SECOND WOE (9:12). The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come. The three woes are in sequence; therefore, the trumpets must be in sequence also.
THE SIXTH TRUMPET: THE RELEASE OF FOUR ANGELS (9:13-21). At the sounding of the sixth trumpet, a voice comes from the horns of the golden altar, which stands in the Presence of God.
HORNS signify power; on the Golden Altar, they represent the power of God’s grace and mercy. Israelites fleeing judgment could seek mercy by taking hold of the horns (1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28). Therefore, the horns link God’s judgment to His atonement.
FOUR ANGELS (9:14-16). Righteous angels are not bound so these must be evil angels bound at the great river Euphrates. This river points to Babylon, the plain of Shinar, where Satan’s mystery religion took root (Zechariah 5:8-11). The Euphrates was the promised eastern boundary of Israel and it is east as far as the Roman Empire stretched.
God still controls history: the four angels were kept ready for this very hour, day, month, and year. They were released to kill a third of mankind.
One-fourth of mankind will be killed with the fourth seal (6:8) 25%
Of the remaining seventy-five percent one third is killed here 25%
Hence one-half of mankind will be slain in two judgments 50%
The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. China claims to have had this number under arms as early as A.D. 1961. It might be the army of the Antichrist out to conqueror the world. The objective of this army moving westward might be the Revived Roman Empire ruled by the Antichrist. Many scenarios are plausible. This army would stretch eighty-seven miles long and five miles wide.
Some think the description of the horses might be John’s attempt to describe modern war machines, such as tanks and armored vehicles, and the smoke might be immense clouds of radioactive fallout.
The four angels could command the two hundred million demons loosed under the fifth trumpet. Each force might go in the four directions of the wind to slay the third part of mankind. There are angelic armies mentioned in 2 Kings 2:11; 6:14; Revelation 19:14 and supernatural leaders oppose one another (cf. Daniel 10:13, 20; 11:1; Revelation 12:17).
TAILS WITH HEADS (9:19) indicates the ability to unleash devastation in two directions.
THE REST OF MANKIND (9:20-21). God and the Lamb’s wrath reveal the hardness of man’s heart; the survivors still did not repent! The trumpets are warnings intended to bring men to repentance, and they intensify as the end approaches. The unbeliever’s refusal to repent during the Tribulation will be astonishing. The darkened mind is pictured by their worship and practices.
Historicists view this trumpet and woe as the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire to the Turks in A.D. 1453. The Ottomans wore scarlet, blue, and yellow.
Preterists find the Romans and confederates invading Palestine from the Euphrates believing Israel’s conquerors had previously come from Assyria, Babylon, and Media-Persia. However, Media-Persia overthrew Babylon, not Israel.
Idealists hear the voice releasing demonic forces from the horns of the golden altar.
Futurists view an invasion of a massive army influenced by demons from the Orient. Others hold that this army is demonic forces.