel…but it was really not a true gospel. So he says it was not another] which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:6-7)

The true gospel of Christ is the message He brought from God. And that was suppressed right in the middle of the first century and had not been proclaimed to the world until 1953 AD. And God used me to proclaim it. It had been suppressed. They had preached about Christ; they preached about the Messenger! But they didn't preach His message.

My friends, we must wake up and realize that SATAN HAS DECEIVED THIS WHOLE WORLD! And it's time we begin to realize it! Your Bible says so; and it means what it says; and it says what it means! And it's time that we wake up to it.

Now back to Revelation 6. And I'm not going to have time to go on. There's so much to this and I'm going to take several programs to go into this book of Revelation. But in chapter six, now, of Revelation, beginning with verse three. I read to you about the first horseman. The first horseman were the false prophets. The first horseman is not the coming of Christ; it was the false Christ deceiving the people. For one thing, it was long after Christ had come. John wrote this in 90 AD and Christ had come, and was crucified, and gone to heaven in 31 AD. So you see it's talking of something else, not something that had happened. This is a prophecy for the future.

Red Horse: World War (Play from 23:41)

Alright now let's go right on. After that first horseman, that was white, we read now in verse three:

"And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: power was given him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth [now that meant peace from all the earth; that means world war – that means world war. That's talking about the end time – a war such as never happened back in the days of Christ. But it means world war]. And that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” [a great sword]." (Revelation 6:3-4)

Sword is the word used in the Bible for military equipment. This is 'a great one.' How about the hydrogen bomb; how about the nerve gas; how about the chemical warfare; how about all of the things that can absolutely annihilate human beings from this earth?

Famine, Pestilence, Death and Martydom (Play from 24:42)

Well "And when he had opened the third seal, I heard [and saw] the third beast say, Come and see. And, behold, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand..." (Revelation 6:5). And you find that everything was very expensive, even a little measure of wheat, or barley, or corn, or something. And it was very scarce. In other words, I think you're going to see that Jesus said it was famine.

"When he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the beast say, Come and see. And I beheld a pale horse: and the name of him that sat on him was Death, and the Grave followed him. [It says, 'hell' here, but the original Greek word meant, 'grave'] And power was given [him] them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill [them] with the sword, with hunger, and with death [that is something that is coming very, very soon. It hasn't happened yet. That's one of the things that is coming]. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain [that's back in the early years: the first century, the second century, the third century], the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, for their testimony which they held: and they cried [they were martyrs] they cried with a loud voice [it's just as if from the grave they were saying this], How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on the earth [and they're told to wait]? until their fellowservants..." [are going to be martyred like they were – and that is coming next]. (Revelation 6:7-11)

Now I'd like to go back and show you, in Matthew 24, that's exactly the next thing, in order, that Jesus Christ said back there: the wars, and then the famine, and then the pestilence, and then is coming a tremendous tribulation. I haven't had time to get to that.

{1}Footnote: Mr. Armstrong mistakenly references Revelation 5:9-10, but then reads verses six and seven

{2}Footnote: Mr. Armstrong said here, 'four elders', while the scripture reads, 'four and twenty elders.'

{3}Footnote: Mr. Armstrong makes a clapping or slapping sound with the palms of his hands