THE RIDER OF THE WHITE HORSE
The vision begins this way: “I saw, and look! a white horse, and the one seated on it had a bow; and a crown was given him, and he went out conquering and to complete his conquest.”—Revelation 6:2.
Who is the rider of the white horse? The key to his identity is found in the same Bible book, Revelation, which later identifies this heavenly rider as “The Word of God.” (Revelation 19:11-13) That title, The Word, belongs to Jesus Christ, for he acts as God’s spokesman. (John 1:1, 14) In addition, he is called “King of kings and Lord of lords” and is described as “Faithful and True.” (Revelation 19:16) Clearly, he has authority to act as a warrior-king, and he does not wield his power in any corrupt or abusive way. Yet, some questions arise.
Who gives Jesus the authority to conquer? (Revelation 6:2) The prophet Daniel saw a vision in which the Messiah, likened to “a son of man,” was given “rulership, honor, and a kingdom” by none other than “the Ancient of Days,” Jehovah God.* (Daniel 7:13, 14) Thus, it is Almighty God who grants Jesus the power and right to rule and execute judgment. The white horse is an appropriate symbol for warfare justly carried out by God’s Son, for the Scriptures often use the color white to symbolize righteousness.—Revelation 3:4; 7:9, 13, 14.
When did the horsemen begin their ride? Note that the first rider, Jesus, begins his ride when he receives a crown. (Revelation 6:2) When was Jesus crowned as King in heaven? It was not when he returned to heaven after his death. The Bible shows that a period of waiting began back then. (Hebrews 10:12, 13) Jesus gave his followers a means of recognizing the end of that waiting period and the beginning of his reign in heaven. He said that at the beginning of his rule, world conditions would take a decisive turn for the worse. There would be warfare, food shortages, and pestilences. (Matthew 24:3, 7; Luke 21:10, 11) Soon after World War I broke out in 1914, it became apparent that mankind had entered that era, a troubled time on earth that the Bible calls “the last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
But why have we seen conditions that are worse, not better, since Jesus received his crown in 1914? Because at that time, Jesus began ruling in heaven, not on earth. War then broke out in heaven, and the newly installed King, Jesus, referred to as Michael, cast Satan and his demons to the earth. (Revelation 12:7-9, 12) Confined here, Satan has been full of rage ever since, knowing that his days are numbered. Indeed, it will not be long before God will carry out his will against Satan here on the earth. (Matthew 6:10) Now, let us see how the other three horsemen help to confirm that we are, in fact, living during the troubled “last days.” Unlike the first horseman, who clearly pictures a specific individual, the three that follow represent global conditions that have swept across human society.