Part #2: Famine
Part 3: Pestilence
|Wm Blake, Death on a pale horse, c. 1800|
Clarke's commentary explains, "My four sore judgments - Sword, war. Famine, occasioned by drought. Pestilence, epidemic diseases which sweep off a great part of the inhabitants of a land. The Noisome Beast, the multiplication of wild beasts in consequence of the general destruction of the inhabitants." Wesley's notes says, "How much more - If they could not be able to keep off one of the four, how much less would they be able to keep off all four, when I commission them all to go at once."
It is a very dread situation when all four are unleashed.
The LORD has unleashed one at a time at frequent intervals throughout the bible, in both the Old Testament (For ex Genesis 41:56) and the New (Acts 11:28). Infrequently, the LORD has unleashed all four at once. One example is bringing Ezekiel's prophecy of chapter 14 to fruition in around 586BC at Jerusalem's fall. The next time will be during the Tribulation. (Rev 6).
The Tribulation will be a time when all four are unleashed full strength. (Revelation 14:10). Let's look at the first of the four severe judgments: Sword.
What is the sword? Laying aside one of the metaphors for the Word, which is the Truth of Jesus, it also means war. Hostility, violence. Jesus stated this would happen as a result of His coming, in Matthew 10:34, where the bible interprets the word for us. It means the opposite of peace:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."
That kind of violence is the result of wicked men rebelling against the Gospel. The Sword also means war when God purposely brings war about as a judgment. Sometimes war is the result of the men's reactions and sometimes it is direct cause by God. Just look at Ezekiel 38, when God plainly states that He will put hooks and in the jaws of Gog and bring him to Israel for war. (Ezekiel 38:4). Also see Romans 13:4, God brings war on the evildoer as judgment. The verse shows us unequivocally that not only does sword mean war, but that He has the authority to use it for His own Good ends.
The Sword judgment is seen in the second Tribulation judgment/second Seal/second Horseman of the Apocalypse. See--
"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." "And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth." (Revelation 6:3-4; 8).
The sword is an symbol of war, of military slaughter, and is used here as signifying that that period would be characterized by carnage. Absolute carnage. How do I know it is absolute? Because not only is the point of the Tribulation to bring sin to the fullness (Daniel 9:24a) but because the Revelation verse says peace will be taken from the earth. Nowhere will there be a cessation of hostilities. Nowhere will be safe.
The Greek word for "great" sword is megas, from which we get Mega. " large, great, in the widest sense." I interpret this to mean that war will occur in its fullest, widest, most pervasive, most saturation possible. You really don't want to be here on earth when the Tribulation Sword is unleashed.
Jesus said that the time will contain wars and rumors of wars. (Matthew 24:6). Wars that are talked about happening, or about to happen. The climate will be of violence ongoing and more piling on- that's what wars and rumors of wars means. The Middle East is a tinderbox today, and the situation there is similar to Europe just before WWI. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by one man was all it took to spark a global war of devastating carnage. As this history website states it, "Two bullets fired on a Sarajevo street on a sunny June morning in 1914 set in motion a series of events that shaped the world we live in today. World War One, World War Two, the Cold War and its conclusion all trace their origins to the gunshots that interrupted that summer day. " The difficulty of Sword at this tenuous time is the fact that one shot out of a unexpected country could be THE thing which sparks pre-Tribulation wars, and will definitely spark post-rapture Judgment wars.
The thing to ponder is that the Aurora Theater Massacre redefined violence. One of those redefinitions is that no parent or child or person of any kind will ever feel relaxed in a place that is designed for relaxing ever again. Gathering in public space with a faceless multitude is increasingly dangerous. Attending sports games, concerts, parades, or even in the relatively smaller venue of movie theaters is taking a chance. But increasingly, staying at home is dangerous too. People are breaking in brazenly, whether or not there is visible evidence of occupation. Home invasions are at an all time high. And murders on the street are just as bad.
Now imagine that feeling of discomfort and vigilance extended to a hyper degree, knowing nowhere is safe, ever. Because peace will be taken from the earth, and His sword will bring constant hostility, violence and carnage.
That would be bad enough, but Sword is only ONE of the four sore judgments. As the LORD said in Ezekiel 14:21, 'how much worse will it be when all four are unleashed?'
His judgments are sore indeed. But I am convinced of one thing. We persevering saints are walking through trials and praying for strength to encourage others in these dark days, it is a good thing that it is so dark. Because as my heart sees more sin, more evil, more trampling on Jesus' name, and I cry out to the Lord, how much BETTER will our joy be when we see Him? The lower we see the world descending, the higher we will see Him when He calls.
The next of the Four Severe Judgments we'll examine will be Famine.