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Title: The Winds in Revelation
Submitted by: John Brough
Date: May, 2000
URL: //philologos.org/bpr/files/Misc_Studies/ms065.htm

The Winds in Revelation:

6:1-8 THE APOCALYPTIC HORSEMEN.

Background Ideas: -

(1) The seven seals depict events which affect the whole world in its manner of living. This is suggested by the fact the scroll is the title deed of the whole earth, not just of a part of it. The Trumpets, on the other hand, seem to deal with events in a more limited geographical area, Palestine and the nations affecting it.

(2) The symbolism is drawn from Zechariah 1:8-11, 6:1-8 where they are four spiritual forces that go out to bring judgement on Israel. They appear to be related to the four Gentile empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome - which were interpreted by the prophets to be God's rod of discipline on rebellious Israel (see Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28). However in the process of each one fulfilling its God appointed role each in turn got proud and so became the victim of another judgement of God brought on them in the form of the next empire in its turn.

This was their historical task, but by John's time this task was fulfilled so they are free to do other work. They are spiritual beings and so do not cease to exist simply because their first task is completed, God simply assigns new tasks. Instead of judging Israel they are to bring judgement on the world.

Hence we should expect their work in the End Times to be similar to their previous work - they will direct nations to war with each other to bring devastation and judgement. In particular they are aspects of the Spirit of Antichrist (see notes on Revelation 17) and so will bring about the Antichrist empire.

(3) The point of these Horsemen is to tell us that even at the time of the end God is still in control. The Antichrist's empire will be the most evil empire to ever have been on the earth, but even this is under God's direct rule.

(4) C/f Zechariah 6:5,6 "four winds" = "the four horsemen". Hence they are to be identified in Revelation 7:1 with the winds. This fluidity of symbolism happens often in prophecy so we should not be surprised at the change of title.

If we look at the four living creatures of Ch4 from an astrological viewpoint we see that they represent the "four corners" of the Zodiac, hence the four directions - North, East, West, South. Hence there seems to be some sort of association of the four creatures with the four winds, or horsemen. This again illustrates the fluidity of symbolism in REVELATION.

7:1 "After this I saw" - indicating a new vision, this is not an integral part of the seven seals. Hence it does not necessarily fit into the chronology of events that are happening on earth as described in ch 6.

"four angels...four corners of the earth...four winds".

The four winds are not the natural winds but (as we have seen) are the spiritual rulers of the four Gentile empires, the apocalyptic horsemen. These four winds are evil, but here are being restrained by four angels, hence the angels must be good. The horsemen, or winds, are being restrained - which suggests they are demonic in nature. This ties in with 2 Thess 2 where the spirit of Antichrist is being restrained by a friendly force. There is an appointed time for the four winds to be released. It appears that the full revelation of the Antichrist cannot be made until they are released so in earth time this event of the sealing of the 144,000 would appear to be before the events of ch 6:1,2.

The change in location is not important - the horsemen have had different functions over time in history centralised on different places. John seems to be quite fluid with minor details such as location. We are, after all, looking at a reality in the spiritual realm. The physical place they are located at has no real relevance.

(Beasley Murray) "The winds are restrained to produce a calm before the storm." This could suggest that there is a period of world peace just prior to the events brought about by the horsemen, i.e. the seals.

"earth...sea". The "wind" here is obviously not intended to be literal, so it is doubtful that we should press a too literal meaning for earth and sea.

"sea" - is a symbol of the rebellious masses of the Gentile nations (Rev 17:15).
"earth" - could refer to stable political countries.
"trees" - appears to be a symbol of political leaders and philosophies in Isa 2.

If we assume this symbolic interpretation is right then we come up with the idea here that there will be, just prior to the revelation of Antichrist, a period of peace on earth during which no disturbing "empire building" force can operate. However, after that period will come the incredible violence of the Seals.

It would appear that when these forces are released there is an amazing corruption of the earth, but this is not allowed to happen until the 144,000 are sealed. Assuming the proof below, that the 144,000 are the Church, then we possibly see here a suggestion that the Church is substantially completed before the final manifestation of Antichrist, however this should not be pushed too far as other scriptures seem to indicate a great harvest in the earth during the reign of Antichrist.

by John Brough

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