Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Eight Horses of the Bible - A meditation in honor of the Lunar New Year 2014

Happy Chinese New Year of the Horse!

The New Year is supposed to bring Spring with it, but it's still very much Winter in Hong Kong: 
Many consecutive days of gray rain and temperatures of 45F outside means winter coats are needed inside, in our unheated seminary classrooms.

And yet, students smile and "firecracker flowers" brighten the dull landscape. Good things are abloom, even in the midst of a gray Hong Kong winter!

Meanwhile, check out the excerpts (below) from a recent sermon by yours truly, on Biblical horse imagery for the New Year of the Horse. And remember:

Some trust in chariots
 and some in horses,

    but we trust in 
the name of the Lord our God.
-- Psalm 20:7

Excerpts from a Sermon:            Eight Horses from the Bible 

Rev. Christa von Zychlin
Lunar New Year of the Horse
Season of Epiphany

In honor of Chinese New Year of the Horse,
here are eight horses of the Bible who still speak to us today:


            “Do you give the horse its strength
    or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Do you make it leap like a locust,
    striking terror with its proud snorting?
21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,
    and charges into the fray.
22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;            -- Job 30

In these verses, God himself is speaking to Job.  Job, who has suffered beyond what any human being should suffer. And it is a strange comfort to Job, but it is a comfort. Sometimes, there is no answer to pain, sorrow or suffering. But God says, look at my Creation, and don’t doubt me. Just look at the horse, its muscles its power its strength, its joy, its beauty. God says, I am the God of that horse.

 And I am God of you, Job, even in all of your incomprehensible suffering


31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but victory rests with the Lord. -- Proverbs 21:31.

The battle horse reminds us it is good to prepare for things. We will have battles in life and we’d better get ready to fight them. So let’s get our spiritual armor in place, but make sure we’re fighting as Christ did – not with violence and hate, but with the armor of God, the weapons of the Spirit.

and still, even with the best preparations,  success is not in our hands, but is with God… and that’s more than ok, it is good!



I liken you, my darling, to a mare
    among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.  --Song of Solomon 1:9

 Valentines’ Day is coming up and some of you men may want to use this line for the ladies…

 or maybe not!!

 The Song of Solomon is a love song celebrating the sexual love between a man and a woman, -- and that’s a good thing.

But it’s also always been understood as an allegory – the allegory of love between God and our soul, our deepest self.

 God sees each one of us, individually, with eyes of love. Like a bridegroom for his one & only bride, like a bride for her one & only husband.

Among all the horses, the horseman sees this one special mare.

Among all the people God has created, God also sees you, in your most inward and personal self,  and you are uniquely beautiful to him.


And yet and yet - It is because we are so precious and beautiful in God’s sight that He gets so enraged at the hurt we inflict on other people and on all of creation.

”None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.”  -- Jeremiah 8:6

In the preceding chapter (7) the prophet Jeremiah makes a list of sins that really matter to God:

-- the sin of oppressing the alien:           
who are the “aliens” (strangers, weirdo’s, uninvited ones) in your neighborhood?

-- the sin of neglecting the fatherless and widowed:                       
what are we doing for  the fatherless  and the orphaned, throughout China and Southeast Asia?  How are vulnerable single women – today’s “widows” young and old – being treated, exploited, or sold all over in today’s economies?

-- the sin of following other gods:
where do you and I pour out our offerings, what does our credit card or our bank statement or our business practices say about who the gods are in our lives?

In which way are you and I like horse number 4, “Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle”

Horse # 4 is the horse that leads to spiritual death, each of us fighting our own battles, dashing about like horse without a rider. We call ourselves  Christians, but in so many ways live as if we have no Saviour to lead us.

Horse #4 calls us to repentance.

HORSE #5, 6, 7, 8

 I looked, and behold, a white horse… a red horse… a black horse… a pale horse…”  -- Revelation 6:1-8

What destination does living apart from God bring us to?

Sin has already (I believe) unleashed the parabolic horses of Revelation 6 into our world, the four horses of the apocalypse:

the white horse -- bent on conquest, represents the sin of power-grabbing.

the red horse, the color of blood, represents war. God revealed in Christ hates war and violence between humans; for Christians, there is no such thing as a righteous human war.

the black horse is the horse of famine and scarcity, but also represents unfair trade practices, so prices for ordinary food is high, so people at the bottom of the economic pyramids have to work all day just in order to eat, so as go back to work another day. Meanwhile, the rich get richer.

The last horse is the pale horse of death.

Those are the eight horses of the Bible:

Ah, but there is one more horse. Surprise! There is a 9th horse to consider.
(This is the last time a horse is mentioned in the Bible)


The old visionary John continues speaking of what he once saw in a vision:

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.
His eyes like blazing fire, on his head crowns, dressed in a robe dipped in blood” – Revelation 19:11

Whose blood is He wearing?  It is his own blood – unlike any other conqueror, this One wears his own blood.

Written on his robe he has this name:

(Do you know His name?)


The final horse of the Bible, the ninth horse, is the horse on which the Son of Man is seated. He comes as the one who wins all battles, who brings all justice, who leads his people forward into the New Heaven and the New Earth where peace reigns, where justice lives, where love of neighbor is practiced with imagination and strength.

Horses of the Bible.  We have much to live and learn and to DO as Christians, living in this New Year of the Horse.

As a website about the Chinese understanding of the horse put it:

 Horses can give people a ride to their destination. Therefore, the horse is not only a symbol of traveling, but also a sign of speedy success.”

May God give us good travels, a great destination and the right kind of success in this New Year of the Horse. Amen.