Fear of an imminent, potentially devastating flu pandemic is sweeping the globe.
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!
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