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Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

Chapter Four of this Commentary

The Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9
Also called "the second woe."

Scene 2

Out of ASIA, two hundred million horses 
bringing fire, smoke, and sulfur!

Revelation 9:15-20

15 So the four angels were released, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, to kill a third of humankind. 16 The number of the troops of cavalry was two hundred million; I heard their number. 17 And this was how I saw the horses in my vision: the riders wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur; the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke

Painting of horses coming in the heavens with fiery clouds behind them and human dwellings below them, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on Two hundred million horses and riders of Trumpet 6 of Revelation.

and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of humankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they inflict harm.

20 The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshipping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts. NRSVA

Brief resume

“…the four angelskill.” Verse 15. How do they do it? The answer is given immediately in verse 16. They do it by means of “the troops of cavalry” (NRSVA), translated as “armies of horsemen” in the American Standard Version and “army of horsemen” in the King James Version, including the KJ21.

Dear Reader, I respectfully propose for your consideration the following brief statement of my own observations and interpretation regarding this portion of the vision-prophecy of the Sixth Trumpet. It is followed by an in-depth analysis.

The “armies of horsemen” kill, not personally but by means of two hundred million plague-filled “horses.” These two hundred million “horses” represent multitudes of Asian peoples who travel out of Asia into the rest of the world carrying “three plagues.” These plagues are what “kill a third of humanity.” Why “Asian peoples?” Because the four angels are “bound” and released “at the great river Euphrates.” To the East is almost all of Asia as presently defined, with about 60% of the world’s population as of June 2022.

The two hundred million “horsemen” are, I believe, the “armies of God” of Revelation 19:11-21, or a part of them. Armies of angels who serve God. They themselves are not the bearers of the “three plagues” with which God determines to punish the hardened sinners of the “little while” in hopes of persuading them to repent. Rather their function is to providentially stir up the Asian horses (peoples) who harbor the plagues to move out into the whole world, carrying the plagues and communicating them to masses of hardened sinners, also providentially opening ways for the carriers to accomplish just that.

Painting of redish horses in yellowish skies and two men on earth pointing to them compose this image, an Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

 “Ways” Asian peoples themselves may very well have created by becoming, in the last stage of the “little while,” the overpowering commercial conglomerate of the world, and thereby perhaps the overpowering cultural, political, and military entity of the world. On the timeline

of humanity and the earth, quickly taking advantage of their immense population to break down all restrictions with regard to the right and power to travel wherever they want to with no limits on how many of their multitudinous peoples can do it. Ten million to the USA in a month if they want to. Thirty million to Europe. A hundred million to Africa.

Not with the premeditated intention of spreading the “three plagues” that “kill a third of humanity” but, nevertheless, being the instruments of God’s severe punishment on hardened sinners as a last resort on his part to get them to repent. Of course, any person with adequate knowledge of the Bible knows that the God of life and love does not want to kill any human being but rather desires “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4

In this vision, death comes to the hardened unrepentant, not by physical, earthly wars but by the “three plagues.”

The actual COVID-19 plague that began in late 2019 and continues to the present (June 21, 2022) just about perfectly illustrates what can unexpectedly and rapidly take place on a worldwide scale. 545,530,118 cases to date (June 21, 2022). 6,342,904 deaths. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ Where did it start? Precisely, in China, on the continent of Asia.

The current population of Asia is 4,718,938,577 as of Tuesday, June 21, 2022, based on the latest United Nations estimates. Equivalent to 59.76% of the total world population. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/asia-population/

When is the prophecy of the two hundred million riders and their plague-carrying horses to be fulfilled? Not during the time of the Roman Empire nor in the Middle Ages but near the end of the “little while” that precedes the Second Coming of Christ. A timeframe established in this Commentary in the Four Scenes of the Fifth Trumpet (First Woe) and Scene 1 of this Sixth Trumpet.

Difficult, metaphorical, anthropomorphic language and vision? A definite “Yes!” on my part, regarding this prophecy of the two hundred million horses and their riders. Artists who try to capture the vision usually paint or draw the horses as if they were the flesh and blood, hay-eating horses we know on earth and their riders as human beings. Naturally, our human minds tend to visualize them as such, leading us to commit what I consider to be the confusing error of forcing the metaphorical, anthropomorphic vision elements (horses, riders, lions’ heads, snake tails, etc.) into physical, material molds, settings, and relationships.

But surely the truth of the matter is that the “horses” of the vision are not the physical, grain-consuming animals most of us admire nor are the “riders” natural, physical human beings. Once we accept this, our minds are free to search for spiritual interpretations that will, of course, impact the material, physical, moral, and spiritual realms in which we move as long as we are in bodies of flesh and blood.

We can then see in the vision spiritual “riders,” that is, angels in the “armies of God,” spiritual, not literal, who providentially, or otherwise, guide or coerce human beings, as if they were “horses,” metaphorically, not literally, to fulfill God’s last-resort effort to bring hardened sinners to repentance by striking deep fear in them through three terrific plagues. We do not have to “see” angels or humans who “ride” other humans in a forced, literalistic, materialistic, physical interpretation of the vision.

If you disagree with this explanation, I would be glad to know why.
Write me at hshappley@yahoo.com.

Esteemed student of these prophecies of Revelation, if it pleases you to delve more deeply into these observations and interpretations, may you find the following in-depth study to be edifying.

Detailed analysis

III. “And the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred thousand thousand, and I heard the number of them.” KJV21

A. "…the army of the horsemen…"  Who are the “horsemen?”

Painting of lion-headed horses and their riders racing across earthly terrain with an angel standing on a promontory blowing his trumpet against skies of yellows and browns is an Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

1. What correlation is there between “the four angels” in verse 15 and “the horsemen” in verse 16? Whatever the correlation may be, no explicit verbal connection is made in the Bible text itself. That is, the relationship between the horsemen and the four angels is not stated. However, it seems rather obvious, to wit: The two hundred million horsemen are to act in accordance with the four angels, awaiting their signal to enter into action. Since the four angels and the horsemen work together, they are all on the same side with God. It may be concluded

then that the horsemen are of the “armies of God” who accompany Christ in his Second Coming. Revelation 19:14

2. The "breastplates" of the riders may also be taken as evidence that those who have them are servants of God. Their breastplates are "the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur.” Revelation 9:17. A number of translations read: “fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow.” “Hyacinth. A precious stone of the ancients sometimes held to be the sapphire.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyacinth

a) The element of "fire" appears frequently in scenes where the presence and power of the Sovereign God are made manifest, especially in those of punishment and destruction.

(1) When Moses takes his sheep “to Horeb, the mountain of God,” “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’” Exodus 3:2-5

(2) Ezequiel, in his vision of celestial scenes, sees "something that looked like fire" in the being “like a human form… seated above the likeness of a throne,” God being thus represented metaphorically. Ezequiel 1:1-28

Painting of wheels of fire and a stream of fire coming from a throne compose an image for an Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

(3) The throne of the "Ancient One" was "fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence." Daniel 7:9-10

(4) In the opening vision for the “seven trumpets” of Revelation, an

“angel took the censer” of the altar “and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth.” Revelation 8:3-5

(5) In the visions of Revelation, “Babylon the great” is "burned with fire.” Revelation 18:8

(6) Defeated forever in the battle of Armageddon, the devil, the beast, and the false prophet are “thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur.” Revelation 20:10

(7) Conclusion. God himself provides the two hundred million horsemen with “breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur” as evidence of his divine protection for them during the execution of his punishment on hardened sinners he is trying to get to repent. Revelation 9:20-21

It is worthy of note that neither angels nor human beings who serve Satan receive such breastplates.

b) The significance of the color of “sapphire” in the breastplates worn by the two hundred million riders.

Image of a large round bronze shield with a huge sapphire in the center, an Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

"Sapphire. A gem variety of corundum in transparent or translucent crystals of a color other than red. Especially: one of a transparent rich blue.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sapphire

"Sapphire" is mentioned in other visions of the celestial.

(1) “And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire.” Ezequiel 1:26; 10:1

(2) The second foundation of the wall of the celestial city of God is adorned with “sapphire. Revelation 21:19

(3) Conclusion. In the context of the celestial, the “sapphire” or its color adorns things that belong to God. Since the “color… of sapphire” is one of three colors on the breastplates of the two hundred million horsemen commanded by God’s angels, logically, the color is to be taken as another evidence that the horsemen are God’s “army,” not Satan’s.

Image of a black shield with sulfur flames in the center set against fire on a black background, an Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

c) The third color in the breastplates is “sulphur." “Sulfur, (or sulphur in British English). Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow, crystalline solid at room temperature. Historically and in literature sulfur is also called brimstone, which means 'burning stone'." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur God uses it to punish. Revelation 19:20; 20:10

3. Let us keep in mind that the deceived nations unite during the “little while” and will be proclaiming “peace and security” just before the Second Coming of Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3. This means they will not be physically fighting each other

during that “little while,” or perhaps only sporadically and in such a way that comparatively few people would be affected.

Therefore, the “army” of the Sixth Trumpet that goes out to kill “a third of humankind” is not, and does not represent, an earthly, physical army that goes out to do carnal battle against a large segment of the human population. 

Corroborating this affirmation is the fact that the two hundred million horsemen wear “breastplates,” but no mention is made of swords or any other weapon of aggression.

B. "…two hundred million..." 

1. Since the global population of the great Roman Empire was perhaps about 200,000,000 in the first century of the Common Era (Christian Age. There is much disagreement among historians and demographers on the population of the Roman Empire.), the apostle John and his contemporaries would, no doubt, have considered the number of “two hundred million horsemen” extremely high, even unbelievable.

Painting of a great throng in Heaven robed in white standing on a gold sea of glass, Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

2. It is instructive to compare this number with others in Bible texts that cast some light on the matter of the population of Heaven

a) In the vision of Daniel 7, “a thousand thousand served” the “Ancient One,” and “ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.” Daniel 7:9-10

b) In the scene of Revelation that depicts the “throne” that “stood in heaven,” the “angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders… numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.” Revelation 4:1 –

5:11. For “myriads,” many versions have “ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands.”

c) Among the visions the apostle John sees when the Sixth Seal is opened is that of “a great multitude that no one could count… standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” Revelation 7:9-17

d) After the judgments of God on the “great whore who corrupted the earth with her fornication,” there was heard “what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven…” Revelation 19:1

e) When Jesus Christ was being arrested, one of those with him struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked him, saying: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26:51-53. Legion: the principal unit of the Roman army comprising 3000 to 6000 foot soldiers with cavalry.” Twelve legions would be up to 72,000 angels.

3. Today (June 20, 2022 for this version) the population of planet Earth is 7,955,279,925. Two hundred million would be approximately .026% of that number.

According to the line of interpretation being developed, the population of the world would be still higher for the time of the fulfillment of these prophecies of the Sixth Trumpet. Thus, in our times, two hundred million does not seem to be such a great number.

4. With all, no detail of this vision obligates us to take literally the number of two hundred thousand. We may understand it as representative of a multitude at the service of God, whatever the real number may be of those who are charged with carrying out God’s punishment on human beings of the “little while” who absolutely refuse to recognize the only true Supreme Creator, not bowing to any “god” whatsoever, or preferring to worship “demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,” while continuing to commit heinous sins and crimes. Revelation 9:20

IV. The "horses" of the vision. 

17 “And this was how I saw the horses in my vision: the riders wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur; the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of humankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they inflict harm.”  Revelation 9:17-19

A. The appearance of the horses and the meaning of their uncommon attributes.

The description is highly metaphoric, like that of the locustsin the vision-prophecy of the Fifth Trumpet. Indeed, some similitude is observed between these “horses” and those “locusts.”

Painting of many horses with lions heads with laser-like beams of fire shooting from their mouths is an Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

For example, the “locusts were like horses.” While the “tails” of the “locusts” were like the tails of “scorpions, with stings,” the “tails” of the “horses… are like serpents, having heads.” The “locusts” have the “power to harm people for five months” and the “horses… inflict harm” with their tails. The “locusts” persecute and torment, but do not kill. The “three plagues” spread by the “horses” kill “a third of mankind.”

As it was concluded that the “locusts” represent human beings dedicated to very evil works, so also my understanding is that the “horses” of the Sixth Trumpet represent people. People who are used to spread the “three plagues.” In both cases, we may find the strong anthropomorphic language hard to digest and be put off by it but should strive to appreciate and understand it, for I consider it highly probable that the “locusts” have already perhaps mostly done their terrible deeds and that present-day humanity may not be so very far from the time when some of the immense multitudes of Asia will fan out over the world, carrying, though not intentionally, the “three plagues.”

“Anthropomorphic: Described or thought of as having a human form or human attributes. Ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things. Anthropomorphic deities or animals.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anthropomorphic. And, thus, anthropomorphic “locusts” and “horses.”

1. “…the heads of the horses were like lion’s heads. Revelation 9:17

The lion is a notoriously strong and fast animal, capable of running down and killing animals even larger than itself, for example, the elephant. Seizing its victim, tearing it apart, and voraciously devouring flesh and bones.

Application of the trait. The horse is also strong, fast, and resilient. If it had a lion’s head and a tail like a snake it would be a truly fearful animal. The average horse can run about 30 miles per hour. Maintained and paced, a healthy horse could cover great distances in a relatively short time. Two hundred million of them, starting at different places and staggered times, could literally gallop over vast land areas of the globe in less than a year.

Taken rhetorically, these traits mean that the “three plagues” resulting in the death of “a third of mankind” would be spread quickly over all the earth when “the hour, the day, the month, and the year” fixed for the punishment of hardened sinners comes, causing panic and many deaths. How long did it take for the coronavirus to spread around the entire globe of earth, then mutate so many times that it still remains a threat to many people 30 months after the first infections?

2. "… fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.” Revelation 9:17. Not out of the mouths of the horsemen but out of the mouths of the horses.

Image of reddish horses racing just above earth against black skies, an Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

Let’s try to visualize these horses. It is not vapor that comes out of their mouths but "… fire and smoke and sulfur,” elements that symbolize the “three plagues.” “By these three plagues,” reads the text. Revelation 9:18. Two hundred million horses from the mouths of which come"… fire and smoke and sulfur.” Two hundred million people who move around the globe like horses and from whose mouths come, when they speak, eat, drink, cough, sneeze, shout, breathe, snore, sleep, etc., plague-carrying elements. These “three plagues” are the subject of Scene 3.

3. The horses have tails and "their tails are like serpents, having heads, and with them they inflict harm". Revelation 9:19

Thus, the appearance of these anthropomorphic horses becomes ever more terrible and terrifying! Their tails are not the long, lustrous natural ones of real horses but are hard and elastic as if they were large, repulsive, poisonous serpents. And if that were not enough, their serpent-like tails have heads!

With their tails “they inflict harm.” “Inflict harm and kill.” That is the mission assigned to the two hundred million horsemen who ride two hundred million horses prepared to spread three deadly plagues among the hardened sinners of the “little while.”

It is common knowledge that the bite of a poisonous serpent can quickly result in the death of the victim. “…the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that

Abstract painting of a white horse, backview, with a black tail and demons below it, and a mouth fromwhich come flames of fire, is an Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

many Israelites died.” Numbers 21:4-9. God did that to the Israelites to punish them for their stiff-necked hardness of heart and endemic incredulity in the face of all the miracles he did in their favor.

Why, then, should it be considered strange, inconceivable, cruel, and unjust that God would bring severe punishments on the unbelieving, hardened, idolatrous, demon-worshipping, and debased sinners of the “little while?” Especially, since his overriding purpose is to provoke them to repentance.

So it is that he programs for them not only the three deadly plagues but also the “harm” that the tails like serpents with heads can cause. “Harm” that may be both physical and mental-emotional. The psychological, intellectual stress and real mental, and emotional anguish of being overrun by peoples of other races, cultures, and beliefs. Atheistic many of them. Others are idolatrous, demon worshipers. Still others, full of vices, bent on satisfying their carnal lusts, carriers of incurable sexual diseases and plague-causing viruses. Disrespectful and threatening. Not a few flaunting their own political agendas and/or demanding approval of their one-world social-culture paradigm.

Your evaluation of this study will be greatly appreciated. hshappley@yahoo.com

Category. Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. Commentary.

Revelation 9:1-4. Smoke from the Bottomless Pit comes out of not a few universities, their faculties, and student bodies.

Revelation 10:6. Going out into the FUTURE to the LAST DAY of TIME. Looking back at planet Earth in the 20th and 21st centuries.