Since the death and resurrection of Christ and the earliest days of the church, Believers have often believed that Christ’s return was imminent. Though scriptures tell us that no man can know the exact time of Christ’s return, Jesus did give us references by which we can estimate a window of time, in which Christ will return to this world. In Mathew 24:32-34, Jesus tell us,
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
The blooming of the fig tree is symbolic for the rebirth of the Jewish nation. In 70 AD, the revolt of the Jewish people against their Roman conquers ended in failure . The Romans crushed the rebellion and in the aftermath, the Roman army not only destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem but they destroyed the country itself, forcing surviving Jews to flee. It was not until 1948, with the establishment of the nation of Israel, the work of the Romans was undone — the fig tree once again blossomed. The rebirth of the Jewish nation started a countdown to the return of Christ. Though no man, nor angel, knows the exact time, the above scripture tells us of a window of time for His return, as it says ‘that generation will not pass’ before Christ’ return. The generation that was born after the establishment of Israel are the infamous ‘Baby Boom’ generation. The window of time for Christ’s return is marked by the longevity of this generation — Christ will return before this generation dies out. Based on this, it can be argued that given current longevity, there is approximately a 100 year window, from 1948 to 2048, during which we can expect Christ to return to this world to establish His reign on this world.
It is of some not minor significance that within Judaic thinking, they also believe that the rebirth of the Jewish nation is a crucial event in connection with their long awaited rise of the secular Jewish moschiach (aka messiah). We will explore this more later.
The Opening of the First Seal
By Christ’s own hand, the first seal is opened, which marks the beginning of the End of Days, as we are told in Revelation 6:1-2,
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a 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.
The interpretation of this passage has undergone changes over the centuries. During the early days of the Church, it was first thought that the white rider represented Christ, as He has been been portrayed in a similar fashion. However, this interpretation has fallen out of favor, and it is now generally believed that the white rider symbolizes the efforts of those preparing the way for the rise of the anti-Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we are told:
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
The rider on the white horse is a deceiver, a pretender. He takes on the guise of the Moschiach (the Jewish secular messiah), but he is instead the Beast. Just as Satan disguises himself as an angel in white, so will those working for the Beast will too cloth themselves deceptively, acting as if they are trying to achieve noble purpose.
Though the timing of the opening of the first seal is unknowable, we can easily assume that the first horseman was release after the founding of Israel in 1948. The Beast, aka the anti-Christ, is to gain political dominion over 10 Western democratic nation states. This will take a tremendous amount of time and effort, but we can see their efforts daily in the news, as the children of the Beast are ever striving to increase their political power in order to bring about the rise of the Beast. The first rider started his work decades ago, and will continue to inhabit our world until the anti-Christ ascends to his final position of power.
The Opening of the Second and Third Seals
Just as the opening of the first seal unleashed the first horseman, so does the opening of the second and third seal unleash the next two horsemen. Revelation 6:3-6 tells us:
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: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
Given the generic nature of these two prophecies, it would be difficult to make any concrete arguments about when these seals are opened. The opening of the second seal unleashes the rider on a red horse. This rider brings with him conflict –whether wars, civil wars, or other types of armed conflict. In Matthew 3:8, Christ refers to such signs as just the beginning of things to come, referring to them as birth pains.
As we draw closer to His return, just as when we draw closer to the bith of a baby, the signs of His return will come at a faster pace, and be of a more intense nature. And in this same manner, the conflicts brought on by the red rider will grow more frequent and will be ever more intense and violent as we draw closer to Christ’s return.
Similarly with the third horseman, the rider on a black horse, rise in the price of food will only worsen and grow more severe with time. Even now, the price of food and the necessities of life continue to rise, despite government claims that inflation is ‘too low’ or non-existent. The number of hours required to work to purchase the necessities of life continue to rise — this is being driven by government fiscal and monetary policies. Once actual food shortages start to occur, the cost of food will absolutely skyrocket.
However, the rise in conflicts and the cost of food and other necessities will morph into something much more intense with the coming of the fourth horsemen.
The Opening of the Fourth Seal
The opening of the fourth seal unleashes two of the most fearful specters, Death and Hades, as Revelation 4:7-8 tells us:
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
These two riders will have dominion of one quarter of the world, and to those unfortunate enough to find themselves under this dominion, they will be surrounded by both physical and spiritual death, brought about by war, famine, and disease. By examining the extent of wars and conflicts in the world, we would argue that the fourth seal has already been opened.
The United Nations published a report that focused on refugees fleeing armed conflicts — whether conflicts between nations, religions, or other forms of sectarian violence.
The map which accompanied the report showed that refugees were fleeing conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Syria to Nigeria — one could see that a quarter of the world has been engulfed in conflict. To me, this report confirmed that riders on a pale horse have staked out their dominion, and that things will go from bad to worse in those regions. Obama has dispatched the Terminator-like drones (flying robots of death, like the Terminator film) to kill ‘terrorists’ around the world — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc — but like spaying water on an oil fire, those efforts have only spread the flames. Needless to say, Revelation tells us that Death and Hades will continue to wreck greater and greater havoc over time, in their area of dominion.
The Opening of the Fifth Seal
When the Fifth seal is opened, Revelation 6:9-11 describes to us a scene in heaven:
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
The opening of the fifth seal marks the beginning of a new era of persecution for Christians. When the fifth seal is open, we are shown a scene from heaven, where matryed Believers are crying out for justice. The angel consoles them but says more will die in fulfillment of what is to be.
There are two necessary conditions that need to be present, to enable the persecution of Christians. The first is that the Christian population is a small minority in the geographic area. The fewer their numbers, the easier it is to brutalize and kill them for their belief and devotion to Jesus. The second is the presence of a hostile authority.
Across large regions of the Middle East and Africa, there are small minority communities of Christians, living in predominately Muslim countries. The ruling authorities have traditionally left them in peace and protected them from abuse. However, with the opening of the fourth seal, and with Death and Hades claiming their dominion over a quarter of the world (and thanks to US foreign policy of killing Muslims and overthrowing Muslim governments) hostile authorities have come to power in many regions or are waging war in an attempt to claim power.
In the Middle East, the overthrow of Saddam and the ensuing civil chaos has resulted in the massacre of Christian communities, as ISIS and other hostile powers fight for power. This same process is seen in Libya and Syria — the overthrow or attempt to overthrow authorities which had protected their Christian minorities has resulted in hostile groups gaining power, and in doing so, they brutalize and kill the Christian minorities that they encounter.
In Africa, the rising persecution of Christians in many regions appears to be more complicated. One factor has been the rise of Muslim paramilitary groups, as Boko Haram in Nigeria or Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Whether their motivation is money or power or just plain meanness, they target Christian communities to cause death and havoc. In many regions, where Christians and Muslims had lived peacefully, the Christian communities have been decimated, with survivors forced to flee their home region. I cannot help but think that America’s ongoing attacks on Muslims across the world, including Africa, have caused a general backlash of sentiment against Christians — it as portrayed as Christian brutality against Muslims. In any event, across Africa, small minority Christian populations suffered death and brutality.
Believers in Europe and America should take heed of the new era of persecution that has been unleashed. Surveys show a dramatic reduction of faith in the youth of today. The Baby Boom generation represent that last large demographic that considers themselves predominately Christian in faith. As this demographic shrinks — as they grow old and die — the percentage of Believers in the population will quickly fall. Even now, Christians may still hold a plurality but may have already lost its majority. Hostile authorities already exist. The ongoing suppression of the expression of Christian belief has been waged in America’s courts for decades. Once Christian numbers shrink to a small enough minority, that repression will morph to oppression and eventually to persecution. The legal persecution of Christians for their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality is the first salvo. The culmination of this coming persecution will be when the Beast rises to his final place of power. He will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and in the name of the Jewish moschiach, he will command all those under his dominion to worship him. Those who refuse will surely suffer.
Waiting for God’s final confirmation
The evidence is overwhelmingly strong that not only have the End of Days begun, but also that the first five seals of Revelation have been opened by Christ. A doubter might argue that since Christ’s crucifixion, Believers have been waiting for His return to no avail — wars, famine, and disease have ravaged the world with no sign of Christ. Other ‘Christians’ might even argue that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally, but that it is to be viewed symbolically and that Christ is not coming back to establish a spiritual kingdom on this world. The opening of the Sixth seal, the next event on the Revelation time line will dispel any such doubts. It will be an event that has not been witnessed by modern man, and has not occurred since the start of written history. The events that will accompany the opening of the Sixth seal will rock and shock the entire world, and will serve as God’s final warning that we are indeed in the End of Days.