Starting in the 1980s, a revival of the Islamic religion began to spread all over the world. People, who in the past were ashamed of their religion, are taking new pride in Islam and the Koran. Sometimes referred to as Islamic fundamentalism, there has been a return to the foundations of Islam, and a new seriousness in following the Koran.

The expansion of Islam has been supported by oil revenues. The discovery of large reserves of oil in the Islamic nations and the rapid increase in oil prices has vastly strengthened the power of Islam.

The modern Islamic revival has touched the whole of the Moslem world. It is very powerful at a grassroots level, and even secular rulers are coming under its influence.

Islam is one of the most powerful movements in the world today. The secular magazine, The Economist recognised Islam as one of three major cultural movements shaping the modern world (6 Aug 1994).

The vitality of Islam should be a challenge to Christians. Islam ignores the gap between a person's inner life and their public actions; between religion and politics. It relates morality to day-to-day life. It denies the western idea that religion is a personal thing, which should be kept separate from the rest of life.

Christianity is also a faith, which should impact the whole of life. When we see the vitality and influence of Islam, we should be embarrassed by the way the influence of Christianity has been pushed out of public life into our private lives.

The first horseman of Revelation represents the advance of Islam that started in the 1980s and is still continuing. As the first seal is opened a white horse rides forth.

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 (Rev 6:1,2).

There is considerable debate about the white horse. Some commentators see it as a picture of Jesus Christ, and the victories of the gospel. In Revelation 19:11 Jesus is pictured as riding on a white horse, so there is some justification for this view. The problem is that this horseman is armed with a bow, and there is no other place in the prophetic books where the Messiah is pictured as being armed with a bow. Bowmen are usually the enemies of God (Ps 46:9).

The rider on the white horse probably represents a false messiah or a false religion. He looks like Jesus and could be mistaken for him, but the bow is a sign that he is the enemy of God

In the Old Testament, a number of nations are referred to as bowmen. In Jeremiah 49:34-39 the nation of Elam is described as being armed with a bow (c.f. Is 22:6). Elam was situated in the western part of modern Iran. The Persian army which came from the same area is also described as being armed with bows (Jeremiah 50:14,29,42). There are bowmen in Arabia (Is 21:13-16).

The people of Libya are also described as bowmen (Isaiah 66:19). In fact the Hebrew word for Libya, "Put", could come from an Egyptian word meaning bowman. In Jeremiah 46:9, men of Lydia are said to be bowmen. Lydia was situated in modern Turkey. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Turkey are all countries in which the religion of Islam is strong. Iran and Libya were the leaders in the Islamic renaissance which is taking place throughout the world.

A bowman on a white horse is a good description of the Islamic religion. Mohammed was a false prophet who claimed to be a successor to Jesus. Islam has certainly been conquering in recent times. The modern Islamic revival has touched the whole of the Moslem world. It is very powerful at a grassroots level and even secular rulers are coming under its influence.

Zechariah saw the white horse advancing to the west (6:6). Islam is now expanding rapidly into the west.

Large numbers of Moslems are migrating and settling in Europe. There are now more Moslems in Britain than there are Baptists. More than 500 British churches have been changed into mosques and the largest mosque in the world is in Regent Park. The historian, Paul Johnson says that Moslems are moving into Spain and Italy in such numbers that, should present trends continue, the majority of the population in these traditionally Catholic countries will be Moslem sometime during the 21st century. In Rome, there is a mosque with a minaret taller than the spire of St Peters.

I believe that the first horseman has already ridden forth. He represents the advance of Islam.

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