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The Book of Revelation
Chapter Nine
One Bahá'í's Concept

CONCEPT BOX

The first half of this chapter deals with the Fifth Angel - which is the Buddhist Religion and the second half (starting in verse 13) with the Sixth Angel - which is the Angel of the Christian Religion.

The furtherest extension, and latest historically, of Buddhism was to Japan and it was here that the Buddhist East and Christian West would eventually most dramatically interface. Japan, although it had at one time, well after the 13th century travels of Marco Polo to China, been opened by the Jesuits to Christianity in 1542 it had later completely isolated itself from the West until Commodore Perry sailed into its harbor in 1854. Thus began the current interface, almost 150 years ago, between the Buddhist East and the Christian West.

The interface between the Buddhist East and the Christian West was to be a dramatic one that would change the fortunes of all mankind for all time. For this reason it holds such a prominent position in the Book of Revelation.

    Buddha had disciples and he wished to send them out into the world to teach, so he asked them questions to see if they were prepared as he would have them be. "When you go to the East and to the West," said the Buddha, "and the people shut their doors to you and refuse to speak to you, what will you do?" -- The disciples answered and said: "We shall be very thankful that they do us no harm." -- "Then if they do you harm and mock, what will you do?" -- "We shall be very thankful that they do not give us worse treatment." -- "If they throw you into prison?" -- "We shall still be grateful that they do not kill us." -- "What if they were to kill you?" the Master asked for the last time. "Still," answered the disciples, "we will be thankful, for they cause us to be martyrs. What more glorious fate is there than this, to die for the glory of God?" And the Buddha said: "Well done!"

    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    'Abdu'l-Bahá in London,
    p. 64)
    Japan hath made wonderful progress in material civilization, but she will become perfect when she also becometh spiritually developed and the power of the Kingdom becometh manifest in her.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá',
    Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá' v3,
    p. 564)
    If you look at the present practice of the Buddhist religion, you will see that there is little of the Reality left. Many worship idols although their teaching forbids it.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    'Abdu'l-Bahá in London,
    p. 63)
    One will encounter a little difficulty in the beginning of the establishment of the Cause of God in that country, but later it will become very easy, for the inhabitants of Japan are intelligent, sagacious and have the power of rapid assimilation.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá v3,
    p. 564)
    The people of Japan are intelligent but they are in need of a leader that he may awaken them.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá' in,
    Japan Will Turn Ablaze,
    p. 5)
    "O God! The darkness of contention, strife and warfare between the religions, the nations and peoples has beclouded the horizon of Reality and hidden the heaven of Truth. The world is in need of the light of Guidance. Therefore, O God, confer Thy favor, so that the Sun of Reality may illumine the East and the West."
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá's prayer for Japan in,
    Japan Will Turn Ablaze,
    p. 50)
Note on China

The religion or philosophy of China is a combination of the teachings of The Tao, Confucius, and the Buddha.

    Confucius became the cause of civilization, advancement and prosperity for the people of China.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá v2,
    p. 469)
It is said that Napoleon once remarked that China is a sleeping giant and that when it awakes it will move the world. This is certainly true of it spiritually. China has recently struggled spiritually through the atheistic period of the Mao revolution but its destiny remains to awaken and move the world spiritually.
    Under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen, the Chinese people had already thrown off the decadent imperial regime that had compromised the country's well-being, and were seeking to lay foundations of a rebirth of that country's greatness.
    (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice,
    Century of Light,
    p. 44)
China is a particularly blessed land.
    A proverb says: "Wisdom has lighted on three things: the hand of the Chinese, the brain of the Frank, and the tongue of the Arab."
    (Marzieh Gail,
    Six Lessons on Islám)
    'Abdu'l-Bahá often spoke in most hopeful words' of its (China's) brilliant future and of the spiritual capacity of its people'.
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    26 January 1923
    letter to individual believer
    Compilation on China, 1986)
    Quoted in:
    "The Chinese Religion and the Bahá'í Faith"
    p. vii
    'Abdu'l-Bahá remarked of China that it 'ranks foremost among all nations in material, cultural and spiritual resources' and that its 'future is assuredly bright'.
    Shoghi Effendi,
    letter to the Bahá'ís of the East,
    23 January 1923.
    Quoted in:
    "The Chinese Religion and the Bahá'í Faith"
    p. vii
'Abdu'l-Bahá further stated:
    The Chinese people are most simple-hearted and truth-seeking. In China one can teach many souls and train and educate such divine personages that each one of them may become the bright candle of the world of humanity. Truly, I say, the Chinese are free from any deceit and hypocrisies and are prompted with ideal motives. Had I been feeling well I would have taken a journey to China myself!
    'Abdu'l-Bahá cited in Star of the West, vol. 13, p. 185.
    The original text of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words is not available.
    Quoted in:
    "The Chinese Religion and the Bahá'í Faith"
    p. vii
Indeed, there are many places in the Bahá'í Writings where 'Abdu'l-Bahá longs for teachers to arise and to spread the Message in China and Shoghi Effendi envisions:
    .a momentous development paving the way for the eventual introduction of the Faith into the far-flung Chinese mainland and, beyond it, to the extensive territories of Soviet Russia.
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    Japan Will Turn Ablaze,
    p. 85)
will result in the:
    .future spiritual conquest of the main body of the yellow race on the Chinese mainland --
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    Letters from the Guardian
    to Australia and New Zealand,
    p. 138)
    Should the Truth of the Bahá'í Faith be widely disseminated among the Chinese people, it will naturally lead to the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. Should everybody again exert his efforts towards the extension of this beneficient influence throughout the world, it will then bring about world peace and the general welfare of humanity.
    (From Rev. K. T. Chung's Preface
    to the Chinese version of Dr. Esslemont's Book.)
    found in:
    (Misc Bahá'í,
    Appreciations of the Bahá'í Faith,
    p. 44)
As of yet, the struggle to awaken the Far East to the Bahá'í call, has met considerable resistance.
    China, despite its ancient civilization and its sense of itself as the "Middle Kingdom", had become the hapless victim of plundering by Western nations and by its modernizing neighbour Japan.
    (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice,
    Century of Light, p. 3)
    341.5 The population of Asia and Australasia is well over half the world population. The area includes Asiatic USSR and mainland China, accounting for more than one thousand million souls who are, for the most part, untouched by the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. Obviously present conditions in these areas call for the exercise of the utmost wisdom and circumspection. Yet this vast segment of humanity cannot be ignored.
    (Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986
    Compiled by Geoffry W. Marks
    Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1986)
    As Bahá'ís, we have been entrusted with the responsibility  of taking the message of Bahá'u'lláh to all of mankind, but only a comparatively small beginning has yet been made to take the teachings to the vast population of China. The Universal House of Justice feels that this task must be regarded as one of the highest priorities for the entire Bahá'í world.
    April 19, 1989
    (The Universal House of Justice,
    A Wider Horizon,
    Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 208)
    9.25 Gradually, too, the message of the Faith began to find a welcome in many parts of China and among Chinese populations abroad. Bahá'í literature was translated into Mandarin, university audiences in many Chinese cities extended invitations to Bahá'í scholars, a Centre for Bahá'í Studies was established at the prestigious Institute of World Religions in Beijing, which operates within the Academy of Social Sciences, and many Chinese dignitaries have been generous in their appreciation of the principles they discover in the Writings. In light of the high praise of the Master for Chinese civilization and its role in humanity's future, one begins to anticipate the creative contribution that believers from this background will make to the intellectual and moral life of the Cause in the years ahead.
    (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice,
    2001,
    Century of Light, p. 107)
For over a decade now there has been:
    .the establishment of a branch of the Bahá'í International Community's Office of Public Information in Hong Kong in anticipation of the time when the Faith can be proclaimed on the mainland of China.
    (Ridvan 1989
    The Universal House of Justice,
    A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992,
    p. 209)
But, the Bahá'í Writings foresee that the struggle to gain China will remain arduous:
    We cannot believe that as the Movement grows in strength, in authority and in influence, the perplexities and the sufferings it has had to contend with in the past will correspondingly decrease and vanish. Nay, as it grows from strength to strength, the fanatical defendants of the strongholds of orthodoxy, whatever be their denomination, realizing the penetrating influence of this growing Faith, will arise and strain every nerve to extinguish its light and discredit its name. For has not our beloved 'Abdu'l-Bahá sent forth His glowing prophecy from behind the prison walls of the citadel of 'Akká - words so significant in their forecast of the coming world turmoil, yet so rich in their promise of eventual victory: -

    "How great, how very great is the Cause; how very fierce the onslaught of all the peoples and kindreds of the earth! Erelong shall the clamor of the multitude throughout Africa, throughout America, the cry of the European and of the Turk, the groaning of India and China be heard from far and near. One and all they shall arise with all their power to resist His Cause. Then shall the Knights of the Lord, assisted by grace from on high, strengthened by faith, aided by the power of understanding and reinforced by the legions of the Covenant, arise and make manifest the truth of the verse: 'Behold the confusion that hath befallen the tribes of the defeated!'"

    Dearly beloved friends, upon us devolves the supreme obligation to stand by His side, to fight His battles and to win His victory. May we prove ourselves worthy of this trust.
    Your true brother,
    SHOGHI
    Haifa, Palestine
    February 12, 1927

    (Shoghi Effendi,
    Extracts from the USBN)

[1] And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

One Bahá'í's Concept

V.1 The fifth angel sounded:

The fifth angel is the angel of the Buddhist religion. The Star of this religion of the Compassionate Buddha, the Great Teacher of love and tolerance, fell as did the other religions. Particularly in China, where the state philosophy became that of atheistic communism. Buddhist countries saw great military conflicts. The Japanese, in particular, became noted for their war making inclinations.

    Hence, it is clear and manifest that by the words ".the stars shall fall from heaven" is intended the waywardness of the divines, and the annulment of laws firmly established by divine Revelation, all of which, in symbolic language, have been foreshadowed by the Manifestation of God.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Kitáb-i-Íqán,
    p. 41)
    Stranger even than this episode is the fact that the government of Japan was in the beginning subject to and under the protection of China, and that now for some years, Japan has opened its eyes and adopted the techniques of contemporary progress and civilization, promoting sciences and industries of use to the public, and striving to the utmost of their power and competence until public opinion was focused on reform. This government has currently advanced to such a point that, although its population is only one-sixth, or even one-tenth, that of China, it has recently challenged the latter government, and China has finally been forced to come to terms. Observe carefully how education and the arts of civilization bring honor, prosperity, independence and freedom to a government and its people.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    The Secret of Divine Civilization,
    p. 111)
[2] And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

V.2 Japan became the focus of the great technological force that was to forever change the destiny of mankind. The following amazing prophecy about the Atomic Bomb was given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in San Francisco in 1912, to the Japanese Ambassador Viscount Arakawa, upon whose country the first atomic bomb would be dropped.

    "Scientific discoveries have increased material civilization. There is in existence a stupendous force, as yet, happily undiscovered by man. Let us supplicate God, the Beloved, that this force be not discovered by science until spiritual civilization shall dominate the human mind. In the hands of men of lower nature, this power would be able to destroy the whole earth."
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Japan Will Turn Ablaze,
    p. 51)
    Split the atom's heart, and lo!
    Within it thou wilt find a sun.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Seven Valleys,
    p. 12)
The spiritual meaning of this verse is of even greater significance to mankind. From the pit came smoke, which is more dense than clouds of the mind, which kept people from following the true teachings of the Buddha. The sun and air were darkened, which means the spirituality of the religion was gone.
    The symbolic term "smoke" denotes grave dissensions, the abrogation and demolition of recognized standards, and the utter destruction of their narrow-minded exponents. What smoke more dense and overpowering than the one which hath now enshrouded all the peoples of the world, which hath become a torment unto them, and from which they hopelessly fail to deliver themselves, however much they strive? So fierce is this fire of self burning within them, that at every moment they seem to be afflicted with fresh torments.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Kitáb-i-Íqán,
    p. 76)
[3] And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

On the literal side, we also saw the painful result of the smoke that arose from the pit of hell when the Atomic bomb was dropped. This peculiar smoke contained particles of radioactivity material whose bite was as dreadful as the scorpions of the earth.

    Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and the understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 69)
Out of the smoke came locusts, which are much like grasshoppers, but they strip all vegetation as they go. Since they travel in great hordes, it is devastating, as the crops are completely destroyed. The armies of Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam, and elsewhere in the Far East, became like great hordes of locusts as the gun barrels of defending forces melted in their efforts to stop them.
    The smoke of corruption hath enveloped the whole world in such wise that naught can be seen in any direction save regiments of soldiers and nothing is heard from any land but the clashing of swords.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 39)
[4] And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

V.4 While those who remain alive in the spiritual teachings of their religion (the green grass and trees) will not be spiritually harmed, it is those that have become spiritually dead that will be harmed.

Although in some religions people put a mark on their foreheads (not a Bahá'í practice) what is meant is a spiritual reference. More importantly what one should really note here is that while many people have concerned themselves about a supposed literal 'mark of the beast' in this case the mark on the forehead is viewed in a very positive light. The essential point however, is that in neither case is it a physical mark but rather the expression is used to denote the nature of their character.

    These are they who are blessed by the Concourse on high, who are glorified by the denizens of the everlasting Cities, and beyond them by those on whose foreheads Thy most exalted pen hath written: "These! The people of Baha. Through them have been shed the splendors of the light of guidance." Thus hath it been ordained, at Thy behest and by Thy will, in the Tablet of Thine irrevocable decree.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 83)
    We, verily, have chosen courtesy, and made it the true mark of such as are nigh unto Him. Courtesy is, in truth, a raiment which fitteth all men, whether young or old. Well is it with him that adorneth his temple therewith, and woe unto him who is deprived of this great bounty.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Summons of the Lord of Hosts,
    p. 71
    Suriy-i-Haykal / Surih of the Temple /
    Napoleon III:137)
The seal of God is deep down commitment to His teachings; The spiritual teachings give direction for living the life.
    CXXX. Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 285)
[5] And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

V.5 The prophecies of the Book of Revelation are fulfilled over a period of time and a part of the problem in writing about it is that even after the seals have been opened there are aspects that are still in the process of being fulfilled and therefore we will not be able to understand them until after they have been fulfilled. In a literal sense we may observe that the smoke (radiation) from nuclear weapons does persist with some intensity for a period of about five months and that very often for many it is a serious but not fatal torment.

Prophetic statements of time are often symbolic. As seen in 'The Most Conclusive Proof' (see appendix by that name) five months, really means 150 years, arrived at by multiplying 5 months times the 30 days in a month and considering each of the resulting 150 days as representing a year. The difficulty then comes in determining the starting point of the time period. Once an event has occurred one can then count backwards from the event to the what was the concealed reference and in that way see the prophecy as a "proof".

If one were to speculate that the point of reference were the beginning of Japan's interaction with the West, in 1854, then the completion of the time period would be in 2004 which lies beyond the time of this writing and would therefore be pure speculation. From the Bahá'í timetable the base year is usually 1844 with declaration of the Báb, but then we add to that the 'year 9' which brought us to the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh, and 150 years added to that again brings us into the current time frame. A few years one way or the other may not be that significant in speaking of times that are a century long, or a thousand years long, or as in this case a century and a half in duration.

Whatever may be the fulfillment of these prophetic verses, there is no doubt but that they are indicative of the interesting times in which we live and that they may be warning of a grevious catastrophe still to befall Japan and mankind.

[6] And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

V.6 If these verses are seen as a description of events still to come at the time that this book is being written, then this could be also interpreted as a literal description of the horrors that modern warfare can impose and what may occur in a nuclear catastrophe so terrible that it has been speculated that the living will envy the dead.
    Where canst thou find refuge now? Who shall protect thee from the dreadful scourge of thy Lord, the All-Compelling? There is no haven for thee in this Day, O ungodly doubter!" Whereupon the agony of death seized him and he saw no more. Thus did We lay hold on him in Our wrathful anger, and severe is thy Lord in His punishment.

    Then an angel from the right hand of the Throne summoned him: "Behold the angel of affliction. Is there any place to flee to save hell, wherein the heart boileth?" And the angel of chastisement received his spirit, and a voice proclaimed: "Enter the bottomless pit which hath been promised in the Book, and whose existence thou didst day and night deny!"

    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    The Summons of the Lord of Hosts,
    p. 178,
    Lawh-i-Fu'ád:11)
    My only joy in this swiftly-passing world was to tread the stony path of God and to endure hard tests and all material griefs. For otherwise, this earthly life would prove barren and vain, and better would be death.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
    p. 226)
    If he becomes the center of the imperfections of the world of humanity, death is better than life, and nonexistence better than existence.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    The Promulgation of Universal Peace,
    p. 53)
[7] And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

V.7 From a spiritual perspective we can see these armies (like hordes of locusts) prepared for battle, were deceptive. They are described as having crowns, but their crowns were 'like' gold, meaning that they felt that they had authority from God, however they were mistaken. Divine authority, is always symbolized by a golden crown. In this verse they are described as locusts, but it says they have faces of men. Literal interpretations of this are left for the appendix at the end of this chapter.
    Say: None shall be secure this Day from the decree of God. This indeed is a grievous Day. We point out to them those that led them astray. They see them, and yet recognize them not. Their eyes are drunken; they are indeed a blind people. Their proofs are the calumnies they uttered; condemned are their calumnies by God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. The Evil One hath stirred up mischief in their hearts, and they are afflicted with a torment that none can avert. They hasten to the wicked, bearing the register of the workers of iniquity. Such are their doings.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 41)
[8] And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

V.8 Again, a literal interpretation is left for the appendix at the end of the chapter but from a spiritual point of view that they had hair like women, would mean that they appeared placid in their deception, while 'teeth of lions' denotes strength of their intent. This is very descriptive of the Maoist cultural revolution in China.
[9] And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

V.9 While these verses permit very graphic literal interpretations as presented in the appendix to this chapter they are also equally adaptable to spiritual meanings which are even deeper. The breastplates of iron here represent strength and the overwhelming sound of wings that of intense energy and activity. All of which can be seen in the action of societies which exert political power over the people without the essence of spiritual justice.

[10] And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

V.10 Once again we have the five month figure and while it may be seen as a conflict that some effect of lasts five months it is also (either alternatively or simultaneously) possibly code for activity that covers a 150 year period, the conclusion of which we have not seen yet.
[11] And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

V.11 The king of the bottomless pit is called Abaddon in Hebrew, and Apollyon in Greek: Both mean 'Destruction' and there is no doubt but that these verses forebode a period of destruction both physically and spiritually. Indeed, the last century has seen both physical destruction, such as had not occurred in all the previous centuries combined, and spiritual destruction with the rise of godlessness (repudiation of belief in God) and extremes of immorality and spiritual uncleanliness that the world has no record of having occurred before.
    CXII. Behold the disturbances which, for many a long year, have afflicted the earth, and the perturbation that hath seized its peoples. It hath either been ravaged by war, or tormented by sudden and unforeseen calamities. Though the world is encompassed with misery and distress, yet no man hath paused to reflect what the cause or source of that may be. Whenever the True Counsellor uttered a word in admonishment, lo, they all denounced Him as a mover of mischief and rejected His claim. How bewildering, how confusing is such behavior! No two men can be found who may be said to be outwardly and inwardly united. The evidences of discord and malice are apparent everywhere, though all were made for harmony and union. The Great Being saith: O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. We cherish the hope that the light of justice may shine upon the world and sanctify it from tyranny.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 218)
[12] One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

V.12 A detailed discussion of 'The Three Woes' is to be found in the concept box at the end of the previous chapter (Chapter Eight). Here it may be seen as that the woe that befell the Buddhist religion in the Far East is to be followed by woes that will befall the sixth and seventh religions - therefore the Christian and Islámic countries, respectively.
[13] And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

V.13 The sixth angel sounded:

We come now to the Sixth Angel which is the Christian Religion and the source of the Book of Revelation. It is therefore understandable that the verses concerning this angel complete not only the rest of this chapter but also all of the next. John heard a voice from four leaders (horns) of the Golden altar of God. These are related to the four countries associated with the four Angels in the next verse.

[14] Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

V.14 God is telling the sixth angel (the Angel of the Christian Religion) who has the trumpet prepared to sound; to loose the angels that are holding back destruction (Rev.7:1). The four are bound in the area of the great river Euphrates where the Sabean, Judaic, Zoroastrian, and Islámic religions had there beginnings. Today, we do see battle lines being drawn in that area by the descendants of those religions. The Jews in Israel, the Shiite Persian Muslims in Iran (the descendants of Zoroaster), and Sunni Arab Muslims. This is also the locale (Iran) of those who still use the name Sabean for their religion. Christianity, which also began in the Holy Land, is now considered a Western Religion just as Buddhism which started in India, flourished in Japan and the Far East.

In the 'latter days' we see the armies of the 'Christian' nations descending on the Middle East to release unto the world the winds of war. Therefore all four religions of the Euphrates, plus the Religion of the Sixth Angel have come to the plain of Armageddon (in Israel).The other two religions, the Hindu and Buddhist, that centered in the Far East have also been drawn into the world conflict.

The Euphrates River has a central island in the City of Baghdad (Iraq) where Bahá'u'lláh made his declaration.

    "Amidst them all," He writes, referring to the afflictive trials and dangers besetting Him in the city of Baghdad, "We stand life in hand wholly resigned to His Will, that perchance through God's loving kindness and grace, this revealed and manifest Letter (Bahá'u'lláh) may lay down His life as a sacrifice in the path of the Primal Point, the most exalted Word (the Bab). By  Him, at Whose bidding the Spirit hath spoken, but for this yearning of Our soul, We would not, for one moment, have tarried any longer in this city."
    (Shoghi Effendi,
    The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh,
    p. 125)
[15] And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

V.15 The four angels are allowed to go. The time given in this verse is an hour, a day, a month and a year.

This can be seen as just a poetic reference to a specific time which no one knows:

    Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

On the other-hand, using the formula given by Ezekiel, in Chapter 4 V.6, "I have appointed thee each day for a year". This adds to 391 years plus an hour. (1+30+360=391). If the latter is the case, and this is in regards to a still future event, then we still don't know the beginning date and can't until after the event in keeping with the principle so often stated in this book that the Book of Revelation is a Book of Proof rather than a Book of Prophecy because we are not supposed to know future events or their timing except in general principles.

[16] And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

V.16 This verse is talking about another war, and the army being huge, a symbol is given as 200 thousand, thousand - a great multitude when one considers that the US only field 200 thousand at the beginning of Gulf War 2. This number is a thousand times more or 200 million. Certainly a world war.
[17] And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

V.17 John saw horses in a vision and those that sat on them. The breastplates being used are different, they no longer have strength of iron, there is a jewel on this breastplate, which indicate that wealth may be a factor. The horses also were different, they were fierce like lions, and they issued deadly weapons of fire, smoke and brimstone.
    Look thou with seeing eyes at the world about thee, and at the inhabitants thereof. .Armed troops and artillery are to be found in every part of the field. The flash of the swords of enmity blind the eyes from even the most remote distance, the lightning effect of breastplate and lance and the sparkle of the bucklers of hatred light up the night and bewilder the sight. In short: strife, battle, slaughter and war are prepared in organized perfection.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Bahá'í Scriptures,
    p. 344)
[18] By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

V.18 There are two groupings of Four Angels that overlap. They are the first four Angels and the Four Angels of the Euphrates. The two groups overlap but are not identical.

Looking back at Revelation Chapter 7:1-3 we see we see that Four unamed Angels are bound from hurting the

    • earth
    • sea
    • trees
Then in Revelation Chapter 8 we see them loosed:
8:7 First Angel SabeanEarth1/3 trees
8:8 Second Angel HinduSea1/3 seas
8:10 Third Angel JewishRivers1/3 rivers
8:12 Fourth Angel ZorastrianSun1/3 Sun, Stars

The group of the Four Angels of the Euphrates are mentioned in Revelation 9:13,15 and 16:12. They are identified as being:

    • Sabean
    • Jewish
    • Zoroastrian
    • Islámic

While the Sabean religion, in its world-wide extension is identified with Native Peoples and the earth - and it is in both the first group of four and among the Four Angels of the Euphrates, it alone does not have nuclear weapons and therefore only three of the Four Angels of the Euphrates are associated with the great slaying of mankind.

Two other Angels (the Buddhist and Christian as well as the Hindu) - not associated with the Euphrates do, however, have nuclear weapons and their role in the Great Catastrophe is described in later chapters. It is notable (Rev.16:12) that it is the Sixth Angel (the Christian Religion) that comes from afar and goes to the Mideast to release the Four Angels of the Euphrates.

The one third number is also symbolic, meaning a very large number. Aside from the description being applicable to a physical war it also has spiritual significance, somewhat akin to what is called being 'slain in the spirit' but these being the opposite because of the spiritually detrimental nature of the smoke, fire and brimstone as described previously.

[19] 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.

V.19 The army was described as serpents, with power in their mouth and in their tails. The heads did hurt as from their mouths came fire and brimstone. Whatever literal meanings that may be given to these descriptions (as in the appendix at the end of the chapter) it is always the spiritual meaning that one should look for. The serpent is always identified in the Bible with evil (from the Book of Genesis and the Garden of Eden forward.) The reference, in a spiritual sense, is to the effect of the masses of spiritually deprived in our societies.
    The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world. This attachment of the spirit to the human world led the soul and spirit of Adam from the world of freedom to the world of bondage and caused Him to turn from the Kingdom of Unity to the human world. When the soul and spirit of Adam entered the human world, He came out from the paradise of freedom and fell into the world of bondage. From the height of purity and absolute goodness, He entered into the world of good and evil.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Some Answered Questions,
    p. 123)
    This attachment of the soul and spirit to the human world, which is sin, was inherited by the descendants of Adam, and is the serpent which is always in the midst of, and at enmity with, the spirits and the descendants of Adam. That enmity continues and endures. For attachment to the world has become the cause of the bondage of spirits, and this bondage is identical with sin, which has been transmitted from Adam to His posterity. It is because of this attachment that men  125  have been deprived of essential spirituality and exalted position.
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Some Answered Questions,
    p. 124)
The Mongols showed anger, and the Pope also was unjust in his attack.
[20] And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

V.20 Although mankind watched multitudes perish because of the spiritual depravity of the world and the injustices that it permitted they still did not repent. The leaders still didn't go back to their spiritual teachings, nor did they give up their love for wealth, which they worshiped.
    Say: O concourse of divines! Hear ye not the shrill voice of My Most Exalted Pen? See ye not this Sun that shineth in refulgent splendour above the All-Glorious Horizon? For how long will ye worship the idols of your evil passions? Forsake your vain imaginings, and turn yourselves unto God, your Everlasting Lord.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Verse 41)
    Alas! It is misguided ones like these who are the cause of division and hatred upon earth. Today there are millions of people who still worship idols, and the great religions of the world are at war among themselves. For 1,300 years, Christians and Mussulmans (Muslims) have been quarrelling, when with very little effort their differences and disputes could be overcome and peace and harmony could exist between them and the world could be at rest!
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá,
    Paris Talks,
    p. 46)
[21] Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

V.21 They did not repent of their murders, their idol worship, fornication nor thefts.
    We entreat God -- exalted and glorified be He -- to aid all men to be just and fair-minded, and to graciously assist them to repent and return unto Him. He, verily, heareth, and is ready to answer.
    (Bahá'u'lláh,
    Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
    p. 35)

Chapter Nine Appendix
External Interpretations of Archetypes

Because the prophecies of the Book of Revelation are "archetypes" they may be seen as applying to more than one event and time. The explanations given here for the verses is not meant to preclude other interpretations such as those who see in them:

    [v.1] the descriptions of missiles falling from the air

    [v.2] creating the great heat and gigantic mushroom clouds of thermonuclear warfare

    [v.3] bringing out of it fallout with a bite worse than scorpions

    [v.4] that would not kill the vegetation

    [v.5] but would cause agony in men for several months

    [v.6] such that they would prefer that they were dead

The description of the armaments:
    [v.7] the cockpits of aircraft

    [v.8] the contrails flying behind

    [v.9] the ferocity of their weapons

    [v.10] the beating of helicopter blades and the roar of jet engines along with the nuclear weapons which they drop from their bodies that have effects such as fallout, radiation and so forth.

While in Chapter Six, many general verses were presented about the Great Catastrophe to come, and while the verses in the present chapter may be more specific descriptions of some of those events that have still not occurred these will not be speculated upon here because it is a rule of prophecies of the previous dispensations that they can't be understood in detail - except in retrospect.

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