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«Zechariah’s astonished horses and the second woe by Douglas E. cox The horses of the prophecy of the 2nd woe may allude to the horses mentioned in ...»

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On the number 200 million, Ford Cyrinde Ottman said: “To apply the number to some angelic host, without producing Scriptural warrant therefor, is to send us into a region where all reasoning is lost, and to permit man to roam wherever his imagination leads him."

Ottman believed the second woe depicts “demon-possessed men" — “These myriads of horsemen, whose coats of mail are mingled with ‘fire and smoke and brimstone,’ are the demon worshipers of a coming day."

According to Jon Paulien, the horses signify “the gathering of Satan’s host which precedes the battle of Armageddon."

8. No interpretation William R. Newell argued for no interpretation of the prophecy, claiming none is required; the horses of the second woe are literal horses with lions’ heads and serpents for tails!

Are the horses of the second woe demons?

I suggest they are not, for the following reasons:

1. Ford Cyrinde Ottman, quoted above, found no support for this interpretation in the text. It is certainly not a literal one.

2. Colours are specified, but demons are invisible. The idea that the horses and riders in the second woe are demons implies they are invisible. But that seems to negate John’s description of the breastplates, which are coloured fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulphur yellow. If they are invisible, why describe the colours? The claim that the horses signify demons is discredited by their colourful breastplates, as demons are invisible. It would be pointless to specify colours for the armour worn by invisible demons.

3. Breastplates imply they are mortal. Demons are not mortal, so would not require breastplates.

So why would invisible demons wear breastplates? The focus on the breastplates in the prophecy strongly suggests the horses represent mortal men, not invisible demons.

On the idea that the horses are literal:

1. Taking the prophetic horses literally is contrary to the character of the book of Revelation, which is highly symbolic. Almost all commentators agree that the horses and horsemen depicted in the first four trumpets are symbolic; why should they be taken literally in the sixth?

2. The generation of such a large population of horses (200 million) would require a breeding program spanning many centuries. The current world horse population is probably less than 70 million, far too few to fulfil the prophecy in a literal way in a few years.

3. The area of grazing land required for supporting large numbers of horses is a problem. Much of the land in the vicinity of the Euphrates is desert, and probably would not support hundreds of millions of large grazing animals.

4. Since the horses in the prophecy have riders, each horse would need to be individually broken to its rider at about two years of age, and trained to accept a bridle, a saddle, and a rider. To muster a cavalry of 200 million, this should occur at around the same time for all of the horses.

5. Warfare using horses is obsolete, as horses are vulnerable to modern firearms.

6. The horses have tails which are serpents, and they have heads, that cause harm. Each serpent tail is attached to a horse. In prophecy, tails represent false teachers. Isaiah said, “The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail." [Isaiah 9:15] Those who claim the horses with heads of lions and serpent-tails are “literal" unwisely reject the interpretation of tails provided in Scripture.

Both the literal interpretation, and labelling the horses as demons figuratively kill the prophecy, obscuring its symbolic application to the world’s nominal Christians who know little about Scripture and lack spiritual understanding.

Psalm 32:9

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth

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