Rev. 6: The Rider on the White Horse
Some of the most intriguing passages in
the Bible can be found in Revelation chapter 6, a chapter dealing with
events that occur during the Tribulation period of human history. Both Old
and New Testament prophets mention this period frequently, including Jesus Christ, when
He said, "unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person
will survive" (Matthew 24:22). This series of articles will focus on the
proper interpretation of the "four horsemen of the apocalypse" (found in
verses 2 through 8 of chapter 6), while exploring one very plausible
scenario for their fulfillment.
The first horseman appears in verse 2:
"I looked up and saw a
white horse. Its rider carried a bow, and a crown was placed on his head. He
rode out to win many battles and gain the victory" (Revelation 6:2).
Throughout history, this has been
properly interpreted as a passage referring to the Antichrist. But what does
the symbolic language of this verse tell us about the man of perdition?
Several things are immediately noticeable:
1) He rides a white horse. This
description is commonly used in Scripture to identify a conqueror. So, it is
appropriate to view the Antichrist as a conqueror.
2) A crown is placed on his head. The
Antichrist is either the king of a nation or nations, or an elected or
appointed head of state(s).
3) He rides out to win many battles and
gain victory. The Antichrist goes out into the world with every intention to
4) He carries a bow. The Antichrist
wields the traditional weapons of war, but in this passage, he is not viewed
as using deadly force to conquer (no arrow accompanies his bow).
This last characteristic of the
Antichrist and his nefarious career is intentionally placed last on the list
because it is the most revealing and enigmatic statement in the
aforementioned verse. How can a person conquer without using deadly force,
when this has been the exclusive method of choice for conquerors throughout
history? This apparent contradiction has often been rectified by viewing the
Antichrist as a great diplomat who will use diplomacy to peacefully bring a
willing world into an era of global government. But is this a realistic
view? Revelation 13:7 tells us that "he was given authority to rule over
every tribe and people and language and nation." Given the global history of
nationalism, tribalism, racism, and other animosities among men, it seems
beyond comprehension that any man, no matter how charismatic, could conquer
the world with mere words.
This gives us the perfect opportunity
to apply the
golden rule of biblical interpretation: "When the plain sense of Scripture
makes common sense, seek no other sense." The Bible is clearly telling us
that one of the ways believers will be able to identify the Antichrist is by
recognizing his ability to conquer the world without using deadly force.
But, again, given what we know about history, is it possible to conquer the
world without using deadly force?
Right now, it's not. But very soon, it
will not only be possible, but absolutely necessary. Just as much of the
world remains asleep to the "signs of the times," it also remains ignorant
of the exponential growth of its technological capability. The world is on
the verge of a monumental breakthrough that will literally change the world
geopolitical landscape overnight. This imminent technological discovery is
known as molecular manufacturing (MM), the ability to precisely position
reactive molecules via mechanochemical synthesis. The length of this article
doesn't allow room to elaborate on the details of MM, but those interested
can learn more by visiting The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology at
www.crnano.org. That said, molecular manufacturing will be a technology so
powerful, it will swiftly transform every facet of the human
condition--partly to great benefit, partly to great peril.
In his 1986 book,
Engines of Creation, in which K. Eric Drexler first posited the
ideas of nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing, he made the following
observation (found in chapter 11: "Engines of Destruction") concerning the
dangers of this technology's development:
"States could use
assemblers or advanced AI systems to achieve sudden, destabilizing
breakthroughs. I earlier discussed reasons for expecting that the advent of
replicating assemblers will bring relatively sudden changes: Able to
replicate swiftly, they could become abundant in a matter of days. Able to
make almost anything, they could be programmed to duplicate existing
weapons, but made from superior materials. Able to work with standard,
well-understood components (atoms) they could suddenly build things designed
in anticipation of the assembler breakthrough. These results of design-ahead
could include programmable germs and other nasty novelties. For all these
reasons, a state that makes the assembler breakthrough could rapidly create
a decisive military force--if not literally overnight, then at least with
For those who think the United States
remains, and will remain, the world's greatest military power well into the
future, I recommend rereading that last sentence.
Molecular manufacturing will turn the
world upside down. Its development will amplify the current march toward
smaller, more precise, and efficient weapons. Instead of killing its
enemies, a nation could simply disarm them. Even a nation-state as small as
Singapore or Monaco could very quickly build a military force far more
powerful than all the current world militaries combined.
This will have a significant impact on
the world political structure. Just as the development of atomic weapons
made the United States and the Soviet Union world superpowers during the
Cold War, the development of molecular manufacturing will make the nation
that develops it the world's dominant superpower. In addition, it can cement
that power permanently if it uses its initial advantage to disable competing
nation-states from developing molecular manufacturing capabilities of their
It is my assertion that this
elimination of potential rivals will not simply be one of many foreign
policy options, but rather, the only one. This is because of the inherent
instability of an MM-based arms race. The Center for Responsible
Nanotechnology has identified an unstable arms race as one of the top
dangers of molecular manufacturing:
"The nuclear arms race was
stable for several reasons. In virtually every way, the nano-arms race will
be the opposite. Nuclear weapons are hard to design, hard to build, require
easily monitored testing, do indiscriminate and lasting damage, do not
rapidly become obsolete, have almost no peaceful use, and are universally
abhorred. Nano capability will be easy to build (given a nanofactory), will
allow easily concealable testing, will be relatively easy to control and
deactivate, would become obsolete very rapidly, almost every design is
dual-use, and peaceful and non-lethal (police) use will be common. Nukes are
easier to stockpile than to use; nano weapons are the opposite."
The Center also agrees that an MM
monopoly will be an attractive policy option for the developing nation:
"Each nation will see only
a few possibilities: 1) an arms race that will probably be unwinnable since
it will develop into a disastrous war; 2) developing ahead of everyone else
and establishing dominance; 3) some other nation developing earlier and
establishing dominance; 4) international cooperation and trust sufficient to
ensure safety; 5) a multinational organization willing and able to keep the
"Option 1 is undesirable;
Option 3 is probably unthinkable for any of the current large powers; Option
5 is probably unacceptable to the U.S., as the world's sole superpower;
Option 4 may be seen as unfeasible. Only one nation can succeed at Option 2.
This implies that a preemptive strike option (whether military attack, or
sabotage or derailment of nanotech development efforts) will appear very
attractive to a number of powerful nations."
Regardless of whether it is linked to
Bible prophecy, molecular manufacturing is near and inevitable. It's also a
foregone conclusion that a nanotechnology arms race must be avoided at all
costs. As such, it is very likely the leading power will assert itself over
potential rivals in order to prevent the unprecedented destruction of a
nanotech arms race.
Oddly, this leads to the agreement of
two often diametrically opposed worldviews:
The Secular Worldview: Molecular manufacturing is coming. In order to ensure geopolitical
stability and survival of the human race, competition among molecular
manufacturing-enabled competitors must be eliminated and a global government
must be established.
The Biblical Worldview: The Antichrist will worship a god of fortresses unknown to his
fathers (Daniel 11:37-39), and he will rule over a global government
(Revelation 13:7). When he initially appears, he will ride out to conquer
many (Revelation 6:2).
This convergence between the secular
worldview and the biblical worldview is cause for examination of the times
in which we live. When molecular manufacturing is developed in the near
future, its invention will almost certainly be followed by a military
campaign to prevent a future showdown between competing MM-enabled nation
states. However, this military campaign will in no way resemble the military
conquests to which we've become accustomed. It will be waged with
horrifically effective weapons that will be hundreds of times stronger,
lighter, faster, and more accurate than the best military technologies of
today. Encrypted networks will be easily compromised, the concept of MAD
easily circumvented. World domination will come with relative ease to an
MM-enabled power competing against today's defense technologies. And victory
can be absolute without a single human casualty.
Is this the scenario foreseen in
Revelation 6:2? Perhaps. Perhaps not. However, it should be noted that the
timeline for its development coincides with an era in which all the "signs"
addressed by Jesus and the prophets are present.
The most important sign is that Israel
is once again a nation. Jesus told His followers:
"Now learn a lesson from
the fig tree. When its buds become tender and its leaves begin to sprout,
you know without being told that summer is near. Just so, when you see the
events I've described beginning to happen, you can know his return is very
near, right at the door. I assure you, this generation will not pass from
the scene before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will
disappear, but my words will remain forever" (Matthew 24:32-35).
The fig tree Jesus is
referring to is Israel. It's been six decades since Israel was once again
declared a nation against all worldly odds. Jesus promised that the
generation that witnessed fulfillment of this prophecy would not pass until
the things of which He spoke happened. The hourglass is running out on that
generation, so be alert. Christ tells us that those who are watching for
this hour will be blessed:
"Know this: A homeowner who
knew exactly when a burglar was coming would stay alert and not permit the
house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time. For the Son of
Man will come when least expected" (Matthew 24:43-44).
"Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"
Britt Gillette is the author of
Signs of the Second
Coming: 11 Reasons Jesus Will Return in Our Lifetime and
Coming to Jesus: One Man’s Search for
Truth and Life Purpose. He’s also the founder of
End Times Bible Prophecy.