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Revelation: The last book of the New Testament. Easily the most controversial and feared book in the entire Bible, covering what most people believe as a prophecy of the Last days of mankind. It was written by John the Evangelist, brother of James the Martyr, when he was forcibly exiled to Patmos Island for standing firm on his faith to Jesus. Probably one of the most talked about chapters in the entire Revelation is Chapter 9:15-21, wherein there is a mention of an enormous army numbering to 200,000,000. The mere number of these invading armies causes even the most liberals to be intrigued, to be curious enough as to warrant a deeper study on the accuracy of the said prophecy.
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According to The Christian Community Bible, the way of using apocalyptic images as done by John in Revelation, was a popular form of literature during Jesus’ and John’s time. It was their way of interpreting present events using dramatic images with visions and angels, and usually involving a colossal war between the good and the bad (481). John did not intend to foretell future events or give a picture of the last days, rather he simply made use of his God-given talents as a prophet and as a writer, using the style common in his time. The Catholic Church, as explained in Christian Community Bible, intends to view the Revelation of Jesus Christ to be full of joy and hope and not as terrifying and difficult as the popular culture intends it to be portrayed (482).
According to Robert Talley, author of countless books on Revelation, there are three main points in Revelation. The first being, it was written for the seven churches, and not for individuals. Two, the entire book of Revelation was written to encourage the faithful, warn those who are still deceived, and call upon those who have spiritual problems into repentance. And lastly, he reminds us that the first four trumpets in chapter 8 are to be taken literally, and the other two in chapter 9 are of symbolic interpretations (2007).
In another report on Revelation 9:16, David Guzik is of the belief of the possibility that the number of 200,000,000 is not to be taken literally, rather it might be a representation of an army foreseen by John that is too many to count, and whose number is never before seen by mankind (2001). It is the thinking of Guzik that John may have seen in his vision the modern mechanized war machines of today, and that he was simply describing them in the only possible way he can. Furthermore, during the Second World War, the armies of both the Allies and the Axis forces combined, numbered only 70 million. China has claimed in 1965 that they have an army force of over 200 million, however, many experts doubted such claim. Even if it were true, and China marched their army towards west, as John foretold, it would be improbable for that army to wipe out 2 billion people, or roughly a third of mankind (Guzik, 2001). Hence, the safest interpretation would be to view this as a literal 200 million strong army, but of a demonic kind, invading mankind. This interpretation would also support the conclusion of a demonic army of locusts written by John in earlier chapters.
Keith Krell of Bible.org shares the same views. He notes that while China has the capability of assembling 200 million armies, it is more likely that John speaks of a demonic origin. His reasons for this are: 1.Since the fifth trumpet preceding the sixth is clearly of a demonic nature, it would be almost certain that the sixth is also demonic. 2. Since the leaders of this army are fallen angels, it is safe to assume their subordinates are also demons. 3. There are also other writings in the Bible about demonic armies, e.g., Kings 2:11; Kings 6:13-17. 4. The weapons mentioned by John, like smoke, sulfur, and fire, have been commonly associated in the Bible as being weapons of hellish armies (Krell, 2004). One more point of contention is that it would be impossible to assemble 200 million horses, thus it is more plausible to interpret them as symbolic of a demonic nature (The Prophetic Years).
One of the Bible scholars who believe that what is mentioned in Revelation refers to China, argues that never before in history was there a time that such an enormous number of army was possible other than in our generation. Even today over 3 billion people already live east of the Euphrates River (Koenig). Add to that all the abortions and infanticides of female children being legally practiced in China, and the result would be an excess of over 100 million in male population. According to Koenig’s statistics, China would have produced over 200 million men of military age by the year 2025 or 2030 AD (The Prophetic Years).
Revelation 9:16-21 speaks of an era where a third of mankind is annihilated through war. Whether it is to be taken literally or figuratively had been the topic of debates since it has been written over 2 thousand years ago. Perhaps the main point John the Evangelist is trying to convey is for Christians to be always prepared for the Second coming of Christ, and focus on one’s judgment, wherein our reward or damnation will be eternal.
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