Dr Simon Chong’s Contention against Joseph Prince’s Teaching on the “Four Horsemen” in Revelation (Dated 25 Mar 2022)
Rev George Ong’s Comments:
According to New Creation Church’s preaching schedule, Joseph Prince was slated to preach on 20 and 27 March 2022. But sometime last week, it was suddenly changed. In Joseph Prince’s stead, Pastor Lawrence Lim preached on 20 March (last Sunday) and Pastor Lim Lian Neo will be preaching on 27 March (this Sunday).
I am not sure why Joseph Prince had suddenly taken himself out of his preaching schedule for 2 straight Sundays even though it was originally planned. Well, your guess is as good as mine.
The reason for mentioning this is that my articles on Fridays which are usually (not always) based on Prince’s sermons the previous Sundays cannot be done for this Friday (today’s article) and the next Friday, as Prince didn’t preach last Sunday and he won’t be preaching this Sunday too.
Thank God for Dr Simon Chong who wrote an article (see below) against Joseph Prince’s teaching on the “Four Horsemen” in a sermon Prince preached on 6 March 2022.
To fully grasp what Dr Simon Chong has written, it is necessary for you to view Joseph Prince’s 6 March sermon, from 21.25 minute of the video to the end, in this link. Please click to view this YouTube link: https://youtu.be/7AX5sb9Px2U
Without listening to Joseph Prince’s teaching on the ‘Four Horsemen’ as given in the link, it would be difficult for you to follow and fully appreciate Dr Simon Chong’s argument.
Dr Simon Chong’s Contention against Joseph Prince’s Teaching on the “Four Horsemen” in Revelation
(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)
The main content of Joseph Prince’s sermon on 6 March 2022 has been replicated quite a number of times over the last decade since his so-called bestselling VCD on the “Four Horsemen” was released, with minor or little modifications to the original.
This time, Prince added Matthew 24 to the mix to draw further parallelism to his ideology and conviction and to of course push his ideas in the current times we are in.
I would like us first to look at something that was mentioned by Joseph Prince in the original sermon which is where his whole argument is based on. That is critical because any erroneous premise or doctrine will ultimately begat erroneous conclusions and interpretations.
In the original sermon, Joseph Prince started his teaching with a passage in Revelation 4:3,
“And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.”
From here, his premise of the Rainbow he said was that God will never be angry with Mankind and will not punish them anymore.
Let’s see what God says in Genesis 9:13-15,
“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.”
Therefore, the significance of the Rainbow was that God will never use water or flood to destroy life. It was NEVER to claim He will never destroy or punish or kill those who are sinful and disobedient or rebellious anymore.
Based on this erroneous premise or understanding, Joseph Prince has no choice but to interpret anything or anyone, from the Bible in subsequent texts, that destroys or kills or punishes to be NOT from God but must be Evil and from the Devil.
Once we understand this error that Joseph Prince started off from, it will help us see better the errors from this sermon and his misinterpretation of the passages that flows one after another:
1. THE 4 HORSEMEN OR 4 CHARIOTS OF HORSES ARE EVIL SPIRITS
These are taken from Revelation 6:1-8 (21.52 minute of the video) & Zechariah 6:1-6 (49.04 minute of the video) respectively. A careful study of these passages reveal that nowhere was it mentioned that they are EVIL. For Joseph Prince, he claimed that “spirits” are evil (26.17 minute of the video) if they cause destructions which is a very sweeping statement. The Angel of Death that killed the firstborn in Egypt certainly was from God and not evil.
Also from the same passage that Joseph Prince quoted, Zechariah 6:5 “The angel answered me, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world,” clearly states that the 4 Chariots are of heaven (or God) and they reside in His presence.
Another passage that debunked this assumption is taken from Zechariah 1:8-11:
“In a vision during the night, I saw a man sitting on a red horse that was standing among some myrtle trees in a small valley. Behind him were riders on red, brown, and white horses.
I asked the angel who was talking with me, “My lord, what do these horses mean?”
“I will show you,” the angel replied.
The rider standing among the myrtle trees then explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent out to patrol the earth.”
Then the other riders reported to the angel of the Lord, who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have been patrolling the earth, and the whole earth is at peace.”
You’ll have noticed that the riders & their horses work for the Lord and with the Angel. I leave you to decide if they are evil or not.
Let’s go to another passage where there is a natural destruction that we are more familiar with that’s caused by Locusts (also 4 kinds, instead of Horses/Horsemen). This is taken from Joel 2:25:
“The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts…”
So the point is: Are the Locusts EVIL? Any knowledgeable person will know that’s how they behave naturally in an ecosystem but becomes damaging when there is an overwhelming number of them. But in the same verse (Joel 2:25), we understand that it’s the Lord who used them to destroy:
“…It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.”
Therefore we realize the neutrality of the agents at work and how they are used by God to mete out judgements and His plans.
Hence to always assume that any event deemed negative or agent that causes damage is evil would be rather simplistic in view and highly blasphemous when the one who sent them is God Himself.
2. BECAUSE THEY ARE EVIL, THEY CAUSE US TROUBLE
Thus from the wrong assumptions made in (1), it leads on to this that since they are evil and from the devil, they are meant to cause us harm. And Joseph Prince goes on to list the harm they caused as listed in the passage of Revelation 6:1-8.
Here, Prince goes on to add something new which wasn’t at all mentioned in the past sermons, and that is to draw a parallelism with Matthew 24:4-7 (21.32 minute of the video) where Jesus taught about the events that herald the beginning of the end-times.
Note that nowhere in these 2 passages was it mentioned at all that these events are from the devil or are attacks upon believers only. They were just narratives of what is to unfold at the end and will occur to the entire world where the “wheats & weeds” lived together (believers & unbelievers). This was what Joseph Prince listed out:
Matt 24:4-5 (False Christ = False Teachings) = Rev 6:1-2 (White Horse)
Matt 24:6 (Wars/Strife/Rumors of Wars = Interpersonal strife/wars) = Rev 6:3-4 (Red Horse)
Matt 24:7 (Famine = Lack) = Rev 6:5-6 (Black Horse)
Matt 24:7 (Earthquakes = Diseases & Death) = Rev 6:7-8 (Pale Horse)
I must say Joseph Prince is rather imaginative and probably this could correlate somewhat since both passages do address the beginnings of the birth pangs thus not surprising that they would corroborate but the last horse and earthquakes would be somewhat far-fetched.
Yet again that’s how it is when error begets errors and when you try to squeeze a cube into a spherical hole, and imaginations run wild. I will show you later why this has to be shaped as it is to fit his explanation and solution to our perceived problems.
3. HERE IS THEN THE SOLUTION TO/PROTECTION FROM THE ATTACKS OF THESE EVIL SPIRITS
Again Joseph Prince drew on lots of Parallelism and Symbolism with Extrapolations from various passages in the Bible that are unlinked in “cause & effect” nor were they ever been instructed by God in His Word to be used as solutions to any problems we face. Neither were the theories God-taught or inspired but some linked-symbols mentioned were man-taught by theologians (34.04 minute of the video) to be held as references rather than truths (This was what Prince said in the video):
Gospel of Matthew reveals Jesus as King “Lion”;
Mark reveals Jesus as Servant “Ox”;
Luke reveals Jesus as Man “Man-face”;
John reveals Jesus as God “Eagle”,
It is the last parallelism that is subjected to your wildest imagination.
These symbols were drawn from Revelation 4:6-7 of the 4 Living Creatures before the Throne of God, as well as the 4 faces of the 4 creatures mentioned in Ezekiel 1:10 (38.51 minute of the video).
Now is where it gets interesting because Joseph Prince will bring us back to a formation of Israel in the Wilderness in Exodus, the way God placed and arranged them according to the tribes around the Tabernacle, where 3 tribes take up each side of the Tabernacle:
Judah (LION), Issachar, Zebulun to the EAST
Reuben (MAN), Simeon, Gad to the SOUTH
Ephraim (OX), Manasseh, Benjamin to the WEST
Dan (EAGLE), Asher, Napthali to the NORTH
Prince tried very hard to link the symbols to those tribes above to force his narratives by using Jacob’s last words to his sons in Genesis 49:1-27. Except Judah, nothing else matches because Dan was likened to be a Snake (v17), Ephraim a Donkey/Foal (v23), Reuben a Flood (v4). So we seriously wonder how even one could imagine and picture them so erroneously. Anywhere, Joseph Prince needs to formulate and fit his narrative, so this is his own concept to correlate with a future event and the Living Creatures before God.
Therefore, with these symbols on all sides and representatives of JESUS, we are to raise the banners of these symbols to ward off any attacks.
I do agree that Jesus is the solution to any attacks on us but certainly these symbolisms are just too far-fetched, and somewhat dramatic. However, this is not just the end of his idea. Here he brings us to Zechariah 6:6 and here it gets more incredulous so please bear with me:
“The chariot with black horses is going north, the chariot with white horses is going west, and the chariot with dappled-gray horses is going south.”
Notice that the Chariot pulled by the Red horses was not mentioned but Joseph presumed it must be going East.
Anyway, he suddenly now looks at the Tabernacle as synonymous to our individual lives. Not wrong since we are all the Temple of His Spirit.
But here is where he decided and suggested that is a clue to the practical solutions to the problems in our lives by drawing a parallel to these chariots in orientation to the directions of the Tabernacle as well as the symbols within the tabernacle.
To again fit his narrative to the solutions, he needed to fix the symbols to what is already documented as true in the scriptures and then fit Matthew 24 & Revelation 6 & Zechariah 6 into his schemes of things. Here we go (1.03.47 minute of the video):
a) The Minora or Lampstand is on the South of the Tabernacle representing the Spirit of the 7 Churches thus representing the Church. Joseph Prince decides to apply Matthew 24:7 “Famine/Lack” to that part in our lives, caused by the Black Horse going North which seems strange but explained that since it’s going North it has got to be from the South! (as if it can’t approach from elsewhere). So the solution to this Famine or Lack is to be involved in Church life and note this: TO GIVE FINANCIALLY TO THE CHURCH!
b) The Showbread & the Table is on the North of the Tabernacle representing the Communion Table (1.09.02 minute of the video). He applies Matthew 24:7 “Diseases & Death” to that side of life and similarly the Pale Horse again comes at that side towards the South to make it fit Joseph Prince’s ideology. Thus the solution to diseases and deaths is to partake the Holy Communion.
c) The Altar of the Burnt Offerings is nearer the East side of the Tabernacle representing the Cross of Jesus & His Sacrifice. Joseph Prince applies to the attacks of the White Horse going westward as False teachings which Joseph Prince defines as “what puts Jesus aside, His finished work and how you can handle things without the cross” (Note that if his own definition of Falsehoods & False Teachings is this, he is basically excusing himself from being accused as a False Teacher because he will claim that he has not done all these things). And so his solution is to counter it with the Cross. I find this very unhelpful practically because the only way to counter Falsehoods is the TRUTH, His Word! And what are False Teachings? They are anything but the TRUTH found in His Scriptures!
“But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)
d) The Incense Altar is on the West side of the Tabernacle which represents prayers to God. On that side, that’s where you encounter wars and strives in your lives. Yes, I do agree that prayer is certainly needful but isn’t it true that it undergirds all the solutions to the problems on all sides of life?
Joseph Prince’s entire message was rather skittish and rather all over the place with the use of bible quotes out of context. An example is his exhortation that we need to talk about Jesus and His Glory all the time to others and even to God, for that is pleasing to the Father which I have no issues with (1.02.07 minute of the video). But then he uses Genesis 45:13 to substantiate this. Let’s look at the verse:
“So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.”
I hope you realize that the text and context are totally out of sync with Joseph Prince’s statement. Here the “glory” mentioned by Joseph is his & earthly, though we know that Joseph realized it’s from God for him. And it is even more far-fetched if Joseph Prince is equating Jesus as like Joseph in this particular instance because what Joseph was saying to his brothers was that they were to INFORM Jacob and NOT give GLORY or PRAISE or ACCLAIM to Jacob. As for us, we are to give glory and honor and praise to God for Jesus and His work and glory. Subtle difference but a great divide doctrinally nonetheless.
In conclusion, when I look at Joseph Prince’s methodologies and prescribed solutions to all of life’s problems, instead of praying and waiting upon God to reveal and provide, he simplifies and downplays their significance to each and every one of our lives and circumstances and how God wants to teach and reveal Himself to us. They border on geomancy and superstition. It caters to an impatient society that demands immediate fixes and actions.
I believe that’s because he has already concluded that blessings can only come to His children and sufferings/pains are from the devil, and so we must fight immediately! Hence his “cause & effect” in all situations, is overly simplistic and one-dimensional.
I believe he will find himself more and more isolated and trapped in his own self-defeating theories/ideologies when our multifaceted God reveals Himself more and more in ways in a vast variety of circumstances in his life and the lives of his followers. Wonder how much more he can further twist God’s Truth to cater to his own beliefs and convictions.
Dr Simon Chong
Attending Faith Methodist Church, Singapore