“And another came forth, a fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him.” (Revelation 6:4) A grim vision indeed! And there is no doubt as to what it pictures: war! Not the righteous, victorious warfare of Jehovah’s conquering King but cruel, man-made, international warfare with needless bloodshed and pain. How appropriate that this rider is mounted on a fire-red horse!
15. Why should we want no part of the ride of the second horseman?
15 Certainly, John would want no part with this horseman and his headlong ride, for it had been prophesied concerning God’s people: “Neither will they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) Though still “in the world,” John and, by extension, the John class and the great crowd today are “no part” of this bloodstained system. Our weapons are spiritual and “powerful by God” for actively proclaiming the truth, apart from carnal warfare.—John 17:11, 14; 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.
16. When and how was the rider of the red horse given “a great sword”?
16 There had been many wars before 1914, the year when the Rider of the white horse received his crown. But now the rider of the red horse is given “a great sword.” What does this imply? With the eruption of World War I, human warfare becomes more sanguinary, more destructive than ever before. During the 1914-18 bloodbath, tanks, poison gas, airplanes, submarines, huge cannons, and automatic weapons were used either for the first time or on an unprecedented scale. In some 28 nations, whole populations, not just professional soldiers, were pressed into the war effort. Casualties were horrendous. More than nine million soldiers were slaughtered, and civilian casualties were astronomical. Even with the end of the war, there was no return to real peace on earth. More than 50 years after that war, German statesman Konrad Adenauer commented: “Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914.” It was, indeed, granted to the rider of the fiery-colored horse to take peace away from the earth!
17. How has the use of the “great sword” continued, following World War I?
17 Then, with his thirst for blood whetted, the rider of the red horse plunged into World War II. Instruments of slaughter became ever more fiendish, and casualties skyrocketed to four times those of World War I. In 1945 two atom bombs burst over Japan, each one annihilating—in a flash—tens of thousands of victims. During the second world war, the rider of the red horse reaped a huge harvest of some 55 million lives, and even then he was not satisfied. It is reliably reported that well over 20 million souls have fallen under the “great sword” since World War II.
18, 19. (a) Rather than its being a triumph for military technology, to what fact is the slaughter since World War II a testimony? (b) What peril confronts mankind, but what will the Rider of the white horse do to offset it?
18 Could we call this a triumph for military technology? It is, rather, a testimony that the merciless red horse is at the gallop. And where will that gallop end? Some scientists speak of the possibility of an accidental nuclear war—let alone a planned nuclear conflagration! But happily the conquering Rider of the white horse has other thoughts about this.
19 As long as society is based on nationalistic pride and hatred, mankind must continue to sit on a keg of nuclear peril. Even if the nations, out of desperation, should scrap all nuclear firepower, they would retain the know-how. In short order, they could reproduce their murderous nuclear devices; hence, any war with conventional weapons could soon mushroom into a holocaust. The pride and hatred that envelop the nations today must lead to humanity’s suicide, unless—ah, yes, unless the Rider of the white horse should head off the mad gallop of the fiery-colored mount. Let us be confident that Christ the King will ride, both to complete his conquest over the world controlled by Satan and to establish a new earthly society based on love—love of God and neighbor—a force for peace far, far superior to the shaky nuclear deterrents of our maddened times.—Psalm 37:9-11; Mark 12:29-31; Revelation 21:1-5.
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“Granted to Take Peace Away From the Earth”
Where is technology leading? The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, January 22, 1987, reported the following from a speech by Ivan L. Head, president of the International Development Research Centre:
“It is reliably estimated that one out of every four scientists and technologists in the world engaged in research and development is working on weapons. . . . At 1986 rates, the expenditure is more than $1.5-million a minute. . . . Are we all more secure as a result of this kind of technological emphasis? The nuclear arsenals possessed by the superpowers contain the explosive force of all the munitions expended by all the combatants in all of the Second World War—times 6,000. Six thousand Second World Wars. Since 1945, there have been less than seven weeks when the world has been free of military activity. There have been more than 150 wars of an international or a civil nature, which are estimated to have claimed 19.3 million lives, most of them as the result of the efficient new technologies that have emerged in this era of the United Nations.”