If you are, dear reader, be sure you are clear on who or, should I say, what may arrive.
“I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” (Revelations 6:1.2)
The rider on the white horse is the first of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, yet his purpose is up for debate.
Some say, as in the passage above, that the first rider is a conqueror; the presence of the bow and a victor’s (assumed) crown would support this. If this is the case, then this would also support the fairy-tale image of a knight in shining armour, riding up on his white horse to rescue the princess. After all, the knight is presumed to be successful – having defeated the dragon and beating those that have come before him. As such, dear reader, he could be termed a conqueror.
The first horseman has also been interpreted as representing righteousness; the colour white tending to symbolize this, from a biblical point of view. Biblical interpretations also have the horseman being Christ or the Holy Spirit. Not really sure they thought that one through!!
The most common interpretation, attributed to popular culture, is that of the first horseman representing pestilence (infectious disease or plague). This is more in keeping with the view of the four horsemen bringing about the apocalypse.
This interpretation appeared at least as early as 1916 in the Jewish encyclopaedia.
The bible refers to ‘plague’ or ‘pestilence’ in connection with the four horsemen, but as it is in the passage following the introduction of the fourth horseman, it is unclear whether it refers to him or to the four as a collective.
Vincente Blasco Ibanez (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1916) writes, ‘the horseman on the white horse was clad in a showy and barbarous attire…while his horse continued galloping, he was bending his bow in order to spread pestilence abroad. At his back swung a brass quiver filled with poisoned arrows, containing the germs of all diseases.’
I would suggest the lesson here, dear reader, is to be clear on what you want when summoning that knight on a white horse…
Are you still waiting?
May fear protect you when the darkness comes.
Til next time.