Revelation Chapter 8 | Table of Contents | Revelation Chapter 10

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Revelation Chapter 9

The Moslem World in Prophecy

      Verse 1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
      The Fifth Trumpet. —For an exposition of this trumpet, we shall again draw from the writings of Alexander Keith. This writer says:
      “There is scarcely so uniform an agreement among interpreters concerning any other part of the Apocalypse as respecting the application of the fifth and sixth trumpets, or the first and second woes, to the Saracens and the Turks. It is so obvious that it can scarcely be misunderstood. Instead of a verse or two designating each, the whole of the ninth chapter of the Revelation, equal portions, is occupied with a description of both.
      “The Roman Empire declined, as it arose, by conquest; but the Saracens and the Turks were the instruments by which a false religion became the scourge of an apostate church; and hence, instead of the fifth and sixth trumpets, like the former, being marked by that name alone, they are called woes. . . .
      “Constantinople was besieged for the first time after the extinction of the Western Empire by Chosroes [II], the king of Persia.” [1]
      The prophet said, “I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth; and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.”
      The historian writes of this time:
      “While the Persian monarch [Chosroes II] contemplated the wonders of his art and power, he received an epistle from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mahomet as the apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore the epsitle. ‘It is thus,’ exclaimed the Arabian
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prophet, ‘that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the supplications of Chosroes.’ Placed on the verge of the two great empires of the East, Mahomet observed with secret joy the progress of their mutual destruction; and in the midst of the Persian triumphs, he ventured to foretell, that before many years should elapse, victory should again return to the banners of the Romans. At the time when this prediction is said to have been delivered, no prophecy could be more distant from its accomplishment, since the first twelve years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of the empire.” [2]
      It was not on a single spot that this star fell, as did the one that designated Attila, but upon the earth.
      The provinces of the empire in Asia and Africa were subdued by Chosroes II, and “the Roman Empire was reduced to the walls of Constantinople, with the remnant of Greece, Italy, and Africa, and some maritime cities, from Tyre to Trebizond, of the Asiatic coast. . . . The experience of six years at length persuaded the Persian monarch to renounce the conquest of Constantinople, and to specify the annual tribute or ransom of the Roman Empire; a thousand talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, a thousand silk robes, a thousand horses, and a thousand virgins. Heraclius subscribed these ignominious terms; but the time and space which he obtained to collect such treasures from the poverty of the East, was industriously employed in the preparation of a bold and desperate attack.” [3]
      “The king of Persia despised the obscure Saracen, and derided the message of the pretended prophet of Mecca. Even the overthrow of the Roman Empire would not have opened a door for Mahometanism, or for the progress of the Saracenic armed propagators of an imposture, though the monarch of the Persians and chagan of the Avars (the successor of Attila) had divided between them the remains of the kingdoms of the Caesars. Chosroes himself fell. The Persian and Roman monarchies
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exhausted each other’s strength. And before a sword was put into the hands of the false prophet, it was smitten from the hands of those who would have checked his career and crushed his power.” [4]
      “Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire. He . . . explored his perilous way through the Black Sea and the mountains of Armenia, penetrated into the heart of Persia, and recalled the armies of the great king to the defense of their bleeding country. . . .
      “In the battle of Nineveh, which was fiercely fought from daybreak to the eleventh hour, twenty-eight standards, besides those which might be broken or torn, were taken from the Persians; the greatest part of their army was cut in pieces, and the victors, concealing their own loss, passed the night on the field. . . . The cities and palaces of Assyria were opened for the first time to the Romans.” [5]
      “The Roman emperor was not strengthened by the conquests which he achieved; and a way was prepared at the same time, and by the same means, for the multitudes of Saracens from Arabia, like locusts from the same region, who, propagating in their course the dark and delusive Mahometan creed, speedily overspread both the Persian and the Roman empires. More complete illustration of this fact could not be desired than is supplied in the concluding words of the chapter [from Gibbon], from which the preceding extracts are taken.” [6]
      “Although a victorious army had been formed under the standard of Heraclius, the unnatural effort appears to have exhausted rather than exercised their strength. While the emperor triumphed at Constantinople or Jerusalem, an obscure town on the confines of Syria was pillaged by the Saracens, and they cut in pieces some troops who advanced to its relief, an ordinary and trifling occurrence, had it not been the prelude
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of a mighty revolution. These robbers were the apostles of Mahomet; their fanatic valor had emerged from the desert; and in the last eight years of his reign, Heraclius lost to the Arabs the same provinces which he had rescued from the Persians.” [7]
      “‘The spirit of fraud and enthusiasm, whose abode is not in the heavens,’ was let loose on earth. The bottomless pit needed but a key to open it, and that key was the fall of Chosroes. He had contemptuously torn the letter of an obscure citizen of Mecca. But when from his ‘blaze of glory’ he sunk into the ‘tower of darkness’ which no eye could penetrate, the name of Chosroes was suddenly to pass into oblivion before that of Mahomet; and the crescent seemed but to wait its rising till the falling of the star. Chosroes, after his entire discomfiture and loss of empire, was murdered in the year 628; and the year 629 is marked by ‘the conquest of Arabia,’ and ‘the first war of the Mahometans against the Roman Empire.’ ‘And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit.’ He fell upon the earth. When the strength of the Roman Empire was exhausted, and the great king of the East lay dead in his tower of darkness, the pillage of an obscure town on the borders of Syria was ‘the prelude of a mighty revolution.’ ‘The robbers were the apostles of Mahomet, and their fanatic valor emerged from the desert.’” [8]
      The Bottomless Pit. —The meaning of this term may be learned from the Greek {Greek- a%bnsso$} abyssos, which is defined “deep, bottomless, profound,” and may refer to any waste, desolate, and uncultivated place. It is applied to the earth in its original state of chaos. (Genesis 1:2.) In this instance it may appropriately refer to the unknown wastes of the Arabian desert, from the borders of which issued the hordes of Saracens, like swarms of locusts. The fall of Chosroes II the Persian
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king may well be represented as the opening of the bottomless pit, inasmuch as it prepared the way for the followers of Mohammed to issue from their obscure country and propagate their delusive doctrines with fire and sword until they had spread their darkness over all the Eastern Empire.

      Verse 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
      “Like the noxious and even deadly vapors which the winds, particularly from the southwest, diffuse in Arabia, Mahometanism spread from hence 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.” [9]

      Verse 3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
      “A false religion was set up, which, although the scourge of transgressions and idolatry, filled the world with darkness and delusion; and swarms of Saracens, like locusts, overspread the earth, and speedily extended their ravages over the Roman Empire from east to west. The hail descended from the frozen shores of the Baltic; the burning mountain fell upon the sea from Africa; and the locusts (the fit symbol of the Arabs) issued from Arabia, their native region. They came as destroyers, propagating a new doctrine, and stirred up to rapine and violence by motives of interest and religion.” [10]
      “A still more specific illustration may be given of the power like unto that of scorpions, which was given them. Not only was their attack speedy and vigorous, but ‘the nice sensibility of honor, which weighs the insult rather than the injury, sheds its deadly venom on the quarrels of the Arabs; an indecent
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action, a contemptuous word, can be expiated only by the blood of the offender; and such is their patient inveteracy, that they expect whole months and years the opportunity of revenge.’” [11]

      Verse 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
      After the death of Mohammed, he was succeeded in the command by Abu-bekr in A.D. 632, who as soon as he had fairly established his authority and government gathered the Arabian tribes for conquest. When the army was assembled, he instructed his chiefs on methods of conquest:
      “When you fight the battles 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 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 Mahometans or pay ‘tribute.’” [12]
      “It is not said in prophecy or in history that the more humane injunctions were as scrupulously obeyed as the ferocious mandate; but it so commanded them. And the preceding are the only instructions recorded by Gibbon, and given by Abubeker 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
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mandate than that of mortal man; and in the very act of going forth to fight against the religion of Jesus, and to propagate Mahometanism in its stead, he repeated the words which it was foretold in the Revelation of Jesus Christ that he would say.” [13]
      Seal of God in Their Foreheads. —In remarks upon Revelation 7:1-3, we have shown that the seal of God is the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. History is not silent upon the fact that there have been observers of the true seventh-day Sabbath all through the gospel age. But the question has here arisen with many, Who were those men who at this time had the seal of God in their foreheads, and who thereby became exempt from Mohammedan oppression? Let the reader bear in mind the fact already alluded to, that there have been those all through the Christian Era who have had the seal of God in their foreheads, that is, have been intelligent observers of the true Sabbath. Let him consider further that what the prophecy asserts is that the attacks of this desolating Turkish power are not directed against them, but against another class. The subject is thus freed from all difficulty, for this is all that the prophecy really asserts. One class of person is directly brought to view in the text, namely, those who have not the seal of God in their foreheads. The preservation of those who have the seal of God is brought in only by implication. Accordingly, we do not learn from history that any of these were involved in any of the calamities inflicted by the Saracens upon the objects of their hate. They were commissioned against another class of men. The destruction to come upon this class is not put in contrast with the preservation of other men, but only with that of the fruits and verdure of the earth; thus, Hurt not the grass, trees, nor any green thing, but only a certain class of men. In fulfillment, we have the strange spectacle of an army of invaders sparing those things which such armies usually destroy, the face and productions of nature. In pursuance
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of their permission to hurt those men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads, they cleaved the skulls of a class of religionists with shaven crowns, who belonged to the synagogue of Satan. It would seem that these were monks, or some other order of the Roman Catholic Church.

      Verse 5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
      “Their constant incursions into the Roman territory, and frequent assaults on Constantinople 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.” [14] (In reference to the five months, see comments on verse 10.)

      Verse 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
      “Men were weary of life, when life was spared only for a renewal of woe, and when all that they accounted sacred was violated, and all they held dear constantly endangered; and when the savage Saracens domineered over them, or left them only to a momentary repose, ever liable to be suddenly or violently interrupted, as if by the sting of a scorpion.” [15]

      Verse 7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
      “The Arabian horse takes the lead throughout the world; and skill in horsemanship is the art and science of Arabia. And the barbed Arabs, swift as locusts and armed like scorpions,
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ready to dart away in a moment, were ever prepared unto battle.
      “‘And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold.’ When Mahomet entered Medina (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 unto a coronet, were their ornament and their boast. The rich booty abundantly supplied and frequently renewed them. To assume the turban is proverbially to turn Mussulman. And the Arabs were anciently distinguished by the miters which they wore.” [16]
      “And their faces were as the faces of men.” “The gravity and firmness of the mind [of the Arab] is conspicuous in his outward demeanor; . . . his only gesture is that of stroking his beard, the venerable symbol of manhood. . . . The honor . . . of their beards is most easily wounded.” [17]

      Verse 8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
      “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.” [18]

      Verse 9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
      “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.’” [19]
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      “‘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 marvelous both in rapidity and extent, and their attack was instantaneous. Nor was it less successful against the Romans than the Persians.” [20]

      Verse 10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
      “To Hurt Men Five Months.” —The question arises, What men were they to hurt five months? —Undoubtedly the same they were afterward to slay (see verse 15), “the third part of men,” or third of the Roman Empire— the Greek division of it.
      When were they to begin their work of torment? The eleventh verse answers the question.
      “They had a king over them.” From the death of Mohammed until near the close of the thirteenth century, the Mohammedans were divided into various factions under several leaders, with no general civil government extending over them all. Near the close of the thirteenth century, Othman founded a government which has since been known as the Ottoman government, or empire, which grew until it extended over all the principal Mohammedan tribes, consolidating them into one grand monarchy.
      Their king is called “the angel of the bottomless pit.” An angel signifies a messenger, a minister, either good or bad, and not always a spiritual being. “The angel of the bottomless pit” would be the chief minister of the religion which came from thence when it was opened. That religion is Mohammedanism, and the sultan was its chief minister.
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      His name in the Hebrew tongue is “Abaddon,” the destroyer; in Greek, “Apollyon,” one that exterminates, or destroys. Having two different names in two languages, it is evident that the character rather than the name of the power is intended to be represented. If so, as expressed in both languages, he is a destroyer. Such has always been the character of the Ottoman government.
      But when did Othman make his first assault on the Greek empire? — According to Gibbon “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 Nicomaedia; and the singular accuracy of the date seems to disclose some foresight of the rapid and destructive growth of the monster.” [21]
      Von Hammer, the German historian of Turkey, and other authorities have placed this event in 1301. But to what date do the historic sources of this period testify? Pachymeres was a church and state historian, born at Nicaea, which was in the vicinity of the Ottoman invasion; and he wrote his history during this very period. He concluded his work about 1307, so he was a contemporary of Othman.
      Possinus, in 1669, worked out a complete chronology of Pachymeres’ history, giving the dates for the eclipses of the moon and the sun, as well as other events, recorded by Pachymeres in his work. Concerning the date 1299 Possinus says:
      “Now it is our task to give the exact and fundamental epoch of the Ottoman Empire. This we shall try to effect by a thoroughgoing comparison of the dates given by Arab chronologists and the testimony of our Pachymeres. This last mentioned author reports in the fourth book of this second part, chapter 25, that Atman [Greek name for Othman] grew strong by taking the command over a very strong band of bold and energetic warriors from Paphlagonia. When Muzalo, the Roman army commander, attempted to block his progress, he
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defeated him in a battle near Nicomedia, the capital of Bithynia. This city the lord of the battlefield henceforth kept as if it were besieged. Now, Pachymeres is very explicit in stating that these events took place in the immediate vicinity of Bapheum, not far from Nicomedia, on the 27th day of July. The year, we asseverate [affirm] in our synopsis, comparing carefully the events to have been of our Lord 1299.” [22]
      The synopsis to which Possinus refers gives the date of the uniting of these Paphlagonians with Othman’s forces, which took place on July 27, as 1299 of the Christian Era, fifth year of Pope Boniface VIII, and the sixth year of Michael Palaeologus. The statement is as follows:
      “Atman [Othman], the strap of the Persians, called also Ottomanes, the founder of the still reigning dynasty of the Turcs, grew strong by joining to himself a great number of fierce bandits from Paphlagonia.” [23]
      The Paphlagonians under the sons of Amurius joined Othman in this attack of July 27, so that Possinus gives the date for this event twice as 1299.
      Gregoras, also a contemporary of Othman, supports Gibbon and Pachymeres in establishing the date 1299 in his account of the division of Anatolia. This division among ten Turkish emirs took place in 1300, as supported by reliable historians. Gregoras states that in the division of Bithynia, indicating that Othman had already fought the battle of Bapheum, and had conquered certain parts of this eastern Roman-Greek territory.
      “The calculations of some writers have gone upon the supposition that the period should begin with the foundation of the Ottoman Empire; but this is evidently an error; for they not only were to have a king over them, but were to torment men five months. But the period of torment could not begin
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before the first attack of the tormentors, which was, as above [stated], July 27, 1299.” [24]
      The calculation which follows, founded on this starting point, was made and first published in a work entitled, Christ’s Second Coming, by Josiah Litch, in 1838.
      “‘And their power was to hurt men five months.’ Thus far their commission extended, to torment by constant depredations, but not politically to kill them. ‘Five months’ [thirty days to a month, one hundred and fifty days], that is, one hundred and fifty years. Commencing July 27, 1299, the one hundred and fifty years reach to 1449. During that whole period the 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,” [25] the history of which will be found under the succeeding trumpet.

      Verse 12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. 13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
      The Sixth Trumpet. —“The first woe was to continue from the rise of Mahometanism until the end of the five months. Then the first woe was to end, and the second begin. And when the sixth angel sounded, it was commanded to take off the restraints which had been imposed on the nation, by which they were restricted to the work of tormenting men, and their commission extended to slay the third part of men. This command came from the four horns of the golden altar.” [26]
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      The Four Angels. —These are the four principal sultanies of which the Ottoman Empire was composed, located in the country watered by the Euphrates. These sultanies were situated at Aleppo, Iconium, Damacus, and Bagdad. Previously they had been restrained; but God commanded, and they were 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 Empire. His brother Constantine, the lawful successor, would not venture to ascend the throne without the consent of the Turkish sultan. Ambassadors therefore went to Adrianople, received the approbation of the sultan, and returned with gifts for the new sovereign. Early in the year 1449, under these ominous circumstances, Constantine, the last of the Greek emperors, was crowned.
      The historian Gibbon tells 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 honor 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. [27]
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      “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.’ “ [28]
      The four angels were loosed for an hour, a day, a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men. This period, during which Ottoman supremacy was to exist, amounts to three hundred ninety-one years and fifteen days. Thus: A prophetic year is three hundred and sixty prophetic days, or three hundred and sixty literal years; a prophetic month, thirty prophetic days, is thirty literal years; one prophetic day is one literal year; and an hour, or the twenty-fourth part of a literal year year, or fifteen days; the whole amounting to three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days.
      “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.” [29]
      The arms and mode of warfare which were used in the siege in which Constantinople was to be overthrown and held in subjection were, as we shall see, distinctly noticed by the prophet.
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      Verse 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
      “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 Christian 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.” [30] Nothing can be affirmed on the point. And it is not at all essential.

      Verse 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
      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; jacinth, or hyacinth, for blue; and brimstone, for yellow. These colors greatly predominated in the dress of these 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 in appearance as the heads of lions, to denote their strength, courage, and fierceness; while the last part of the verse undoubtedly has reference to the use of gunpowder and firearms for purposes of war, which were then but recently introduced. As the Turks discharged their firearms on horseback, it would appear to the distant beholder that the fire, smoke, and brimstone issued out of the horses’ mouths.
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      Quite an agreement exists among commentators 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. [31] But they generally allude simply to the heavy ordnance, the large cannon, employed employed by that power; whereas the prophecy mentions especially the “horses,” and the fire “issuing 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.” [32] Here is good historical evidence that muskets were used by the Turks; and secondly, it is undisputed that 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 referred to.
      Respecting the use of firearms by the Turks in their campaign against Constantinople, Elliott thus speaks:
      “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. 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
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Constantinople?’ Then the foundry was established at Adrianople, the cannon cast, the artillery prepared, and the siege began.
      “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 saltpeter, 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 leveled 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.’” [33]
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      Verse 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
      These verses express the deadly effect of the new mode of warfare introduced. It was by 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 apparently issued 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 horse’s tail is a well- known Turkish standard, a symbol of office and authority. The image before the mind of John 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 looking on a body of cavalry with such banners, or ensigns, would be struck with this unusual or remarkable appearance, and would speak of their banners as concentrating and directing their power.
      This supremacy of the Mohammedans over the Greeks was to continue, as already noticed, three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days. “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 say; 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,” [34] just as he had, three hundred
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ninety-one years and fifteen days before, received it from the hands of the Christian emperor, Constantine XIII.
      This conclusion was reached, and this application of the prophecy was made by Josiah Litch in 1838, two years before the expected event was to occur. In that year he predicted that the Turkish power would be overthrown “in A.D. 1840, sometime in the month of August;” [35] but a few days before the fulfillment of the prophecy he concluded more definitely from his study that the period allotted to the Turks would come to an end on August 11, 1840. It was then purely a matter of calculation on the prophetic periods of Scripture. It is proper to inquire whether such events did take place according to the calculation. The matter sums itself up in the following inquiry:
      When Did Mohammedan Independence in Constantinople End? —For several years previous to 1840, the sultan had been embroiled in war with Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt. “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 flee. 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.” [36]
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      The sultan accepted this intervention of the great powers, and thus made a voluntary surrender of the question into their hands. A conference of these powers was held in London, the Sheik Effendi Bey Likgis being present as 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; he on his part to evacuate all other parts of the sultan’s dominions then occupied by him, and to return the Ottoman fleet. In case he refused this offer from the sultan, the four powers were to take matters into their own hands, and use such other means to bring him to terms as they should see fit.
      It is obvious that as soon as this ultimatum should be placed under the jurisdiction of Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt, the matter would be forever beyond the control of the Sultan, and the disposal of his affairs would, from that moment, be in the hands of foreign powers. The sultan dispatched Rifat Bey on a government steamer to Alexandria, to communicate the ultimatum to Mehemet Ali. The ultimatum was placed as his disposal on the eleventh day of August, 1840! On the same day, in Constantinople, a note was addressed by the sultan to the ambassadors of the four powers, inquiring what plan was to be adopted in case the pasha should refuse to comply with the terms of the ultimatum, to which they made answer that provision had been made, and there was no necessity of his alarming himself about any contingency that might arise.
      The facts are substantiated by the following quotations:
      “By the French steamer of the 24th, we have advices from Egypt to the 16th. They show no alteration in the resolution of the Pacha. Confiding in the valor of his Arab army, and in the strength of the fortifications which defend his capital, he seems determined to abide by the last alternative; and as recourse to this, therefore, is now inevitable, all hope may be considered as at an end of a termination of the affair without
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bloodshed. Immediately on the arrival of the Cyclops steamer with the news of the convention of the four powers, Mehemet Ali, it is stated, had quitted Alexandria, to make a short tour through Lower Egypt. The object of his absenting himself at such a moment being partly to avoid conferences with the European consuls, but principally to endeavor, by his own presence, to arouse the fanaticism of the Bedouin tribes, and facilitate the raising of his new levies. During the interval of this absence, the Turkish government steamer, which had reached Alexandria on the 11th, with the envoy Rifat Bey on board, had been by his orders placed in quarantine, and she was not released from it till the 16th. Previous, however, to the poet’s [*] [boat’s] leaving, and on the very day on which he [she] had been admitted to pratique, the above- named functionary had an audience of the Pacha, and had communicated to him the command of the Sultan, with respect to the evacuation of the Syrian provinces, appointing another audience for the next day, when, in the presence of the consuls of the European powers, he would receive from him his definite answer, and inform him of the alternative of his refusing to obey; giving him ten days which have been allotted him by the convention to decide the course he should think fit to adopt.” [37]
      The correspondent of the London Morning Chronicle, in a communication dated “Constantinople, August 12, 1840,” says:
      “I can add but little to my last letter on the subject of the plans of the Four Powers; and I believe that the details I then gave you compose everything that is yet decided on. The portion of the Pacha, as I then stated, is not to extend beyond the line of Acre, and does not include either Arabia or Candia. Egypt alone is to be hereditary in his family, and the province of Acre to be considered as a pachalik, to be governed by his
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son during his lifetime, but afterwards to depend on the will of the Porte; and even this latter is only to be granted to him on the condition of his accepting these terms and delivering up the Ottoman fleet within the period of ten days. In the event of his not doing so, this pachalik is to be cut off. Egypt alone is then to be offered, with another ten days for him to deliberate on it before actual force be employed against him. The manner, however, of applying the force, should he refuse to comply with these terms —whether a simple blockade is to be established on the coast, or whether his capital is to be bombarded and his armies attacked in the Syrians provinces— is the point which still remains to be learned; nor does a note delivered yesterday by the four ambassadors, in answer to a question put to them by the Porte, as to the plan to be adopted in such an event, throw the least light on this subject. It simply states that provision had been made, and there was no necessity for the Divan alarming itself about any contingency that might afterward arise.” [38]
      Let us analyze the foregoing quotations:
      First. —The ultimatum reached Alexandria on August 11, 1840.
      Second. —The letter of the correspondent of the London Morning Chronicle is dated August 12, 1840.
      Third. —The correspondent states that the question of the Sublime Porte was put to the representatives of the four great powers, and the answer received “yesterday.” So in his own capital, “yesterday” the Sublime Porte applied to the ambassadors of the four Christian powers of Europe as to what measures had been taken in reference to a circumstance vitally affecting his empire; and was told that “provision had been made,” but he could not know what it was; and that he need not give himself any alarm “about any contingency which might arise”! From that day, “yesterday,” which was August 11, 1840 —they, the four Christian powers of Europe, and not he, would manage that.
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      On August 11, 1840, the period of three hundred ninety-one years and fifteen days, allotted to the continuance of the Ottoman power, ended; and where was the sultan’s independence? —GONE! Who had the supremacy of the Ottoman empire in their hands? —The four great powers; and that empire has existed ever since only by the sufferance of these Christian powers. Thus was the prophecy fulfilled to the very letter.
      From the first publication of the calculation of this matter in 1838, before referred to, the time set for the fulfillment of the prophecy was watched by thousands with intense interest. The exact accomplishment of the event predicted, showing, as it did, the right application of the prophecy, gave a mighty impetus to the great advent movement then beginning to attract the attention of the world.

      Verse 20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
      God designs that men shall make a note of His judgments, and receive the lessons He thereby designs to convey. But how slow they are to learn, and how blind to the indications of providence! The events that occurred under the sixth trumpet constituted the second woe, yet these judgments led to no improvement in the manners and morals of men. Those who escaped them learned nothing by their manifestation in the earth.
      The hordes of Saracens and Turks were let loose as a scourge and punishment upon apostate Christendom. Men suffered the punishment, but learned no lesson from it.

      [1] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, pp. 289, 291.
      [2] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. IV, chap. 46, pp. 463, 464.
      [3] Ibid., p. 466.
      [4] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 293.
      [5] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. IV, chap. 46, p. 470-480.
      [6] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 295.
      [7] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. IV, chap. 46, p. 486.
      [8] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 298.
      [9] Ibid., p. 299.
      [10] Ibid., p. 301.
      [11] Ibid., p. 305.
      [12] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. V, chap. 51, pp. 189, 190.
      [13] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 307.
      [14] Ibid., pp. 308, 309.
      [15] Ibid., p. 309.
      [16] Ibid., p. 311, 312.
      [17] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. V, chap. 50, pp. 86, 88.
      [18] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 312.
      [19] Ibid.
      [20] Ibid., p. 313.
      [21] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. VI, chap. 64, p. 226.
      [22] Possinus, Observationum Pachymerianarum, Book III (Chronology), chap. 8, sec. 5, translation made at the Library of Congress.
      [23] Ibid., bk. 4, chap. 25.
      [24] Josiah Litch, Prophetic Expositions, Vol. II, p. 180.
      [25] Ibid., p. 181.
      [26] Ibid., p. 182.
      [27] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. VI, chap. 67, p. 365.
      [28] Josiah Litch, Prophetic Expositions, Vol. II, pp. 182, 183.
      [29] Ibid., p. 183.
      [30] Ibid., pp. 183, 184.
      [31] See notes on Revelation 9:17 in Adam Clarke, Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. II, p. 1003; Albert Barnes, Notes on Revelation, p. 264; The Cottage Bible, Vol. II, p. 1399.
      [32] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. VI, chap. 68, p. 388.
      [33] Edward B. Elliott, Horae Apocalypticae, pp. 478, 479.
      [34] Josiah Litch, Prophetic Expositions, Vol. II, p. 189.
      [35] Josiah Litch, The Probability of the Second Coming of Christ About A.D. 1843, p. 157.
      [36] Ibid., pp. 192, 193.
      [37] London Morning Chronicle, September 18, 1840, extract from a correspondent’s letter dated “Constantinople, August 27, 1840.”
      [38] Ibid., September 3, 1840.
      [*] The word “poet’s” in this newspaper account is apparently a printer’s error. The substitution of the word “boat’s” with a change of pronouns obviously gives the correct meaning of the story. —Editors.

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