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The Whole Army of God

10 Sep
Army of God

from Google Images

After he blew his trumpet the sixth angel was told to “Loose the four angels who are bound in the great river Euphrates” (Revelation 9:14). It seems that these angels held back something of import that, if not held in check, would spread across the whole of the land of the Jews prematurely. It is often thought that, because these angels are “bound,” they must be evil angels, but such is not necessarily so.

The Greek word used for bound (G1210) is also used of the marriage contract that binds a man and woman together as husband and wife (Romans 7:2; 1Corinthians 7:27, 39), and Paul used it to say he was bound in the spirit to go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22). It was used by Mark to say a colt was tied in Bethany and held there for the Lord’s use (Mark 11:2-4). Finally, it is also used of the Lord telling the disciples that whatsoever they bind (G1210) on earth would also be bound (G1210) in heaven (Matthew 16:19; 18:18). So, just because these angels are bound (G1210) at the river Euphrates does not necessitate their being evil. It is possible that they had been singled out by the Lord to perform a specific service at a specific time, and this is what their binding means (Revelation 9:14).

The Euphrates River traditionally had been the boundary over which Israel’s enemies came from the north. In fact Syria, through which the Euphrates ran was referred to in Daniel as the King of the North (Daniel chapter 11; the King of the South was Grecian Egypt). When Rome conquered Syria, Rome became the King of the North, as far as Israel was concerned. In fact, Rome’s President of Syria was the Jewish state’s supreme authority. So, the Euphrates in Revelation 9:14 represents the boundary over which the Jews’ northern enemy would come.

The four angels were released at the river and had been prepared work to be done at a very specific time arranged by God (Revelation 9:15).From the very beginning the Lord knew Israel would become corrupt in her latter days (Deuteronomy 31:29). That is, they never considered the end to which their ways would lead (Deuteronomy 32:29), in that they were arrogant and a generation without faith (Deuteronomy 32:20). Therefore, the Lord called Israel his enemy and told the nations to rejoice over her, while he saved his servants from her evil works (Deuteronomy 32:41-43). The Lord saw this time afar off, even at the very birth of the nation of Israel. So, as one would prepare for a specific time of celebration, mourning or revenge, so the Lord did the same. However, at times the plans of men cannot be implemented, as they had desired, but this is not so with the Lord. He set the date millennia in advance, and kept it to the very hour (Deuteronomy 31:29; Revelation 9:15).

These four angels were prepared to slay men—many men, about a third of the whole nation of the Jews, whether part of the rebel force or the general public. A literal understanding of the number of the horsemen was 200,000,000 (Revelation 9:16). However, since the total force of Vespasian’s army was only sixty thousand, [1] and since the estimates of the total population of the entire Roman Empire was only a quarter of the former figure,[2] it is difficult to believe John or any of his readers could possibly have visualized such a huge military force. 200,000,000 cavalry units, besides infantry, and all that belonging to one enemy is difficult to comprehend. As I mentioned in a previous study, the total combined military might of both sides in World War II was only one-third that figure, 70 million military units. Therefore, it seems this figure must be understood figuratively.

John says that he “heard the number of them” (Revelation 9:16), which may lead some to believe the figure should be taken literally. However, John also heard the number of the elect in Revelation 7:4, and nearly all Bible students agree that 144,000 is a figurative number. If we consider the Septuagint at Daniel 7:10 the Greek wording is similar to what we find concerning this great army in Revelation 9:16. Daniel says myriads of myriads or ten thousand times ten thousand (100,000,000) ministered to the Lord when the judgment books were opened.

So, when the appointed hour came for the Lord to judge his people, ten thousand times ten thousand (100,000,000) were at his disposal. What this means is this: the number 10, being one of the Lord’s perfect numbers, implies nothing is wanting in that it is complete.[3] This number is then multiplied to the power of eight, which is the Lord’s number for abounding in strength. [4] Finally, in the context of Revelation 9:16, that product is multiplied by two indicating, opposition or enmity.[5] Thus this army is the complete or whole army of God, abounding in might and sent as an adversary to judge his people, the Jews.

__________________________________________

[1] Josephus: Wars of the Jews; 3.4.2

[2] Conservative estimates of the population of the Roman Empire in the first century AD range from cir. 40 million to 55 million people.

[3] See E.W. Bullinger: Number in Scripture; “Ten” – page 243.

[4] Ibid. “Eight” – page 196.

[5] Ibid. “Two” – page 92.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 10, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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2 responses to “The Whole Army of God

  1. Patricia Watkins

    September 12, 2019 at 15:11

    Hi Eddie,

    Apologies in advance again, since this comment will probably be longer than your post! This prophecy of the sixth trumpet (aka the “second woe”) has more matching details provided for us in Josephus than just about any other one in Revelation. We can take advantage of this to prove the imminent first-century timing of Revelation’s prophecies in general, for those who think they apply to our future.

    I am one who believes this number of horsemen that John heard in Revelation 9:16 was literal – AND symbolic at the same time. But it’s not a quantity of 200 MILLION. It’s only TWENTY THOUSAND; “TWO MYRIADS OF MYRIADS” as the YLT has it. A myriad amounts to 10,000. TWO myriads of these myriads is only twenty thousand TOTAL. It’s meant to mimic the battle strength of God Himself in Psalms 68:17, indicating that the mission of the two myriads is a God-ordained one. “The chariots of God are TWENTY THOUSAND…” (“Two myriads of thousands”, as originally rendered).

    As Josephus recorded, there was a literal number of 20,000 Idumean horsemen (two myriads) who came to invade Jerusalem under the leadership of no less and no more than FOUR COMMANDERS (Wars 4.4.2-235). These four “messengers” (not celestial angels in this case, but human messengers) were specifically named as John, Jacob, Simon, and Phineas. These four Idumean commanders and their 20,000 horsemen were symbolically “bound” at the River Euphrates by being denied admittance at Jerusalem’s gates locked against them by Ananus (the governor of Jerusalem at the time, and head of the moderate party who had been holding the rebellious Zealot activity in check until then).

    This “binding” of the Idumean army at the “River Euphrates” and the “loosing” afterwards is a throwback to the Cyrus invasion of ancient Babylon. You remember, of course, that Jerusalem is compared directly to the “great city Babylon” in Revelation. Ancient Babylon’s water supply of the River Euphrates flowed through the middle of the city, basically bisecting it, with the supposedly impregnable walls surrounding the city on both sides of the river’s banks. Grated bars submerged in the Euphrates blocked access into the city at that point. As God’s servant of judgment against Babylon, Cyrus took advantage of this by diverting the Euphrates into channels that he dug – thus lowering the water level enough so that during one night of drunken Babylonian revelry, his army could walk under the grated bars of the River Euphrates and conquer the Babylonian empire in a single night. This battle tactic of Cyrus was “prepared” by prophecy centuries before Cyrus was even born (Isaiah 45:1-5).

    In very similar circumstances, the “four messengers” (the four Idumean commanders of the army of 20,000 Idumeans) were also “prepared” many centuries – even millennia – ahead of time for that single hour, day, month, and year (Rev. 9:15) to serve God’s purpose in their nighttime attack against Jerusalem. In Jerusalem’s comparable case (aka the “great city Babylon” in Revelation), the moderate faction led by Ananus that had been holding the Zealot rebellion in check ever since the rebellion was launched in AD 66 was similarly destroyed after one night when a furious storm broke out along with an earthquake (the earthquake mentioned in Rev. 11:13, compared to the earthquake and storm in Wars 4.4.5-286). Under cover of the noise generated by the storm, the Zealots, (whose representatives had earlier snuck out of Jerusalem to ask the Idumeans to come destroy Ananus and his followers whom they accused of intending to surrender Jerusalem to Rome), managed to saw the bars of Jerusalem’s main entrance gates open during the night to admit the Idumeans. In other words, the four “messengers” and their Idumean army of 20,000 were “loosed” into Jerusalem to slay the “third part of men” in the city.

    The Zealots’ plan was to eliminate the irritating presence of Ananus’ moderate faction (one of three factions in the city at the time – one third part of men in the city), so that the Zealot’s rebellion against Rome would no longer be tormented by Ananus restricting the rebels from total control of Jerusalem (the torment of Rev. 11:10).

    The reason we can tell that this “third part of men” that died was in Jerusalem ONLY at that time is because the details of this 6th trumpet judgment (the “second woe”) are covered starting from Rev. 9:12, and finishing up with Rev. 11:14, which includes the setting of the city of Jerusalem.

    Rev. 9:12 – “One woe is past” (the first woe of the locust judgment), “and behold there come two woes more hereafter.”

    Finishing up with…

    Rev. 11:14 – “The second woe is past” (the 20,000 Idumean horsemen killing the third of men and the two witnesses IN JERUSALEM, which amounted to 7,002 dead men total) “and behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”

    In between that first and third “woe”, the 20,000 horsemen killed a third part of men, which in this context amounted to 7,00 names of men slain in Jerusalem during that earthquake, plus the death of the two witnesses. If we stick with the late AD 67 or early 68 date for the Idumean attack as the interpretation of this prophecy, those two witnesses that “stand before the God of the earth” would then have to be the two former high priests Ananus and Jesus / Joshua ben Gamaliel, who were both slain that same day (the “same hour” in Rev. 11:13) when the Idumeans were “loosed” into the city by the treacherous Zealots. The bodies of the two witnesses were left unburied for a final insult (Wars. 4.5.2)

    In comparison to the 7,000 dead men of Rev. 11:13, Josephus listed 8,500 casualties from Ananus’ party (Wars 4.5.1-313), killed during the nighttime Idumean attack along with the earthquake, which is a remarkably close estimate to scripture. This could well be 7,000 killed by the Idumeans, and 1,500 by the earthquake disaster taking place during the “same hour”.

    The grander purpose that God had planned long before this Idumean attack with the resulting death of the two witnesses (the two high former high priests Ananus and Jesus / Joshua) was the physical elimination of the Zadok priesthood. Both Ananus and Jesus / Joshua ben Gamaliel as former high priests were Sadducees, which many take to be derived from the Zadok family name. God had once promised that only the Zadok family would “stand before Me” in the high priesthood after the post-exilic return, because they alone had remained faithful during the 70 years of exile, while the rest of the Levitical priest families did not (Ezekiel 44:15).

    However, once Christ became the better high priest after the order of Melchizedek, that formerly-approved Zadok family of high priests was set aside in God’s eyes. Since the Jews continued to cling to the old order of the priesthood by rejecting Christ, then God had to make an open display of eliminating the Zadok high priests, of which Ananus and Jesus / Joshua were the last high priest leaders in power in Jerusalem who had been appointed to serve. Once the Zealots had plotted with the help of the Idumeans to have those last two witnesses / high priests killed who had “stood before the God of the earth”, they then cast lots to pick their own fake high priest Phannias – one they could manipulate as their puppet.

    Just as Rev. 11:10 said that the enemies of the two witnesses would “rejoice over them and make merry” once those two had died without burial, Josephus testified that once the Idumeans had killed Ananus and Joshua, “…standing upon their dead bodies IN WAY OF JEST upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety as to cast away their dead bodies without burial…” (Wars 4.5.2-316-317).

    With their deaths, the last possible hope of a moderate faction leading Jerusalem was gone, and the Zealots had full freedom to abuse the inhabitants of the city without Ananus and Jesus restraining them with their influence. Civil war in Israel, (and particularly in Jerusalem), was then able to burn with unabated fury. This civil conflict had been prophesied earlier by Christ and many of the prophets. (Luke 12:52 – a “house divided”, Ezekiel 38:21 – “every man’s sword against his brother”, Haggai 2:22 – “horse and their riders shall come down, everyone by the sword of his brother”, Zechariah 14:13 – “in that day…they shall lay hand everyone on the hand of his neighbor and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor”, Zechariah 12:6 – “in that day…the governors of Judah…shall devour all the people round about…”, Revelation 17:6 – “the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast” (the 10 generals the Jews selected for themselves to prepare for the war with Rome in Josephus’ Wars 2.20.4) “these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire”.) This is a representation of the Judean Scarlet Beast of an independent kingdom nation of Israel turning on its own people with suicidal results.

    Civil strife more than anything else was the underlying cause that led to Israel’s and Jerusalem’s final destruction, and the Romans knew this and took advantage of it by stepping back and letting civil war take its toll on the Judeans before they finally came to finish them off in AD 70..

    God used the “ancient hatred” of the Edomites and Idumea (whom Josephus testified were a war-loving people, regarding a battle as if it were a feast to be celebrated – Wars 4.4.1-231) against their brother Israel to fulfill God’s purpose in destroying Jerusalem and the nation. That civil war so weakened them internally as a nation, that they eventually fell under the final Roman siege.

    Idumea did not go unpunished for their part in destroying Jerusalem from the inside out. Isaiah 34:5 prophesied that Idumea would also fall under the sword from heaven, which would “come down upon Idumea, the people of my curse, to judgment”. Ezekiel chapter 35 prophesied the utter destruction of all of Idumea and its cities, which eventually came to pass once Simon bar Gioras took Idumea’s cities and forced any remaining Idumeans to join his army and come to control Jerusalem in AD 69 (Wars 4.9.10). Simon’s vast army (called by the name of “Gog” in Ezekiel 38-39) ultimately fell in death upon the mountains of Israel, as Ezekiel 39:4-16 described. So the remainder of the nation of Idumea perished along with the nation of Israel’s death under the final AD 70 Roman siege, a fitting retribution for their ancient blood-thirsty actions towards Israel their brother.

     
    • Eddie

      September 13, 2019 at 08:54

      Greetings Patricia and thank you for your continued interest in my studies. Lord bless you.

      We agree on some things that you say here, but not the major thrust of your comment. You also jump way ahead in the Apocalypse, trying to “prove” your point, but I can’t do that, because I have over two hundred studies (to date) in Revelation. I’ve published over one hundred, with a about as much left to go. Therefore, the space it would take to adequately reply to each tangent you take in your comment would be mammoth. Nevertheless, I’ll try to address what you say here both respectfully and adequately (within reason given the brevity of the remarks I intend to make).

      Concerning how large the army is, we agree that a myriad is about ten thousand. We don’t agree on the final figure. You try to make “two myriads of myriads” into 20,000 men, but this isn’t what the text says. It would say that if it wasn’t myriads of myriads, which is a multiplication (10000 x 10000). You have translated “two myriads” but haven’t taken the “of myriads” into consideration. The Septuagint has no problem using ‘myriads’ in its numbering system. For example, the figure 42,360 is expressed as ‘four myriads two thousand three hundred and sixty’ (Ezra 2:64). So, there is no difficulty in counting above 10000. Daniel 7:10, I believe, offers the best picture. It claims ‘a thousand thousands ministered unto him” (i.e. God) and “myriads of myriads’ were before him and the judgment was set…” The figure 10000 x 10000 is meant to express the complete or total number of mankind. That is, no one escapes judgment.

      If the above is true and logical, it renders the thrust of your argument moot, because Revelation 9:16 doesn’t point to an army of 20000 but 200,000,000. Your argument that the sixth trumpet points to 20,000 Edumeans mentioned by Josephus couldn’t be correct. Moreover, they were only a ‘part’ of the total army, which also makes it difficult for your argument. The figure in Revelation 9:16 is obviously meant to show the Lord’s army coming against those he wished to judge. How could that be these 20000 men more than any other army of men who fought the Jews in the first century AD. Finally, if they were important enough to be mentioned in the 6th trumpet, what did they do to accomplish the judgment of God, and how does John’s description of their horses describe them? What is the meaning of the serpentine tails, and how is that connected to them etc.?

      We agree that Jerusalem = Babylon, but not about your understanding of the two Witnesses. The two Witnesses are symbolic. There are actually more than two, but we’ll get to that later in its proper place (next month). You mention many other things in which we are not in agreement, but that is your study, not mine. At this point those things don’t affect my argument in Revelation 9.

      Have a good day, Patricia and Lord bless you.

       

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