Revelation Chapter Nine Part II

Horn used in Revelation Chapter Nine

Shofar

This is the continuation of Revelation Chapter Nine, the beginning of the Three Woes. If you have net read Revelation Capter Nine Part I go here.

Rev 9:6 “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”

The sting of this locust may not be an actual physical pain induced in the skin by a chemical sting, but rather a sting like the sting of death. Perhaps it is a spiritual, psychological, or emotional sting. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 15:56, that the sting of death is sin. Sin is the reason that these men are being tormented. Sin has kept them from being sealed. Terror and suffering is what makes them seek death. They are terrorized by these locust forces and endure an extraordinary amount of suffering when conquered by them.

Prolonged suffering can cause people to wish for death. Some who lie on their death bed who are in great pain often wish for death to come. Others with anguish of the soul wish for death. Some in poverty and great need wish for the release of death. In religions that believe in reincarnation, some might wish for this life to end so another can begin. There are many reasons men seek death. Certainly the sting of the locust hordes could cause a death wish. Yet wish as they may, those involved in the fulfillment of this prophecy would not die but continue to suffer.

When conquering armies invade a land, they leave behind death and destruction. Additionally when the army passes, the destruction and death they caused would cause a shortage of the necessities of life, e.g., food, clean water, shelter, clothing, sewage disposal, and security. Commerce ends, and lives are devastatingly changed. All the comforts one was used to no longer exist. As people go hungry, thirsty, naked, unsheltered, and insecure, and psychologically overwhelmed, many might prefer death, but life goes on. They may wish to die, and some do, but most will survive.

Similarly, a locust plague causes similar damage, stripping all vegetation from every plant, destroying the food supplies, even devouring exposed wood on and in houses, etc. The leave misery in their wake.

Rev 9:7 “And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.”

See Joel 2:4. Horses symbolize power and war. These locusts are in fact prepared for battle (A battle lost before it starts—Isa 11:4, 2 Thes 2:8, Rev 19:16). These locusts were in the manner of horses; they were not horses, it is a simile. In John’s day, the horse was transportation for warriors going to war. The archers would rain their thousands of arrows down on their enemy forces and then the foot soldiers would attack. The cavalry would follow on their horses to engage the battle. The horses were sometimes barded, or covered with metal armor. If you look at an image of a locust head on, you will see a resemblance between its head and the barding or armor for a horse’s head. The resemblance is uncanny. Locusts and large grasshoppers somewhat resemble horses, which is why Joel referred to the armies invading Israel as locusts.

The crowns again were in the manner of crowns like a golden crown. They were like (or as) golden crowns, but they were not golden crowns. There is only one in the whole New Testament with a golden crown. That is Jesus, Rev 14:14 “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” These crowns were similar to the golden crowns worn by royalty. A crown encircles the head. In ancient times, the Muslim armies wore turbans. Today soldiers wear helmets of various shapes and styles. Today the Muslim armies wear a mask similar to a ski mask. Perhaps John was describing head gear like the items mentioned here.

Why did they have the faces of men? Remember that angles we have seen in the Scriptures always take on the appearance of men, that is, males (Gen 6:4; Gen 19:1, 4,5, Mat 28:2, Luk 24:4; Rev 10:1). Demons are angels that have fallen from grace (Mat 12:24-28; Mat 25:41, Rev 12:7-9), and like their leader, Helel Ben Shachar, or Lucifer, who is Satan, the accuser of the brethren; they prowl around like roaring lions seeking whom they may devour.

Viewing a head on closeup of a locust’s face, it resembles the face of a horse.

Rev 9:8 “And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.”

See Joel 1:6. Some commentators state that the Persians and the Saracens wore long hair into battle. Perhaps. However there are now several different head coverings for soldiers engaged in modern warfare and some of these coverings might resemble long hair. In the Bible, long hair is a sign of strength, like that of Samson (Judges 16:17). It is also a sign of disgrace when a man has long hair like a woman (1 Cor 11:14). Long hair is a glory and a joy to women (1 Cor 11:15). A man who took the vow of a Nazarite was not to cut his hair until the vow was fulfilled (Num 6:5).

The bite of these locusts is much worse than their bark. Women bring life into the world; a lion brings death. Again, their appearance is deceiving. They are not really women. They are demonically inspired forces. They may appear to be benign, but they are not. Paul tells us that if a man has the hair of a woman it is a shame to him. Angels, even fallen ones, are masculine and this hair is shameful, which is to be expected of Satan’s minions. Having teeth like the teeth of lions indicated that they were very strong opponents.

On the top of the locust’s thorax is a covering that begins at the head and goes toward the rear of the insect and stops at the root of their wings. This covering also curves down over the sides of the thorax like a woman’s long hair flows over her shoulders.

Viewing a closeup of the head of a locust, there are protrusions from their mandibles that resemble the appearance of the fangs of a lion.

Rev 9:9 “And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.”

See Joel 2:5. Again, these breastplates appeared to be of iron. The word rendered breastplate can also mean simply the chest or the breast. They could have had chests that had the appearance of iron. The wings of locusts make the sound of horses running in battle. It is said that the sound of a locust swarm is thunderous like the sound of stampeding cattle or horses.

The thorax of a locust, where its six legs are attached has the appearance of a cuirass or a breast plate.

Rev 9:10 “And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.”

The flood lasted 150 days or five 30 day months.

The Revelation reiterates the fact of the sting of the scorpion and the five months of torment. See the comments on verse 5.

Rev 9:11 “And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.”

The Hebrew word Abaddon indicated destruction and the Greek equivalent, Apollyon, indicates a destroyer. There have been many destroyers throughout history even up to today. A few names came to mind, Atilla the Hun, Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler. These are a few examples of men who were conquerors and destroyers. There have been many, many more of them over the millennia.

Again, we must remember what Solomon wrote, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.” (Ecc 1:9-10). This is Abaddon or Apollyon yet a future destroyer.

This is a demonic host that has arisen from the abyss, which gives us the thought that the king over them is also demonic. This king could be a fallen angel or perhaps The Fallen Angel himself, Satan, or an emissary of Satan.

Who is a destroyer in the Scripture? In Dan 8:27 we see a prophecy of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who attempted to destroy Israel and the worship of the One True God. He desolated the Temple. We also see General Titus prophesied, who destroyed the Temple and made Israel and Jerusalem desolate. Additionally we see the coming Antichrist that will attempt to destroy God’s people. Each one of these was and will be an emissary of Satan.

One well-known Christian writer, John Bunyan, in his magnum opus, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” gave Satan the title of Apollyon. Though He never directly names Apollyon as Satan, he gives Apollyon the attributes of Satan: Destroyer, Angel, Dragon, and the Prince of this World.

Commentators have a variety of persons they attribute this Abaddon/Apollyon to. This author sees him as a Demon like the Prince of Persia or the Prince of Greece (Dan 10:20), or as “the great dragon…that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world,” who was “cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev 12:9).

Gill and Barnes both make the point that the locust armies are possibly the armies of Muhammad that is, the Muslim or Saracen hordes. The name of Muhammad’s god, who is the god of Islam, is Allah and one of Allah’s names is Al-Mumit, “the destroyer of life,” literally “The Destroyer, The Bringer of Death” (Surah’s 3:156, 7:158, 15:23, 57:2).

Is it possible that the locust army is a prophecy of the radical Muslims bent on conquering the world and killing anyone that will not convert to Islam by beheading? It is most definitely possible. However that is subject that would be better addressed in study dedicated to that topic. There are commercial books and Internet essays available that are dedicated to that topic. For Barnes’ Notes on this subject, See Appendix 5.

Rev 9:12 “One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.”

The sixth trumpet heralds the second woe.

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,”

In the first chapter where John sees Jesus among the golden candlesticks, there is no mention of an altar. But we know there is an altar before the throne in Heaven. There is mention of it in Rev 6:10, where the souls under it are asking God “How long?” and in Rev 8:3, where the incense is poured out.

In the Tabernacle and Temple, the golden altar stood in the Holy Place before the veil that divided the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place and was used to provide the fire for the incense (Ex 40:26 & 27). The temple was just a shadow of heavenly things: “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount [Sinai or Horeb] (Heb 8:5).” The golden altar in front of the veil in the temple was an earthly shadow or replica of the true altar in heaven. That is the altar in Heaven from whence came the voice. It is before God; God is on His Throne; it is therefore before His Throne. The voice is coming from the Throne. It is the Voice of God.

Rev 9:14 “Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.”

This is Middle English from the KJV (the KJV writers followed the Middle English syntax of William Tyndale, and the Geneva Bible. The spelling was changed in 1789). Having lived in England for several years, I learned a good bit about UK English syntax and idiom. Though UK English and American English are very closely related, there are some prominent dissimilarities. I will give one example, which is appropriate to our study. In the USA we say that we live on a particular street. Someone may live on Walnut Street or on Main Street. But in England one would say, with the same exact meaning, that he lives in a particular street. One may live in Fleet Street or in Watling Road. The statements on First Street, and in First Street mean that a person resides inside a house built adjacent to First Street. One is the Queen’s English and the other is American English, but both express the same exact meaning. Only a few translations state “in the Euphrates.” virtually all modern translations state, “at the Euphrates.” A few modern translations state, “beside the Euphrates.”

Now, if we apply this to the river Euphrates, we might find that the angels who are bound in the river are actually bound near it. This gives us a better sense of reality here. The angels are not bound and weighted down under the water of the Euphrates, they are bound near enough to it to be considered in it, on it, at it, or beside it.

In fact, a more literal rendering of the Greek affirms this. Let me quote from J.P. Green and his Literal Translation of the Bible (this can be found in the margin of Green’s Interlinear Bible). “saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, Release the four angels, those having been bound at the great river Euphrates.” (Emphasis is mine). The Greek is èpi tõ potamõ tõ megálo, “at the river the great”. The word èpi means over, upon, at, on, of direction, towards, upon, about, above, after, against, among, as long as (touching), at, beside and other words. They all have the same general meaning of relation or superimposition. The angels were not bound in the river, they were bound at the river. Most translations render this “at the great river.”

Angels are messengers. Some are messengers of good news like the angels that appeared to the shepherds in the fields watching their flocks in the nighttime (Luk 2:10). They brought tidings of great joy heralding the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Some are messengers of prophecy like Gabriel giving Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks (Dan 9:21). Others bring warnings, like the angel that told Joseph to take Mary and the Baby Jesus into Egypt to protect the Child from Herod (Mat 2:13). An angel went ahead of Joshua and Israel as to drive out Israel’s enemies as they made their way to the Promised Land (Exo 33:2).

Here we see angels bringing the wrath of God against His enemies. It matters not whether these angels were good or evil, or just symbolic. In any case, they are bringing the wrath of God. These angels are bound, that is, they were restrained in some way. They were likely not physically bound with chains, ropes, or some other physical restraint. God kept them there until the timing was right to release them. They were prepared in advance for this sortie but were held back by God until needed. In the game of American football, there are several smaller teams that comprise the main team. There are the offense, the defense, the punting team, the kicking team, the receiving team, etc. They are held on the bench until needed. That is what is going on here.

In Scripture we often see angels and the number four together (Mat 24:31; Mar 13:27; Rev 7:1 & 2; 9:14 &15). Additionally we see the phrase “the four winds” in several places. In Matthew, Mark and Revelation, we see angels and the four winds together. Some commentators reason that these four angels bound at the Euphrates go to the four winds of the earth, indicating the four points of the compass, with their armies to destroy unrepentant sinners the world over. That is certainly a viable position because a similar action takes place in Rev 20:7 & 8.

There are a couple of things to consider about the Euphrates. The name of the Euphrates simply means “river;” it is derived from a word meaning “rushing” indicating the flowing waters of a river. The Euphrates was the northern boundary of the Promised Land, which extended from the Wadi El-Arish, or the river of Egypt north to The Euphrates, East to the Mediterranean, and west to the land of the Ammonites (Gen 15:8; Deu 1:7; 11:24; Josh 1:4; 13:10).

Through the centuries, the Euphrates had been a protective boundary separating Israel from the empires and armies of the East. The Great River had bound them or restrained them from attacking Israel. The picture here is of a vast army headed by four generals that are no longer restrained by the river but are loosed and ready to attack and slaughter the people at a specific time prepared well in advance.

These angels are reminiscent of the four generals of Alexander: Ptolemy, Antigonus, Seleucus, and Cassander. Upon Alexander’s untimely death, they divided his kingdom into four parts toward the four winds of heaven, or the four points of the compass. (Dan 11:4). Ptolemy took Egypt to the south, Antigonus Asia to the north, Seleucus, Syria to the east, and Cassander Macedonia to the west. Again, as Solomon wrote, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecc 1:9).

The Euphrates stood between Israel and her enemy Babylon and protected Israel for centuries. It was a natural boundary that would considerably slow the advance of an army. However, major attacks from Israel’s enemies often came from the other side of the Euphrates. That includes Assyria and Babylon. The seasonal overflowing of the river was symbolic of the armies of Assyria and Babylon overflowing the land of Israel. God used both Assyria and Babylon, and other enemies to bring his wrath upon the people of Israel. Thus the Euphrates was a symbol of the impending judgment of God. Here we see the Euphrates once again used as a symbol of God’s wrath.

Rev 9:15 “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.”

It has always been God’s plan to release these angels at this particular time for this particular purpose. That purpose is to kill a third of the people alive at this stated time.

For a discussion of the fraction one third, see the notes on Revelation 8:7.

Rev 9:16 “And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.”

This army, which is commanded by the four angels, is 200 million strong. It is of interest to note that the Chinese say that they can field an army of 200 million. Perhaps the can or perhaps they cannot. We may also note that there are over one and one-half billion Muslims in the world today. If just of them joined the Jihad against the world, there would be more that 200,000,000 of them in that army.

However, that is not what we see here. Nor is that a likely scenario. We dare not attempt to force Scripture into current situations, events, or affairs. That is opinion, not provable, not relevant, and leads to a false understanding of the Scriptures. These are demonic hordes and the description is to show that the wrath of God against unbelievers is insurmountable when it occurs. These are not armies of men, but demonic forces arrayed against men. They will not be stopped by men.

This number is used to give the picture of uncountable hordes; it is therefore symbolic. You could not see all of an assembled 200,000,000-man army unless you were located extremely high in the atmosphere. From a position on the ground, they would flow over the horizon, cutting of your view of most of them. It would seem useless to battle them.

Rev 9:17 “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.”

Jacinth in the KJV follows the practice of Tyndale and Geneva, which mistranslated the Greek word, υακινθινους, huakinthous or hyakinthous as Jacinth. The word should have been translated hyacinth. The hyacinth is lily-like flower that ranges in color from white to yellow, to red to blue and purple; they are most commonly blue. Unlike lilies, these flowers grow in bunches over most of the stem.

Jacinth is a stone; a form of zircon that is deep red to purple in color. Please note that Strong’s and Thayer’s dictionaries both say Jacinth and hyacinth are blue. Actually the stone called jacinth, or zircon, is deep reddish brown.

Brimstone is another name for sulfur, which is yellow. The word rendered “fire” actually means fiery. So the color of these breastplates was a combination of fiery red, blue, and yellow. Breastplates of literal fire could be implied from this statement. But note that the colors of the breastplates match the issuance from the horses’ mouths. A horse is not a predator; it is a browser. The lion is a predator. That is why the horses had the heads of lions. As horses, they were the conveyances of an army; as lions they were predators.

Fire smoke and brimstone issued forth from the horses’ mouths. Fire and brimstone are common elements of judgment of the wicked. A glaring example is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Many have reported that when horses ride into battle they breathe and snort heavily; in cooler weather, their breath could have resembled smoke.

There is no reason to speculate exactly what John described here. There have been many attempts to do so. Some commentators see firearms and artillery here or perhaps tanks. Let us just accept that these were ferocious mounted armed combatants; they are also demonic and quite frightening. They were a gargantuan army of aggressive warriors who would kill many. Beyond that, speculation is dubious.

Rev 9:18 “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.”

Several manuscripts have “By these three plagues…” These plagues are fire, smoke, and brimstone. Notice that not only did the fire and sulfur kill, the smoke did as well. Most people killed in building fires are killed by smoke inhalation.

This is as good time to remind ourselves what Zechariah wrote about the thirds of mankind. Remember that what has happened in the past will also happen in the future (Ecc1:9):

Zechariah 13:7-9 tells us that two thirds of mankind will die, one third by plague or famine, and the other third by sword. The remaining third will be tried and refined by fire and Yehovah will call them “My People” and they will say “Yehovah is my God.” This is precisely what occurs in Revelation.

One third of the people who are believers will be spared when Jesus returns (Rev 14:14,15). One third of mankind is killed by the plagues from in Revelation chapters eight and nine (Rev 9:18). One third will remain (Rev 9:20) and be killed later by the sharp sword proceeding for the mouth of The Word of God, that is the returning Jesus the Messiah (Rev19:15).

Rev 9:19 “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.”

Remember that out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. One power of the mouth is its ability to praise or lie. James 3:10 “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

AND James 3:5-8 “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! {6} And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. {7} For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: {8} But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

AND Mat 15:17-18 “Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? {18} But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

The power of the mouth is that to bless and to curse, to be truthful or to lie, to love or to hate, to build up or tear down. The mouth and the tongue within can inflict many types of damage, from the ruin of a reputation through deceit to the destruction of lives and property through war.

These combatants had the power to hurt in their mouths and their tails. Remember the locust army from the pit? They had the power to inflict pain but not death. Here these horses of the 200 million strong army were able to cause death. The tails had the heads of serpents. Evidently they were poisonous serpents for the tails could kill.

Since John is being shown the “things which must be hereafter,” this 200 million strong army will be assembled in John’s future and in our future. There is to be a future battle in Israel. It is known as the battle of Armageddon. However, no actual battle takes place at Armageddon, rather the armies of the kings of the earth are gathered there. At that place there will be no battle at all for Jesus will speak and the armies will be defeated.

Rev 9:20-21 “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.”

It is amazing that men will still reject God even after they see all these events. Perhaps it is not so amazing. After all, the Israelites saw many mighty miracles of God when he freed them from Egypt, yet they grumbled incessantly. The truth of the matter is that they do not believe God has the right to do such things and that makes them hate him. How many unbelievers today will say that God is a God of war and death and destruction instead of a loving and caring God that died for their sins? They reject Him and do not believe he has the right to condemn them. They do not realize that God does not condemn them. They, through their own actions and unbelief condemn themselves.

Mark Oaks 10/5/2019

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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