Revelation 6:1-2 God sovereignly uses dark times to achieve his divine purposes
Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” 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.
The seven seals are events intended by God to spread the gospel, to expose the moral degradation of men, to separate the righteous and the unrighteous and to chastise humanity so that all may repent. In the course of it, a new heaven and new earth may emerge. The first seal; a white horse and a horse man carrying a bow and wearing a crown symbolises colonialism with a divine purpose. Even though colonialism equates exploitation and oppression of another, God uses that which is ignoble to accomplish His salvation plans. Today’s devotion teaches us: Revelation 6:1-2 God sovereignly uses dark times to achieve His divine purposes.
One of the four living creatures gave order for the emergence of a white horse and one seated on it. White colour symbolises a divine cause. Because the Messiah is not expected to appear before the woes are complete, the one seated on it is not the Messiah but an angel tasked to accomplish the agenda of conquering. Jesus made known that before the end comes, the gospel must be preached to the whole world (see Matthew 24:14). The bow and the crown symbolise successful military conquests. The imagery of the first seal suggests the spreading of Christianity and acceleration of human development through colonialism: Portugal and Spain in the 15th and 16th century, and England between the late 16th and early 18th century.
God sovereignly uses dark times to achieve His divine purposes
- Colonialism, human development and Christianity
It is a fact that the spread of Christianity and human development around the world was aided by colonialism. Colonialism is the act of extending governance over another region. As the colonial masters traveled the world, they brought along Christianity, technology, and Western culture. Colonialism have been motivated by personal gain but the gospel took root wherever they went. Even though Christianity was a guise by which the colonial masters justified the exploitation of the nations, God has a way of using ignoble means to accomplish His divine objectives.
Take for example, the colonisation of African nations. Beginning in 1880, European nations rushed to acquire the most economically viable parts of the continent. The European missionaries played a key role in this oppression by urging the Africans to endure humiliation and suffering during colonialism as a form of spiritual cleansing. The European missionaries aided in delegitimising their culture, kingship, priesthood and in enforcing colonial law upon them. Because the Africans were exploited for their land, labour, money, denied basic rights, they began to resist their colonial masters. And the decolonisation of African states took place between 1950s to 1975.
- Colonialism was that painful injection needle that introduced the gospel to the nations
That said, Christianity through colonialism did result in a major transformation of the African way of life. Slaves were freed, old gods were outlawed, bigamy was forbidden and western medicine was increasingly being used. And many of their leaders were educated in mission funded schools. The African spiritual heritage, centred around rituals to pacify the spirit world have stunted the development of rational thought and science. Christianity liberated them from fear and superstition by pointing them to Christ. The Africans by their own accord have come to understand Christianity not from the European missionaries who did not practice what they preached. That helped lay the groundwork towards African nationalism, unification and personal empowerment. Christianity eventually gave them the spiritual awakening and empowerment that helped liberate them from ever to be colonised again.
- Learning to see unfavourable circumstances and even the darkness from God’s perspective
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You. – Psalm 139:12
King David has learned to see God’s hand amid the darkest times of his life. Therefore, believers must not be too quick to judge when circumstances turn dark. The first seal speaks of events that happen at a global level. But at a personal level, it reminds us that in whatever circumstances, God is in full control and the outcome is always good. When we face tribulation and injustice in our finances, career, or relationships, God’s plan is always to bring us to a higher plane of existence and blessedness. The prophet Jeremiah said to the surviving Israelites in exile,
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11
The Israelites need to make the best out of their new environment and prosper until God brings them back to the promised land. Indeed, in the course of saving humanity, God sovereignly uses dark times to achieve His divine purposes.
Try recalling the dark moments in your life. At the same time think about how those dark moments moulded you to become who you are today. Take time to appreciate and praise the sovereign God who works all things for our good.
For those who have yet to emerge from their tribulations, take time accept the current circumstances and learn to see God’s hand amid the challenges.
Dear Lord, you made the night as well as the day, winter as well summer. Even as I am seeing the darkness and feeling the pain, help me also see and feel your loving presence. In whatever circumstances, I will hope more and fret less. The night will not last forever. And I look to the day where I emerge victorious. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.