Note: This is a continuing evaluation of the book The Days of Vengeance written by David Chilton. Chilton at the time of writing this was a partial preterist who later in life (after a massive heart attack) turned to full preterism. Sections will be taken from the book and commented on to the fullest extent possible. A PDF of the book can be found here.
Now we are getting into the "apocalyptic" stuff! Paramount to a proper understanding of this section of the book of Revelation is the relationship it has to the Olivet Discourse. We discussed that previously but it is important enough to cover again and refresh our minds. After we've accomplished that we'll find that we actually need to stretch even further back into the Old Testament to get a full grasp of the texts in question,
The central Old Testament passage behind the imagery of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” is Zechariah 6:1-7, which pictures the Four Winds as God’s chariots driven by His agents, who go back and forth patrolling the earth. Following and imitating the action of the Spirit (see 5:6), they are God’s means of controlling history (see below at 7:1, where the Four Winds are identified with, and controlled by, angels; cf. also Ps. 18:10, where the “wings of the wind” are connected with “cherubs”). Biblical symbolism views the earth (and especially the Land of Israel) as God’s fourcornered altar, and thus often represents widesweeping, national judgments in a fourfold manner. The Horsemen, therefore, show us God’s means of controlling and bringing judgment upon the disobedient nation of Israel.
I personally feel that the book of Ezekiel also helps to stitch these concepts together (My Take Audio: Eyes of the Angels and Prophetic Eyes Revisited). It also might be helpful for some to see deeper in the Prophetic Language of Psalm 18 to grasp the full nature of this small portion of Chilton's commentary.
Chilton quotes Milton Terry at length here. I personally see no reason to do differently. This connection is so important that even disagreement here points to a largely different perspective on the book of Revelation as a whole,
The true interpretation of these first four seals is that which recognizes them as a symbolic representation of the ‘wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes’ which Jesus declared would be ‘the beginning of sorrows’ in the desolation of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:6-7; Luke 21:10-11, 20). The attempt to identify each separate figure with one specific event misses both the spirit and method of apocalyptic symbolism. The aim is to give a fourfold and most impressive picture of that terrible war on Jerusalem which was destined to avenge the righteous blood of prophets and apostles (Matt. 23:35- 37), and to involve a ‘great tribulation,’ the like of which had never been before (Matt. 24:21). Like the four successive but closely connected swarms of locusts in Joel 1:4; like the four riders on different colored horses in Zechariah 1:8, 18, and the four chariots drawn by as many different colored horses in Zechariah 6:1-8, these four sore judgments of Jehovah move forth at the command of the four living creatures by the Throne to execute the will of Him who declared the ‘scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites’ of His time to be ‘serpents and offspring of vipers,’ and assured them that ‘all these things should come upon this generation’ (Matt. 23:33, 36). The writings of Josephus abundantly show how fearfully all these things were fulfilled in the bloody war of Rome against Jerusalem. (DOV, 83)
Chilton even points the reader further into the book of Habakkuk. But the full breadth of Biblical research will send us deeper then we're currently looking to go. Chilton highlights an interesting point, he believes these riders are not specific events. However, I tend towards the perspective of Kenneth Gentry that this actual is in a historical order. But we'll touch more on this later. The text of the white horse is simply too compelling,
As the first living creature calls, St. John sees a white horse, its rider armed for battle, carrying a Bow. The Rider is already victorious, for a crown was given to Him (St. John generally uses the impersonal passive throughout the prophecy to indicate that something is done by God; cf. 6:2, 4, 8, 11; 7:2, 4; 8:2, 3, etc.). Having achieved victory, He rides on to further victories: He went out conquering, and to conquer. Amazingly, the run-of-the-mill Dispensational interpretation claims that this rider on the white horse is the Antichrist. Showing where his faith lies, Hal Lindsey goes all the way and declares that the Antichrist is “the only person who could accomplish all of these feats.”
But there are several points about this Rider that demonstrate conclusively that He can be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. First, He is riding a white horse, as Jesus does in 19:11-16.
This is a place where I can agree with Chilton against Dispensational theories but I'm unsure about the preterist interpretation. Kenneth Gentry believes this is the Roman Army marching upon Jerusalem. I will link a brief portion from one of his lengthy series on Revelation (brief because he does sale these for ministerial profit and I recommend you purchase them). But before we get there Chilton had some fascinating insight on, very much against what Gentry will say, about why the rider has a bow,
We should ask a rather obvious question at this point – so obvious that we are apt to miss it altogether: Where did Christ get the Bow? The answer (as is usually the case) begins in Genesis. When God made the covenant with Noah, He declared that He was no longer at war with the earth, because of the “soothing aroma” of the sacrifice (Gen. 8:20-21); and as evidence of this He unstrung His Bow and hung it up “in the Cloud” for all to see (Gen. 9:13-17). Later, when Ezekiel was “raptured” up to the Throneroom at the top of the Glory-Cloud, he saw the Bow hanging above the Throne (Ezek. 1:26-28); and it was still there when St. John ascended to heaven (Rev. 4:3). But when the Lamb stepped forward to receive the Book from His Father’s hand, He also reached up and took down the Bow, to use it in judgment against the apostates of Israel. (DOV, 84)
Though his perspective is thought provoking, I leave you with my current opinion as I learned it from Kenneth Gentry.