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, because he rides on a white horse. But the fact that he has a bow shows that he is really an enemy of God. Thus John has given a picture of a false messiah or a false religion making a powerful advance. It goes forth "conquering and to conquer".

In the Old Testament, a number of nations are referred to as bowmen. In Jeremiah 49:344-39 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). Iran is the leader of the Islamic renaissance which is taking place throughout the world.

Ishmael was an archer (Gen 21:20). He is the father of the Arab nations, where Islam is strong. There are bowmen in Arabia (Is 21:13-16).

Islam claims to be based on the Bible. Mohammed is a false prophet who claimed to be a successor to Jesus. Thus a bowman on a white horse would be a good description of the Islamic religion. It 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 grass-roots level, and even secular rulers are coming under its influence. It is one of the most powerful movements in the world today.

Zechariah saw the white horse advancing to the west (Zech 6:6). This describes the advance of Islam in the west. In Britain, numerous churches have been changed into mosques and the largest mosque in the world is in Regent Park. There are now more Moslems in Britain than there are Baptists. In Rome, there is a mosque with a minaret taller than the spire of St Peters. In South Africa, thousands of blacks have converted to Islam.

The rider on the white horse represents the advance of a false religion or a false messiah. I believe that the first horseman has already ridden forth. He represents the advance of Islam. Since I wrote the words above, the rapid advance of Islam has continued. The secular magazine, The Economist recognised Islam as one of three major cultural movements shaping the modern world (6 Aug 1994).

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