What does Revelation 9:19 mean?
ESV: For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.
NIV: The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
NASB: For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads, and with them they do harm.
CSB: For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, because their tails, which resemble snakes, have heads that inflict injury.
NLT: Their power was in their mouths and in their tails. For their tails had heads like snakes, with the power to injure people.
KJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
John has described the two-hundred-million-strong army using the imagery of horses. This verse tells us the horses' power resides in their mouths and in their tails. The locusts in John's earlier vision, as well as these invading "horses" are said to be able to use their tails as deadly instruments. For this reason, some interpreters believe the locust-like creatures released from the Abyss (Revelation 9:2–3) will have taken on the appearance of horses to participate in this next trumpet judgment.

Prior verses indicated that a third of the people remaining on earth would be killed in this attack. In horrific situations such as that, mass casualties become mass corpses that pile up like firewood. We can only imagine the panic, terror, and devastation of such an event.

Many unbelievers today trust in their own security on the basis of false gods, such as material goods and money, or in medical science. One of the purposes of the tribulation is to prove, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that nothing can prevent the wrath of God on sin. Only personal faith in the Savior will exempt anyone from eternal suffering in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15).
Verse Context:
Revelation 9:13–21 provides further insight into the assault by the northern invader. Earlier in chapter 9 we read about a horde of demonic locusts ascending from the bottomless pit. Now we read about two hundred million heavily armed cavalrymen, whose horses have heads like those of lions and tails like those of snakes. Four angels residing at the Euphrates allow the demonic army to advance across the river. The swarm of locusts described earlier may control or even possess these two hundred million cavalrymen. What follows is the annihilation of one third of humanity. However, the rest of humanity refuse to repent of their evil deeds, idolatry, murders, sorceries, or sexual immorality. Joel 2 and Ezekiel 38 also prophesy this northern army's invasion of Israel. Revelation 10 will provide another interlude between the judgments.
Chapter Summary:
Revelation 9 tells us that under the fifth trumpet judgment John sees a star fall from heaven to earth. This ''star'' is Satan, and he is given the key to the bottomless pit. Using this key, Satan unleashes a plague of supernatural demons resembling locusts. They torment unbelievers for five months with such pain that people seek death unsuccessfully. They appear like horses prepared for battle, and they have a king, whose name is Apollyon, meaning ''Destroyer.'' Under the sixth trumpet judgment John sees four angels released from the Euphrates river. Their release coincides with a horde of two hundred million demonic mounted troops that kill a third of mankind. However, the survivors refuse to abandon their idolatry and to repent of their evil deeds.
Chapter Context:
The ninth chapter of Revelation continues the report of what happens when the seven angels blow their trumpets. Chapter 8 described the first four trumpet judgments; chapter 9 reports the fifth and sixth. The events in chapter 9 are much more severe than those which came before. The severity of judgments increases dramatically with each trumpet blast. These judgments precede the final series of events, called the bowl judgments. Revelation chapters 15 and 16 will reveal what happens under these judgments.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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