Q: Is the apocalypse the end times?
A: Apocalypse is our English version of a Greek word found in the New Testament. It literally means an unveiling, and it is often translated as revelation. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1). The last book in the Bible records the events of the last Days, with much of the book dealing with the Last Day or the 7th Day of God’s prophetic great Week. It is also known as the Day of the Lord.
What most people think of when they hear the word is a visual that comes from Revelation 6—the four horsemen of the first four seal judgments. Jesus first revealed these last Day events as signs for this current age—what we commonly call the 2,000 years of the Church Age. That may surprise some Christians who associate the horsemen with a future time—even if they sense that Christ’s return is near.
Revelation 6 actually reviews the signs of this age as Jesus taught them in the Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. The first horseman rides a white horse, and represents the false religions and religious wars described in Mathew 24:4-5. The second horseman rides a red horse, and represents the warfare, conflict, and ethnic cleansing described in Matthew 24:6. The third horseman rides a black horse, and represents the famine and lack described in Matthew 24:7. The fourth horseman rides a pale horse, and represents the pestilence and natural calamities described in Matthew 24:8.
In Revelation 6:8-11 we see the martyrs under the altar, crying out for judgment to avenge their blood. This fifth seal is the fifth sign Jesus identified; it correlates to the persecution described in Matthew 24:9.
What we need to see is that these are not future events. We are experiencing them now as the tribulation of this age. These tribulation signs last until the 6th and final sign that signals that this age is done and the Age to Come is about to dawn. It dawns with the rapture. The final sign of total darkness in the heavens are the same celestial disturbances of the 6th seal (Rev. 6:11-17).
This means we do not have to fear the four horsemen. We’ve been living with their actions throughout the history of the Church. What we need to be doing, instead, is alerting people that this age is quickly coming to a close.
Within this next decade we will see the 6th and final sign of total darkness. Our Lord told us that when we see this, our redemption shall be fulfilled—the rapture. We need to focus on winning the lost so they do not have to suffer through the rest of the seal and bowl judgments described in Revelation. All those who are Christ’s shall be delivered from the wrath of that Day.