The second horseman, riding the red horse, stirs up the second beast in Daniel 7 and hence begins the Second Signpost, i.e. the invasion of the Middle East by Iran. This is written about in my book, Daniel Revisited. There are several major geopolitical conditions of the Middle East today that will change at the start of the Second Signpost when the second horseman rides.
The Second Signpost and its changes will envelop the entire Middle East. Interestingly, we are already seeing three of these changes with IS, the Islamic State, just within the territory under their control. These are changes we have not generally seen in the heart of the Middle East since the abolition of the last Caliphate in the 1920’s. Could this mean that IS is a signal that the red horseman is about to come out?
Reason #1 – Sunni-Shia Conflict
The first geopolitical change is that since the Second and Third Signposts comprise a great Middle East Sunni-Shia War, we should expect an ongoing Sunni-Shia conflict in the region to increase in intensity. In this earlier post I wrote that IS seems to me to be the last stage prior to the Iranian invasion. I cited the fact that IS intensified the Sunni-Shia conflict raging in Syria and brought it to just outside of Baghdad, basically Iran’s front door. This would be the first reason IS might be a signal that the second horseman is being called forth.
Reason #2 – National Boundary Erasure
The second geopolitical condition that will change in the Middle East is that the old national boundaries set by the European powers during the 1920s following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, will be erased and redrawn. The European powers defined the boundaries of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, the Gulf States almost one hundred years ago, and now the boundaries of all these nations will change wholesale. Some boundaries will be erased completely as many countries currently existing will no longer exist politically – most likely countries like Iraq and Kuwait. For other countries like Turkey, Iran and Syria, the boundaries will be redrawn as territory changes hands and countries grow in territory or shrink in territory.
This can be thought of as the second reason IS may be a harbinger of the Second Signpost and the second horseman. IS has essentially erased most of the old political boundary between Syria and Iraq. The regimes of those nations do not have sovereign control up to those old boundaries. Those governments cannot give safe passage to people in those regions. The checkpoints at those borders between those two nations no longer exist. Yes there have been some boundary changes in the past with Israel and Yemen, but those nations are not among the chief players of the Signposts.
Reason #3 – Butchering
Finally, there is a third reason IS may be the harbinger of the second horseman, seen in a third condition of the Middle East. The Middle East has always seen war. In the twentieth century and up to today, soldiers and civilians have been dying as casualties of war – having been mostly shot, or caught in a bomb’s blast. The word used in Revelation 6:4 to describe the authority given the second horseman is interesting. I only noticed its rather unique meaning this past month (and it should have been noted in Daniel Revisited).
The English word “kill” or “slay” is used several times in the New Testament. The Greek word used 70 times behind “kill” is apokteino (Strong’s #615, ap-ok-tay’-no) and is defined as just that – to kill, to deprive of life, to inflict death, and to do it by any means. It is used in such instances as in Matthew 10:28 when Jesus tells us to not fear those who kill the body, or in John 7:1 where the Jews were seeking to kill Jesus. Another is in Revelation 9:18 where it says one third of mankind was killed by three plagues.
But the word for “kill” or “slay” in Revelation 6:4 is different. The verse says,
“Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.” (NIV, emphasis mine)
The Greek word used for slay is sphazo (Strong’s #4969, sfad’-zo) and is defined as killing with great violence, or to butcher. It speaks of a particular kind of death – an awful one, a painful one, and even a tortuous one. This word is only used 10 times in the New Testament. It is used four times in Revelation 5:6, 9, 12 and 13:8 to refer to the Lamb that was slain. Indeed our Lord experienced an excruciating death for our sakes, to save us from our sins. “Sphazo” is also used in Revelation 6:9 and 18:24 for those who are slain on the earth because they were witnesses of Jesus. It is used in 1 John 3:12 to refer to the way Cain killed his brother Abel. (Incidentally, in movies we might see Cain killing Abel with one blow usually from the back of the head – but this word “sphazo” suggests Cain gave his brother a much more painful and violent death. That’s a little insight that I wasn’t expecting.)
And “sphazo” is used in Revelation 6:4 to refer to the way that men are to kill one another under the authority of the second horseman. Prior to IS, yes, men were always killing each other in the Middle East. But with IS, butchering has become the norm. If you haven’t been poking around the internet for pictures or videos coming out of IS-held regions you have missed all the beheadings using small knives which are used to saw off a person’s head. (Sorry for the gruesome detail but butchering is gruesome and it needs to be known because of what is about to happen in the Middle East.) This kind of death can only be savage and tortuous. Sometimes swords and machetes are used to hack and slash people.
If what we are seeing with the IS is indeed a preview of the kind of killing unleashed under the second horseman, we are about to witness a bloodbath with the Second and quite possibly Third Signposts. The world seems shaken a bit by the magnitude of the bloodletting going on. But it will quite possibly shake the world as to the great magnitude of it witnessed during the Second Signpost. Iran’s leadership has said in the past that their mission is to take their Islamic Revolution to the rest of the Middle East. It looks like it will not be characterized by warfare in the past, but warfare as we are seeing it now under IS.
And remember, the bear is told to get up and gorge itself in Daniel 7. Bears don’t kill efficiently like lions and tigers – they kill by mauling.
And this mode of killing fits Scripture describing the Third Signpost, where the goat attacks the ram in an embittered, personal rage as it says in Daniel 8:7. The armies of the Sunni Confederation will most likely partake in some of this kind of killing as well.
IS is escalating the Sunni-Shia conflict, is erasing the old political boundaries, and is violently butchering people on a scale not seen before, all within its territory. These are traits seen as occurring during the Second Signpost which we have not seen in recent memory. With IS we are quite possibly being given a preview of what the Second Signpost may very well be like as awful as that may be.
But if this new Signpost Theory is indeed the unsealing of Daniel, we are about to see the next great prophetic sign called out in God’s Word revealing the coming of our Messiah! And that is exciting. God may be using IS to tell us that the next Signpost is at the door.