Daily Devotional #14
Daily Devotional with Pastor John
Tuesday, March 1
Evil’s Power Restrained
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest … When the Lamb opened the second seal … another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other … When the Lam opened the third seal … I looked and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand … When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague …
After viewing the breathtaking vision of the slain little Lamb standing at the centre of the throne and receiving the worship of the angels, the Apostle John watches as the Lamb breaks the seals of the scroll of history. What he sees at first is alarming and awful.
With the opening of the first four seals, John see four powerful imposing horses of different colours. The riders on these horses, traditionally called “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” are empowered to rob our world of peace and plenty and bring death and destruction. The first horseman on the white horse represents the spirt of conquest and militarism. The rider on the fiery red horse “takes peace from the earth.” He represents the anarchy and bloodshed that always follow the passion to conquer.
When the third seal is broken John suddenly sees a black horse with its rider holding “a pair of scales in his hand” and mention is made of wages and the exorbitantly high price of the most basic of foods. This horseman represents economic upheaval, economic inequality and injustice which leads to scarcity and famine.
With the breaking of the fourth seal John witnesses an awful image. A rider called Death on a pale horse. The word pale means a horse that looks ashen greenish in colour, the colour of decaying infected flesh, the colour of a corpse. And with death is an inseparable companion named Hades, the grave, the place of the dead. The final horse and rider portrays the effects of the proceeding three. Verse 8 summarizes it all. “They” – that is all four riders – “were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague.”
What are we to make of this appalling imagery? The breaking of these seals is cosmic in nature. That is, it is a worldwide phenomenon. It is worldwide in significance. John is telling us that these things will characterize the totality of this age before Christ comes. The release of the four horsemen brings all these disasters upon the earth. They represent what has happened, is happening and will happen in the whole earth.
The world, as we observe it, is shot through with evil. The evil is summarized in these four horsemen. War is social evil, famine is ecological evil, and sickness is biological evil. And death is the last enemy.
This past week we have seen again these four horsemen at work in our world. What are we to make of this? Is there any comfort at all to be found in what is happening in places like the Ukraine? Is there any comfort at all to be found in this dark passage of Scripture that can give solace to our souls?
Notice the phrase, “its rider was given power” (v.8) This tells us that evil is not in charge. Evil is not on the throne. Evil can only operate if it has permission to do so. Evil is on a leash. Notice also, “they were given power over a fourth of the earth.” The power in not total. There are limitations placed upon their murderous activity. It is limited by the throne. Right now, as we are deeply concerned about the present state of our world, we need to hang on to this truth that Jesus showed to John. Evil can only operate by authorization from the throne of Almighty God. And in the mystery of things – this authorization somehow serves the plan of God. For it is not the devil who breaks the seals of the scroll. It is the Lamb. He is the One who stands at the centre of the throne. He’s got the whole world in his hands!
- Praise the Lord for his almighty power over everything in our world.
- Pray for the suppression of evil in what is happening in the Ukraine.
- Pray God will use the upheaval in Canada and the war in the Ukraine to turn the hearts of many to Christ and receive his great salvation.