The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (Rev. 6:1-8) -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 01:1 (Winter 1991)
Article: The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (Rev. 6:1-8)
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (Rev. 6:1-8)

David J. MacLeod1


Two contemporary parables will serve as an introduction to this exposition of Revelation 6:1–8. The first is a true story and concerns a man named Harry Truman, the caretaker of a recreation lodge on Spirit Lake, five miles north of Mt. St. Helens’ smoke-enshrouded peak in Oregon. Harry had been warned by Rangers and neighbors that the mountain was going to blow up. Geologists had been watching their seismographs for some time, and the evidence predicted that the volcano would soon explode with such a fury that it would flatten the surrounding forest.

Warnings blared from loudspeakers on patrol cars and helicopters and blinked from battery-powered signs at every major crossroad. Radio and television announcers pled with their audiences to flee to safety. Harry Truman ignored them all. He grinned on national television and said, “Nobody knows more about this mountain than Harry, and it don’t dare blow up on him.”

On May 18, 1980, at 8:31 A. M. the mountain exploded. I cannot help wondering if Harry regretted his decision in the millisecond he had before the concussive waves, traveling faster than the speed of sound, flattened him and everything else for 150 square miles. Did he have time to mourn his stubbornness as millions of tons of rock disintegrated and disappeared into a cloud reaching ten miles into the sky? Did he have second thoughts as the wall of mud and ash 50 feet high buried his cabin, his cats, and his freshly mowed lawn--or had he been vaporized when the mountain erupted with a force 500 times greater than the nuclear bomb that had leveled Hiroshima, Japan in 1945?

Harry Truman is now a legend in Oregon. In gift shops he smiles down on customers from posters, T-shirts, and beer mugs. There is even a song about old Harry, the stubborn man who put his ear to the mountain but would not heed the warnings.2

My second parable concerns the well-known laboratory experiment of the frogs that were put in a bowl of water. The water was gradually raised to the boiling point, with the remarkable result that they all expired without making any serious effort to jump out of the bowl. Malcolm Muggeridge, the late British journalist and broadcaster, gave an address years ago in which he mentioned that experiment and drew a lesson for our times. “The frogs are us,” he said, “the water is our habitat, and the Media, by accustoming us to the gradual deterioration of our values and our circumstances, ensure that the boiling point...

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