There before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow. . . .
What does it mean that the rider on a white horse “held a bow”? Are we to imagine a soldier who has the training to kill with a bow and arrow? Or perhaps we picture a hunter, with bow in hand, standing over a downed deer.
It is tempting to read God’s story that way. But if we did, we would think the first rider is all about bringing death and destruction. To read the story that way would miss the surprising good news that the One who is skilled with a bow is God. He has worked with a bow for a long time.
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we find a promise that God gave to Noah after the great flood. “I have set my bow in the clouds” God said, “and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13, NRSV). We usually understand the bow in the Genesis story as being a “rainbow.” But it is the same word that is used in this story in Revelation.
In other words, the first horseman, Jesus, is armed with God’s covenant promise. His goal is to bring God’s promises for the renewal of creation to every part of creation.
Lord, our Lord, you surprise us with your promises and your determination to bring life and healing to your creation. Thank you for so loving this world that you gave your one and only Son to give us life. Amen.