With just about any new theory, there are areas of debate and areas that require more thought. The Signpost theory of interpretation of Daniel 7 and 8 is no exception. There are some who have a hard time accepting that the four horsemen are tied to the four beasts of Daniel 7; that each horseman introduces the next Signpost. It takes time, also, to study, meditate and pray about new insights to sense if they are true.
The colors of the horses and the fact that the horsemen have authority over one quarter of the earth (the Islamic quarter) have been enough for many, including me. This recent post also adds to the evidence by positing that the four horsemen are indeed the four winds of heaven that Daniel observed in Daniel 7:2. This connection has helped several people to connect the dots.
Of those who can accept that the four horsemen are tied to the Four Signposts in Daniel 7 and 8, another point of debate exists. The second horseman and war within the Second Signpost seems easy enough for most, as do famine and death being parallel to the Third and Fourth Signposts.
However, the one horseman that seems to have a tough time finding acceptance with some is the first horseman and the fact that Signpost theory posits that it was fulfilled with Saddam Hussein. I have heard some state roughly the same general statement: “I just cannot believe the first horseman is fulfilled by Saddam Hussein. Compared to the Antichrist, Saddam is insignificant.”
Saddam’s Fulfillment of Revelation 6:2
To review the situation, let us begin with Scripture. The only thing said about the first horseman is found in Revelation 6:2 where it says, “I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” (NIV)
Chapter 9 of Daniel Revisited can tell you why Saddam Hussein is an exact fulfillment to this prophetic verse in regards to the white horse, the crown, riding out as a conqueror, being bent on conquest, the bow, and even the lack of mention of arrows, which to me is incredible. The fact that the first horseman leading off the First Signpost which involves Iraq adds to the candidacy of Saddam as the fulfillment.
Saddam Hussein does indeed check off all the boxes for fulfillment in Revelation 6:2. In addition, if we are at the doorstep of the Second Signpost with the second horseman about to ride out, who else can come close to being the fulfillment of Revelation 6:2, but Saddam Hussein? I have heard no proposed candidates in the three years that this blog has been online.
First Horseman Starting Birth Pangs vs. Tribulation
This post will do what Daniel Revisited does not, and that is to take a step back and briefly consider reasons why in the overall end-time picture Saddam Hussein might just be a great fit after all. We are not looking here at the fulfillment by Saddam Hussein as the first horseman (that’s already done), but we will look at Saddam and his place in the end time prophetic picture.
It is my belief that the objections are more emotional than anything else. The objections so far to Saddam Hussein haven’t really had a logical argument – similar to the emotional objections that the Antichrist will not be European, or that the lion with wings is not ancient Babylon, though the evidence in Scripture and history is overwhelming.
Almost everything I have read in the past, where scholarly works date back a couple centuries, states that the first horseman on the white horse is the Antichrist. This is logical when the Signposts are unknown – when the only time period of any length we know of is the seven-year Tribulation itself. It follows quite easily that all seven seals of Revelation are broken during those seven years. The Tribulation provides a framework in which the seals can all be broken. When else would they be broken? However, with the Signposts, the first four seals are broken prior to the Tribulation.
And the Tribulation begins with a bang – the Antichrist takes power, makes a covenant with many, and begins to assert his will on much of the earth if not all of it. Following the Antichrist during the Tribulation is war, famine and death (the other three horsemen that follow) which all are in his train being the result of the Antichrist’s actions. It has been easy to see the first horseman at the Antichrist.
For decades and more we have all been told this interpretation. But like all the other points and thoughts we have been brainwashed into believing, we need to soberly reexamine all the things we thought were true. The end times present a whole new world of exploration when the Signposts are considered. Who would have thought in the days when The Late Great Planet Earth first came out in 1970, that 45 years later the supposed main stage – Europe – would be in such a state of relative calm and helplessness, riddled with debt, no great energy resources, spinelessness with its leaders, and multiculturalism taking over even while Muslims multiply in number in the major countries there?
And who would have thought that events in the Middle East would have ascended to such a crescendo where nations are turning to Islamist ways on par with original Islam of the eighth century AD, where barbarism is becoming the norm, the ongoing Sunni-Shia conflict threatens to explode, and Iran is showing every sign of completely upsetting the apple cart there by breaking out in an invasion that will completely change the face of the Middle East from that which was originally set up by the European powers? (Sorry for that last long sentence but it seemed appropriate.) And let’s not forget the militants in this very same Middle East who flew three airliners into major skyline features and symbols of American military and economic might. Who could have seen that coming in 1970?
But the Signposts have completely rearranged the end time landscape. The four horsemen begin not with the Tribulation, but with the birth pangs called out by Christ in Matthew 24 – the deception, the war, the famine, and the shakings. (And this is the topic of another post to come soon. These birth pangs are the Signposts.) Instead of starting with a bang like the Tribulation, how might the birth pangs begin? With a relative whimper? Just about any woman who has borne a child will tell you that it starts with contractions and pains that are minor compared to those last moments when the child is about to emerge from the womb. Therefore, it should follow that any candidate for the first horseman will likely be less significant if it represents the start of the birth pangs rather than the beginning of the Tribulation.
Hearken back to our earlier time when we were ignorant of the Signposts, when we considered really the only candidate for the first horseman, the Antichrist. He is to be a great leader. More than that, he is to be one of the greatest leaders in terms of the percentage of earth’s inhabitants’ lives that are affected – on par with the effects of Nimrod, and greater than that of Hitler, Mao or Genghis Khan.
But if the picture painted by Revelation 6 is that the first horseman is to be a leader, and that the tie in to the beasts of Daniel 7 make it associated only with Iraq and the countries around it, and time-wise he rides out at the start of the birth pangs, then what other conclusion can we arrive at?
Of course Saddam Hussein is minor compared to the coming Antichrist. He starts the Signposts, the birth pangs – not the Tribulation where the child itself is being birthed. Perhaps it is time to reconsider that the first horseman even needs to the most influential person. Let us also consider the only other rider of a white horse in Revelation 19:11, the one with many crowns as the most influential person.
Other Prophetic Considerations
In the grand scheme of the prophetic picture, perhaps we can see Saddam Hussein as having some greater significance due to the time of his arrival, and some of his actions.
He came to power on July 16, 1979. This would be the breaking of the first seal, where Daniel is to be sealed until the end-time. Islam officially began on (according to the Julian calendar) July 16, 622 AD. That is the 1,357th anniversary of Islam in our calendar, but to the Muslim lunar calendar, our year 1979 was exactly 14 centuries. Could we possibly say, then, that after 14 centuries of the Islamic realm’s existence by Islam’s own reckoning, the unsealing of Daniel and the end-times begin with Saddam Hussein on July 16 in that very same realm?
(Note: Interestingly the seeds of the Second Signpost were also planted in 1979 when the Islamic Republic of Iran started April 1, 1979.)
Saddam Hussein’s actions also hearken to some prophetic significance. He viewed himself as a reincarnation of King Nebuchadnezzar II, the very king that destroyed Jerusalem. He even rebuilt Nebuchadnezzar’s palace and some of the ancient city of Babylon. It’s as if Saddam’s life ties modern end-time Iraq to its ancient progenitor, Babylon.
Again, hearkening back to our pre-Signpost-cognizant days, if we were happy to assign the lion with wings in Daniel 7 to the original Nebuchadnezzar and the little horn to the Antichrist, why can’t we be satisfied with (where Daniel 7 is now the “history” of the end times) our new view of Daniel 7, where Saddam Hussein originally led the lion with wings and where it ends with the little horn still being the Antichrist?
In conclusion, I believe our preconceptions of the Antichrist, the Tribulation, and the four horsemen force us to think of the first horseman as some great earth-affecting leader. I believe it is time to reconsider the first horseman in the light of the Signpost interpretation, that he represents a leader, of Iraq the lion that was forced to stand, and that he heralds the beginning of the birth pangs, not the horror that will be the Tribulation. It is time to see that the first horseman does not herald an earth-breaking leader like the Antichrist, but merely the leader of the first nation in this Mideast parade of nations leading to Christ’s Return.
I also suspect, what with Saddam’s obsession with King Nebuchadnezzar and his arrival on the anniversary date of Islam’s emergence, that there are other significant factors about Saddam Hussein’s prophetic significance waiting to be realized.
Categories: Material for a Future Book, Signpost #1: Iraq, Signpost Theology
I’m so glad Mark you are finally taking on your critics and defending your work! I must admit it does take time to work through your interpretation of Daniel 7 & 8 and the first four pre-tribulation seals of Revelation. To challenge long held traditional understanding of these passages held by the church is no easy task. For tradition does indeed have its place as protector of truth, God’s truth. But if that tradition does not hold up to scrutiny and careful examination then that is the time for a re-evaluation.
It does appear that God is in the process of doing stage-setting for the second signpost which then will validate your first signpost which is the topic of your post in hindsight. Unfortunately, that is how the vast majority of the church views prophecy, after the fact. Most prophecy interpretations are viewed with suspicion by the church. We all know too well how foolish those who are called “chicken littles” when what they claim does not come to fruition.
I know this first hand. I am a member of conservative church body. I just now finally got approval from church leadership to show Joel’s first DVD on prophecy to my church. I can only attribute this to the hand of God in the minds of these male church leaders. It certainly was not me and my paltry human persuasion.
Mark, I’m glad you’ve written more on the first signpost. But I have a question (one that the website p2alm.com also asks):
If the white-horse rider is identified as a SPECIFIC man, should not the OTHER riders also be specifically named persons? If not, it doesn’t seem logically consistent to name one rider and leave the others to generic categories.
Also — how much did Sadam Hussein actually conquer? Even in his attempt on Kuwait, he was beaten back.
I hope these questions aren’t taken as impertinent. These four apocalyptic figures, having confounded Bible scholars for generations, make difficult questions no affront.
I’m somewhat drawn to the famous four, all decked out in the pan-Arab colors of white, red, black, green, as representative of Satan’s final advancing, conquering, destroying, killing kingdom:
One can see the white steed as Islam’s conquering culturally, growing exponentially (you know — all those ‘moderate’ Muslims adhering to the same Quran that goads the ‘extremists’, who obediently follow that book’s instructions as they blindly brutalize, oppress, and slay the infidels). And even if the bow, named without its arrows, still does in itself means WARRING conquests, the last 1400 years of Islamic history are stamped with CONQUEST.
ISIS rampages, as well as the lesser blood-lettings spouting out all over the globe, easily reflect the red horse. Endless “wars and rumors of wars” spawned from the same we-love-death-more-than-you-love-life ‘believers’.
The impoverishment that comes through Islamic subjugation, as its minions DE-civilize thriving cultures, is also well shown in history. As Dr. Bill Warner points out in his You Tube video, “Why We Are Afraid: a 1400-Year-Old Secret”, economies of centuries past were wrecked, as Islam advanced. Warner even maintains that the Dark Ages were a result of Islamic conquests, and not from the Germanic barbarian infiltrations. He claims the Germanic hordes embraced the advantages of classic civilization, and profited thereby. Conversely, Islamic wars (548 in total !) destroyed libraries, progress, economies. (Just this week — news of ISIS invading Iraqi libraries of culture, burning books). Classical civilizations vanished as the prophet’s warriors crushed them down.. He notes that recent archaeological finds support this interpretation of history. All this wreckage, despite the much touted “Golden Age”, where slavery and sword tenaciously flourished. Satan’s black horse of ruined economies, well attested by history.
As for the green (chloros) horse, the death-and-hell rider and steed fully speak of the final fruits of the Destroyer. I was taken aback to learn of the glorification of green by Mohammed, and in Islamist writings and architecture.
These descriptions have the hard edge of historical truth. But may our love for the precious Muslims be soft! They are those whom God loves with an everlasting love, whom He desires to shower redemption upon, and His assurance of salvation. God grant us as followers of our Messiah-Savior, to be gentle, embracing, and compassionate toward precious Muslim souls.
I’m sharing with 2 pastors. One is Hispanic with small church, however he meets with many other Hispanics.
This does take some getting used to but it is correct. The other views kept a fog over ALL the scriptures.
The whole group, Joel, Daniel Training, all these sites listed on your and others sites are doing a great work. Might as well throw Shoebat in with you guys. I use him as dynamite on the brain to shake people up and force them to rethink.
I print stuff out. I believe in the power of reading and rereading and building a complex book to reference.
I have never seen the first horseman as the commencement of the tribulation and thought they were perhaps ages or eras prior to it. When you brought up the timeline as beginning in ’79 it did occur to me that Israel began to take over Jerusalem ten years earlier. This seems significant to the horsemen for some reason. Also wanted to post a link to Krauthammer’s article on Iran that was written recently…
I’m sure many of us individually have believed that way about the horsemen, but everything I have read from a premillennial, futurist perspective has taken the “during the Tribulation” position.
Thanks for the link. Many readers will find it useful I’m sure.
Hmm, Saddam took power on July 16, 1979. Just did a google search, just for kicks:
July 16, 1979 on the Hebrew Calendar is:
Baal Shem of Worms (1636)
Laws and Customs
“The Three Weeks”
During the Three Weeks, from 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of Av, we commemorate the conquest of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Holy Temple and the dispersion of the Jewish people.
Weddings and other joyful events are not held during this period; like mourners, we do not cut our hair, and various pleasurable activities are limited or proscribed. (The particular mourning customs vary from community to community, so consult a competent halachic authority for details.)
Citing the verse (Isaiah 1:27) “Zion shall be redeemed with mishpat [Torah] and its returnees with tzedakah,” the Rebbe urged that we increase in Torah study (particularly the study of the laws of the Holy Temple) and charity during this period.
So, Saddam rose to power on the fourth day of the “three weeks” that Nebuchadnezzar’s armies invaded Jerusalem, smashed the walls (Tammuz 17) and destroyed the temple (9th of Av).
It turns out your comment got caught by the spam filter, but I un-spammed it.
To answer your questions and comments –
1) About the horseman being a man versus conditions – There is no rule saying the horsemen all have to be one thing or another. However, each horseman introduces a change in conditions with each Signpost. The second introduces war and with the Second signpost we will see war on a grand scale not seen in a long time. For the First Signpost it is a leader – Iraq has to have a certain leader to set the stage for the first signpost to happen.
2) Saddam didn’t actually conquer – I talk about this in the book briefly on p. 156. Rev. 6:2 itself gives us the answer. It says of the horseman – “he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” It’s a curious way to say this. Why not simply say he was a conqueror who conquered? Why is it “as a conqueror” as if he is possibly a fake conqueror. Also, the length of time doesn’t matter really. History views Emperor Trajan as a conqueror even though Rome held on to his conquests about as long as Saddam held on to his own (Kuwait 6 months, Khuzestan 7 months). In the end, Saddam didn’t conquer anything permanently.
3) No impertinence detected. There are a lot of thing to remember, and only I have had the luxury of ten years studying this to get it right and I am still learning, so no worries.
4) When it says “Islam’s Golden Age” that refers to Islam’s position in its world-class military and economic supremacy allowing it to trample with gusto.
Just found this article… looks like fox news aired it. Iran may have an ICBM.