The Four Angels of the Euphrates ~ The Great Throne Visions ~ The Second Cycle
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“…Release the Four Angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were released. This was precisely the hour, and day, and month, and year they were prepared for – to destroy a third of mankind…”
This is the only vision in which the Trumpet Angel becomes an actor in the drama that unfolds after the sounding of the trumpet. He is commanded to loose the Four Angels, and they are immediately set free. Just how this is accomplished, and just exactly who the Four Angels who are freed really are, is not revealed by the Prophet. This has not prevented the commentators from speculating, however, and the identity of these particular “angels” has been hotly contested. Therefore, we will make this theme the point of departure for our commentary.
Theories Concerning Their Identity
The majority of the expositors take these angels to be evil in nature, and consider their attitude to be malignant and their goal nothing less than the “complete ruin” of mankind. Hal Lindsey, in spite of the specific language of the text, believes them to be Demons, the “tremendously powerful emissaries of Satan.” J. A. Seiss agreed with this assessment, at least in part, and considered them to be especially “distinguished from others in the kingdom of evil.” Seiss goes on to identify these Four Angels with the “bound” angels referred to by Peter and Jude.
“We read of apostate angels whom God hath delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto the judgment of the great day.”
But there are serious problems with these interpretations. First of all, we need to establish that these Four Angels are not Demons. This is neither stated nor implied in the text. More importantly, they are never described as “evil angels” in the vision. The reader should remember that a “destroying angel” is not necessarily an evil angel. And these Four are certainly not the bound angels described by Jude and Peter. They are not in Hell and they are not under “chains of darkness.” [II Peter 2:4; Jude 6] These angels are bound at “the great river Euphrates.” Although many of the commentators picture these angels as the leaders of the invading host of horses, they are never so designated in the vision. Although the Four Angels set in motion these hellish hordes, they are not mentioned again in connection with the ride of this terrible cavalry. To insist that they lead the host is an unverifiable assumption.
The key to understanding these symbolic angels, like all numbered symbols, lies in the meaning of the number itself. The number Four, from the time of the Pythagoreans in Western culture and from time immemorial in the East, has always represented the four forces, or principles, of Creation. It is the perfect number and connects all beings, elements, numbers, and seasons. In all religions and cultures it is the symbolic number of the Cosmos.
In an earlier commentary, to which we refer the interested reader, we determined that the number Four was both the symbolic basis of matter and of the Creative process, and, at the same time, the symbolic basis of the consciousness phenomena. The coming together of these symbolic processes at certain propitious moments in the time/space framework of the Cosmic Earth, make the number the symbol “par excellence” of cosmic destiny.
The number Four represents the primordial cosmic forces that generate the history of the world. It is intimately and inextricably involved in the continuing creative process, and in the manner in which we understand it. The number Four, under a myriad of symbolic motifs, embodies the forces that bring together the periodic synchronization of the human and cosmic rhythm. The terrible catastrophes of the time of the Trumpets will be accompanied by radical changes in human consciousness. The Sixth Trumpet, and the Four Angels which are associated with it, embody the idea of mankind’s cosmic destiny in a very special way.