Wildfire :: By Jeff Hauck

I was a rotten big brother. I was a Junior in high school when I discovered the song “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey. My youngest sister was 7 years old at the time. It’s kind of a sad song, and my sister is the sensitive type who has a deep love for animals. So, I thought I would introduce her to this song.

It’s a song about a girl who comes down from Yellow Mountain riding a pony named Wildfire on a cold Nebraska night. “Oh, they say she died one winter when there came a killing frost. And the pony she named Wildfire busted down its stall. In a blizzard, she was lost.” I would sing this to her, emphasizing the sad bits. That’s when my sister would break down and cry. Told you I was rotten.

That was about the extent of my experience with horses; a sad song. But that is changing. I’ve recently signed up to volunteer with an organization that provides options and new hope for young people struggling with mental health challenges by connecting them to employment opportunities on farms, ranches, stables, and therapeutic riding facilities. I have a lot to learn about horse handling as a supervisor working with these at-risk youth!

They are just beautiful creatures, each with their own personalities. There are 15 currently on the ranch I’m helping, and I’m learning that they want to be led, they want a job to do each day, and they are just sweet with humans but can be grouchy with each other sometimes. They mirror the emotions of humans and can sense our heartbeats from 4 feet away. That’s why they are excellent therapeutic animals. I understand that people who grew up with horses absolutely love them and can’t get enough of them. This got me to thinking about horses and their connection to the Bible. Turns out there are over 150 mentions of the horse or horse family!

As you may know, the world was heavily reliant on the horse for daily transportation and in war, up until only about 130 years ago. The last war they were used in was WWI. Horses are mentioned throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. We see horses mentioned as symbols of strength and instruments of war. I thought I would reveal what has stuck out the most from my research of the Bible and horses.

They are first mentioned in Genesis 47 during the plague of 7 years in Egypt and the rest of the region. The Egyptians were required to trade in all their horses and livestock for grain to survive. In Exodus 9, we see that most of Egypt’s horses are killed in the 5th plague because Pharoh wouldn’t let Moses’ people go. This eventually concludes with Pharoh and all his horses with chariots drowning in the Red Sea. My, how horses have suffered due to man’s sin.

In Numbers 22, we are introduced to a talking donkey. The prophet Balaam continues to defy God and attempts to curse the Israelites at the insistence of the King of Moab with no satisfaction. On one of these attempts, Balaam is riding the donkey he’s had all his life. God places the Angel of the Lord in the path to the next location to attempt the curse. God first enables the donkey to see the Angel and moves to and fro to avoid it, while Balaam becomes angry with his donkey for not following his directions, beating it 3 times. The donkey has had enough, and God now enables the donkey to give lip to Balaam about his beatings, lol. You can’t make this stuff up.

And we are quite familiar with Zechariah’s prophecy (9:9) that one day a King will humbly ride into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey – then being fulfilled approximately 500 years later by our Messiah in Matthew 24. Two of my favorite Old Testament references to horses in the Bible are of the supernatural type. The account of Elijah taken off to Heaven in a whirlwind in a fiery chariot and horses (2 Kings 2) and of Elisha and his servant being protected by “invisible” fiery chariots and horses from the King of Aram (2 Kings 6). You start to get the sense that God has a deeper purpose for the horse than for other animals of His creation.

Also, God’s word provides amazing details of the “last days” that involve the horse. Eschatology students and teachers are very familiar with the soon-coming war of Gog and Magog – Ezekiel 38/39. Did you notice that this war only involves horses as the instruments of the war? And Revelation 9 describes a 200-million-man army with horses beautifully outfitted for war that will result in the loss of a third of mankind. No one can really provide a certain explanation as to why these wars are described with horses instead of modern instruments of war. Fact is, Ezekiel and John both described horses in their visions. Oh my, more carnage of horses to come due to man’s sin. How sad.

But the last word concerning the horse is the best. Revelation 19: “Next I saw Heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called Faithful and True… The armies of heaven clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses” (vv 11, 14).

I conjecture that Jesus not only has prepared a place for us but will also be giving us each a horse, a white horse. I confess that I have never given much thought to that piece about white horses ridden by the armies of heaven. But I do now. I wonder what kind of personality my horse will have. Will I have to pick its hooves, brush its body, muck its stall, or saddle its back? I’m guessing not. I picture myself jumping on its bare back and flying down the road and through the air in unbelievable ways. Brothers and sisters, it’s time to imagine the incomprehensible. Don’t you sense that it’s just around the corner?

One last word on the horse in the Bible. It’s a beautiful description from Job. God asks Job a rhetorical question near the end of their discussion. He provides an incredible description of His creation. I don’t think there’s a more described animal in the Bible than here.

Job 39:19-25

“Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?

Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting?

It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray.

It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword.

The quiver rattles against its side, along with the flashing spear and lance.

In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.

At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’ It catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.”

There is soon coming a day when there is no more war. These creatures will no longer be used as instruments of war. All their beauty and strength will be used as God first intended, for travel and joy. If you’re not a horse person like me, I invite you to learn more about them. I become more enchanted with each encounter. If you are trusting in Jesus as your Savior, you will be getting one soon. If you are not trusting in Jesus as your Savior, your first priority is to search for Him and then place your faith in Him (Romans 10:9-10). Time is getting very short.

I’ve asked my sister (and other siblings) to forgive me for my teasing ways of old. Praise God, they have forgiven me. However, my ultimate payback may be coming. If one of our 15 or so horses dies while I am involved with this organization, I will be the one who breaks down crying for Wildfire, or whichever horse it may be. Come, Lord Jesus!