The Bible’s prediction that there would be an army of 200 million “horsemen” had readers puzzled for several centuries. When the Apostle John wrote Revelation in around 95 A.D., there we’re only 200 million people on planet Earth. Since the biggest battles of John’s day only had a few thousand soldiers, there is good reason for him to be baffled by the large number.
It was a very long time before the global population grew to fit that number. It took 1,650 years for the world’s population just to double to 400 million. At the beginning of the 20th century, the head count was only 1.6 billion.
The population of China was mostly stagnant at under 100 million, up into the 1600s. Endless war and famines only allowed China to grow at a gradual pace. It hit 400 million in 1831 and 600 million in 1953. In the past half century, China’s population more than doubled to 1.4 billion.
The One Child policy instituted by Beijing has made mobilization of a 200 million man army all the more possible. Normally, between 103 and 106 boys are born for every 100 girls. The preference for male children through selective abortions has tilted China’s sex ratio for the generation born in the 2000s to 124. The gender imbalance has grown to the point where there are now 33.5 million more men than women in China.
China could have 10 billion people and still not be able to outfit an army of great size. However, the economic boom that has occurred in recent years has been providential to this objective. For decades, China had the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with growth rates averaging 10% each year. In 1980 China’s GDP was at $306 billion. Today it at $11.5 trillion.
India has a higher population growth rate than China, and it will become the most populous nation in the next three years. According to Global Firepower, the Indian military has a combined 4,207,250 active and reserve personnel in service. India is so poor, there is no way it could mobilize an army into the tens of millions.
Now that China has the population and the economic might to outfit a large military, it needs a pathway to the Middle East. The Great Wall of China was impressive at keeping the Mongols at bay, but it is nothing compared to the Himalaya mountain range. This massive wall of peaks is the reason why there is such a drastic cultural difference between East and Southwest Asia.
To bridge this natural divide, China is working a complex series of Initiatives that go by the names, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. The project is the brainchild of China’s president Xi Jinping, and its purpose is to establish road and sea connectivity between Eurasian countries.
The Silk Road will have major highways that reach to the doorways of Iran, Pakistan and India. The time scale is indefinite, and it will come with a huge price tag of between $4 trillion and $8 trillion. I doubt president Xi was thinking of military movement in his project, but it does show the massive amount of infrastructure that the “kings of the east” army will need to cross over to the Middle East.
To move a large army, a nation needs forward operating bases. This may explain why China has recently started building bases outside its territory. The Global Times reported last week that China is in talks with Pakistan to build its second overseas military base as part of a push for greater maritime capabilities along strategic sea routes.
Since the great invasion will take place near the end of the tribulation, China will have several years to work on the Silk Road. I read one stat that would seem to indicate that the 200 million man army will need to roll out in the not too distant future. The declining birth rate is a problem that naturally occurs with nearly every industrialized nation. The lack of children results in a country of old people. If Japan had a billion people, it couldn’t muster a large army.
Because God calls all the shots to prophecy, you can see why China following a step-by-step plan will play a major role in prophecy. With so many of the pieces of the puzzle that have already fallen into place, we can sense that time is short.
“Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them” (Revelation 9:14-16).
“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12).