The 144,000 and the second woe
The second woe of Revelation 9:13-19 corresponds to the sixth trumpet plague. It consists of a horde of horses, and horsemen. But the horses are not natural; they have lions’ heads and serpents for tails.
In the following table the horses and horsemen in the second woe are compared to the 144,000 who are sealed in 7:2-8, and who are described in 14:1-7.
|The saints||2nd woe|
|four angels||The servants of God are sealed by an angel who restrains four angels who threaten to hurt the earth and the sea||Four angels bound in the river Euphrates are loosed|
|number||144,000 of the 12 tribes of Israel||200 million horses & horsemen|
|identity||The Father’s name is written in their foreheads||They have heads like the heads of lions, their tails are like serpents, with heads|
|what comes from their mouths||No guile||fire, smoke, brimstone|
|mission||They are the firstfruits to God and the Lamb, who are redeemed from the earth. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They are virgins, not defiled with women, who are without fault before the throne of God.||They kill one third of men|
I suggest that the 144,000 represent those who believe in Christ, who are sealed with His Spirit. They contrast with the horses of the second woe, who probably signify people who lack understanding. The horsemen may represent their leaders and teachers. The psalmist said, “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” [Psa. 32:9]
The tails of the horses, which are serpents, seem to allude to false teachers. Isaiah wrote: “The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.” [Isa. 9:15]
Both groups, the 144,000 and the 200 million horses & horsemen of the 2nd woe, are connected with four angels. In the first group the four angels are restrained, and in the second, four angels are loosed.
There is a marked contrast between the two groups. There is no guile in the mouths of the 144,000, but the fire, smoke and brimstone that comes from the mouth of the 200 million horses & horsemen suggest they spread confusion, and false doctrines.
The lions’ heads of the horses may be compared with the invaders of Joel’s prophecy, which have lions’ teeth. “For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.” [Joel 1:6]
In Joel 2, the warfare is not a physical conflict of flesh and blood although the people involved are called God’s army. [Joel 2:11]
“They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.” [Joel 2:7-8]
The sword of God’s word does not cause wounds of the flesh, but is spiritual.
Breastplates of the horsemen are fire, jacinth, and brimstone; the materials are colorful, but provide little protection. Their breastplates signify that those wearing them are mortal, or human. Demons would not need to wear breastplates.