Judgements on the Eastern Empire of Rome

Book of Revelation – a series presented by pastor Michael Walker

Lesson #9 – Revelation, chapter 9

5th Trumpet – The Christian World Harassed by the Mohammedans

vs. 1 -11

This trumpet sounds the judgement on the Eastern Empire of Rome: it is the 1st of “three woes” (Revelation 8:13 c.f. Revelation 9:12). The focus is on the rise of the Muslims in the Arab world – NB. Saracens is a term used for Arabs who belonged to Islam (Muslims).

v. 1

“I saw a star having fallen” is the more accurate translation of the Greek πεπτωκοτα (Peptõkota). So, it had fallen before the trumpet sounded. Jewish apocalyptic literature describes Satan as a star fallen from Heaven (Enoch 88:1). In vision, John saw Satan cast out of Heaven (Revelation 12:7-9).

Jesus declared that He saw Satan fall from Heaven (Luke 10:18). The rise of Islam was another form of false religion instigated by Satan and in this case, the ‘prophet’ Mohammed is represented by the star.

vs. 1-2

“Bottomless pit” – Greek word is abussos meaning ‘a desolate area’ – in this case, the regions of Arabia. Due to its deserts and desolate regions, Arabia has sometimes been called “the pit of the abyss”.

“The bottomless pit” is referred to 4 times in the Book of Revelation: –

1. Revelation 9:1,2,11 – darkness of Mohammedanism.

2. Revelation 11:7 – atheistic terror of the French Revolution.

3. Revelation 17:8 – delusive power of false religion that was yet to emerge.

4. Revelation 20:1 – confining Satan to this earth during the Millennium.

v. 1

“Given the key” – Satan did not have the power to use the key unless God allowed him to do so. God has allowed the heathen at times to use certain punitive powers against God’s wayward people – e.g. the Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, etc.

vs. 2-3

Mohammedanism (Islam) arose from Arabia and spread like “smoke” causing spiritual ‘darkness’ – this false and fanatical religion posed a threat to obscure the light of the Gospel. 

v. 3

“Locusts” – Beatus, an 8th century, Spanish monk, identified this symbol with the Moslem Arabs, who in his day had just overthrown North Africa, Near East and Spain. Many expositors have since made a similar identification. “Scorpions” – locusts don’t usually attack humans, but scorpions do. They are commanded not to attack any greenery, but only those who do not have the Seal of God in their foreheads (v. 4).

They are commanded not to kill (vs. 5-6) – the punishment is pain rather than death. A scorpion’s sting is painful, although seldom fatal to man.

vs. 4-6

Rise of Mohammedanism arose like hordes of locusts out of the smoke, and swept onwards! Although fanatical, they did not plunder like the conquering tribes of the Western Empire did. When the Arabian tribes gathered together for conquest of Syria in AD 632, Mohammed’s uncle, Abu Bekar, who succeeded the prophet after his death, gave this order: 

“When you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit like men, without turning your  backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood of women or 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 destroy their monasteries: and you will find another sort of people, that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter till they either turn Mohammetans or pay tribute” – E. Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. 51, par. 10.

NB. There were 2 types of monasteries: centres of religious study for preparing missionaries to go and proclaim the Gospel; or places of seclusion where monks with “shaven crowns” lived in isolation. 

v. 4

This demonic attack was a judgement from which God protected His true and faithful people. In the church, Sabbath observance ceased to be observed in Rome. The eastern churches were slower in relinquishing the Sabbath; but they eventually did so by the c. 7th century. Amongst the Celtic Christians in Scotland, the Sabbath continued to be observed till the 11th century; and the Coptic Christians of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), continue to observe until this day. The torment of the Saracen cavalry in the 7th century, did not reach Scotland nor Abyssinia. It was directed toward the Byzantine Empire, where it could no longer be said that men had the Seal of God. It should be noted that the Qur’an commands respect for those who observe the Sabbath.

vs. 7-9

John’s description of these Saracen warriors: – They had faces of men – they wore beards, hair as women –  long, flowing hair, “Crowns like gold” – they wore brilliant turbans. They were like lion’s teeth – they were fearless fighters. Locusts like battle horses – Arabian horses are a synonym of quality amongst equestrians; their riders had skill in horsemanship.

vs. 5,10

‘For 5 months’ – For hundreds of years the Mohammedans and Tartar tribes were composed of separate bands under little or no organization. Near the end of the 13th century, Othman founded a government that was known as the Ottoman Empire that grew until all principal Mohammedan tribes became consolidated under one monarchy. “A king over them” (v. 11). Abaddon meaning ‘the destroyer’ and Apollyon meaning ‘exterminator’. 5 months is prophetic time (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6) – Therefore:  

    5 x 30 = 150 prophetic days – i.e. 150 solar years.

“It was on the twenty-seventh of July, in the year twelve hundred and ninety-nine of the Christian era, that Othman first invaded the territory of Nicomedia; and the singular accuracy of the dates seems to disclose some foresight of the rapid and destructive growth of the monster” – E. Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. 64, par. 14.

Thus: 1299 + 150 = 1449.

During those 150 years, the Ottoman Empire engaged in almost continual warfare against the Greek segment of the Roman Empire. They did not conquer it until 1449, when the last of the Greek emperors, Constantine, took the throne, but only after seeking permission from the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. This submission increased the power of the Ottoman Empire that now enabled them to “kill” (v. 15) under the 6th Trumpet.

6th Trumpet – Under the Turks

vs. 13-21

v. 12

The Second Woe now takes place: Revelation 9:13-15. Whereas the 4 angels in Revelation 7:1 have worldwide power, these in Revelation 9:14 are localized. “Bound at the … Euphrates” (v. 14) – their restraint was released when the 6th Trumpet sounded at the end of the 150 years – i.e. 1449. Various expositors identify the ‘4 angels’ as referring to the 4 primary Sultans ruling in the region of the Euphrates, which were Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus and Baghdad.

v. 15

The length of time they were to hold this power was decreed by God:

1 hour, 1 day, 1 month and 1 year (i.e. prophetic time): –

a. 1 day = 1 year (i.e. 360 literal days by Jewish calendar)

b. 1 month = 30 years

c. 1 year = 360 years

TOTAL = 391 years

d. 1 hour = 1/24 day = 360 days

e. 24 = 15 days

TOTAL = 391 years + 15 days

CALENDAR = 27 July 1299 + 150 = 1449 + 391 = 1840 + 15 days = 11 August 1840

v. 16     

“200 million” – symbolic of a vast, military host; but with accurate description of Turkish horsemen riding vs. 17-19 into battle, clad in uniforms of red, hyacinth blue and Sulphur yellow – these were the dominant colours of their uniforms during those days. “Heads of lions” – suggesting ferocity and majesty. “Fire, smoke and sulphur” – reference to use of gunpowder and guns. The Ottoman Turks introduced firearms into warfare. Cavalry men fired their muskets from their hips, giving appearance of fire and smoke from horses’ mouths and tails.

The fanatical followers of Mohammed spread from country to country, threatening to submerge Europe.

The phenomenal rise of the Ottoman Empire soon declined. The Turks gradually lost hold until, in 1838, trouble broke out between the Sultan of Turkey and Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt; but foreign intervention prevented war for a short time. Peace was soon broken when, in the following year, 1839, hostilities resumed and the Sultan’s army was entirely destroyed; and his fleet confiscated by the Egyptians. It now appeared that Constantinople would become an Egyptian possession. The helpless Sultan appealed to Europe for help. A Conference convened in London amongst the British, Russian, Austrian and Prussian leaders, with Effendi Bey Likgis as mediator for the Ottoman power. They presented an ultimatum.

Following the London Conference, the Sultan dispatched Rifat Bey as plenipotentiary to Alexandria to communicate the ultimatum to the Pasha. 

History records that on the very day, August 11, 1840, the ultimatum reached Alexandria. God’s accurate prophetic time-clock was exactly on time! The time allotted by God for the 2nd Woe was up! On that same day, back in Constantinople, the Sultan addressed a note to the ambassadors of the 4 European powers, enquiring what plan was to be adopted in case the Pasha should reject the ultimatum. That same day they replied that provision had been made, and that the Sultan need not concern himself. So, it was that on 11 August, 1840, exactly 391 years and 15 days after the end of the 150 years of the Sultan receiving the submission of the Emperor of Constantinople, the Sultan himself reigning in that same city, surrendered his own independence to the great powers of Europe!

From that day on, until 1917, when the last of the Sultans fled in terror, the Ottoman Empire was styled “The Sick Man of Europe”! Out of the ruins of the old Ottoman Empire arose the Turkish Republic under the dictatorship of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The western segment of the Roman Empire was destroyed by the invading tribes, and the eastern section (i.e. Greek and Byzantine periods) was destroyed by the Turks. God’s judgements under the first Six Trumpets came upon the corrupt Roman Empire, but both those within and without the church failed to repent: Revelation 9:20,21. The 3rd Woe is soon to come:  Revelation 11:14.

Around that period, God raised a special people to proclaim His last warning message to the world before the 7th Trumpet sounds. At that time, what transpired under the 6th Trumpet had a powerful impact because the evidence was undeniable.

Josiah Litch, a student of history and Bible prophecy, and also a pioneer in the new Advent Movement, published in 1838 his interpretation of this prophecy, taking the position that the Ottoman Empire would fall on 11 August 1840. He was publicly ridiculed for his belief; but he courageously remained firm and resolute in his understanding of the prophecy. He declared that ‘the future would vindicate the veracity of God’s Word!’

When the news of the Ottoman Empire’s collapse reached the world, it caused such a tremendous shock amongst many sceptics. Many of those who had ridiculed Litch for his belief, renounced their rationalism. Within a few months Litch ‘received letters from more than one thousand prominent infidels, in which they stated they had given up battle against the Bible and accepted it as God’s revelation to man’.

God was preparing the ground for raising a great movement!

The full video presentation is available below:

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