Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Trumpets of Revelation and the Scourge of Islam!
The hour has come to expose the growing worldwide threat of Islam. The earnest goal of Islam, set forth in the Koran, remains as always to bring all mankind into submission and to kill or enslave all "infidels." Unknown to most, the Book of Revelation in the New Testament traces the origins and course of this Satanic and fast growing deception. Scripture shows that this curse will be with us until the return of Yeshua the Messiah to usher in the kingdom of his Father YEHOVAH God. We therefore need to draw close to YEHOVAH to avoid the mind-numbing events about to crash down around us.
by John D. Keyser
In the Book of Revelation there is a pause after the sounding of the fourth trumpet, and the action is interrupted at that point by the vision of an angel (or, as the best manuscripts have it, an EAGLE) flying through the midst of heaven. With a loud voice this eagle says, "Woe! Woe! Woe to the people living on earth, because of the remaining blasts from the three angels who have yet to sound their shofars!" (Revelation 8:13).
This vision of the flying eagle serves not only to prepare us for events of a yet more calamitous nature than those previously revealed, but also to set off the first four trumpets (shofars) as a distinct group from the rest. This tends to further confirm the view that the events pictured in that group are both closely related to each other, and are also separated by a substantial interval of time (possibly quite a long one) from the events now to be pictured at "the remaining blasts from the three angels who have yet to sound their shofars."
The Sounding of the 5th Trumpet
Notice, now, Revelation 9:1-11:
"The fifth angel sounded his shofar; and I saw a star that had fallen out of heaven onto the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss. He opened the shaft of the Abyss, and there went up smoke from the shaft like the smoke of a huge furnace; the sun was darkened, and the sky too, by the smoke from the shaft. Then out of the smoke onto the earth came LOCUSTS, and they were given power like the power SCORPIONS have on earth. They were instructed not to harm the grass on the earth, any green plant or any tree, but only the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. The LOCUSTS were not allowed to kill them, only to inflict pain on them for five months; and the pain they caused was like the pain of a SCORPION sting. In those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
"Now these LOCUSTS looked like horses outfitted for battle. On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold, and their faces were like human faces. They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like those of lions. Their chests were like iron breastplates, and the sound their wings made was like the roar of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails like those of SCORPIONS, with stings; and in their TAILS was the power to hurt people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is 'Abaddon' and in our language, 'Destroyer.'"
The era of the fifth trumpet (shofar) is, without a doubt, one of relatively great importance for the purposes of the Book of Revelation. This appears from the space given to it, and from the nature of the symbols. It is apparent that the era foretold here ("those days" -- verse 6) is one of considerable length. It is described as a period of torment to last -- as time is measured in this book -- for a period of "five months" (verse 5 and 10), five being a number of incompleteness. This shows, as did the phrase "a third part" in the preceding trumpets, that the plague, though great and prolonged, was NOT complete and final. It required, we should remember, twice five (10) plagues to complete YEHOVAH's judgment upon the nation of Egypt.
The first action that immediately follows the sounding of the trumpet is the fall of a STAR from heaven to earth. That this star represents a mighty spirit-being is clear from the passage in Revelation -- and this is confirmed by the next words: "...and HE" -- evidently a person -- "was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss. He opened the shaft of the Abyss..." None but a MIGHTY SPIRIT could do that.
This spirit-being is, however, of lesser status than the one that fell from heaven at the sounding of the third trumpet -- for that one is described as "a great star, burning as a lamp."
Out of the shaft rose dense smoke, like the smoke of a great furnace. This recalls one of the signs that are to come before the great and terrible day of YEHOVAH -- namely, "pillars (or columns) of smoke." Notice Joel 2:30-31:
"And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke....Before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD."
This "smoke" affects "the sun" (the power of government) and "the air" (the spiritual realm). And out of the smoke came "locusts," to which were given power like the "scorpions" of the earth have. All of these -- and other symbols and figures -- provide us with clues to the meaning of the vision. Another feature should be noted at this juncture: It is found in the last statement in the passage that these "locusts" have a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew and in Greek signifies "Destroyer." Therefore, it is plainly stated that this great host of "locusts" is ruled by an invisible king -- a mighty one among the evil spirits! Also, as we shall see later, this refers to a distinctive human personality in the history of Islam.
In the Book of Joel the armies of Assyria, which were to overrun the land of Israel, were symbolized as locusts. Here too, as in Revelation 9:1-12, it is recorded that "their appearance is like the appearance of horses" (Joel 2:4). It is therefore plain that the locusts are CONQUERING ARMIES, sweeping over the earth in dense ranks. Furthermore, in Daniel 10:13 and 20, we find that the great empires of the earth each have a presiding angel over them. Therefore, we are secure in believing that the vision in Revelation 9:1-12 pictures the coming upon the world stage of a mighty nation, which was to have a supernatural origin, rising up mysteriously out of some remote region, and which was to pursue a career of conquest, pouring over the earth in dense armies composed largely of horsemen. This nation was to have over them a spiritual leader whose name signifies "a destroyer."
However, this conquering people was to be unlike the Assyrians -- the "locusts" of Joel's vision -- in that it was to have spiritual power as well as, and more prominently than, physical power. The repeated reference to "scorpions" in verses 3, 5 and 10 emphasizes this. Also, the statement of verse 10 is illuminating: "They had tails like those of scorpions, with stings." This can be interpreted by Isaiah 9:15 as indicating the deadly power of FALSE PROPHECY -- or some special form of destructive falsehood. Notice --
"The prophet who teaches lies, HE IS THE TAIL."
The Mystery of Islam
Briefly then, the various symbols found in Revelation 9:1-12 all point, in no uncertain manner, to that marvel of history -- the empire founded by the FALSE PROPHET Muhammad. This was an empire of vast dimensions, established and extended through an unprecedented combination of stupendous military forces and mighty spiritual energies -- in which the latter was the secret of its amazing potency.
Islam has fed on violence and deceit from its very inception. It has spread like a cancer and has proven to be equally as deadly. Muhammad's expression of delight, "Allahu ahkbar!" (Allah is greater!), became the battle-cry of Islam. The sound of "Allahu ahkbar!" rings out as suicide bombers detonate themselves in the midst of Israeli civilians. It resonates from the lips of Arabs as they plunge knives into the backs of unsuspecting men, women and children. It reverberates not only throughout the cities and towns of Israel, but also across the entire world -- including the United States with the savage attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York city and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. It sanctifies Islamic murder and mayhem and turns it into divine injunctions from Allah.
Islam is a mystery of the darkest character. It defies explanation along any rational or natural basis. Its origin is so utterly different to that of other empires that we are left with no alternative but to believe that it originated supernaturally. Its growth is just as difficult to explain on natural grounds as its origin. IT IS, WITHOUT A DOUBT, A DESIGNED COUNTERPART OF CHRISTIANITY. Its visible source was in a personal leader who claimed to be the sole representative and prophet of God (more accurately, Allah) -- and in A BOOK that is venerated by its adherents as the word of God. It has, moreover, the supernatural power to inspire millions of stern, fierce and bloodthirsty men with an extraordinary degree of religious fanaticism that quite often rises to a fever-pitch of frenzy. In this way it is without parallel in the history of mankind.
In the Review and Herald of July 22, 1858, and also of July 29, we find the following passage --
"Mahomet, it may be said, has heretofore divided the world with Jesus. He rose up against the Prince of princes. A great sword was given him. His doctrine, generated by the spirit of fraud and enthusiasm, whose abode is not in the heavens, as even an unbeliever could tell, arose out of the bottomless pit, spread over the earth like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. It spread from Arabia, over a great part of Asia, Africa and Europe. The Greeks of Egypt, whose numbers could scarcely equal a tenth of the nation, were overwhelmed by the universal defection. And even in the farthest extremity of continental Europe, the decline of the French monarchy invited the attacks of these insatiate fanatics. The smoke that rose from the cave of Hera [where Muhammad received his vision] was diffused from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. But the prevalence of their faith is best seen in the extent of their conquests" (vol. 12, #10 and 11, pps. 73-75 and 82).
These facts are a matter of common knowledge. If you keep them in mind while reading the visions of Revelation 9, two conclusions immediately jump out at you:
1) The symbols of this chapter correspond with a remarkable degree to the outstanding features of Islam.
2) There is nothing else in the entire human realm that in anyway answers to these symbols.
The history of Islam is so unique, so supernaturally driven, and corresponds so exactly with the symbols of the fifth and sixth trumpets that commentators of the Futurist school frankly admit this to be so. Some of them have gone so far as to suggest that these visions have a "germinate" or anticipatory fulfillment in Muhammadanism. Notice the following --
"Mohammedanism has a superman and a book. It is a satanic imitation of Christianity. It has spread over a great part of the world. At this time it embraces in its curse over 200 millions of souls [as of 2001 -- more than 1.2 billion]. Its founder was, without doubt, devil inspired. Mohammed, the fallen star, opened the pit and let loose the darkening power of Satan; and he flooded the eastern part of the christianized earth, and considerable portions of the western also, with doctrines which can justly be termed hellish in their nature and effects."
In the above quotation I think it is more accurate to say that Muhammad was energized by the evil spirit, Abaddon, whom the fallen star represents.
"As a young child," writes Ramon Bennett, "Mohammed was nursed by a Bedouin woman by the name of Halima. In his third and fourth years, 'The child had had numerous fits, which made Halima think he was demon possessed' [Shorrosh, Islam Revealed, p. 48]. Early Moslem tradition records that when Mohammed was about to receive a revelation from Allah: '...he would often fall down on the ground, his body would begin to jerk, his eyes would roll backward, and he would perspire profusely. They would often cover him with a blanket during such episodes' [Morey, The Islamic Invasion, p. 71]. It was while Mohammed was in this 'trance-like' state that he received his 'divine' revelations. 'After the trance, he would rise and proclaim what had been handed down to him' [ibid.]" (The Great Deception: Philistine, p. 43). Most Western and many Arab biographies of Muhammad believe that he suffered from epilepsy -- but the above clearly indicates that he was under the influence of demons.
The facts of Islam agree exactly with the meaning of the symbols contained in these visions from the Book of Revelation. The conclusion we must draw from this is that the fulfillment of a prophecy is proven -- the divine nature of the prophecy is established by the coming to pass of the thing prophesied. In light of this, how can commentators, like the one just quoted, recognize and admit that the things prophesied in Revelation 9 have come to pass -- yet refuse to accept them as the fulfillment of the prophecy?
The Two Stages of Islam
There is one extraordinary fact in the history of Islam that calls for special attention because it is a strong proof to the correctness of our interpretation. That fact is that the rise and spread of Islam has been in TWO DISTINCT STAGES. Its rise was in the Saracenic form and is dated from the "Hegira" (the flight of Muhammad) in 622 A.D. The Caliph Omar led his conquering armies of Saracens into Syria in 632. The Roman armies were annihilated and in 637 Jerusalem was captured. However, the spread of Islam was arrested by King Charles Martel of the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D. -- after which followed a long period of stagnation.
The battle of Tours -- sometimes called the battle of Poitiers -- marks the turning point in the northern advance of the Moors. The victory of the Franks checked once and for all the fast-moving expansion of Islam into western Europe. In 711 the Arabs had crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and conquered the weak Visigothic kingdom of Spain. A few years later they crossed the Pyrenees and, in 720, captured the city of Narbonne -- which then became the base for their further progress into Gaul (France). In 720, the year in which the Arab attacks began in earnest, Eudo, duke of Aquitaine, made peace with Charles Martel and relieved Toulouse from an Arab siege the following year, winning a decisive victory over the Islamic hordes. But, after a short respite, the Arabs renewed the attack in 725. A strong army crossed the eastern Pyrenees, captured Carcassonne and Nimes, and occupied the greater part of the province of Septimania. In the same year they made a raid into Burgundy and destroyed the city of Autun.
With a renewal of war between Eudo and Charles Martel the Arabs, under the leadership of 'Abd-ar-Rahman, took advantage of the situation and captured Bordeaux -- which they promptly burnt to the ground. Eudo, who had hastened to check the Islamic advance, was defeated with the loss of the greater part of his army between the Garonne and the Dordogne. The Arabs pressed forward, plundering as they went, along the line of the old Roman road which ran northward from Bordeaux through Poitiers to Orleans. At Poitiers they destroyed the basilica of St. Hilary. Their next objective was Tours, which attracted them because of the immense riches of the famous church of St. Martin. But, before they reached it, they were met by Charles to whom Eudo, despite his previous hostility, had fled for assistance after his defeat. Notes the Encyclopedia Britannica:
"Charles, at the head of a large army, engaged with the enemy south of Tours, perhaps at the little town of Cenon, near the junction of the Clain and the Vienne, and not far north of Old Poitiers. For seven days the two armies stood facing each other. Then on a Saturday in October the serious fighting began. Charles had taken up a defensive position in close formation. It was the moral and physical superiority of the Teutonic race over the Muslims that won the day. The light Arab cavalry broke before the "immovable wall" of Frankish soldiers who stood, we are told, firm 'as a rock of ice' (Isidorus Pacensis). They were hurled back with heavy loss; 'Abd-ar-Rahman himself was killed on the field. Fighting continued till nightfall; and when, on the next morning, the Franks prepared to resume the battle, they found the Arab tents deserted. The Arab losses were very severe" (1943, Vol. 22, p. 329).
The battle of Tours is commonly regarded as one of the decisive battles of the world's history. It dealt a decisive check to the advance of the Arabs into Gaul. It removed an imminent peril, a constant menace -- and threw the advance of Islam into a centuries-long recession that continued until the sixth angel "release(d) the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates."
Islam had a remarkable recrudescence under the ferocious Seljuk Turks. The tribe of the Seljuk Turks was founded by the warrior Seljuk, whose one son and three nephews founded the Great Seljuk Empire, stretching through Persia and Mesopotamia. Settled in Transoxiana, north of the present-day Amu-Dar'ya River in Uzbek in the former Soviet Union, they became converted to Islam after a conquering career against the Muhammadans. In the late 1050s, the Caliph of Baghdad came under Seljuk "protection." In the year 1063, the Turkish Sultan Toghrul-Begh, Seljuk's nephew, died and was succeeded by his own nephew, Alp-Arslan. By 1064 Alp-Arslan had CROSSED THE EUPHRATES into the Empire. In 1067 he took the great city of Caesarea; in 1068 he took Iconium and, in 1071, he won a decisive victory at Mantzikert. He captured Jerusalem in 1076, ushering in an era of cruel oppression "which filled all Christendom with sorrow and indignation" (Green's Church History). This eventually led to the Crusades.
The Seljuk Turks then invaded western Asia and founded a dynastic empire. During the reign of Malik Shah (r. 1072-92), his grand vizier, Nizam-al-Mulk (1018-92), founded a university at Baghdad and, with Omar Khayyam, revised the astronomical tables and introduced a new era, the Jelalian. After the death of Malik the empire began to break up into smaller kingdoms -- and came to an end in 1157 after attacks by the shah of Khorezm. The Turkish Empire, founded by the Seljuks, was continued by the Ottoman Turks.
In the first half of the 13th century, a small body of Muslim Turks, driven before the conquering Mongol hordes under Genghis Khan, moved westward from their home in Iran and made their way ACROSS THE EUPHRATES RIVER into Asia Minor. Under the leadership of their chieftain, Ertogrul, they entered the service of Ala-ad-Din, Sultan of Iconium (Konia), the last remnant of the great empire established by the Seljuk Turks in western Asia. Ala-ad-Din granted Ertogrul and his Turkish followers some land in Phrygia, where OSMAN, the son of Ertogrul, extended the power of his tribe by numerous conquests in Asia Minor.
According to A History of the Arab Peoples, by Albert Hourani --
"In the eastern Mediterranean, the new and rising power was that of a Muslim dynasty, named after its founder, 'Uthman or (in its Turkish spelling) OSMAN: hence its Islamic name of Osmanli or some equivalent, anglicized as OTTOMAN....By the end of the fourteenth century its forces had crossed the [Bosphorus] straits into eastern Europe and expanded rapidly there. Its eastern European empire added to its strength....With its increased strength it was then able to turn eastwards in Anatolia, in spite of a temporary check when its army was defeated by that of another Turkish conqueror from the east, Timur (Tamerlane). In 1453 it absorbed what was left of the Byzantine Empire and took Constantinople as its new capital, Istanbul."
"There was a long struggle for control of the frontier regions lying between their main centres of power, eastern Anatolia and Iraq; Baghdad was conquered by the Ottomans in 1534, lost to the Safavids in 1623, and not taken by the Ottomans again until 1638. It was partly as a consequence of the struggle with the Safavids that the Ottomans moved south into the lands of the Mamluk sultanate. Largely because of their superior firepower and military organization, they were able to occupy Syria, Egypt and western Arabia in 1516-17.
"The Ottoman Empire was now the principal military and naval power in the eastern Mediterranean, and also in the Red Sea, and this brought it into potential conflict with the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean and the Spaniards in the western Mediterranean...in the Mediterranean it used its naval power to check Spanish expansion and established a chain of strong points at Algiers (in the 1520s), Tripoli (in the 1550s) and Tunis (1574), but not further west in Morocco" (1991, pps. 214-215).
The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest political structures that the western part of the world had known since the Roman Empire disintegrated. It ruled eastern Europe, western Asia and most of the Maghrib, and held together lands with very different political traditions, and many ethnic groups such as Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, Armenians, Turks and Arabs. It maintained its rule over most of them for 400 years or so, and over some of them for as long as 600 years.
This was brought about, as explained by the Encyclopedia Britannica, "by a series of the most warlike princes in history" (Vol. 18, p. 272).
In marked agreement with this division of the rise and spread of Islam is the two-fold picture presented by the fifth and sixth trumpet visions, which are connected closely together, while being separated from the preceding group of four trumpets, and also from the seventh which stands by itself.
Details of the 5th Trumpet
This trumpet covers a period of 817 years -- A.D. 632-1449 -- and shows the rise and work of the Muhammadans in the destruction of Eastern Rome -- first the Arabian Muhammadans and later the Turkish Muhammadans. Of this Albert Barnes remarks that "with surprising unanimity, commentators have agreed in regarding this as referring to the empire of the Saracens, or to the rise and progress of the religion and the empire set up by Mohammed." It is hard to understand how anyone can read this prophecy, along with Edward Gibbon's history of Muhammad and his successors, and not agree that this applies to Islam.
Verse 1: "The fifth angel sounded his shofar; and I saw a star that had fallen out of heaven onto the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft leading down to the ABYSS" (Revelation 9:1).
Going now to the details of the vision of the fifth trumpet, let's take a look at the abyss or bottomless pit. It should be noted that the "abyss" appears as the abode of demons in the New Testament -- the source of the evil spiritual agencies that exercise their influence upon men. This is made evident, for example, in Luke 8:31 where the desire of the wicked spirits whom Yeshua cast out of the man dwelling in the tombs is that he should not command them to depart into the abyss. Notice --
"They begged Yeshua not to order them to go off into the Bottomless Pit (abyss)."
According to Howard B. Rand --
"The Bottomless Pit, or Abyss, symbolically represents the abode of darkness and evil, the antipathy of heaven, the source of light and power. From this abode of darkness and evil COMES A MONSTER that is able to accomplish what Papal Rome was never able to do....The king over the Saracens is called Apollyon (meaning destruction, destroyer) and is the angel of the Bottomless Pit. Thus again Mohammedanism [Islam] is identified with the Saracens who compelled men to accept the authority of the Caliphate or suffer destruction..." (A Study in Revelation, p. 136, 93).
The term "bottomless pit" also denotes the place from whence Islam thrust itself upon the world of the time. This term comes from the Greek word abussos, and signifies a waste, desolate region. A brief sketch of Arabia makes plain the significance and aptness of the term as applied to that country:
Arabia is about fifteen hundred miles in extreme length; is about half this distance in width at the middle; but its extreme width on the Indian Ocean is a thousand miles. Writes Gibbon:
"The entire surface of the peninsula exceeds in a fourfold proportion that of Germany or France; but the far greater part has been justly stigmatized with the epithets of the stony and the sandy. Even the wilds of Tartary are decked, by the hand of nature, with lofty trees and luxuriant herbage; and the lonely traveler derives a sort of comfort and society from the presence of vegetable life. But in the dreary waste of Arabia, a boundless level of sand is intersected by sharp and naked mountains; and the face of the desert, without shade or shelter, is scorched by the direct and intense rays of the tropical sun. Instead of refreshing breezes, the winds, particularly from the southwest, diffuse a noxious vapor; the hillocks of sand which they alternately raise and scatter, are compared to the billows of the ocean, and whole caravans, whole armies, have been lost and buried in the whirlwind. The common benefits of water are an object of desire and contest; and such is the scarcity of wood, that some art is requisite to preserve and propagate the element of fire."
Gibbon continues --
"Arabia is destitute of navigable rivers, which fertilize the soil, and convey its produce to the adjacent regions; the torrents that fall from the hills are imbibed by the thirsty earth; the rare and hardy plants, the tamarind or the acacia, that strike their roots into the clefts of the rocks, are nourished by the dews of the night; a scanty supply of rain is collected in cisterns and aqueducts; the wells and springs are the secret treasure of the desert; and the pilgrim of Mecca, after many a dry and sultry march, is disgusted by the taste of the waters, which have rolled over a bed of sulphur or salt. Such is the general and genuine picture of the climate of Arabia" (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter L, par. 2).
Verse 2: "He opened the shaft of the Abyss, and there went up smoke from the shaft like the smoke of a huge furnace; the sun was darkened, and the sky too, by the smoke from the shaft."
Alexander Keith, in Signs of the Times, relates:
"Like the noxious and even deadly vapours which the winds, particularly from the southwest, diffuse in Arabia, Mahometanism spread from hence to its pestilential influence -- arose as suddenly and spread as widely as smoke arising out of the pit, the smoke of a great furnace. Such is a suitable symbol of the religion of Mahomet, of itself, or as compared with the pure light of the gospel of Jesus. It was not, like the latter, a light from heaven, but a smoke out of the bottomless pit" (Vol. I, p. 299).
Verse 3: "Then out of the smoke onto the earth came locusts, and they were given power like the power scorpions have on earth."
Notes Daniel Botkin:
"Why an army of locusts to represent an army of Arabs? About 900 years before John's Revelation, the Prophet Joel has symbolically described an invading, attacking army as a swarm of locusts. Any large, invading army might be compared to a swarm of locusts, but the Arabs and Muhammed have a unique connection to the locust: 'In the Bedoween romance Antar, the locust is introduced as the national emblem of the Ishmaelites [one of the ancestors of the Arabs -- D.B.]. And it is a remarkable coincidence that Muslim tradition speaks of locusts having dropped into the hands of Muhammed, bearing on their wings this description -- 'We are the army of the Great God'" (Islam in Prophecy, Barnes quoting Forster's Mohammedism Unveiled, Vol. i, p. 217).
In Judges 6:5 we read that the children of the east came up like locusts (not "grasshoppers") for multitude: "For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it."
And, in Jeremiah 46:23, YEHOVAH speaks of the armies that were to overwhelm Egypt, saying that "they are more than the locusts, and are innumerable." Therefore, the term locusts signifies armies of immense numbers.
Notes Josiah Litch --
"That these locusts were emblems of an army, is clear...: "And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were crowns like gold, and their faces were the faces of men. And they had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions," &c....Such is the description of a Mahommedan [Muslim] horseman prepared for battle. A horse, a rider with a man's face, long flowing beard, woman's hair, flowing or plaited, and the head encircled with a yellow turban, like gold" (quoted in The Midnight Cry, January 6, 1843, pps. 7-8).
According to Martinicus, scorpions have nippers, or pincers, with which they keep hold of what they seize -- after they have wounded it with their sting. Like the scorpion, Muhammad stung the subjects of his proselytism, and infused the poison of his doctrines, and continued to hold them by the force of arms, until it had affected the whole man, and the subject settled down in the belief of his delusive errors. Wherever his arms triumphed, there his religion was imposed on men -- whether they believed it or not.
The successors of the prophet propagated his faith and followed his example; and such was the rapidity of their progress, that in the space of a century Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa and Spain had submitted to the victorious arms of the Arabian and Saracen conquerors.
Verse 4: "They were instructed not to harm the grass on the earth, any green plant or any tree, but only the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads."
In verse 4 of Revelation 9 we learn that protection was to be given to the true people of YEHOVAH during the time of this plague -- for it was to fall only upon "those men who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads." However, the mention of the grass, plants and trees not being harmed brings us to an incredible fulfillment found in Gibbons The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
The Muhammadan era began July 16, A.D. 622. In the ten years that passed between that date and the day of his death, June 7, A.D. 632, Muhammad made the conquest, and secured the allegiance, of Arabia. He was immediately succeeded by Abubeker as Khalif, Caliph, or Commander of the Faithful; and with his accession the real conquests and spread of Islam began. And as to that which "was commanded them," it is found in the speech of Abubeker to the first army of Muhammadans that he sent forth. For "no sooner had Abubeker restored the unity of faith and government than he dispatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes" as follows --
"This is to acquaint you that I intend to send the true believers into Syria to take it out of the hands of the infidels, and I would have you know that the fighting for religion is an act of obedience to God."
"His messengers returned with the tidings of pious and martial ardor, which they had kindled in every province; the camp of Medina was successfully filled with the intrepid bands of the Saracens, who panted for action, complained of the heat of the season and the scarcity of provisions, and accused, with impatient murmurs, the delays of the caliph. As soon as their numbers were complete, Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the success of their undertaking. His instructions to the chiefs of the Syrians were inspired by the warlike fanaticism which advances to seize, and affects to despise, the objects of earthly ambition."
To the assembled hosts, Abubeker said --
"Remember that you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of paradise. Avoid injustice and oppression, consult with your brethren, and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. When you fight the battle of the Lord, acquit yourselves like men, without turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood of women and children. DESTROY NO PALM TREES NOR BURN ANY FIELDS OF CORN. CUT DOWN NO FRUIT TREES, NOR DO ANY MISCHIEF TO CATTLE, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any covenant or article, stand to it, and be as good as your word. As you go on, you will find some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way: LET THEM ALONE, AND NEITHER KILL THEM NOR BURN THEIR MONASTERIES. And you will find another sort of people, that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns [Catholics]; be sure you CLEAVE THEIR SKULLS, AND GIVE THEM NO QUARTER till they either turn Mohammedan or pay tribute" (chapter LI, paragraph 10).
What an incredible fulfillment of Revelation 9, verse 4!
In Daniel and Revelation, by Uriah Smith, we read the following:
"It is not said in prophecy or in history that the more humane injunctions were as scrupulously obeyed as the ferocious mandate; but it was so commanded them. And the preceding are the only instructions recorded by Gibbon, as given by Abubekr to the chiefs whose duty it was to issue the commands to all the Saracen hosts. The commands are alike discriminating with the prediction, as if the caliph himself had been acting in known as well as direct obedience to a higher mandate than that of mortal man; and in the very act of going forth to fight against the religion of Jesus, and to propagate Mohammedanism in its stead, he repeated the words which it was foretold in the Revelation of Jesus Christ that he would say" (chapters 8 and 9, pps. 493-507).
Smith goes on to say that those whom Abubeker ordered not to spare
"were doubtless a class of monks, or some other division of the Roman Catholic Church. Against these the arms of the Mohammedans were directed. And it seems to us that there is a peculiar fitness, if not design, in describing them as those who had not the seal of God in their foreheads; inasmuch as that is the very church which has robbed the law of God of its seal, by tearing away the true Sabbath, and erecting a counterfeit in its place. And we do not understand, either from the prophecy or from history, that those persons whom Abubekr charged his followers not to molest were in possession of the seal of God, or necessarily constituted the people of God. Who they were, and for what reason they were spared, the meager testimony of Gibbon does not inform us, and we have no other means of knowing; but we have every reason to believe that none of these who had the seal of God were molested, while another class, who emphatically had it not, were put to the sword; and thus the specifications of the prophecy are amply met" (ibid.).
Verse 7: "Now these locusts looked like horses outfitted for battle."
The vast hordes of the Muhammadans are signified by the symbol of a cloud of locusts; and verse 7 states that the shapes of the locusts were like "horses outfitted for battle." The words "horses outfitted for battle" indicates the readiness, fearlessness and swiftness of those armies in making war. Notes Gibbon --
"Arabia, in the opinion of the naturalist, is the genuine and original country of the horse; the climate most propitious, not indeed to the size, but to the spirit and swiftness of that generous animal. The merit of the Barb, the Spanish, and the English breed, is derived from a mixture of the Arabian blood; and the Bedoweens preserve with superstitious care the honors and the memory of the purest race. These horses are educated in the tents, among the children of the Arabs, with a tender familiarity, which trains them in the habits of gentleness and attachment. They are accustomed only to walk and to gallop; their sensations are not blunted by the incessant use of the spur and whip; their powers are reserved for the moment of flight and pursuit; but no sooner do they feel the touch of the hand or the stirrup, than they dart away with the swiftness of the wind" (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire).
Adam Clarke wrote:
"The Arabs are the most expert horsemen in the world: they live so much on horseback that the horse and his rider seem to make but one animal" (Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 18, 1100).
This would account for John's description of the horse and rider as if they were one single being, rather than two separate beings.
Verse 7: "On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold, and their faces were like human faces."
When Muhammad entered Medina in A.D. 622, and was first received as its prince, "a turban was unfurled before him to supply the deficiency of a standard." The turbans of the Saracens, like that of a coronet or a crown, were their ornament and their boast. To assume the turban is to proverbially become a Muslim-man. And the Arabs were distinguished by the turbans which they wore, in which YELLOW was the most prominent color.
According to Daniel Botkin --
"John describes the locusts as wearing 'as it were crowns like gold' -- not actual crowns, but 'as it were crowns, like gold.' in the Arab story Antar...it is written that 'God' intended for Arabs 'that their turbins should be unto them instead of diadems' [Barnes, quoting Forster's Mohammedism Unveiled, Vol. i, p. 401]. Godbey points out that yellow turbans were worn by Muslims [W.B. Godbey, Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. 1, 58]."
The fact that they wore "crowns" or turbans marks them as a sovereign people, setting them apart from the mercenary armies of Rome. Furthermore, Revelation 9 says they had faces like those of men. Writes Gibbon:
"And their faces were as the faces of men. The gravity and firmness of the mind [of the Arab] is conspicuous in his outward demeanour...his only gesture is that of stroking his beard, the venerable symbol of manhood....The honour...of their beards is most easily wounded" (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. V, chapter 50, pp. 86, 88).
Verse 8: "They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like those of lions."
"The 'teeth as the teeth of lions,' a phrase borrowed from Joel 1:6, speaks of the ferociousness and violence of the army" (Daniel Botkin, Islam in Prophecy).
The long hair indicates they are a virile people -- notwithstanding the long hair which in Bible times was the mark of a barbarian people (see 1 Corinthians 11:14-15). Writes Alexander Keith:
"Long hair is esteemed an ornament by women. The Arabs, unlike to other men, had their hair as the hair of women, or uncut, as their practice is recorded by Pliny and others. But there was nothing effeminate in their character; for as denoting their ferocity and strength to devour, their teeth were as the teeth of lions" (Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 312).
Regarding the long hair, Hengstenberg makes the following comment --
"One who permits anything on his body to grow as it will, virtually makes himself known as one who gives free scope to his lusts and passions, who will allow no hindrance to his natural desires."
This clearly points to one of the most conspicuous features of Islam -- that which allows, in this life, the unrestrained indulgence of the animal passions of men. This is always to the great degradation of women and promises the adherent unlimited degrees of sensuousness in paradise. It was in order to subdue men, that appeal was made to what is basest in the nature of man. This is grossly demoniacal!
Verse 9: "Their chests were like iron breastplates, and the sound their wings made was like the roar of many horses and chariots rushing into battle."
The breastplate or coats of mail indicates their preparedness for battle, and the reference to "horses" again in verse 9 further testifies of their eagerness to engage in battle. Writes Alexander Keith --
"The cuirass (or breastplate) was in use among the Arabs in the days of Mahomet. In the battle of Ohud (the second which Mahomet fought) with the Koreish of Mecca (A.D. 624), 'seven hundred of them were armed with cuirasses.' And in his next victory over the Jews, 'three hundred cuirasses, five hundred pikes, a thousand lances, composed the most useful portion of the spoil.' After the defeat of the imperial army of seventy thousand men, on the plain of Aiznadin (A.D. 633), the spoil taken by the Saracens 'was inestimable; many banners and crosses of gold and silver, precious stones, silver and gold chains, and innumerable suits of the richest armor and apparel. The seasonable supply of arms became the instrument of new victories'" (Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 312).
Regarding the latter part of verse 9, "'The charge of the Arabs was not like that of the Greeks and Romans, the efforts of a firm and compact infantry; their military force was chiefly formed of cavalry and archers.'...With a touch of the hand, the Arab horses dart away with the swiftness of the wind. 'The sound of their wings was as the sound of many horses running to battle.' Their conquests were marvellous both in rapidity and extent, and their attack was instantaneous. Nor was it less successful against the Romans than the Persians" (ibid., p. 313).
Verses 10 and 11: "They had tails like those of scorpions, with stings; and in their tails was the power to hurt people for five months. They had as a king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is 'Abaddon' and in our language, 'Destroyer.'"
Explains Botkin --
"The locusts' 'tails like unto scorpions' may be understood to refer to either 1) the Muslims' ability 'to shoot backward with unerring precision' while retreating at full gallop [Godbey, Commentary on the New Testament, 59]; or, 2) the fact that victorious Muslims 'infected the conquered with their pernicious doctrines' by forcing them to convert to Islam [Clarke's Commentary, 1101]"
Five months equals one hundred and fifty days, which is one hundred and fifty years prophetically speaking -- a day for a year (Ezekiel 4:3-6). Therefore, they were to "hurt people" for 150 years.
This 150 years is to be counted from the time when they first had a king over them, as verse 11 states: "They had as a king over them....whose name in Hebrew is 'Abaddon' and in our language, 'Destroyer.'" For more than six hundred years the forces of Islam had no regularly organized government -- and recognized no man as king. Notes Gibbon, "The authority of the companions of Mahomet expired with their lives; and the chiefs or emirs of the Arabian tribes left behind, in the desert, the spirit of equality and independence" (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). Each tribe, under its own chief, was independent of all the others, and came and went as it pleased. While this state of affairs continued, their character as "a destroyer" was not evident -- and could not be until after they were solidly united under one government headed by a ruler recognized by all.
This is made more apparent when we realize what this "Destroyer" was to destroy! The fifth trumpet, in actuality, covers the time when the Islamic hordes thrust westwards through the lands once under the sway of the Roman Empire. To the east, centered in Constantinople, the Eastern Roman Empire still existed in a weakened state. Therefore, it is in the character of the destroyer that the last vestiges of the once powerful Roman Empire should fall. It was not as a destroyer of men as such, for of them it is said that they "were not allowed to kill them, only to inflict pain on them for five months," and "their power [was] to hurt people for five months." It is evident, then, that this "character" and work as "a destroyer" relates to the final destruction of the Roman Empire, which was then represented in the Eastern Empire with its capital at Constantinople.
Othman was the caliph who established the organized government of the Muhammadans; and, therefore, it is from him that there has descended the name and title of the Ottoman Empire. It was under the organized power of Othman that the work of the destroyer began! In his closing remarks about the devastating rage of the Moguls and Tartars under Zingis Khan and his generals, Edward Gibbon says:
"In this shipwreck of nations [A.D. 1240-1304], some surprise may be excited by the escape of the Roman Empire, whose relics, at the time of the Mogul invasion, were dismembered by the Greeks and Latins" (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter LXIV, paragraph 31).
But when the decline of the Moguls gave free reign to the rise of the Moslems under Othman, of this Gibbon states --
"He was situate on the verge of the Greek Empire; the Koran sanctified his gazi, or holy war, against the infidels; and their political errors unlocked the passes of Mount Olympus, and invited him to descend into the plains of Bithynia....It was on July 27, A.D. 1299, that Othman first invaded the territory of Nicomedia; and the singular accuracy of the date seems to disclose some foresight of the rapid and destructive growth of the monster" (ibid., paragraph 14).
Now, there are several points in this quotation that we should take note of:
1) Othman was the man who succeeded in bringing the disjointed elements of the Islamic power into a compact and distinctly organized governmental entity. From him dates the time when -- as never before -- "They had a king over them."
2) Note Gibbon's expression -- "the...destructive growth of the monster." Here he clearly distinguishes the very characteristic of "destroyer" -- which is predicted of it in the Bible.
3) Gibbon emphasizes "the singular accuracy of the date." In the original documents from which he drew his material, he found this date so specifically mentioned that he was forced to remark on its "singular accuracy." To those who recognize YEHOVAH's dealings with the nations and kingdoms of this world, and who consider that from the time when these had a king over them, a period of 150 years is given in which to do a certain work, it is not at all surprising that the date should be indicated with such singular accuracy.
The work of destruction, then, which was to subvert the last of the Roman Empire, began July 27, 1299, and was to continue 150 years -- which would reach to July 27, A.D. 1449. "During that whole period the [Islamic] Turks were engaged in an almost perpetual war with the Greek Empire, but yet without conquering it. They seized upon and held several of the Greek provinces, but still Greek independence was maintained in Constantinople. But in 1449, the termination of the one hundred and fifty years, a change came" (Josiah Litch, Prophetic Expositions, Vol. II, p. 181). The history of this is to be found under the sixth trumpet.
Verse 12: "The first woe has passed, but there are still two woes to come."
This verse puts a definite end to the spread of this plague; and the first woe covers the time from the rise of Islam until the end of the five months. Then the first woe was to end, and the second begin. This verse also recalls to our minds the three-times repeated "Woe" of Revelation 8:13 -- reminding us of the specially calamitous nature of the scourges that are symbolized under the last three trumpets.
Islam Triumphs Where Apostasy Prevails
Author H. Grattan Guinness remarks that "Mohammedanism is one of those great movements which have impressed a new and lasting character upon a vast number of the nations of the world. No power known to history has ever wielded the sceptre over a wider sphere than this has done." And the historian Edward Gibbon (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) makes the following remarks concerning the successors of Muhammad --
"They reigned by right of conquest over the nations of the East, to whom the name of liberty was unknown, and who were accustomed to applaud in their tyrants the acts of violence and severity that were performed at their own expense. Under the last of the Ommiades the Arabian empire extended two hundred days' journey from east to west, from the confines of Tartary and India, to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean."
Here is something we should remember: It is not because of the amazing spread of Islam in so short a time -- or because of the absolute and tyrannical nature of its rule -- that mention is made of it in these visions of YEHOVAH. Rather -- it is because by it the judgment of YEHOVAH was executed upon those parts of the earth which had received the gospel in the early days, but which had turned that light of YEHOVAH into a darkness worse than that of paganism. The words of Yeshua the Messiah in Matthew 6:23 pertain to this time: "How great is that darkness!" In the words of Dr. Green, "It is needful to remember the character of that 'Christianity' which called Mahomet and his followers to arms" -- and he quotes the following description by Isaac Taylor:
"What Mahomet and his caliphs found in all directions whither their scimitars cut a path for them, was a superstition so abject, an idolatry so gross and shameless, church doctrines so arrogant, church practices so dissolute and so puerile, that the strong-minded Arabians felt themselves inspired as God's messengers to reprove the errors of the world, and authorized as God's avengers to punish apostate Christendom."
It must be remembered that YEHOVAH's judgment upon those who have not acted upon the truth presented to them in the gospel is to first of all give them over to a "strong delusion, that they should believe the lie" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11; Romans 1:25-28). This is going on in our day. Those who, having "received not the love of the truth that they might be saved" -- even though they have lived within the reach and influence of that truth all their lives -- are now being given over to the "strong delusion" of the theories of evolution and humanism and the false doctrines of so-called Christianity.
The Sixth Trumpet
"The sixth angel sounded his shofar [trumpet], and I heard a voice from the four horns of the gold altar before God, saying to the sixth angel, the one with the shofar, "Release the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates!" And they were released. These four angels had been kept ready for this moment, for this day and month and year, to kill a third of mankind; and the number of cavalry soldiers was two hundred million! -- I heard the number.
"Here is how the horses looked in the vision: the riders had breastplates that were fire-red, iris-blue and sulfur-yellow; the horses' heads were like lions' heads; and from their mouths issued fire, smoke and sulfur. It was these three plagues that killed a third of mankind -- the fire, smoke and sulfur issuing from the horses' mouths. For the power of the horses was in their mouths -- and also in their tails, for their tails were like snakes with heads, and with them they could cause injury.
"The rest of mankind, those who were not killed by these plagues, even then did not turn from what they had made with their own hands -- they did not stop worshipping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they turn from their murdering, their misuse of drugs in connection with the occult, their sexual immorality or their stealing" (Revelation 9:13-21).
The origin of this "woe" was in the region beyond "the great river Euphrates." It was from that region of the world that the Turks made their appearance, and even now mystery surrounds the precise part of the East they came from.
The revival of Islam after centuries of stagnation is truly astonishing. This revival resulted in the Ottoman Empire which, down to our own time, has continued to be the inveterate foe of the gospel -- and a curse to all the nations that have been blessed, in the character of their civilization, from the gospels beneficial influence.
Briefly, the important facts about the Ottoman Empire are these --
1) "The Ottoman Turks came originally from the region of the Altai mountains in Central Asia....In the 13th century they appeared as the allies of the Seljukian Turks against the Mongols, and for their aid received a grant of lands from the sultan of Iconium, in Asia Minor.
2) "Their leader, Othman, became the most powerful Emir in Western Asia. In the year 1300 he proclaimed himself Sultan. Thus was founded the Empire of the Osman or Ottoman Turks in Asia.
3) "Osman's successors, princes of great courage and enterprise, who were animated moreover by religious fanaticism, and a passion for military glory, raised it to the rank of the first military power in both Europe and Asia (1300-1566).
4) "In the reign of Soliman II, the Magnificent, 1519-1566, the Ottoman Empire reached the highest pitch of power and splendor. From his time the race of Osman degenerated, and the power of the Porte has declined" (The Standard Dictionary of Facts).
Details of the 6th Trumpet
Verses 13 and 14: "The sixth angel sounded his shofar; and I heard a voice from the four horns of the gold altar before God, saying to the sixth angel, the one with the shofar, 'Release the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates!'"
When the sixth angel sounded, it was commanded to remove the restraints which had been imposed on the Turkish nation -- by which they were restricted to the work of tormenting men. Their commission was now extended to slay the third part of men. This command came from the four horns of the golden altar.
The four angels represent the four principal sultanies of which the Ottoman Empire was composed, and which were located in the country watered by the Euphrates River. These sultanies were situated at Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus and Baghdad. Previously they had been restrained, but YEHOVAH now commands that they be loosed.
Late in the year 1448 -- as the close of the 150-year period approached -- John Palaeologus died without leaving a son to follow him on the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire. His brother Constantine, the lawful successor, would not venture to ascend the throne without the consent of the Turkish sultan. Ambassadors were therefore sent to the Muslims at Adrianople. Upon receiving the approval of the sultan, they returned to Constantinople with gifts for the new sovereign. Early in the year 1449, under these ominous circumstances, Constantine, the last of the Greek emperors, was crowned. Let Edward Gibbon tell the story --
"On the decease of John Palaeologus...the royal family, by the death of Andronicus and the monastic profession of Isidore, was reduced to three princes, Constantine, Demetrius, and Thomas, the surviving sons of the emperor Manuel. Of these the first and the last were far distant in the Morea....The empress-mother, the senate and soldiers, the clergy and people, were unanimous in the cause of the lawful successor: and the despot Thomas, who ignorant of the change, accidentally returned to the capital, asserted with becoming zeal the interest of his absent brother. An ambassador, the historian Phranza, was immediately dispatched to the court of Adrianople. Amurath received him with honour and dismissed him with gifts; but the gracious approbation of the Turkish sultan announced his supremacy, and the approaching downfall of the Eastern empire. By the hands of two illustrious deputies, the Imperial crown was placed at Sparta on the head of Constantine" (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. VI, chapter 67, p. 365).
Notes Josiah Litch --
"Let this historical fact be carefully examined in connection with the prediction [given] above. This was not a violent assault made on the Greeks, by which their empire was overthrown and their independence taken away, but simply a voluntary surrender of that independence into the hands of the Turks, by saying, 'I cannot reign unless you permit'" (Prophetic Expositions, Vol. II, pps. 182-183).
Verse 15: "And they were released. These four angels had been kept ready for this moment, for this day and month and year, to kill a third of mankind."
We learn from verse 15 that the destroying angels had been in preparation for a certain period of time, but were held in restraint. This is typical of the way YEHOVAH works. His judgment upon the Amorites was delayed for four generations because their iniquity was "not yet full" (Genesis 15:16). Regarding the specified period of preparation, "for this moment, for this day and month and year," Bossuet remarks that "The time being so exactly marked by the prophet, lets us see how exactly God determines the periods."
The four angels were loosed "for this moment [hour], for this day and month and year, to kill a third of mankind." This period, during which Ottoman supremacy was to exist, amounts to 391 years and 15 days, as the following computation shows: A prophetic year is 360 prophetic days; a prophetic month, 30 prophetic days; one prophetic day is the same -- 1 prophet day; and an hour, or the 24th part of a prophetic day. Taking the Biblical principle of a day for a year, we get a total of 391 years plus a 24th part of a year -- or 15 prophetic days. The whole amounts to 391 years and 15 days.
Continues Josiah Litch --
"But although the four angels were thus loosed by the voluntary submission of the Greeks, yet another doom awaited the seat of empire. Amurath, the sultan to whom the submission of Deacozes was made, and by whose permission he reigned in Constantinople, soon after died, and was succeeded in the empire, in 1451, by Mahomet II, who set his heart on Constantinople, and determined to make it a prey.
"He accordingly made preparations for besieging and taking the city. The siege commenced on the 6th of April, 1453, and ended in the taking of the city, and death of the last of the Constantines, on the 16th day of May following. And the eastern city of the Caesars became the seat of the Ottoman Empire" (ibid., p. 183)
The arms and mode of warfare used in the siege of Constantinople -- and its eventual overthrow and subjection -- were distinctly noticed by the apostle John:
Verse 16: "and the number of cavalry soldiers was two hundred million! -- I heard the number."
The term for "two hundred million" is two myriads of myriads in the original Greek. Commenting on this, Josiah Litch writes: "Innumerable hordes of horses, and them that sat on them! Gibbon describes the first invasion of the Roman territories by the Turks thus: 'The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of six hundred miles, from Tauris to Azeroum, and the blood of 130,000 Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet.' Whether the number is designed to convey the idea of any definite number, the reader must judge. Some suppose 200,000 twice told is meant, and then, following some historians, find that the number of Turkish warriors in the siege of Constantinople. Some think 200,000,000 to mean all the Turkish warriors during the 391 years fifteen days of their triumph over the Greeks" (ibid., pps. 183-184). Nothing can be affirmed on this point, and it is not at all essential.
Verse 17: "Here is how the horses looked in the vision: the riders had breastplates that were fire-red, iris-blue and sulfur-yellow; the horses' heads were like lions' heads; and from their mouths issued fire, smoke and sulfur."
The first part of this description may have reference to the appearance of these horsemen. Fire, representing a color, stands for red, "as red as fire" being a frequent term of expression in years past; iris (jacinth or hyacinth in some versions of the New Testament), for blue; and sulfur (brimstone), for yellow. These colors were predominant in the dress of the Turkish warriors so that the description, according to this view, would be accurately met in the Turkish uniform -- which was composed largely of red (or scarlet), blue and yellow.
The heads of the horses were like the heads of lions in appearance, to denote their strength, courage and fierceness; while the last part of the verse undoubtedly refers to the use of gunpowder and firearms in warfare -- which had only just been introduced. As the Turks discharged their firearms on horseback, it would appear to the distant observer that the fire, smoke and brimstone issued out of the horses' mouths.
A large number of Bible commentators, including such men as Adam Clarke and Albert Barnes, agree in applying the prophecy concerning the fire, smoke and brimstone to the use of gunpowder by the Turks in their warfare against the Eastern Empire. However, many of them think that this verse alludes simply to the heavy ordnance -- the large cannon -- employed by that power; whereas the prophecy distinctly mentions the "horses," and the fire that issued from their mouths, as though smaller arms were used, and used on horseback. Barnes thinks this was the case; and a statement from Gibbon confirms this view. He says: "The incessant volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of their musketry and cannon" (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. VI, chapter 68, p. 388).
Here is good historical evidence that muskets were used by the Turks; and secondly, it is undisputed that in their general warfare they fought principally on horseback. The inference is therefore well supported that they used firearms on horseback, accurately fulfilling the prophecy according to the illustration above.
In regard to the firearms used by the Islamic Turks in their campaign against Constantinople, Edward B. Elliot writes --
"It was to 'the fire and the smoke and the sulphur,' to the artillery and firearms of Mahomet, that the killing of the third part of men, i.e., the capture of Constantinople, and by consequence the destruction of the Greek Empire, was owing. Eleven hundred years and more had now elapsed since her foundation by Constantine [the Great]. In the course of them, Goths, Huns, Avars, Persians, Bulgarians, Saracens, Russians, and indeed the Ottoman Turks themselves, had made their hostile assaults, or laid siege against it. But the fortifications were impregnable by them. Constantinople survived, and with it the Greek Empire. Hence the anxiety of the sultan Mahomet to find that which would remove the obstacle. 'Canst thou cast a cannon,' was his question to the founder of cannon that deserted to him, 'of size sufficient to batter down the wall of Constantinople?' Then the foundry was established at Adrianople, the cannon cast, the artillery prepared, and the siege began."
Continues Elliot --
"It well deserves remark, how Gibbon, always the unconscious commentator on the Apocalyptic prophecy, puts this new instrumentality of war into the foreground of his picture, in his eloquent and striking narrative of the final catastrophe of the Greek Empire. In preparation for it, he gives the history of the recent invention of gunpowder, 'that mixture of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal;' tells, as before said, of the foundry of the cannon at Adrianople; then, in the progress of the siege itself, describes how 'the volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with smoke, the sound, and the fire of the musketry and cannon;' how 'the long order of Turkish artillery was pointed against the walls, fourteen batteries thundering at once on the most accessible places;' how "the fortifications which had stood for ages against hostile violence were dismantled on all sides by the Ottoman cannon, many breaches opened, and near the gate of St. Romanus, four towers levelled with the ground:" how, "as from the lines, the galleys and the bridge, the Ottoman artillery thundered on all sides, the camp and city, the Greeks and the Turks, were involved in a cloud of smoke, which could only be dispelled by the final deliverance or destruction of the Roman empire:" and how the besiegers at length "rushing through the breaches," "Constantinople was irretrievably subdued, her empire subverted, and her religion trampled in the dust by the Moslem conquerors."
"I say it well deserves observation how markedly and strikingly Gibbon attributes the capture of the city, and so the destruction of the empire, to the Ottoman artillery. For what is it but a comment on the words of the prophecy? 'By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the sulphur, which issued out their mouths'" (Horae Apocalypticae, pps. 478-479).
Verses 18 and 19: "It was these three plagues that killed a third part of mankind -- the fire, smoke and sulfur issuing from the horses mouths. For the power of the horses was in their mouths -- and also in their tails, for their tails were like snakes with heads, and with them they could cause injury."
These verses express the deadly effect of the new mode of warfare introduced into Europe at this time. It was by the means of these agents -- gunpowder, firearms and cannon -- that Constantinople was finally overcome and given into the hands of the Turks.
In addition to the fire, smoke and brimstone which appeared to issue out of their mouths, it is said that their power was also in their tails. The meaning of the expression appears to be that horses' tails were the symbol, or emblem, of their authority. It is a remarkable fact that the horses' tail is a well-known Turkish standard -- a symbol of office and authority. The image that the apostle John saw would seem to have been that he saw the horses belching out fire and smoke and, what was equally strange, he saw that their power of spreading desolation was connected with the tails of the horses. Anyone observing a body of cavalry with such banners or ensigns, would naturally be struck with this unusual or remarkable appearance, and would write of their banners as concentrating and directing their power.
The supremacy of Islam over the Greeks was to continue -- as already mentioned -- 391 years and 15 days. Writes Josiah Litch:
"Commencing when the one hundred and fifty years ended in 1449, the period would end August 11, 1840. Judging from the manner of the commencement of the Ottoman supremacy, that it was by a voluntary acknowledgment on the part of the Greek emperor that he only reigned by permission of the Turkish sultan, we should naturally conclude that the fall or departure of the Ottoman independence would be brought about the same way; that at the end of the specified period [that is, on the 11th of August, 1840] the sultan would voluntarily surrender his independence into the hands of the Christian powers, just as he had, three hundred ninety-one years and fifteen days before, received it from the hands of the Christian emperor, Constantine XIII" (Prophetic Expositions, Vol. II, p. 189).
Let's look back in history and see if this did indeed occur. For several years prior to 1840, the Turkish sultan had been embroiled in a war with Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt. Writes Litch:
"In 1838 there was a threatening of war between the sultan and his Egyptian vassal had he not been restrained by the influence of the foreign ambassadors....In 1839 hostilities were again commenced, and were prosecuted until, in a general battle between the armies of the sultan and Mehemet, the sultan's army was entirely cut up and destroyed, and his fleet taken by Mehemet and carried into Egypt. So completely had the sultan's fleet been reduced, that, when hostilities commenced in August, he had only two first-rates and three frigates as the sad remains of the once powerful Turkish fleet. This fleet Mehemet positively refused to give up and return to the sultan, and declared if the powers attempted to take it from him, he would burn it. In this posture affairs stood, when, in 1840, England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia interposed, and determined on a settlement of the difficulty; for it was evident, if let alone, Mehemet would soon become master of the sultan's throne" (The Probability of the Second Coming of Christ About A.D. 1843, p. 157).
The sultan accepted this intervention of the great powers, and voluntarily handed over the settlement of the question into their hands. A conference of these powers was held in London, the Sheik Effendi Bey Likgis being present as the Ottoman plenipotentiary. An agreement was drawn up to be presented to the pasha of Egypt, whereby the sultan was to offer him the hereditary government of Egypt, and all that part of Syria extending from the Gulf of Suez to the Lake of Tiberias, together with the province of Acre, for life. The pasha, on his part, was to evacuate all other parts of the sultan's dominions then occupied by him, and to return what was left of the Ottoman fleet. If the pasha was to refuse this offer from the sultan, the four powers were to take matters into their own hands -- and use such means to bring him to terms as they should see fit.
On August 11, 1840, the period of 391 years and 15 days allotted to the continuance of the Ottoman Empire, ended; and the sultan's independence was gone. The four great powers had the supremacy of the Ottoman Empire in their hands, and that empire has existed ever since only by the sufferance of these Christian powers. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled to the very letter.
The description of verses 17-19 brings to mind the conquering power of lions, the swiftness and fearlessness of horses, the destructive agencies of fire, smoke, and brimstone (whereby "a third part of mankind" were killed), and the poison of serpents in their tails. This is so much a repetition of the symbols of the fifth trumpet that it is evident the same people are again being described -- but with differences that indicate the identity is not complete. This judgment was not to be final, for it was to fatally affect only "a third part." Author Bengel comments upon this removal of a third part by death --
"In the present day also there is a great corruption among unbelievers and nominal Christians, in all parts of Christendom, and in all conditions of men; but if we could see what in former times has been taken away, we should find that God has continually saved out of the corrupt mass a good portion to remain for seed. Those portions that have been extirpated have been for the most part a bad commodity....It is therefore necessary for the holy angels to blow with their trumpets, that men may learn to fear the LORD, and not be forever contending against Him."
Verses 20 and 21: "The rest of mankind, those who were not killed by these plagues, even then did not turn from what they had made with their own hands -- they did not stop worshipping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they turn from their murdering, their misuse of drugs in connection with the occult, their sexual immorality or their stealing."
Verses 20 and 21 show that this woe had a remedial object: to call to repentance "the rest of mankind, those who were not killed by these plagues." But the warning fell on deaf ears; for it is stated twice that they did NOT repent of their evil ways. And history verifies this -- the nations that suffered under the Saracenic and Ottoman scourges did not repent of their demonic ways, their idolatries and their worse than pagan practices. This can be compared with the hardness of heart the Egyptian Pharaoh and the Egyptians of old manifested. As the prophet Isaiah put it: "For the people turneth not unto Him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts" (Isaiah 9:13).
Redemption is Nigh
And now, at the end, YEHOVAH God is holding back the day of Judgment (even though men scoff at His warnings) because "the long suffering of our God is salvation," and because He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:3, 4, 9, 15).
Today we are seeing an increase in terrorist attacks from the fundamental element of Islam, and these will continue until the return of Yeshua as pictured in the end of the sixth trumpet in chapter 10 of the Book of Revelation. Moslems believe the 21st century to be the "century of Islam," when all the world must be subjugated to Islam -- and they also believe that the annihilation of Israel is their precursor to the conquest of the West.
There will be no peace -- and can be no peace -- between Islam and Israel and the West, because the Koran itself forbids it. Moslems reverence both the Koran and Muhammad, Allah's prophet, and the Koran states that Jews and infidels (Christians) are: "enemies of Allah, the Prophet and the angels" (Sura 2:97-98).
YEHOVAH God will certainly use Islam's hatred of Israel and the West, Western and Eastern greed for profits and power, and the spiritual bankruptcy of the leaders of the modern nations of Israel, to set the scene for the final acts of this age. The evil spirit of Islam manifests itself in barbaric men like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, Abu Nidal, George Habash, to name but a few -- to whom torture and violent murder is as natural as breathing. Men such as these find their excitement in planning murderous outrages, like piloting passenger planes into high rise buildings with the resultant death of thousands.
It is a spiritual conflict waged by a satanic
force against the people and purposes of YEHOVAH God. The upcoming Islamic-inspired
confrontations with the United States and the West will be of major proportions.
The spirit of Islam is the most powerful evil force active in the world
today. YEHOVAH God, however, is the greatest power active in our universe!
The spirit of Islam is on a collision course with "the Mighty God of
Jacob" (Psalms 132: 2,5, etc.), and so are the spirits of Mammon and
power. But YEHOVAH's power is awesome. Redemption stands at the threshold,
ready to enter the world scene. If you are an Israelite (i.e., a white
call now upon the "Coming One in whom is salvation" (Zechariah 9:9).
Everlasting life is the gift of YEHOVAH -- He promises to give us "a
new heart" and "put His spirit within" us (Ezekiel 36: 26-27).
Now, could be the "acceptable time," today, could be your "day of salvation"
(Isaiah 49:8). Look up! Rejoice! Redemption draws near!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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