The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are coming down the stretch, and Lexington is awash in horses.
What are the best-known horses in the Bible? Those four horses in the Book of Revelation. Revelation has its own Big Red and Black Beauty, along with a white horse and a mysterious pale horse.
Theologians have long debated the meaning of Revelation.
What does that oh-so-interesting last book in the New Testament mean to you?
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What was St. John of Patmos thinking? Is the purpose of the book a warning of end times to come, a message of hope or something else entirely?
That's the Question of Faith we posed to our Kentucky.com Faith Blog Network. Here are some of their answers.
Rachel Brooks, New Hope Church, Lexington: One of the most familiar images of the book is that of the four horsemen. The horsemen each ride a different color horse, each of which represents a different stage of destruction.
The white horse is considered to be a symbol of conquest, the red horse a symbol of war, the black horse a symbol of famine and the pale horse (the Greek word translated as pale really denotes a yellowish green) represents death.
The message of Revelation definitely portends the end of something — the Roman Empire, Jerusalem or some future event beyond our present time.
The book is both a warning to those who are godless and a word of hope for the faithful. For beyond the destruction and judgment that compose most of the book, there is hope for the believer found in the new heaven and new earth, which are described as blissful perfection to be enjoyed by those who remain faithful to the one true God.
Myron Williams, Southland Christian Church: Reading Revelation is reading letters to churches, prophecy about the second coming of Jesus and the new heaven and earth, and judgments about good and evil. To read the whole book as though it all is the same sort of writing is a mistake. This would be like reading fiction and non-fiction books of history and assuming they are both accurate.
All sorts of literary tools are used: metaphor and symbol, analogy and imagery. We must be careful to use correct interpretive tools for the literary tools chosen by John, the author.
Revelation tells readers how to faithfully follow Jesus in times of persecution and suffering, and it describes the final overthrow and destruction of evil.
Roger Bruner, Mill Street Church of Christ: Revelation was written to convey a message to those then living, and efforts to make it refer to specific events centuries later utterly ignores this point.
The book was written as an encouragement to the Christians of that time in the face of discouraging persecution from the Roman government. The tribulation was already on them, and more were yet to die.
Those who had remained faithful to the Lord throughout the persecution are now sharing in the triumph of the cause of Christ.
Mike James, Kentucky Baptist Convention: Just as the New Testament opens with the four Gospels detailing the first coming of Christ, so the Book of Revelation closes the New Testament with the general theme of the second coming of Christ.
The word revelation comes from the Greek word apokolupsis. This word means to reveal or bring to light. The word also denotes God's self-disclosure. God desires for us to know him personally or we would have no chance of knowing anything about him.
The apostle John describes the future coming of Christ and the unveiling of what God will do in the future as he ends history as we know it. John wrote what he saw in his vision.
This theme brought great joy and hope to the church of the first century that was under great persecution from the Roman government with many believers being martyred for their faith. This same hope is offered to us today.
Bob Evely, Grace Evangel Fellowship, Wilmore: The Book of Revelation records the prophetic word, revealed to John the apostle, as to events that will occur during the last eon upon the Earth.
This book records the work in progress — God, through Christ, bringing all things into reconciliation with himself; using Israel as his instrument upon the Earth.
We must remember when reading Revelation that the book does not describe a completed work or a final condition, but a part of the process leading to the reconciliation of all things unto God.
Joseph N. Greenfield, Help Me to Live Again Ministries, Wilmore: Like the rest of the Bible, the Book of Revelation is great news. It is a message of hope, a message of judgment, and a message of God's watchfulness, understanding and participation in our world today.
Mary Seeger Weese, Midway Presbyterian Church: The Book of Revelation is disturbing, but it should be.
It's written for a community facing extraordinary suffering and persecution, people oppressed by the empire around them. They are being challenged by the powers of the world to compromise on their faith or to give it up completely.
But the good news of the vision is that God will win in the end.
Revelation says there will be drastic change — a bit too violently for my taste — but we shouldn't let the disturbing stuff prevent us from seeing that the vision is true. Suffering and persecution are happening around us even now. Our love of empire and our anti-Christ behaviors are warping the world.
Revelation convicts me of how quickly I am willing to compromise my faith.
In the end, though, God promises that the lowly will be lifted up and the mighty brought down. Ready or not, in the end, God will make things right.