This is the sixth trumpet. It describes the types of warfare used on earth before the rapture of the Church. From the events described in this trumpet sound, we know that at this moment we have already entered the last stages of the end times. The rapture of the church will soon take place.
INVENTION FROM THE MIDDLE EAST
14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
第六號的災難，明顯是從中東，從幼發拉底河( 伯拉大河) 一帶的使者所發起的。這種戰爭方式，雖然影響全世界，但發源地是在中東。
It is obvious that the tribulation from the sixth trumpet came from the Middle East; initiated by the angel in the region of the river Euphrates. Even though that method of war influenced the whole world, it originated in the Middle East.
15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.
The war that these four angels had been “kept ready for” will carry out their orders at a designated time. “This very hour and day and month and year”; the words “this very” along with four nouns indicates a specific time not a period of time. It describes a way of killing people by setting a specific time using a time bomb or scheduling an attack in advance. That is the method of war launched at the beginning of the 21st century. The event on 911 in the United States is the best example of this kind of operation.
17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur.
這裡說的是馬兵，不是走路的步兵，是有交通工具的，古代用馬，現代的馬兵用車。他們拿著甚麽武器？刀鎗都沒有，武器就在胸前。有火紅色、深紅色的東西，與硫磺( 就是炸藥。約翰寫書之時還沒有發明炸藥) 。這是與人同歸於盡的戰爭方式。以前打仗，目標是殺死敵人，現在打仗，除殺死敵人也殺死自己。我死一個人，你要死一百個人。
Here is speaks of horses and riders, not foot soldiers, which means they have means of transportation. In the old times, soldiers used horses, in modern times they use vehicles. What kind of weapons were they holding? They did not have guns or swords, the weapons were on their breastplates which were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur (which are explosive materials. At the time John wrote this book, explosives had not been invented yet.) This is the style of war were people die together with their opponents. In the old times, the target was to kill the enemy but nowadays the objective is to kill the enemy while committing suicide. By killing myself I will have killed a hundred of my enemies.
In the past decade, the largest number of US troops killed in battle since the beginning of history has been during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Actually, the number of soldiers killed in battle from other Western countries is not that small either. In addition , the death toll of civilian casualties has been in the millions. Many of them have died from time bombs and suicide attacks. All these killings happened in the vicinity of the great river Euphrates.
The phrase “to kill a third of mankind”is mentioned several times. Remember that the meaning of “a third” refers to the entire number of people in a localized region. Like the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, most of the people who were at the Twin Towers died, that means a third was killed. When a time bomb explodes, those who are in that entire area will be killed, that is the meaning of “a third”. It means all the people , at that moment, in a specific location.
CHINA DOES NOT TAKE PART IN THE MIDDLE EAST WAR
16 馬軍有二萬萬( 二億) ，他們的數目我聽見了。
16 The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.
廿世紀以美國教會最興盛，著名的解經家最多，全世界很多傳道人都在美國留學，影響全世界教會的解經方法。其中只要有一個錯誤，全世界都受影響。六十年代慕迪聖經學院的解經家 Ironside 對這經文的解釋，今天還有很多傳道人引用。
The churches in the Unites States flourished during the 20th century and so did the number of renowned Bible commentators. Many preachers came from all over the world to study in America which influenced the way that churches around the world explained the Bible. Yet, one small error could have a worldwide effect. Today many preachers still quote Ironside’s explanation regarding this passage. Ironside was a Bible commentator from the Moody Bible Institute during the 60’s.
很多老信徒都聽過這一段經文的錯誤解釋，都對中國存有偏見。起因於1965 年5 月21 日紐約時報第35 頁記載，中國擁有二億步兵，這數目剛與16 節的馬軍有二億一樣。只因為中國擁有這麽多軍人，所以大家認為啟示錄中那二億的馬軍，就是中國派去中東殺人的軍隊。到近年，還有傳道人說，下一步就是中共出師中東了。
Many older Christians who have heard the incorrect interpretation of this passage are still bias towards China. This all started on May 21, 1965 when on page 35 of Time magazine it stated that China had a 200 million men army. That number was the same as the number of mounted troops in verse 16. Because China has so many soldiers, everyone believed that those 200 million mounted troops were the ones sent by China to fight in the Middle East. Even today there are still preachers who say that the next step will be Communist China sending an army to the Middle East.
Nowhere in this passage does it say that that army was sent from China or from the Orient; but it clearly says that this event was initiated near the great river Euphrates. China has 200 million “foot soldiers”, but here is says “mounted troops ”. Mounted troops refer to the cavalry that has means of transportation, soldiers who fight mounted on horseback. China does not possess such a great number of mounted troops.
On the other hand, the Muslim population around the world is about 1.7 billion. If an eighth of them were extremists, there would be 200 million assassins with means of transportation. An eighth can be said to be a very conservative figure. Muslims who are hostile to the western world far exceeds that number.
WAR-HORSE OR TANKS
17 馬的頭像獅子頭，有火有煙、有硫磺，從馬口中出來，。18 口中所出來的火、煙、硫磺，這叁樣殺人的叁分之一。19 這馬的能力，是在口里和尾巴上，尾巴像蛇，並且有頭用以害人。
17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur . 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
The cavalry is a rank higher than a foot soldier. The war-horses in ancient times are today’s tanks. Tanks have thin and narrow cannons that resemble a snake, capable of launching bombs. Fire and smoke comes out of it. All those who are on-the-spot will die, that is why it said a third of mankind was killed.
20 其馀未曾被殺的人, 仍舊不悔改手所作，還是去拜鬼魔和那些不能看、不能聽、不能走金銀銅木石的偶像。20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.
In the old times, when people were in distress they would call on God to help them. But during the end times, when people face sufferings, they will still be unrepentant. They will continue to believe only in their gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood idols. They will only believe in economic developments and in the inventions of science and technology. They will not turn to God and trust in Him.
This shows that in those days the spirit of mankind will become deadened. When disaster hits, it not only affects the physical body but also the spirit. Dogs can get into a fight and then turn around and go right back to sleep. People are different , after they get into a fight they cannot sleep for a many days and if they get some sleep they would still be quarreling in their dreams. Dogs do not have a spirit and therefore do not have worries. When people face intense stressful situations they may have a nervous breakdown. When disaster hits a person with a keen spirit, he or she will think about his or her relationship with God and very easily think about repentance.
21 又不悔改他們那些兇殺、邪術(pharmakon 可能指吸毒) 姦淫、偷竊的事。
21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts (“pharmakon” may refer to drug addiction), their sexual immorality or their stealing.
20 節是信仰上不悔改，21 節是道德上不悔改。十誡上的罪，就是這兩大類：信仰的罪與道德的罪。對神沒有信心，對人沒有愛心。
Verse 20 refers to their unrepentant beliefs, Verse 21 talks about their unrepentant behavior. The sins mentioned in the Ten Commandments belong to these two big categories: Sins of beliefs and sins of behavior. No faith in God and no love for people.
WE MUST KNOW THE TIMES
13 第六位天使吹號，我就听見有聲音從神面前的金壇( 不是祭壇) 的四角出來( 表示神聽聖徒禱告而出來的反應) 。
13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns (which represents God’s response to the prayers of the saints) of the golden altar (not the altar of sacrifice) that is before God.
These are words spoken personally by God; they are instructions that come from the throne of God which are carried out by the angels. Yet many people read the book of Revelation just to satisfy their curiosity as reading a fantasy novel, they do not feel like studying the book of Revelation for spiritual growth, with much prayer and love for the Lord.
If these are words spoken to us by God, there is definitely a very important lesson for us to learn. We not only want to know what will happen during the end times, we also need to know what to do and how to respond. Thus , we have to go back to the main theme of the book of Revelation. The main theme of this book is not to inform us about the disasters that will take place during the end times, but to tell us how and when the Kingdom of Christ will be established.
In 1 Chronicles, chapter 12, during the time of David’s exile, many mighty warriors joined him to help establish his kingdom. Those mighty warriors had special abilities and were loyal and of one heart. Of course, the co-workers of the kingdom of heaven should also have those characteristics. But what was special about them was that these might warriors “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” Understanding the plight, knowing the general situation and recognizing the needs of the times; that shows that they have insight, they have vision and they can see ahead. They are very different from those who do not have faith.
There are some people who believe in the Lord yet are not watchful. They feel it is okay just to have their physical needs met, to be free of sicknesses and calamities, and to be able to sleep and eat well. They do know that believers need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to live a Spirit filled life; they need to care for the needs of the church as well as being concerned about spreading the Gospel to their loved ones and to others.
People often have problems, stress, and many worries in life. Every family has their own struggles. People do not have the time to think about the things of the church and do not have the frame of mind to build Christ’s Kingdom. Finally, after the Kingdom of God comes to earth and the New Jerusalem is established, we will then realize that there are a lot of people who will not be living inside the Holy City and therefore will not be able to live an abundant life at their fullest. Because they were satisfied to live a second-class life in this world; in the future, when they are in the Kingdom of Heaven, they will just be second-class citizens. That is not what the Lord expects from us.
Those who hear the Word of God and put it into action will be blessed. The disasters and illnesses of this life will not be able to overthrow them and they will have a high-quality abundant life in the Kingdom of Heaven.