Continuing from chapter 8 we see two more of the 7 trumpets sounded which bring them hordes of Saracen (Arab) and Turkish armies to invade the Eastern part of the old Roman Empire, called the Byzantine Empire, as well as north Africa and the middle Eastern areas. The historical interpretation is continued and covers the period of history of 476 AD (the fall of Western Rome) to 1453 AD (the fall of Constantinople in the Christian Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire). This chapter divides in to 3 segments, v. 1-12, v. 13-19 and v. 20,21.
Fifth trumpet (v.1) – a star fell from heaven, meaning an angel to whom was given the key to the bottomless pit or Hell.
A star fallen from heaven (v.1) symbolises the fall of a prince or a leader, who fell to Earth meaning he has influence in the earthly realm. He was given power to unleash hellish influences on Earth. It sounds much like Satan who was cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:9), and given limited power by God on Earth. Some commentators mark him as Muhammad. Now Muhammad lived from 570 AD to 632 AD. Most of this suggested period, ending in 632 AD, for an invading Saracen (Arabian) army, would predate his life.
From the 3rd century AD, Arabian history becomes more tangible with the rise of the Ḥimyarite, and with the appearance of the Qaḥṭānites in the Levant and the gradual assimilation of the Nabataeans by the Qaḥṭānites in the early centuries, a pattern of expansion exceeded in the explosive Muslim conquests of the 7th century. For this leader to be Muhammad it would have to be that most of the conquests it represents occurred in the period, not leading up to 632 AD, but after 632 AD, for a period of 150 years (v.5,10; 5 months = 150 ‘days’ = 150 years) when Arab Islam assaulted the old Roman world.
The ‘air was darkened by reason of the smoke from the pit’ (v.2) symbolises these hellish influence. A great horde of ‘locusts’ (v.3) symbolising great destroying armies ‘came out of the smoke’ and they we sent to torment (v.4,5) those humans who did not have the salvation of our God, where salvation is symbolised by a seal in their foreheads.
The locusts were commanded by God not to hurt the grass or anything green, which locust normally devour, eating everything green in their path. See Nahum 3:15 and Exodus 10:12. Locusts are symbolic of an army which rose up, arising from Egypt or Arabia, the land of locusts, yet sent by God against the pagan Roman Empire both in its Eastern and Western divisions. By 476 AD Rome had fallen (in the western division, Revelation 8) but the eastern division the Greek Byzantine Empire still remained at this time.
The armies were commanded by God not to kill the unbelievers but only hurt and torment them (v.5). They were to be tormented 5 months equaling 150 ‘days’ (5 x 30), which symbolise 150 years. So terrible was the torment that men sought death (v.6).
The army was a horde wearing ‘crowns like gold’ (v.7). In appearance like golden crowns, not that they were gold. The Arabians (Saracens) wearing yellow turbans would have such an appearance. The Greek word used here is στέφανος (stephanos) meaning laurels given to the victor, not a kingly crown, which would be the Greek word διάδημα (diadema) (refer Revelation 12:3).
The locusts were horsemen ‘prepared for battle’ (v.7). The description in vs.7-10 sounds like horsemen with some sort of armour and chariots of war. Their teeth like lions (v.8) may indicate their fierceness. Hair like women could be they had uncut long hair which would be the custom of Arabs at that time.
Judges 7:12 speaks Israel’s enemies then in terms of a ‘multitude’ like ‘grasshoppers.’ The latter are locusts and from verse 9 we get the impression of multitudes. These locusts had ‘breastplates of iron’ (v.9). Which could mean polished metal armour. Historians of the Arabian wars speak of the iron coats of mail. Mohammed, in the Koran, says: “God has given you coats of mail to defend you in your wars.” This indicates that, by at least the early 600’s, the Arabs wore iron armour.
It was after 476 AD, that the Saracen effort was especially directed against the Byzantine Empire, with Constantinople the capital of the Greek part of the old Roman world.
They had a king over them (v.11) from the bottomless pit who can only be Satan himself—the ‘angel of the bottomless pit’. They were led by Apollyon, which the Greek language means the destroyer. This description seems to fit well the Muslim hordes of Muhammad in the 7th century who conquered much of the lands of Christendom. The Muslims were led by their belief in Allah, whose attributes fits well with those of Satan.
The Arabians, unlike the Goths, Vandals, and Huns, etc, were an army of horsemen, and moved over a country almost with the swiftness of the locust. Note concerning the Saracens (Arabs):
- They came out the region where the Bible describes as the home of the locusts (at the time of the Exodus).
- They all fought on horseback. There was not a foot-soldier in the armies which in 632 AD assaulted the Eastern Greek division of the Roman Empire.
- They wore upon their heads something like crowns of gold. The historians often speak of them as the “turbaned Arabs.”
Many corroborations might be added. 1. Mohammed was literally a fallen star. He was a prince by birth, the heir of the rule of Mecca, but his grandfather and father dying while he was young, he was pushed aside and became a servant. 2. The locusts came out of the smoke. The Arabs were unknown as a conquering power before Mohammed. The smoke of his imposture filled them with the fierce, stern fanaticism of the Koran. 3. They had literal orders in their invasion not to destroy vegetation. “Cut down no palm trees, nor burn fields of corn. Destroy no fruit trees.“–Gibbon, Vol. V., page 189. 4. Passing other marks, their destructive work was to continue five months, or one hundred and fifty years. Though Mohammed’s work began earlier, it was in A. D. 632 that the Arab hosts bursts forth from their deserts to assail the world. Within a hundred years Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, the north of Africa, and Spain had fallen beneath their sway. In 762, the capital of the Saracen Empire was placed at Bagdad and their rulers began to cherish peaceful ideas. In 781, the Caliph Haroun Al Rashid was their ruler. This is the golden age of the Saracen power. This is the era of the Arabian Nights. Bagdad was called the “City of Peace.” How long is this from the time when the torment that had stricken half the world began? In A. D. 632, the Arabs assailed the nations, to which date one hundred and fifty years may be added. This would bring us to 782, the second year of Haroun Al Rashid’s reign. Did the torment continue longer? Nay. He was engaged in friendly correspondence with the Christian rulers of Europe, and from this time the Saracens ceased their efforts to make the world Mohammedan. (excerpted from Bible Study Tools)
Sixth trumpet (v.13) – Four angels (v.14) are loosed from the river Euphrates who go forth to slay a third of men (v.15) in some great battle.
In 1057 AD the Turkman or Turkish armies crossed the Euphrates. The Muslim Caliph commissioned Togrul to lead the army, but dying, his son, Alp Arsian, led the Turks across the Euphrates, and when he was slain in battle, he was succeeded by Malek Shah. The mighty empire of Malek Shah was divided into four principalities, under his four sons (4 sultanies), which are described by the historian under the names of Persia, Kerman or India, Syria, Roum or Asia Minor, extending from the shores of the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. They are then four angels or messengers of destruction (v.15).
The four angels were prepared for 396.3 days to slay a third of all men. This is derived from (v.15) ‘an hour, a day, a month and a year’ = 365 days 6 hours + 30 days + 1 day + 1 hour = 365.29 days. The prophetic meaning is then 396 years 4 months.
They assembled an army of “2 hundred million” (v.16) and they given the description of a fierce army (v. 17,18). The Greek word here translated as “ten-thousand ten-thousand” or “hundred million” is μυρίας (murias), which could be rendered as “myriad” in English, an indefinite number. The army of “two hundred million” is symbolic of God using the Turkish armies with myriads soldiers in judgement against those who worshipped devils and idols, the works of their own hands (v.20). This means idolatry — “repented not of the works of their hands.” Nevertheless mankind did not repent of their sins (v.21).
Verse 18 use of fire, smoke and brimstone (sulphur) could symbolise the introduction of some sort of gunpowder into the warfare (muskets even?). Gunpowder was invented in China in the 9th century but there are no records of it finding its way to the Turks in the 11th century.
Greek fire was an incendiary weapon developed around 672 AD and used by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. The Byzantines typically used it in naval battles to great effect, as it could continue burning while floating on water. It provided a technological advantage and was responsible for many key Byzantine military victories, most notably the salvation of Constantinople from two Arab sieges, thus securing the Empire’s survival. The impression made by Greek fire on the west European Crusaders was such that the name was applied to any sort of incendiary weapon, including those used by Arabs, the Chinese, and the Mongols. These, however, were different mixtures and not the Byzantine formula, which was a closely guarded state secret.
Verse 19 continues with that idea with tails like serpents. These three fire, smoke and brimstone are likened to plagues (v.20). Yet the idol worshippers repented not of their pagan ways (v.21).
We have before found that the Old Roman world was divided into three parts. The first third was destroyed under the first four trumpet invasions (Revelation 8) by the northern Barbarians. A second third part was overcome by the Saracens (v. 1-12), mostly the Greek Byzantine Empire. If now the third part was taken and destroyed by these three plagues, the symbolism would be fulfilled. This seems to describe the subsequent phase in history of the Turkish Islamic invasion.
This army fits the history of the Turkish armies that crossed the Euphrates and conquered the paganised Christian Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire eventually establishing the Ottoman Empire there in 1453 AD. This resulted in the fall of Constantinople as the capitol of the eastern part of pagan Rome’s empire. The Ottoman armies between 1299–1826 are listed in Wikipedia as totalling about 1.5 million men.
In the year 1453, assailed by two hundred thousand Turks, its walls battered down by the first cannon ever used in a siege, one hundred thousand of its citizens lying dead upon the ramparts, it was stormed by the Turks, and the last relic of the mighty empire which had existed for two thousand two hundred years was swept away forever. The work was done. The Empire fell in 1453. In 1057 the work began by the passage of the Euphrates. The interval between is three hundred and ninety-six years!
This remarkable prophecy is still more exact. The reader cannot fail to note particularly the language of the prophecy. We have found it to mean exactly 396 years and four months. On January 28th, 1057, according to Arabian historians, the Turks marched from Bagdad. 396 years and four months, or 120 days, would bring us to May 29th, 1453, the very day of the fall of Constantinople, and of the final overthrow of the Greek third part of the world. (excerpted from Bible Study Tools)
It is implied that these woes were sent as judgments. The Christianity of the East overthrown by the Saracens and Turks had become utterly corrupt. What of those who were called ‘the rest of the men which were not killed’, that is, those in other countries not conquered by Turks, well, they continued in their sins. Verse 20 says that they ‘should not worship devils,’ meaning they were worshipping dead saints, which is called demon worship in the Scriptures. They worship ‘idols’, which was and is prevalent in the Church of Rome, the eastern Orthodox, the Coptics and the like. Worship of Christianized images was introduced into the churches everywhere and today they continue to be worshipped.
Verse 21. ‘Neither repented they of their murders’. In the Crusade against the Albigenses, conducted by the Church of Rome in the thirteenth century, it is estimated that one million martyrs perished. Many more millions of other believers perished for their faith under Rome over the centuries. They repented ‘nor of their ‘sorceries’, represents the tricks to deceive, so characteristic of the priests. ‘Nor of their fornication’, means they are in spiritual fornication or apostasy, and also literal fornication. ‘Nor of their thefts’ is describing the deceptions and impostures to extort money from the people, indulgences and the like. Instead of repentance after the great judgment on the Eastern Church, the Western Church grew worse and worse.
There were many frauds committed by the Church of Rome. The Donation of Constantine (Latin: Donatio Constantini) is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine the Great supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the Pope. Composed probably in the 8th century, it was used, especially in the 13th century, in support of claims of political authority by the papacy. By the 15th century it was exposed as a forgery.