Kings of the East

The Book of Revelation says that the kings of the east will field two hundred million mounted troops, “twice ten thousand times ten thousand…I heard their number.” (9:14-16) According to John Walvoord, one of the great Twentieth Century prophecy scholars, in a Time magazine, May 21, 1965 article China boasted of having this many military men and women in training, although most intelligence analysts doubt the number. That’s a lot of army! No wonder John was constantly dumbfounded; at the time he wrote Revelation, it’s unlikely the global population was 200,000,000.

Both Rev 9 and 16 mention the armies crossing the Euphrates River. Rev 16 says the river is dried up to prepare the way for the kings. The Euphrates has been known since the Garden of Eden and in John’s time it would have been unimaginable for armies to cross it on dry land. Today, however, it can be done; yet another thing to add to the Why Now column. Completed in 1990, the Ataturk Dam in Turkey can be used to shut off the flow of the Euphrates River as it did when filling its reservoir, depriving both Iraq and Syria of water for 30 days.

So who are these “kings of the east”? As is often the case, define your terms. What do we mean by “East?” Certainly one thinks of China, Japan, Korea, India; if you include the Middle East, the list is very long.

While the world was partying, China was building its might. Today, in addition to its huge military, it has the world’s largest navy with 350 ships; 200-some nuclear warheads; more land-based missiles and air defense systems than the United States. It has been building and militarizing new islands in the South China Sea to serve as air and sea bases. China is increasingly threatening its neighbors from land, sea, and air. In July, 2020 both Houses of US Congress sanctioned China.

Following WW II, the United States forced Japan to renounce the “sovereign right of belligerency,” stating that “…armed forces with war potential will not be maintained.” Japan has, however, always maintained “self-defense forces.” In 2014 the Japanese government reinterpreted this article of their constitution, giving additional power to these self-defense forces and allowing for military support of allies. In 2016 Japan sent its navy on a “tour” on the South China Sea in the biggest naval parade since WW II. China is threatening “firm measures” if it even looks like Japan is encroaching on the new area China illegally claims as its own. Starting about 2017 Japan has greatly increased its military budget and stealthily increased its armed forces, supposedly in response to both a North Korean and Chinese threat. Japan does not have a nuclear bomb but it does have a lot of plutonium (enough to make 6000 bombs) gathered from spent nuclear energy fuel rods.

North Korea says it will strike first if it feels threatened by the United States or South Korea. Such a strike includes nuclear weapons. For years they have been threatening and testing ballistic missiles which have increasingly longer range. This summer, in a joint global “advisory”, the US Treasury, Commerce and State Departments detailed North Korea’s ongoing efforts to obtain everything from forestry trucks for missile launchers to common metals and materials that can be used in rockets, warning sellers to beware of sanctions. According to a UN report issued in August, 2020, North Korea has “probably developed nuclear devices to fit in ballistic missiles.” Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader, has repeatedly promised the United States a “surprise gift.”  Obama reportedly told Trump that North Korea would be the most urgent problem he would face.

India has the world’s second largest military, third largest military reserve and third largest military budget. India is currently in an escalating conflict with China, with whom it recently skirmished in a sticks and stones fight. India is also maintaining conflict with Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia. Iran is trying to drive a further wedge between India and China over Kashmir. India also has a nuclear bomb.

Relationships between these Eastern countries would have to shift in the near future for them to form a single army. But add in a whole bunch of other “East”  countries and it’s easy to see how such a huge army could annihilate one-third of the world’s population. (Rev 9:15) As of March 2020, the global population was just under eight billion. So taking out a third would be between 2-3 billion dead. This attack probably doesn’t take place until well into the Tribulation, so the total number dead would be significantly less. But how would there be two hundred million people to go into this army by that time? 

Please, neither off-handedly accept nor reject what is said in this blog. Check it out. Look it up for yourself in the Bible. If you are a child of God, you are in good hands and there is the most wonderful eternity waiting for you. If you are not a Christ follower, now is a really good time to honestly explore the truth claims of the Bible.

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