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Jack Graham - Ghost Riders in the Sky

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    Jack Graham - Ghost Riders in the Sky
TOPICS: All Things New, Book of Revelation, End times, Apocalypse

"Ghost Riders in the Sky", it's the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Now chapter 6 begins the action of the book, really the thriller-action portion of the book. Because in Revelation chapter 4 John is catapulted up into heaven and he represents all of us who are going to be raptured into the presence of the Lord when Jesus comes for His church, for His people. And meanwhile back on earth a tribulation begins. And what we're about to see is a storm that is unleashed, a thunderous storm and the hoof beats of Armageddon. Four ghoulish, ghostly riders on horses appear as the first of four seals of judgment are opened, and chapter 6 through 19 we see the wrath of the Lamb. We worship the Lamb and we will worship the Lamb forever in heaven, but on earth the wrath of the Lamb. The judgment is going to be poured out on unrepentant humanity.

So there are four seals opened in the passage before us today, the first eight verses. When the first seal is opened John sees the infamous four horsemen of the Apocalypse, these ghost riders in the sky. Look at verses 1 and 2: "Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals". Remember the Lamb and the Lamb only is worthy to rule and redeem. So He opens the seals and sets in motion history. "And I heard one of the four living creatures" these celestial beings around the throne of God, representing God Himself, "saying with a voice like thunder", it's ominous, it's thunderous; a storm is on the way, "'Come!' And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And it's rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer". What is this white horse and who is this rider?

The first horse, the first rider represents deception. These horses all represent forces that will be unleashed upon the world. And the first rider's on this white horse, and God commands him to go. Notice that while hell is being unleashed upon the earth, Satan is not in charge but God is in charge. God allows evil to exist for a time. And God is in charge and in command of all the events on earth. While it seems like it will be spinning out of control, as a matter of fact God is calling the shots. What happens after the Rapture in the Great Tribulation is under the divine sovereign hand of the Almighty. So who is this rider? He represents deception. Lies and slanders and false christs and false messiahs that are to come, that are alive in every generation, and the spirit of the antichrist which is present in every generation of believers. But ultimately this white horse represents the ultimate deceiver who is the antichrist.

You might look at this verse and be confused as to the white horse and the one riding the white horse with a crown and a bow, thinking, well this must be Jesus. This is Jesus riding this horse. No, not at all. It's impossible for it to be Jesus because Jesus is unveiling the action. He's opening the seal. This horse does not represent Jesus. This white horse, one going forth to conquer is not Jesus. Jesus is seen in Revelation chapter 19. Not wearing a stephanos, crown as this rider but the diadem of King of kings and Lord of lords. The rider of the white horse in the sky in Revelation 19 is Jesus when He returns. But this rider is someone altogether different. In fact he is the antichrist. The prefix anti means instead of or against. Anti: against or anti, instead of. So the rider, the deceiver who comes is none other than the antichrist, the false messiah who will be revealed at the beginning of the tribulation. He could be alive right now! Because at the beginning of the tribulation he will appear and rise to power with promises of peace.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of that day when people would cry out "peace, peace" when there would be no peace. And with all the turmoil and the turbulence in the Middle East and in the world today, the world is looking for leadership. Someone to stand up to evil forces and to bring peace to the world! The world is looking for some superman! The Jewish people themselves are looking for the Messiah. They're rejecting Jesus, they are still looking for a Messiah to come, and unfortunately many in the Jewish world and the Jewish nation will accept this false messiah and sign a covenant, a contract with him that will ultimately bring about great ruin to Israel. So this is the devil's messiah, the antichrist. The one who comes to conquer. He rules with power and personality and prowess and promises. The world will worship him. He will be exalted as a hero. And the world is ripe for such a leader as this. We're looking for someone who can ride in on a white horse and bring about political peace and world peace! Well, when this one comes to power he will be empowered by Satan himself, and he will unite nations and governments under his leadership because people will believe his lie and lies.

You say, "How is that possible"? You know it's possible. Leaders, including poor leaders can rise to power just like that! In fact, the spirit of the antichrist is already in the world, according to John in 1 John. This is why we must always test the spirits to see if they are from God. You say, "What is the spirit of antichrist"? It's the denial of God's Word, it's the denial of Jesus and His deity and who He is. We see this spirit of unbelief in the world today even among so-called ministers. And, of course, in the tribulation period liberal churches, unbelieving churches will be operating! They're still going to be active even though all the real Christians are gone! They'll have no power. The Holy Spirit is no longer present. The anything-goes mentality will have it's way but it's destructive to lives! It offers no hope! That's the spirit of the antichrist! Listen to the Word of God.

1 Timothy 4:1-2: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in the later times (talking about the Last Days) some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared". Second Timothy 4:3 and 4: "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths". Myths like saying "the church needs to catch up to the culture on this issue" or any issue! Jesus made a terrifying prediction in John 5:43: "I have come in My Father's name and you do not receive Me". He was speaking specifically to His Jewish brothers. "And if another comes in his own name, you will receive him". This is the antichrist. Jesus was speaking in John chapter 5 of the appearance of a future world leader, the antichrist, who will set a trap for Israel and the world with promises of peace and prosperity. But he only delivers death and destruction! And so we open the second seal. The destruction begins.

If the first horse, the white horse with its rider represents deception, then the second horse represents destruction. Revelation 6:3 and 4: "When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, 'Come!' And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword". Red, of course, is associated with terror and blood and carnage and war! I suppose many of us felt that the use of the sword was for yesteryear; maybe Medieval times with knights. But now we've see terrorists take swords and behead men and women. Blood is now dripping from swords around the world. But the red horse and the rider, this deadly rider delivers global and catastrophic warfare.

Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 24. What Jesus said in Matthew 24 is parallel to what the Revelation talks about in Revelation 6 to 19, the Great Tribulation. And Jesus said in verse 6 of Matthew 24: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you're not alarmed for this must take place, but the end is not yet".

Now if you are awake, our generation, I know you are, you know global war is not just possible, but probable! Right? Probable! The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is terrifying. Biological and nuclear armaments are ready at this time to be released. I read a report known as the Barkley Papers regarding nuclear proliferation and warfare, says there are 23,000 nuclear weapons now in existence. 23,000 nukes of various kinds! Sufficient to wipe out the human population many times over. And in history we know that when weapons are made, they're made to be used, and ultimately are used. And in this sense when you wonder who's going to push that red button to set off a nuclear warfare, a global warfare, the antichrist will use nuclear weapons. He will use them. And global war such as the world has never seen will take place.

And thus the third horse comes riding black horse. We're going to call this the horse of desolation, or a time of desolation. We've seen deception, the antichrist. With the antichrist who promises peace, peace, peace; he gains power, and then he turns the world into a battleground, a warfare of all kinds. And the red horse comes riding in, and after that the third seal of judgment is broken, and there is a black horse seen. Verses 5 and 6: "And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come!' And behold, I looked, and a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures", all around the throne of God. In other words, it seemed to come from God Himself, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and the wine"!

What is this strange mystical saying that comes from the midst of the throne of God? The third horseman is the horseman of famine and starvation and desolation. With war typically comes famine. If you've studied the wars that are taking place around the world right now, and there are many of them, regional wars and so on. Typically famine and starvation takes place all around. Fields are burned, crops are ravaged, food is contaminated, and all the rest. So when global war, nuclear warfare explodes upon the earth, when this horse rides it will be the horse of desolation. And the voice said a denarius will buy a loaf of bread! A denarius typically amounted to about a day's pay for a common laborer in the time of Christ. So when this desolation sets in it will take a man working all day to buy a loaf of bread. And not just bread but barley bread which is the coarsest, cheapest bread there is.

So the poor will get poorer. But the rich get richer. He says, "do not harm the oil and wine". The antichrist and his henchmen and his war machine, they get richer and richer while the poor get poorer and poorer. Have you noticed the growing disparity in the world today, even in our nation today between the haves and the have nots? It will be devastation. There are now seven billion people on earth, seven billion. When Jesus takes us away into heaven-believers from around the world, there will be millions missing. We don't know how many will be gone. Let's say a billion people. But billions will be left! And can you imagine the affect of worldwide famine and starvation upon billions of people? With starvation and famine, desolation and war and dangerous, deadly world governments united under an antichrist, you would expect death to follow.

So in verses 7 and 8: "When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, 'Come!' And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him", hell was on his hoof beats, "and they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and with famine and with pestilence", that is, deadly diseases, "and by the wild beasts of the earth". You know, one of the greatest death plagues that the world has ever known came as a result of a little beast known as a rat. And with all the death and the disease that will follow, of course, people are going to die. This is the ashen horse, it's an ugly yellow-green. It's a sickly yellow-green, an ugly color. If you've ever been at the bedside of someone who was dying perhaps you've seen the pallor, the pale of this sickly, the word, we get our word chlorine from this word. And this last horse, this sickly horse brings judgment to one fourth of humanity. Death and hell follow! Death and Hades follow! Listen to me! Death does not end judgment! Death and Hell follow.

Later in this same chapter 6 of Revelation we'll see men crying out for the mountains to fall on them and to hide themselves in the rocks, hoping just to end it all in this Great Tribulation. Rather than running to the Rock of salvation, they run to the rocks and pray for death. But you can't hide from God. You can't run from the judgment because judgment is eternal. Now, take a deep breath. I told you this was going to get dark, didn't I? Revelation is said rated "R" for violence. And I have to admit it's hard to comprehend for any of us sitting here in church or watching wherever you may be watching, it's hard for us to comprehend the severity of this suffering. We've never seen anything like this! There have been perhaps moments or pockets of terrible judgment on the earth but never such deception, never such desolation and depravation and death!

There is nothing in history-past that compares to this! This is why I have never believed that Revelation is about the past; it's about the future! It's about the unveiling of the future. And remember, in all of this, though it's a lot of judgment and judgment and wrath, that these judgments are just. He is faithful and true. Sin produces suffering. Sin produces consequences. Sin produces judgments. The good news is you can be saved from the wrath to come. First Thessalonians 5:9, "For God has not destined us for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ".

You're not destined for wrath, but you are destined for salvation. God brought you here today to hear this message. The word of God is alive and active. God loves you. Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again. The Holy Spirit is convicting you and convincing you that you need Christ in your life. This is your moment! This is the miracle that God has planned for you. This is your destiny. Your destiny is not one of wrath and judgment, but if you will trust in Jesus there's a destiny with Him forever! You can know Christ! Turn to Jesus, trust in Jesus! Repent of your sins and receive Jesus into your life before it's too late!

Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation"? We have a great salvation. Hebrews 3:15, "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart". The Scripture says, 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance". God doesn't want you to die and go to hell. God doesn't want you to live through this terrible tribulation, only to experience wrath. He's not willing that any should perish. He wants you to come to faith in Christ.

First Timothy 2:4 says that "God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth". All people! That means those of you in Russia and Iran and African nations and South America and all across America. Those of you sitting right here and watching and listening today. God wants all people to come to Him. That's His love, that's His grace. I've already said that that invitation is in the last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22:17, "The Spirit and the bride says come, and whosoever will, let him come and drink of the water of life freely". It's as though there's all this judgment and judgment, and warning and warning, and woes and woes, and wrath and wrath, and God says, "There's an invitation".

That's why we always give an invitation. The Spirit of God, the bride, the church says "Come"! Around the throne of God these angelic beings say, "Come"! and those horses from hell ride. But today hear the whisper, hear the word. God says the Spirit and the bride says come to Me. And did you know the last verse in the Bible, the last word in the Revelation, Revelation 22:21, is a promise of God's grace if you will receive Him and eternal life. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all". So in the midst of all this darkness in wrath, in storm, in judgment there's grace. We are in a time of grace. You have an opportunity to receive the gift of God's salvation.
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