Monday, 18 January 2021
Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. Revelation 9:16
These words refer back to verse 9:14 where it spoke of the “four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” Of this great coalition, John says, “Now the number of the army of the horsemen.”
Here the term strateumatōn, or “armies,” is a plural noun. That is followed by tou hippikou, the horsemen. It is a singular noun, thus speaking in the same manner as our modern term “cavalry.” The singular speaks of the whole. A suitable translation would be, “Now the number of the armies of the cavalry.” Thus, this is a coalition of forces uniting into one giant cavalry.
Of this massive coalition, it next says it was “two hundred million.” The Greek reads, dismyriades myriadōn, or “two myriads of myriads.” The myriad at John’s time was a group of ten thousand soldiers. However, the term was also used to express an extremely large number without specificity. It is used in this way in Acts 21 –
“And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.’” Acts 21:20, 21
Therefore, the number is expressed in various ways by different translations –
twice ten thousand times ten thousand (NIV)
200 million (NLT)
two hundred million (BSB)
two hundred millions (WNT)
twice ten thousand ten thousands (BLB)
two hundred thousand thousand (KJV)
20,000 times 10,000 (GWT)
two myriads of myriads (YLT)
As the word is preceded by a number (two), it is most probable that this is not simply an attempt to speak out a superlative, but is rather a number that closely describes the actual size of the force, being rounded off accordingly. In other words, a force of around two hundred million people will be gathered to come against Israel after they have been softened up through a five-month long aerial bombardment. To ensure that his number is taken literally, as intended, he concludes the verse with, “I heard the number of them.”
In Daniel 7, a vision is given of a heavenly scene. There it says –
“A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him.
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.” Daniel 7:10
There, as in Jude 1:14, it speaks in superlative terms without specificity. It is a way of saying, “a great and large number.” However, John gives a specific number, and then he states that he heard the number. Therefore, this is to be taken as the actual force. It is an immense number of cavalry forces.
Life application: This is an amazing prophecy for John to have seen. At the time this was written, it would have been unknown if there were even that many people on earth. Because of this, scholars have for generations thought that the number was merely symbolic of something. This is most unlikely because John adamantly confirms the number. It shows that the prophecy is in the far future from John’s time. It is in a generation when an army of this size could be brought together. And today it is not just possible, it could occur in a short amount of time by nations uniting against a common foe.
What John saw and heard is both realistic and yet future. When it occurs, it will be because the world is being directed into a whirlpool of destruction because of its failure to acknowledge God and simply call on Him for direction. It is a world that has rejected the true path to restoration. They have rejected JESUS.
O Lord God – Creator of heaven and earth – You have given us every opportunity to simply bow the knee and call out to You in faith. You sent Jesus to show us the true avenue to peace, and yet we have continuously rejected Your gracious offer. And because of this, we have faced and will continue to face many trials. Righteous are You when You judge, O God. Amen.