The horses of the sixth trumpet
Neither the locust plague of the fifth trumpet, which is the first woe, nor the army of horses in the sixth trumpet, which is the 2nd woe, are able to bring the world to repentance. In the sixth trumpet, the horses represent people who lack spiritual understanding.
The psalmist wrote:
“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 number of horses in the 2nd woe of Rev. 9 is 200 million. This number appears to be related to the number of chariots of God in Psalm 68.
“The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” [Psa. 68:17]
Habakkuk spoke of God’s “chariots of salvation.” [Hab. 3:8]
The “chariot of Israel,” and “horses of fire,” are associated with the prophets Elijah and Elisha. [2 Kings 2:7-12]
In Zechariah 14, those involved in the siege at Jerusalem, including horses and other animals, are smitten with a gruesome plague. Obviously the animals are symbolic, and represent people.
“And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” [Zech. 14:12]
This same plague also applies to horses, mules, asses, and camels. [vs. 15] The prophecy does not necessarily mean that the armies of the invaders are distinct and separate from the animals; rather, the animals mentioned signify four categories of people. For example, the horse is characterized by herd behaviour, while asses tend to be solitary. A mule is the offspring of a male ass and a female horse. Camels may represent people who are burdened with wealth. This is illustrated by Jesus’ comment: “it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” [Luke 18:25]
In the 2nd woe of Rev. 9, horses have heads of lions, which is a metaphor, depicting carnal human nature. In the last days, Paul said, people would be “without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce.” [2 Tim. 3:1-4] Paul also wrote, “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” [Rom. 8:6-7]
In Rev. 20, John describes those who reign with Christ as “beheaded.” They lose their lions’ heads when they repent, and become new creations in Christ. They become more like sheep. John wrote:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [Rev. 20:4]
Before he was converted Saul was characterized as a horse. Jesus said to him, “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” [Acts 9:5]
The things that come out of the mouths of the horses figuratively “kill” one third of men.
“By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.” [Rev. 9:18]
The horses of the 2nd woe have tails like serpents.
“For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.” [Rev. 9:19]
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.” [Isa. 9:15]
The horses in the 2nd woe of Rev. 9 represent unconverted people. No wonder they do not succeed in bringing the world to repentance!
“And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” [Rev. 9:20-21]
Evidently they “kill” in a spiritual sense. The beliefs of the horses deprive them of the blessings of the gospel, and cause a spiritual type of death. The horses of the 2nd woe are people, who lack understanding, and are deceived.