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Originally posted by Bloodbought:
The bow is not a symbol of peace, but of judgment.

There are many references to the bow in the hand of the Lord, but not in the hand of the enemy.
One such reference is Habakkuk 3:9

Habakkuk 3:8–9
8 Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? Was thine anger against the rivers? Was thy wrath against the sea, That thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?
9 Thy bow was made quite naked, According to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.

For starters, the white horseman carries a bow, a weapon of war. Strangely, John makes no mention of arrows or a quiver, although we may infer the former, since a bow is nearly worthless without arrows. (Then again, the lack of arrows may suggest war fought, not with blood-letting weapons, but with words or ideas; see Psalm 11:2; 64:2-4; Jeremiah 9:8; Ephesians 6:16.) A bow is a purely offensive weapon, even more so than a sword, and is highly effective from long range (for example, archers killed Uriah the Hittite and kings Ahab of Israel and Josiah of Judah). Thus, the foremost idea behind this biblical symbol is powerful, penetrating, deadly accuracy with an intimation of distance.

The white horseman's bow, then, represents an effective instrument of God's judgment on the world for rebellion against Him. Unlike the sword that Christ wields (Revelation 19:15), the bow's long range hints at God being somewhat removed in His judgment, yet it is just as devastating in its effectiveness at meting out justice. In addition, whereas the sword symbolizes the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12)—His truth—the bow suggests a counterfeit "truth" or a false gospel. As II Thessalonians 2:11-12 says, "God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

The rider of the white horse is given a crown to wear, after which he goes "out conquering and to conquer." These two symbols are related both in their proximity in the verse and in their meanings. First, the word order suggests that being endowed with a crown allows or authorizes the horseman to go to war. Who gives him this crown? Notice Romans 13:1: "For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." An angel tells Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:17, "The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men." God is sovereign over all earthly authority, and it is from Him that this horseman receives his crown and purpose.

Second, crowns generally represent some state of honor or blessing for the wearer. We normally associate crowns with royalty, which in Classical Greek is represented by the word diadema, which has come down to us as "diadem." The word in Revelation 6:2, however, is stéfanos, a circlet, wreath, or garland, oftentimes made of leaves and twigs but sometimes of precious metals. It was awarded as a prize of victory or triumph, as a symbol of honor or authority, as a badge of civic worth or military valor, or as a sign of nuptial joy or festal gladness. Due to the verse's heavy martial emphasis, it is likely that the horseman's crown signifies triumph, authority, or military valor.

Third, this horseman goes "out conquering and to conquer," a fairly literal rendering of the Greek. To us, this phraseology sounds strange, but it is merely expressing two different tenses of the same verb (nikao, "conquer," "subdue," "overcome," "prevail," "get the victory"): the present participle and the aorist subjunctive. In other words, John is telling us that the horseman begins and continues to conquer, and he will certainly conquer or will ultimately conquer (see A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament on this verse). The implication is that his entire purpose is to conquer, to dominate, to subjugate the peoples of the earth.

Overall, the white horse and its rider are vivid representations of a powerful, aggressive, victorious force running unrestrained over mankind. Like a knight in armor or a soldier in full dress uniform, the first horseman appears to the eye as glorious and noble, but its intent is to kill, destroy, and subdue its enemies. Its white façade is deceptive, concealing a deadly, unholy purpose.

These interpretations of the symbols may seem highly speculative and arbitrary until we unlock their mystery with the key supplied by Jesus Christ Himself in the Olivet Prophecy. In a series of four verses, He decodes the meanings of the Four Horsemen. Of the white horseman, He says: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5; see Mark 13:5-6; Luke 21:8). The white horse and its rider represent religious deception.

You also twisted Habakkuk 3:8–9 to back up your falsehood..

Habakkuk 3:7-19

That is all.....

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The bow is not a symbol of peace, but of judgment.

There are many references to the bow in the hand of the Lord, but not in the hand of the enemy.
One such reference is Habakkuk 3:9

Habakkuk 3:8–9
8 Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? Was thine anger against the rivers? Was thy wrath against the sea, That thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?
9 Thy bow was made quite naked, According to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.

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Betty Louise
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The anti-Christ is on the white horse. The rider has a bow and no arrows, just as the antichrist will conqueror through words of peace.

Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

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Because of His supernatural nature He can multitask.
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So how does the Lamb get on that white horse when he already is doing something else, like opening up seals?

That is all.....

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I tend to agree with William Hendriksen, that the rider on the white horse is Christ and not the antichrist.

Mr Hendriksen writes.

Each of the four ‘living ones’ takes his turn in introducing a horseman. As with a voice of thunder he says, ‘Be going.’ The call, in each case, is addressed to the rider.

a. The white horse. ‘And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and the one sitting upon it having a bow; and there was given to him a crown: and he went out conquering and to conquer.’ We agree with the view of many eminent interpreters who regard the rider upon the white horse as symbolizing the Christ. We have arrived at this conclusion after very careful study and on the basis of the following considerations.
First of all, this view is in harmony with the context. Remember that in the first three chapters we saw the Christ-indwelt Church shining in the midst of the world. You recall, no doubt, the very vivid portrayal of the Son of man revealing His presence among the lampstands (1:13 ff.). Whenever Christ appears, Satan becomes busy: trials are in store for God’s children. In the section which we are studying, chapters 4–7, we have already seen this same Christ pictured as the Lamb who takes the scroll of God’s decree and opens the seals. Concerning this Lamb we read: ‘Behold, he has conquered, namely, the Lion, the one out of the tribe of Judah …’
This was stated in 5:5. The rest of that chapter contains the description of the adoration of the Lamb. Now chapter 6 opens with the symbolism of the rider who went out ‘conquering and to conquer’. Does not the conclusion seem warranted that in both chapters the ‘Conqueror’ is the same person?
Secondly, this view is in harmony with a careful word-study.
(i) This horse is ‘white’. The colour ‘white’ is always associated with that which is holy and heavenly. Think of the white garments, white cloud, white throne, white stone, etc. It is certain, therefore, that the rider upon the white horse cannot be the devil or the antichrist.
(ii) The rider receives a crown. This harmonizes well with 14:14, where we read that Christ was wearing a crown of gold.
(iii) Finally, wherever in this book the word ‘conquer’ occurs—with two exceptions—it refers either to Christ or to believers. The two nearest passages to the one which we are now considering are Revelation 3:21b and 5:5. In both of these cases this conquering is predicated of Christ. Then in his Gospel the apostle John uses the word just once (16:33), and here again it refers to Christ. Let us quote these four passages under each other:
John 16:33: ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have conquered the world.’
Revelation 3:21b: ‘as I also conquered, and sat down with my Father in his throne.’
Revelation 5:5: ‘Behold, he has conquered, the Lion, the one out of the tribe of Judah.’
Revelation 6:2: ‘and he went forth conquering and to conquer.’ Meditate on this exalted phrase. We feel sure that, had you never heard another interpretation, you would at once have said: ‘This is the conquering Christ.’
Thirdly, this interpretation is demanded by the parallel passage in the book of Revelation itself. In Revelation 19:11 we have another instance of a rider upon a white horse. In that passage we are definitely told that rider is the Christ, the Word of God, Faithful and True. His name is ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’. Excellent commentators have felt that it is entirely impossible to escape the strength of this argument. To say that the rider on the white horse in 19:11 ff. must be another than the rider on the white horse in 6:2 because the details in the two descriptions differ misses the point! We expect the details to differ somewhat. That does not argue against our view but corroborates our position. In Revelation 5:5 we read that Christ ‘has conquered’. This refers to the accomplished redemption on the cross of Golgotha. In 6:2 the rider on the white horse is introduced as ‘conquering and to conquer’. That conquest is being carried on at present. In 19:13 the rider upon the white horse is described as clothed with a garment ‘sprinkled with blood’, that is, the blood of His enemies. Thus, He is going to conquer in the great day of judgment. Thus also we are told that He now wears a crown (6:2). By and by He will have on His head ‘many diadems’ (19:12), for He will have conquered many. Frankly, we do not see how anyone is justified in saying that the rider on the white horse in 6:2 means one thing, and in 19:11 ff. something else. Why not permit the Apocalypse to explain its own symbolism?
Fourthly, the idea that the Conqueror upon the white horse is the Christ is in harmony with the very genius and purpose of the book of Revelation. We have indicated that the very theme of this book is the victory of Christ and of His Church. Thus, again and again our Lord Jesus Christ is represented as the One who has conquered, is conquering, shall conquer. (Read carefully the following passages: Rev. 1:13 ff.; 2:26, 27; 3:21; 5:5; 6:16; 11:15; 12:11; 14:1 ff.; 14:14 ff.; 17:14; 19:11.) The idea of the conquering Christ is as a thread running through this book from beginning to end. If anyone should hesitate to believe this, let him read and study the references which we have just given.
Out of all these references we select just one for quotation in full, namely, 17:14: ‘These shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they also shall conquer that are with him, called and chosen and faithful.’
Therefore, when we say that in 6:2 the rider upon the white horse is the Christ, we are simply expressing an idea which is in harmony with the entire book.
Fifthly, the view that the rider on the white horse in 6:2 is the Christ is in harmony with what is found in Matthew 10:34. Just as in that passage it is Christ who brings the sword, so that Christ and sword follow one another, so here in Revelation 6:2, 3 the rider on the white horse is followed by the rider on the red horse who receives a sword.
Sixthly, this interpretation is strongly supported by its parallel in Psalm 45:3–5:
‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O mighty one!
Thy glory and thy majesty!
And in thy majesty ride on prosperously
In behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness!
And let thy right hand teach thee terrible things!
Thine arrows sharpened! Nations under thy feet!’ The LXX has ‘And in thy majesty ride, and bend the bow, and prosper and reign …’
Notice the striking similarities. Revelation 6:2 pictures the rider going forth conquering and to conquer; so does Psalm 45 (‘in thy majesty ride on prosperously’). Revelation 6:2 tells us that the rider was equipped with a bow; so does Psalm 45 (in the LXX translation). But does Psalm 45 refer to Christ? On this point there can be no doubt. Scripture itself quotes part of the description of the rider of Psalm 45 and tells us that this refers to ‘the Son’ (Heb. 1:8).
We see, therefore, that the Old Testament—and remember that the Apocalypse is immersed in the symbolism of the Old Testament—pictures the Messiah, equipped with bow (cf. Rev. 6:2) and sword (cf. Rev. 19:15), riding forth prosperously. Then, why not grant that here, in Revelation 6:2, the rider on the white horse refers to the same exalted Person?
Seventhly, another parallel passage which may be cited in support of our view is Zechariah 1:8 ff. The identification of the rider upon the first horse in Zechariah’s vision with the Christ is not improbable. (Cf. also Hab. 3:8, 9; Is. 41:2.)
Our Lord Jesus Christ is conquering now; that is, throughout this present dispensation His cause is going forward, for He is exercising both His spiritual and His universal Kingship. By means of the Word (gospel: Mt. 24:14) and the Spirit, the testimonies and the tears of His disciples, His own intercession and their prayers, the angels of heaven and armies on earth, the trumpets of judgment and the bowls of wrath, our Lord is riding forth victoriously, conquering and to conquer. That, in all probability, is the meaning of the rider on the white horse.

After explaining his study of the four horses and their riders, Mr Hendriksen continues.
“We have reached the following conclusion with respect to the meaning of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse:
The rider on the white horse is our Lord Jesus Christ.
The rider on the red horse represents slaughter.
The rider on the black horse represents economic hardship and poverty due to injustice.
The second and the third seals symbolize the direct persecution of the Church by the world.
The rider on the livid horse represents Death, the sword (warfare), famine, pestilence, wild beasts. These are the common woes of humanity described here from the aspect of their effect upon the kingdom of God."

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Betty Louise
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Thank you for sharing.

Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

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Carol Swenson
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THE SEAL JUDGMENTS (Rev. 6:1-17; 8:1–9:21; see also Mt. 24:4-8).

The first seal (Rev. 6:2).

“And I saw, and behold, a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him; and he went forth conquering and to conquer.” This is doubtless a symbolic picture of the antichrist as he subdues to himself the ten nations of the revived Roman Empire. This may be thought of as the “cold war” period. We note he carries no arrow, which may indicate conquest by diplomacy rather than a shooting war.

The second seal (Rev. 6:3, 4).

“And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red; and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword.”

The uneasy peace which the rider on the white horse brings to earth is temporary and counterfeit. The antichrist promises peace, but only God can actually produce it.

As Isaiah would write, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa. 57:20, 21). Now open and bloody hostility breaks out among some of the nations.

The third seal (Rev. 6:5, 6).

“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

Dr. Charles Ryrie writes the following concerning this seal:

“The third judgment brings famine to the world. The black horse forebodes death, and the pair of balances bespeaks a careful rationing of food. Normally, a ‘penny’ (a Roman denarius, a day’s wages in Palestine in Jesus’ day, Mt. 20:2) would buy eight measures of wheat or twenty-four of barley.

Under these famine conditions the same wage will buy only one measure of wheat or three of barley. In other words, there will be one-eighth of the normal supply of food. The phrase ‘see thou hurt not the oil and the wine’ is an ironic twist in this terrible situation. Apparently luxury food items will not be in short supply, but of course most people will not be able to afford them. This situation will only serve to taunt the populace in their impoverished state.” (Revelation, p. 45, 46)

Will the food problem really be as bad as all this during the tribulation?

Dean Stanley has written a graphic description of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 b.c., and the terrible famine which followed. His words serve as a faint hint of the horrible conditions which prevail during the third seal. Stanley writes:

“Famine and its accompanying visitation of pestilence ravaged the crowded population within the walls. It was only by a special favour of the king that a daily supply of bread was sent to Jeremiah, in his prison, from the bakers’ quarters, and at last even this failed. The nobles, who had prided themselves on their beautiful complexions, purer than snow, whiter than milk, ruddy as rubies, polished as sapphires (Lam. 4:7), had become ghastly and black with starvation. Their wasted skeleton forms could hardly be recognized in the streets. The ladies of Jerusalem, in their magnificent crimson robes, might be seen sitting in despair on the dunghills. From these foul heaps were gathered morsels to eke out the failing supply of food (Lam. 4:5). There was something specially piteous in the sight of the little children, with their parched tongues, fainting in the streets, asking for bread, crying to their mothers for corn and wine (Lam. 2:11, 12, 19). There was something still more terrible in the hardening feeling with which the parents turned away from them. The Hebrew mothers seemed to have lost even the instincts of the brute creation, to have sunk to the level of the unnatural ostriches that leave their nests in the wilderness (Lam. 4:3). Fathers devoured the flesh of their own sons and their own daughters (Ezek. 5:10; Baruch 2:3). The hands even of compassionate mothers have sodden their own children, the mere infants just born (Lam. 2:20; 4:10).” (The Unfolding Drama of Redemption, p. 363, quoted by W. G. Scroggie)

The fourth seal (Rev. 6:7, 8).

“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

1. The identity of these riders. John calls them “Death” and “Hell,” apparently referring to physical and spiritual death. Thus the devil will destroy the bodies and damn the souls of multitudes of unbelievers during this third-seal plague.

2. The damage done by these riders. One-fourth of all humanity perishes during this plague. It is estimated that during the Second World War one out of forty persons lost their lives, but this seal judgment alone will claim one out of four persons—nearly one billion human beings! We note the phrase, “with the beasts of the earth.” Here John Phillips has written:

“The beasts are closely linked with the pestilence, and this might be a clue. The most destructive creature on earth as far as mankind is concerned, is not the lion or the bear, but the rat. The rat is clever, adaptable, and destructive. If ninety-five percent of the rat population is exterminated in a given area, the rat population will replace itself within a year. It has killed more people than all the wars in history, and makes its home wherever man is found. Rats carry as many as thirty-five diseases. Their fleas carry bubonic plague, which killed a third of the population of Europe in the fourteenth century. Their fleas also carry typhus, which in four centuries has killed an estimated two hundred million people. Beasts, in this passage, are linked not only with pestilence, but with famine. Rats menace human food supplies, which they both devour and contaminate, especially in the more underdeveloped countries which can least afford to suffer loss.” (Exploring Revelation, p. 116)

Also to be noted are the words of Dr. Frank Holtman, head of the University of Tennessee bacteriological department.

“While the greater part of a city’s population could be destroyed by an atomic bomb, the bacteria method might easily wipe out the entire population within a week. The virus causing parrot fever, one of the most deadly of human diseases, is appraised by scientists as being the most preferable for this purpose. While the cost of producing psittacosis bombs is comparatively cheap, its lethal potency is extremely high. According to Thomas R. Henry, science editor, less than one cubic centimeter of this virus is required to infect 20 million human beings when released in the air as an infinitesimal spray.”

The fifth seal (Rev. 6:9-11).

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

Here is religious persecution as never before! These three verses are loaded with theological implications.

1. They refute the damnable doctrine of soul-sleep.

2. They correct the error of one general resurrection. It is evident that these martyred souls did not receive their glorified bodies at the rapture, as did the church-age saints. Therefore it can be concluded that these are Old Testament saints who will experience the glorious bodily resurrection after the tribulation (see Rev. 20:4-6).

3. They suggest the possibilities of an intermediate body. (See also 2 Cor. 5:1-3.) Dr. John Walvoord writes:

“These martyred dead here pictured have not been raised from the dead and have not received their resurrection bodies. Yet it is declared that they are given robes. The fact that they are given robes would almost demand that they have a body of some sort. A robe could not hang upon an immaterial soul or spirit. It is not the kind of body that Christians now have, that is, the body of earth; nor is it the resurrection body of flesh and bones of which Christ spoke after His own resurrection. It is a temporary body suited for their presence in heaven but replaced in turn by their everlasting resurrection body given at the time of Christ’s return.” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 134)

The sixth seal (6:12-17).

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

As it can be seen, this fearful judgment ushers in:

1. The greatest earthquake in history. There have, of course, been hundreds of severe earthquakes in man’s history.

a. The earliest recorded was in July of 365 in the Middle East.

b. The most destructive was in January of 1556 in China. Nearly one million lost their lives.

c. The worst in the United States:

(1) The San Francisco earthquake, April 18, 1906. Killed 700 people. Cost $500 million.

(2) The Anchorage, Alaska, earthquake, March 27, 1964. Killed 114. Cost $750 million. But at the end of the tribulation there will be one even worse than the one occurring in the sixth seal. (See Rev. 16:18.)

2. The greatest cosmic disturbances in history. These may be a result of nuclear war. Hal Lindsey writes:

“Do you know what happens in a nuclear explosion? The atmosphere rolls back on itself! It’s this tremendous rush of air back into the vacuum that causes much of the destruction of a nuclear explosion. John’s words in this verse are a perfect picture of an all-out nuclear exchange. When this happens, John continues, every mountain and island will be jarred from its present position. The whole world will be literally shaken apart!” (There’s a New World Coming, p. 110)

3. The greatest prayer meeting in history. But they prayed for the wrong thing. The only object to protect the sinner from the wrath of the Lamb is the righteousness of the Lamb.

The seventh seal (8:1–11:19).

“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (8:1). This marks the only occasion in recorded history that heaven is silent. There is not the slightest sound or movement.

1. The purpose of the silence. During the sixth seal, mankind seemed to weaken for the first time during the tribulation. A merciful and patient God now awaits further repentance, but all to no avail. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11).

2. The duration of the silence. It lasted for thirty minutes. The number thirty in the Bible is often associated with mourning. Israel mourned for thirty days over the death of both Aaron (Num. 20:29) and Moses (Deut. 34:8).


The first trumpet (8:7).

“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth; and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up” (Rev. 8:7).

It has been observed that plant life was the first to be created, and it is the first to be destroyed (Gen. 1:11, 12). John Phillips writes:

“Looked upon as a literal occurrence, an ecological disaster without parallel in historic times is described. The planet is denuded of a third of its trees and all of its grass. The consequences of this are bound to be terrible. The United States, for example, has already proceeded with deforestation to such an extent that the country contains only enough vegetation to produce sixty percent of the oxygen it consumes.” (Exploring Revelation, p. 129)

The second trumpet (8:8, 9).

“And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”

Dr. Herman A. Hoyt writes:

“Here we read of a great mountain burning with fire. This may refer to a meteoric mass from the sky falling headlong into the sea, perhaps the Mediterranean Sea. The result is to turn a third part of the sea a blood-red color and bring about the death of a third part of the life in the sea. Death may be caused by the chemical reaction in the water, such as radioactivity following atomic explosion. The third part of ships may be destroyed by the violence of the waters produced by the falling of the mass.” (Revelation, p. 49)

The third trumpet (8:10, 11).

“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood; and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”

This star could refer to a meteor containing stifling and bitter gases, which fall on the Alps or some other freshwater source. During the second trumpet a third of the salt water was contaminated. Now a third of earth’s fresh water suffers a similar fate. Many species of wormwood grow in Palestine. All species have a strong, bitter taste.

The fourth trumpet (8:12).

“And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise” (Rev. 8:12).

Our Lord may have had this trumpet judgment in mind when he spoke the following words:

“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Mt. 24:22).

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars” (Lk. 21:25).

The Old Testament prophecy of Amos is also significant here:

“And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day” (Amos 8:9).

It was on the fourth day that God created the sun, moon, and stars (Gen. 1:14-16). They were to be for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years.” After the flood, God promised not to alter this divine arrangement (Gen. 8:22). But in the tribulation, during the fourth trumpet, earth’s very light will be limited by judgment. Between the fourth and fifth trumpets, John reports:

“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound” (8:13).

The word “angel” here should be translated “eagle.” An eagle is sometimes pictured as God’s method of judgment (Deut. 28:49; Hosea 8:1). Thus, even the brute creation will be used by God during the tribulation. This marks the last of three occasions on which a creature speaks in the Bible. (For the other two, see Gen. 3:1-5—a serpent; and Num. 22:28-30—an *** .)

The fifth trumpet (9:1-12).

Vernon McGee writes:

“The last three trumpets are marked off from the other four by identification with the three woes (8:13; 9:12; 11:14). These woes mark the deepest darkness and most painful intensity of the Great Tribulation. This is generally associated with the last part (3 1/2 years), the blackest days in human history.” (Reveling Through Revelation, p. 73)

The ninth chapter of Revelation, which contains both fifth and sixth trumpet judgments, may be the most revealing section in all the Bible concerning the subject of demonology. Prior to this, God has already made it known that there are two kinds of unfallen angels. These are the Cherubim (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:8; Ezek. 10:1-20), and the Seraphim (Isa. 6:1-8). Here he may be describing for us the two kinds of fallen angels. We now note the first type as revealed by the fifth trumpet judgment.

(1) The location of these demons—the bottomless pit (9:1). Literally this phrase is “shaft of the abyss.” The word “shall” here indicates that there is an entrance from the surface of the earth to the heart of our planet. In this chapter we learn for the first time of a place called the bottomless pit. God mentions it no less than seven times in the book of Revelation (9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1-3).

(2) The identity of these demons. Some have identified these with the sons of God in Genesis 6:1, 2. Here the theory is that these demons attempted sexual relations with women, resulting in immediate confinement in the bottomless pit. We do know that some demons are already chained and others at present have access to the bodies of men.

(a) Unchained demons (Lk. 4:34; Mt. 8:29; Lk. 8:27-31).

(b) Chained demons (Jude 1:6, 7; 2 Pet. 2:4; 1 Pet. 3:18-20). Thus another name for this bottomless pit may be the tartarus mentioned in the Greek text of 2 Peter 2:4. Here Satan will be later confined during the millennium (Rev. 20:3).

(3) The one who releases these demons. This “fallen star” mentioned in 9:1 seems to be Satan himself. (See also Isa. 14:12; Lk. 10:18; 2 Cor. 11:14.) Prior to this time, Christ has held the key to the pit (Rev. 1:18), but now allows the devil to use it for a specific purpose.

(4) The torment of these demons (9:3, 4).

“And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”

J. A. Seiss writes:

“The pain from the sting of a scorpion, though not generally fatal, is, perhaps, the most intense that any animal can inflict upon the human body. The insect itself is the most…malignant that lives, and its poison is like itself. Of a boy stung in the foot by a scorpion (it was related that)…he rolled on the ground, grinding his teeth, and foaming at the mouth. It was a long time before his complainings moderated, and even then he could make no use of his foot, which was greatly inflamed. And such is the nature of the torment which these locusts from the pit inflict. They are also difficult to be guarded against, if they can be warded off at all, because they fly where they please, dart through the air, and dwell in darkness.” (The Apocalypse, p. 83)

(5) The duration of these demons.

Charles Ryrie writes:

“Horrible as the torment will be, God will place certain limitations on the activity of these demons. They will be limited as to what they may strike and as to how far they may go and as to how long they may do what they will do. They will not attack the vegetation of the earth (as common locusts do); they may only attack certain men, that is, those who have not the seal of God in their foreheads (the 144,000; cf. 7:3). The wicked will persecute God’s servants, the 144,000; but in turn they will be tormented by this plague which God allows. The demon-locusts will also be limited in that they may not kill men, just torment them.

Further, the duration of this plague will be five months. The effect of this torment is to drive men to suicide, but they will not be able to die. Although men will prefer death to the agony of living, death will not be possible. Bodies will not sink and drown; poisons and pills will have no effect; and somehow even bullets and knives will not do their intended job.” (Revelation, p. 62)

The reason men cannot die is probably because Satan has the key to the shaft and will not allow his followers to leave the earth scene where the battle of light and darkness is being fought.

(6) The description of these demons (9:7-10). The shapes of these creatures are absolutely hideous. They are like horses prepared for battle. Crowns of gold seem to be upon their heads. Their faces are like men, their hair like women, their teeth like lions. They have on breastplates as of iron. Their tails are like those of a scorpion. The sound of their wings is like that of many chariots rushing toward battle.

The king of these demons (9:11). His name is Apollyon, which means “destroyer.” Here is Satan’s hellish “Michael the Archangel.”

(7) The horrible reality of these demons.

John Phillips writes:

“Modern man professes not to believe in demons, but they exist just the same. Moreover, they are clever with a diabolical cunning. Man’s attitude toward the demon world may well be likened to man’s attitude in the dark ages toward bacteria. If we could be transported back to London in the year 1666, we would find ourselves in a nightmare world. The great bubonic plague is at its height. The sights and sounds of the city are like the terrible climax of a horror movie. It is generally believed that fresh air is the culprit. The College of Physicians recommends the frequent firing of guns to blow away the deadly air. People seal themselves into their rooms and burn foul-smelling messes to ward off the fresh air. Chimneys are sealed, rooms are gray with smoke, and people choke in the suffocating stench. Outside, palls of black smoke hang over the city. People sit in the tightly sealed chambers, grimly determined to endure the smarting smoke, convinced they are thus immune to the plague. We tell them they are wrong, that the plague is not caused by the fresh air but by germs, microscopic organisms spread by fleas—and they laugh us to scorn.

Modern man has adopted a similar attitude toward the demon world. We tell them that the world is in the grip of Satan and that he has countless hosts of invisible demons to aid him in his dark designs against mankind. We say that these unseen beings are intelligent, and that before long, they are to be joined by countless more of their kind, worse even than themselves. People look at us with pitying scorn and suggest we peddle our theories to the publishers of science fiction. But it is true all the same. Once the pit is opened, the world of men will be invaded by a virus far more dreadful than the bubonic plague, a virus all the more deadly because it is able to think and because it directs its attack against the soul rather than the body.” (Exploring Revelation, p. 137)

The sixth trumpet (9:13-21).

As we have already noted, it would seem John describes two kinds of demons which will invade earth during the tribulation. The sixth trumpet now ushers in the second invasion.

(1) The leaders of this invasion. Four special satanic angels. These may function to Satan as the four living creatures do to God (Rev. 4:6-8).

(2) The armies of this invasion.

(a) They number two hundred million. By normal standards, this mighty army would occupy a territory one mile wide and eighty-seven miles long.

(b) The description. These demons, unlike the first invasion, seem to be mounted upon some type of hellish horse. The horses’ heads looked much like lions’, with smoke, fire, and flaming sulphur billowing from their mouths. The riders wear fiery-red breastplates.

(3) The source of this invasion. The Euphrates River. This is where evil began on earth (Zech. 5:8-11; Gen. 3), where false religion began (Gen. 4:3; 10:9, 10; 11:4), and where it will come to its end (Rev. 17-18).

(4) The duration of this invasion. Thirteen months.

(5) The damage wrought by this invasion. One third of humanity is killed through fire, smoke, and brimstone. One fourth had already been slain by the fourth seal (6:8). This would be approximately one billion. Now one third is killed, meaning another billion die. This invasion is therefore the opposite of the fifth trumpet judgment during which no man was able to die.

The seventh trumpet (11:15-19).

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (11:15).

This seventh angel proclaims the glorious news that very soon now the Lord Jesus Christ will take over the nations of this world as their rightful ruler. The announcement produces a twofold reaction:

(1) The citizens of heaven rejoice.

(2) The nations of the earth become angry.

The seventh angel prepares us not only for the consummation of the ages, but also for the explanation for all things.

“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished” (10:7).


The first vial judgment:

“And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image” (16:2).

J. Vernon McGee writes:

“God is engaged in germ warfare upon the followers of antichrist…These putrefying sores are worse than leprosy or cancer. This compares to the sixth plague in Egypt, and is the same type of sore or boil” (Ex. 9:8-12). (Reveling Through Revelation, p. 36)

The second vial judgment:

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea” (16:3).

Dr. Charles Ryrie writes the following concerning this plague:

“The second bowl is poured on the sea, with the result that the waters became blood and every living thing in the sea dies. The ‘as’ is misplaced in the Authorized Version, the correct reading being ‘became blood as of a dead man.’ The vivid image is of a dead person wallowing in his own blood. The seas will wallow in blood. Under the second trumpet, one-third of the sea creatures died (8:9); now the destruction is complete. The stench and disease that this will cause along the shores of the seas of the earth are unimaginable” (Revelation, p. 97).

The third vial judgment:

“And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art and wast and shall be, because thou has judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (Rev. 16:4-7).

Two significant things may be noted in these verses:

a. This third vial judgment is, among other things, an answer to the cry of the martyrs under the altar at the beginning of the tribulation. Their prayer at that time was, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10).

b. These verses indicate that God has assigned a special angel as superintendent on earth’s waterworks. When we compare this with Revelation 7:1, where we are told that four other angels control the world’s winds, we realize that even during the hellishness of the tribulation, this world is still controlled by God.

The fourth vial judgment:

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues; and they repented not to give him glory” (Rev. 8, 9; see also Deut. 32:24; Isa. 24:6; 42:25; Mal. 4:1; Lk. 21:25).

Perhaps the two most illuminating passages in Scripture about man’s total depravity can be found in Revelation 9:20, 21, and 16:9. Both sections deal with the world’s attitude toward God during the tribulation.

a. “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; neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Rev. 9:20, 21).

b. “…and they repented not to give him glory” (Rev. 16:9).

What do these verses prove? They prove that in spite of horrible wars, of terrible famines, of darkened skies, of raging fires, of bloody seas, of stinging locusts, of demonic persecutions of mighty earthquakes, of falling stars, and of cancerous sores, sinful mankind still will not repent.

The fifth vial judgment:

“And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds” (Rev. 16:10, 11; see also Isa. 60:2; Joel 2:1, 2, 31; Nahum 1:6, 8; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:15).

This plague, poured out upon “the seat of the beast” (literally, his “throne”), will apparently concentrate itself upon the ten nations of the revived Roman Empire. Again we read those tragic words “and repented not of their deeds.”

The sixth vial judgment:

“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:12-14).

Here the God of heaven employs psychological warfare upon his enemies, conditioning them to gather themselves together in the near future at Armageddon.

The Euphrates River is 1800 miles long and in some places 3600 feet wide. It is thirty feet deep. This river has been the dividing line between western and eastern civilization since the dawn of history. It served as the eastern border of the Old Roman Empire. Thus, the Euphrates becomes both the cradle and grave of man’s civilization. Here the first godless city (Enoch, built by Cain; see Gen. 4:16,17) went up, and here the last rebellious city will be constructed (Babylon, built by the antichrist; see Rev. 18).

The seventh vial judgment:

“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for the plague thereof was exceeding great” (16:17-21).

Thus end the seal, trumpet, and vial judgments. Three items in this last vial are worthy of observation:

a. The statement, “It is done,” is the second of three biblical occurrences in which this phrase is connected with some great event. The first event was Calvary and the last will be the threshold of eternity.

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (Jn. 19:30).

“And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev. 21:6).

b. The world’s greatest earthquake takes place. The intensity of an earthquake is measured on an instrument called a Richter scale. The greatest magnitude ever recorded so far has been 8.9. The greatest loss of life due to an earthquake occurred on January 23, 1556, in Shensi Province, China, and killed some 830,000 people. However, that earthquake will be but a mild tremor compared to the tribulation earthquake, which, we are told, will level all the great cities of the world.

c. The world’s greatest shower of hailstones comes crashing down on mankind. These gigantic icy chunks will weigh up to 125 pounds apiece.


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