The Preterist view: They see this passage as God’s vengeance, using the Roman armies to descend on apostate Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem in 66-70 A.D. Josephus recorded that the Euphrates is where the Roman troops, defending the eastern border, came from. “Very hour” refers to the precise nature of Roman attacks. This is also what Daniel prophesied in his “seventy weeks” (Deut. 28; Dan. 9:24; Mark 13:3; Luke 21:6-7, 20-32). “Two hundred million” is seen as the fearsomeness of Rome and the travesties of war. “Plague” refers to the locust plagues in 66 A.D. The lack of repentance is from the debased reprobate mind (Rom. 1: 20-28). Josephus recorded massive insane evils by Jews to other Jews during this time including cannibalism; and still they refused to repent.
The Futurist view: They see this passage as about literal demonic angels who are invading or who are influencing the human invaders from the Orient in a great future battle (2 Kings 2:11; 6:13-17; Rev. 19:14). “Two hundred million” is what they see as the literal number of the armies. They see the “breastplates” as descriptions of modern military machines. The lack of repentance is from the hardening of the hearts, ignorance, and refusing to see the veracity of their situation (Eph. 4:17-19). They see “magic arts” from the word pharmakon, which in its English form is “pharmacy,” as drug abuse, civil decay, and sin during the tribulation. (This is an example of the improper use of exegetical methodologies; one should always seek the meaning from the actual original languages and context and also what it meant to the intended audience, then compare it to other passages such as, in this case, Daniel, to find the authentic meaning. This is proper “exegesis.” Never seek a meaning from modern vernaculars or hearsays¾that is reading into the text, which is called “eisegesis” or sometimes refered to as “isogesis” (means “to lead in” as in to introduce into the text our own presuppositions, ideas and thoughts and ignore what is actually there to satisfy our own agendas and opinions) ¾because you will skew the intent that God has for us.) However, in this case drugs may be a possible application, as drug abuse is extremely destructive and may perhaps be a means that God uses; nevertheless the clear meaning here is “witchcrafts,” as this is what the text is clearly saying.
The Idealist view: They see this passage as symbolic; the means and aftermath of war as God’s judgment comes from using the metaphor of Euphrates, which indicates a boundary for God’s restraint and the protection of Israel. It now refers to the means of the destruction and judgment of those who persecute God’s Church (Psalm 33:16-17; Prov. 21:31; Isa. 31:1; Zech. 9:10). That only one-third are judged and killed is a representation of God’s grace and mercy, and the fact that He judges is the result of His hearing prayers and His faithfulness to the faithful (Rev. 5:8; 8:3-4). The judgments are from false beliefs and worldliness that create moral decay and bring about judgment to a society. When society beaks down, wickedness occurs; it is a result of sin without any restraint or repentance. In other words, people judge themselves and God wants us to be triumphant and joyful in Him with His percepts that are best. The lack of repentance is from man’s refusal to acknowledge God, the desire to remain in sin and pain, and a refusal for conviction.
The Historicist view: They see this passage as the age of the Byzantine Empire around 1000 A.D. They were under attack from the Tartars, then the Turkmans in 1055 A.D. and again in 1453 A.D. by the Turks who were all horsemen. All invaded from the Euphrates area. (This is a “micro” application of this view, overlooking the veracity of the meaning. Others have said the same of the two world wars of the 20th century and all the chaos and calamity that resulted. Many in this camp have complicated and convoluted theories for the “very hour,” calculating precise days for their theories. This is an example of reading into the text what is not there.) The lack of repentance is from apostate churches that cater to their own sin and/or the corrupt Papacy in the Middle Ages that led to the Reformation.