A multistrained swine flu has infected nearly 2,000 people in Mexico, it is believed, killing up to 149 as of Monday just in that one country. According to authorities, this flu is an animal strain of the H1N1 virus that killed around 50 million people in 1918.
The United States declared a state of emergency on the weekend when at least 20 people were identified with the virus. Cases have also been identified in Canada, New Zealand and Spain. European Union Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou went so far as to warn EU citizens against traveling to America or Mexico. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, warned that the virus has “pandemic potential” and is a “public health event of international concern.”
“We have determined that this virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on its website. In Mexico City, the government has canceled all public events, from ministerial speaking engagements to rock concerts. Schools have been closed and millions have been cautioned against going to work. Soldiers and police have handed out 2 million face masks in the city.
For those familiar with Bible prophecy, the sea of face-masked people in Mexico City and widespread fear of a global flu pandemic brings to mind the image of the pale, or sickly, horse of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, as described by the Apostle John in the book of Revelation.
The first three horsemen of the apocalypse symbolize religious deception, war, and famine. Along with the fourth horseman, pestilence, these riders represent the end-time culmination of the most traumatic problems endured by a rebellious mankind. They picture one of the most ominous scenarios ever.
“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” (Revelation 6:7-8).
The key to the identity of the last horseman is the word pale, which often makes us think of someone who is feeling sick, having an anemic-looking appearance. Pale is translated from the Greek chloros, which we would normally take to mean the color of chlorophyll, the property that gives plants their healthy green appearance. When used biblically, however, chloros means the sickly pale green color of sickness and disease.
In Matthew 24, Christ the Revelator unlocks the true identity of this pale green horse: “and there shall be … pestilences” (verse 7). The man on the pale horse symbolizes climactic, globe-encircling plagues and pandemics occurring and soon to occur in this modern age!
The only reason for this type of extreme punishment is man’s unabated rebellion toward his Creator God. “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth” (Daniel 9:13). The book of Daniel is an end-time prophecy (Daniel 12:4, 9).
Let’s examine Deuteronomy 28 (part of the law of Moses) and add modern-day expressions to see more clearly how this warning applies to our time now. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee …. The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption [chronic, degenerate diseases such as aids], and with a fever, and with an inflammation [malaria or communicative diseases such as influenzas], and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew … with the botch of Egypt [elephantiasis], and with the emerods [tumors, cancer, etc.], and with the scab, and with the itch [aggravated psoriasis and other nutrient-deficiency diseases such as scurvy, rickets, etc.], whereof thou canst not be healed [incurable or drug-resistant diseases] … with madness [mental illness, insanity] and blindness and astonishment of heart [emotional distresses such as depression]” (Deuteronomy 28:15, 21-22, 27-28).
The next verse (verse 29) graphically depicts the utter hopelessness of mankind suffering from these and the many other innumerable scourges of our generation.
In America, health care remains a controversial subject among lawmakers. Billions of dollars are spent annually. We have too many problems already to try to satisfactorily deal with new ones that seem to pop up without warning. To make matters worse, we live in a small world. And what about the prospect of blatant terrorist acts to damage air, soil or water quality?
Millions are prophesied to die because they fail to heed God’s warnings to turn to Him with the type of contrite attitude necessary to please Him (Isaiah 66:2). God wants true repentance—a turning away from the carnal “human nature” that we possess to the spiritual nature God originally intended us to develop.
Beyond the suffering, however, Jesus Christ is returning to this Earth to bring it all the joy and happiness man has continually sought after! God will mercifully end the deadly sweep of the four horsemen just before they eradicate mankind from off the Earth.
Whether the current outbreak of swine flu will grow to pandemic levels remains to be seen, but disease epidemics are certain to come. For more on this fourth horseman of the apocalypse, as well as the other three, read our booklet The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. •