Over the years, I have observed that most “Christian” cults or heretical sects usually start out with bad eschatology. And I’m not talking about minor misunderstandings or speculations, but flagrant errors that indicate deeper doctrinal problems. This is probably because once a religious group embraces a defective Christology, its soteriology also becomes defective. The next logical step is an eschatology full of gaping holes.
I will illustrate such eschatological blunders from a recent edition of The Watchtower (No 3, 2017) which discusses the 4 horsemen of the book of Revelation. Quotes from the magazine will be in bold.
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 … 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.” (p. 4)
But when one studies the Bible itself – not a flawed interpretation of it – it’s clear that the rider of the white horse in Revelation 6 is not the same as the rider of the white horse in Revelation 19:
1. The rider in Rev. 6 is symbolic but the rider of Rev. 19 is literal. The former represents the Antichrist while the latter represents Jesus Christ in person.
2. The rider in Rev. 6 has a bow without arrows, yet The Watchtower curiously illustrates him holding both a bow and arrow! (p 6). The rider in Rev. 19, however, has a sword in His mouth. Jesus is often symbolized as having a sword, not a bow (Rev. 1:11, 19:21). A bow symbolizes evil designs and conquests (Ps. 7:12; 11:2; 46:9).
3. Just as the rider in Rev. 6, the Bible is clear that Satan is the one who gives Antichrist a crown (Dan. 8:24; 11:38-39; Rev. 13:2,4) but Jesus has always been King.
4. Antichrist is the only person predicted in Scripture as going forth conquering and to conquer. He will attain power by waging war and overthrowing kingdoms (Dan. 7:7-8, 20-21, 23-24; 8:23-25). The Bible also shows that the Antichrist and the kings of the earth will wage war against Jesus, at His second return (Rev. 19:19).
5. The rider in Rev. 6 will begin a series of terrible events on earth: wars, famines, pestilence, death, and hell which are symbolized by the 3 other horsemen (vs. 3). But Jesus will put an end to these events (Rev. 19:11-21).
6. The Antichrist will come on a white horse, imitating Christ and claiming to be Him (Mt. 24:4-5; Jn. 5:43, Dan. 9:27). He will display counterfeit righteousness and offer false peace. But Jesus will return in majestic power and glory as “The Word of God,” “King of kings and Lord of lords” and as the “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:16).
The Watchtower’s confusion of Christ with the Antichrist proves that they are uninspired and their Bible interpretation is deeply flawed.
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” (p. 4)
So how does this works out? If the rider of the white horse in Rev. 6 is Jesus and he is ruling in heaven, why are the other 3 horsemen (warfare, famine, death and hell) operating on earth? It makes no sense. Jesus is already king in heaven. The idea that He only began ruling in heaven in 1914 has no biblical or factual support. The Old Testament prophesies, however, point to Jesus’ future rule here on earth. He came from the tribe of Judah and will thus reign as king (Gen. 49:10); have an eternal throne (2 Sam. 7:16), and is to have his Kingship in the city of Jerusalem (Ps. 2:6). Psalm 110 indicates that the Messiah would subjugate His enemies and rule over them (Is. 9:6-7, Dan. 7:13-14, Zech. 9:9, Mt. 22:41-46). Thus, Jesus’ rule will be on earth at His second advent.
The present times of trouble will soon end. Remember this: Jesus “went out conquering” in 1914, confining Satan to the earth, but Jesus did not then complete his conquest (Revelation 6:2; 12:9, 12) (p. 8).
Of course, the rider in Rev. 6 is not Jesus Christ. And if Jesus began conquering the Devil in 1914, why hasn’t He completed His conquest after more than 100 years? What a terrible web we weave when we tell lies. The Watchtower is forced to prop up a lie with another lie.
Jesus will not only terminate the ride of the other three horsemen but even reverse the effect of their destructive ride (p 8).
Then this refutes their earlier claim that the rider in Rev. 6 is Jesus, since nowhere is that rider said to oppose the other 3 horsemen. They are all in the same “league” and riding together. This ride will take place during the Great Tribulation (See Rev. 6:9-11). The Bible becomes so clear when studied without the badly smoked lens of Watchtower leaders.