Part 11 of "Unsealed By the Lamb: Revelation Through the Lamb and His Love"
The testimony of Jesus: "The Father...has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Col.1:12-14)
The commandments of God: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (1 Jn.4:11)
Each part of the book has the testimony and command at its heart; each part of Revelation points to the Lamb sent from the Father because He loves the world so much. In the same way, the "four living creatures" which surround the throne reflect aspects of Christ, but at the center He is the Lamb—the One who comes from the agape love of God, and who commands us to give agape love to one another just as He gave to us.
But when we take hold of things that are about God yet do not have the Lamb and His love at the center of our hearts, we 'set out to conquer', we bring suffering
instead of peace, and our values become twisted. If we speak and testify in His name without the Lamb and His love enthroned in the center of our hearts, then our words become death and condemnation, and we end up preaching a different 'Christ' and preaching lawlessness (preaching a different 'law' than His command of agape love).
THE HEART OF THE FLYING EAGLE
"When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature..." (Rev.6:7)
The fourth living creature looks like a flying eagle, showing that Christ is the Prophet, the One who leads His people out of the wilderness, instructs them, protects and carries them (Dt.32:10-11). He builds and uproots, plants and tears down, exalts and brings low, declares and revokes, blesses and curses (Ezk.17, Rev.8:13).
When the Lamb and His love is in the center of the throne, the 'flying eagle' testifies of the Word—Jesus Christ—and the gospel of God's grace to us in Him. He is the Prophet, the One who speaks words that "are spirit and life" (Jn.6:63). Even His words of discipline, though painful at the time, bring a harvest of righteousness and peace for us (Heb.12:10-11), because He always speaks out of His love for us, for our good.
When God leads any of His people to prophesy, the heart and 'spirit' is the same—testifying to Christ and His agape love (Rev.19:10). They know that prophesying in His name is nothing without His heart (Mt.7:21-23); what is important is doing the Father's will, which is believing on His Son (Jn.6:28-29) and obeying His Son's command to love one another as He loved us (Jn.15:8-17).
WITHOUT THE LAMB AT THE CENTER
The fourth living creature testifies of a time when believers began to prophesy in His name without the Lamb and His love at the center:
"When the Lamb 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. And they were given power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with plague and by wild beasts of the earth." (Rev.6:7-8)
God's prophets are spokespersons—people who speak on His behalf at His command. In themselves they have no supernatural power, and neither do their words, but rather the true power is in God Himself. Their authority isn't in themselves, but in the Master whom they are serving.
False prophets also do not have any power except what God has allowed. In His sovereignty, God has allowed believers to 'set out to conquer', to take away peace with the sword, to abuse and devalue each other in greed, and to prophesy falsely in His name. While God has allowed this to happen, it does not mean that the false prophets are 'doing His will' or that it is His desire (Mt.7:21-23).
When false prophets speak in His name, it appears authoritative, as if they are speaking for God. In other words, it does not appear to be "false" prophecy, but instead appears to be true prophecy. The only way to identify the true and the false is if the Lamb and His love are at the center. The Lamb and His love reveal the difference between the fourth creature (the flying eagle) and the fourth rider.
"Sword, famine, plague and wild beasts" are referred to by the prophets as God's "four judgments" (Ezk.14:21 & 5:16-17). In the times of the Old Testament, when God's prophets declared and prophesied these four things, it meant that God was moving in judgment. God spoke through His prophets to confirm and explain His judgments, and most of all to call people to repentance because His judgments are always redemptive! His judgments always lead to the testimony of Christ and His command of agape love.
But when the Lamb and His love are not in the center of prophesying and interpreting prophecies of Scripture, declarations and pronouncements judgments are made in His name that do not point to Christ and His agape love. Instead believers declare that God sends terrible judgments because His demands are not being met. Their declarations are based on law instead of God's grace:
"Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: 'The man who does these things will live by them.' But the righteousness that is by faith says... that if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved... as the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.'" (Romans 10:5,9,11)
"The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, 'The man who does these things will live by them.'" (Gal.3:12)
Being in God's favor or disfavor depends on whether nations perform the correct works, have the right laws and favor those whom God favors. The testimony of Christ—the gospel of God's grace—is set aside and another 'way' is proclaimed, a 'law' which brings God's favor when obeyed or judgment when disobeyed. When 'law' is proclaimed in Christ's name, the result is that the 'word' kills instead of brings life.
"The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor.3:6)
Turning away from the grace of Christ and returning to 'law' is taking up the "ministry of death" and "the ministry of condemnation" (2 Cor.3:7,9). Though the 'fourth rider' rides forth in Christ's name, he ministers condemnation—his words kill instead of bring life. He offers a salvation and righteousness that comes by keeping a law instead of the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ alone. He does not point to true righteousness (to Christ), but by proclaiming "God's judgments" he points to law instead—to the ministry of death—and so his name is Death.
KILLING WITH WORDS
The fourth rider is when the church took up the prophetic word without the Lamb as the center, believing that they were restoring a part of Christian ministry that had been missing. They searched the Scriptures to learn more about prophesying and became enamored with the "power" of how God used prophecy in the Old Testament:
"I cut you in pieces with My prophets,
I killed you with the words of My mouth;
My judgments flashed like lightning upon you." (Hos.6:5)
Focusing on "prophesying", they didn't see the heart at the center of God's prophesying in the Old Testament. They didn't see that prophesying was done in accordance with the terms of the old covenant, and that nations were judged based on their dealings with Israel because of the old covenant. They didn't see that the prophets of the Old Testament led forward to the Lamb who was slain for all nations, and that judgments are now given at the end of the age based on the New Covenant instead of based on alignment with Israel or old covenant laws.
Seeking to prophesy to the nations and declare God's judgments without the Lamb and His love in the center, in His name they spoke death. Using words that He had spoken in the past out of their covenant context, and speaking new 'words' apart from the Lamb and His love, the church under the fourth rider "killed" with words.
EARTHLY INSTEAD OF ETERNAL
The message of the church under the fourth rider is not that those in Christ have eternal life and do not come into judgment (Jn.5:24). The message is not that our kingdom is above, nor is it that we are saved even if we face tribulation and lose our lives.
Instead the message is that suffering in this life is God's judgment, and that it comes because we haven't aligned ourselves with the right politics, laws and nations. Prosperity is blessing from God, but great tragedies are divine judgments. The focus is on earthly rewards and punishments instead of what is in heaven and is eternal.
The 'kingdom' is made to be external—physical blessing, prosperity and freedom—instead of being "within you" (Lk.17:21) and "not of this world" (Jn.18:36). Instead of our deliverance, qualification and kingdom being in Christ (Col.1:12-13), being 'rescued from the domain of darkness' means having physical freedom and prosperity. Instead of being qualified and delivered because of what Christ has done for us on the Cross, we have to earn our qualification and deliverance by supporting the right nations, laws and agendas.
'SIGNS' INSTEAD OF HIS LAW
The heart of the prophesying of the fourth rider is not the Lamb and His agape love. Rather than leading people to His righteousness and His agape love, the fruit is that people will "run here and there" looking for His favor. They will look for outward signs, miracles and wonders to discern the kingdom instead of knowing it through the testimony of Christ and obedience to His command of agape love (Mt.24:23-26, Lk.17:20-23, 1 Jn.3:14, 4:13-16).
Christ said that many signs and wonders would come in the last days, but that doing the Father's will is more important than any prophesying or miracle (Mt.7:15-23).
"We have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them." (1 Jn.3:22-24)
Signs and wonders come from the church under the fourth rider, distracting and turning them away from God's law of agape love:
"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in unrighteousness." (2 Thes.2:9-12)
SIDING WITH HADES
The delight of the fourth rider is not in the righteousness of Christ, but in the righteousness of what is earthly—earthly kingdoms, earthly prosperity, earthly freedom and earthly power. Seeking these things, the fourth rider prophesies according to them, and works against Christ's law of agape love.
Signs, wonders and prophecies appear to show that God is on the side of the nation and the agendas that the false prophet supports (Rev.13:13-14). The "power of God" seems to be with the church under the fourth rider, who seems to preach the way for the 'kingdom' to grow and 'advance' in the world.
But the purpose of the strength and might of God is patience and endurance (Col.1:11). In the face of a movement of false prophecy that claims to declare God's judgments among nations, and which declares curses in His name on those who do not stand with the nation it worships, God's call to His people is to ask Him for power to patiently endure and remain faithful (Rev.13:10).
The church under the fourth rider comes with Hades trying to overcome the church which is founded on the Rock (Rev.6:7-8, Mt.16:18), but the church overcomes by holding to the testimony of the Lamb, even to the point of death (Rev.12:11), and patiently enduring in obedience to His command of agape love rather than letting it grow cold (Rev.14:12, Mt.24:12-13).
POWERFUL DELUSION GIVEN
When the fourth seal was opened, the fourth rider came forth—a 'prophetic' movement in the church which believes it discerns God's judgments in the world, and which proclaims an agenda among the nations that is not based on the testimony of Christ (not based on the Cross), nor based on His command (love one another as He loved us).
Instead the movement proclaims that we qualify for favor or judgment based on our politics, our laws, and our support for a certain nation. It is a ministry boasting signs and wonders, speaking words that appear to show the way to favor and prosperity, but which ministers death instead.
Part 12: "The Fifth Seal"—Revealing Spiritual Abuse