Read Revelation 9
Focus on verse 16-17
War has been a part of human history about as long as humans have been part of human history. I highly suspect that it will continue to be part of human history until the last chapter of the human history book is completed. Currently wars are not fought the way they used to be fought back in the first century. This is not to suggest that people don’t die or that war is any less evil and destructive than it used to be. People have simply invented more efficient ways to kill each other.
In the days of the Apostle John, at the time of the writing of the book of Revelation, horses were one of, if not the most effective military units. Typically the nation of the king who had the largest and most advanced army was considered the most powerful king in the region, so in that regard little has changed.
In today’s reading John sees an army of two hundred million horses and riders in his vision. This massive army has a mission to complete. Their mission is to kill one third of the people who live on the earth. It would seem this is not really a war as we might understand it — where two or more groups fight each other over some piece of land or bragging rights.
The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. (v. 16-17)
Once I get past the horror of the idea of one third of humanity being killed by these beasts, I become intrigued by the description of these creatures that John provides. It makes me wish I could see what he actually saw. It is not out of the realm of possibility that what John as seeing was some form of modern armor. The reason he describes them as horses wearing strange breastplates, and having lions heads that breathed fire and smoke is because he had no other descriptors in his vocabulary. While it is possible that they were in fact some odd form of demonic horse, it makes one wonder if perhaps he was seeing some form of futuristic robotic military machines that the world has not yet experienced, and simply described them in the only manner with which he was familiar.
Either way the point is not so much what these creatures actually were, but that they had a mission that they apparently succeed in fulfilling, and more importantly that this is all part of the final act of this great drama we call life on planet earth.