Revelation Chapters 8 and 9

Greetings! Welcome to our seventh post in the series on Revelation chapters 8 and 9. In this post, we’re going to study the sixth trumpet judgment. It’s one of the three “woes” judgments. The three woes are something so horrible that the Lord sent three angels to warn the inhabitants of the earth about what was on the way. In this post, we’re going to talk about the four angels loosed from the Euphrates River in Egypt. And we’re also going to talk about the famous 200-million horsemen army. It’s all interesting. Keep reading.  

Revelation Chapters 8 and 9

Seventh in an Eight-Part Series
By Karen Thompson

The Sixth Trumpet and the Euphrates River

Rev. 9:13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

In these verses, we see the sixth trumpet has to do with the Euphrates River. When the sixth angel sounded his trumpet, John said, “I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God” (v. 13). The voice commanded, “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates” (v. 14).

Before we talk about these four angels, let’s first talk about the Euphrates River. It is one of the oldest and longest rivers in the Middle East, and it is one of the most important rivers in the Bible. The first time we see the Euphrates River mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis chapter two where we read about the Garden of Eden. There was a river that flowed through Eden to water the garden; that river parted into four rivers. The first river was Pison, the second river was Gihon, the third river was Hiddekel (aka the Tigris River), and the fourth river was Euphrates.

Another significant fact about the Euphrates River is that it served as a boundary to Abraham’s inheritance. Genesis 15:18 tells us about God’s covenant with Abraham: “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” The river in Egypt is no doubt the Nile River and the Euphrates River is located in Iraq. As you can see, the portion of land that God gave to the descendants of Abraham is much greater than the little portion of land they now possess.

Presently, the Euphrates River originates in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey. When two rivers, the Murat Su and the Kara Su, merge together, they become the Euphrates River. The full length of the Euphrates River starts in Turkey, then flows through Syria and Iraq and into the Persian Gulf. Water is so precious in the Middle East that these nations are often in dispute with each other over the water in the Euphrates River.

The Four Angels Loosed From the Euphrates River

Now let’s talk about the four angels that God commanded to be loosed from the Euphrates River. The fact that they were bound tells us they are angels that followed Satan in his rebellion and perhaps did something that led to their being bound and put away. What is interesting is that these four angels were bound in the Euphrates River. Why and how are angels bound in a river? This is one of the mysteries regarding the unseen realm of which we don’t have full understanding. But verse 15 tells us “the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.” This phrasing “an hour, a day, a month, and a year” is another way of saying “an appointed time.” These bound angels were prepared for that very moment when God said, “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.” They were prepared to slay one third of the men in Antichrist’s kingdom. This is the last “one-third judgment.” So far, the Lord’s trumpet judgments have destroyed one third of the trees, one third of the water, one third of the fish, one third of the ships, one third of the light from the sun, moon and stars, and now one third of Antichrist’s men.

The Army of Two-Hundred Million Horsemen

Notice how verse 16 begins: “And the number of the army of the horsemen …” Notice it says “the army of the horsemen.” This tells us the four angels loosed from the Euphrates were on horses and are commanders of a great army. The number of the great army was “two hundred thousand thousand…” That is two-hundred million, to be exact.

Some have speculated that this is an army from China. China has a very large army; in fact, they have the largest army in the world. One source listed China’s active military at 2,285,000 troops. Even though China has the largest military in the world, it’s a far cry from 200 million. There is no nation on earth that has an army of 200 million. Even if some nation had an army with 200 million soldiers, they would not deploy 200 million soldiers at one time. And why would an army from China come out of the Euphrates River in the Middle East? To assert that this 200-million man army is a natural, earthly army doesn’t make sense. This 200-million man army is an army from the unseen realm.

Description of the Horses and Riders

We see a partial description of the horses in verse 17: “And thus I saw the horses in the vision … and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.” Here we see more horse-like beings that could only come from the unseen realm. Like the locusts, these horses do not have a normal earthly appearance. They have heads like lions. Then the very last part of verse 17 says, “and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.” So not only do these horses’ heads look like a lion, but out of their mouths come fire, smoke, and brimstone. 

Now let’s look at verses 18–19: “By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.” When it says “by these three,” it’s referring to the fire, smoke, and brimstone (sulfur) that comes out of the lion-like heads on the horses. What this is saying is that one third of Antichrist’s men will die from fire, smoke, and brimstone. Then in verse 19, it says the power of the horses will be two-fold: from their mouths and their tails! Their tails are also not like an earthly horse’s tail. Their tails are like serpents, or snakes, and the head of the serpent will be able to inflict harm. They will kill one-third of Antichrist’ men by fire, smoke, and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 

It’s interesting to note that the method in which the horses kill is reflected in the description of the breastplates of the riders: “…and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone…” (v. 17). The colors on the breastplates of the horsemen symbolize how the army will kill—with fire, smoke, and brimstone. Their breastplates will have the colors of fire (red), of jacinth (dark purplish blue), and brimstone (which is yellow like sulfur). The horses will kill by fire, smoke, and brimstone pouring out of their mouths which is symbolized by the colors on their breastplates of red, purplish blue, and yellow.

When you read about the fifth trumpet judgment being lion-like horses that kill one third of Antichrist’s army by breathing out fire, smoke, and brimstone, a verse in Zechariah chapter 14 comes to mind. It talks about how the Lord will smite those who attack Jerusalem with a plague that will cause their flesh to consume away, or dissolve, while they stand on their feet: “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth” (Zec. 14:12). Oh my! Zechariah is giving us a description of what it will look like when these horses with lion’s mouths will breathe out fire, smoke, and brimstone onto Israel’s enemies! They will literally dissolve away while standing on their feet!

Will those in the seen realm be able to see this 200-million horseman army breathing out fire, smoke, and brimstone? No, I don’t think this army from the unseen realm will be visible to those in the seen realm. However, I do believe the fire, smoke, and brimstone will be visible to those in the seen realm. But that is something we won’t know until it happens.

The two plagues created by the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments are the first and second “woes.” And as awful as the army of 200-million horsemen sounds, it doesn’t complete the second woe! Incredibly, there is more to the second woe (the sixth trumpet judgment). The two witnesses are a part of the sixth trumpet judgment, and they are truly a force to be reckoned with. We’ll talk about the ministry of the two witnesses as a separate subject in chapter ten. 

Taking the Battle to Your Enemy

There is one last thing that should be noted. In war, you take the battle to your enemy. Wherever your enemy is, that is where you fight them. The fact that God will loose this 200-million horseman army from the Euphrates to kill one third of the men in Antichrist’s kingdom means that his kingdom is in the Middle East. This is yet another confirmation that the ten-toed kingdom is not made up of the European nations. The ten-toed kingdom will be made up of Middle Eastern nations.

Refusal to Repent

Rev. 9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

From verses 20–21, we learn that the remaining men not killed by the 200-million horsemen will not repent from serving and worshiping their false gods, nor will they repent of their evil deeds or their abundant sins. These judgments will not bring them to repent of their murders, their stealing, their sexual perversions, or their “sorceries.” The word for sorceries is the Greek word pharmakeia, and it could mean drugs or poison; it can also mean magical arts, or deceptions. It is where we get our English word “pharmacy.” This refusal to repent is a reflection of the hardness of their hearts as well as the strong delusion they will experience.

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