Revelation chapter 6 and we'll take time to read from verse 1 - we're concentrating this evening on verse 8 of this chapter. This is the message, and I want to stress this before we begin, this is the message that I believe God wants me to give this evening - OK? That's important, that means that I believe God has this message for someone - maybe one, maybe two or maybe more people - in our gathering this evening. So it's important that as we look at the word of God, that you realise that this message could be for you.
Verse 1, and John - seeing a vision from God of things that are to come - he said: "I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth".
We know that God will bless the reading of His own truth. Let's come before Him, and if you're a believer let's pray and ask God to bless His word. Let us pray together: Our Father in heaven, we bow before Thee and we thank Thee for the word of God. We thank Thee for the power of the written page, but we know that this book is much more, for this book is inspired by Thy Holy Spirit. Therefore we pray that the One who has said He will reveal all truth unto us may come into this place and reveal the truth of the word of God by power to the heart of the unbeliever. Come and fill me, I pray, oh Holy Ghost. Come and descend upon us in convicting and in converting power, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
Let us read this verse again, verse 8 of chapter 6, John says: 'I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth'.
You may be here this evening, and you don't believe in God. I may be speaking to someone who doesn't believe that God is Almighty, that God is the Creator of the universe, you don't believe He even exists! You don't believe in a six-day creation, that God created all that we have in the world around us - you don't believe it! You refuse to believe in heaven, you don't believe in hell, you don't believe in any afterlife - once you're dead you're done for, you die as a dog, you're life's blown out like the light of a candle. You don't believe in Jesus Christ - maybe you're like some and you don't even believe that He lived, and if you believe that He lived you don't believe He's the Son of God, or God the Son. You don't believe that there was anything particularly special about this man, you certainly don't believe that He was born to be the Saviour of the world! You don't believe that He died at the cross to save you from your sin, or anybody from their sin.
Maybe you're like that. You certainly don't believe that after He died, whether He died for sin or not, that He raised from the dead. You don't believe that He's ascended to heaven, you don't believe He's alive now. You don't believe in the power of His blood to cleanse you from all sin. You don't believe in the preaching of the Gospel. You don't believe in any gift of eternal life. Maybe you believe it's all a Christian self-delusion. Maybe if I were to sever your arteries this evening, pouring from them would be blood - blood of an unbeliever, blood of an atheist, blood of an agnostic, running through your veins. You do not believe!
Can I say to you this evening: the subject I wish to preach on, there will not be one unbeliever in this building. Every one of you will be a convert to the message that I have to preach this evening. Now listen: I'm going to preach it from the Bible, and you mightn't believe in the Bible, you mightn't believe it's the word of God. I'm not going to preach it from the newspaper, or from politics, or from a periodical - I guarantee you that what I preach to you this evening, you're going to believe!
What is it? It's 'Death'. Do you believe in it, my friend? Do you? Do you believe that people die? Sure it's a thing that you, perhaps, live with day by day - but you live as if it didn't exist. It's a thing that we all prepare for with wills, insurance policies, all sorts of things - but we hate to talk about it. No matter how much we prepare for it, we never want to mention it - and we certainly don't want to hear about it from a gospel preacher, some Bible-basher.
For some of us it's a two-week wonder, isn't it? When someone in our family dies, or a friend is bereaved, all of a sudden it comes home to us that life at best is very brief, and you can't be sure of tomorrow - that we can be gone in an instant, we cannot boast about what we're going to do tomorrow - but usually it only lasts for a couple of weeks. Then the reality, the mundane drone of the materialistic life that we all live drowns out the loud scream of death.
This, imagine, it's one of the most real things in the whole of the world and in life, but rarely do we ever take it seriously enough to just, for one moment, think about the implications of it. Psychologists tell us that most of us laugh about it, it's one of the most popular subjects of humour - talking about undertakers, and funerals, and coffins - but behind that laugh, that great 'Ha, ha' that we all have around the subject of death, the psychologist tells us that it's because of our own insecurity with it. Because we can't talk about it seriously, or soberly, we have to joke about it to get it out of our conscience.
I suspect there are some of you sitting here and saying: 'I didn't come to listen to all this. I'm not here to listen about death'. Or maybe you're thinking about all the reasons that you're going to tell the person you're with that you'll not be coming back to this mission, or this church, to hear this - that man's just a scaremonger, they're all the same, all 'hell and damnation'. Listen: do you know what I hear from the public at large today and from the world? Do you know what they try and tell me? 'For goodness sake, why don't you preach about something that's real? Real issues, real things that matter and affect people's lives - social, racial, politics, current affairs and the like' - well, here it is! Here is the greatest current affair in the world today: death.
It's all around us. It's in every nation. It's in every town, and there are people this evening mourning those that they have lost in this very town. The book of the Revelation that we read from this evening, what it does is: it basically outlines the things that are still to come in our world, and the climax of world history that is still to come is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. But everything after that will all be heading towards the destruction of a sinful world that has rejected God and His Christ and His Gospel. The next thing that the Bible, and the book of the Revelation, prophesies about is what we were talking about with the young people last night. It's called the 'Rapture of the church'. It simply is Jesus coming to the sky and taking home to be with Him all those who love the Lord Jesus, all who are washed in His blood, all who are trusting in His death at Calvary to save them from their sin.
Have you ever asked yourself why He takes all the Christians away? Do you know why? It's to curse the earth, and He is going to curse the earth with a torrent of judgements. The Bible says that it is a time that the world has never seen before, the world will never see it repeated again, it is called the 'Great Tribulation' period. Jesus tells us through the revelation of Himself in this book, that there will be many disasters upon the earth, there will be bloody wars, holocausts, famine, global hunger, worldwide pestilence, earthquakes, an exhausting of all earthly wealth, destruction of earthly life, and a breaking up of earthly power and peace.
Look at Revelation 6, you can see it described in more detail in verses 12 to 17. Look at them, verse 12: 'And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?'
There is a day coming, my friend, and we have read about it from this passage of Scripture - and, specifically, verse 8 tells us about the fourth horseman of the apocalypse. Look at it, he is described in verse 8 as being a 'pale horse'. The Greek word in the New Testament that we get this description 'pale' from is the Greek word that we get the English word 'chlorophyll' from. Chlorophyll is the substance that runs through the veins of a plant to make it green, that pale green colour. Do you see what the Bible is saying? This horse is pale, it is a greeny pale, ashen pallor characteristic of white.
You know what it's like. You go to a wake, and you're taken up the stairs, and you look into a coffin and you see that colour. Pale, ashen, sickly, the colour of death itself. This fourth horse is that colour, and it says in the verse that God grants this horseman the authority to bring death to 25% of the world's population - that's a quarter of all the world! Under the three previous horsemen the Bible says that there was false peace brought, and then there was war, then there was famine, then there was disease - and, like the cavalry, number four horse gallops along and he comes to shovel the corpses that have died and to bury them in the hordes of hell!
On that pale horse, it says, was Death followed by Hell. You know, hell is a good partner for death because hell, my friend - your minister mightn't tell you, your church, or a Sunday School teacher, or an R.E. teacher mightn't tell you, but I'll tell you because your blood would be on my hands - hell is where you'll be if you don't trust Christ! All the dead are there because they're lost. My friend, as you've looked and you've listened, I know you probably haven't understood it all - but as you're thinking right now about what God has prophesied will happen, because God's going to bring it to happen, does it not put the fear of God into you? Does it not make you fear for your life? Does it not make you fear for the future, about what is to come?
Maybe you don't believe any of this: 'It's all a lot of nonsense. Fortune telling such stuff, and trying to make us fear about all the end of the world, how the world's going to go up in smoke one day' - well, let me ask you this: do you believe in death? Because God says that, whether it will be a day for you when this fourth horseman comes, whether it be then or it will be now - at some point in your life you will die! Have no doubts about it, that livid greenish pallor of death, whether it comes in the Great Tribulation or not, you can be sure that that great grey stallion will roam across the highway of your life one day. Death will come, and it will be just as devastating and just as paralysing for you as it will be for a quarter of the earth on that day when they will cry for the rocks and the mountains - whether they be kings or paupers - to fall on them, to shield them from the wrath and the anger of Jesus the crucified Christ of God. Prince or pauper, young or old, intelligent or foolish and ignorant, religious or blasphemous, nationalist or unionist, and even saved and lost - all of us, if Jesus Christ does not return, must die!
It may not come by murder, it may not come by disease, or war, or famine, or earthquakes - but, my friend, it will come! The Bible teaches that because of what Adam did in the garden of Eden, disobeying God, we are all in Adam - we're all related to him - and because we're all related to him, sin has been passed down to us all and we have received death by our sin. The future is bleak, the Bible says: 'There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death'. There is not one of you, not one of you my friend, that can hold onto your next breath - it's in the hands of God. Your soul is there, and when God wants to take it back to Himself, He will do it - not one of us have the power over our spirits or over the day of our death.
The Bible says that death, for many of us, will put an end to all our earthly projects - so much so that the prophet said: 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest'. It strips you of your earthly possessions, for we brought nothing into this world, the word of God says, and it is certain that we will take nothing out with us! It levels all ranks, God said that the small and the great are there in death. Will you be there? My friend, you can be sure - and I believe you believe you'll be there.
The Bible describes our life as a messenger on a horse that runs through the desert, you've seen them going through the town maybe on a motorbike taking the post. They're whizzing by, and that's what our life is like - Job says that it's like the span of a man's hand, it's like the weaver's shuttle as it goes round and round. The apostle James says it's like boiling the kettle, you watch the steam and it appears for a little time and then it vanishes away.
What will you do when God requires your soul? What are you going to do? Surely you believe in death? What are you going to do when God takes your soul away from you? When the divine rent man of the soul comes to collect your life again, when He comes to retrieve your debt of a life, what do you have to show Him for it? Jesus says: 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? He could gain the whole world, but lose his own soul'.
My friend, when you go where there is no return, when you go into the dust, when you descend into the silence, when you are cut down and your life flees as a shadow, what then? Will you be like a man in the Old Testament called Korah? He suffered the death of a false religion. Do you know what he tried to do? It says in the Bible that he offered strange fire to God, that means he tried to get to God his own way - that's maybe you! You're going to your church, and you're giving in, and you take Communion, and you're baptised, and you've done everything right as far as you can see - but you're trying to get to God not by the way of the cross and the blood of the cross. It says of this man Korah, who tried to get to God his own way and create another religion, the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all his goods. Why? Because he didn't go God's way.
Will it be the death of a rebellious son, like Absalom the son of David? He wanted to be king, he wanted to dethrone his father - and maybe you're here, and you're walking over the heart of your father, you're ignoring his prayers and his pleas for you to be saved. You go out and you have a wild night, and you come in and you don't care what happens, or what he feels, or what he thinks. It says of Absalom that he was taken up between the heaven and the earth, and the mule that was under him went away - his hair was caught in a tree and he was hung!
There are many who will die the death of a false religionist, who will die the death of a rebellious son, or who will die the death of a loose woman - like Jezebel. She was an immoral woman, worshipped false gods with her body. It says in the word of God that in her end, that they threw her down and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and they trod her underfoot - because she rejected God!
Will your death, my friend, be the death of a drunkard - like King Belshazzar? As he was there, mocking God, blaspheming the name of God, getting drunk in the face of God, and God wrote on the wall the writing: 'Thou art weighed and found wanting'. It says that his countenance changed, his knees knocked - and the word of God says that night Belshazzar was slain
Will it be the death of two Christian pretenders? We read about them in the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira - I don't know whether they were saved, or whether they weren't saved, but I know this: that they were imitating. They had sold a field, and they pretended that they were giving all the money into the church, but they kept a wee bit back for themselves. Maybe you wouldn't be as deceptive as that about your giving, but you would give the impression that you're a Christian - but you're not. God struck them down one after another, because they pretended to be something that they weren't!
Listen to me my friend: your pint of lager, and your packet of king size cigarettes, won't help you then! Your career, your family won't be able to pull you out of that black hole. Your denominational preference won't make hair's breadth of difference! To hear some people talk, you know, you'd think that God was going to look at their birth certificate - whether they were a Protestant or a Roman Catholic. That God, when they get to the pearly gates, is going to look at the Communion card, or the baptismal certificate, before He takes your soul! My friend, in God's name, will you waken up! For unless you have Christ, unless you're trusting in the death of Christ and the blood of Christ - His substitution for you - you'll die and you'll go to hell.
At the end it says Hell followed after Death - it didn't end there. The world views death in many ways, and they talk about what follows after death. Some say you'll come back as a tomcat, or a goldfish! Some say that you'll go to a place called purgatory, and you'll suffer for your sins. Some say that there's this limbo between heaven and earth, and it's neither one nor the other. My friend, listen: philosophy says he hopes to live again, science says he may live again, ethics says he ought to live again, atheism says he will never live again - Jesus Christ the Son of God says he will live again! As sure as night follows day, as sure as winter follows summer, death has in its wake: hell.
Can you see the scene? It's your house, it's the number on your door, it's your beloved car that's in the driveway, it's your son or daughter in the front living room, it's your husband or your wife making the tea - and they're all there, they're all gathered together with their hankies, and it's your wake! My friend, if you are not marked by the blood of Christ you will be in hell! That will be your wake! It's nothing to laugh about, for some of you are mighty near it. You're nearer to it this evening, and I believe if some of you knew how near you were to it, you'd be saved where you sit, where you are. Some of you have had close shaves in the past, and you're gambling with hell and with God - and anybody who gambles with God loses!
What are you going to do? Are you going to take a chance? Can I tell you: there is only one way out of hell. Listen, for if you miss this you miss everything: the remedy for death and the remedy for hell is found in 2 Timothy 1 and verse 10: 'Our Saviour Jesus Christ hath abolished death and hell, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel'. Do you see my blessed Lord Jesus? Out of love for your soul - your soul - out of love for you, my friend, out of a desire to keep you out of hell and to take you to heaven, out of a desire to free you from your sin and your booze, and all the habits and all the thoughts and all the filthy words that come out of your mouth, and all the self-religiosity and self-righteousness that you have within your heart of pride - He wanted to save you from it all! He loved you so much that He went to that cross, and He bled and He died and He suffered.
Oh, how He suffered physically - but oh how He suffered spiritually! The word of God says that God poured out His soul as an offering for sin. Like an atomic bomb going off in a matchbox, Jesus Christ was punished for your sin. Have you ever known love like that? I know your wife loves you, or your husband, or your children love you - but do they love you like that? My friend, you will never know a love like that, for there is no love like that - it's an eternal love, it's an everlasting love, it's a love that the world or the universe will never see, because it's a love that was willing to go through, almost literally, the fires of hell so that you wouldn't have to!
Now, if you want, on your way out you can name to me somebody who would go and suffer an eternity of hell for you in three hours - but I'll not believe you. There is only one who would be willing to do that, and that's Jesus Christ. As His glorious spirit left His body on the cross, it was as if He jumped down off the cross and grabbed hold of the very devil himself and put handcuffs on him. It was as if He went down to the very fires of hell and He extinguished them for you, if you trust Him, and for me because I believe, by His own blood. Martin Luther said: 'If one drop of blood was to fall into the caverns of the damned it would extinguish hell for all eternity'.
Praise God, there is power in the blood of Christ! There is power in the death of Christ to set you free from death and hell, and from your sin and all that the world, the flesh, and the devil would pour over you! We can say, who know Christ, who have trusted in his death: 'Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?'. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law, but thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
What about you? Now listen: there was once I preached on a message similar in the gospel to this, and there was a woman that went out the door - it was a mission - and she walked home, and she walked down the side of the river, and she fell! She broke her leg, she was lying there and she thought she was going to die - but by the grace and the mercy of God she didn't die, and she was found. She was brought to the hospital, and one of the elders of the meeting went up to visit her and to talk to her about her soul - but she had no interest!
I believe that there's someone here, and you could have stared death in the face, and you still haven't believed. I have heard of men who have taken three heart attacks in a row, sitting in front of their son who's a saved boy, yet it wasn't enough to bring them to Christ. Do you know what you need my friend? You need saved, you need born-again, you need to trust the Saviour's death at Calvary. You need to turn from your sin, repent of it, forsake it and leave it for good. Turn to Him, you need to ask Him and plead with Him to save you and to show mercy to you, so that you'll never go to hell!
Let us bow our heads. I said at the beginning of this meeting that this was a message, and I believe it's for someone, or some people, in this building. I don't know why God gave you this message, but it doesn't take Einstein to think about it - for we're all going to die, but how will you die my friend? Will you die without Christ and without hope? Or will you die safe in the arms of Jesus, and safe in His gentle care? Why not ask Him to save you now? Say: 'Lord', from your heart, pray, 'Lord, I repent of my sin, I turn from it, I forsake it. I turn to You, and I trust what the Lord Jesus Christ did for me at the cross of Calvary. I ask You to cleanse me with His blood. Lord, save me, take my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen'.
If you've done that this evening, from your heart by faith, please tell us at the door because we want to pray for you. We'll not embarrass you or anything like that. If you want to talk to me I'll be at the door, and we can go somewhere private and discuss this matter a bit more if you want some help to get right with God. There are some booklets at the door on the table on your right on the way out, if you're down this aisle, and on your left down this one. My friend, listen: you don't know what the next hour, even, will bring. The one thing we can all know is this: that if we have Christ, we need not fear.
Our Father in heaven, we ask that there would be none in this place this evening who, as they fear and face the valley of the shadow of death, will not know the reality of the abiding presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Come and abide with some soul this evening, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Kilkeel Baptist Church, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "Death" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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