From Jim O'Brien
August 19, 2016

Hi Friend,

The White Horse

The Bible is filled with symbolism that has intrigued Christians for two millennia-a few of the most iconic being the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the number 666. Speculations about what these symbols represent are myriad and while I'm not a Prophet, God intended the Bible to be read by ordinary folks like me and I suspect He may even enjoy our speculations.

Revelation 6 opens with a vision given to the Apostle John of these mysterious symbols that are metaphors for future events. John writes "I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." (Rev. 6:2) Space doesn't allow an explanation of why the White Horse of Revelation 6 is viewed by many as an icon for a powerful deceptive religious system that controls an army. This formidable military force will exercise dominion over the nations of the world.

When John was writing these words the world was under the rule of the Caesars-Nero and Caligula being two of the worst. Many Christians had been brutally murdered at their hands. It would have been suicide for anyone to speak of Caesar as a beast, so the words were couched. 666 became a metaphor for tyrannical government. So John wrote, "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666." (Revelation 13:18) Even though John was writing about things he was witnessing in his day, his words were intended for a time still future. The White Horse was 2,000 years away. The tyrannical "Beast"-the future Nero that would not tolerate freedom of speech was yet to be born.

For those of us who have been taught that the Founding Fathers were great and honorable men, it is hard to think of such government but things are happening now that ought to give Christians pause for thought.

The news has overlooked the persecution of Christians that is occurring around the world. The Russian parliament, for example, has recently banned home churches, outlawed missionary or evangelistic activity of any kind whether by internet, at work or in any public place. This not only restricts a Christian from talking about his faith in God when he is in public, but imagine not being able to talk about it in your own home. Only government-approved churches will be allowed to exist.

In Moscow alone there are over 1,000 house churches that are now outlawed.

In an open letter signed by Protestant Churches of Russia leader Sergei Ryakhovsky, among others, wrote, the law is "the most draconian anti-religion bill to be proposed in Russia since Nikita Khrushchev promised to eliminate Christianity in the Soviet Union." He went on to say that this law "creates the basis for mass persecution of believers...."

Mission Eurasia president Sergey Rakhuba said that Russian evangelical churches will soon be "behind a new 'Iron Curtain.'" "Believers will soon need to make a very important choice: whether to obey God or these new Russian 'laws.'"

A similar thing is happening in China. The communist state arrested more than 200 activists and lawyers in a nationwide political clampdown on house churches.

China Aid president, Bob Fu, said, "After more than 12 months of arbitrary arrest and detention in 'black jails' without any legitimate legal representation or family visitations, these rushed trials and harsh sentences are clearly nothing but political and religious persecution."

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith R-N.J., who chairs the House subcommittee on global human rights, described the court proceedings in China as "the charade of forced 'confessions' and show trials."

There is a reason that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution expressly forbids any law that would impede the free exercise of religion or abridging the freedom of speech.

Russia, China, Nigeria and Iran are all countries far from the U.S. But if we are seeing the beginning of John's vision of the White Horse galloping through the world, can it be headed for the U.S.? Whether or not this is a fulfillment of prophesied events to come one thing is certain-Christians in America have been given a rare and precious freedom that we have too often taken for granted.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien