The book of Revelation is fantastical. Its bold imagery, other-worldly creatures, and apocalyptic message both capture the imagination and defy belief.
But as the prophetic clock eats away at the years allotted for this supposedly final generation— birthed in 1948, when the “fig tree” of Jerusalem was revived as Jesus predicted— we get a surprise.
The book of Revelation is proving to be remarkably accurate.
Case in point: the prophecy of the 200 million man army.
We see this prophecy in Revelation 9:13-16 (NET):
“Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a single voice coming from the horns on the golden altar that is before God, saying to the sixth angel, the one holding the trumpet, ‘Set free the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates!’ Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour, day, month, and year were set free to kill a third of humanity. The number of soldiers on horseback was two hundred million; I heard their number.” (emphasis added)
From John’s Perspective
Let’s get some perspective on what the number “200 million” would mean to a person living in the time of John the Revelator.
In John’s time, the Roman army consisted of about 300,000 soldiers.
The entire population of the world in 1 A.D. is estimated to have been 200 million.
An army of 200 million was both impossible and inconceivable at the time of John’s vision.
Is a 200 Million Man Army Possible Now?
Today, with a world population of 7.1 billion, a 200 million man army seems more likely. Biblical scholars generally assume that this will be fulfilled by China, since China is in “the east” (see Revelation 16), and because it has a population of over 1.3 billion.
But let’s take a closer look at some hard numbers to see how feasible an army of this size really is today.
Is It Feasible In Terms Of Manpower?
The U.S. military, considered the world’s strongest, has 1.4 million active duty personnel.
China’s military, the world’s largest in terms of manpower, has 2.3 millionactive duty personnel.
All world militaries combined have a total of 20.2 million active duty personnel.
This means that a 200 million man army would be:
87x bigger than the world’s largest army. (44x bigger if you stretch to include China’s unarmed reserves.)
Almost 10x bigger than all world militaries combined.
Is It Feasible In Terms Of Economics?
China spent $188 billion on their military in 2013: 2.1% of their GDP(Gross Domestic Product).
Rate of expenditure: $82,275 per member.
The US spent $640 billion on their military in 2013: 3.8% of their GDP.
Rate of expenditure: $467,312 per member.
So, what would an army of 200 million cost?
200 million personnel, at China’s lower rate of expenditure, would cost $16.455 trillionper year.
$16.455 trillion is 178% of China’s GDP
$16.455 trillion is 97% of the GDP of the U.S (the highest GDP in the world)
Conclusion: Even if a country emerges that has both the human resources of China AND the economic resources of the U.S, the cost of a 200 million man army would be nearly equal to its entire GDP.
Though an army of this size is certainly more plausible than it was in John’s time, upon closer examination, it would still seem impossible.
A Prophesied Evil
The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is turning “impossible” on its head. Rising from the ashes of the war in Iraq, this terrorist organization has moved from obscurity to instant, worldwide recognition in a matter of weeks. As early as August 7, even before the story broke on major news networks, we brought you reports of ISIS beheading Christians (including women and children) and displaying their heads on sticks in public.
Less than three months later, ISIS has become a household name, notorious for its sadistic crimes— namely the rape, crucifixion, and beheading of those who refuse to convert to Islam.
This alone thrusts ISIS onto the prophetic radar, as it is fulfilling the prophecy in Revelation that Christians will be beheaded in the end-times:
“Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those who had been given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. These had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or hand. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”Revelation 20:4 (NET) (emphasis added)
Thanks to ISIS, this unthinkable prophecy has entered our reality. But that’s not where it ends.
ISIS may also be positioned to fulfill the prophecy of the 200 million man army.
A New Kind of Army
Islam, as pointed out by Jan Morgan in Why I Want My Range to Be A Muslim Free Zone, is more than a religion. It’s a theocracry. She states:
“Islam is the union of political, legal, and religious ideologies. In other words, law, religion and state are forged together to form what Muslims refer to as “The Nation of Islam.”
“Islamists” (sometimes dubbed “extremists” or “militants”) promote Islamism, which is defined as “a popular reform movement advocating the reordering of government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam” (Meriam-Webster)
The percentage of Muslims who are Islamists is hotly debated, and there is no single way to measure it. But when the dust settles, the number of Muslims who approve of the use of violence against innocent civilians to establish Islamic law appears to be at least 10-15% worldwide (significantly higher in Muslim countries). (For specific stats, look here, here,here, and here.)
These are people who believe in jihad— not the peaceful spiritual journey non-Muslims are led to believe the Koran promotes, but the physical attack of those who do not worship Allah, and the forcible takeover of non-Muslim governments. These things are commanded in the Koran:
Muslim (1:33) – “…the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”
Quran (9:5) - “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.”
A New Kind Of Math
So, let’s do some new math. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.
10-15% of 1.6 billion is… you guessed it: 160-240 million.
That’s an army of between 160-240 million Muslims, committed to a literal, violent jihad.
Now take another look at that prophecy:
“Set free the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates! Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour, day, month, and year were set free to kill a third of humanity. The number of soldiers on horseback was two hundred million; I heard their number.” Revelation 9:14b-16 (NET)
ISIS and the Fire-Ant Strategy
To understand how something as statistically small as ISIS could have a measurable impact on the world, we can look to another little guy that packs a big punch: the fire-ant.
Most of the time, a bite from an ant is little more than an annoyance. This is because an individual ant can’t inflict that much damage. Even if you happen to step into a nest of biting ants, you are quickly alerted to your mistake by the first sting or two, at which time you promptly:
Brush the other ants off of you, and
Move out of harm’s way.
Fire-ants, however, are unique in their battle strategy. They swarm their victim, often covering an entire leg or arm before it knows what’s happening. Then, with each little ant in place, a signal goes out: bite.
And they do, all at once, enabling them to take down prey thousands of times their size. Any human who has suffered an attack from a fire-ant swarm will tell you that it’s no laughing matter.
This is the strategy of ISIS, and of the spirit of jihad. This is why the size of ISIS itself doesn’t matter. What is prophesied to be “unbound” from the river Euphrates (the home of ISIS) is a strong spiritual force— four angels released to kill, kill, kill. It is this common spirit that will stir up, inspire, and drive the 200 million man army.
In short, the force of ISIS is inspiration— inspiring terror in their enemies; murder and hate in their supporters…and doing it all with the simplicity of a message. A single message to kill.
And that message has gone out. National Post reports:
“In a 42-minute audio speech, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani urged ISIS supporters to kill Canadians, Americans, Australians, French and other Europeans, regardless of whether they were civilians or members of the military.
‘Rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling,’ he said.
‘Both of them are disbelievers. Both of them are considered to be waging war. Both of their blood and wealth is legal for you to destroy, for blood does not become illegal or legal to spill by the clothes being worn.’”
Another passage from that same message, reported by NBC News, warned Americans and Europeans that: “…you will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning left and right, fearing the Muslims.” It added: “You will not feel secure even in your bedrooms.”
Since this message has exploded through social media, and the collective consciousness has been flooded with images of beheading after beheading, we have had numerous “lone wolf” terrorist attacks on U.S., Canadian, and British soil, including:
the shooting of a Canadian soldier in Ottawa
a home-grown Canadian convert to Islam who ran down two soldiers with his car two days later
Multiple lone-wolf beheadings in the UK
the attack of four police officers in Queens, New York by a recently converted Islamist with a hatchet
the beheading and brutal assault of two women in Moore, OK
This is a force unlike any military power we have yet seen.
This army doesn’t have to be funded — the individuals fund themselves.
This army doesn’t have to be supplied with weapons (the beheading in Moore, OK was done with a kitchen knife.)
This army doesn’t have to agree on a single Muslim caliph— they need only agree on jihad.
These soldiers don’t have to bomb the twin towers to inspire terror. They just have to behead one person on the street.
This army need not steal into our homeland or sneak across our borders— they have passports. They are citizens. They are our students, colleagues, co-workers, and neighbors.
You can’t tell the Islamist from the peaceful Muslim. The swarm is entrenched and in place.
This army need not cooperate, coordinate, or even train. It needs no elaborate battle plan, just one inspiring command: kill now…“slay the idolaters wherever you find them.”
Ladies and gentlemen, that command has been spoken; and it has already begun to be obeyed.
Can it be said with authority that ISIS (and the Islamic Nation they represent) is the only possible explanation for the 200 million man army in Revelation? No. There is always the possibility that some unforeseen development will throw our understanding on its head.
But one thing is clear. It can no longer be said that such a thing is impossible. An army has appeared on the stage of human history, and we are left to stare this fact in the face:
A 200 million man army is not only feasible— the boots are on the ground.
And what does that mean? That the book of Revelation is coming true.