Are the Four Horsemen of Revelation Riding Today?
Recent events in our world have stirred many people’s interest in Bible prophecy. Where do current events fit in the end-time prophecies of the Bible?
We live in a world filled with turmoil and uncertainty. Many people sense that our world is in the midst of significant upheavals.
One of the most famous prophecies in the Bible is the ominous ride of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. As we’ve explained many times on this site, the four horsemen ride the white horse (religious deception), the red horse (wars and rumors of wars), the black horse (famines) and the pale horse (pestilences and death). If you are not familiar with these four horsemen, read “What Are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?”
Though the trends these horsemen represent have been on the world stage for a long time, they will escalate in intensity and impact during the end times. But, as terrible as they are, Jesus called them only “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).
The last three years have seen some horrible events—a global pandemic, social unrest and now a major war in Europe.
Are the rides of the four horsemen beginning to escalate? Let’s examine the horsemen in light of recent events in our world.
The red horse of war
The rider of the red horse is described as one who has a “great sword” to “take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another” (Revelation 6:4). Jesus described it this way: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars” and “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7).
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent shock waves around the world, with many eyes now focused on events in Europe. Many fear an escalation of events that could drag the world into a third world war. For more insight on that, read “Will There Be a World War 3?”
This war has further divided and unified nations.
China and India have refused to rebuke Russian aggression, which has drawn the ire of other nations. In Europe, nations have come closer together in response to the Russian threat. Could this be the crisis that will inspire Europe to unite in the spirit of one of the founding fathers of the EU, Jean Monnet? He said, “Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises.”
This current crisis has overthrown the stigma of Germany’s rearmament, with Germany now committing 100 billion euros to rearm. It will now spend 2 percent of its GDP on the military. Germany will use those funds to buy American F-35s, which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. To learn more of the significance of this development, read “Germany Begins Rearmament: A Turning Point in History?”
Russia’s Vladimir Putin blames his invasion of Ukraine on the United States and Europe, claiming they were working to persuade Ukraine to leave Russia’s sphere of influence and join Russia’s enemy, the West. However, this was likely just an excuse, as Mr. Putin’s real goal seems to be restoring the territories of the former Russian Empire and former Soviet Union.
Mr. Putin has continually warned the United States and European nations to stay out of the conflict, even threatening use of its nuclear arsenal. When Ukrainian President Zelensky recently implored the United States and NATO to impose a no-fly zone, Putin warned that the “very second” they moved to do so, Russia would “view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent shock waves around the world. Many fear an escalation of events that could drag the world into a third world war. Mr. Putin has ordered his nuclear weapons on high alert. He is good at bluffing, but he has also proven to be a leader willing to follow through on his threats.
In Ukraine, President Zelensky has called for all able-bodied men to take up arms and fight.
On the other side of the world, China’s incursions into Taiwan’s territory continue to be a concern. In the early hours of the Russian invasion, China sent nine aircraft into Taiwanese territory. China may feel emboldened to invade Taiwan as a result of Russia’s recent action. No doubt China is closely watching how the West responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the Middle East, Israel continues to have concerns about U.S. efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that a nuclear Iran will “likely create a more violent, more volatile Middle East” and that Israel “won’t accept Iran as a nuclear threshold state.” In addition, Iran has been practicing war games with Russia and China.
In other areas, a full-scale war was recently averted between India and Pakistan after India accidentally fired a missile into Pakistan’s territory. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed, otherwise the accident could have escalated into a wider conflict.
The Bible shows that the end-time world will be dominated by three major regional powers:
- The king of the North, a revived Roman Empire centered in Europe.
- The king of the South, likely a confederation of Muslim nations that will attack the king of the North and then be counterattacked and defeated.
- The kings of the East, likely led by Russia and China, who will attack the king of the North.
Do you notice that a power bloc is missing?
The English-speaking nations, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, are missing in the end-time geopolitical landscape. The U.S. and U.K. in particular have maintained the global order for over 200 years. But Bible prophecy shows these two nations will be rendered powerless before the end times—largely as punishment for their national sins. To learn more, read “What Will Happen to America?”
We may be seeing the collapse of the U.S.-led geopolitical order that has maintained global stability since the end of World War II. The United States is not viewed as an invincible superpower, but as a power that is weakening. We are currently witnessing a recalibration of the global order—with other powers seeking to fill the void.
The impact of warfare goes far beyond just the loss of human life. Wars also have a major effect on food supplies. Russia and Ukraine account for a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports, and Russia is the leading supplier of fertilizers, on which much industrial food production depends.
Disruptions in food supplies can also lead to war. Consider the Arab Spring. In Egypt, the rise of the price of wheat led to uprisings that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s government. The rising food prices have a real risk of causing major unrest in North Africa and the Middle East.
This naturally leads us to the next horseman—the black horse of famine.
The black horse of famines
In Matthew 24:7 Jesus warned of “famines.” This is described in Revelation as a black horse with its rider holding a pair of scales, depicting major shortages (Revelation 6:5-6).
There is probably not a person reading this who hasn’t noticed price increases on almost everything we buy. Inflation is pushing the price of goods up, and in a circular and interdependent economy, a rise in the price of one product has ripple effects on the prices of other products and will ultimately be felt by the consumer.
Inflation is pushing the price of goods up, and in a circular and interdependent economy, a rise in the price of one product has ripple effects on the prices of other products.Russia and Ukraine play a big part in global food security. Consider the following stats:
- Russia and Ukraine supply about a quarter of the world’s wheat.
- Ukraine is a major exporter of corn, barley and rapeseed oil. Ukraine produces almost 50 percent of the world’s sunflower oil.
- Nearly 26 countries rely on Russia and Ukraine for over 50 percent of their grain and oil supply.
- Russia and Belarus are the second- and third-largest producers of potash, which is used as the main ingredient in potassium-rich fertilizers.
- Russia is the world’s largest exporter of nitrogen-based fertilizers and phosphates.
Currently, one of the major drivers of inflation is the rising price of oil. Nearly all transport systems are dependent on oil. So this single commodity affects the price of almost everything.
But that alone does not explain all the causes of today’s inflation. Many of the Western nations enacted massive spending programs to deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns of the last two years. The enormous spending caused inflationary pressures, driving up the costs of goods. The U.S. national debt has risen around $10 trillion in the last four years and doubled in the last 10 years to an astronomical $30 trillion.
In addition, severe shortages from microchips to lumber have added to the inflationary pressures.
All of this was before the Russia-Ukraine war.
As a result of the war, the United Nations projects a 20 percent increase in food prices. Russian fertilizer and coal billionaire Andrei Melnichenko recently warned that the war “has already led to soaring prices in fertilizers which are no longer affordable to farmers.” Farmers are facing rising prices for fuel, animal feed and fertilizers. These costs will be passed on to the consumers. On top of that, many farmers around the world are facing unfavorable and unpredictable weather conditions.
An article in the April 4, 2022, issue of The Christian Science Monitor posed the question: “One big question mark hovering over global food markets concerns how long the Ukraine war lasts and how damaged the country’s agriculture-export infrastructure—grain silos, fertilizer plants, port facilities—ends up, once fighting ceases” (“How War in Ukraine Threatens Food Security Globally”).
Inflation and food scarcity can also lead to political and social instability within nations.
The prophecy of the black horse specifically mentions huge price increases for wheat and barley (Revelation 6:6). Expect to pay more for a loaf of bread and other food necessities.
But the worst famine of all is described by the prophet Amos. He prophesied of a coming famine “of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11). Though they now have access to the Bible, more and more people will refuse to hear, read or respond to it.
We are seeing this famine getting worse and worse in our Western societies as people are increasingly ignorant of and hostile toward the Bible. Studies show that even people who attend church regularly don’t read the Bible.
For more insight into this problem, read “Judeo-Christian Values Under Attack: What Can You Do About It?”
The pale horse of death
The pale horse and its rider, named Death, will take the lives of a quarter of the earth’s population. This occurs as a result of war and hunger, as well as pestilences and natural disasters (Revelation 6:8; Matthew 24:7).
The world has recently witnessed major disease outbreaks, notably the COVID-19 pandemic. But other diseases—such as MERS, SARS, bird flu, swine flu and Ebola—continue to spread and take lives.
These are all classed as zoonotic viruses, which means they were transmitted to humans from animals. Interestingly, the book of Revelation says that rider of the pale horse will kill not only by sword and hunger but “by the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). While this may refer to animal attacks, it could also refer to deaths from diseases that originate in animals.
The COVID-19 pandemic will pale in comparison to the pandemics that will come when the pale horse’s ride intensifies.
For more insight, read "Is Coronavirus an End-Time Plague?" and "Why the Surge in Infectious Diseases?"
The white horse of deception
Wars, famines and pandemics are easy to see and document throughout history. But many miss the significance of the first horseman—the rider of the white horse. The white horse often gallops invisibly, with the effects of its rider not always as obvious.
What is this white horse?
The white horse and its rider represent false religion. In the Bible, the color white often represents righteousness (Isaiah 1:18; Revelation 3:5). Jesus is pictured as returning on a white horse with a powerful sword (Revelation 19:11-15). But the rider of this white horse carries a bow (a weapon that uses arrows, which are associated with Satan, Ephesians 6:16).
The white horse represents a counterfeit Christ, a figure who masquerades as Christian, but is actually from Satan. The counterfeit Christianity is described in Revelation as one that looks like a lamb (another symbol of Christ) but speaks like a dragon (Revelation 13:11).
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent shock waves around the world. Many fear an escalation of events that could drag the world into a third world war. History shows that before the collapse of the Roman Empire, a new religious power rose to prominence from within the empire: the Roman Catholic Church. Out of this religious body came many protesting daughter denominations. To learn more, read “The End-Time Ride of the White Horse of Revelation.”
The current pope has been active presenting himself as a humble servant of the poor, but he represents a church that teaches and practices many things in direct contradiction to the Bible. In addition to the historical false doctrines taught by the Catholic Church, the current pope has made other statements that contradict the Scriptures in other ways:
- In December 2021 Pope Francis said “sins of the flesh” aren’t that “serious.”
- In September 2017 he signaled support for legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.
- In October 2014 he said that evolution was not inconsistent with belief in God.
- In September 2013 Pope Francis assured atheists that they didn’t have to believe in God to be saved.
Watch for the Vatican to take a more prominent role in world affairs, especially in Europe. The pope is already involved in trying to mediate a truce between Russia and Ukraine. The Bible describes this religion as a “great city” that “reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18).
The Roman Church has historically involved itself in Europe’s political affairs, and will increasingly try to do that more in the coming years. In addition to that, this religious power—and other religious figures—will gain greater prominence and influence by performing miracles that appear to be from God, but are actually from Satan (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9).
The Horseman will end the four horsemen
If left unchecked, all these forces could lead to humanity’s destruction. But God will not allow that to happen. He will send Jesus back to this earth to save us from ourselves. The return of the Son of God—who is depicted as the Horseman, with a sword, on the real white horse (Revelation 19:11-21)—will end the rides of the four horsemen of war, famine, pestilence and false religion.
Until then, Jesus admonishes His disciples to “watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
Keep watching and praying!
Topics Covered: Prophecy, End Times, News and Trends