Is the Army from the Euphrates also a Heavenly Army?
I believe that there is more to the four angels and their vast army described in Revelation 9:14-18 than the gathering together of Roman auxiliaries from the Euphrates and the subsequent siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Though the two hundred million soldiers in the NIV translation of v. 16 appears to be a mistranslation of “20,000,” the exact number of auxiliary troops present with Titus’ army during the siege of Jerusalem, I believe that there may have also been a heavenly mirror of this earthly army.
An Army of Angels with Horses and Chariots of Fire Exactly like that seen in 2 Kings 6:17 was seen at the Start of the Jewish War. Was this the Coming of the Four Horsemen of Revelation 6?
In 2 Kings 6:17 Elisha is protected by an invisible heavenly army that is made visible to Elisha’s companion in a vision from God: “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Notice that this heavenly army appeared as horsemen and chariots of fire. The medieval Jewish historian Sepher Yosippon describes a seemingly identical angelic army seen by many at the start of the Jewish War in A.D. 66: “Moreover, in those days were seen chariots of fire and horsemen, a great force flying across the sky near to the ground coming against Jerusalem and all the land of Judah, all of them horses of fire and riders of fire.”[iii] This angelic army was also mentioned by the first century historians Josephus and Tacitus.[iv] Notice that this army is described exactly as the angelic army seen by Elisha and his companion in 2 Kings 6:17—chariots, horses and horsemen of fire.
In Revelation 9:17-18, John implies that the Spiritual Army Bound at the Euphrates was a Fiery Army of Angels like that described by Yosippon in A.D. 66 and the Bible in 2 Kings 6:17.
The fiery attributes of this army of myriads and myriads is implied in v. 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.” As stated above, the armor of these soldiers is described as “fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur.” This description also points to the fire, smoke and sulfur of their bright, fiery personages. If one is not convinced that John is ultimately describing beings that look like fire, the following statement may sway this opinion. John says that out of the mouths of these soldiers “came fire, smoke and sulfur.”
According to the Bible, God and His Angels are often Described as Fiery Beings of Light while Beings in Hell-Like Realms like Sheol and the Abyss are called Shades hinting at their Dark, Shadowy Appearance.
Because of the seemingly menacing nature and appearance of the army described in Revelation 9:12-18, one might be tempted to assume that this army must be an evil demonic one. However, the fact that this army described by Yosippon in A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel and John in Revelation 9:12-18 is most likely an angelic army can also be deduced from descriptions of God and angels in the Bible. In describing the appearance of God, Ezekiel 1:26-28 reads:
Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
Angels are sometimes also described as beings of light according to Matthew 28:2-3.
The angels of heaven are also described as beings of light. Matthew 28:2-3 reads, “[A]n angel of the Lord descended from heaven . . . his appearance was like lightning[.]” Jesus’ resurrection body after His ascension into heaven is described similarly in Revelation 1:13-16:
[A]nd among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”
Jesus’ heavenly luminescent likeness is also mentioned in Acts 9:3-6.
Bible commentators often assume that the fire, smoke and sulfur color of the breastplates of this fierce army is evidence that this army must be from the burning depths of hell and therefore is evil and demonic.[v] However, as stated above these fiery attributes are suggestive of heavenly beings, not evil demons. According to revelatory near-death experiences (NDE’s) beings in lower vibratory zones or hell-like realms are said to resemble dark shadows. This idea is echoed in the Bible (Psalm 88:10-11; Job 26:5; Isaiah 14:9). Beings in lower vibratory zones or hell-like realms like the Abyss and Sheol are called raphaim meaning shades in the Bible. In light of these Biblical descriptions and testimony from NDE’s it seems unlikely that this fiery army is comprised of evil demons from hell.[vi]
That being said, it should also be stated that even though this army does not resemble shadows, this fact is not conclusive proof that this army is not originally from the Abyss. It is possible that this heavenly army is an army of saints resurrected from Sheol or the Abyss clothed in their heavenly resurrection bodies which are remade in the likeness of the heavenly host as is implied in Daniel 12:2-3. Though I am just speculating, perhaps it is possible that God allowed the saints to participate in His plan of divine retribution on their persecutors before they were finally raised to heaven at the last trumpet? See How the Resurrection Bodies of the Saints Perfectly Mirror Jesus’ Resurrection Body after His Ascension Into Heaven Fulfilling Philippians 3:20-21 and ALL Other Bible Verses on the Resurrection!!!.
Summary of Revelation 9:12-18
In 2 Kings 6:17 God opens the eyes of Elisha and his companion so that they can see a vision of heavenly armies around them. As stated in the commentary on Revelation 6, I believe that this army seen in the sky at the start of the Jewish Revolt was a similar collective vision of Christ riding at the head of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse during the parousia. However, this vision of Christ riding in the sky at the head of the four horsemen and their heavenly armies in A.D. 66 did not immediately precede the fulfillment of the six seals of Revelation 6. This is because, as stated above, I believe that these four horsemen were not instructed to act until Revelation 9:13-16. Therefore, what was seen in A.D. 66 was Christ riding at the head of the four horsemen at the opening of the six seals when these horsemen were instructed to “come” in Revelation 6:1, 6:3, 6:5 and 6:7. Confirming the above interpretation, the following events described in the sixth and seventh trumpets and bowls together with the prophecies of the first six seals were all simultaneously fulfilled in the siege of Jerusalem of A.D. 70 and the events immediately preceding it.
[iii] Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman. Excerpts from Chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple” cited in http://fulfilledtheology.ning.com/forum/topics/historical-records-with-some (9/16/2014)
[iv]It is interesting to note that an apparent army of angels were seen over the clouds of Israel at the start of the Jewish revolt in Iyyar of A.D. 66: “[C]hariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.” (Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.) This army is also mentioned by Tacitus. (Tacitus The Histories 5.13.)
[v] As stated above, spirits in low afterlife realms like Sheol and the Abyss are called shades in the Bible presumably because they resemble shadows. Even though this army does not resemble shadows, this fact does not mean that this army is not originally from the Abyss. It is possible that this heavenly army is an army of saints resurrected from Sheol or the Abyss clothed in their heavenly resurrection bodies which are remade in the likeness of the heavenly host as is implied in Daniel 12:2-3.
[vi] According to the collective testimony of revelatory NDE’s when ascending to higher vibratory zones or heaven-like realms beings are said to increase in luminosity with beings in the highest heavenly realm exuding the most light. (Daniel 12:2-3) While occupants of the lowest vibratory zones like hell, Sheol and the Abyss are said to resemble dark shadows with the human occupants of middle earth being intermediate in luminosity, neither exuding light like angels nor absorbing light like demons.