“When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” (Rev. 6:7-8)
It takes a while to understand why PreWrathers give some very weird interpretations to some very straightforward passages of Scripture. See my article on how PreWrath treats the mourning of Israel as mentioned in the New Testament to get an idea of some of the strange turns they take. In this article, however, I hope to unravel before you not only an awkward interpretation they give to the verses above, but the reasons they are making this maneuver. There is always an underlying reason why people force an unnatural interpretation on a verse or passage, and it’s seldom a result of sound exegesis, as they would like to claim.
One such “interpretation” is the PreWrath interpretation of the 4th seal judgment. I truly do ask, what is there not to understand here about the 4th seal? The Tribulation, spanning from chapter 6 to chapter 19 of Revelation, is a series of blows and judgments, delivered one by one in three sets of seven: the seven seal judgements, the seven trumpet judgments, and the seven bowl judgments. You might imagine how bad things are when, already at the opening of the 2nd seal, peace is removed from the earth and people start killing each other. Well, that’s just the start.
By the time we reach the 4th seal, which must be not long afterwards, power is given to Death and Hades to kill a fourth of the inhabitants of the earth. People are killed by four methods: “with sword [i.e. violence/war], with hunger, with death [simply dying], and [lastly] by the beasts of the earth.” Sounds quite simple and straightforward, and it sounds like a harsh judgment to me.
But no. According to PreWrath spearheads Chris White and Alan Kurschner, “beasts of the earth” should be interpretted differently. It’s a mistake. It should be translated “the Beast.” When the 4th seal is opened, people are being killed by “the Beast”, i.e. by the Antichrist (footnote 1). Hmmm.
Do PreWrathers have support for this from any Bible translations? Well, no, they don’t. All Bible translations, without exception, translate ‘beasts’ (animals), not “the Beast.” Check it out here:
- “beasts of the earth” (KJV, NKJV, Berean, Douay-Rheims, LSV and NAB)
- “wild beasts of the earth” (NIV, AMP, NASB 1977, NASB 1995, ESV, ASV and Weymouth)
- “wild animals” (NLT, CEV and World English Bible)
- “wild animals of the earth” (NASB, CSB, HCSB, ISV, NET, NRSV)
- Other translations include “animals of the earth” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English), “beasts of the land” (Young’s), and my three Hebrew translations, including the renowned Delitzsch, which translate in similar manner.
Somehow it never crossed the minds of any of the Bible translators or translation committees to translate “the Beast” here, until PreWrathers came to the rescue. This is interesting because it would seem that PreWrath champions know something about the original Greek that all other Greek scholars do not. Perhaps Bible translators should first take a course with PreWrathers Chris White and Alan Kurschner to brush up on their Greek?
Why Are They Doing This?
Always when the plain sense is not accepted and awkward alternatives are taken (though this interpretation doesn’t even seem like an alternative, just a forced interpretation), I ask myself “Why? Why on earth are they doing this?!”
Well, it took me a while to figure the reason out, but here it is. Apparently the straightforward interpretation of the 4th seal, with its “beasts of the earth”, breaks a few principles that PreWrath is trying hard to guard. Hence the change.
Here are the three principles a straightforward interpretation of the 4th seal breaks for PreWrath:
Firstly, it breaks their “apparent peace until the 6th seal” concept.
I’ll explain. PreWrathers understand quite well that the Day of the Lord comes crashing upon the inhabitants of the earth like a sudden storm. 1 Thess 5:2-3a: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them…”.
It follows that if the Day of the Lord comes suddenly while people are saying “peace and safety”, then it wouldn’t make any sense that a quarter of the inhabitants of the earth would be killed violently just before the Day of the Lord arrives, otherwise people wouldn’t be saying “peace and safety.” (This is, in fact, is one of my main arguments against PreWrath). Therefore, if the interpretation of the 4th seal can be changed to mean something else, for istance that it’s actually “persecution against Christians only,” orchestrated by the Antichrist, then PreWrathers could try and get away with that, saying that at least “the world is experiencing a false sense of peace and safety while only Christians are being massacred”. Therefore, interpretting “The Beast” instead of “wild beasts” would aid this purpose, even if there is zero support for it from any reputable Bible translation, or any translation at all.
And so, PreWrathers promote viewing the 4th seal as “a persecution of Christians only.” So the next question is, how on earth did they get to Christians making up a fourth part of the earth’s population?? True born again Christians are quite a small percentage of the earth’s population – they by no means comprise one in four living people. To overcome that, PreWrathers include all of “Christendom”, that is all Christian religions and denominatios, which altogether would make up about a fourth of the earth’s population.
Kenneth Eckerty in “The Case for the Pre Wrath Rapture” says: “I personally believe [the 4th seal] represents Satan’s wrath against the elect… authority is given to kill 25% of the earth. Statistically, those who make up Christianity in the world [including] Roman Catholics, is said to be around 25%…”. So now, for convenience sake, Catholics and Russian Orthodox churches are considered among the “elect.” Are we becoming ecumenical?
Alan Kurschner in “Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord”, says: “It is my contention that the fouth seal reflects the consequences of refusing to take the Antichrist’s mark.” (p. 50) and “I suggest that the fouth seal represents a choice people must make … Antichrist or Jesus Christ…” (p. 51). But again, it only says that a quarter of the earth’s population is being killed in four ways, one of them being wild beasts. That’s all the text says. How on earth did they turn this into a persecution against Christians? (footnote 2)
Secondly, the standard interpretation makes the 4th seal look like a judgment – Heaven forbid!
The 4th seal looks and smells like a judgment. When Jesus the Lamb of God opens a seal and a quarter of the earth’s population is killed violently by “Death and Hades”, that would naturally seem to any logical mind like judgment.
However, PreWrath insists that “the seals are not judgments.” You see, up until PreWrath came along, everyone was talking about “the seal judgments” as one of three sets of judgments. But since they entered the discussion, we’re all to change our language and say “the seal jud…. Oops, sorry. I meant… the seals” – so as not to cause any nearby PreWrather to flare up. This is the new terminology we all have to adopt. They’re just “the seals” now, ok?
You see, for PreWrath, the judgment doesn’t really start until the Trumpets. They insist on “distinguishing the contents of the scroll from its seals” – one of the many intricate nuances introduced by them. The trumpet judgments are then pushed well into the second half of the 70th Week to enable a “Pre Wrath” rapture model. So anything that comes before the trumpets (i.e. the seals) simply cannot and will not be interpretted as a judgments, otherwise it will ruin their Pre Wrath rapture model. And this is yet another reason why they’ll do everything to make the 4th seal look like ANYTHING BUT a judgment.
Therefore, the only way for PreWrathers to avoid the 4th seal looking like a judgment is to try and change its straightforward interpretation and make this judgment look like it’s not coming from God, but from Satan. In fact, they include the 4th seal in what they call “Satan’s Wrath”, as distinguished from “God’s Wrath” and “Man’s Wrath” (yes, they divide the Tribulation into three “types of wrath”). It’s for this purpose that “beasts of the earth” is changed to “The Antichrist,” thereby attempting to give those verses the connotation of a persecution against Christians and not just another judgment of God against mankind.
Lastly, changing the interpretation helps keep PreWrath’s parallels.
One of the main proofs used by PreWrathers is a supposed parallel beween Revelation 6 and Matthew 24. I’ve looked into these parallels and taken the time to study them, giving them a fair chance to win me over and cause me accept at least this line of evidence, if not the whole model. My conclusions were produced into a video (link here). In brief, the parallels are vague at best. They are weak and, quite often, far fetched. They shouldn’t really be used as evidence for anything.
To keep a long story short, in order to force fit the a parallel between Matthew 24 and Revelation 6, it was necessary for PreWrathers to pair the 4th seal with the perscution of Christians mentioned in Matthew 24:9-10 (although I must say, Matthew 24 in context is speaking of Jewish Christians being persecuted, which further weakens their argument). That’s another reason they prefer to give the 4th Seal the feel of a Christian persecution, when it is in fact not at all.
So, these are the three reasons PreWrathers force an awkward and unnatural meaning on the 4th seal of Revelation 6. Turning “wild beasts” into “the Antichrist” to force the meaning of Christian persecution is only one instance of what they do to preserve their theory.
To me, the PreWrath model feels a bit like a like a toy that doesn’t work. It’s very flimsy. Everything in it is so intricate, nuanced and interdepedent, that if you only pressed a wrong button (like saying “the 4th seal is not speaking about the Antichrist”) then you’ve practically ruined it.
The 4th Seal in Pretrib
As opposed to PreWrath, the Pretrib model is a a true “catch all”. It takes all the relevant Scriptures into account and leaves them intact. With Pretrib, the 4th seal is “allowed” to remain as it is — a severe judgment of God, occurring sometime during the beginning of he 70th Week, proving that the whole of the 70th Week is catastrophic in nature. Therefore the 70th Week in its entirety should be considered as an expression of God’s judgment and wrath upon the earth. It “will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35). This, of course, lends support to a Pretribulation rapture, when the Church age is completed, the Church is taken out of the way, and the 70th Week of Daniel can begin with the Antichrist strengthening his seven year covenant (Daniel 9:27).
- Chris White, “WOW! Comparing Matthew 24 to Revelation 6”: “However the translators… incorrectly translated the text as “wild beast”… There is no grounds for the translation “wild beasts” in Revelation 6:8;”. Alan Kurschner says basically the same thing.
- Another question that arises from this interpretation is this: if the 4th Seal kills the Christian fourth of the the world’s population, i.e. any evagelical Christian, any Catholic, any Russian Orthodox or Greek Orthodox, any Advenstist and Jehovah’s Witness and anyone who’s grandma ever wore a cross on her neck, I truly do ask who is left on earth to get raptured…?