Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bone-Chilling Stories from the Bible: Part 2

Once again, we turn to the Bible to find bone-chilling stories this Halloween...

3. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Some of the most iconic figures of horror in the Bible are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Most people perceive that the horsemen will appear in the sky and swoop down to kill masses of people at the end of the world. Their descriptions are found in Revelation chapter 6, but it is unclear concerning whether they are prophetic imagery or actual entities.

The Four Horsemen appear at the opening of the sacred scroll that is presented in heaven. God presents a scroll with seven seals. The seals prevent its contents from being read because nobody can open the scroll, except for The Lamb of God.

When the Lamb opened the first seal, a white horse appeared who was bent on conquest.

When the second seal was opened, a red horse appeared that made people kill each other.

When the third seal was opened, a black horse appeared. Its rider held scales and said "A quart of wheat for a days wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the wine!"

When the fourth seal was opened, a pale horse appeared. Its rider was Death, and Hades (a.k.a. Hell) was following close behind him.

After these seals were opened, there were no more horsemen, but plenty more signs. The fifth seal causes the martyrs to cry out to God for justice. The sixth seal caused an earthquake, the sun to turn black, the moon red, the stars to fall to the earth, the sky to recede, and for every mountain and island to be removed. The seventh seal unleashed disaster on the earth, but also ushered in the judgments of the seven trumpets.

That is quite a scene presented to us in the book of Revelation.

4. Abraham's Sacrifice of Isaac and the Crucifixion of Jesus

In the 22nd chapter of Genesis, God tells Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and...Sacrifice him...as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about" (Genesis 22:2). He has never asked this of any one else in the course of history, but here he asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac!

You might expect Abraham to hesitate at such a command, but he is compliant. Early the next day, he started making preparations to sacrifice his son Isaac. From the details of the story, Abraham took Isaac to the exact location where God commanded him, tied him up, and was going to kill him with a knife before burning his remains.

However, when all the preparations were made and Abraham lifted his knife to strike Isaac dead, the angel of the Lord called out to Abraham to stop, sparing the boy's life and his father's grief.

For generations, this story has been characterized as barbaric, cruel, and pointless; but let's go forward a few hundred years to the sacrifice of another's son, who would not be spared. The Son of God.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the 27th chapter, a terrifying seen is painted for the reader. Jesus, having offered himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, was being mocked as he hung on a cross beaten, bloody, and naked for the whole world to see. At the moment of his death, the curtain of the  holy temple was torn (a curtain that was said to be so tough that horses pulling at either end could not rend it), the ground shook, and the earth split. The tombs of ancient people were opened.

This was so terrifying that a Roman centurion, a pagan, exclaimed "Surely he was the Son of God!" Darkness had come over the land. Those who witnessed the crucifixion had a taste of what the end of the world would look like.

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