His Colors Never Change

Bible Book: Revelation  6
Subject: Satan; Devil; Tribulation; Four Horsemen
Introduction

When we come to Revelation, chapter 6, we must remember that all of the redeemed, saved people are already in heaven, but those without Christ are left on the earth to face what the Bible calls Tribulation. Can you imagine the confusion which will follow the rapture of the Church? Suddenly, and without warning, all Christians will be missing, since the Savior will have taken them to heaven. It might happen like this: CNN will break into its regular programming to make the announcement that a strange and unexplained occurrence has taken place. A religious spokesman who is considered an expert by the secular news media, but who in fact is totally lost and thus left behind when the rapture occurs, will appear on camera. "Tell us, Dr. Whistle Hoffer, what do you make of these events? I mean, we have heard that the Bible states that such a disappearance was to take place. Has that happened?" Dr. Hoffer draws himself to full height and states arrogantly, "There have been some far right-wing, radical, pseudo-Christian groups that believed in the ludicrous idea of a rapture, but such an idea was de-bunked by all intelligent believers long ago. Frankly, we believe that the government is keeping something from us. We have heard reports of UFOs for years, and we know that Washington has not given us the full facts on these issues. I, and I must say my colleagues agree, believe the missing persons have been abducted by alien visitors."

At the time of the rapture, the world will be thrown into a frenzy of grief, speculation, fear and confusion. At that very moment in history, a person will step forth to calm the fears of the masses, handle the news media with aplomb and composure, and will soon have every nation on earth eating out of his hand. He is the Antichrist - Satan's pawn in a giant cosmic chess match. Chapter six of Revelation brings us to the time when the Antichrist appears, though the world will not fully know who he actually is at the time. They will see him as a savior and deliverer at a time when world bewilderment is raging.

In heaven, the Lamb of God begins to open the scroll by peeling away the seven seals, one seal at a time. As the Lamb does this in heaven, events begin to unfold on earth. The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, is beginning events which will establish universally and eternally that He is the rightful Heir to all of heaven and earth! There is much here for us to discern in chapter six. We cannot possibly grasp it all today. I want us to narrow our focus to just one aspect of the chapter. I want you to see that as Satan uses the Antichrist to advance his ultimate goal of ruling the world, his true nature is once again revealed.

It can be said of Satan that he never changes his colors. He is ever the same wretched, disloyal, demonic personality we first encountered in the Book of Genesis when he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. We learn from our text today how we are to watch for his attacks. We can detect from the events which shall occur after the Church is removed, something of what he is doing right now while the Church is still upon the earth. Remember, though there is only one true Antichrist, the spirit of antichrist is already at work.

Satan is at work now, he will only become more vicious when the Church is removed. Why is it that he will become more vicious? Because at this time the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer keeps him somewhat obstructed. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9: "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders."

When the Church is removed the Holy Spirit, who is at work in the Church, will depart and the Antichrist will rise in power. The passage we just read from 2 Thessalonians tells us plainly that he will be a mere tool of Satan. So, let us look at what we can learn about Satan and his modus operandi, his basic strategy of evil. We shall do this by looking at four of the seals which Christ removes from the scroll in heaven and the four horsemen who are unleashed upon the earth. Each horse is a different color and shall represent for us today a different aspect of Satan - remember, Satan never changes his colors. What he will be in the tribulation, he is right here and now, just to a lesser degree.

I. The Color of Deception - The Counterfeit Color

White is the color of Christ, but this certainly is not Christ we are seeing in this Bible text. Christ conquers with a sword, which is His Word! Note that the rider described when the first seal is opened carries a bow. The bow is a symbol of war and the image here is one of war against God and His Kingdom.

Also, this rider wears a crown but it is a particular crown. The Greek word used for crown in this passage is ???????? (stephanos), which speaks of a crown acquired through achievement. The crown of Christ mentioned in chapter 19 is derived from the Greek word ??????? (diadem) and refers to His position and person.

In essence this first rider is one who comes carrying the wrong weapon and wearing a crown of works rather than carrying a sword and wearing the crown of royal nature. This first rider is a symbol of the work of the Antichrist after the church has been removed.

The Antichrist is going to come riding out on a white horse, promising peace. The world will crown him their head and ruler. He, of course, will be a liar, for he is controlled by Satan, and we all know that Satan was a liar from the beginning. In essence, the white horse can be called the counterfeit color, for it represents the charlatan character of Satan.

Listen to what Jesus said about the devil in John 8:44: "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

The Bible further states about him in 2 Corinthians 11:14: "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."

Satan does not reveal his true nature. He did not do so to Adam and Eve, his does not do so now and he will not do so during the tribulation. He rides a white horse but his heart is as black as the midnight! What is it Satan seeks to hide about himself?

A. He Hides His Person

Some years ago a well-known preacher delivered a sermon entitled, "If I Were The Devil." In that message his very first point was, "If I were the devil, I would try to convince the world that I do not exist." That preacher was right on target. Satan's first act of camouflage is to deny his own existence!

Every great movement for God on this earth was begun by a Christian who believed in the existence of a personal devil. Martin Luther is a great example. If you go to Wartburg in Germany, they tell me you can see a dark spot on the old walls which they say was caused by the breaking of an ink bottle that Martin Luther supposedly threw at the devil. Skeptics say it was just the rats inside of the wall that Luther heard. Whether the evil one caused the actual physical disturbance, we do not know. What is important is that Luther recognized that Satan sets himself in opposition to those who champion the Word, and that he never hesitated in fighting him.

No Christian of this ear will accomplish much for Christ if he or she does not recognize and acknowledge that the devil is real. He will be a fake during the Tribulation, just as he is a fake today. He does not change his colors!

B. He Hides His Pattern

He does not want us to know his subterfuge and tactics. We as believers are to be aware of his methods, which the Bible plainly tells us. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “...in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

Again we read in 2 Corinthians 11:3, "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Satan works to mesmerize, delude and seduce God's servants. He seeks to deceive the lost but he also seeks to cheat the Christian out of faithful service and divine joy.

We can look at nature and find an illustration in the way Satan deceives and leads people into a trap. Arctic polar bears feed almost entirely on seals. To catch the seals the polar bear uses a unique ploy. If the hole through which the seal gets his food is near the edge of the ice, the polar bear will take a deep breath and swim under water to its exact location. Remaining below the surface, he will then make a tiny scratching sound imitating a fish. When the seal hears this, he thinks it is a fish and dives to get himself a meal. Once in the water, the seal becomes a meal for the polar bear.

Satan works in the same way. He tempts and urges the individual to “jump in” and enjoy some temptation, but once the sinner is “in” he discovers that he is trapped.

Yes, Satan hides his pattern, but also….

C. He Hides His Purpose

Satan conceals his real purpose at all times. What is the root purpose of the devil? It is to rule the earth in the place of Jesus Christ. He is determined to sit in the seat designated for the Savior.

He wants to ride the white horse that only Christ can ride. He wants to be God. Look at Isaiah 14:12-17, "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But the passage continues with a prophesy of his downfall at the hands of our Christ, "But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate...."

The devil may hide from the wisest of men, but he cannot hide from the Lamb of God. His fate is sealed. If you are serving him, you are serving one who is scheduled for absolute defeat and destruction!

II. The Color of Division - The Conflict Color

Now we come to the second horseman. Note that his color is of the scarlet pigment. This red horseman pictures conflict, war and destruction. The Antichrist will rise with a promise of peace, but as surely as the world says, "Peace, peace," destruction will come.

Satan has always worn the color of conflict. Wherever he goes, he creates conflict. He brings disunity, disharmony, and division. Let me share with you the three types of conflict he creates.

A. An Upward Conflict

Satan brings division between God and humankind. Look back at the Garden of Eden and note that Adam walked with God in the cool of the day, but after Satan entered the scene, Adam tried to hide from God. Sin separates us from God and Satan knows it. He creates conflict between our hearts and God's heart!

There is the story of a man who lived in a slum and looked out through dirty curtains at a dirty city every day. He lived in a pigsty of an apartment where roaches and rats were his only friends. One day he received a letter telling him that he was rich. He had inherited a virtual fortune. The poor man thought it a lie and threw it into the trash. Later the attorney sent someone to him in order to learn why he had not claimed his fortune. Only then did the poor man come to realize that the letter was indeed true.

Satan blinds the lost to their opportunity in Christ. They can read the Bible but they do not believe what it says. Every person who comes to Christs has a spiritual inheritance of riches untold, but instead of claiming what Christ provides they throw the opportunity in the trash. Why do they do that? Satan works to keep them in the slum of sin! He creates a division between God and man.

B. An Outward Conflict

Satan divides people, one against the other. Go back to Adam and Eve for a moment. Remember with me that Adam and Eve first had two sons. What happened to them? Cain became angry at his brother Abel, and killed him. Satan had entered the family and conflict followed quickly on the heels of that first sin!

In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea, causing a tragic loss of life. The news of the disaster was further darkened, however, when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident, which hurled hundreds of passengers into the icy waters. The tragedy was not traced to some major problem like a breakdown in radar or thick fog. The blame was attributed to human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship's presence. Both could have taken evasive action to avert the collision. But according to news reports, neither wanted to give way to the other. It seems that each was too proud to yield and make the first move. By the time they saw the error of their ways it was too late.

James shows us that even greater havoc and loss can be created in human relationships for the same reason. Envy, jealousy, and the self-seeking hearts create unnecessary division, pain and sorrow in this world.

James wrote that the root problem causing division in this world is pride and self-centeredness. Many in our world are in shipwrecked with division in marriage, family life, work and even in church due to our unwillingness to repent of selfishness.

Always remember what the Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Your enemy is not a physical enemy. Your enemy is the devil, himself!

So, Satan creates an upward conflict, an outward conflict and also …

C. An Inward Conflict

You see, Satan also creates a conflict or war within our own hearts and minds. You will recall that Jesus was tempted as recorded in Matthew 4. The devil created a battle within the heart of Christ. Christ won that battle by relying upon God's Word, which He quoted to the devil on all three occasions during this time of temptation. We, however, have succumbed to the devil's lies and temptations and because of this we have a division within ourselves. Paul put it like this in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Satan creates an inner conflict. We deal with feelings of low esteem, depression, guilt, worry and many other internal emotional problems because of the conflict created through our misunderstanding of God’s love and our lack of discernment in seeing how Satan works.

Martin Luther, in one of his moods of depression, felt as if Satan himself was closing in upon him. It seemed as if he was whispering in his ear, "Martin, do you feel your sins are forgiven?" Suddenly Luther rose to his feet and shouted aloud, "No, I don't, but I know they are because God says so in His Word!"

To have peace within, we must have Christ within! Then, once we have received His grace and salvation, we must listen to His voice speaking to us. Give Christ the key to your heart and mind. When Satan comes knocking, let Jesus answer the door!

III. The Color of Deficiency - The Cheerless Color

The third seal of the scroll is broken and a black horse rides forth. This is the color of deficiency, a cheerless, sad color of bleakness and darkness. I believe this is the color which results from our inability to find solace or peace in the world. Only in Christ is there peace and fulfillment, for all that is outside Christ is black, bleak and barren. The point in this passage is that Satan promises what he cannot deliver. During the tribulation, there will be a tremendous shortage of food and supplies. People will give all they have for something to eat and, yet, it will not be enough. This is how Satan works. He promises the glistening joys of the white horse, but conflict and confusion follow.

The following was a UPI news release: "Isaac Singer, 77, who won the Nobel Prize for literature at 73, said he was surprised and happy after his 1978 Nobel selection, but 20 minutes later he was the same man 'with the same worries and troubles.'" The failure of human achievements to bring lasting satisfaction was expressed well by Mr. Singer. Less than half an hour after being so highly acclaimed, he realized that he was burdened with the same cares as before. The world, sin and all that Satan offers cannot fill the void in the human heart. Without Christ, all is black and empty. Only Christ can satisfy the soul.

IV. The Color of Death - The Corpse Color

We come to the fourth and final horseman. The forth seal is broken and the pale horse rides forth. The pale color is the color of a cadaver, the color of a corpse, the color of death! All the powder and paint the funeral home applies cannot remove the pale hue of death on a corpse! When sin has finished its work, it brings forth death! James 1:15 states,"Sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

Conclusion

What is our hope? What can anyone do about the coming tribulation upon this earth?

i. First we must embrace Christ

One must select the correct rider of the white horse, and that is Christ. Do you know Him? If you died today, are you sure you would go to heaven? If Christ returned right now, are you ready or would you be left behind? I urge you to give your heart and life to Christ today!

ii. Second, we must yield to Christ daily

The Scripture tells us that once saved the believer possesses One greater than Satan. The Bible says, "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!" Our victory is in daily submission to Christ.

iii. Thirdly, we must work in unity for Christ

Satan always seeks to divide. He will divide friends, family members, church members, and Christians in general.

A story from Dr. Billy Graham helps to relate the essence of this point. Billy Graham relates the follow story of his encounters with Satanist during his crusades:

“Another night in Chicago 300 Satan worshippers approached McCormick Place with the specific intent of taking over the platform and stopping the crusade service which was in progress. They announced their plan in advance, but I didn't dream they would actually try to storm the platform. We had just sung the second hymn of the evening. George Beverly Shea had sung a gospel song and Cliff Barrows was about to lead a massed choir in a great anthem of praise. At that moment a policeman rushed to the stage and whispered something into the ear of the mayor of Chicago, who was present that night to welcome us. At the same moment, the Satan worshippers forced their way past the ushers at the rear of that spacious auditorium and were proceeding down the back aisle toward the platform. There were more than 30,000 young people in that Youth Night service. Only those seated near the back saw the Satan worshippers enter. The mayor of Chicago turned to me and said, 'Dr. Graham, we'll let the police handle these intruders.' We never call in the police for crusade duty if we can help it. 'Let me try it another way, Mr. Mayor,’ I suggested. I then interrupted the choir's song and addressed the 30,000 young people there in McCormick Place. I explained, 'There are about 300 Satan worshipers now entering the auditorium. They say they're going to take over the platform. You can hear them coming now.' The crowd could hear the rising chant of the Satan worshipers. Everyone turned to see them moving with determination down the aisles, past the ushers who were working to restrain them.

They were causing a considerable disturbance by then. I continued addressing the crowd. 'I'm going to ask you Christian young people to surround these Satan worshipers,' I exhorted. 'Love them. Pray for them. Sing to them. And gradually ease them back toward the entrances through which they have come.' I will never forget that moment! Hundreds of young Christians stood to their feet and did exactly as I had asked. Some grabbed hands and began to sing. Others put their arms around the Satan worshipers and began to pray for them. Everyone else in McCormick Place sat praying as God's Spirit moved through His people to confound the work of Satan in our midst. I stood watching in silence. I waited and prayed until peace was restored and the service could resume. (Billy Graham, _Approaching Hoofbeats_, pp. 85-86.)

When God’s people are united in His service and love, we can surround people who are under the influence of Satanic power with prayer, and we can see God do amazing things in our presence.