January 5, Wednesday. Today was my first day of classes. The English Expository Writing should help me write better and my Journal postings may be part of my non-assigned work. The History Modern Europe promises to be very interesting in helping me understand my times. A possible topic for my paper is Guernica, the total destruction by bombing of a village in northern Spain by the dictator’s war machine, stamping out the rebellion for freedom. Then last night I read chapter 6 of Reversed Thunder called “The Last Word on Evil: Revelation 6 and 7.” It was as if scales fell off my eyes and I understood what these visions meant. Peterson comments that the Bible never tells us why God allows evil to exist, but it shows us what he is doing about it. He has sent Christ who is at work against evil. The human condition is warfare: actual war, conflict, competition, greed, control, environmental devastation – you name it. Christ unseals the scroll and shows us what God is doing about it.
Seal 1reveals Christ: The rider on the white horse is Christ. He has come to earth to battle evil, “ruling and conquering.” The preaching and worship of Christ and the daily lives of his people is how he accomplishes the victory. Then he calls forth his enemies – which already exist – to do battle against them.
Seals 2 to 6 expose the 5 kinds of evil to Christ’s actions.
Seal 2 calls out the red horse of warfare; Seal 3 calls out the black horse of famine; Seal 4 calls out the pale horse of pestilence and death. All three of these evils exist everywhere, but are disguised to such an extent that we think of them as “normal” or even good. “War is dressed up in the Sunday best of competition”; we covet, envy, and vilify as we engage in daily life, political campaigning, business acquisitions, sports, and job searches. Famine is “nature out of balance”; necessities are scarce and expensive (“a quart of wheat for a denarius”) but the luxuries are abundant and cheap (“do not harm the oil and the wine”) so the poor cannot afford food and we rich folk spend bundles on a “higher standard of living” while we exploit and pollute the earth to get our luxuries. At the Lord’s Supper, Christ teaches us to live by grace instead of greed. Pestilence and disease are rampant in our developed countries as our medical institutions treat us for the illnesses our way of life and pollution of the earth have caused. Seal 5 is religious persecution as we see the souls of God’s martyrs crying out under God’s altar, “How long?!” God tells these little ones that he will judge their persecutors. Seal 6 is the natural catastrophes that befall all people everywhere; the mighty ones on earth are finally defeated, no matter what their earthly power or status may be.
So we have an image of the battle against evil. Christ on the white horse faces all the evil powers that exist on earth: social strife, ecological disaster, sickness unto death, religious persecution, and natural catastrophes. All these evils are seen by God and exposed to battle by Christ. Faced with all this evil, “who can stand?” asks Revelation 6. The answer is given in Revelation 7: God’s angels can stand and so can God’s people, counted out to the full number and comprising a huge multitude as they stand in worship of God!) They are sealed so no harm can come to them from all this evil. In our daily lives, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God which we receive in Christ Jesus. (See also Psalm 91:10 and 121:7.)
Seal 7 is opened in Chapter 8: Now there is silence in heaven as God hears the prayers of his people in worship. That is how God’s people carry out their part in the battle against evil: through worship, prayer, and deeds of renewal. So if I want to know what is going on and what God is doing and what I’m supposed to be doing – there’s my answer. May it be yours too.