The Fifth Trumpet
A fallen star: When the fifth trumpet sounded, John saw a star fall from heaven to the earth. The Greek original indicates that the star had already fallen when seen by the prophet. In other words, this was a fallen star that opened the bottomless pit and released the smoke and swarms of locusts. In verse 11 this fallen star is called “the angel of the bottomless pit” and is designated as Abaddon and Apollyon—that is the great destroyer, Satan. In the Scriptures, angels are symbolized by stars, and Satan and his angels as fallen stars. See Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:4, 9. This symbolic star is primarily referring to Satan. But Satan works through human agents, and therefore secondarily, this star represents Mohammed and his caliph successors.
Some might ask, “Why would Islam be designated as a power coming out of the bottomless pit and darkening the sun?” In the seventh chapter of the Koran, it clearly says that Allah has no son; that there is no one to share in his dominion. No darker statement could be made than to deny the divinity of the Son of God. Jesus is the eternal Son of God who has always been with His Father. The Father created all things through His Son. All things are sustained by the Son. Mohammed owes his very existence to the Son of God. By denying the Son, you deny the Father.
The bottomless pit: When the earth lies desolate during the millennium it is termed the bottomless pit or the abyss. See Revelation 20. This terminology well describes the desert wastes of Arabia from which the Mohammedans came and inflicted great punishment against Rome.
The key of the bottomless pit: The key was given to Mohammed, and he opened the abyss and released the smoke and the symbolic locusts. Mohammed claimed that he received the Koran from the angel Gabriel by revelation. However, the Bible teaches otherwise. The smoke of Islam has darkened over a third part of the once-Christian world. The gospel is likened to the sun, and Islam has played her part in preventing that light from shining forth.
Locusts: Arabia is the chief home of the locust. Throughout the regions of the Middle East the locusts swarm by the millions. This symbolism well describes the vast numbers of the Saracen military troops.
Sevenfold description of the Saracen cavalryman: In verses 7–10, we have a sevenfold description of these Saracen cavalrymen as symbolized by the locusts. The many references to horses in the following description certainly adds force to our interpretation that we are speaking about a great cavalry army.
They are “horses prepared unto battle.” The Arabs were the most expert horsemen in the world. Before the age of tanks and fighter jets, these Saracen cavalrymen were fierce fighters riding swiftly to battle.
It is interesting to note that the likeness of a locust to a horse, especially a horse equipped with armor, is so striking that the insect is named in German, heupferd, meaning “a hay-horse,” and in Italian cavalett, meaning “a little horse.”
“And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold.” They did not have crowns on their heads, the head coverings only looked like they were crowns. The Saracens actually wore a turban which had a greenish golden color.
Their “faces were as the faces of men.” The Saracens wore beards, thus they had the faces of men. Yet their hair was like the “hair of women.” History records the fact that the Saracen men, like the women, wore long hair.
“Their teeth were as the teeth of lions.” They were known to have the courage and savagery of a lion. It was their maxim that once the sword was unsheathed it must draw blood before it was returned to its scabbard. The Saracens believed that they would go to heaven if they died in battle for Allah. This gave them great courage to fight to the death.
They had “breastplates of iron.” Locusts seem to be covered with armor. And most of the cavalrymen of that period wore leather breastplates.
“And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.” The Saracens went to battle in such great numbers that the noise was deafening.
“And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails.” The Saracen weapons consisted of a sword, lance, and bow and arrows. All of these are well represented by the sting of a scorpion. Interestingly, Arabia is also the home of the scorpion as well as the locust.
Verse 5, 10: The Commission to Torment
Their mission was to cause awful agony for five months. They were not to kill. The Saracens were not to destroy Rome, but only to “hurt” or “torment” her for five months. The “hurt” or “torment” would be so terrible that death seemed preferable to life. Revelation 9:6. The Saracens offered their victims the choice between the sword, the Koran, or heavy tribute.
For five prophetic months, the Saracens were to “hurt” and “torment.” In Bible prophecy, a “day” represents a “year.” See Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6. There are 150 days in 5 months. Therefore, the time given the Saracens to “hurt” and “torment” was 150 years.
Argument for Early Date: The 150-year prophetic period begins when the symbolic locusts are released from the pit. The “torment” would begin when the “command” was given by its leader. The tormenting covers a period of 150 years with the command to hurt some and not to hurt others. With the death of Mohammed in AD 632, Abu-Bekr succeeded him. In that same year, Abu-Bekr began his invasion of Syria. In their efforts to spread Islam in all directions, they found a superstition so abject, an idolatry so gross and shameless, church doctrines so arrogant, church practices so immoral, that the strongminded Mohammedan felt themselves inspired of God to reprove the errors of this apostate Christendom and punish her.
“Their constant incursions into the Roman territory, and frequent assaults on Constantinoble itself, were an unceasing torment throughout the empire, which yet they were not able effectually to subdue, notwithstanding the long period, afterward more directly alluded to, during which they continued, by unremitting attacks, grievously to afflict an idolatrous church, of which the pope was the head. … Their charge was to torment, and then to hurt, but not to kill, or utterly destroy. The marvel was that they did not.” Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Volume I, 308, 309.
“The Caliph Omar led his conquering armies of Saracens into Syria in 632; the Roman armies were annihilated; and in 637 Jerusalem was captured.” Philip Mauro, Of Things Which Must Soon Come to Pass, 315.
For almost 100 years the uninterrupted progress of the Saracens continued. After overrunning most of Western Asia and all of Northern Africa, they crossed into Spain and all Europe trembled as they continued their victorious conquests through Spain and into France.
The men that the Saracens would not hurt are those who had the seal of God. At the time of the seventh century, basically only the Church of Rome and Alexandria observed Sunday and other pagan rites. Nearly every other Christian around the world continued to keep the seventh-day Sabbath as the Lord’s Day. See Exodus 20:8–11. Therefore, the Saracens would not hurt those that keep God’s commandments, but would hurt those that adhered to the erroneous traditions of the Church of Rome.
According to this early date, the fifth trumpet was blown during the seventh century because of the idolatry of the Church of Rome and her continued persecution of God’s true church. Even the Mohameddans were offended by the idolatrous practices of the Roman Church.
Arguments for Later Date: The key support for the later date is the context of the prophetic five month period. The answer to when they began to torment was when they had a “king.” Revelation 9:11. From the death of the prophet Mohammed in AD 632 until the end of the thirteenth century, the Mohammedans had no centralized government. Othman I was the first to succeed in welding the Mohammedans into a cohesive group. Othman led the first invasion on Christendom in the battle of Rapheum on July 27, 1299.
The historian E. Gibbons wrote, “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.” The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, E. Gibbons, chapter 64, par. 14.
The period of “torment” could not begin until they had both a king and their first battle. This came true for the first time on July 27, 1299. By adding 150 years, the prophecy would then end in the year of 1449.
Another key factor for this later date is that it provides the precise starting point for the sixth trumpet in AD 1449. We will study this under the sixth trumpet.
Yet another key factor is the intervention of God to protect His faithful ones from extinction. From AD 1200 to 1500, a long series of Papal ordinances made the Inquisition harsher with each passing year. The practice of the Inquisition, as time went on, became further and further removed from all principles of justice and equity. It would take hundreds of volumes to give an adequate idea of how the Papacy worn out the saints of the Most High during the time of the fifth and sixth trumpet. Therefore, God blew the fifth trumpet in the thirteenth century to protect His people and to prevent the Inquisition from growing harsher and more widespread.
The Sixth Trumpet
The Ottoman Empire
The second woe: The Roman Church did not repent after the first woe, so God sent a second woe. If the first woe was to continue from the rise of Mahometanism (in the seventh century) until the end of the five prophetic months in AD 1449, then the first woe was to end, and the second begin. And when the sixth angel sounded, it was commanded to both torment and slay a third part of men. This command came when Jesus was yet in the Holy Place by the golden altar.
“And the sixth angel sounded, and I head a voice from the four horns of the golden altar [found in the Holy Place] which is before God.” Revelation 9:13
If Jesus is still ministering in the Holy Place in the heavenly Sanctuary, then the events of the sixth trumpet must take place prior to the year of 1844. For it was in the year of 1844, that Jesus left the Holy Place and went into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly Sanctuary.
The four angels: These “four angels” or “four messengers” of destruction had been restrained from the work of “slaying” until the beginning of the sixth trumpet. These four messengers are the four Sultans of the Ottoman Empire, located by the waters of the Euphrates. These four Sultans were situated at Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus, and Bagdad.
The power of the Ottoman Empire was let loose for an hour, a day, a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men. This amounts to 391 years and 15 days. Remember, a day represents a year in Bible prophecy. Therefore, a year in Bible prophecy, with 360 days in a prophetic year, equals 360 literal years; a prophetic month is 30 prophetic days, or 30 literal years; one prophetic day is one literal year; and an hour, or the twenty-fourth part of a prophetic day, would be a twenty-fourth of a literal year, or 15 days. The whole of this amounts to 391 years and 15 days.
Beginning on the day the 150 year prophecy ended, July 27, 1449, and adding 391 years and 15 days, we come to the date of August 11, 1840. What happened on that day? The Ottoman Empire surrendered to European powers on that very day.
What began the date of July 27, 1449? Late in the year of 1448, near the close of the 150-year prophecy, John Palaeologus died without leaving a son to follow him on the throne of the Eastern Christian Empire. His brother, Constantine, the lawful successor, would not venture to ascend the throne without the consent of the Turkish sultan. Early in the year of 1449, Constantine, the last of the Greek emperors, was crowned, but crowned only by permission of an Islamic power. In the same way, the sultan surrendered his independence into the hands of Christian powers in 1840.
“In the year 1840, another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy excited widespread interest. Two years before, Josiah Litch, one of the leading ministers preaching the second advent, published an exposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of the Ottoman empire. According to his calculations, this power was to be overthrown. ‘In AD 1840, sometime in the month of August’; and only a few days previous to its accomplishments he wrote: ‘Allowing the first period, 150 years, to have been exactly fulfilled before Deacozes ascended the throne by permission of the Turks, and that the 391 years, fifteen days, commenced at the close of the first period, it will end on the 11th of August, 1840, when the Ottoman power in Constantinople may be expected to be broken. And this, I believe, will be found to be the case.
“At the very time specified, Turkey, through her ambassadors, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe and thus placed herself under the control of Christian nations. The event exactly fulfilled the prediction. When it became known, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation adopted by Miller and his associates, and a wonderful impetus was given to the Advent Movement.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pages 334, 335
The sixth trumpet introduces a gigantic cavalry of 200 million horsemen. This period of time, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, was the world’s greatest cavalry age. Such a great number would indicate not one nation but a number of nations aligned together for battle. For nearly four centuries the Turks ruled and slew many. The description of these fierce warriors shows that they are closely related to the warriors under the fifth trumpet, the Mohammedans or Muslim powers.
Verses 20, 21: Refuses to repent
Amazingly, after the first four trumpets the Church of Rome refused to repent. Then after the fifth and sixth trumpets she still refused to repent. Tragically, Bible prophecy predicts that she never will. She will not repent of her own self-sufficiency (“the works of her hands”), the teaching of spurious doctrines (“in the worship of devils”), in the worship of idols (“of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood”), neither will she repent of her persecution of the saints (“murders”), nor of her communication with evil spirits (“sorceries”), nor of her efforts to control the State (“fornication”), nor of her thefts in robbing God the honor due to Him.
The Seventh Trumpet
From 1844 until the Battle of Armageddon
The third woe: “The third woe cometh quickly,” indicates that there is a brief period of time between the sixth and seventh trumpets. With the sixth trumpet meeting its fulfillment on August 11, 1840, then the seventh trumpet would begin a few years later when Jesus enters the Most Holy Place in 1844. But as we can see, there is an interruption between the sixth and seventh trumpet. Chapter ten is a parenthetical chapter between the sixth and seventh trumpet, describing events that must take place before Christ’s Second Coming. As we will see, God will raise up a special movement, known as the Great Advent Movement before the finishing of the seventh trumpet. After all, we just had a brief introduction to Josiah Litch who predicted the fall of the Ottoman empire.
The Judgment Begins
Under the seventh trumpet we are told “that the temple of God was opened in heaven.” This was when Jesus entered the Most Holy Place to begin the last phase of His ministry as our High Priest.
“Therefore the announcement that the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His testament was seen, points to the opening of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, in 1844, as Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 433
We have a description of the temple of God being opened in heaven, in the book of Daniel.
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man [Jesus] came with the clouds of heaven [a cloud of angels], and came to the Ancient of days [the Father] and they [the angels] brought Him [Jesus] near before Him [the Father]. And there was given Him [Jesus] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13, 14
In these verses, Jesus is escorted by a cloud of angels to the Father. The Father had moved His throne from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place. As such, “judgment was set, and the books were opened [for judgment].” Daniel 7:10. But the judgment would not begin until Jesus was escorted to the Father in the Most Holy Place, because all judgment has been given to the Son. See John 5:22. This most glorious event took place on October 22, 1844.
Under the seventh trumpet justice is rendered. The blood of the saints, that has long been crying unto God for justice (Revelation 6:9–11) is now taken care of. The saints will be rewarded with eternal life at the second coming of Jesus, while the wicked can only look forward to the second death and the lake of fire. See Revelation 22:12, 14; Isaiah 26:19–21; 40:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51–55; Daniel 12:1–3, 13; Job 14:13.
Receiving the Kingdom
When Jesus was escorted by the angels to the Father in the Most Holy Place, we were told, “And there was given Him [Jesus] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14
The earth is often spoken of in the Scriptures as “the kingdom” or “dominion.” See Daniel 2:44; 7:18, 22, 26, 27. While the earth has been divided by political strife among nations, it is really but one kingdom or dominion. It was first given to Adam, subject to Christ. When Adam fell, Satan claimed ownership. See Luke 4:6. The second Adam, Jesus Christ has won it back. But it is not until His second coming that He finishes His mediatorial work as High Priest and comes as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The first blast of the seventh trumpet is accompanied by “great voices in heaven.” These would be the voices of angels who rejoice when Christ receives the kingdom while He is in the Most Holy Place. This means that He receives the kingdom before His Second Coming.
The twenty four elders then praise God for His omnipotent power. They are thankful that Jesus is in the last phase of His ministry, that He has received the kingdom, and that evil will soon come to an end.
“And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come.” When the books for judgment were opened in 1844, there has been unprecedented conflict between nations. I suppose that Satan has chosen to stir things up in our world to distract mankind from the judgment going on in heaven above.
Jesus predicted that a sure sign of His Second Coming was when nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. See Matthew 24:7. The twentieth century was probably the bloodiest century of all. There had been a conflict somewhere in our little world every year. But the major wars, such as, World War I and World War II, Vietnam, Korea, and many other acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing, have taken the lives of countless millions.
Them which destroy the earth
The seventh angel sounds when men are able to destroy the earth. This has been especially true in these last days. Since the development of nuclear weapons, men have had the capability of destroying the earth many times over. Of course, we have found other ways as well, by failing to take care of the earth.
In destroying the earth and by destroying one another, we destroy the image of God in the human soul. God in His mercy holds back the winds of strife. See Revelation 7:1-4. When every case has been decided, then he who is holy will be holy still, and he who is unholy will be unholy still, then the winds of strife will be let loose.
Satan will in the end plunge the earth into one great, final trouble. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old. In one decisive blow, Satan will try to wipe out God’s people in the battle of Armageddon. But Christ intervenes and rescue His people. See Daniel 11:45-12:1.
Satan the Destroyer
In Revelation 9:11, Satan is called “Apollyon” meaning destroyer. The same term applies also to his human agents or followers. In the book of Daniel, the Papal power is designated the desolator or “abomination that maketh desolate.” Daniel 11:31. See also Daniel 7:25; 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:3–12; Revelation 13:1–10. These passages should clearly teach us that the persecutor is not right.
As Jesus has fought against evil forces in our world, we must be willing to fight against the evil that is inside each one of us. The greatest battle we will face is the battle against our sinful nature. We can refuse to repent like Rome, but then we will be lost eternally.
Can you think of times when you were in the wrong but refused to repent?
Are there sinful things in your life right now that you refuse to let go of?
Are you willing to ask God every day to reveal any evil that is inside you?
When He reveals those shortcomings, plan to give those sins to Jesus immediately. If that sin is impatience, then give your impatience to Jesus. But do not stop there. Ask for the patience of Jesus. This is the great exchange. We give Him our sins, and in return He gives us His righteousness. Then never cease to praise Him for His mercy, longsuffering, and grace.