War, Famine, and Death
February 22, 2015

The Book of Revelation

“War, Famine, and Death”

Revelation 6:3-8

Whenever I think of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse the song by the Doors always pops into my head that these four horsemen are the Riders on the Storm.

As I listen to what’s being said over the airways, many people are scared about what’s happening, because no matter where they turn everyone has this sort of impending doom that things are only getting worse, and to them it seems like everything is going to hell in a hand basket and it is all coming to a head real soon.

And this fear isn’t a matter of political or religious persuasion, heck even the UFOers believe the world is about to experience something cataclysmic. It’s like the world knows that a killer storm is on its way, and fear is beginning to set in as they can sense the destruction it will bring.

And for those who don’t see or sense that the end is near, Jesus says this to them,

“When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red;’ and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” (Matthew 16:2-3 NKJV)

The Apostle John records for us this killer storm and the riders who will bring it as he witnesses Jesus opening up of the first four seals. Last week we looked at the first seal rider, the Antichrist. Today we’ll look at the other three, War, Famine, and Death.

Read Revelation 6:3-4

Second Rider: War

Jesus opens the second seal and out rides War riding upon a fiery red horse, and power was given to him to take away the peace brought by the first seal rider, the Antichrist. In other words, whatever restraint existed up to this point that has been preserving peace, God has given this rider the power to remove it.

This rider is the seal rider of strife, violence, assault, division, abuse, anger, hate, uprising, murder, insurrection, war, and bloodshed. He divides race against race, class against class, neighbor against neighbor, employee against employer, spouse against spouse, children against parents, religion against religion, and nation against nation.

The rider is war, and he’ll take peace from the earth.

War is big business and it’s bigger than pornography and even drugs. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year supporting military activities around the world. And the more we spend on defense the more it heightens insecurity. The more countries spend on their military, the more paranoia runs rampant.

What I’ve found sad is that military spending in third world countries is more than 50 percent greater than what they spend on health and education.

Yet there have always been wars, and there always will be wars, and it’ll only get worse softening up a world that’ll accept anybody that’ll bring a little peace, which is what the Antichrist will bring. But like all peace pacts it’ll be short lived, because riding right behind the Antichrist is War, and with his arrival all hope of a permanent peace is smashed.

But where do wars really come from? The Apostle James probably says it best.

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.” (James 4:1-2 NKJV)

Wars and battles start from within the human heart. James says they come from our desire for pleasure, where pleasure is the chief end of life. And so a battle pursues within the human soul, it’s the desires of man in direct opposition to the Spirit of God, Galatians 5:17.

It’s because of this internal war that’s raging inside humanity that makes external peace between people impossible. This is why peace never lasts. But to have true peace, and peace that will last, we have to stop turning our attention outward and begin turning our attention inward and upward.

True peace starts when we have peace with God. Inside us all there exists a selfish and self-centered natured called sin that keeps us apart from God and one another. And until this nature comes under the power of God, then there’ll be no peace.

Only God can bring peace, and that only through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself confirms this.

“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.” (John 14:27 NKJV)

If you want true peace, peace of heart and soul, then you need to turn your heart over to Jesus Christ. Paul said,
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1 NKJV)

The Bible says that the human heart is deceitful above everything else, and therefore humanity believes it can find peace on their own, that they don’t need God, unfortunately their way leads only to everlasting death and separation from God. Proverbs says that while there’s a way that seems right to humanity, the end is only death, Proverbs 14:12.

The Apostle Paul makes this observation.

“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.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3 NKJV)

So it will be that the very thing the world seeks, that is, peace, will actually lead to destruction as War rides down upon the world removing peace from the earth.

Read Revelation 6:5-6

Following War comes the third seal rider

Third Rider: Famine

The color of the horse and its rider is black signifying suffering and mourning. It’s the sorrow and anxiety that the world will experience through this coming worldwide famine.

Famine always follows war. Further, withholding food is often a technique of war making food a weapon. Food is withheld, fields are burned, and those needed to till and harvest the crops are either dead or have been away at war. So after any war there’s always some sort of famine.

To understand the seriousness of this famine is to understand the meaning of the words.

A denarius at that time represented a day’s wage. So for a day’s wage a person could buy only enough for themselves or their family. And so if you’re lucky enough to find work, the money you earn will only be enough to pay for your food, which begs the question, “How will you provide for the other necessities of life, like a roof over your head, and utilities?”

The voice goes on to say, “Don’t harm the oil or the wine.” Oil and wine are often associated with the rich. They were luxury items in the ancient world.

What this is saying is that while the famine is worldwide, it’s not universal, that is, it will mainly affect the poor and middle class. Imagine walking into a grocery store and having only enough for a loaf of bread and some milk only to find them in short supply while there’s plenty of butter, jam, and liquor.

This is when we’ll see class segregation as the wealthy survive and the poor starve.

Over the years, this study of famine is one of the more difficult ones to do. You see the pictures and hear the statistics and they are heart wrenching.

  • Around the world, soil is being swept and washed away 10 to 40 times faster than it is being replenished, destroying cropland the size of Indiana every year. David Pimentel, professor of ecology at Cornell, said, “Soil erosion is second only to population growth as the biggest environmental problem the world faces.” The vast majority, 99.7 percent, of human food comes from cropland, which is shrinking by almost 37,000 square miles a year due to soil erosion, while more people than ever, more than 3.7 billion people, are malnourished
  • In 2013, 33 percent of the world’s population is considered to be starving. 1.5 million children die every year from hunger, and every 3.6 seconds someone dies from hunger. 800 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and 936 million people don’t have enough to eat.

One doctor with International Medical Corp. says, “We are talking about losing a whole generation … People cannot go without food for as long as these people have without doing permanent damage to their minds and bodies.”

One famine observer said, “As famine unfolds, antisocial behavior – hording, crime, etc. – increased, social arrangements erode, people see or abandon their assets, and out migration accelerates. In the midst of all this malnutrition rates soar, infectious diseases spread, and people die in unusual numbers.”

This leads us then to the fourth and last Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Fourth Rider: Death

Read Revelation 6:7-8

The imagery is startling beyond imagination. The color of the horse is a pale green. It’s the color of decay and looks like a corpse in the advanced stage of corruption. And if that wasn’t enough, following this rider, in its wake, is hell itself.

This will be the greatest destruction of human life so far ever recorded. One fourth of the human population will die with these last three horsemen. Notice the wording, “to kill with sword, with hunger, with death.”

But what is even more telling is that this last word for death is the Greek word for “pestilence,” which back then meant death. And this fits into what we know about the aftermath of warfare. First comes famine, which is followed closely by pestilence and disease.

The question isn’t when infectious diseases are going to be wiped out, but rather it’s where the next dearly new plague will appear.

Many of the bacteria that caused infectious diseases, and that were once thought by doctors and scientist as being eradicated or under control, are making dangerous and fatal comebacks being resistant to the drugs and antibodies developed to combat them.

These are diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, meningitis, dysentery, typhus, staff infections, and venereal diseases. And there are also new ones to fight, such as the Ebola virus, which hasn’t been stopped, but rather it’s still increasing, this along with the still fatal HIV/AIDS virus.

Consider for a moment past plagues

  • The Black Plague killed up to 50 percent of Europe’s population and is regarded as the greatest biological/environmental disaster in human history
  • In the 6th century there was Justinian’s plague that wiped out 25 percent of Europe’s population.

But HIV/AIDS is making these look like child’s play.

In 2013, 35 million people have become infected; 3.2 million of these are children. Every year 2.1 million people become infected and 1.5 million die. Since 1981, 39 million people have died. And to date we have no cure.

One British reporter said that AIDS has so decimated Uganda that Uganda will not be able to exist as a nation. One report had 9 out of 10 Ugandans infected.

What’s interesting is that beasts are included in this destruction. It’s been said that the most destructive creature on the earth is the rat. It’s a menace to human health and food supplies. It’s been estimated that 1 billion dollars of food is lost each year in the United States alone to the rat. But also they carry fleas that sometimes carry the bubonic plague, which is over 95 percent fatal, and has destroyed 1/2 of Europe’s population in the 14th century.

And so as famine follows war, and pestilence follows famine, what we see is that a quarter of earth’s population dies during these three Seal Judgments. And as bad as this seems, the worst is still to come.

And so, are you ready? The writer of Hebrews said,

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3a NKJV)

For myself I know Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord, and I also know God’s promise that those who believe will not experience His wrath. This gives me peace, especially as I see what’s about to come in the Book of Revelation, and as I look at what is going on in the world around me.

But I mourn for those who will be left behind and who’ll suffer and die as God’s wrath descends upon this earth. Frankly, if I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord, and knowing what’s coming, I’d probably hit the floor running to the altar.

So you need to ask yourself if you’ve neglected this great offer of salvation? And if you have, how will you ever escape,

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