Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Black Horse of Revelation Six!
The Black Horse is a force that has powerfully affected the very character of Christian civilization. While the rider of the White Horse symbolizes the going forth of the TRUE gospel under the power of YEHOVAH’s spirit, the rider of the Black Horse symbolizes the going forth of a FALSE gospel under Satan’s spirit -- a false gospel going forth with “the balances of deceit” -- a deceitful gospel that has ensnared millions!
by John D. Keyser
"When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come and see.' And I looked, and behold, a BLACK HORSE, and he who sat on it had a PAIR OF SCALES in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, 'A quart of WHEAT for a denarius, and three quarts of BARLEY for a denarius; and do not harm the OIL and the WINE'” (Revelation 6:5-6).
The book of Revelation is of great importance in that it provides spiritual strength and insight for YEHOVAH’s people. It highlights YEHOVAH’s interest in the church (ecclesia) of His people and the close and loving care that Yeshua the Messiah exercises toward them as the Shepherd of Israel. Yeshua knows exactly what conditions prevail and what must be done. This is especially manifest in the first three chapters of the book.
Some people view Revelation as being so highly symbolic that it cannot be understood -- or they take little care in interpreting it to come up with fantastic and erroneous results. But YEHOVAH God wants His people Israel to understand, and He caused the Bible to be written to be understood and to provide guidance for them. The KEY to understanding Revelation is the same as the key to understanding other parts of the Bible -- YOU MUST USE THE BIBLE TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE! If we search the Scriptures we will find in them the things used as symbolisms in Revelation. By comparing these Scripture texts we can understand what the Revelation symbols mean.
The apostle John was steeped in the Old Testament and draws on the rich evocative imagery of the prophets. He knew -- as certainly as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel knew -- that what he wrote was directly given him by YEHOVAH God and stamped with His authority. So with this mind, let us delve into one of the most mysterious and awesome subjects of the book of Revelation -- the Black Horse of Revelation 6!
The Horse as a Bible Symbol
To correctly understand this portion of the book of Revelation, we need to learn the significance of the horse as a Biblical symbol. For this information we must turn to the Old Testament; for the horse is not mentioned in the New -- except in Revelation.
A study of the Old Testament will show that the horse is first of all the symbol of strength, might, or force of a certain kind for conquest and for progress. Characterized as he is by strength combined with speed and fearlessness, the horse aptly symbolizes that form of spiritual vitality and power that sustains, energizes and carries forward -- despite all that opposes it. It represents a GREAT SPIRITUAL MOVEMENT, whether good or evil. The horse especially typifies strength and courage for conflict.
We should especially notice YEHOVAH God’s own description of the characteristics with which He endowed the horse. Addressing Job, He said:
"Have you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder? Can you frighten him like a locust? His majestic snorting strikes terror. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; he gallops into the clash of arms. He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; nor does he turn back from the sword" (Job 39:19-22).
Here YEHOVAH holds the horse up to admiration because of his strength, his utter fearlessness, and his refusal to be turned back by any form of danger. YEHOVAH further speaks of his irresistible determination and power to advance in the face of armed resistance:
"He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; nor does he stand firm, because the trumpet has sounded. At the blast of the trumpet he says, “Aha!” He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of captains and shouting" (Job 39: 24-25).
The symbol of the horse and rider is as old as Jacob’s prophecy in Genesis 49:17:
“Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider shall fall backward.”
The same figure, in a similar sense, is found in the Song of Moses when the children of Israel reached the far side of the Red Sea:
“Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to YEHOVAH, and spoke, saying: ‘I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!’” (Exodus 15:1).
From this we get the distinct idea that the horse represents the progress of some great enterprise backed by strong military power. Therefore, anything that is pictured in the Bible as being carried forward by a horse is a movement that is sustained by mighty power -- one that advances into conflict against the opposing forces with fearlessness and with prospects of success.
Other passages in the Bible reinforce this concept. Notice Isaiah 31:1 (note the words, “rely on horses...because they are very strong”); Jeremiah 4:13 (”His horses are swifter than eagles”); Jeremiah 12:5 (”how can you contend with horses?”); Hosea 14:3 (”We will not ride on horses”) and Psalm 33:17 (”Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength”).
When we take into consideration the significance of the horse as a Biblical symbol -- as well as other factors -- it becomes apparent that the Red Horse of Revelation 6, and its rider, presents a prophetic picture of the results of the MIGHTY SPIRITUAL INFLUENCES, agencies or powers, which were to arise and go forth to the twelve tribes of Israel in dispersion at the beginning of the “Christian Era” -- and which were to impart to that era those special characteristics whereby it is set apart from all previous periods in the history of YEHOVAH's people Israel.
That our era is clearly set apart from the eras that preceded it, that it has various characteristics which are all its own, and that its most distinctive features are due entirely to influences which came into being at -- and immediately after -- the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah, are FACTS that cannot be denied! By common acclamation this age is known as the “Christian Era” and its civilization is commonly termed “Christian Civilization.” Throughout the world its system of reckoning time has the date (although incorrect) of the birth of the Messiah for its starting-point. As a result, all men throughout the civilized world render -- whether Christian or not -- involuntary recognition to Yeshua the Messiah. They acknowledge (even though it is most repugnant to them to do so) that YEHOVAH God’s doctrine has been the leading factor in shaping the course of human affairs for the last almost 2,000 years, and that the birth of the Messiah into this world was the beginning of an entirely new order of things among men.
In retrospect, we cannot fail to observe that the spiritual powers or agencies which have had the chief part in shaping the course of the affairs of YEHOVAH's people Israel from the dawn of this era until now, have been FOUR in number. Not only that, but a careful examination of these powers or agencies show that they correspond respectively -- and in the precise order in which they arose -- to the symbolical representations of the four horses and their riders in the book of Revelation. The resemblance is so clear in each case that it is readily seen when pointed out -- and no twisting or manipulation of the meaning of the symbols is needed to produce the true explanation as YEHOVAH God intended.
This unique correspondence between the broad characteristic marks of the Christian Era and the symbolical scenarios shown under the first four seals of Revelation is, in itself, STRONG PROOF of the correctness of the interpretation. The agreement is too complete -- and it extends to too many details -- to be attributed to mere chance.
The visions of these four seals represent the going forth of mighty powers YEHOVAH God has used to shape the course of affairs throughout the entire age. They are to reach the very height of their activities in the closing days of this era, and show to us that the end is near -- even at the door!
The Black Horse
The image of darkness and black represents evil in the Bible. It is the absence of law, love and goodness -- all the attributes of YEHOVAH God. Without YEHOVAH's truth, people live in hatred, lawlessness and selfishness. The color black lacks brightness and hue. It does not reflect any light, but instead only absorbs light. The Bible tells us that YEHOVAH God is light (Psalm 104, 1 John 1:5). It's interesting to note that prior to Satan's fall from Heaven, he was an angel of light, and when he fell like lightening from Heaven (Luke 10:18) he became enveloped in darkness -- no longer in YEHOVAH's light. Similarly, Adam was created in light and perfection, in the image of YEHOVAH God, with YEHOVAH's holy spirit to lead and guide him. But when Adam sinned, his light left him and he, too, was enveloped in darkness for turning away from YEHOVAH's truth. Since Adam, all have been born in the "blackness" of sin.
With this in mind, we find that most commentaries regarding the Black Horse clearly show that the authors are groping blindly after the meaning of the symbols. It is commonly assumed that this vision represents famine; and the prices quoted for the wheat and barley are supposed to support this theory -- for it is said that these are “famine prices.” However, this is not a satisfactory explanation. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that a man, going forth with a pair of scales and crying the sale of wheat and barley at any prices, is a symbol of famine.
Neither has any proof been given that the prices quoted in these verses are “famine prices.” Nor is it easy to see what the command not to hurt the oil and the wine has to do with famine. That command simply does not fit into the picture of famine at all -- see the Biblical symbols of famine in Genesis 41:1-7. The true explanation will fully reveal the Biblical significance of the color of the horse (BLACK), the scales or balances, and the things mentioned by the voice from the midst of the cherubim, i.e. wheat, barley, oil and wine.
Furthermore, it should be noted that to the rider on the Green (Pale) Horse (fourth seal) power is given to kill “with hunger.” This in itself is enough to demonstrate that the Black Horse rider symbolizes something more and different than famine, otherwise we have a duplication here. That we have something directly in contrast with the gospel itself should be very clear -- for black is the diametric opposite of white. Not only that, but the gospel freely gives the bread of life, while here we find something that sells the prime necessities, both for rich and poor at fixed prices. The Good News of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God brings blessings for all; but here is something that would “hurt” the oil and the wine if not restrained by divine command.
The Balances of Deceit
To get a clear understanding of this part of the vision, we need to go to the Book of Hosea. Notice!
"Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure (Hosea 8:8). My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations" (Hosea 9:17). "He (Jacob) is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress (margin, deceive)"/ (Hosea 12:7).
Here we have a clear prophecy of the characteristics of apostate Israel during the time the gospel was going out to the world. As a nation the House of Israel was to be “swallowed up” among the Gentiles. As individuals they were to be “wanderers among the nations.” And they would addict themselves to the deceitful merchandising of the Gospel!
The passage last quoted above matches the symbol of the Black Horse rider so perfectly that we cannot doubt that the former is given us to unlock the meaning of the latter. The color BLACK symbolizes that which is hidden (deceit), as white fitly represents that which is truthful and open. And the balances are plainly shown to represent THE MERCHANDISING OF THE GOSPEL, to which our nations of Israel have addicted ourselves!
Here, then, is something great enough in its influence upon all mankind to be compared with the gospel itself, though of OPPOSITE CHARACTER -- a thing that has followed the course of the gospel everywhere, even as the BLACK HORSE is shown following the White Horse. It is a force that has powerfully affected the very character of Christian civilization. While the rider of the White Horse symbolizes the going forth of the TRUE gospel under the power of YEHOVAH’s spirit, the rider of the Black Horse symbolizes the going forth of a FALSE gospel under Satan’s spirit -- a false gospel going forth with “the balances of deceit” -- a deceitful gospel that has ensnared millions! If the WHITE HORSE and its rider represents the going forth of the TRUE gospel, the BLACK HORSE (which is the very opposite of white) must represent the going forth of a FALSE gospel -- a gospel of darkness and death.
The Deceitful Doctrine of Simon Magus
The pages of the New Testament expressly reveal that the apostasy from YEHOVAH's truth was already in full swing long before the death of the apostle John; and that the gait of the Black Horse was turning into a gallop. Satan wasted no time in confusing the minds of men with his doctrines of Babylonian paganism in order to draw men away from the glorious promises of YEHOVAH God. "False leaders (actual Simonites) calling themselves 'apostles' were getting control over many of the Christian churches of John's time, and John's writings of I, II, III John and the Revelation all bear testimony to that effect" (Why a Universal Salvation? A Mystery of God Revealed!, by Les Gosling, p. 3).
The apostle John is the only Biblical writer who actually uses the term "Antichrist." Writing at a time when the doctrines of Simon Magus (Acts 8) and his followers were making the rounds, the burden of John's message was for true Christians to hold fast to the original faith as taught in the beginning:
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard [from the Messiah]...declare we unto you....This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you" (I John 1:1-5).
John speaks of the instruction they "had from the beginning" and the word which they had "heard from the beginning" (2:7).
"Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father (2:24)....the message that you heard from the beginning" (3:11).
John mentions "that which we had from the beginning" (II John 5) and "as you have heard from the beginning, you shall walk in it" (verse 6). The reason that John placed such strong emphasis on that which was taught "AT THE BEGINNING" was because many had departed from the original faith into the false doctrines of the Nicolaitans. Those who had departed he called "antichrists."
Notice I John 2:18, 19 --
"Little children...you have heard that ANTICHRIST is coming, even now many antichrists have come....They went out from us..."
Now these "antichrists" -- a type of the Antichrist that was to come -- were people who PROFESSED TO BE CHRISTIANS. The phrase "went out from us" means they departed DOCTRINALLY from the truth delivered to them by the followers of the Messiah. "'Went out from us,' that is, doctrinally. Doubtless then, as now, the deniers of the Son [the Messiah] still called themselves Christians" (Scofield Reference Bible, p. 1322).
We read, in I John 2:22-26:
"Who is a LIAR but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is ANTICHRIST who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either....Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father....These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you."
Again, those who taught things contrary to that which was delivered from the beginning, were termed "antichrist." By teaching doctrines within the Church that were DIFFERENT from those delivered from the beginning, they denied YEHOVAH God and the Messiah. But it was not a blatant, barefaced denial that leapt out and hit those early Christians in the face, for the apostle John mentions the seductive and deceptive nature of these teachings. Comments Fred J. Peters in "The Mystery of Antichrist" --
"When we teach that the PAPACY (the dynasty of popes) is the ANTICHRIST, in common with all the great Reformers and Protestants for 1000 years past, we are often told...that the Antichrist has to be an unbeliever, an atheist, an infidel, which the Pope is not. Thus with a wave of the hand is the MIGHTY PROPHETIC TEACHING, that shook the PAPACY to its foundation, dismissed....Often an earnest seeker asks of some futurist preacher if the Pope is the Antichrist of the Bible, and the matter is settled in a minute, in the most superficial way, by saying, "No, for he does not deny the Father and the Son"....and that ends the subject, for the seeker does not seek further along that line, unless he has a firm resolve to know all the truth, and why the old Reformers and Protestants thus taught" (Blackwood, NJ: Old Fashioned Prophecy Magazine, reprint of 1942 edition, p. 29).
"So those 'antichrists' that John mentioned," explains Ralph Woodrow, "were NOT atheists, but PROFESSING CHRISTIANS. Their teachings were 'seducing' [or 'deceiving'] Christians into counterfeit doctrines. Teaching atheism would not have this seductive effect, for it does not even pretend to be a Christian doctrine. What, then, is meant by the statement that they denied the Father and the Son? It was not that they denied the existence of God. They denied him in other ways -- mainly by claiming to be Christians, yet adhering to false doctrines which were not the original teachings of the church" (Great Prophecies of the Bible. Riverside, CA. 1989, p. 150).
This is exactly how the followers of Simon Magus operated!
The apostle Peter wrote of apostasy that would develop within the church: "There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly BRING IN destructive heresies, even DENYING the Lord who bought them....And many will follow their destructive ways..." (II Peter 2:1, 2). Clearly, the false teachers were not denying the existence of YEHOVAH God, for that would not have deceived the Christians to whom Peter wrote. The way they denied Him -- and Yeshua the Messiah -- was by teaching erroneous and deceptive doctrines.
Likewise, Jude writes of these deceivers, saying that "CERTAIN MEN have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and DENY the only LORD God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4). It seems perfectly clear that Jude is here referring to the licentious doctrines of the Nicolaitans.
The Beginning of a New Era
By the end of the second century, Christians who ardently "contended for the faith once delivered" -- handed down to them by the immediate followers of the Messiah -- were rapidly becoming a minority. And the stride of the Black Horse was in full swing. Mosheim, in The Ecclesiastical History, tells us that
"Christian churches had scarcely been organized when men rose up, who, not being contented with the simplicity and purity of that religion which the Apostles taught, attempted innovations, and fashioned religion according to their own liking."
By the closing years of the second century the Roman bishop Victor attempted to "excommunicate" the churches of Asia Minor for refusing to abandon practices handed down to them from the apostles of the Messiah. Professor J. B. Lightfoot, in The Christian Ministry, informs us that
"with Victor, the successor of Eleutherus, A NEW ERA begins. Apparently the first Latin prelate who held the metropolitan see of Latin Christianity [?], he was moreover the first Roman Bishop who is known to have had intimate relations with the imperial court, and the first also who advanced those claims to UNIVERSAL [CATHOLIC] DOMINION which his successors in later ages have always consistently and often successfully maintained...the close of the second [century] witnessed the autocratic pretensions of the haughty pope Victor, the prototype of a Hildebrand or an Innocent" (pp. 223-224).
"The harsh action of Victor against the believers in Asia," writes S. Gusten Olson, "can now be seen in the light of his close relations with the Imperial Court. The Latin Christianity which emerges AT VARIANCE WITH THE ORIGINAL FORM can now be understood in relation to the uncompromising Imperial Policy" (The Apostasy of the Last Century, p. 177).
Olson goes on to say that "by the end of the second century, the conflict between Victor and the Christian leaders in Ephesus and Smyrna revealed a spirit of apostasy among the Romans from the direction of the exalted Christ in the Church" (ibid., p. 181).
The Christian historian Eusebius (who was a contemporary of Constantine the Great) ties the apostles' statements right into the heresies of Simon Magus -- notice!
"And what is more surprising, the same thing [faking conversion] is done to this day by those who follow his [Simon Magus'] most impure heresy. For they, after the manner of their forefather, SLIPPING INTO THE CHURCH, like a pestilential and leprous disease greatly affect those into who they are able to infuse the deadly and terrible poison concealed in themselves" (Ecclesiastical History, II. 13. 5, 6).
Soon a new "gospel" began to be preached which praised the Messiah and his virtues but DENIED his all-important message that he would RETURN to this earth and, with his Fathers help, set up the KINGDOM OF YEHOVAH GOD! Asserts Ivor C. Fletcher --
"When the Roman or Latin form of Christianity became the state religion of the empire under Constantine, men saw less need for the return of Christ and sought to establish their own ecclesiastical empire, with ROME, not Jerusalem, as its headquarters.
"The 'little flock' which constituted the true Church of God were now classified as 'heretics' by Constantine's 'Christian' empire and true to prophecy (Dan. 12:7, Rev. 12) were forced to flee into the wilderness or die as martyrs for their faith" (The Incredible History of God's True Church, Triumph Publishing Co. Altadena, CA. 1984, p. 131).
"The primary person," expounds Ernest Martin, "who was responsible for establishing the syncretic development of MIXING PAGANISM INTO CHRISTIANITY, so the New Testament and the early Christian scholars inform us, was Simon Magus. It took about 300 years for the syncretic principles of Simon Magus to make an impact on orthodox Christianity. But, with Constantine the Great, the seeds of the syncretism fell on fertile ground. From then on, idolatry and pagan doctrines and customs began to enter mainline Christianity" (The People That History Forgot, p. 159).
Catholic Church Accepts SIMON MAGUS’ Teachings
We have the record of history which tells us that Simon’s teaching spread like wildfire -- especially in Rome where he was honored as a god. In fact, after going there he made that city his headquarters. But let us recall that the followers of Simon called themselves TRUE Christians.
Simon steadfastly adhered to this. In fact, it finally became the desired name for his followers to use. The names Simonians and Samaritans began to die out in the 2nd century A.D. Justin tells us that some were still going by the parent name in his day (152 A.D.). But by the time of Origen (220 A.D.), he states that there were hardly 30 people in the world which went by the parent name. Yet Eusebius, who lived about 100 years later, said they were indeed still numerous all over the world.
The fact is, they were divorcing themselves from the use of the name SIMON or Samaritans because by the fourth century their names were beginning to have an odious connotation to them. Nonetheless the Simonians were very much around -- this time with the name of "Christian." And we have the exact testimony of Eusebius himself (325 A.D.) that these people were flocking into the Catholic Church.
Eusebius is telling us that these people were now "Christians" and that they were corrupting the entire church as a pestilential disease which hits the whole body. Eusebius later maintains that the chief troublemakers were being expelled from the Catholic Church. But how could they expel all of them? Almost the whole church by this time was affected!
It is not to be supposed that all of the early heretical sects were direct branches of the Simon Magus religion. By the end of the first century there were at least 50 minor sects. The Simon Magus group represented several of these sects, but not all of them. The truth is, the Simonians, whose headquarters were at Rome, finally absorbed ALL these minor sects by the fifth century.
Simonism IS Catholicism
It is also true that even some of the Catholics (in Eusebius’ time) were unwilling to go all the way and accept the SIMON MAGUS doctrines of IMAGES, PICTURES, INCANTATIONS, etc., but within another hundred years, history shows the bars were let down completely.
But in Eusebius’ day, he even balked at their bringing outright images into the churches and worshiping them. Notice what he finally says of these "Christians" of SIMON:
"Simon was the author of all heresy. From his time down to the present those who have followed his heresy have FEIGNED the sober philosophy of the Christians, which is celebrated among all on account of its purity of life. But they nevertheless have embraced again the superstitions of idols, which they seemed [ostentatiously] to have renounced; and they fall down before pictures and images of Simon himself and of the above-mentioned Helena who was with him [that is, the images of JUPITER and MINERVA -- the Catholics do exactly this today]; and they venture to worship them with incense and sacrifices and libations" (Eccl. Hist. II, 13, 6).
What clear and revealing statements! Eusebius is not talking about what he considers distinct heretics outside the Catholic Church. He is talking about the MAJOR group IN THAT CHURCH which was continually adding more and more on a large scale. He attributes these evils to the "Christians" who followed SIMON MAGUS. They were so active in his day INSIDE THE CHURCH as to give him grave concern.
But what happened?
Did the few Catholic leaders of the fourth century who abhorred outright IDOLATRY manage to persuade the masses to give it up and turn away from the SIMONIANS (now called Christians) who were the cause of it all?
The answer from history is NO!
The Simonian "Christians" won out. Imagery, idolatry and paganism -- became the Universal Church just as planned in the very beginning by SIMON MAGUS -- or by the Devil who possessed him.
Can we now understand why YEHOVAH God, through Luke, devotes a whole section of Acts to warn us of this man’s origin. He was NEVER a part of the Church of YEHOVAH God, NEVER!! But he, and his followers -- from clear history -- have succeeded in bringing in their UNIVERSAL religion -- a pagan blend, called "Christian"!
During the time of Constantine we find the real COMPLETION of the Babylonian and the diasporaic Samaritan movements to Rome and to Italy. The religion, philosophy and even the government of old Babylon had been transferred to Rome and, with an acceptance of the Constantine form of Christianity (the type which introduced Babylonian idolatry and pagan teachings into the bosom of the Christian Church), the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH had now arisen which was to govern the future western world -- a powerful, paganized force which is still influencing us today! The Black Horse was now in full gallop and turning the truth of YEHOVAH God into a fable! According to the article, Constantine's Impact On Christianity --
"Constantine's reign as Roman emperor (A.D. 306-337) dramatically changed the direction of Christianity, though in ways far different from those portrayed in The Da Vinci Code. This grew out of his strategy for unifying his empire by creating a 'catholic' -- meaning universal -- church that would blend elements from many religions into one.
"The 'Christianity' Constantine endorsed was already considerably different from that practiced by Jesus Christ and the apostles. The emperor accelerated the change by his own hatred of Jews and religious practices he considered Jewish.
"For example, at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), church authorities essentially replaced the biblical Passover with Easter, a popular holiday rooted in ancient springtime fertility celebrations. Endorsing this change, Constantine announced: 'It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast [Easter] we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul…Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd' (Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3, 18-19, "Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers," 1979, second series, Vol. 1, pp. 524-525).
"Constantine's affection for sun worship had earlier led him to endorse Sunday, the first day of the week and a day dedicated to honoring the sun, as a weekly day of rest in the Roman empire. This created considerable hardship on those Jews and true Christians who continued to keep the biblical Sabbath on the seventh day of the week. (A century later the Council of Laodicea would essentially outlaw Sabbath-keeping and Christian observance of the biblical Holy Days.)
"British historian Paul Johnson summarizes how Constantine's approach of merging religious practices produced a corrupted Christianity that meshed paganism with biblical elements: 'Thus the followers of Isis adored a madonna nursing her holy child; the cult of Attis and Cybele celebrated a day of blood and fasting, followed by the Hilaria resurrection-feast…the elitist Mithraics, many of whom were senior army officers, ate a sacred meal…
'Many Christians did not make a clear distinction between this sun-cult [Mithraism] and their own. They…held their services on Sunday, knelt towards the East and had their nativity-feast on 25 December, the birthday of the sun at the winter solstice…
'How could the Christian Church, apparently quite willingly, accommodate this weird megalomaniac [Constantine] in its theocratic system? Was there a conscious bargain? Which side benefited most from this unseemly marriage between Church and State?…Did the empire surrender to Christianity, or did Christianity prostitute itself to the empire?' (A History of Christianity, 1976, pp. 67-69).
"When we consider the vast differences between the mainstream Christianity of today and the original Christianity of Jesus Christ and the apostles, we can trace much of that change to Constantine and the religious system he put in power" (United Church of God Website, article, "Constantine's Impact On Christianity").
Those of YEHOVAH's people who continued to keep His commandments were now forced to flee for their very lives into remote, wilderness areas of Europe, hopefully beyond the reach of their Catholic persecutors. "The new state religion, A BIZARRE BLEND OF CHRISTIANITY AND PAGANISM, now began to dominate Europe for over a thousand years, leaving the true Church in 'a place prepared of God' (Revelation 12:6) -- the remote mountains and valleys of central Europe" (The Incredible History of God's True Church, p. 132).
A typical incident occurred in the machinations of the Roman Catholic Church when Augustine tried to introduce pagan "Christianity" to the British Isles in 602 A.D. Write authors Arthur and Rosalind Eedle:
"The native British Church, which had been in force throughout the land from the days of Joseph of Arimathea, in other words, for over 500 years, began to be attacked, not by hostile atheistic forces, but by a COUNTERFEIT organization that arrogated to itself the title of Universal Church, with a man at the helm they referred to as their Pope, or Bishop of Bishops, and if anyone dared to suggest that it was counterfeit, they were immediately cursed, told that they had rejected eternal life, and were under pain of "temporal punishment." This cancerous infiltration of the Roman Catholic magisterium moved throughout the land in increasing intensity until finally all signs of the organization of the original apostolic church were erased from the visible church by the time of the Synod of Whitby in A.D. 664, whereupon the country would be under the total religious control of Rome until the days of the Reformation beginning in 1517, some 920 years after the coming of Augustine to Britain" (Albion Restored: A Detective Journey to Discover the Birth of Christianity in England, published by Lulu, 2013, pps. 151-152).
"And so the 'fruit' of Catholic Christianity began to be seen in England, where to 'love one's enemies' became synonymous with killing them" (ibid., p. 151).
The Roman Catholic Church has inherited all the doctrines of the Synagogue of Satan mentioned in the book of Revelation and is, therefore, the SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN in today's world -- along with all her "daughter" churches that expound similar doctrines.
The history of the past nineteen centuries fully confirms this conclusion. Paul mentions that the Black Horse was beginning to ride in his day when he proclaimed:
“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work,”
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that day will not come unless the falling away [from the true gospel] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God....The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion [in the form of the Black Horse], that they should believe the lie [the false gospel], that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth [true gospel] but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thessalonians 2:7, 3-4, 9-12).
This came to pass when the Roman Empire collapsed and the Roman Catholic Church rose to power in its vacuum. From Paul’s day to the present, the Black Horse has followed right behind the White and Red horses, seemingly to overwhelm and hide from the world the true gospel message that Yeshua and the disciples brought to a darkened civilization. Look around you today -- instead of one pure, unadulterated worship of YEHOVAH God you find dozens, even hundreds, of differing and bickering “Christian” sects each claiming to have the “truth.” Logic dictates that only one can have the truth and that one, wherever it may be, is the result of the work of the White Horse and its rider, while all the others are a result of the ride of the BLACK HORSE across the centuries. The prophecy of Hosea and the vision of John have been fulfilled, but the end is not yet.
The Appalling Statistics
During this 1,000 year period the Universal (Catholic) Church of SIMON MAGUS conducted a campaign of systematic SLAUGHTER against those who disagreed with the Papacy and the Babylonian rites it espoused. "One thinks immediately," writes Dave Hunt, "of the Inquisitions (Roman, Medieval, and Spanish) which for centuries held Europe in their terrible grip. In his History of the Inquisition, Canon Llorente, who was the Secretary to the Inquisition in Madrid from 1790-92 and had access to the archives of all the tribunals, estimated that IN SPAIN ALONE the number of condemned EXCEEDED 3 MILLION, with almost 300,000 burned at the stake" (A Woman Rides the Beast. Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. 1994. P. 79).
In 1208 Pope Innocent III warred against the Waldenses and Albigenses -- in which ONE MILLION perished. During the early years of the Jesuits (1540-1580) 900,000 Christians were destroyed. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND (150,000) were put to death by the Inquisition in thirty years. In the low lands 50,000 persons were hanged, beheaded, burned alive or buried alive for the crime of heresy -- Christianity, in other words! Within 38 years from the Edict of Charles V, 18,000 were executed. The Catholic Church tried to put down the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland with many casualties.
Continues Dave Hunt --
"Pagan Rome made sport of throwing to the lions, burning and otherwise killing thousands of Christians and not a few Jews. Yet 'Christian' Rome slaughtered many times that number of both Christians and Jews. Beside those victims of the Inquisition, there were Huguenots, Albigenses, Waldenses, and other Christians who were massacred, tortured, and burned at the stake by the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS simply because they refused to align themselves with the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH and its corruption and heretical dogmas and practices. Out of conscience they tried to follow the teachings of Christ and the apostles independent of Rome, and for that crime they were maligned, hunted, imprisoned, tortured, and slain" (ibid., p. 81).
When all the numbers are added up, a number of historians have concluded that during the 1,000-year period the Catholic Church dominated Europe and areas of the New World, more than 50 MILLION PEOPLE died at the hands of the Vatican's inquisitors and representatives -- 50,000,000!! This makes Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and others RANK AMATEURS when it comes to mass murder! The Roman Catholic Church has been one of the greatest persecutors of both "Jews" and Christians the world has ever seen, and has martyred far more Christians than even pagan Rome. Islam, however, has the dubious distinction of being the mass murder machine of all time. We cover this in the ride of the Green Horse of Revelation 6.
Rome has been exceeded only by Mao and Stalin -- but they hardly claimed to be acting in the Messiah's name! No wonder one of the first things YEHOVAH God and the Messiah will set their hands to when they return to this earth is to DESTROY the vipers nest of apostasy and murder centered in Rome -- called by the apostle John "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth" (Revelation 17:5).
Baron Alfred Porcelli wrote that the very title which the Pope bears -- "Vicar of Christ" -- can only be turned into Greek as "Antichristos" -- that is, the Vice-christ, substitute Christ, or ANTICHRIST! (The Antichrist -- His Portrait and History, p. 12). So the popes claim a title that is the equivalent of the word coined by the apostle John! Just like the "antichrists" of when John wrote, the popes have DENIED YEHOVAH God and the Messiah by promoting the false doctrines they have inherited from Simon Magus and his followers. They have even DARED to oppose the Messiah by teaching things that are the exact opposite of what Yeshua and the apostles taught! Thus the White Horse was followed by the Red and Black!
Powerful corroboration of this understanding of the rider of the Black Horse is found in the visions of Zechariah. In Chapter Four Zechariah describes his vision of the golden candlestick whose seven lamps were fed with golden oil through golden pipes -- this being a figure of YEHOVAH God’s testimony on earth through His seven churches (see Revelation 2:1 - 3:22). This part of Zechariah closely parallels the visions John had at Patmos. Turning from the contemplation of the golden candlestick, Zechariah saw a flying roll (or scroll) which the angel that talked with him said was “the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth.” This shows that out of Judea was to come not only “the blessing of Abraham” (the true gospel) through those who were of “the faith of Abraham,” but also “the curse” (the false gospel) through those who rejected YEHOVAH’s truth and refused to submit themselves to His righteousness (Romans 10:3).
Then Zechariah was commanded to lift up his eyes, and upon doing so he saw an ephah (a measure that was covered with a circular lid of lead) going forth, of which the angel said, “This is their resemblance through all the earth” (5:6). Here is a KEY to understanding this subject. For the ephah, or corn measure, has almost the same identical significance as the balance (scales) in the hand of the rider of the Black Horse. And the words “this is their resemblance through all the earth” prophesy the very same thing concerning Israel as the words of Hosea, “He is a merchant” of YEHOVAH’s truth.
Following this the angel said to Zechariah, “This is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah” (a woman is the symbol of a church or congregation in the Bible), and he qualified this by saying, “This is wickedness.” Clearly, then, what we are seeing here is a FALSE CHURCH. Following this there came out two women having the wings of a stork. The wind filled their wings and they carried forth the ephah. At this Zechariah asked, “whither do these bear the ephah?” The angel replied, “To build a house in the land of Shinar (that is, BABYLON), and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base” (verses 7-11). So this false church or religion is transported, in the vision, to Babylon.
Shinar is, of course, the mystical city Babylon of Revelation 18, “that great city” in which the ultimate development of false religion is seen -- and which is to be overthrown by Yeshua the Messiah and YEHOVAH God at their coming. This house is not placed on YEHOVAH’s enduring foundation of truth but is, as the angel said, “upon her own base” of falsehood and deceit. As a result, its overthrow will be complete in the day when the word shall go forth, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen,” and heaven will ring with the praise of the angels.
“Bread By Weight”
In the English Version of the Old Testament issued by the Jewish Publication Society of America, the word “ephah” in Zechariah 5 is rendered “measure” -- (”This is the measure that goeth forth”), which brings this vision still closer to that of John’s, who heard a voice in the midst of the four cherubim say, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny” (Revelation 6:6). Let us now consider the significance of the words uttered by that voice.
In the Bible the term “bread” can figuratively be both good and bad. In Proverbs 4:14-17 we read:
"Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence."
In a verse that can apply equally as well to the gospel, we read: “Bread gained by falsehood [deceit] is pleasurable to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel” (Proverbs 20:17).
Isaiah 55:2 shows that YEHOVAH’s spiritual provisions are far more important than material things by stating: “Why do you people keep paying out money for what is not bread [false religion], and why is your toil for what results in no satisfaction? Listen intently to me, and eat what is good [true religion], and let your soul find its exquisite delight in fatness itself.”
To eat “bread by weight” and to “drink water by measure” (Ezekiel 4:16) is to be in an evil state. It means that YEHOVAH’s truth has been completely commercialized and corrupted, and is measured out to the people by some great religious authority who feeds them what they think they should have -- with NO REGARD FOR THE TRUTH. The words that characterize the mission of the BLACK Horse and rider mention specifically the BREAD of the rich, “wheat,” and the BREAD of the poor, “barley”; therefore declaring in figurative language that the very bread of life (THE TRUE GOSPEL) of every individual was to be under the control of this system, which has clearly come to pass in the actions of the Roman Catholic Church down through the centuries. The amount of truth to be feed the masses was determined by the upper echelons of the church, who corrupted and perverted the gospel message for their own ends. And their “decrees” were more absolute than those of Caesar of old!
One doctrine that leaps out of the pages of Catholic history and is a blatant fulfillment of "bread by weight" is that of indulgences. Writes Ralph Woodrow:
"The sale of relics, church offices, and indulgences became big business within the church of the Middle Ages. Pope Boniface VIII declared a jubilee for the year 1300 and offered liberal indulgences to those who would make a pilgrimage to St. Peter's. An estimated 2,000,000 people came within that year and deposited such treasure before the supposed tomb of St. Peter that two priests with rakes in their hands were kept busy day and night raking up the money. Much of this was used by the pope to enrich his own relatives -- the Gaetani -- who bought numerous castles and splendid estates in Latium" (Babylon Mystery Religion, Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, Riverside, CA. 1981, p. 65).
The classic example is probably that of Pope Leo X. According to Dan Graves,
"Warlike Pope Julius II died in 1513, and his successor, Giovanni de' Medici, took the name Pope Leo X. If Julius loved to fight, Leo preferred amusement. His self-indulgence destroyed the unity of the western church when he bartered sin for money in the most famous indulgence of [Catholic] church history.
"His tastes were costly. He was only too happy to spend lavishly on himself and voluptuous entertainment. Humanists with few morals swarmed at a papal court where wit mattered more than witness. Plays and shows, ballets and games abounded. No chance for a hunt was turned down. The papal treasury funded preeminent artists such as Raphael. Julius left a full treasury. Leo drained it in eight short years.
"St. Peter's basilica was being rebuilt, but there was no money. Leo decided to solve the problem in time-honored fashion. On this day March 15, 1517 he declared that anyone who contributed to the cathedral would be granted an indulgence. Although in theory an indulgence was only a remission of penalties meted out in this world by the church, in practice it was hawked as if it covered the actual guilt of sins and could release souls from Purgatory. The gist of the indulgence was as follows:
'...[I] absolve you...from all thy sins, transgressions, and excesses, how enormous soever they be...and remit to you all punishment which you deserve in purgatory on their account and I restore you...to the innocence and purity which you possessed at baptism; so that when you die the gates of punishment shall be shut...and if you shall not die at present, this grace shall remain in full force when you are at the point of death.'
"Sent to preach the indulgence in Germany was a Dominican named Tetzel. Tetzel got above himself in his promises, implying that the indulgence even covered the future sins which the buyer was now harboring in his heart. Frederick the Wise refused to allow the indulgence to be preached in his territory of Saxony, mostly because he was reluctant to allow Saxon coin to leave his financially-depleted realm. Tetzel came as near the border of Saxony as he could. Folk from Wittenberg crossed over and bought the prized papers.
"Afterwards a few doubted the efficacy of the writs. They solicited the opinion to a middle aged monk named Martin Luther. Luther refused to confirm their value. Instead, in an accepted tradition, he posted theses for debate on the door of Wittenberg castle church where a large crowd was expected. The sequel is well known. From those ninety-five theses the Reformation was born when Leo refused to see a problem with the disgraceful sales" (article, Infamous Indulgence Led to Reformation, www.christianity.com)
For those with a mind to see, it is those who are able to place an inflexible price upon the true gospel who are really the masters of the people’s lives or “souls.” We can plainly see, as a result of the above facts, that the system described in Revelation 18, under the symbol of a great commercial and pagan city, is the outcome of the mission of the Black Horse and its rider -- and has reached full development in our day. This complete dominance of “Christian” civilization has come about so quietly, and so gradually, that only a few wide-awake people have realized what was going on.
And their voices, when they attempted to raise a warning, were quickly stifled or drowned out. The ministry of YEHOVAH’s Word has been commercialized by men professing to be Yeshua’s ministers and ambassadors in an evil and hostile world who, in reality, are nothing but mouth-pieces of the world, preaching a “gospel” that is thoroughly conformed to the world. Not only have they made profit from YEHOVAH’s Word, but they have adulterated the bread of life making it both unpalatable and unwholesome. Such a state of affairs has come into existence throughout the “Christian” world -- and has now developed into full maturity.
The Oil and the Wine
The voice that issued forth from the midst of the cherubim, was a voice of not merely prophecy but also of authority. It added this prohibition: “And see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” Now in the Bible almond oil is a symbol of YEHOVAH’s holy spirit, and has been the force behind the ride of the White Horse of Revelation. Wine, in the Bible, is also one of the gifts included among YEHOVAH’s blessings to His people Israel. An abundant supply of wine, symbolized by the “vine” in the oft-repeated expression “sitting under one’s own vine and fig tree,” denotes prosperity and security under YEHOVAH’s righteous rule -- see I Kings 4:25; II Kings 18:31; Isaiah 36:16; Micah 4:4 and Zechariah 3:10. Wine is also included in the restoration blessings promised by YEHOVAH in Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13-14 and Zechariah 9:17.
What we learn from the ride of the Black Horse is that the power for harm allowed to the rider was RESTRICTED -- even as YEHOVAH set strict limits to Satan’s power to harm Job. The rider of the Black Horse was not permitted -- in any part of his career -- to “hurt the oil and the wine.” In other words, the power of YEHOVAH’s spirit in disseminating the true gospel could not be hindered in any way by the ride of the Black Horse. Nor, even, could YEHOVAH’s ultimate blessings on those He called to His service be affected by the Black Horse rider. There should be great comfort in this assurance for those who are truly the people of YEHOVAH God. It clearly tells them that even in the days of spiritual dearth -- when the giving forth of the bread of life was to be by measure and by price -- the “oil” of YEHOVAH’s spirit and the “wine” of His joy were not to be injured, and that today His people can always have a heart gladdened by the wine of YEHOVAH God, and a face shining with the oil of YEHOVAH God.
There is another passage from the Old Testament in which the four symbols -- the wheat and the barley, the wine and the oil -- are mentioned:
"The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up and the fig tree languisheth;...because joy is withered away from the sons of men" (Joel 1:10-12).
This important prophetic passage further shows how the chief products of the Promised Land are used as the symbols of SPIRITUAL realities. These symbols speak most dramatically of the consoling and healing influences of YEHOVAH’s true gospel; and the words of the voice which the apostle John heard in the midst of the four living creatures lets us know that the rider of the Black Horse was not to be permitted to “hurt” the restoring and healing ministry of the true gospel.
Revelation 17 and 18
In Revelation 17 and 18 we read about the final demise of the great whore -- the Babylonian Mystery Religion of Simon Magus -- the Roman Catholic Church! While some misguided individuals claim that "Babylon the Great" is New York City, or Iraq -- or any other number of places! -- Revelation 17 clearly identifies what "Babylon the Great" is.
Revelation 17 starts out by saying, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters" (verse 1). Then, in verse 4 -- "The WOMAN was dressed in purple and scarlet..." Remember, we must allow the Bible to interpret its own symbols, and not try to FORCE upon it our own interpretations or imaginings.
If you move down to verse 18, John tells us that "The WOMAN you saw is the GREAT CITY that rules over the kings of the earth." So, clearly, WOMAN=GREAT CITY!
Going now to verse 3, we read that John "saw a WOMAN [GREAT CITY] sitting on a scarlet beast that...had SEVEN HEADS and ten horns." Once again, letting the Bible interpret its own symbols, "The SEVEN HEADS are SEVEN HILLS on which the woman [great city] sits" (verse 9). What "great city" sits on seven hills? There is only ONE "great city" on this earth that has for millennia been associated with seven hills -- and that is ROME!
In another clear reference to Rome and the CATHOLIC CHURCH we read, in verse 6 -- "I saw that the WOMAN [ROME] was DRUNK WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus." Rome's long history has been marked with the shedding of the blood of those who followed the Messiah. Can anyone doubt that this refers to the CATHOLIC CHURCH? It takes no stretch of the imagination to convince us that verse 6 refers to the Catholic Church!
The historian W.E.H. Lecky says, "The church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than [almost] any other institution that ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a complete knowledge of history." As mentioned earlier, some historians have estimated that the persecuting hands of Rome have been reddened by the blood of FIFTY MILLION saints. Can anyone doubt that Revelation 17 refers to the Catholic Church?
Revelation 18 describes the downfall and destruction of the Catholic Church and the city that hosts her blasphemous headquarters. The great deceiver is going to receive her retribution from YEHOVAH God and the Messiah. She was the hold of every foul and unclean bird and the habitation of demons. To the student of history the VATICAN is the headquarters of the rottenest and most corrupt acts in the sordid history of mankind. In Revelation 18:4 YEHOVAH God says "come out of her...DO NOT partake of her sins." There is nothing holy about the "holy Catholic Church." YEHOVAH God is going to pour out his judgment upon her.
"Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be CONSUMED BY FIRE [just like Sodom and Gomorrah], for mighty is the LORD God who judges her" (Revelation 18:8). The word of YEHOVAH God informs us that the seat of the Roman whore will be consumed by fire. Some have thought that this is merely a figure of speech rather than an actual occurrence. But there is a strong possibility that YEHOVAH God intends to end the Papal power, that has for so long intoxicated the world with the heresies of Simon Magus, in this very way. Notice what Gibbon says in The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire --
When a certain Mr. Towsend made his tour of Italy in 1850, he wrote the following:
"In the opinion of a general conflagration, the faith of the Christian very happily coincided with the tradition of the East, the philosophy of the Stoics, and the analogy of nature; and even the country, which, from religious motives, had been chosen for the origin and principal scene of the conflagration, was the best adapted for that purpose by natural and physical causes; by its deep caverns, beds of sulfur, and numerous volcanoes of which those of Aetna, of Vesuvius, and of Lipari, exhibit as very imperfect representation" (Vol. 1, p. 263, ch. 15).
"I behold everywhere -- in Rome, near Rome, and through the whole region from Rome to Naples -- most astounding proof, not merely of the possibility, but the probability, that the whole region of central Italy will one day be destroyed by such a catastrophe (by earthquakes and volcanoes). The soil of Rome is tufa, with a volcanic subterranean action going on. At Naples the boiling sulfur is to be seen bubbling near the surface of the earth. When I drew a stick along the ground, the sulfurous smoke followed the indentation; and it would never surprise me to hear of the utter destruction of the southern peninsula of Italy. The entire country and district is volcanic. It is saturated with beds of sulfur and the substrata of destruction. It seems as certainly prepared for the flames as the wood and coal of the hearth are prepared for the taper which shall kindle the fire to consume them. The divine hand alone seems to me to hold the element of fire in check by a miracle as great as that which protected the cities of the plain, till righteous Lot had made his escape to the mountains. (Quoted in part from Barnes Commentary, p. 399-400)
"Rejoice over her, heaven! Rejoice, people of God, emissaries and prophets! For in judging her ["Babylon the Great" -- Rome and the Catholic Church], God has vindicated you" (Revelation 18:20, JNT). May YEHOVAH God speed that day!
(Be sure to read the articles on the other three horses of Revelation 6!)
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah to Set Up the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God Here On This Earth!
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