The Apocalypse Horse article (story wouldn’t be the right word) has been on our website since February 9 and has consistently been one of the most clicked items ever since. Other stories – real news stories that take themselves seriously and look down their noses at mere ‘articles’- they have been and gone. Some of those stories spoke of revolution, of the courageous self-empowerment of oppressed peoples, of fallen dictators and new eras, of war among neighbours. But they had their fifteen minutes and then retired to the quiet backwaters of the archives where they’ll no doubt reflect on the good old days with other condemned stories.
The Apocalypse Horse however, endures.
On the face of it, there appears to be nothing jaw-droppingly absorbing about the Horse article. A pale green knight on a pale green horse appears, thanks to a reflection in a window or some other such explainable trick of the light, to be riding amongst Cairo’s Tahrir Square protesters like a ghost. Oh! Haha! Isn’t that odd? Right, let’s move on.
But no, a good many people were reading a great deal more into it than that. For them, that IS the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse. That IS death.
The Apocalypse, or End of Days, is referred to in Christianity, Islam and Judaism while variations on that theme are also found in Hinduism and Buddhism. Stay with me here. Some branches of Christianity, for instance the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (stay with me) even actively go looking for signs that the Apocalypse, the second coming, is…well, coming. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the End of Days actually started in October, 1914. It is the Apocalypse now. So the suggestion that the fourth and last Horseman of the Apocalypse may have been filmed galloping through the middle of a potentially world-changing revolution definitely would have raised a few eyebrows. For some people it is a vindication of their beliefs. The End is actually nigh.
Sceptical but determined all the same to find some basis for my scepticism, I turned to the Book of Revelation. The last book of the Bible, Revelation is a description of the Apocalypse filled with imagery and symbolism and which lends itself perfectly to interpretation and sign-spotting. In its forecast of the End of Days, the fourth Horseman is followed by an apparition of the martyrs before God.
Then there is a terrible earthquake.
Anyone who believes that the Apocalypse Horse of Tahrir is a clear sign that the End of Days is upon us might well feel even more confidently that the earthquake that hit Japan on Friday is further undeniable proof.
The violence with which the tsunami waves tore through entire towns, scooping up cars, boats and buildings and just about anything else, was astonishing. It is a reminder that Man does not hold the exclusive rights to mass destruction.
And even the mainstream media say it’s a sign. Not intentionally perhaps, but they do. I heard the word ‘apocalyptic’ several times in TV and radio reports to describe the scenes in Japan.
The front page headline in Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper The Sun read simply ‘Apocalypse’ while the photo showed a wall of blackened water carrying burning buildings. ‘Apocalyptic’ doesn’t necessarily seem too much of an exaggeration; the images coming out of Japan resemble what you might well imagine the Apocalypse to look like.
The ‘but there are earthquakes all the time and always have been’ argument may roll its eyes and grind its teeth all it likes, but the Apocalypse Now argument is as brimming as ever with the confidence that it is right.
If it is right, hold onto your hats because things are going to get much worse before they get any better.
Revelation tells us there are going to be plenty more earthquakes, plagues and hailstorms, that a third of the world’s trees and all of the world’s grass will burn, that a third of the world’s seas and oceans will turn to blood and that a third of the world’s population will perish because the rivers and streams have been poisoned. Then there will be even more earthquakes, plagues, beasts and the death of every creature in the sea before darkness ushers in Armageddon, the ultimate end-of-level baddie.
Seekers of signs of the End of Days are perhaps now more able than ever before thanks to the accessibility of pictures and information to point to an event and say ‘I told you so’. Take for example our poisoned waters or plagues that threaten our food supply .
Eventually though, Revelation tells us the righteous will be saved and Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire for all eternity. So there is a definite, albeit distant, upside.
I’ve been racking my brains trying to think of more immediate silver linings to the imminent End of Days. I think I might be on to something.
Last week I became worried that, because of the recent financial meltdown, by the time I have saved enough money to retire on a full pension I will be 130 years old. But the more seriously I take the Apocalypse Now argument, the more I am reassured.
Why worry about my pension? At this rate none of us will be needing one.