The Adventist Forum

Forum Home Forum Home > The Bible > Books of the Bible > Bible Studies by Topics
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Seven Trumpets of Revelation
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Seven Trumpets of Revelation

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123 6>
Author
Message
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Seven Trumpets of Revelation
    Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 1:59pm
 The Seven Trumpets are being revisited by Adventist for many reasons as they are part of the events that happen leading up to the second coming, the question seems to be when they happen:
 
Ellen White says the following;

    "This is the sharpest experience I have ever had in a carriage in a storm...I thought of the day when the judgments of God would be poured out upon the world, when blackness and horrible darkness would clothe the heavens as sackcloth of hair...my imagination anticipated what it must be in that period when the Lord's mighty voice shall give commission to His angels, 'Go your ways and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth'. Revelation 6 & 7 are full of meaning terrible are the judgments of God revealed. The seven angels stood before God to receive their commission.  To them were given seven trumpets.  The Lord was going forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth.  When the plagues of God shall come upon the earth hail will fall upon the wicked about the weight of a talent." Letter 59, 1895.
 
"Solemn events before us are yet to transpire.  Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth." Maranatha 237, 3 Selected Messages 426.

Traditionally, Adventists have that thee seven seals and seven trumpets of Revelation 6-9 are generally taken to represent events which took place during the Christian era up to 1844. For example, the first four trumpets have traditionally been identified with the pagan invasions of Western Christendom in the 5th century CE (by the Visigoths, Vandals and Huns), while the fifth and sixth trumpets have been identified with the assault on Eastern Christendom by the Muslim armies and Ottoman Turks during the Middle Ages.

A book presenting the historical view of the seven trumpets was written by C. Mervyn Maxwell. In his book, God Cares, Volume II, (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985) Maxwell endorses a historical fulfillment of the seven trumpets as follows:

Trumpet 1 – Fall of Jerusalem A.D. 70

Trumpet 2 – Fall of pagan Rome A.D. 378-476

Trumpet 3 – Corruption of the professed church of Christ 476 - 538

Trumpet 4 – Darkness of the middle ages A.D. 538 - 1299

Trumpet 5 – Mohammedan scourge A.D. 1299 - 1449

Trumpet 6 – Scourges under Turkish control A.D. 1449 - 1840

Trumpet 7 – Terrifying outbreaks of human passion and hate (End-time)

The First Trumpet here however doesnt agree with what James White wrote as he has it after the death of Theodosius, the Roman emperor, in January, 395, and it was "The first sore and heavy judgment which fell on western Rome in its downward course, was the war with the Goths under Alaric, styled by himself, "the scourge of God."


Edited by reddogs - 13 Feb 2010 at 3:02pm
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 2:17pm
James White does a study on the Seven Trumpets of Revelation which seems to agree overall with the historical or the view of the events as already happening to be finished with the final trumpet as seen in his "THE SOUNDING of the SEVEN TRUMPETS of REVELATION 8 AND 9." http://www.adventtimes.com/content/7TRUMPETS.pdf but as I already mentioned the timing of the First Trumpet varies.
 
And I came across a defense of the traditional Adventist view and seems to follow what James White wrote, from the Bible teaching ministry of Loren and Diane Wilson which is very complete:
 
http://www.waymarks.org/prophecies.htm
 


AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SEVEN TRUMPETS

In introducing this subject let us first of all discuss the question. Do the trumpets have a secondary end time application? This view is held by an increasing number of Adventists today. The historic SDA position is that only the seventh trumpet has an end time application. Do the other six trumpets also apply to the time of the end? The following statement is used as authority for this position,

"Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after the other upon the inhabitants of the earth." 3 Selected Messages 426. See also "The Appendix" (1)

On the basis of this statement it is concluded that the trumpets are yet future. What is the answer to this view? There is no hint whatsoever in the above statement that it is an exposition of the prophecy of the 7 trumpets of Revelation. In fact it appears that the term "trumpet" is used in a general sense of a call to battle in the coming crisis of the church. The phrases used in the full Spirit of Prophecy statement certainly confirm this.

"In this last conflict the Captain of the Lord's host is leading on the armies of heaven and mingling in the ranks and fighting our battles for us...We would lose faith and courage in the conflict, if we were not sustained by the power of God.

Every form of evil is to spring into intense activity. Evil angels unite their powers with evil men...they will not yield the last great final contest without a desperate struggle and all the world will be on one side or the other of the question.

The battle of Armageddon will be fought and that day will not find one of us sleeping. The Captain of the Lord's hosts will stand at the head of the angels of heaven to direct the battle ... Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded; vial after vial poured out even after another, on the inhabitants of the earth." 3 Selected Messages 425-426. (2)

The term trumpet is employed as a call to battle, to stand up and be counted in the great conflict before us.

Are the seven trumpets identical with or associated with the seven last plagues? The statement reads, "Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial is to be poured out." Some conclude that if this refers to the seven trumpets then the trumpets are associated with the plagues. This is not necessarily so. The word "vial" does represent a plague, but the expression could refer to other plagues that may fall upon mankind before the close of probation. Already there are evidences of a plague epidemic. The A.I.D.S. disease is even labeled "the wrath of God"! Undoubtedly we will see other epidemics which will be so devastating that the population of the earth could be lowered.

In connection with the 7 trumpets of Revelation, the term plagues is used.

"The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues (or trumpets) yet repented not of the works of their hands" Rev. 9:2O.

The seven trumpets were certainly a type of plague upon the inhabitants in the areas where they applied, but they are not the seven LAST plagues. The seven plagues just prior to the Second Advent are the LAST plagues, indicating that there were other plagues beforehand.
(See
Appendix for another misuse of S.O.P. statement.)

The setting of the trumpets clearly indicates that the first six were fulfilled before 1844 AD. In the introduction to the trumpets an angel offers the prayers of the saints at.the altar of incense in the heavenly temple. This ministry was performed in the first apartment of the sanctuary which continued from Christ's ascension until 1844 when it transferred to the second apartment of the heavenly temple. In the sixth trumpet also, it says,

"I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God." Rev. 9:13.

This is another first apartment scene indicating that the sixth trumpet was taking place during the time when the ministry of Christ was in the first apartment, i.e. before 1844 AD.

But what of the similarities between the trumpets and the plagues?

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN TRUMPETS AND PLAGUES
 
TRUMPETS
PLAGUES
1 Upon the earth Rev.8:7 Upon the earth Rev.16:2
2 Upon the sea Rev.8:8 Upon the sea Rev.16:3
3 Rivers & fount.of waters Rev.8:10 Rivers & fount.of waters Rev.16:4
4 Sun smitten Rev.8:12 Upon the sun Rev.16:8
5 Air darkened Rev.9:2 Darkness Rev.16:1
6 Great River Euphrates Rev.9:14 Great River Euphrates Rev.16:12
7 Mystery of God finished Rev.10:7 "It is done" Rev.16:17
8

Lightnings, voices, thunderings, earthquake, great hail

Rev.11:19

Voices, thunders, lightnings, great earthquake, hail

Rev.16:18

 

On the surface it appears that the trumpets and plagues are identical, and many scholars have drawn this conclusion. However, not only are there similarities, but there are a greater number of differences between the plagues and trumpets, as the following diagram reveals.

THE DIFFERENCES - THEY ARE NOT IDENTICAL

Trumpets
Plagues
  6 symbolic. 1 literal   6 literal. 1 symbolic
1 4 affect 1/3 earth, 'Hail, Fire & Blood 1 'Noisome & grievous sore'
2

1/3 sea to blood, 1/3 creatures die

2 Sea as blood of dead man
3 1/3 waters bitter 3 All drinking water blood
4

1/3 sun, moon, stars smitten, 1/3 day in darkness

4 Sun more active men smitten with fierce heat
5

Smoke from pit darkness, Locusts torment for 5 months

5 Papal kingdom filled with darkness

6 Angel (spirits) loosed from Euphrates. Myriads of horsemen kill 1/3 of men. 6 Euphrates dried up & Evil spirits unite whole world against God.
7 Gospel concluded. events extend to End of Millennium. 7 Gospel concluded events extend to End of Millennium.

 

These differences (and there are many more) show that the trumpets and plagues are entirely separate and distinct. How then shall we interpret the seven trumpets of Revelation? The historic SDA view Is that the first six trumpets apply to the downfall of the Roman Empire and the seventh trumpet refers to the downfall of the whole world when it becomes, as it were, a revived Roman empire under the papacy. The positions currently taught by our leading S.D.A. academic institutions follow those of Dr. Edwin Thiele. Dr. M. Maxwell in "God Cares II" admits the same. (3)

The first trumpet, it is claimed, deals with the destruction of Jerusalem, The second deals with the fall of Western Rome, the third, with the pollution of the gospel by the papacy. The fourth trumpet deals with Christ's heavenly ministry being obscured by a false system of mediation. On the fifth trumpet, their position agrees with the historic SDA view, that it refers to the Arabs. Likewise with the sixth trumpet, that it refers to the Turks. This appears to be the current view concerning the seven trumpets. (4)

Will this modern interpretation stand up under investigation? There are some serious questions concerning it. For example, the first trumpet is applied to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This event occurred 25 years before John began to write Revelation, and when he wrote he was shown "things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1).

Therefore the destruction of Jerusalem would barely come into the picture, because it was already history. The destruction of Jerusalem was a fulfillment of other great predictions made many centuries before. Moses in Deut. 28:49-68 gave a very detailed prediction concerning the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Daniel, in Dan. 9:26 27 predicted the same and Jesus in Matt. 24, Mark 13 and particularly in Luke 21 also predicted that event.

The second point where this interpretation is under question is that in the first trumpet "...all green grass was burnt up." and this it is claimed, symbolized God's people flourishing In righteousness (God Cares II.p. 237). (5) But in the destruction of Jerusalem the Jews were not flourishing in righteousness it was exactly the opposite. They had reached the height of rebellion against God, and they were no longer God's people. Their probation as God's people, had ended in 34 AD.

The third point under question is the third trumpet where it mentions a "...star falling from heaven." and that it represents Satan. In scripture a star represents a leader. While Satan was the leader of the angels, it could refer to another leader in Rev.1:20 the leaders in God's church are likened to stars. Dan. 8:10 indicates the same. In Jude 1:13 apostate leaders are referred to as "wandering stars".

''The stars of heaven are under God's control; he fills them with light; if he did not, they would become fallen stars, so with his ministers." G.W. p 13-14. (6)

A falling star then may not only refer to Satan but to human leaders even religious leaders. We will show that there is another interpretation of the third trumpet that is far more satisfactory.

Another claim that must be questioned is that in the second trumpet a mountain is cast into the sea, and this represents the Gothic invasions that overthrew the Roman empire. (7) But it is only one mountain that is cast into the sea, one kingdom, for a mountain in scripture represents a kingdom, whereas the Gothic barbarians that invaded the Roman Empire and brought it to its end involved at least six different peoples or tribes or kingdoms. Probably ten different peoples or more such as the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Huns, the Vandals, the Suevi the Burgundians, the Heruli and others.

The mountain is cast into the sea - it is connected with the sea, and history is quite clear that only one Gothic power had association with the sea. Again in the third trumpet the falling star, called wormwood, is claimed to represent the polluting of one third of the world by Rome's apostasy of the middle ages. (8) But Rome's apostasy affected almost the whole then known world, not just a third of it. According to Rev. 2:20 even some of God's people were infected with the apostasy.

In the fourth trumpet a third of the sun was darkened etc. which it is claimed represents Christ's heavenly ministry being obscured by the papal priesthood, the counterfeit system of mediation. (9) But the papal counterfeit obscured not just a third of the world of the day but more like nine tenths of it. We believe that we should look for a more satisfactory interpretation of the first four trumpets.

Will the historic SDA view stand up under the microscope of scripture? When we reexamine the Historic Adventist interpretation there are some things we need to consider. Is every item mentioned in the trumpets to be taken as symbolic? It is generally understood that the trumpets are symbolic, but how much is symbolic and how much is literal? In this area there is confusion. Can the symbolic and literal be employed in the one description? Scripture often combines the two. The symbolic and literal are employed together, and it is important to differentiate between the two. For example notice the following psalm.

"Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt and hast cast out the heathen and planted it. Thou preparest room before it and did cause it to take deep root and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it and the boughs thereof ware like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs to the sea and her branches to the river." Ps. 80:8-11.

Here is a combination of symbolic and literal. "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt". "Egypt" is literal and "vine" is a symbol of Israel. "Thou has cast out the heathen" (literal) and planted it" (symbolic). "Though preparest room before it" (literal) and did cause it to take deep root", (symbolic) and, "it filled the land" (literally) "the hills were covered with the shadow of it" (symbolic) and "the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars" (symbolic) "She sent out her boughs" (symbolic) "to the sea" (literal sea Mediterranean) and her branches to the river" (literal Euphrates River). A similar pattern is found in Jer. 3:6; Ez. 27:26; Ezek. 32:6 7 and Hosea 13:15. Therefore it is necessary to determine what is symbolic, and what is literal in the wording of the seven trumpets.

In examining the first six trumpets it appears that generally the initial terms used to describe the trumpet are in symbolic language, while the effects of the trumpet in the first three are expressed in literal terms but in the fourth trumpet they are expressed in symbolic terms. In the fifth and sixth trumpets the initial description again is in symbolic language with one or two exceptions but the explanation of the symbols is in literal, language, except for a couple of points. The effects of the fifth and sixth trumpets are mostly in literal language.

The historic SDA position is not original with them. It has been held by many scholars of yesteryear, prior to 1844. (10)

What does a trumpet represent in prophecy? In scripture the trumpet was employed for four different reasons.

1. To proclaim the various festivals of Israel such as the Sabbath, New Moons, New Year, Holy Convocations and Feasts.

2. To summon Israel to prayer and praise.

3. To proclaim the time of each advance of the camp of Israel in their wilderness journeyings toward the Promised Land. (11)

4. A call to arms, or a warning of an enemy invasion.

The fourth reason appears to be one that applies to the seven trumpets.

A trumpet denotes an invasion of enemy forces. This is made very clear by Jeremiah,

"Blow ye the trumpet in the Land, cry, gather together and say, Assemble yourselves and let us go into the defensed cities." Jeremiah 4:5

It denotes an invasion is imminent, enemy forces are at hand.

"I am pained at my very heart. My heart makes a noise in me, I cannot hold my peace because thou hast heard oh my soul the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war." Jer. 4:19.

The trumpet denotes an alarm of war. The historic Adventist position is that the first six trumpets denote a military invasion against the mighty Roman empire. (12) The seventh trumpet denotes an invasion against this rebel world by Christ and the armies of heaven, when "the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord..."

What evidence do we have that the Roman Empire could be the object of the first six trumpets? This undoubtedly is the crux of the matter. Have SDA's been justified in applying the first six trumpets to the downfall of the Roman empire? We offer the following reasons.

In John's day, when Revelation was written, according to Edward Gibbon, the greatest authority on Rome, "The Roman Empire filled the world." It was a Roman world. John was a prisoner on the isle of Patmos, a victim of Roman oppression. Secondly, the scene of the trumpets is described at least four times, as "the earth", also "the sea", vegetation and waters. What do these represent? Undoubtedly a part of this world. The world of New Testament times, until the fifth century, was the Roman world. In Luke 2:1 it mentions how a decree from Augustus Caesar went forth for "all the world to be taxed". What world? The Roman world.

Secular authors in those years recognized that the world of that day was indeed the Roman world. (Ovid & Dionysius "Horae Apoc." Elliott I p. 359) Sir Isaac Newton the famous scientist, who spent over 40 years in the study of prophecy in commenting on Rev.8:5 and the fire being cast upon the earth, says,

"Such a fire was cast upon the earth, the Roman world, the territorial platform of prophecy " (14)

There is a third reason why the trumpets refer to the Roman world. The first four trumpets are linked together. Likewise the last three. The terms used in the first four trumpets denote invading, destructive, military powers which are employed to punish apostate peoples. What historical drama in history back to the time of John the Revelator meets such a specification? There is only one and that is the downfall of the Roman empire, by the barbarians who swept over Western Rome and ended that empire. The first four trumpets deal with Western Rome, the fifth and sixth deal with Eastern Rome. Notice the telling comment on this point by Dr. Albert Barnes, (the noted Presbyterian scholar of the 1850's)

"There are four of these "trumpets!, and it would be a matter of inquiry whether there were four events of sufficient distinctness that would mark these invasions or that would constitute periods or epochs in the destruction of the Roman power. At this point in writing I looked upon a chart of history, composed with no reference to this prophecy, and found a singular and unexpected prominence given to four such events extending from the first invasion of the Goths and Vandals at the beginning of the fifth century to the fall of the Western empire AD 476.

The first was the invasion of Alaric king of the Goths, AD 410; the second was the invasion of Attila king of the Huns, AD 447; a third was the sack of Rome by Genseric king of the Vandals, and the fourth resulting in the final conquest of Rome, was that of Odoacer king of the Heruli." 'Notes on Revelation 8.' (15)

The fourth point indicating that it was the Roman world, is that the trumpets are described as "...divine judgments on God's professed people in apostasy..." Rev. 9:20 confirms this. Where did apostasy develop in the early christian church? In the Mediterranean world, the Roman world, in the christian church in the Roman empire, and finally it centered in the church at Rome itself.

What political powers and people supported and protected this apostasy? The Roman empire after the Caesars became christian. Were there any other powers or people at that time that could fit this specification? Not one. Therefore the first six trumpets must apply to the Roman empire. Dr. M. Maxwell correctly comments,

"It is noteworthy that the century of disasters (378-476 AD) we have been talking about, befell Rome after she had adopted christianity. The Roman empire had become in a sense an apostate people of God, ripe for experiencing the judgment of God, inflicted by her enemies." God Cares II p 240. (16)

There is another point, as to why this prediction of the 7 trumpets must apply to the Roman empire. Seven times in the five trumpets the "third part" is specified. The third part of what? The only satisfactory application of this point is that is was the third part of the Roman empire. There were a number of divisions in the history of Rome, but there was one in particular that neatly fitted the prediction at this particular time. Three divisions were formed in the time of Constantine. The empire was divided between him, Licinius and Maximin, and these three divisions existed at the time of the barbarian invasions of the empire. No other application of "the third part" satisfactorily fills the prediction.

"In the time of Constantine the Roman empire was divided into three great sections: to Constantine was assigned Gaul, Spain, Britain, Italy, Africa; to Licinius the Illyricum prefecture; to Maximin, the Asiatic provinces and Egypt." Dr. Cumming 'Apocalyptic Sketches' Vol. 2. p63. (17)

"Either Diocletion or after him Constantine, made Illyricum one of the four prefectures ... This prefecture included Pannonia, Noricum, Crete and the entire Balkan peninsular except Thrace, which was attached by Constantine to the prefecture of the East ... The ~le peninsular except Thrace was still known as Illyricum." Encyc. Britt. 1911 Ed. Vol 14 p 326. (18)

"Each one included its third of the Mediterranean or Roman sea, as well as its third of the land: and each one also its characteristic stream of the three great frontier rivers, the Rhine, Danube and Euphrates." 'Horae Apocalypticae' E.B. Elliott. Vol. 1 p 342. (19)

This is a completely satisfactory explanation of "the third part", that is involved in five of the six trumpets.



Edited by reddogs - 13 Feb 2010 at 2:59pm
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 2:21pm

It is significant to notice that other prophets predicted the fall of Rome. In the primary prophecy of Daniel, (after dealing with the first three universal kingdoms) it says of the fourth or iron kingdom, "it shall be divided". Dan. 2:41.

This fourth kingdom was pagan Rome. In the prophecy of the four beasts of Daniel 7 the four kingdoms are again presented and of the fourth or Roman kingdom it says "... the ten horns out of this kingdom (Rome) are ten kings (or kingdoms) that shall arise." Dan. 7:24. The first four trumpets reveal how the ten kingdoms were formed out of the Roman Empire. Maybe this is one of the purposes of the first four trumpets. Jesus Christ also predicted the end of the Roman Empire in connection with old Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles (the Roman Gentiles) until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Luke 21:24. (i.e. The Roman Gentiles.)

The sixth trumpet reveals how the Roman gentiles' empire came to its end in the capture of Constantinople by the Turks. Before that the Arabs under the fifth trumpet, had broken the power of the Roman Gentiles over Jerusalem.

It is informative to recall that the early Christians believed that according to 2 Thess. 2 the Antichrist, or Man of sin, would not appear until after Pagan Rome was removed.

"Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day (the coming of Christ) shal1 not come, except there come a falling away (or apostasy) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all who is called God or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sits in the temple of God (the christian church), showing himself, that he is God." 2 Thess. 2:3-4.

The majority of Protestant scholars through the years have been quite clear that this prediction was fulfilled in the Bishop of Rome. The apostle continues,

"Now you know what withholds (or restrains) that he (the Man of sin) might be revealed in his time."

" ... you know what restrains!" i.e. restrains the Man of sin. "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work only he who now lets (or restrains) will let (or restrain) until he be taken out of the way." V 5-7.

The one who restrained the 'Man of sin', was understood to be Pagan Rome. Is it not true that the papacy, the man of sin, did not come to political power until pagan Rome, gave its power and seat, and great authority to the Papacy by removing its capital from Rome to Constantinople? (Rev. 13:2) The early christians believed that the Roman empire "which filled the world" must end before antichrist would reign. Such an event, being so world shaking, would be of importance to the people of God and therefore it is understandable that the first six trumpets should apply to the downfall of the Roman Empire.

Why (is) the temple scene of Revelation 8 in the introduction to the trumpets?

"I saw seven angels which stood before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given to him much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden alter which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar and cast it into (or upon) the earth: and there were voices and thunders and lightnings and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." Rev. 8:2-6.

It is indisputable that this temple scene is involved with the trumpets. Why much incense? Because there was much prayer from the saints. The prayers of the saints were being heard and as a result, "..the censer is filled with fire and cast into the earth..." V 5. Some conclude that this represents the close of probation but this must be rejected. Why the fire? Fire does two things. It purifies or destroys, purifies or punishes. Here it purifies the prayers of God's saints and punishes the saint's oppressors. it punishes the apostates. "Fire is cast upon the earth..." It represents the judgments of God, the visitations of justice in the form of the trumpets. It is not the close of probation as such, unless it be the close of probation in a local sense of the Roman empire.

The trumpets were God's response to the prayers of the saints. When God answered the much praying of the saints he sent the trumpets upon the earth. Matthew Henry, the elder statesman of Bible commentators wrote,

"These prayers that were thus accepted in heaven, produced great changes upon earth. The same angel with the same censer took the fire of the altar and cast it into the earth and this presently caused strange commotions, voices and lightnings and thunders and an earthquake." Commentary on Revelation 8. (20)

Jameson, Fawcett & Brown, noted Anglican scholars declare,

"The hot coals off the altar, cast on the earth, symbolized God's fiery judgments about to descend on the church's foes in answer to the saints' incense perfumed prayers, which have just ascended before God." Commentary on Revelation 8. (21)

How marvellous is the power of the saints' prayers!

What would challenge the saints to much prayer that could result in the judgments of the trumpets upon the Roman empire? We suggest it was the great apostasy. The "falling away" of 2 Thess. 2 had taken place, "the man of sin" had risen. Constantine had amalgamated church and state, and much of the christian church had been brought to ruin. The true faith was in peril, the majority of christians had gone astray. True believers knew that antichrist would come, that apostasy would arise, and now, staring them in the face throughout the church of the day, was stark idolatry. Saint and martyr worship were flooding the church. We suggest that this is what led to much prayer. The cause of God looked hopeless and no doubt only one resort remained to the saints, and that was prayer and the result of their prayers ascending to the temple was the sending of divine judgments upon the apostasy, in the form of the trumpets.

There is a great lesson here for the saints today, because God's church is also in the midst of apostasy. We also are to send our prayers to the sanctuary making sure that they are purified with the merits of Christ. Maybe the way that God will answer our prayers will be to once again send judgments, but this time, judgments on the church. Maybe the Lord will have to be drastic in order to bring his church into line so that it may receive the latter rain.

"When the judgments of God are in the earth, then will the people learn righteousness." Isa. 26:9.

This is the clear prediction of the Spirit of Prophecy in regard to the church of God in the last days.

In this introduction to the study of the seven trumpets, may the Lord help us to take care, that our interpretations will stand up under the microscope of scripture. Faithfulness to Jesus Christ, involves faithfulness to his word.


VISIGOTHS VANDALS HUNS & HERUL1

The First Four Trumpets of Revelation

An Exposition of Rev. 8:2 13

The seven trumpets of Revelation are introduced by a scene in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. Why are they introduced in this manner? Let us examine the scriptural passage? (1)

"Another angel came and stood at the altar having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar and cast it into [upon] the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." Rev. 8:3-6.

It seems quite clear that the seven trumpets are sent by God in response to the prayers of his people the saints. Much incense is offered, because of the many prayers of the saints. What was it that led to the special prayers of the saints? Without doubt it was the overwhelming apostasy that had come into the church, particularly the church situated within the Roman empire. This apostasy was supported by the authority of Rome, and so in response to the prayers of the saints God visits Western Rome with the first four trumpet judgments, in an endeavor to bring his people back to truth back to loyalty to Christ. The fifth and sixth trumpets we will show, fell on Eastern Rome, the seventh trumpet falls on the whole world when it becomes Roman again Rome revived when "all the world wonders after the beast". (Rev. 13:3)

 

THE FIRST TRUMPET

"The first angel sounded and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood. And they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up and all green grass was burnt up." Rev. 8:7

The language suggests a violent hailstorm. What does a hailstorm represent in prophecy? The Old Testament, on which Revelation is based gives the clue. In describing the invasion of the Assyrians into the land of Israel, the prophet declares,

"Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and a strong one, which, as a tempest of tail and destroying storm, as a flood of mighty, waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand." Isa. 28:2

The prophet in describing the Assyrian invasion likens it to a mighty hailstorm. Again, in describing the invasion of Gog and Magog, the prophet Ezekiel says,

"Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land. Thou and all thy bands and many people with thee." Ezek. 38:9

We can safely conclude that a storm such as described in the first trumpet, denotes a military invasion. The description in the symbol indicates that it is an invasion from the North. Hailstorms that fell upon Roman territory always came from the North, so this suggests that this invasion would be from the Northerly regions. The symbolism also suggests the destruction of the countryside for "the third part of trees was burnt up and all green grass". This indicates that forests, pastures and crops would be destroyed by the invasion. Thirdly it has "hail and fire mingled with blood" denoting carnage or the slaughter both of beast and people.

The prediction says "a third". "One third of the trees, and all green grass." The "third", that is mentioned throughout the trumpets applies to a third part of the Roman empire. (2) From the time of Constantine, there were three divisions of the Empire, the East, the West and the central section called Illyricum which comprised the Balkan Peninsular, except Thrace, right up to what we would now call Southern Austria.

Is there any evidence in history of a military invasion of one of the divisions of the Roman Empire that meets the specifications of this first trumpet? Yes there is. The man who fulfilled it, was Alaric the leader of the Visigoths a branch of the Gothic peoples from which most Europeans are descended. They came from the Northeast of Europe, around the Baltic, where they were pressed by other peoples migrating from the East. The Goths began to move towards the warmer climate of the Roman empire. Thousands had settled in Illyricum (the third part of the Empire which now involves Yugoslavia) where they were employed as mercenaries by the Romans to help defend the frontiers.

Alaric led the Goths into Greece and ravaged the countryside. The emperor of East Rome in order to pacify Alaric, made him the military general of the whole of Illyricum. Alaric took advantage of this and spent the next four years in preparation for the invasion of Western Rome. This began about 395 A.D. and the records of historians show that Alaric and the Visigoths abundantly fulfilled the specifications of the first trumpet. Notice the description by Edward Gibbon (perhaps the greatest authority on the fall of the Roman Empire) in his famous history, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." This man was not a christian, he was a sceptic and he has been called, "The Unconscious Commentator of the Apocalypse", because when he penned the events that brought about the fall of Rome, he uses almost the identical language of the Revelator in his description of the trumpets of Revelation. In a remarkable manner he shows how these trumpets met their fulfillment. Of the invasion of Alaric and the Visigoths, he writes,

Valens [ the Roman Emperor] "was informed that the North was agitated by a furious tempest." (3)

"A furious tempest was excited among the nations of Germany." (4)

Again.

"A formidable tempest of the barbarians of Germany seemed ready to burst over the provinces of Gaul.'' (5)

Again,

"The Gothic nation [ 395 A.D. ] was in arms ... deserted their farm at the first sound of the trumpet ... The barriers of the Danube were thrown open, the savage warriors of Saythia issued from their forests ... directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric... the whole territory was blasted by his baleful presence;... flaming villages... the deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths. " (6)

"A victorious leader, who united the daring spirit of a barbarian, with the art and discipline of a Roman general, was at the head of an hundred thousand fighting men; and Italy pronounced, with terror and respect the formidable name of Alaric." (7)

The prediction said that "the third part of trees and all green grass was burnt up". Gibbon relates how an old poet called Claudian of Verona bewailed the destruction of his trees, revealing how this prediction was fulfilled to the very letter. Gibbon says,

"His trees, his old contemporary trees must blaze in the conflagration of the whole country." (8)

Isn't that remarkable? This gives us a glimpse of the destruction of forest, crops and grass etc. Again,

"The... dark cloud which was collected along the coast of the Baltic burst in thunder upon the banks of the upper Danube." (9) This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of men ... the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul, that rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps and Pyrenees, was delivered to the Barbarians." (10)

This was the description of the Gothic invasion by the unconscious commentator of the Apocalypse. Three times Alaric invaded Italy. One commentator says.

"Alaric's course was to Italy, as he told an Italian monk He felt a secret and preternatural impulse which directed and even impelled his march to the gates of Rome. As his trumpet sounded and his march advanced, terrible omens and prognostications preceded him. "The christian " says Gibbon, "derived comfort from the powerful intercession of the saints and martyrs." [This reveals the apostasy of the christian ] Thrice, in fulfillment of his destiny, he descended from the Alps onto the Italian plain , marking his course at each step as the awe struck historians of the times tell us, in country and in town with ravage, conflagration and blood, till the gates of Rome itself were opened to the conqueror and the Gothic fires blazed around the capitol." (11)

In fulfilling the first trumpet, it is significant to notice that Alaric possessed a powerful conviction, that he was divinely led to destroy Rome. This was recognized by the people of the day. When Alaric was intercepted by an Italian monk with a plea to spare the city of Rome, Alaric assured him that "he did not feel disposed to commence the siege, but found himself compelled by some hidden and irresistible impulse to accomplish the enterprise". (12)

Click on the map below for a larger, higher resolution map.

Gibbon's remarks reveal that Alaric's invasion and sack of Rome dealt a deadly blow to the Roman Empire.

"The king of the Goths... advanced with unabated vigour and ... he pitched his camp under the walls of Rome." (13)

"During a period of six hundred and nineteen years, the seat of empire had never been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy" (14)

"At the hour of midnight ... the inhabitants [of Rome] were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of the Germany and Scythia. " (15)

"This awful catastrophe of Rome, filled the astonished empire with grief and terror." (16)

 

THE SECOND TRUMPET

"And the second angel sounded and as It were, a great mountain burning with fire, was cast into the sea. And the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; And the third part of the ships were destroyed." Rev. 8:8

This symbolism suggests a power connected with the sea an invasion by a sea power likened to a burning mountain. What does a mountain represent in prophecy? Scripture is clear that a mountain represents a kingdom.

"I am against thee O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroys all the earth, I will make thee a burnt mountain." Jere. 51:25.

This was alluding to the kingdom of Babylon that had conquered the world of that day and the prophet describes it as a "destroying mountain". The kingdom of God is also likened to a mountain in Dan. 2:35- 44. So we now ask: What kingdom invaded the Roman Empire Western Rome which was a sea power? History tells us that there was only one Gothic power involved in the downfall of Rome that was associated with the sea and that was the naval power of the Vandals. The Vandals were one of the Gothic tribes that migrated from Northwestern Europe at the same time as the Visigoths.

In one invasion of Italy under a leader named Radagaisus, hundreds of thousands of Vandals, Burgundians and Suevi, besieged the city of Florence. When Radagaisus was killed, the Vandals, Burgundians and Suevi withdrew and passed on into Southern France. There the Burgundian division of these Goths settled and formed the kingdom of Burgundy. The rest of the Goths continued on into Spain the Suevi then separated and settled in Northwestern Spain, forming the kingdom of the Suevi which is now Portugal. The' remainder of the Goths the Vandals continued on to Gibraltar, crossed the straits, and entered Northern Africa. There they established themselves with their capital at the site of ancient Carthage. Their leader was a man called Genseric. He was a christian and under him, the Vandals also became christians holding to the Arian faith. This faith was in conflict with the apostate Catholic Church. The Vandals developed into a strong kingdom. They could not extend southwards because of the desert so they turned towards the sea. They built a strong navy and began to ravage the coasts of the Mediterranean. Historians declare that, being anti Catholic, the Vandals attacked the Catholic centers, especially Western Rome.

"The Vandals were unique among the German nations by the fact that they maintained a fleet." (17)

The second trumpet symbolism suggested an invasion associated with the sea. "The third part of the sea became blood and the third part of creatures in the sea died and the third part of ships were destroyed." The Vandals fulfilled this prediction completely. Africa was lost to the Empire of Rome. As Semondie says,

"The loss of Africa was perhaps one of the greatest calamities which could have overtaken the Western Empire." (18)

Africa was the grainery of Rome so the loss of Africa meant the loss of a main source of Rome's food supply. Gibbon in describing the attacks upon Western Rome by the Vandals declares,

''The loss or desolation of the provinces from the ocean to the Alps impaired the glory and greatness of Rome. Her internal prosperity was irretrievably destroyed by the separation of Africa… after an interval of six centuries the fleets that issued from the ports of Carthage again claimed the empire of the Mediterranean." (19)

It was from Carthage, 600 years before, where the Phoenicians had settled that they attacked Imperial Rome under their leader Hannibal. Once again from Carthage, came the Vandals under Genseric, attacking Western Rome and particularly the centers of the Catholic Church, where apostasy flourished. Gibbon continues,

"The Vandals repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epiraeus, Greece and Sicily. They were tempted to subdue the island of Sardinia so advantageously placed in the center of the Mediterranean and their arms spread desolation or terror from the Columns of Hercules to the mouth of the Nile." (20)

It is a significant point that Genseric, like Alaric the Visigoth, believed himself to be an agent of divine wrath. Thomas Hogkin declares:

"The fleets... became under Genseric's guidance, the first naval power on the Mediterranean.. At length the work [of ravaging the coast] became almost monotonous and die choice of a victim hard. Once, when the fleet had weighed anchor and was sailing forth from the broad harbor of Carthage die helmsman turned to the king and asked for what part he should steer. "For the Men with whom God is angry", answered the Vandal king and left the winds and the waters to settle the question who were the proper objects of the wrath of heaven." (21)

Finally the emperor of Eastern Rome combined with Western Rome to build a gigantic fleet in order to destroy the Vandal power. This Roman fleet was twice destroyed by fire of the Vandals, and maybe this is the fulfillment of the prediction in the trumpet, "the third part of the creatures in the sea died and the third part of ships were destroyed". The destruction by the Vandals was quite fantastic. (22) Previously Genseric even sailed up the Tiber and sacked the city of Rome. Amongst the treasure that he took from that city were the golden candlestick and the golden table and other items that Titus had captured from the temple at Jerusalem. When the Vandal fleet was returning to Carthage there rose a great storm and one ship only, submerged beneath the ocean. It was the ship carrying the golden candlestick and the sacred vessels which originally had come from the temple of God in Jerusalem. (23)

Without doubt the Vandals fulfilled the second trumpet.

The Vandals being of the Arian faith and in deadly opposition to the church of Rome, finally were confronted by the powerful Roman emperor, the Catholic Justinian. Under Balisarius, he sent an effective army to Africa where the Vandals were (located).

"In 533 the Byzantine general, Belisarius, landed in Africa. The Vandals were several times defeated and Carthage was entered and ... the same year they were routed in the decisive battle of Tricameron. In the next year Africa, Sardinia and Corsica were restored to the Roman Empire. As a nation, the Vandals soon ceased to exist..." (24)

"...There are few instances in history of a nation disappearing so rapidly and so completely as the Vandals of Africa." (25)

Click on the map below for a larger, higher resolution map.

"It is reckoned that during the reign of Justinian [the emperor of Eastern Rome] Africa lost 5 millions of inhabitants; thus Arianism was extinguished in that region, not by any enforcement of conformity but by the extermination of the race which had introduced and professed it." (26)

 

THE THIRD TRUMPET

We now come to the third trumpet that helped terminate the reign of Rome.

"The third angel sounded and there fell a great star from heaven burning as it were a lamp and it fell on a third part of the rivers and the fountains of waters and the name of the star is called wormwood and the third part of the waters became wormwood and many men died of the waters because they were made bitter." Rev. 8:10.

The great star from heaven is undoubtedly a meteor and it falls upon the third part of rivers and fountains of waters i.e. a third part of the Roman Empire Western Rome. In scripture a star represents a leader, a falling star can represent an apostate leader (Jude 14). We look therefore for some powerful leader who invaded the Roman Empire and brought great bitterness to the peoples of a particular area. The area is described as "a third part of the rivers and fountains of waters". This would be the areas where the rivers commence the alpine regions. Does history tell of an invasion that fulfills this specification? Yes! This was abundantly fulfilled by Attila with his multiplied thousands of Huns who invaded the Roman Empire in 450 A.D. In describing them the historian uses almost the identical language of the prophet.

"...after a short space of time, as Corrosions relates, the race of the Huns, fiercer than ferocity itself, flamed forth." (27)

Notice the expression, "flamed forth", reminding one of a blazing meteor.

"The rise of the great Hunnic power which threatened European civilization in the fifth century was as sudden and rapid as its fall." (28)

"This invasion is the most celebrated in our people's discourses, of all those which the barbarians have made upon us; and is the most talked of among the vulgar [or common people] ... and now all the countries which were within the Apennine mountains and the Alps, were full of flight, of depopulation, of slaughter, of slavery, of burning and despair." (29)

Such a description perfectly fits the symbolism of the third trumpet. Attila called himself "the scourge of God, and the terror of men". As Creasy declares,

"Not merely the degenerate Romans, but the bold and hardy warriors of Germany and Scandinavia, were appalled at the numbers, the ferocity, the ghastly appearance, and the lightning like rapidity of the Huns... His own warriors believed Attila, to be the inspired favorite of their deities and followed him with fanatic zeal. His enemies looked at him as the preappointed minister of Heaven's wrath against themselves."

"...during the retreat from Orleans a christian hermit is reported to 'have approached the Hunnish king and said to him, "Thou art the scourge of God for the chastisement of the christians".

... Attila instantly assumed this new title of terror which henceforth became the appellation by which he was widely and most fearfully known." (30)

"In the reign of Attila, the Huns again became the terror of the world; ... that formidable Barbarian who alternately insulted and invaded the East and the West, and urged the rapid downfall of the Roman empire." (31)

Click on the map below for a larger, higher resolution map.

One of the great battles that Creasy lists, was the battle of Challons in Northern France. Here 700,000 Huns under Attila met the Romans and Visigoths who had combined to meet Attila. On that battlefield Attila and his Huns were repulsed. It was a terrible battle with staggering slaughter. (32) .Attila was not wholly defeated but he retreated to the mountain regions, to "the rivers and fountains of waters", just as the prophecy had stated. There he reigned supreme. Later he returned to his capital and died of apoplexy.

The Huns had spread over all of Eastern Europe, where they were irresistible. They even invaded China and Media north of Persia giving an idea of the tremendous extent of their conquests. After the death of Attila they began to withdraw from Europe and return to the east, but a remnant remained in what we now call Hungary. Thus the third trumpet was faithfully fulfilled in the terrifying invasion of Attila and his Huns.

THE FOURTH TRUMPET

"And the fourth angel sounded and the third part of the sun was smitten and the third part of the moon and the third part of the stars so as a third part of then were darkened and the day shone not for a third part of it and the night likewise." Rev. 8:12.

The symbolism of this trumpet is the most difficult of the seven. "The third part of the sun." This undoubtedly is symbolic. It could not be referring to the literal sun because a third part of that would have no significance. What would the sun, moon and stars represent In the Roman Empire? "The third part" would apply to Western Rome. Undoubtedly they refer to the leading lights or rulers of Western Rome. How was Rome ruled? How many bodies comprised its government? There were three exactly three the emperor, the consuls and the senate. The Revelator likens them to the sun, moon and stars The emperor the sun. The consul the moon, and the senate the stars. Under this fourth trumpet these ruling powers are put out of action bringing civil darkness over the third part of the empire. There is no leading Roman light, no ruling Roman power.

This prediction was fulfilled by the invasion of a Gothic people called the Heruli under their leader named Odoacer. They had been associated with Attila and his Huns and were left behind when Attila retired to the East. The Heruli invaded Italy in 476 A.D. and Odoacer gave orders that the office of the emperor of Western Rome be abolished. In response the reigning emperor abdicated and Odoacer was made king of Italy.

"Odoacer was the first Barbarian who reigned in Italy, over a people who had once asserted their just superiority over the rest of mankind. The disgrace of the Romans still excites our respectful compassion..." (33)

But what of the moon and the stars? The consulship represented by the moon was abolished in 541 A.D. (34) and in 553 A.D. the Roman senate represented by the stars, resigned because it was so powerless. (35) Thus terminated the rule of the leading lights of Western Rome. Under the fourth trumpet it all ended. Western Rome had come to her end. As Saint Jerome declared when he saw that Rome was to fall.

"The world's glorious sun has been extinguished.''

As the English poet Byron, in describing the same event wrote,

'She saw her glories star by star expire." (36)

This we believe meets the symbolism of the fourth trumpet.

What was the reason for the fall of the Roman Empire? Historians give many reasons. Rome had ruled the world for 644 years. Undoubtedly the main cause of Rome's downfall was internal corruption. She disintegrated from within. This is the inevitable outcome of almost anything that is connected with the human race. Man is possessed of a fallen nature and most things connected with man ultimately disintegrate.

Click on the map below for a larger, higher resolution map.

This is one of the lessons of history - civilizations finally disintegrate. This is the significance of the second chapter of Daniel. The image commences with the gold, and the successive metals representing the various kingdoms are all of inferior quality the silver, brass, iron and finally clay. This tells us that the kingdoms of men, being comprised of human nature degenerate and disintegrate.

The iron kingdom of Rome as the prediction stated in Daniel two, "would be divided". Maybe one of the purposes of the trumpets is to show how Rome was divided, how the "ten toes" of the image the kingdoms of Europe were established. Europe was to play an important part in the conflict between good and evil throughout the Christian era and especially in the End Time.

If it were true that Rome's downfall was due to internal corruption, how is this explained in the light of the fact that the empire had become Christian? The moral influence of the Christian faith should have stemmed the tide of corruption.

The answer is that the Christian church in the empire, had itself become corrupt. The ninth chapter of Revelation reveals that in spite of the judgment of the first six trumpets upon the apostate people of the empire, they continued in their downward course.

"The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues [or trumpets], repented not of the works of their hands that they should not worship devils and idols of gold, silver and brass and stone and of wood which cannot see, nor hear nor walk neither repented they of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their fornication or of their thefts." Rev. 9:20.

These sins were exactly the ones that were perpetrated by the apostate christians of the Roman Empire. It is understandable why the trumpets were sent as visitations of divine judgment. It is recognized that when corruption is under the guise of religion, it is the worst kind of corruption and this is of significance to Christians today. Falsehood, hypocrisy and corruption always receive the frown of heaven even though they may be under the guise of religion. In fact this makes sin all the more offensive to God and he does not pass it by. The following counsel is worthy of note.

"He would teach his people that disobedience and sin are exceedingly offensive to him and are not to be lightly regarded. His from may rest upon them all, if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions. His frown will be upon them, and the people of God as a body will be held responsible for those sins. In his dealings with his people in the past, the Lord shows the necessity of purifying the church from wrongs. One sinner may diffuse darkness that may exclude the light of God from the entire congregation.

If wrongs are apparent among his people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner and are alike guilty, and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God, for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty.

Those who have excused those wrongs wrought by the people are shown to be very amiable and lovely in disposition simply because they shun to discharge the very plain scriptural duty. The task was not very agreeable to their feelings and therefore they avoided it...

The true people of God who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real sinful character. They will always be on the side of faithful and plain dealing with sin which easily beset the people of God, especially in the closing work of the church." 5 T. 365-66. (37)

When there is corruption and apostasy in His church, God will not pass it by but rather He will permit judgments to come upon the church in an endeavor to purify it and bring those in apostasy back to the faith. This we suggest was the fundamental purpose of the trumpets.

 

APPENDIX

Another S.O.P. statement which refers to Trumpets is found in a diary entry of 1895, in which a violent windstorm reminded God's servant of the judgments of God in the seven last plagues.

"Terrible are the judgments God revealed. The seven angels stood before God to receive their commission. To them were given seven trumpets. The lord was going forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity and the earth was to disclose her blood and no more cover her slain." M.S. 59. (Diary)

Is the above statement an explanation or comment on the prophecy of the 7 trumpets of Rev. 8-9. There is no suggestion that it is. The prophet is borrowing the descriptive language of scripture and using it out of context to describe the 7 last plagues. This is termed the homiletic use of scripture, using it out of context to describe a given situation. Such a use is recognized as permissible in preaching and writing.

The wording of Rev. 8 which the S.O.P. borrows is very fitting in describing the plagues because there are also 7 angels involved and the plagues form a part of God's controversy with the unsaved and trumpets are symbolic of war or invasions etc.

To take a scriptural term from a diary entry, used homiletically, out of context, and employ it as authority for a new application of the 7 trumpets is most unfortunate. The evidence for the fulfillment of the 7 trumpets as espoused by godly scholars of the Past and by S.D.A.'s is so overwhelming, that an undermining of that interpretation should not be taken lightly. Today uninformed statements are being widely published, that the historic interpretations of prophecy as promulgated by S.D.A.'s are deficient and inaccurate. This is misleading and causes confusion. This is confirmed by the S.O.P.

"The great waymarks of truth showing us our bearings in prophetic history, are to be carefully guarded, lest they be torn down and replaced with theories that would bring confusion rather than genuine light... Some will take the truth applicable to their time, and place it in the future. Events in the train of prophecy that had their fulfillment away in the past are made future and thus by, these theories, the faith of some is undermined." E.G.White Vol. 2 Selected Messages pp 101-102

 



Edited by reddogs - 13 Feb 2010 at 2:23pm
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 2:26pm

An Exposition of the Fifth Trumpet of Rev. 9:l-ll

 

"And the fifth angel sounded and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 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. 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. And it was commanded that they should not hurt the grass of the earth nor any green thing, neither any tree but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 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 strikes a man. And in those days shall men seek death and shall not find it; and shall desire to die and death shall flee from them And the shapes of the locusts were like to horses prepared to battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like to scorpions and there were stings m their tails: 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" Rev.9:1-11.

The fifth trumpet is referred to as the first of the "three woe trumpets". It commences with a star falling from heaven to the earth. In scripture, a star denotes a leader. (l) In this prediction it is a falling star, and a falling star represents an apostate religious leader. (2) Some claim that the falling star represents Satan, but Satan fell centuries before this. (3) It is true that Jesus Christ saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven but Satan's latest fall was at the crucifixion of Christ. (4) The fourth trumpet that brought the end to Western Rome was in 476 A.D. In the third trumpet there was also a falling star, a meteor - representing Attila and his Huns. (5)-The falling star of the fifth trumpet must be another earthly leader, an apostate leader, who appears after the fourth trumpet. 476 A.D.

Let us examine the details of the prediction so that this fallen star can be identified.

"TO HIM WAS GIVEN THE KEY OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT."

What is the bottomless pit or abyss as given in the Greek? This term is used seven times in the book of Revelation. (6). It is used in a symbolic sense. In Revelation 11 it describes the region from which the beast emerges to attack the two witnesses. The abyss is also used of the power' in Rev.17 when it comes back, as it were, from death, after receiving its deadly wound, when "it was not". In Rev.20 it is used twice to describe the earth when it becomes a vast worldwide prison house for Satan for a 1000 years. In most places where it is used, it represents the place of death and the domain of Satan. In Rom.10:7 the word "deep" [Greek: abyss] is also used to describe the grave or the place of death. Who is it that reigns in the region of the grave in the domain of death? It is Satan. The abyss, many scholars believe, is a term describing the arsenal or stronghold of Satan. Any power emerging from the abyss is inspired by him. In the book of Revelation, powers inspired of God are represented as "coming from above", but powers inspired by Satan are represented as "coming from beneath", from the sea, from the earth, from the abyss. (7)

This leader in the fifth trumpet has the key to the abyss - the arsenal of Satan. What does the key represent? It represents power or authority - the ability to unlock, to free, or release. What does he release? He releases smoke that darkens the sun and air. The sun of course represents Christ the light of the world. It also represents truth. Under this trumpet a leader is given the key to release from the arsenal of Satan, falsehood and error that would darken the light of the gospel - that would obscure Jesus Christ the Light of the world. These points give us a clue as to where to search for the fulfillment of this prediction.

"THERE CAME OUT OF THE SMOKE LOCUSTS UPON THE EARTH."

These locusts are undoubtedly symbolic. In this trumpet there are a number of symbolic creatures - at least four: the locust, the horse, the lion, and the scorpion. It is significant to notice that these four creatures in their natural habitat are Arabian. (8) "The zoology of the hieroglyphic," [or symbol] as one scholar says, "is all Arabian.". (9). This is a further clue in identifying the power represented in the trumpet. The Bible employs the locust as a symbol of the Arab. Speaking of-the Midianite Arabs it says,

"They came as grasshoppers [or locusts] for multitude." Judges 6:5
[The original word is "locusts!']

Midianites and the Amalekites (Arab tribes] ... lay along the valley like grasshoppers or [locusts] for multitude." Judges 7:12

Notice the statement by Forster, concerning the Arabs.

"In the Bedoween Romance of Antar the locust is introduced as the national emblem of the Ishmaelites." 'Mahommedanism Unveiled.'- Vol. 1. 217. (10).

Who are the Ishmaelites ? They are one of the greatest tribes of the Arab people. There are other evidences that the prediction concerns the Arab peoples. It is recognized that the home of the locust is Arabia. In describing one of the plagues that smote Egypt in the days of Moses, the scripture says,

"... the east wind brought the locusts." Exod.10:13.

The country east of Egypt is Arabia and secular authorities are very clear that Arabia is the home of the locusts. Edward Gibbon quoting Volney, "the most judicious of our Syrian travelers" declared,

"The inhabitants of Syria have remarked that locusts come constantly from the desert of Arabia.". (11)

The word "Arab" and "locust" in Arabic are very similar in sound. The word Arab is pronounced "Arbi" and the word locust, "Arbeh". (12) A famous traveler of last century named Niebuhr in his journeys through Arabia described the appearance of the swarms of locusts that afflict that particular area of the world.

"The swarms of these insects darken the air and appear at a distance like clouds of smoke." 'Travels' Vol. II. p 337. (13).

This description harmonizes with the picture presented in the fifth trumpet where smoke emerges from the bottomless pit.

After the fall of Western Rome in 476 A.D. [i.e. after the first four trumpets] did a falling star, a leader of false religion, arise in Arabia and obscure the Christian faith and bring torment to a significant proportion of mankind ? The answer is yes! only one event fulfills it and to the very letter. It was the rise of Mohomed and the Islam or Moslem religion. A historian of the near East, without a thought of this Bible prediction, when he described the rise of Mohomet ,used language very similar to that of the fifth trumpet. Writing of the inspirer of the desert tribes of Arabia he declared,

" ... at that juncture however, like a meteorite from the blue came into the world a new religion, a religion primarily of power and not of love, a militant fanaticism appealing to the evil which lies in men, and only partly to the good"
William S. Davis. 'A Short History of the Near East.' P100
(14)

Authorities have recognised that the religion of Mohomet was the key that opened the abyss, as it were, and set the Arabs in motion. Gibbon said,

"The Arabs had languished in poverty and contempt, till Mohomet breathed into those savage hordes the soul of enthusiasm."
Edward Gibbon. 'Decline & Fall.'
(15).

'There broke out among the nations of Asia that mighty conflagration whose flames were scattered over the terrified globe by the sons of the desert, guided by their new prophet of unbelief." Schlegel. 'The Philosophy of History.- (16).

Notice that! He likens the Arab invasion to "a mighty conflagration". The Revelator speaks of it as "'the smoke of a great furnace". Professor Davis speaking of the onset of the Arabs says,

"The Persian war ended in 628 A.D. Five later the cloud of Saracenic [or Arab] invasion rolled northward from the Arabian deserts."
'A Short History of the Near,East.' p 32.
(17).

Sir William Muir also in his classic history says of the Arab armies,

"Onward and still onward like swarms from the hive, or flights of locusts darkening the land, tribe after tribe issued forth and hastening northward spread in great masses to the east and to the west." Sir William Muir. 'The Caliphate.' p 144. (18).

Upham in his history says,

"The Persian Empire soon attracted the arms of 'these locusts' as the swarms of the Saracens were not inaptly called." Edward Upham. 'The Ottoman Empire.' Vol.I. p 40. (19).

Historians repeatedly confirm the application of the locusts to the Arabs and their religion. The prediction states that

"...TO HIM WAS GIVEN THE KEY OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT." (or abyss]

Did Mohomet actually possess a key? It is significant to notice that Peyron in his essay on this question says,

"The Koran [ the Moslem Bible) continually speaks of the key of God which opened to them the gates of the world and of religion. So in the Koran, 'Did not God give to his legate [Mohomet] the power of heaven which is above and fire which is beneath? With the key, did he not give him the title and power of a porter, that he may open to those whom he shall have chosen ?'" Peyron's Essais Sur I'Espagne. (20).

Cambridge Professor E.B. Elliott says that whenever a convert from the Moslem religion was accepted into the faith of the Greek church, he had to state his rejection of Mohomet's "pretended key of heaven". (Commentary on Rev.9) (21). So in harmony with the symbolism of the trumpet Mohomet did have a key.

This leads to the question: from whence did Mohomet obtain his inspiration for his religion? This is extremely important because so many today would believe that one religion is as good as another, and that all religions lead to the same end. Is the Moslem religion from beneath or is it from above? Let us quote from Gibbon. In describing the inspiration that Mohomet received, he says,

"Each year during the month of Ramadan, he would withdraw from the world and …in the cave of Hera, three miles from Mecca, he consulted the spirit of fraud or enthusiasm whose abode is not in the heaven, but in the mind of the prophet."
Edward Gibbon. 'Decline & Fall.' Vol V. p 396-397.
(22).

Edward Gibbon was a sceptic, an unbeliever and that makes his history so much more authoritative, he was actually biased against the Bible. Mohomet's constant claim was that the angel Gabriel was his instructor. Mohomet certainly had a superhuman inspiration, but it could not have been divine. The only other alternative is that he was inspired by occult powers. It is the practice of these intelligences to impersonate others in order to deceive.

The prophecy states that,

"THEY [the Arabs] HAD A KING OVER THEM WHICH IS THE ANGEL OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT, WHOSE NAME IN THE HEBREW TONGUE IS 'ABADDON'."
[OR DESTROYER]. Rev.9:11.

Who is the invisible king of the abyss - the stronghold of Satan? Lucifer is the angel of the abyss! The prophet Isaiah reveals Lucifer as the great destroyer.(23).Thus the first king is Satan but there is probably a second king, a visible leader and that was Mohomet! If anyone was inspired by Lucifer undoubtedly it was Mohomet as we will soon show. Mohomet in turn, inspired Arabia to conquer and destroy and in the first ten years of Omar's reign who was the second successor of Mohomet,

"The Saracens reduced 36,000 cities or castles, destroyed 4,000 churches and built 1,400 mosques (24)

As Gibbon records,

'Mohomet was alike instructed to preach and to fight, and the union of these opposite qualities... contributed to his success: his voice invited the Arabs to freedom and victory, to arms and rapine, to the indulgence of their darling passions, in this world and the next."
Gibbon Vol.V. p 466.
(25)

The more we learn concerning the Moslem religion, the more we realise that it is a religion that has a terrific appeal to the carnal heart. On this ground the Moslem religion cannot be from above. It must be from beneath. Gibbon continues,

"...From all sides the roving Arabs were allured to the standard of religion and plunder, the apostle sanctified the license of embracing the female captives as their wives or concubines... 'The sword [says Mohomet] is the key of heaven and of hell. A drop of blood shed in the cause of God, a night spent in arms is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer. Whosoever falls in battle his sins are forgiven. At the day of judgement his wounds shall be resplendid as vermillion and odoriferous as musk and the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by angels and cherubim.' The intrepid souls of the Arabs were fired with enthusiasm: the picture of the invisible world was strongly painted on their imagination; and the death which they had always despised became an object of hope and desire.. The Koran inculcates in the most absolute sense the tenets of fate and predestination.. The practical result was the inspiration of a magnificent but terrible courage. Arab warriors went into battle convinced that their lifespan was so definitely determined that whether they stayed at home or went to the fight, their fate would surely overtake them..."

'The warrior who dies in battle is sure of paradise the first companions of Mohomet advanced to battle with a fearless confidence; there is no danger where there is no chance: they were ordained to perish in their beds; or they were safe and invulnerable amidst the darts of the enemy…"

"The temper of a people thus armed against mankind was doubly inflamed by the domestic license of rapine, murder and revenge. (26)

The Moslem heaven that was promised to them was a paradise of sexual and intellectual pleasure.

"Seventy-two black eyed girls of resplendent beauty, blooming youth, virgin purity, and exquisite sensibility, will be created for the use of the meanest believer; a moment of pleasure will be prolonged to a thousand years, and his faculties will be increased an hundred fold, to render him worthy of his felicity. (27)

This was the carnal appeal of this Satanic religion that inspired those savage Arabs to burst forth in conquest of the Roman Empire. As Professor Davis says,

"Like a meteorite from the blue there came into the world a new religion, a religion primarily of power, and not of love, a militant fanaticism appealing partly to the evil which lies in men, and only partly to the good." (28)

Competent scholars of the past have recognized that the fifth trumpet fits only one power and that is the Arabian Empire that rose in the 7th century A.D. Dr. Albert Barnes, that famous Presbyterian commentator says,

"With surprising unanimity commentators have agreed in regarding this trumpet as referring to the empire of the Saracens, or the rise and progress of the religion and empire, set up by Mohomet. (24).


"THE SHAPES OF THE LOCUSTS WERE LIKE UNTO HORSES PREPARED UNTO BATTLE"

When one examines the locust of Arabia he will soon see that they literally look like little horses. In fact the Bedouins describe them as "soldiers' horses". The old Italians called them Cavaletta, which means "little horses".

The locust is used in scripture to denote swarming numbers, and this was a neat symbol of the amazing numbers of the Arabs as they swarmed out of the desert in conquest. The prophet said,

"Make thyself many as the locusts." Nah.3:5

"They came as the grasshoppers [or locusts] for multitude."
Judges 6:5.

The Arab tribes issuing from Arabia with their great speed, far ranging and irresistible progress, were fittingly symbolized by the swarms of locusts.

The Arab warriors are likened to "horses prepared for battle". This also is a true picture of the type of military force that was used by the Arabs in their method of attack. Edward Gibbon says,

"I shall here observe what I must often repeat, that the charge of the Arabs was not like that of the Greeks and Romans, the effort of a firm and compact infantry: their military force was chiefly formed of cavalry and archers." (30).

"THEY HAD BREASTPLATES OF IRON."

Three Arab authorities confirm the fact that the Saracen warriors wore iron breastplates. (31).

"THE SOUND OF THEIR WINGS WAS AS THE SOUND OF CHARIOTS OF MANY HORSES RUSHING TO BATTLE." V 9.

This correctly describes a locust invasion. When locusts swarm out into the countryside their sound is similar to that of chariots charging to battle. This aptly describes an Arab army of cavalry rushing into battle for which they were so famous and by which such great terror was brought to the world of the day.

"ON THEIR HEADS WERE AS IT WERE CROWNS LIKE GOLD." V 7

This may refer to their colour. It is interesting to notice that the prophet Ezekiel in speaking of the Sabean Arabs says,

"The Sabeans from the wilderness which put beautiful crowns upon their heads." Ezek.23:42.

What were these crowns? An Arabian proverb tells that God had bestowed four peculiar things upon the Arabs:

19. Their turbans should be to them instead of diadems.
20. Their tents instead of walls and houses.
21. Their swords instead of entrenchments.
22. Their poems instead of written laws.
(32)

Niebuhr the Eastern traveller describes the turbans of the wealthy Arabs. He says,

"The Arabs wear fifteen caps, one over the other... that which covers all the rest is usually richly embroidered with gold"
Alwood. 'Key to Revelation.' Vol.I. p 340. -
(32 A)

Mahomet says,


"Make a point of wearing turbans, because it is the way of angels (33)

"THEIR FACES WERE AS THE FACES OF MEN." V 7

What is significant about the face of a man? Wherein does the face of a man differ from the face of a woman? The answer is that man grows hair-on his face especially in the form of a beard. Edward Gibbon in describing the Arab of that day, says,

"His breast is fortified with the austere virtues of courage, patience and sobriety. The gravity and firmness of the mind is conspicuous in his outward demeanour, his speech is slow, weighty and concise. He is seldom provoked to laughter, his only gesture is that of stroking his beard the venerable symbol of manhood." (34).

The Arab was noted for the wearing of a beard, whereas the Gothic tribes - of the first four trumpets were recognised as having smooth and shaven faces. What a contrast! (35).

But not only that, the prophecy says that,

"...THEY HAD HAIR AS THE HAIR OF WOMEN." (V8)

What is significant about women's hair? The Bible says,

"Doth not even nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair it is a shame to him, but if a woman have long hair it is a glory to her." 1 Cor.11:14-15.

The prediction means that the Arabs of that day wore long hair. In Roman times when St. Paul wrote, long hair on men was abhorred. Five authorities record the fact that the Arabs of Mahomet's day literally wore long hair. In the famous "Antar" poem, written at the time of the Arab invasions it says,

"He adjusted himself properly, twirling his whiskers, folded up his hair under his turban drawing it from off his shoulders."

Again,


"His hair flowed down his shoulders.".

Again


"We will hang him up by his hair." (36).


"THEIR TEETH WERE AS THE TEETH OF LIONS."

This is a symbol of the courage and destructive power of the Arabs in their invasions. As previously noted the lion is associated with Arabia. In describing Arabia Isaiah the prophet says,

"The land of trouble and of anguish from which came the old and young lion." Isa.30:6

Naturalists inform us that the home of the lion is Arabia. (8) .It is generally considered that Africa is the home of the lion but Africa is closely connected with Arabia and originally in Arabia there were extensive forests indicating that it was much different from what it is now. In Arabic literature the lion is the constant emblem of the valiant warriors. (8) Gibbon says,

"Eutychius the patriarch observes that the Saracens fought with the courage of lions." (37)

They also were very destructive, which is typical of the lion.

"THEY HAD TAILS LIKE UNTO SCORPIONS AND THERE WERE, STINGS IN THEIR TAILS AND THEIR POWER WAS TO HURT MAN FIVE MONTHS." V 10.

This particular verse has proved- very difficult for students through the years. What does-it mean? When Moses described the deserts of Arabia through which Israel wandered from Egypt to Canaan, he said,

"Who led thee [Israel] through that great and terrible wilderness wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions and drought, where there was no water." Deut.8:15.

The natural home of the scorpion is Arabia. There, scorpions are twelve inches in length, very malignant, with eight feet and eight eyes. No creature, they, say, is more irascible. Their sting is not fatal but causes acute and dangerous suffering.

"...THERE WERE STINGS IN THEIR TAILS."

What does the scorpion's tail represent? The key is found in the writings of Isaiah in the Old Testament.

"The ancient and honourable he is the head and the prophet that teaches lies he is the tail." Isa.9:15.

The false prophet, the lying prophet - false religion - that is the tail. In other words,- the false religion of Mohomet is the tail which tormented men. The sting was in the false religion and by it men were tormented for five months.

"THEIR POWER WAS TO HURT MEN FIVE MONTHS." V 10.

These words denote stress and anguish caused by injustice - not bodily, but mental torment, through doing wrong to others. Commentators of yesteryear recognised this. Joseph Mede lecturer at Oxford University, a great student of Revelation, recognised this truth. (38). Scripture applies the term "scorpions" to humans. God warned the prophet Ezekiel,

"…thou dost dwell amongst scorpions, be not afraid of their words nor be by their looks." Ezek.2:6.

Matthew Henry on this verse says that it represents the stinging verbal attacks, full of venom and malice, by some of the people against the prophet. This is how the Revelator describes the venomous insults of the Arabs toward the apostate Christians whom they conquered. E.B. Elliott of Cambridge University, presents eleven ways in which the Moslem conquerors fulfilled this point in their attitude to the apostate Christians.

  1. The bitter contempt and hatred displayed" against the Christians. They were called dogs and infidels.
  2. The Christians were forced to pay a life redemption tax every year in order to preserve their lives.
  3. The Christians were compelled to dress differently from their conquerors.
  4. They were compelled to ride in a humbler mode of transport.
  5. Whenever a Moslem entered into their presence even though he was the meanest of men they were to rise in deference to him.
  6. They must freely entertain an Arab when he required it, including sexuality with their females. The Arabs were notorious for their immorality. (39).
  7. They were to build no-new churches.
  8. They were to chime no bells in existing churches.
  9. They were to admit to their churches any Arab no matter how much he scoffed and ridiculed the service, or how frequently he insulted them.
  10. Frequent insults to the Christian women.
  11. A thousand other injuries of oppression that rankled the Christians and made life a burden. (40)

The prediction said

"IN THOSE DAYS SHALL MEN SEEK DEATH AND NOT FIND IT, AND SHALL DESIRE TO DIE AND DEATH SHALL FLEE FROM THEM." V6.

That was the lot of the oppressed Christians. What a punishment! What a woe! This was God's judgment upon apostasy. This was God's response to the prayers of the saints that had ascended to the altar of incense of the heavenly sanctuary where our great High Priest ministered before God. (Rev.8:3-5)

We now arrive at a more positive and pleasing part of the prophecy.;,

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." V4

This is a remarkable prediction., Was such a command issued to the Arab conquerors? It, is interesting to notice that in the other trumpets.- the first trumpet for example "...a third part of trees was burnt up and all green grass was burnt up." (Rev.8:7) The Goths - who fulfilled three of the first four trumpets, deliberately destroyed the vegetation in western ,:Europe - so much so that it resulted in the formation :of desert areas. On the other hand the policy of the Arabs was exactly the opposite. The Koran - the Moslem Bible - decreed that trees and vegetation must- not be destroyed. This was a distinct characteristic of the Arabs and it resulted in the rapid rise of flourishing kingdoms and countries that they overran. (41) But the prediction says that "it was commanded them... not to hurt the grass" etc. Was there such a command?

The writer was once accosted by a graduate of Theology from a nearby college who was very cynical concerning the historical interpretation of prophecy as expounded by Seventh Day Adventists. When the topic of the trumpets was mentioned he exclaimed, "How can we possibly interpret the trumpets - no man could interpret the trumpets!" The writer answered "Well, the events of history seem to very clearly fit the historical application." He replied, 'Tell me one event that fits the fulfillment of the trumpets?" The writer said, 'Take the command not to hurt the grass of the earth neither any green thing, neither any tree, that was issued to the Arabs." He said, "What command?" The writer replied "Haven't you heard of the command recorded by Gibbon, the skeptic, in his 'Decline and Fall..' ?" "No" he replied.

Here is this remarkable command. It was issued at the very time when-the Arabs were about to invade the Roman Empire. They had just raided Persia and now they were about to invade Syria, the Eastern portion of Eastern Rome. Mohomet had died, Abubeker his successor was now in charge. Gibbon declares,

"As soon as their numbers were complete, Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the success of their undertaking.. 'Remember', said the successor of the prophet, 'that you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgement, and the hope of paradise. Avoid injustice and oppression; consult with your brethren, and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. When you fight the battles of the lord, acquit yourselves 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 field of corn. Cut down no fruit trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make a covenant ... 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. (42).

That was the actual command. The Arabs were not to destroy any green thing or trees etc. just as the prophecy had declared six hundred years before. Is not this remarkable? What indisputable evidence is this "that all scripture is inspired of God!".

Now the command also included the hurting of "...those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads". In the previous quotation from Gibbon you will recall the command of Abubeker concerning those of the synagogue of Satan who have shaven crowns and what the Arab warriors were to do with them. Who were these men with shaven crowns? In the footnote Gibbon says,

"Even in the 7th century the monks were generally laymen; they wore their hair long and dishevelled, and shaved their heads when they were ordained priests. The circular tonsure was sacred and mysterious; it was the crown of thorns; but it was likewise a royal diadem, and every priest was a king."

The men who had shaven crowns were the priests - the priests of the apostate christian church - and the shaven ring on their crowns, represented the sun. it came from Babylon! But is it correct that those who had "the seal of God" were protected by the Arab invaders? What do we understand by the term "the seal of God?" In Rev.7 the seal of God is shown as being implanted -in the foreheads of God's people in the last days in order to protect them from the judgements of God. The scripture clearly reveals that the 'seal' of God refers to the sabbath of the fourth commandment. (43). Did the-Arabs protect those, who were 'observers of the seventh-day sabbath of the fourth commandment? Notice the record as given by Dr. B.G. Wilkinson in his study of the rise and spread of the early Christian faith. He gives some remarkable information concerning this period of church history.

"In the early centuries of the christian era, the church of the East [not the Western or Latin church] sometimes called the Assyrian church, sometimes the Nestorian church [who were observers of the true Sabbath] very effectively spread throughout Asia and the East, but remained separate from the church in the West, especially the apostasy.

These true christians became the teachers of the Saracens, and were responsible for establishing an educational system in Syria, Mesopotamia, Turkestan, Tibet, China, India, Ceylon, and other areas." (59)

The Arabs, like the Persians were very partial to the Assyrian Christians, because they found it necessary in the early days of their power, to lean upon the splendid schools which the church had developed. Medicine made great progress in the hands of the Church of the East. [They had the right arm of the gospel, the health message.] The Arabian court and its extended administrations employed its members as secretaries and imperial representatives...Assyrian christians suffered comparatively little at the hands of the Moslems, but later much more at the hands of the Jesuits.. The leader of the Church of the East sensing that the conquest of the Persian Empire was imminent, succeeded in obtaining a pledge of protection and freedom of worship on condition that the Christians paid certain tribute...These immunities by Abubeker were not only confirmed by Omar his Successor, but even the taxes were remitted..."

"When the Arabian empire was fully established, it built up Bagdad, its magnificent new capital. The Church of the East removed its spiritual capital from Seleucia to Bagdad, where it remained for approximately the next 500 years." B.G. Wilkinson 'Truth Triumphant.' p 268-291. Pacific Press. (44)

What a surprising fulfillment of this particular part ,of the fifth trumpet? Edward Gibbon confirms Dr. Wilkinson's statement. He says,

"To his christian subjects [i.e. the true christians, not the apostate ones whom the Arabs tormented]; Mohomet readily granted the security of their persons, the freedom of their trade, the property of their goods, and the toleration of their worship." (45).

We now come to the prediction concerning "torment and "to hurt men" for five months.

"TO THEM IT WAS GIVEN THAT THEY SHOULD NOT KILL THEM, BUT THAT THEY SHOULD BE TORMENTED FIVE MONTHS:"   "And their power was to hurt men five months." V 10.

They were not to kill but they were to hurt and torment. Does this mean that the Arabs did

They were not to kill but they were to hurt and torment. Does this mean that the Arabs did not kill in their conquests? No! It could not mean that. The killing concerned the political killing or destroying of the Roman Empire i.e. Eastern Rome. In their battles the Arabs killed hundreds of thousands of people and they themselves lost hundreds of thousands. They overran almost all of Eastern Rome. They conquered North Africa, they crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and conquered most of Spain and even overran some of South Western France. But in all their conquests they were not able to destroy or kill or end, the Empire of Eastern Rome. They made concerted efforts to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Empire, but always they were unsuccessful.

It is significant to notice a remarkable parallel, published by Dr. Mervyn Maxwell in which he shows how the territory which is occupied by the swarms of locusts when in flight, is almost identical to the territory which was conquered by the symbolic Arab locusts of the trumpet. (47)

It is also significant to learn of the ambitions of the Arabs in their conquests. They determined to make the Mediterranean sea a Moslem lake. It was their intention to conquer Spain, France, Italy, the Vatican, Germany, the Danube, Constantinople, and return to Syria thus enveloping the Mediterranean, making it a lake of Islam. (48) .If they had succeeded in their ambitions it would have meant the killing or destruction of Eastern Rome. But God decreed that the Arabs' function was "to hurt" or "torment" the apostate power, thus whenever the Arabs made tremendous onslaughts to destroy the empire, each time they dismally failed. Two times they attacked Constantinople, the very vitals of the empire, the first siege lasted five long years, at the height of the Arabs' pride and power, but they failed. The second siege was in 716-718 A.D. Again, they were forced to retire defeated and disgraced. As one historian says,

"Fruitlessly the Arabs assailed the Byzantine capital by land and sea for five whole years [673-678]: but they did not succeed in taking it." (49).

Finally the Arabs determined that they would invade France and overun Europe even to the Baltic. Their design was to conquer Eastern Rome by attacking it from the direction of the West. Thus in 721 A.D. they invaded South Western France. In 732 A.D. they mounted a grand invasion of Northern France by which they planned to reach the Baltic and fulfil their dream of Moslem supremacy and create a Moslem lake of the Mediterranean. This great invasion was led by Abd-ar-Rahman and it is significant to read the outcome of the Arabian effort to accomplish a purpose which was contrary to the prophecy of the fifth trumpet.

"These cares could not long divert him [Abd-ar-Rahman] from the great design he had formed - that of invading the whole of Gaul. [or France] Though the Arabic historians conceal the extent of the preparations, for the natural purpose of palliating the disgrace of failure, there can be no doubt that those preparations were on an immense scale; that the true believers[i.e. Moslems] flocked to the white standard from the farthest part of the Caliph's dominions; and that the whole Mohammedon world contemplated the expedition with intense anxiety...

Abd-ar-Rahman commenced his momentous march, in the hope of carrying the banner of the prophet to the very shores of the Baltic. His progress brought dismay throughout Europe; and well it might, for so formidable and destructive an armament Europe had not seen since the days of Attila and his Huns.

Conflagrations, ruin, the shrieks of violated chastity and the groans of the dying, rendered this memorable invasion more like the work of a demon than of a man.

The towns of Southern and Central France were converted to smoking ruins and appeals were made to Charles Martel, the leader of the Franks. He knew too well the magnitude of the danger to meet it by premature efforts. He silently collected in Belgium and Germany a powerful force to meet the dreaded enemy. He boldly advanced to meet the Saracens at Tours which they had just overun.

After six days of skirmishing there came the long and bloody battle in which great valour and skilful leadership was evident on both sides. Eventually the impenetrable ranks, robust frames and iron hands of the Germans turned the tide and by nightfall vast numbers of Saracens lay dead in the field [including their leader]

At daybreak the victors arose to renew the battle - the white Saracen tents extended as far as the eye could see, but not a soul emerged to meet them. The Saracens had silently abandoned their camp and the immense wealth and booty they bad amassed. Christiandom was saved. Pope and monk, priest and peasant, flocked to church to thank Heaven for deliverance. A blow had been dealt to Islam that meant its return was no longer dreaded.

The far-famed victory spread consternation over the whole Moslem world. Another Emir [or leader] was appointed to revenge the appalling defeat. After passing through the
Pyrenees into France, a complete panic seized the Saracen host which retreated and which was pursued and destroyed."
(50).

What a description! However one point is very clear. The Arab invaders were permitted to torment the peoples of the Roman empire, but when they attempted to kill or end the empire they were signally repelled. This shattering of the Arab dream is spoken of by historians as "remarkable" and "perplexing" something they find very difficult to understand, because from a human viewpoint, the Arabs should have succeeded, but when success would have dealt a deathblow to the empire, they themselves were broken. Edward Gibbon says,

"When the Arabs first issued from the desert, they must have been surprised at the ease and rapidity of their own success. But when they advanced in the career of victory to the banks of the Indus and the summit of the Pyrenees; ... they might be equally astonished that any nation could resist their invincible arms; that any boundary should confine the dominion of the successor of the prophet...

The calm historian of the present hour, who strives to follow the rapid course of the Saracens, must study to explain by what means the church and state were saved from this impending, and, as it should seem, from this inevitable, danger." (51).

Henry Hallam describes the turning back of the Arab hordes as one of the marvels of history.

"These conquests, which astonish the careless and superficial, are less perplexing to a calm inquirer, than their cessation; the loss of half the Roman Empire, than the preservation of the rest." (52)

 

The map below shows the range of the Saracen Empire at about the time of Charlemange, or about 800 A.D. Click on the links below this map to see a larger version of the same map.

 

There are 3 map downloads to choose from for a larger version of the map above, which are:

  • Click here to download a map in JPG format that is 674 KB in size (highest quality, longest download).

  • Click here to download a smaller map file in JPG format that is 424 KB in size.

  • Click here to download the smallest map file in JPG format that is 153 KB in size (lowest quality, fastest download).

The image quality is limited because the original source is not particularly good, so some of the finer details are not clear. Unfortunately, this cannot be corrected at this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven decreed that the Arabs were not to kill the Roman Empire but only to torment it. However some scholars believe that there was a second reason why the Arabs were repelled. Was it to save the Papacy from extinction? That would have been a blessing! Was it to save the apostate Christendom of the West? Its destruction would have saved Europe from the thralldom of the Dark Ages. "Europe owes its existence, its religion... to his [Charles Martel's] victory." Amid the rampant apostasy in the Roman empire there were remnants of God's faithful people, who were withdrawing to the wilderness regions in order to maintain their faith. These were the Albigenses of South France, the Waldenses of Northern Italy, and others in Bohemia, Germany etc. When the Arabs invaded France they were nearing areas where God's true people were dwelling and it is believed that one reason the Arabs were repelled was to protect the people of God. Professor William Whiston the brilliant Cambridge scholar, and a great student of Daniel and Revelation, enunciates this very clearly in his notes on Revelation 9.

"Those who have the best plea from history, being indeed real witnesses against the idolatry and corruptions of the church in that age, were such as inhabited some parts of Savoy, Piedmont, Milan, and perhaps some in the southern parts of France; i.e. the forerunners of the first authors of the Waldenses and Albigenses, of whom those were the habitations. (53).

And the providence of God was so remarkable in delivering these people from the plague of the Saracens, that when, 726 A.D., they attempted these southern parts of France, they were so terribly destroyed, and with so little slaughter on the other side, that history can scarce afford a parallel."

But what of the five months of torment?

It is significant to note that the period in which the natural desert locusts swarm over the area of the Middle East is a period of exactly five months. This is from the month of May to September inclusive - exactly five months. (54) Likewise when the Revelator describes the period of the Arab invasions in which they would torment the apostate Christians of the Roman empire it is exactly five months. This period of time is a part of a symbolic prophecy therefore the allotted time must be symbolic time. It is a prophetic five months. Symbolic time must always be reduced to days, because in prophecy, a day equals a year. (55) In a Bible month there are exactly thirty days. Therefore five months would equal 150 days. In symbolic prophecy, a day equals a year therefore the 150 days represent 150 years. Here we have a very rigid test by which we can check the accuracy of our interpretation of the fifth trumpet. Did the period of torment by the Arabs continue for exactly 150 years? To answer this vital question we must ascertain the exact year in which Mohomet began his career of Islamic conquest. Let historians speak.

"After the year 612 A.D. Mohomet sought to propagate his religion with all his might." (56).

"Thus began Mohomet's prophetic career in the year 610 or 612 of our era." (61).

The first major attack of the period took place in AD612. 'The Arabs raided Syria, destroyed towns and many houses and then withdrew,' wrote the eighth century Roman (Byzantine) historian Theophones, who was almost certainly quoting from a now lost seventh-century source." (62)

For how long did the period of Arab torment continue? The period of Arab torment continued until there was a sharp division in the leadership of the Arab world. As a result there were formed two Islamic caliphates. This occurred in 756 A.D. The new caliph reigning in Damascus, Syria, transferred his capital to the West Bank of the Tigris and founded the city of Bagdad, where he became the leading caliph of the Arabian empire. He built his city on a canal flowing from the Euphrates to the Tigris an area outside the boundaries of the Roman empire. In what year did the Caliph transfer his capital outside the realm of the Roman Empire? It was 762 A.D. With this transfer came a complete change of attitude on the part of the Arabs. As Waddington says,

"The [Arab] conquerers now settled tranquilly in the countries they had subdued." (57).

They named their city, Bagdad - "Medinat al Salem" city of peace.

"In this city of peace, amidst the riches of the East, the Abassides [ruling Caliphs] soon disdained the abstinence and frugality of the first caliphs and aspired to emulate the magnificence of the Persian kings... the glories of the court were brightened rather then impaired in the decline of the empire... the luxury of the caliph ...terminated the progress of the Arabian empire. Temporal and spiritual conquest had been the sole occupation of the first successors of Mahomet…..their stern enthusiasm -was softened by time and prosperity...war was no longer the passion of the Saracens;..." (58)

The period of conquest and torment had ceased and it ceased in 762 A.D. If we deduct 612 from 762, we have exactly 150 years or five prophetic months. Thus the prophetic period in which the Arabs were to torment or hurt men, was fulfilled to the very letter.

What confidence the fulfillment of this prediction gives us in the truth and reliability of Holy Writ. We can be very certain concerning the accuracy of the word of God. This is one of the great lessons we learn from this remarkable prediction of the fifth trumpet. Maybe there are other lessons for God's people from this prediction. What was the purpose behind this trumpet? It was 'God's judgment on apostasy. This reveals the attitude of God toward apostasy. Heaven hates it. Apostasy is repulsive to Jesus Christ. The fact that heaven permitted the rise of Islam in order to punish apostasy indicates how serious and offensive apostate christianity must be in the sight of heaven. For 1200 years Islam has dominated the lives of millions of people throughout the Middle East and beyond. While it is a false religion it is opposed to idolatry and religious corruption and maybe is preferable in the sight of heaven than the apostate christian religion was of the Roman empire. Islam was undoubtedly inspired by Satan, but so also was the apostasy in the Christian church. However while Islam destroyed much of the Apostasy it did permit true Christianity - those with the seal of God - to continue to spread their faith and influence. According to Benjamen Wilkinson true Christianity in that period spread amazingly throughout the eastern world. The gospel was taken even to China, and other distant lands. (60). Maybe the rise of Islam was to protect the true church. Had not the Papal apostasy been hindered in its early development, the church of the East may not have survived.



Edited by reddogs - 13 Feb 2010 at 2:32pm
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 2:33pm

An Exposition of the Sixth Trumpet of Rev.9:12-21

UNDERSTANDING REVELATION


A Waymarks Publication -


THE TRIUMPH & TRAGEDY OF THE TURK!
Why He Is Included in the Panorama of Prophecy


An Exposition of the Sixth Trumpet of Rev.9:12-21

"One woe is past; and behold there come two woes more hereafter. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 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 man. And the number of the army of horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: And I heard the number of them. 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. 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. 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." Rev.9:12-19.

The sixth trumpet is also called the second "woe". The final three trumpets are classed as the woe trumpets". Each woe appears to be more severe than its predecessor. The first woe was the Arab invasion represented by the locusts tormenting for five months. (l) It was not limited to "one third of men", like the rest of the trumpets. The reason is that the Arabs in their conquests of the Roman empire conquered not just one third of it but overran almost two thirds of the empire - Eastern Rome and a large section of Western Rome.

The second woe - the sixth trumpet is to slay or kill "the third part of men". The first woe tormented men, the second woe is more severe. In this woe a voice comes from the horns of the golden incense altar, in the first apartment of the heavenly temple. What is the significance of the voice sounding from this altar?

First, it locates the timing of this trumpet. The ministration in the heavenly sanctuary from 31AD to 1844 was in the first apartment of that temple. There Jesus ministered at the incense altar. The fact that the voice is heard from the altar indicates that the priestly ministry is still located there, thus the period in which the sixth trumpet sounds must be prior to 1844. (1A)

The second significance of the voice from the altar is that sometimes in scripture, the location where the voice is heard, represents the area where transgression prevails. For instance in Genesis 4 when God came to Cain, he said to him,

"Where is Abel thy brother?" Cain said, "Am I my brother's keeper?" In response the Lord said to Cain, "The voice of thy brother's blood cries to me from the ground" Gen.4:10.

The ground was where Abel's blood had been spilt. Again in Habbakuk it speaks of the sins of Babylon and how judgement would come on her,

"The stones shall cry out of the wall and the beam out of the timber shall answer it." Hab.2:11.

That was the location in Babylon where she had committed her crimes. The altar of incense that is brought to view under the sixth trumpet represents the intercession of Christ. That was the area where the professed church of the day had become so apostate. God's professed people had become deeply involved in the intercession of saints and martyrs. This voice was from the place of true intercession which they had so seriously neglected or rejected.

In the exposition of the first four trumpets it was revealed that they were the judgements of God upon apostasy in response to the prayers of his true people. (2) The sixth trumpet is a judgement upon the apostate Christians of that day who had given themselves over to a false form of intercession, and as a result the command is issued,

"...loose the four angels that are bound in the great river Euphrates." V14.

This term, "the four angels", has been a problem through the years to most scholars. It has been their main objection against the Turks as fulfilling the sixth trumpet. Nothing in the Turkish power correctly corresponded to the four angels. One attempt to explain the four angels is that they were the four Turkish caliphates. (3) But the four Turkish caliphates were not yet in existence, and when they were finally formed, most of them were not connected with the Euphrates. The four Turkish caliphates it is claimed, were at Baghdad, Aleppo, Damascus and Iconium in Asia Minor. However it appears that there were at least five caliphates, as follows:

1 Baghdad on the Tigris - in Iraq
2 Aleppo - in Syria
3 Damascus - in Syria
4 Roum (Nice & Iconium) - in Asia Minor
5 Kerman - South Persia (4)

 

Now Iconium and Nice in Asia Minor could never be considered to be in the region of the Euphrates. Baghdad was situated on a canal from the Euphrates where it joined the Tigris. Therefore it is questionable whether the caliphate of Baghdad could be counted as being in the region of the Euphrates. Aleppo was about 60 miles from the Euphrates so its inclusion could also be doubtful. Damascus was many more miles across the desert from the Euphrates and its caliphate was not united to the Ottoman Turks until 1517 A.D. (i.e. well after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.). Only the Roum caliphate in Asia Minor was involved with the downfall of Eastern Rome. (5)

But the prediction declared that four angels are "loosed". What then could the four angels represent? Let scripture interpret scripture. Does scripture, especially the book of Revelation, reveal any clues concerning the four angels? Yes, in Revelation 7. This latter-day prophecy pictures four angels holding the four winds that they should not blow on the earth until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. This is a latter-day prophecy depicting heavenly agencies holding back the judgements of God until a special work is completed.

We suggest that the four angels of the sixth trumpet are the same four angels. We believe that they are the agents of God, controlling the powers that would bring judgements or punishments upon the world. The six trumpets were judgements on the Roman empire and the four angels could be the same divine agents that were to release the powers that would bring punishment upon that empire. Some authorities claim that the term "four angels" in some manuscripts reads "four winds". (6) If this were so, then the command would be more understandable, "Loose the four winds in the great river Euphrates." This we suggest makes better sense, especially when associated with the Euphrates.

What is represented by the Euphrates? Generally, in the past, a literal interpretation has been given to this word and it has been claimed that the Euphrates represents the country through which it flows. (3) But the difficulty with this interpretation is that the area where the Turks existed at that period was way beyond the Euphrates. It would be more correct to conclude that the Euphrates was the western boundary of the area where the Turks then resided. This fact will be confirmed below.

When we turn to the Old Testament upon which the book of Revelation is based, the Euphrates is seen to have a much greater significance. The term Euphrates is employed in two different ways. First, it was the designated boundary of literal Israel. (7) Any power invading Israel from the North must pass over the Euphrates. The second way the Euphrates is employed, is as an invading destroying power. The word "Euphrates" according to Dr. Strong, means "to break forth - rushing". It seems that this meaning was based on the fact that when the snows of Mr. Ararat melted, the Euphrates became a roaring raging torrent which often overflowed its banks. This phenomenon was employed in the Old Testament to represent an overflowing, invading power. Isaiah declares:

"Woe to the multitude of many people which make a noise like the noise of the seas; [or waters] and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing [margin: thistledown] before the whirlwind." Isa.17:12-13.

Again the actual river Euphrates is referred to as representing the Assyrians when they invaded Israel

"Now therefore, behold the Lord brings up upon them, [Israel] the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel [or Israel]." Isa.8:7-8.

The prophet likens the Assyrian power to the overflowing of the Euphrates in flood. Thus the Euphrates represents a rushing invading power. This is how the term is employed in the sixth plague of Revelation 16. When the supporters of spiritual Babylon are inspired by their leaders to rise up and overflow or destroy the saints of God; Heaven in response, dries up "the waters of the Euphrates" - it turns aside the invading destroying peoples and delivers His people. (8): Likewise with the sixth trumpet in Rev.9:14, the Euphrates represents a rushing invading destroying power. The command is given, "Loose the four angels [or the four winds] which are bound in the great river Euphrates", that they might perform their work of destruction.

In the following two verses such an invasion is described.

"And the four angels were loosed ... to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand and I heard the number of them." Vv 15-16.

Here then is presented an army of horsemen poised to invade the third part of the Roman empire. Who were these horsemen? There are at least eight points of identification.

1. The type of army - horsemen or cavalry.
2. The way they are numbered.
3. The colour of their uniforms.
4. Their courageous and destructive spirit.
5. Their destroying power would appear to issue from the horses' mouths.
6. Their power is in their mouths and tails.
7. Their tails are like serpents - they had heads, and with them they hurt.
8. An allotted period of time is given in which they kill or slay.

 

After the reign of the Arabs of the fifth trumpet, what power invaded Eastern Rome and destroyed it? What power fits exactly the eight points of the prediction? There is only one, and that is the Turkomans or Turks.

Whence came the Turks? They were a numerous people situated in central Asia. They were descendants of Japheth, of the family of Magog. The Turkish race was comprised of five branches: the Kipchaks, Uigurs, Kanklis, Kalaches, and Kariuks.

There were three language groups and six different alphabets. They were closely related to the Mongols whom they considered as brothers. Four times the Mongols were involved with them in their career of conquest. The Greeks called them Scythians, and they formed a loosely knit empire from the Volga River (at their peak) north of the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, right across to the East, to Lake Baikal and North China. The Oxus River North of Persia was their Southern boundary. That vast expanse of country was the area in which they resided.

In 308-589 A.D. north China was under Turkish control. In 562 Mokan, a Turkish ruler, ruled from the Volga river to Lake Baikal, a distance of about 6,000 miles, Edward Gibbon says that from Samarkand (North of Persia) to Northern China involved 6 months travel in their famous caravans. In 800 A.D. Turkish soldiers were employed as mercenaries by the Arabian caliphs, then situated in Baghdad. Before long Turkish officers took control of the territory where the caliph reigned. This is how the Turks are first introduced into the Middle Eastern scene. (9)

 

The Extent of the Turkish Empire From Fourth Through the Sixteenth Centuries

< id= name=>

For a larger map, click on the map above (610 KB).

 

 

 

In 960 A.D. they became established in Persia, and set up in East Persia an empire which extended even into India. They conquered a large section of India where was formed the famous Mogul empire - a Moslem state under Marmoud - a famous and remarkable ruler. Around Delhi one may see remains of the Mogul empire, including the beautiful Taj Mahal. By 1030 A.D. the Seljuk tribe of the Turks migrated into Khorasan (the north eastern province of Persia) because their relatives who were already settled there invited them in. The Seljuks developed into a dominant power. They overthrew the Turks who had previously occupied the area and ere long they were invited by the Arabian caliph at Baghdad to aid and protect him in retaining his office. In this manner the leader of the Seljuks, a man called Togrul Beg became the First Lieutenant of "the prophet", and a controlling power in Persia. From this position they prepared their mission of invading and destroying the Roman empire. They were poised in the area, east of the Euphrates. That river could correctly be classified as the boundary between the Turks and the Roman empire. Edward Gibbon, speaking of the beginning of the Turkish invasion under the nephew of Togrul Beg declared,

Alp Arslen passed the Euphrates at the head of the Turkish cavalry. (10)

The initial Turkish conquests embraced Armenia and Georgia. The Turks then met head on the great Roman army from Constantinople led by the emperor. This was the decisive battle of Melazkerd, 1071 A.D. (now Malazgirt), near the headwaters of the Euphrates river. The army of Eastern Rome was soundly defeated and the Seljuks took control of the Middle East. They conquered Syria and Asia Minor, setting up their capital at Nice, the birthplace of the Nicaean Creed. Professor Davis in his history declares,

The Turks in the 10 years following 1071 burned their way clear across Asia Minor almost to within sight of Constantinople. (11)

The Seljuk Turks then conquered Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, West Africa, and extended their empire eastward to the Indus river, the border of India. Northwards they conquered right across to Cashgar on the Chinese border. That was the vast empire of the Seljukian Turks. It was while the Seljuks controlled the Middle East that appeals were made to Europe to deliver Palestine from the Turks. This resulted in the Crusades. The crusaders drove the Turks out of much of Asia Minor, forcing them to remove their capital from Nice to Iconium. Later the Seljuk power was well nigh destroyed by the Tartars or Mongols or Eastern Turks, under Tamerlane, when they overran the Middle East. The Monguls empire reached from the sea of Japan in North China right across to the Caspian Sea. In Moscow today you can see memorials of mighty battles that were fought by the Russians against the Tartars or Eastern Turks.

The Mongols soon disappeared under Tamerlane but they had driven out many other Turkish tribes from Turkestan. One tribe migrated to Asia Minor, under the leadership of Othman. This tribe joined a remnant of the Seljuk Turks at Iconium and soon developed into the dominant power of Asia Minor reconquering that territory. Othman and his successors soon set their sights upon Constantinople, the capital of Eastern Rome. It was the Ottoman Turks in particular, that fulfilled the specifications of the sixth trumpet. The Seljuk Turks prepared the way, but it was completed by the Ottomans. The eight points of identification especially the latter points, apply to them.

Notice what some historians say concerning the Turks in their attacks upon Eastern Rome. Finlay, the historian of Greece notes the similarity of the Turkish attacks to the attacks of the Goths upon Western Rome and it was the Goths who fulfilled three of the four first trumpets.

The Turks in Asia Minor acted a part not unlike that, which the Goths had acted in the history Of the Western Empire. (12)

Professor Vambery, a historian of the Levant says,

Alp Arslan was the first Turkish chieftain who led Turkish cavalry across the Euphrates and brought the classic and sacred ground of Western Asia under the dominion of the race which rules it to this day.(13)

The first point of identification was that the invading army would comprise numerous horsemen. So numerous were they that the prophet declared, "I heard the number of them in vision", indicating their vast number. Edward Gibbon, the skeptic and "unconscious commentator of the Apocalypse", described the invasion of the Turks in the following manner:

The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of 600 miles from Taurus to Azeroum and the blood of 130,000 christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian-prophet. [i.e. to the Moslem religion) (14)

Notice that the Turkish horsemen spread over a 600 mile frontier, from Taurus [near Tarsus] in the south east corner of Asia Minor, right up to the Black Sea. For 600 miles, the Turkish horse extended. Gibbon continues,

"200,000 soldiers marched under his banners" (15)

And they were all horsemen. A French writer who visited Asia Minor in 1433 speaks of the ''innumerable host" of cavalry of the Turks. Hezekiah Holland, who published a book in 1650 on the sixth trumpet, made the following observation:

Europe and the Middle East at the time of the Crusades

< id=2 name=2>

To see a larger map, click on the map above (725 KB)

 

 

I well remember that living in the University of Ireland , a gentle man that newly came from Scangrown or Alexandretta, told me he saw the Turkish army march by to recover Bagdet or Babylon, and that the army was over a week marching by, consisting of fifteen hundred thousand men. (16)

1,500,000 horsemen! No wonder the prophet said "I heard the number of them". But were not all armies of that day on horses? Was not that the usual type of warfare in that era? It is true that there were numerous armies in the world of that day, but none possessed the numbers of horsemen as did the Turks. In contrast to the Turkish armies the European armies consisted mostly of foot soldiers, the cavalry were comparatively few compared with the rest of the army.

The second point of identification is the method of numbering.

"...the number of the army of the horsemen were 200,000 thousand thousand." V16.

In the Greek it reads, "myriads of myriads". Various scholars confirm this view on external and internal evidence. In the Old Testament this was one way of numbering.

"Be thou the mother of thousands of millions." Gen.24:60.

The original is "thousands of myriads".

"Return now to the many thousands of Israel." Num.10:36.
(margin-. "ten thousand thousands")
The Hebrew reads, "myriads of thousands".

"Thousand thousands ministered to him and ten thousand times ten thousands stood before him." Dan.7:10.

The Hebrew reads "myriads of myriads stood before him".

What is the significance of this in the sixth trumpet? It was the Turkish method of numbering! They numbered by to tomens". A tomen is ten thousand people or the number ten thousand, or myriad. Gibbon himself uses this very term when he describes the Turks. Alluding to Timur the Lame - the leader of the Tartars or Eastern Turks from Mongolia, he says,

The sea [the Bosporus] rolled between the two continents of Europe and Asia and the lord of so many tomens or myriads of horse was not master of a single galley. (17)

Of the Turkish invasion of Asia Minor he says,

The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of 600 miles from Taurus to Azeroum.(18)

This way of numbering was peculiar to the Turks. (19)

The third point of identification was the colour of their breastplates and uniforms.

"...of fire and of jacinth and brimstone." V17

The word "Jacinth" is "Jacinthine" in the Greek, and denotes the colour blue. Thus when it speaks of "fire and jacinth and brimstone" it means red, blue and yellow. Fire is red, jacinthine is blue and brimstone or sulphur is yellow. Red, blue and yellow! Were they the colours of the uniforms of the Turkish army? Daubuz, an English scholar writing of the time, says,

From their first appearance the Ottomans have affected to wear warlike apparel of scarlet, blue and yellow: a descriptive trait the more marked from its contrast to the military appearance of Greeks, Franks or Saracens [Arabs] who were contemporary. (20)

This third point indisputably identifies the Turks. The fourth point is:

"...that the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions."

The "heads" no doubt refers to the Turkish leaders who are described as lion-like. The lion is symbolic of courage and destructiveness. It is significant to notice that the Turkish leaders in their titles, as wel1 as their character often used the term "lion".

The name of Alp Arslan, the valiant lion, is expressive of the popular idea of….the fierceness and generosity of the royal animal. (21)

Alp Arslan's successor was named "Kilidge Arslan!' which means "the noble lion". Another writer says,

The Turks compare the grand Seignior [their king] to the lion and other kings [of other nations] to little dogs. (22)

Gibbon again declares,

It would be superfluous to praise the valour of a Turk. (23)

The Anzacs in 1915 were very much aware of the courage and fighting qualities of the Turk even in these modern times.
The fifth point, is that the agent that would be used to kill, appears to issue from the horses' mouths.

"Thus I saw the horses ... and the heads of the horses as the heads of lions and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third of men killed. By the f ire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone which issued out of their mouths." Vv 17-18.

"The third of men [were] killed". The third denoted the third part of the Roman empire. (24) At this time it was, the Eastern division of the Roman empire, Eastern Rome. Under the fifth trumpet the Arabs were to torment Eastern Rome but under the sixth trumpet the Turks were to slay or kill Eastern Rome. That meant to destroy it as a political power. To accomplish that, it would mean striking at the heart of the empire - the capital, which was Constantinople. This great city had stood for 1100 years; eight determined attempts had been made to capture it, but in vain. It seemed as if it would last forever. However the Turks, when they conquered Asia Minor, being, Moslems and fanatically opposed to Christianity, especially the apostate Christianity centred in Constantinople, determined to capture Constantinople. Because of this they became a terrible threat to Europe. Initially the Turks crossed the Bosphorus, bypassed Constantinople, and ravaged the territories of Greece and beyond. J.H. Newman in his lectures on Greece said: "No race cast so broad and dark a shadow on the page of ecclesiastical history." (25)

A Turkish historian wrote,

The Turkish invasion was a scourge far heavier than that of the Saracens. While the latter when bent on permanent conquest offered the tribute as alternative to the 'Koran or the sword', the Seljouks were mere savages who slew for the pleasure of slaying... Never, probably even in the thick of the Teutonic [Gothic] invasions of the fifth century, was so much harm done in ten short years, as in Asia Minor during this period of 1071-1081. By the end of the latter year the flourishing themes [areas] which had been for so long the core of the East Roman realm had been reduced to mere wastes. Thirty years after [the battle of ] Manikert, when the armies of the crusaders marched from Nicaea to Tarsus, right across the ancient heart of the empire, they nearly perished of starvation in a land of briars and rivers. (26)

This reveals the destructiveness of the Turks. They destroyed like the lion. As Lord Houghton wrote,

Think of that age's awful birth,
When Europe echoed, terror-riven,
That a new foot was on the earth,
And a new name came down from heaven

 

The East at the time of the Crusades

< id=3 name=3>

To see a larger map, click on the map above (589 KB)

 

 

 

The Turks certainly filled Europe with fear and terror.

For many a year the church bells often called the people to pray for deliverance from the Turks (27)

It is fascinating to learn that the Ottoman Turks in particular, were a great aid to the Protestant Reformation. When Turks were invading Europe, King Charles V of Spain was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This was the Roman Catholic political empire of the Middle Ages. Protestantism had risen in 1517 and thousands of people had left Mother Church to become Protestants. Charles V, being a devout Roman Catholic was fervently pursuaded by his church, not only to oppose the Protestant faith, but to destroy it (28) But whenever he advanced to attack the Protestants, so often tidings would come that the Turks were on the attack and Charles would be forced to turn away from the Protestants and march against the Turks. History, is very clear that had it not been for the Turks, Protestantism would never have survived. As one scholar says,

"In the 16th and 17th centuries support and encouragement for Protestants and Calvinists ... were one of the fundamental principles of Ottoman policy."(29)

Another declared,

"There would have been no Protestantism had there been no Turk." (30)

It has since been revealed that there was an agreement between the Turkish sultan and some of the minor powers of Europe including German barons. It was agreed that whenever Charles V would exert his political strength, especially against Protestants, the Turks would attack Europe and divert Charles' attention. No wonder Charles in utter frustration finally buried himself in the monastic life and handed over the kingdom to his son, Phillip III His last 'words to Phillip were "Take care that the heretics... were repressed... without regard to any plea in their favour." (31)

Phillip certainly endeavoured to fulfill the wishes of his father and also of his church.

 


 

We now return to the early fifteenth century of Turkish times. There finally ascended to the Turkish throne a sultan named Mahomet II. He named himself "Huukiar" which means "the slayer of men". This he proved to be for he was responsible for the final destruction of Eastern Rome. His unrelenting resolve was to take Constantinople.

"I ask a present far more valuable and important - Constantinople." he proclaimed. (32)

In inspiring the Turkish armies to capture Constantinople he assured them that

...the door would open to them by its capture, to conquer the whole of the Greek empire. [i.e. Eastern Rome] (33)

How correct his words proved to be. In preparation for the fulfillment of his heart's desire he studied the latest instruments of destruction with which he might bring Constantinople to its knees. Especially did he concentrate upon gunpowder and artillery. . Not that any European powers had yet used it successfully, but they were progressing. Ere long a constructor or founder of cannon, because of improper treatment by the Roman emperor at Constantinople, deserted to the Turks. What a windfall! Mahomet's first question to him was, "Are you able to cast a cannon capable of throwing a ball that would batter the walls of Constantinople?"

The answer was in the affirmative. As a result, a foundry was immediately established and within three months a cannon was produced with a bore of five feet. It was able to blast a 600 lb missile for several furlongs and bury itself in the earth. (34)

Now the prophecy stated that

"...fire, smoke and brimstone came out of the horses' mouths"

With the invention of muskets [or rifles] the Turkish horsemen acquired the skill of using them while riding or charging on horseback into battle. As they charged they fired their muskets and we believe that to the prophet in vision gazing at these horsemen in the distance, - it appeared as if "fire and smoke and brimstone came out of the horses months". Through the years many scholars have seen this new type of warfare as a perfect fulfillment of the prediction. But were not other nations also using gunpowder? They were experimenting, but the Turks were the first to successfully employ gunpowder in the prosecution of warfare. Maybe this is one reason why this detail is featured in this prediction.

We pass to the seventh point of identification.

"Their power [or authority] is in their mouths, and in their tails."

In other words, their authority "was in their tails and their tails were like unto serpents and had heads." V19.

In scripture the word "power" may signify authority (Rom.13:1). The word "heads" could indicate rulers or leaders in association with the horse tails. This is a puzzling symbolism and it has challenged many students through the years. How could a horse's tail be associated with a head or a leader? Normally the tail would represent the rear, those who follow or those in subjection. In this puzzling symbol we are given remarkable evidence of Turkish identity. The Turks' peculiar ensign - the standard that they used to represent authority was a horse's tail! From prime visior to the governors of provinces, the horse's tail was the badge of authority. As Elliott says,

The ensign of one, two, or three horse tails that marks distinctively the dignity and power of the Turkish Pasha. (35)

According to their history, a Turkish "general, not knowing how to rally his troops who had lost their standard, cut off a horse's tail, fixed it to the end of a spear. The soldiers rallying at that signal gained the victory". Thereafter the horse's tail was used as a symbol of office. (36)

A writer on Turkish history in 1842 stated,

The recent overthrow of the Mameluc power [ in Egypt] by the Ottomans [Turks] had extended the shadow of the horsetails far along the coast of Africa. (37)

When France occupied North Africa, one of its generals summoned a certain tribe to submit to the French. The tribe had been under Turkish rule. In response the tribe stated that,

The horse of submission has no tails. (38)

This meant that the Turks no longer had any authority. What a clear mark of identity of the Turkish power? The prediction then continues,

"... with them they do hurt."

 

< id=2 name=2>

To see a larger image, click on map.

 

 


With their tails they do hurt. Here is a seeming contradiction. They have lion-like heads from which issue fire and smoke and brimstone, that kill the third part of men, or by which they were to destroy Rome. In this verse it speaks of "heads" that are connected with the tail which do hurt. The Greek word for "do hurt" means "doing injustice". We believe that this represents the oppression by the Turkish leaders on those whom they conquered, especially Christians in Greece and elsewhere. History records the truth of this. Knolles says,

His Bassaes like ravening harpies, as it were, suck out the blood of his poor subjects. (referring to the Turkish Pashas or leaders) (39)

The following is an eyewitness account of Turkish oppression.

And where is the traveller through European Turkey ... that has not with his own eyes witnessed the same? Even now the scene rises in memory before the author, of the long train of a Turkish Pasha proceeding to his Pashalik [or governorship] in Greece; which passed him by,... And bright, he remembers, shone the sunbeams on the varied colourings, the 'red, blue and yellow' of the horses, horsmen and foot-retainers, in the procession; and proudly the ensign was borne before the Turkman of two horsetails, to mark his dignity.

But associated with the remembrance there rise up other recollections also: the scene of a village which, on entering it a few days before with his companions, he had found deserted, though with marks of recent habitation; and from which, a straggler emerging from his hiding place informed them, men, women, and children had fled to the mountains, to escape from the visit, on some errand of oppression, of one of the officers of a neighbouring Pasha. Nor again can the scene be forgotten of other permanently deserted villages ... and often with nothing but the silent graveyard in its loneliness, to tell the tale of former life and population. Thus was there set before his eyes how the inhabitants had failed before the oppressions of the Pashas. (40)

The Turkish "heads" associated with "the tails" certainly "hurt" those whom they conquered.

We now come to the seige of Constantinople - the final "killing " or slaying" of the Eastern Roman empire. On April 6, 1453 Mahomet II assembled 258,000 men to commence the attack. The city was 13 miles in circumference, with 7,000 - 8,000 men to defend it. Its people implored the virgin Mary for deliverance - a token of their apostasy. The city was in the form of a triangle - two sides ran along the sea [the Black Sea and the Bosporus] and the base of the triangle was protected by a double wall and a trench, 100 feet deep and six mileslong. This part was attacked by the Turks. Edward Gibbon describes the attack, and reveals how the prediction was fulfilled that "by fire, by smoke and by the brimstone" was the empire killed.

"The volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of the musketry and cannon ... the long order of the Turkish artillery was pointed against the walls; fourteen batteries thundering at once on the most accessible places ... the fortifications which had stood for ages against hostile violence, were dismantled on all sides by the Ottomen cannon, many breaches opened, and, near the gate of St. Romanus, four towers levelled with the ground...from the lines, the galleys and the bridge, the Ottomam 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 ... the double walls were reduced by the cannon to a heap of ruins'...the Turks at length..."rushing through the breaches ... Constantinople was subdued, her empire subverted and her religion trampled in the dust by the Moslem conquerors" (41)

A Turkish historian writing of the same event declared,

The Moslems placed their cannon in an effective position. The gates and ramparts of Constantinople were pierced in a thousand places. The flame which issued from the mouths of those instruments of warfare, of brazen bodies and fiery jaws, cast grief and dismay among the miscreants. The smoke which spread itself in the air rendered the brightness of day as somber as night; and the face of the world soon became as dark as the black fortune of the unhappy infidels. (42)

Thus as the prophet declared, "by these three, by fire and smoke and brimstone was the third part of men killed". The Roman empire was no more.

There was now no independent Greek state left. (43)

The eighth and final point of identification is in the period of time allotted for the slaying or killing of the third part of men. It was to be for "an hour, a day, a mouth and a year". The third part applied at this particular time to Eastern Rome alone. One interpretation through the years has been that this description of "an hour, day, mouth and year" means an appointed time. The margin reads "at-an hour, day, month and year". Some versions confirm this reading. (44) Are we justified in holding that the above expression represents a period of time and not an appointed time? In other places in scripture time periods are expressed in a similar way as in Rev.9:15. In describing the 1260 year time period of Papal supremacy, Daniel says, it is "for a time, times, and half a time". (Dan.12:7) This equals three-and-a-half prophetic years or 1260 days, and represents 1260 years, on the Bible principle of a day equalling a year in prophecy. E.B. Elliott, the Cambridge lecturer on the book of Revelation in his "Horae Apocalypticae" has closely examined this expression in the original Greek and he has concluded that it represents a period of time - not an appointed time.(45) This being so, it means that the period allotted amounts to 391 years and 15 days if we include the "hour". Let us reverse the order for the sake of clarity: a year, month, day, an hour. A Bible year is 360 days which equals 360 years. A Bible month is 30 days which equals 30 years. A day is 1 year. The total is 391 years plus the "hour" which is a 24th part of a year or 360 days. That equals 15 days. Altogether the time period is 391 years 15 days.

One year = 360 Bible Days = 360 solar years
One month = 30 Bible Days = 30 solar years
One day = 1 Bible Day = 1 solar year
One hour = 1/24 of a day = 1/24th of a year
Or one hour = 1/24 of 360 days = 15 solar days

Total = 391 years, 15 days

In 1840 Josiah Litch, a noted preacher associated with William Miller in The Great Second Advent Movement of 1833-1844, predicted on the basis of this time period, that the Ottoman empire would come to its end on the 11th August, 1840. He and William Miller believed that both the fifth and the sixth trumpets applied to the Ottoman empire; that the fifth trumpet applied to the rise of the Ottomans and the sixth applied to the domination of the Ottoman Turks.(46) Litch believed that the five mouth period of torment of the fifth trumpet (i.e. 150 years) began with the first king of the Ottomans, who was Othman. Othman began his career of conquest on July 27, 1299 according to Gibbon. By adding 150 years to July 27, 1299 Litch obtained the date of July 27, 1449. On that date John Palaeolgus, the Roman Emperor died and his brother Constantine XI was elected in his place. However he could not be crowned except by permission of the Turkish sultan. This revealed that the Eastern Roman empire had lost it power and independence. It meant that the Turks were now in control. By adding 391 years and 15 days to July 27, 1449 Litch obtained the date of August 11, 1840. His conclusion was historically correct as far as the dates were concerned, and it was fulfilled to the very letter. Josiah Litch proclaimed to the world several months before August 11, 1840 that the infamous Ottoman empire would end. The world waited and watched. When it was fulfilled to the very day, hundreds of infidels were converted to the Christian faith. It was a dramatic fulfillment of Litch's prediction.

The author of Great Controversy refers to this event in the year 1840, as.another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy ... at the very time specified Turkey through her ambassador 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 became 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." (47) Josiah Litch's conclusions were based on the year/day principle - the same as William Miller's.

However since then, as a result of continued study, some problems have been discovered in certain parts of Josiah Litch's interpretation of the fifth and sixth trumpets. Litch held that the fifth trumpet applied to the Turks at their rise, but the current position is that the fifth trumpet applied to the Arabian conquests commencing with Mahomet, not the Ottoman Turks. (48) This being so, the period of torment of the locust power as understood by Litch needs to be re-examined. The 150 years were not connected with the Turks but with the Arabs, and the first king was not Othman the Ottoman, but Mohomet, the Arabian. The 150 years of torment fitted exactly, the period of the Arab conquests. They commenced in 612 A.D. when the Arabian armies sallied forth to invade Eastern Rome. From that point the period of torment of the apostate Christians of Eastern Rome began. Exactly 150 years later, in 762 A.D. the Arabian caliph moved his capital from Damascus to Baghdad, outside the boundary of the Roman empire and this ended the period of conquest of the Arabs and the period of torment.(48)

But what of the 391 year period of the sixth trumpet? When did this period commence and close? We suggest that that period commenced on the same date that Josiah Litch commenced it. That was July 27, 1449 A.D. When the Eastern Roman emperor, Constantine XI, was elected, he could only take office with the approval of the Turkish sultan. This meant that the Turks now controlled the empire. Its power and independence were gone - it had been killed. At the fall of Constantinople four years later, the last vestige of the empire was annihilated. With July 27, 1449 as the starting date for the 391 period, the termination, as with Litch's calculation was August 11, 1840 A.D. when the Ottoman empire lost its independence at the Treaty of London. Thus the final date of Josiah Litch's prediction is confirmed. The eighth specification of the prophecy was fulfilled. The time period of 391 years satisfactorily fits the Ottoman power.

We now come to the conclusion of the sixth trumpet. What are the main points of significance that we should note for our benefit? First, God's punishment of apostasy. All the trumpets were judgements on apostasy but it is significant to note that after the judgement of the sixth trumpet it says,

"...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 silver and gold and brass and stone and wood, which neither can see nor hear nor walk Neither repented they of their murders nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." Rev.9:20-21.

In other words the terrible judgement of the Turks was completely unavailing. It did not bring the apostate Christians to repentance. What a powerful lesson is in that for the church today? When Christians apostatize, very seldom do they turn back from their apostasy. Very seldom is there true repentance. This is a solemn lesson to those in responsibility. When apostasy raises its head, it is vital that it receive immediate and correct attention, otherwise the damage will seldom if ever be rectified.

The second point of significance concerning the sixth trumpet is that it introduces the Turks, for the first time into the prophetic picture. That vast multitude of peoples that inhabited the central Asiatic mainland, play a part in divine providence. Through two groups the Seljuks and the Ottomans - the Turks took control of Asia Minor and destroyed Eastern Rome. This remarkable fulfillment of Bible prophecy by the Turks confirms the accuracy of scripture.

The final and important point of significance is that the Turks were used by heaven to safeguard the Protestant Reformation. As one historian declared, "There would have been no Protestantism, had there been no Turk." (30) Is it not awe-inspiring to consider that one reason God moved the millions of Turks out of Asia into the Middle East was to employ them as protectors of His people and to keep at bay the powers of apostasy? . The Arabs of the fifth trumpet, protected the Church of the East from the attacks. of the-Papal apostasy.(48) The Turks of the sixth trumpet protected, the Protestant Reformation from the assaults of the Papal apostasy.

The sixth trumpet concludes the part that the Turks and Turkey played in the panorama of prophecy. In the great controversy between Christ and Satan, as portrayed in the book of Revelation, the Turks never again come into the picture.

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 2:34pm

When Is the Seventh Trumpet of Revelation 11:15-19 Blown?

Clues to Dating the Seventh Trumpet

Introduction

There is an important question that students of the trumpets of Revelation 8 through 11 will want to know the answer to, which is: When is the seventh trumpet blown?

But, why would one want to know the answer to that question? It depends somewhat upon one's viewpoint of the trumpets, but the most fundamental answer to this question is that there are many who teach that the trumpets are yet future. For some, this means all are in the future. For others, it means that only the last few trumpets are yet future, with the others in the past. If the seventh trumpet has already blown or is about to blow, then the question of any or all of the trumpets being in the future is answered automatically. If the seventh trumpet is yet future, then many will feel that their viewpoint will not need to change. Thus, the answer to the question of when the seventh trumpet is blown is very relevant to the viewpoint one takes with all the trumpets.

In order to answer the question of when the seventh trumpet is blown, there are several avenues of research in Revelation 8 through 11 that must be pursued. The first of these is found in Revelation 8:2-5. The second deals with Revelation 10:7. The third is Revelation 11:14-19. Because of the nature of the problem and the material available, on this web page Revelation 10:7 and Revelation 11:14-19 are largely considered together. A full understanding of this requires that the chiastic pattern of Revelation 11 will be discussed.

 

Revelation 8:2-5

To begin, the author wishes to start with Revelation 8:2-5 and deal with the common problem this presents and why the understanding of this set of verses is often incorrect.

In Revelation 8:2-5, the seven angels which stand before God are given seven trumpets. Then, they stand and wait while another event takes place before they begin to sound. The intervening event is that an angel is seen standing at the altar (the one outside of the temple) and is given incense and a censer to burn it in. He then moves to the golden altar in the holy place and proceeds to burn the incense. Note that the golden altar is in the holy place of the sanctuary on the opposite side of the veil from where the ark of the covenant is located. The smoke is said to ascend up with the prayers of the saints before God. Then he takes coals of fire from off the altar, puts them in the censer, and hurls it upon the earth. This is followed by voices, lightnings, thunderings, and an earthquake. After he is done with this, then the seven angels begin to sound their trumpets one at a time.

Now, the problem here is to gain a proper understanding of what this angel is trying to tell us by the activities he does. Obviously he is acting out symbolic actions in order to convey a message. Let us be sure we understand clearly what he is telling us.

Ranko Stephanovic, on page 285 of his book Revelation of Jesus Christ (Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA), documents that it was the practice under the Jewish sacrificial system that when the priest offered up the evening daily sacrifice, he would afterwards go into the holy place and burn incense upon the golden altar while carrying the censer with him (and you can guess it had incense in it as well for that is what it was normally used for - but to my knowledge, we don't know that for sure). Then, when this task was complete, the priest would walk out of the temple and then seven trumpets would be blown to announce the end of the daily sacrifice for that day.

Some people, when reading the description of the angel's actions, decide that this activity and where it is carried out determines the date BEFORE the first trumpet. And, they are right. But the problem is that many such individuals decide that this action must take place at the end of the investigative judgment, which is yet future as of the writing of this web page (September of 2004). They decide that this is so because they think that hurling the censer full of coals and incense to the earth indicates that the investigative judgment is over. Unfortunately, they fail to consider all the evidence available, and miss certain evidence that would make it clear that Revelation 8:2-5 is not the investigative judgment scene.

In the Old Testament services of the sanctuary, the golden altar was ALWAYS kept in the holy place before the veil, just on the other side of the veil opposite from the ark of the covenant where the presence of God was manifested. Remember this: The golden altar was NEVER taken into the most holy place. There are no instructions in the Old Testament that the author has been able to find in which the priests were instructed to take the golden altar into the most holy place at any time. The priests were instructed by God to enter the most holy place only at certain times, particularly on certain ceremonial days, and they were never to enter without a censer with burning incense in hand. To do otherwise was to invite death. The cloud formed by the burning incense clearly represents the protection given by Christ so that we are not consumed by God. You can read about this in Leviticus 16.

Now, in this scene in Revelation 8:2-5, we find the angel standing before the golden altar in the holy place burning incense in a censer. In this symbolic ceremony the angel is representing time during the daily services of the sanctuary by his action of standing in front of the golden altar and burning incense. If it were the day of atonement that he was representing, he would NOT be standing in front of the golden altar offering up the prayers of the saints with the incense, but rather would be within the veil in the most holy place with the censer only AND without the golden altar in front of him. Hence, this symbolic ceremony does NOT represent the time of the investigative judgment but instead represents the daily ministration of Christ in the holy place, which He did from the time of his ascension to heaven until the beginning of the investigative judgment in the fall of 1844. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who are misinformed about this and consequently draw the wrong conclusions.

The fact that John sees this event with the angel standing at the altar outside of the temple is very significant, because that is exactly what the priest would have done during the course of the daily service. For the daily service, he would have done the daily sacrifice on the altar outside the temple itself, and then would have taken the censer with him and gone into the temple to the golden altar and there burned incense. The fact that John first sees him at the altar and then moving to the golden altar to burn incense strongly reinforces the fact that this represents the daily ministration of Christ, not the day of atonement service (the investigative judgment). This again reinforces that the activity seen by John is telling us that we are to understand that this occurs during the daily ministration of Christ.

A logical question is what are the saints praying for that are seen ascending upwards in the smoke of the incense? While we don't know the answer to that question, we can surmise that in the original daily services of the priests in the Old Testament, we can imagine that the people were praying for a number of things, such as for their nation, forgiveness of sins in general, perhaps protection from enemies around them? A possible clue is that we can see that afterwards the trumpets blow, so perhaps these prayers were offered up because of all the evil being done by Christians who claimed the name of Christ but were not really Christians. Hence, the punishment nature of the plagues that follow against those who claim to be Christians but are not. These punishments might be the answer to the prayers of the saints from which we can possibly infer the content of the prayers.

But to complete the understanding of what the angel's activity at the altar represents, we need to know exactly what hurling coals of fire upon the earth signifies? It represents the judgments of God against those who claim to serve Him but really do not. The action of this angel is very similar to what is described in Ezekiel 10 and 11, where an angel is instructed to take coals of fire and spread them over the city of Jerusalem, the people of which at that time were claiming to be God's people, but their hearts were far from Him. Thus, the true Christians have their petitions taken and they go up before God for consideration. The false, apostate Christians will instead reap the judgments of God against them for their faithlessness.

The activity of the angel at the golden altar sets the tone for the entire trumpet series. The trumpet plagues are there for the purpose of punishing those who claim to be Christians but are not true Christians. They will reap the judgments of God, and will not have their petitions granted by God. Revelation 9:20-21 makes it clear that another intent of these trumpets is to bring men to repentance, but it is also clear that most do not repent of their sins and continue in their way of life that brings the plagues upon them in the first place.

Once the censer has been hurled to the earth, the first angel sounds his trumpet and the plagues begin.

 

To Date Trumpet #7, It Helps to Know When Trumpet #6 Ends

- Trumpet #7 Must Follow After That Date

Revelation 11 says that the sixth trumpet ends during the events of that chapter. It then details the seventh trumpet. To help in dating the seventh trumpet, it is logical that the seventh trumpet should follow the sixth trumpet because all the trumpets occur as a sequence, so it is important to find out when the sixth trumpet ends. Do keep in mind that there is a gap between the sixth trumpet and the beginning of the seventh trumpet because it says when the sixth trumpet is done that the seventh comes quickly, implying a time gap between them. Therefore, the seventh trumpet does not start immediately after the sixth trumpet ends. To help in understanding when the 6th trumpet ends, the pattern of Revelation must be explained first, so let us next turn to the study of the pattern found in Revelation 11.

Revelation 11 is built around a chiastic pattern. The chapter is readily outlined using an A-B-B'-A' pattern. The A and A' is the time of the investigative judgment and includes some details that go beyond the investigative judgment. The B and B' is the 1260 days, the details of which start near the end of the 1260 days and specifically deal with the French Revolution, and also includes some details that go a little beyond the 1260 days. Here is a table outline for the chapter with that pattern beside it so one can readily see that this is so:

Table 1

Event Description in Rev. 11
Time Parameters Chiastic Pattern Level
Rev 11:1 And there was given me a reed like a rod: and the
angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar,
and them that worship in it.
Investigative Judgment - 1844 and onward

A

Rev 11:2 But the court which is without the temple, leave
out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city
shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
1260 days B
Rev. 11:3-13, Two witnesses story during the 1260 days, the French Revolution details
1260 days details and a little afterwards B'
Rev 11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
Before 1844 - see Rev. 10:7, note omission of 6th trumpet after 1844, this serves as a termination point of the second woe and as part of the information about the 1260 days, must be included with the events associated with it, so must end before 1844. Actual ending date was Aug. 11, 1840.
Rev. 11:15-19 - measurement (investigative judgment) and result,
with reward pronounced - Christ receives the kingdom, the saints rewarded,
the wicked judged and rewarded, anger of the nations, wrath of God, dead are judged, wicked destroyed
Investigative Judgment details and afterwards A'

 

The key to understanding Revelation 11 is found in verses 1-2. Many people read
those two verses and fail to properly understand them or their extremely important relationship with the remainder of Revelation 11. Verses 1-2 set up the time parameters for what follows in the remainder of the chapter, or in other words, they tell the reader what time periods the next two parts of the chapter cover in history. Revelation 11 cannot be understood correctly if the intent of these two verses is not properly understood.

Verse 1 tells you that John was given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple, altar, and the people in the temple area itself (inside the outer court) At this point, an extremely important question needs to be asked, which is: what is the symbolic meaning of measurement in Revelation 11? To answer this important question, refer to Daniel 5, and there you will find that measurement was God's investigative judgment of king Belshazzar. In the story, Belshazzar held a huge party one night. The Medes and Persians were outside the gates of the city trying to get in, but Belshazzar felt safe inside. During the party, he ordered that the vessels from the temple in Jerusalem be brought in for use by the party revelers. Soon after that was done, a hand appeared near a wall and began to write strange characters on the wall. Having done that, apparently the hand simply disappeared, leaving behind very puzzled guests as to the meaning of this strange event. Belshazzar's smartest, most educated men could not read the characters, so Daniel was called. Daniel told Belshazzar that God had weighed him (Belshazzar) in the balances, which means you could say Belshazzar was measured. Daniel then pronounced the result - Belshazzar was found wanting (deficient), and the reward to be given out because of the declared result was also stated - Belshazzar's kingdom was given to another. But this really is the same process that occurs whenever God does an investigative judgment, something for which many examples are shown in the Bible.

Some would object because some versions render Revelation 11:1 as stating that the temple and altar is to be measured, but the worshipers are to be counted only. Counting is a form of measurement, is it not? So, they are being measured by counting just as surely as they would be by measuring with a measuring stick. Counting people is simply a different measurement. The idea of counting really is a good one because in Revelation 11:15, we are told that Christ will receive his kingdom at the end of the investigative judgment. That cannot happen until the list of subjects of his kingdom is made up, something that will not be completed until the investigative judgment has ended. So, to count the worshipers in a way is to determine those who ultimately are part of the kingdom of Christ. Remember that John was to count or measure the worshipers in the inner court, not the outer court where the gentiles were. Thus, only the professed people of God are measured or counted. But that is what the investigative judgment is all about - measuring those who have claimed Christ as their Saviour. Thus, ultimately, Revelation 11:1 is telling you that an investigative judgment is to be done on the people of God - the worshipers in the temple. We know from Daniel 8:14 that the investigative judgment began at the end of the 2300 days, which can be dated to the fall of 1844.

In Revelation 11:2, the angel tells John NOT to measure the outer court (where the gentiles were to be) because they would trample the holy city underfoot for a period of 1260 days. In the Old Testament sanctuary, the gentiles were not to go beyond the outer court into the temple grounds where the inner court was. They were to remain there and go no further.

Now, to be told NOT to measure the people during the 1260 days is to tell us that there is NO investigative judgment during the 1260 days. This makes sense because in the previous verse, measurement symbolized the investigative judgment which Daniel 8:14, Daniel 9:25, and history clearly tells us began after the 1260 days/years.. Here we are told when measurement, or investigative judgment, is not to take place. The 1260 days encompasses the time period from 538 AD to 1798 AD. The fact that the 1260 days is mentioned in association with the command NOT to measure gives us a clue that not measuring is associated with a time period. Likewise, it only makes sense that when measurement is going on, it too is associated with a time period. The time period for the investigative judgment can be established by Daniel 8:14, Daniel 9:25, and history, and began in the fall of 1844.

But note that from 1798 to 1844, there is a time gap. Since the end of the sixth trumpet (second woe) is placed in Revelation 11 between the events of the 1260 days and the investigative judgment events, it stands to reason that the second woe must end somewhere between 1798 and the beginning of the investigative judgment in 1844. If that were not the case, then why associate the end of the second woe with the events of the 1260 days, and have it followed by the investigative judgment events? The second woe is believed to be the invasions of the Turks into Christian Europe during the latter years of the dark ages. From the information presented in Revelation 9 and history, it is clear that the Turks began to give up their sovereignty in 1840, though their empire was not finished off until World War I. The giving up of their sovereignty is what marked the end of the second woe because there was no significant expansion of their empire from then on and they were to some degree subject to the will of other powers from then on.

Revelation 11:2 says there is no measurement during the 1260 days. Revelation 11:3-14 repeats the 1260 days, but this time it gives details that occur during and a little after the 1260 days. The starting point for the events that are given in these verses is right near the end of the 1260 days and running to just a little after the 1260 days are over. Verse 14 simply serves to mark the end of the second woe and the events connected with the 1260 days in Revelation 11.

Likewise, verses 11:15-19 give the details of the investigative judgment time. Like the details of the events described for the 1260 days, which began right near the end of the 1260 days and ran to a little just past the 1260 days, the details outlined in Revelation 11 of the investigative judgment time (remember the investigative judgment itself started in 1844) should also run from near the end of the investigative judgment to just after. That does appear to be the case because most, though not all, of the consequences of the seventh trumpet take place AFTER the end of the investigative judgment.

Because of this pattern, it should immediately tell us that the seventh trumpet should be blown sometime before and near, but not at, the end of the investigative judgment. Let us delve into the details of the seventh trumpet to discover more clues to dating it.

 

How Do the Events That Occur After the 7th Trumpet Is Blown Help Determine When It Is Blown?

To begin, verse 15 tells you that when the 7th trumpet was blown, it was followed by
voices that proclaimed the following:


Rev 11:15 ...The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and
of his Christ; and he will reign for ever and ever.

A little further it explains more of what is to come:


Rev 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time
of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward
to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name,
small and great; and shouldest destroy them who destroy the earth.

Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in
his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices,
and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

After the seventh trumpet is blown, a whole series of events follow. For one, Christ receives His kingdom at the end of the investigative judgment. His kingdom is made up of people who are loyal to Him (it does say to reward the prophets, the saints, and those who fear the name of God, which certainly is telling us the consistency of His kingdom). The list of those who are loyal to Him will be complete at the end of the investigative judgment, and not before. Thus, He receives His kingdom at the end of the investigative judgment because only then can everyone know who those people are that will make up the complete kingdom. The temple being opened in heaven and the events that attend it can be associated with the seventh plague just before Jesus comes again, which is even further from the end of the investigative judgment.

So, how do we date the blowing of the seventh trumpet?

Many argue that on the basis of Revelation 10:7, it must be blown at the end of the investigative judgment. But, as explained below, this is probably not the correct understanding of Revelation 10:7. In addition, such an interpretation does not agree with Revelation 11:18. To explain why that is the case, Table 2 has been set up below to show the two parallel sequences of events found in Revelation 11:18:

Table 2
Revelation 11:18 Dual Sequence Outlines
Sequence #1 - Anger against God's
people and God's
response to it
Sequence #2 - Reward Sequence
 
Event Description
When?
 
Event Description
When?
1 Seventh Trumpet Blown (Rev 11:15)   1 Seventh Trumpet Blown (Rev 11:15)  
2 the nations were angry ? 2    
3 the wrath of God is come Seven Last Plagues 3    
4     4 reward the righteous - they get eternal life Second Coming of Jesus
5 time to judge the dead Millennium 5    
6     6 Reward the wicked - destroy those who destroy the earth - they get eternal death Hell

 

In Table 2, the seventh trumpet blowing is shown as the first event of both sequences to give the idea that it comes before all the events that follow in either sequence, though it is not listed as one of the events of Revelation 11:18. It is there to keep the time relationship of the events listed in the table in proper perspective.

Note that the reward of the righteous, which is eternal life, is given at the second coming of Jesus. The wicked receive their reward at hell, which is eternal death. Not all of the reward of the righteous will be given at the second coming of Jesus. Some of the promises of God will be held back until after hell is completed at which time the earth will be recreated and a permanent home for the righteous will be given to each and every one upon the earth made new. That completes the reward of the righteous. But for any person without the prior reward of eternal life, there will be no eternal home on the new earth. Therefore, the first step - eternal life - is an absolute prerequisite for completion of the rest of the promise. As a result, the reward can and should be considered to be delivered at the second coming in this instance.

The events in Revelation 11:18 are written a little out of order and can be taken apart if one understands the sequence of events. When studying this, the author realized that there were two different sequences described in that verse that are intermingled. By separating them, one can see that they are sequences, and that helps to ascertain the relative dating of the "nations were angry" phrase. One question of interest is this: What does the Bible mean by this phrase, the nations were angry?

As you look over table 2, it should be clear that the two sequences involve events that move forward in time from start to finish. In the first sequence, it should be clear that if the last two events (the wrath of God and time to judge the dead) occur is sequence, then the first item (the nations were angry) must occur before these two events. Because the wrath of God is the time of the seven last plagues, the nations being angry MUST occur BEFORE the beginning of the seven last plagues. But when is the anger of the nations?

The nations being angry is not a reference to the anger of one nation against one another that results in warfare between nations. Rather this is the anger directed against the people of God. Why? Consider the following points:

  • Jesus said the following Mat 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
    Mat 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
    Mat 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
  • The sixth trumpet events must complete before the seventh trumpet begins. If the anger of the nations precedes the blowing of the seventh trumpet, it should be listed as part of the events of a previous trumpet. That is not the case, indicating that this event is one that immediately precedes the wrath of God and follows the seventh trumpet.
  • The sixth trumpet ended on August 11, 1840, so the seventh trumpet absolutely must follow that. Also this indicates that the anger of the nations cannot be the same as warfare, for that has existed since the earliest days of man upon this world and therefore should have been listed with trumpet number one.
  • Revelation is not about nations rising to power and fighting each other, but rather it is about the powers that array themselves against the people of God and how God will deliver them from this power. Therefore, warfare against the true people of God is to be noticed carefully. There are two periods of warfare against the people of God. The first of these is when the beast has power for 42 months and carries out a war against God's people through its power over the nation. The second is when the beast returns just before the close of the investigative judgment and the beginning of the seven last plagues. Again, this will be through the power the returned beast has over the power of the nations. The first is already past, and the second is just before us.

 

Ultimately, the logical conclusion is that the seventh trumpet MUST be blown before the end of the investigative judgment. No other conclusion is possible.

 

What Is the Correct Explanation of Revelation 10:7?

Now let us turn our attention to Revelation 10:7.

Revelation 10:7 says the following:

Rev 10:7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, whenever he is about to trumpet, was even ended the mystery of God, as He preached to His slaves, the prophets. (LITV)

As explained above, many see this verse and think to themselves that the "mystery of God" is the gospel of Jesus, so they assume that the "mystery of God" being finished must logically be the finishing up of the gospel work, or in other words, completion of the gospel commission that Jesus gave in Matthew 28:18-20. While this has an appeal to it and appears logical, the author has realized that this is probably not so (and no doubt, there are others who have reached the same conclusion). The belief is that the "mystery" of God" is the gospel. But it does NOT say that the giving of the gospel message to the world will be finished, but rather what it says is that the mystery of God (the gospel of Jesus) will be finished. The gospel is the "good news" about Jesus, the knowledge of Jesus and all associated knowledge that God wants us to have. To finish it means to complete it, to bring the knowledge to the full state that God intends for it to reach. This is NOT the same as giving the gospel to the whole world. That will be accomplished AFTER this knowledge is complete for only then can a complete accounting of the gospel be given to the world.

The root problem here is that a common assumption underlies the interpretation of this verse, an assumption that is likely incorrect at the heart of it. It is true that the "mystery of God" is the gospel, but finishing the gospel is not the same as finishing the giving of the gospel to the whole world. There IS a difference between the two and it makes all the difference in the world in the interpretation of Revelation 10:7.

When a person believes that the giving of the gospel to the whole world is at the heart of the finishing of the mystery of God, then this automatically forces the blowing of the seventh trumpet to the end of the investigative judgment, at which time the giving of the gospel to the whole world will be completed. But, if a person sees that this verse is actually referring to the finishing of the gospel, or completion of knowledge about the gospel, then it creates a situation in which the seventh trumpet can be blown before the end of the investigative judgment. Does this make sense?

If one insists that the finishing of the mystery of God is the finishing of the giving of the gospel to the whole world, then it creates a contradiction between Revelation 10:7 and the events of Revelation 11:18. Revelation 11:18 makes it abundantly clear that the seventh trumpet is blown before the end of the investigative judgment because it is blown before the time in which the "nations are angry" (review Table 2). Consequently, one must either deny what Revelation 11:18 says, or ignore it altogether as many do, or else find a better solution. The author decided that it would be more prudent to seek a better solution, or in other words, study Revelation 10:7 and 11:18 until a better and more harmonious understanding of the relation between these two verses could be achieved. That resulted in a better understanding of the meaning of the phrase "mystery of God".

To illustrate the contradiction presented by the common assumption about Revelation 10:7 in relation to Revelation 11:18, here is a small graphic picture of the problem (note: time is not to scale):

     |-----------------|---------------|--------------|
   1844          Rev 11:18       Revelation 10:7    Second
Investigative  Seventh Trumpet   Investigative      coming
Judgment            blown        Judgment Ends 
Begins                           and seventh
                                 trumpet blown

With this type of contradiction, where there are two different dates given for the blowing of the seventh trumpet, one has to realize that something is wrong. The author first considered that perhaps there was a mistake in the translation of the Greek word commonly translated as "finished" or "completed" in Revelation 10:7 (there are known mistakes in translation that have occurred, so this is not impossible), but discarded this thought after some careful investigation revealed that this word was translated correctly. That being the case, it became apparent that the underlying assumptions about Revelation 10:7 were probably at fault.

Do remember that with this type of contradiction, one cannot simply assume that one verse takes precedence over the other. That won't work because two different dates for the same event occur here, something that must be resolved. The understanding of Revelation 11:18 apparently is not at fault, so Revelation 10:7 must be the source of the problem.

To solve this contradiction, the author started up his Bible software and looked up all verses in the New Testament which contained the words "mystery" and "God". The following verses came up:

Mark 4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Colossians 4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Revelation 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

Looking over the verses above, one can see that there are different mysteries described. There is, for example, the mystery of godliness, which in 1 Timothy 3:16 is described as God manifesting himself in the flesh in Jesus. There is the mystery of Christ spoken of in Colossians 1:27, which was described as Christ being in the minds of the gentiles. There is also the mystery of the kingdom of God. All of these come close, and do help, but the one that comes the closest to the "mystery of God" is that spoken of in Colossians 2:2, for which it is pertinent that the surrounding verses be included for context. Here is what is said there:

Col 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have concerning you, and those in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,
Col 2:2 that their hearts may be comforted, being joined together in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding, to the full knowledge of the mystery of God, even of the Father and of Christ,
Col 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.

Here Paul tells the Colossians that he struggled to be sure they had several things, including the full knowledge of the mystery of God, which he seems to equate to knowledge of the Father and of Christ. By this, Paul tells us that the knowledge of the mystery of God is the knowledge of the Father and of Christ. So, the mystery of God is that knowledge God wants us to have of Him. It is to know Him personally. But we do that through learning about God through the Bible, the best way we have of getting to know Him personally.

One could say that this mystery of God or knowledge God wants us to have is the gospel of Christ. But notice that speaking of this mystery to others or sharing it with others is not the same as the mystery itself according to Colossians 4:3, for there Paul says he wishes that the Colossians would pray for him and his coworkers that they would have occasion to speak to others about this mystery of Christ. People tend to get the gospel and the giving of the gospel mixed up in Revelation 10:7, which causes an incorrect interpretation. Revelation 10:7 is telling us that the knowledge of the gospel will be completed before the seventh trumpet is blown. That verse does NOT say that the giving of the gospel to the world will be completed. In order to understand this verse correctly, the distinction must be understood. We know the gospel will be given to the whole world and then the end will come, but this verse apparently is not the promise of that happening as many think it to be. That promise is found elsewhere in the Bible.

With the understanding that Revelation 10:7 is telling us that prophetic knowledge will be completed prior to the blowing of the seventh trumpet, this does NOT force the seventh trumpet blowing to the end of the investigative judgment, but rather allows it to be dated to some time prior so as to coordinate with Revelation 11:18. The dates of the two verses must coincide.

Below is an illustration of a corrected time line - the time line can now look like this:

     |--------------------|------------|--------------|
   1844             Rev 11:18 and   Investigative   Second
Investigative         Rev 10:7      Judgment Ends   coming
Judgment           Seventh Trumpet        
Begins                blown

With this timeline, there is no conflict between Revelation 11:18 and Revelation 10:7 because both permit the seventh trumpet to be blown before the investigative judgment ends, so can coincide.

There is a second time limit that helps determine that the seventh angel must blow his trumpet after the beginning of the investigative judgment. In Revelation 10:7, it says that there is no more time (this refers to the prophetic time of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14), but then tells us that in the days of the seventh angel, just before he begins to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be finished. This tells us that prophetic time where there are anchoring dates (starting or ending dates where the prophetic time is definite and tied to dates rather than events) are past. This plainly tells us, in the same sentence, that the seventh angel will blow his trumpet after the time of "time no longer" (Rev 10:6) has begun. Hence, there is more literal time yet to come and the mystery of God will be finished and the seventh angel will blow his trumpet during this time. Therefore, the seventh angel must blow his trumpet AFTER the autumn of 1844, when the investigative judgment began and the 2300 days ended.

What Prophecies Are To Be Opened Before the Seventh Trumpet is Blown?

The book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus (Revelation 1:1), which clearly tells us that by studying this book, one is getting acquainted with Christ. In addition, the context of Revelation 10:7 is that of an open scroll in the hand of the angel that comes down to John in his vision. This scroll is a book of prophecy, which we can know because in Revelation 5, we have the story of the scroll that is sealed shut with seven seals. Only the lamb, which represents Jesus, is able to open that scroll by undoing each seal. As He opens each seal, more and more of future history is revealed, indicating that this scroll, once opened, reveals history that was yet future to John. From this we may conclude that the closed scroll is prophecy that has not been opened to our understanding, while an open scroll is prophecy that has been opened to us so that we may understand it.

Now, specifically this open scroll refers primarily to the book of Daniel that was to be opened at the end of the 1260 days (in the year 1798 - see Daniel 12). Secondarily it very likely represents the book of Revelation, which was never a sealed book, but has been poorly understood because of efforts of men to keep the contents hidden and obscured.

Revelation 10:7 provides its own evidence that this is so. Here is why:

Rev 10:7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, whenever he is about to trumpet, was even ended the mystery of God, as He preached to His slaves, the prophets. (LITV)

Who is it that this mystery of God has been revealed or preached to already? Answer: "His slaves, the prophets." Thus, from this we may conclude that this mystery of God directly involves prophecy. It is the prophetic teachings that are recorded by the prophets. Specifically, since this is presented in the book of Revelation, one should logically conclude that Revelation and the companion book to Revelation, the book of Daniel, is what is included in this definition. Therefore, the prophetic writings of Daniel and Revelation must be completely understood by somebody here on earth in order to complete the gospel, and then the seventh trumpet will blow. Once that trumpet has blown, we may expect the seventh plague to follow (remember that the trumpets are described as plagues in Revelation 9:20). Shortly after this, we may expect the gospel to go to the whole world. Then the remaining consequences described in Revelation 11:15-19 will follow the seventh trumpet plague itself.

Revelation 11 does not detail the cause of the seventh plague, unlike the first and second woes, which were caused by the Saracens (represented by the locusts) and the Turks (represented by the horses and horsemen), respectively. But given that it was Muslims (both the Saracens and the Turks were Muslims) that caused the first and second woes, and knowing that the seventh trumpet is also a woe, we may expect the third woe (or seventh plague) to be caused by another wave of Muslim wars against apostate Christians. This will anger the nations, and then, in an attempt to make things right with God because of disasters that will accompany this war, they will decide that God is punishing them for their sins and will choose a course of reform. Of course, then they turn on the people of God because those people will stand in the way of their "reform". This "reform" will turn out to be misguided because they will not be choosing obedience to God's way, but rather will choose obedience to commandments made up by men. Specifically, they will choose to honor a man-made Sabbath, the Sabbath selected for honor by the pope in Rome, Sunday, rather than the seventh-day Sabbath that God has chosen and requires us to keep in honor of His act of creating life upon this world. The result will be that the nations will become even more angry and the end time events follow naturally. You can read more of this in Revelation 13:11-18 and Revelation 17:8-14.

The author believes that like the second woe, in which the Protestant Reformation succeeded because the Turks attacked whenever the Papal armies were attacking the Protestants, it seems likely that the final work of spreading the gospel will be hindered by forces arrayed against this activity, but the attacks of the Muslims will distract these forces from accomplishing their ultimate objective, and thus serve to permit or even enhance the spread of the gospel. The attacks of the Muslims will cause many to question and study the Bible so that they will gain a better understanding of God and salvation. This will lead to salvation for many.

The fact is that completing the understanding the prophetic writings of Daniel and Revelation before the seventh trumpet is blown is in line with the book of Daniel, which says:

Dan 12:4 But you, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, to the end time. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Dan 12:9 And He said, Go, Daniel! For the words are closed up and sealed until the end time.

Most scholars say that this "knowledge" primarily refers to knowledge about the Bible, and not specifically to scientific knowledge, though that probably is included as well. Certainly it is true that since 1798, knowledge about God and the Bible has greatly increased.

When was the end of time, according to Daniel?

Dan 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was on the waters of the river, when he held up his right and his left hand to the heavens and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and a half. And when they have made an end of scattering the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

All things would be finished AFTER the 1260 days (time, times, and a half), which clearly means the end time occurs when the 1260 days are done. When you finish things, you bring them to an end, don't you? So, if you are in the finishing stage of doing a set of tasks, you are doing the end of these things. It only makes sense. The 1260 days/years ended on February 15, 1798 when the Papacy was decreed dead by the French authorities when they took over Rome. It didn't totally die, but it did lose its power over the saints and largely lost its control over the governments of Europe. As a result, we are now living in the time that Daniel was told is the end time.

Logically, then, the angel said in Revelation 10:7 that when knowledge about God is complete (what God wants us to know about prophecy), then the seventh trumpet shall be blown. The way it was actually said is that this completion of knowledge will occur just as the seventh angel is about ready to blow his trumpet. And clearly this involves prophecy about end time events, so includes both Daniel and Revelation.

What knowledge is it in Daniel and Revelation that must be completed prior to the blowing of the seventh trumpet? Daniel is generally well understood, though it is difficult. Most of Revelation is also well understood. However, there is one exception, which has to do with Revelation 17. The heads and horns of the scarlet beast have not been well understood. There are those who claim to properly understand these things, but the author has serious doubts about that. The pattern of interpretation used by most is in direct contradiction with how things are done in Daniel. Since God designed the visions given to both Daniel and John, it seems very unlikely He would use two different patterns for the same type of prophetic beasts. Unfortunately, most interpretations of Revelation 17 avoid use of the rules of interpretation derived from Daniel, so as a result, most interpretations of the scarlet beast and its heads and horns in Revelation 17 are incorrect.

As it happens, the heads and horns of the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 and the connection of the papal count to the number 666 as described on this web site was not understood prior to 1997. The author believes that this knowledge is probably that which must be completed. The study of Revelation 17 presented here on this web site, therefore, is likely to be fulfillment of this prophecy. Why didn't God simply tell us right there what the mystery of God is? The answer to that is that to have done so directly would have given away the secret! However, God does provide the answer, which the next section covers. Meanwhile, we are in a terrorist war now with Muslims that really got going after 1997. Does this suggest something to you?

 

Mystery of God and Mystery, Babylon the Great

The mystery of God is defined above as the knowledge of God that God wants us to have before He comes again, and in particular the prophetic knowledge of Daniel and Revelation. What is interesting is that Revelation 17, which in particular is probably that knowledge which must be completed before the seventh trumpet is blown, has a title for the woman who rides the 7 heads of the beast. She has the title of Mystery, Babylon.the Great. Elsewhere in Revelation, the terms "Babylon" or "the great city" are used instead, so they are the same thing. But clearly there is a mystery of Babylon that is presented here. It seems to the author that this title appears to be a parallel with the phrase "mystery of God" that is used in Revelation 10:7. This would strongly suggest that the title the woman has is referring to the knowledge of Satan and sin, instead of God, the prophecies, and doing right. Thus, there is significance to the title "Mystery, Babylon the Great".

Notice that Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17 is sitting on the seven heads of the scarlet beast. It says "And here is the mind which hath wisdom" (Rev. 17:9), which implies that there is a mystery to this and requires wisdom to figure it out. It is not obvious to the casual observer. But note also that it is a mystery during the time when the woman is sitting on the seven heads, but the fact that there is a mind that has wisdom to figure it out suggests that during this time, it will be understood before this time is over. Revelation 10:7 tells us the timing of when this understanding is created, which is that this understaning of this mystery will come before the third woe begins.

The woman sitting on the seven heads, along with their identity and when they exist, has always been a mystery. The entire section is written as a puzzle to be solved. Here is that puzzle:

Rev 17:7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
Rev 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Rev 17:9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
Rev 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
Rev 17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
Rev 17:12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
Rev 17:13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
Rev 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Note that verse 7 tells you that there is a mystery to both the woman and the beast. Both are a secret or a puzzle to be solved.

The common understanding is that the finishing of the "mystery of God" is the finishing of the gospel work, or in other words the gospel goes to the whole world as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:18-20. What is the mystery about the giving of the gospel to the whole world? Jesus gave a very plain command about that and there is no mystery about it. A mystery is something that is not understood, something that is a secret until revealed. Synonyms for mystery are puzzle or a riddle. The finishing of the gospel is not a mystery of any kind by any of those definitions. We may not know the details of how the gospel will be finished, but the fact that it will be finished is no mystery because Jesus tells us it will be finished. And He tells us how - the gospel will go to the whole world and THEN the end comes. Where is the mystery in that?

But this mystery in Revelation 17 has never been properly understood until now. Revelation 10:7 says that the mystery of God is the secret, mystery, or riddle that God has given to his prophets, so one must look elsewhere beyond this verse to know what that mystery is that God has revealed to his prophets. God did NOT reveal the answer to this puzzle in such a way that either of the writers of Daniel or Revelation figured it out so far as we can ascertain.

So, what is the mystery that he told them about? Look for the item labeled as a "mystery". There is this mystery of the woman and the mystery of the beast that God revealed to John as it is recorded in Revealtion 17, and indirectly to the prophet Daniel (think about the talking horn in Daniel 7, but it does not have the details of Revelation 17). There is no other item in Daniel or Revelation that is called a mystery except for Revelation 1:20, but that is no mystery anymore because it is explained in the same verse. Therefore, Revelation 17 is the only possibility for identification of the mystery delivered to the prophets. The description of the heads, horns, and the woman are stated in language that almost defies identification of the component parts. It begs to be identified and understood. Thus, this prophecy in Revelation 17 is the puzzle to be solved for it is the mystery that God has given to his prophets.

To solve this puzzle, the identity of the beast, the 7 heads, the 7 mountains, the 7 kings, the 10 horns, and the woman must all be correctly deduced. And the 8th must be properly identified. The fact is that most have failed to do this correctly because they do not understand two basic facts: (1) the rules of interpretation laid down in Danel apply also to Revelation, and (2) the identity of the scarlet beast. The secret was given to John and indirectly to Daniel as well. Until recently it remained a secret for Daniel had no idea what it was, and John does not say what he thought about it, but the author's guess is that he didn't know either because it was yet future to his time. How could he know because, so far as we know, he was not told the answer to the obvious questions - Who is the beast? Who are the heads? And so on.

There have been a number of hypotheses developed to explain the heads of Revelation 17. The only one that can be correct is the one developed just before the seventh trumpet blew, for the prophecy in Revelation 10:7 says that just as the seventh angel is about to blow his trumpet, then this mystery would be finished or completed. Since we are now in a Muslim war agairst Christians that started a few years ago here in America, we know that the seventh angel blew his trumpet. This means that any hypothesis developed just before the seventh angel blew his trumpet is much more likely to be correct. The one presented on this web site was developed just before the seventh angel blew his trumpet. Does this suggest something to you?

But now we understand from Revelation 10:7 that this puzzle will be solved before the seventh trumpet, or the third woe, begins. Since we now have a Muslim extremist war against Christian America, this is a clear sign that the third woe has begun. We are in for very difficult days ahead because of the third woe..


 

Conclusion

Table 3 below is a modification of Table 2 and shows the sequence of events for Revelation 11:15-19:

Table 3
Sequence #1 - Anger against God's
people and God's
response to it
Sequence #2 - Reward Sequence
   
 
Event Description
When?
 
Event Description
When?
1 Seventh Trumpet Blown (Rev 11:15), prophetic knowledge completed just before 7th trumpet is blown (Rev !0:7) Before the "Nations were angry" of Rev 11:18 1 Seventh Trumpet Blown (Rev 11:15), prophetic knowledge completed just before 7th trumpet is blown (Rev !0:7) Before the "Nations were angry" of Rev 11:18
2 Seventh Plague or Third Woe - Muslim War Against Christians (2 woes are Muslim, third should be one also) Just after 7th trumpet blown 2    
3 the nations were angry (Rev 11:18) Near End of Investigative Judgment 3    
4     4

Christ Receives Kingdom

(Rev 11:15-17, Daniel 7:9-14)

End of Investigative Judgment
5 the wrath of God is come (Rev 11:18) First Six of Seven Last Plagues (Rev 16:1-16) 5    
6

Great Hail, lightnings, thunderings, earthquake (Rev 16:17-21)

Ark of God seen (10 commandments shown), lightnings, thunderings, great hail, earthquake (Rev 11:19)

Seventh Plague of Seven Last Plagues (Rev 16:17-21) 6    
7     7 reward the righteous (Rev 11:18) Second Coming of Jesus (1 Cor 15:51-55)
8 time to judge the dead (Rev 11:18) Millennium (Rev 20:4,5,11-15) 8    
9     9 Reward the wicked - destroy those who destroy the earth (Rev 11:18) Hell (Rev 20:9)

 

In conclusion, we can know that the seventh trumpet will be blown AFTER the knowledge of the prophecies is complete, and this completion will occur before the beginning of the anger of the nations, which in turn occurs after 1844 and before the end of the investigative judgment.

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 2:53pm
We also have a very good study by SDA theologian Jon Paulien:
 
INTERPRETING THE SEVEN TRUMPETS
by Jon Paulien
A paper prepared for the
Daniel and Revelation Committee
of the General Conference of SDAs
Presented in Berrien Springs, MI
March 5-9, 1986
 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

I. THE SEVEN TRUMPETS IN CONTEXT
        The Limits of this Study
        Basic Observations
        The Structural Context
        The Old Testament Context
        The Intertestamental Background
        The New Testament Context

II. EXEGESIS OF THE SEVEN TRUMPETS
        The First Trumpet
        The Second Trumpet
        The Third Trumpet
        The Fourth Trumpet 
        The Fifth Trumpet 
        The Sixth Trumpet
        Interlude
        The Seventh Trumpet

III. THE THEOLOGY OF THE SEVEN TRUMPETS
        The Problem of Evil
        The Visitation of Wrath
        The Kingdom Comes
        Conclusion
 
IV. ADVENTIST INTERPRETATION OF THE TRUMPETS
        Approaches to the Book of Revelation
        The Adventist Approach
        An Inductive Historicism
        Some Historicist Perspectives
        The Trumpets and History
 
 

INTRODUCTION
 
            The seven trumpets of Revelation have proven themselves to be among the most difficult passages in all of Scripture. They are filled with bizarre and cryptic symbols which resist meaningful interpretation. The first six trumpets (8:7-9:21) seem virtually devoid of typical NT themes. Here, of all places in Revelation, it is essential to apply as rigorous and scientific a method as possible if an understanding of the symbols is to be achieved. The method followed in the preparation of this paper is described in detail in my book Decoding Revelation's Trumpets.(1)
 
 
 
 THE SEVEN TRUMPETS IN CONTEXT
 
The Limits of This Study
 
            The author explicitly begins the seven trumpets at Rev 8:2 where the seven angels who stand before God receive seven trumpets, presumably from God Himself.(2) Many commentators have felt that the seven trumpets actually begin with the opening of the seventh seal in verse 1.(3) This is probably true in part as most transitional passages in Revelation point both forward and backward at the same time.(4) But verse 2 provides the explicit introduction to the section so we are on reasonably safe ground to begin there.

            The seven trumpets clearly end with either verse 18 or verse 19 of chapter 11. While this cannot be decided with certainty the evidence of the book's structure suggests that verse 19 belongs to chapter 12 rather than the seventh trumpet.(5) Thus we will end this study of the seven trumpets at Rev 11:18.

            The interlude, Rev 10:1-11:14, breaks up the natural flow of the trumpets and prepares the way for what is to follow in Rev 12ff. The material in this section has been rather thoroughly interpreted by Ellen White and thus is less puzzling to Seventh-day Adventists than the rest of chapters 8-11. This paper will concentrate on the most enigmatic portions, 8:7-9:21 and 11:15-18. The interlude does contain, however, one point of major interest for our study of the trumpets. This is Rev 10:7 which relates the sounding of the seventh trumpet to the finishing of the mystery of God.
 

Basic Observations

            The seven trumpets, like the churches and seals before them, are preceded by a view of the heavenly sanctuary (8:2-6). The scene in verse 2 is probably based on the fact that there were seven trumpet priests in the Old Testament cultus (1 Chr 15:24; Josh 6; cf. also 1QM 3:1-11; 7:7ff.).(6) Their trumpet calls represented the prayers of God's people for deliverance in battle and forgiveness of sin (Num 10:8-10). Thus the prayers of the saints in Rev 8:3-5 are probably cries for deliverance from the oppression visited by their enemies as depicted in the seven seals.

            In Rev 8:3-5 "another" angel, presumably Christ, mingles incense with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne.(7) After the smoke of the incense has ascended before the throne combined with the prayers of the saints, the angel takes the censer, fills it with fire from the altar and throws it to the earth. The result of that act is thunders, noises, lightnings and an earthquake. This is immediately followed by the preparation of the seven angels for the sounding of their trumpets. Thus the activity at the altar is connected to the judgments which follow. What is the nature of this connection?

            Two basic ideas are portrayed in Rev 8:3-5, mediation and judgment. Through Christ's mediation in heaven it is possible for the saints to maintain a relationship with God and to survive the plagues of the seven trumpets. While the altar stands this mediation continues, but wherever the fire falls the powers of the enemy take control. This passage contains a symbolic reminder both of God's care and concern for the believer and of His active participation in the judgments that fall on those who reject the gospel.

            The daily service in the temple to which this passage points included the ministration of incense, the throwing of the sacrifice in the fire and the blowing of the temple trumpets. The blowing of the trumpets indicated that the sacrifice was complete. For the author of Revelation the sacrifice par excellence was the death of Jesus. Thus the events of the seven trumpets need to be seen in the light of the cross. It is the cross that makes mediation possible. It is rejection of the cross that brings down the wrath of God. To the extent that the trumpets portray the author's viewpoint of historical events, the beginning point is certainly the cross of Jesus Christ.

            The seven trumpets themselves are, like the seals, divided into a 4-3 pattern or, perhaps more accurately, a 4-2-1 pattern. Just as the four horsemen are explicitly tied together as a unit, so are the three woes (8:13; 9:12; 11:14). The first four trumpets are set apart by Rev 8:13 and share a much briefer format than the last three. While the four horsemen specifically affect humanity, the first four trumpets fall on the natural world.

            Another aspect of the seven trumpets as a whole is the apparent escalation of judgment. They increase in intensity as they progress. From plagues on the natural world, the trumpets become demonic horrors which first harm (fifth trumpet) then kill (sixth trumpet) the inhabitants of the earth. They end in the consummation of God's wrath under the seventh trumpet.

            There is a basic pattern shared by most of the trumpets. First an angel sounds the trumpet, then a form appears (hailstorm, falling star), then the effects are described (burning of greenery, defiling of the springs and rivers). Each plague is limited in its sphere of operation, usually in terms of a third of something.

            The purpose of the seven trumpets is indicated by Rev 9:20,21 where the lament is raised that those who were not killed by the plagues of the sixth trumpet nevertheless failed to repent of their idolatry, sorcery or commandment breaking. This indicates that while the trumpets portray judgments on the enemies of God's people (cf. 9:4), their purpose is to lead to repentance, even though they do not succeed in doing so with the unsealed. This, combined with the partial character of the trumpets (affecting thirds of the earth or humanity rather than the whole as in the seven bowls), leads to the conclusion that they are preliminary or warning judgments which prepare the way for the end-time judgments of the latter half of the book.
 

The Structural Context

Relation to the Seven Seals
 
            There is considerable recapitulation between the seals and the trumpets. Both begin with a scene from the heavenly sanctuary, describe a series of plagues and then end with a portrayal of the consummation. Rev 8:5 and 11:19 are parallel following each. Such recapitulation is typical of Hebrew style and indicates that the seals and trumpets are in relationship with each other.(8)

            However, there are also significant differences between them. For one thing there is much less reference to heavenly things in the trumpets than in the seals.(9) Second, the seals are on the whole normal, non-apocalyptic plagues, while the trumpet plagues are bizarre and demonic. Third, there is an apparent reversal of content. In the seals the general focus is on humanity with plagues on nature and heavenly bodies introduced only in the sixth seal. In the trumpets, on the other hand, plagues on the natural world are found in the first four while the fifth and sixth focus on humanity. Fourth, the seals affect quarter-portions of the earth (Rev 6:8) while the trumpets affect thirds.

            Finally, and most significant, the seals clearly concern the people of God and their fate in a world that opposes the gospel.(10) As such they form the counterpart of the account of the Unholy Trinity (dragon, beast and false prophet) and the remnant of the woman's seed depicted in chapters 12-14. The trumpets, in contrast, describe judgments on those who have opposed Christ through their opposition to His people and their message. Thus, the relationship between the seals and the trumpets involves both parallels and contrasts.

            This relationship is, perhaps, best understood by examining the apparent connection between the fifth seal and the introduction to the seven trumpets (Rev 8:3-5). In the fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11) John sees martyred souls under "the" altar crying out "How long, O Lord, the Holy and True One, do you not judge and avenge our blood upon those who live on the earth (tôn katoikountôn epi tês gês)?"(11) These souls are given white robes and told to rest a short while until "the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed."(12)

            Since the question "how long" is not really answered in the fifth seal, the reader anticipates that things will be clarified later on in the book. Thus it is not surprising that there are later references to numbered groups of God's people (chapter 7), prayer (8:3-5) and those who dwell on the earth (8:13; 11:10; 13:8,14, etc.). Very significant is the reference in Rev 8:13, which stands at the structural center of the seven trumpets.(13) This verse indicates that the trumpet plagues fall on "those who live on the earth," the same group which was martyring the saints, referred to in 6:9-11 as the "souls under the altar." The spiritual connection between the trumpets and the fifth seal is made in Rev 8:3-5 where incense from the golden altar is mingled with "the prayers of the saints (tais proseuchais tôn hagiôn)."(14) This scene symbolizes Christ's intercession for His saints. He responds to their prayers by casting His censer to the earth, with frightful results.

            This connection between the altar of 6:9-11 and that of 8:3-5 indicates that the seven trumpets are God's response to the prayers of the saints for vengeance on those who have persecuted and martyred them. The martyrs were anxious for the judgment to begin but it was delayed until all the seals had been opened.(15)

            In verse 5 the altar which receives the prayers of the saints becomes the source from which judgments are poured out on the wicked in response (cf. 9:13-15; 14:18-20 and 16:4-7). When the fire of purification from the altar contacts the earth, it provokes disasters.(16) The same fire which purifies can also destroy. The censer of judgment and the censer of prayer become one. Thus the seven trumpets should be understood as God's judgment-response to the prayers of the martyrs, resulting in justice being done with respect to those who persecuted the saints.
 

Relation to the Rest of the Book

            What relation do the seven trumpets have to the rest of the book of Revelation? In chapters 10 and 11, where the seventh trumpet is first mentioned, we have a vision which contains the first mention of a number of elements such as the "beast" and the "great city" which form a major part of visions in the latter half of the book. This element of "preview" is particularly prominent in 11:18 which offers a summary introduction of the final battle described in chapters 12 through 22.

            Rev 11:18 contains five statements which point to five sections of the second half of the Apocalypse. "The nations were angry" (ta ethnê ôrgisthêsan) is elaborated in 12:17ff. where the dragon was angry with the woman (ôrgisthê ho drakôn) and went away to make war with the remnant of her seed by means of the sea and land beasts which he calls up in chapter 13.

            The next statement in 11:18, "and your wrath came" (kai êlthen hê orgê sou), is a reference to the seven last plagues in their context (Rev 15-18). These bowl plagues are summarized in 15:1: "And I saw another great and wondrous sign in heaven, seven angels having the seven last plagues, because in them the wrath of God is consummated (etelesthê ho thumos tou theou)."(17) The two woes of Rev 9 are truly horrendous. The reader expects the most frightening plague of all with the arrival of the third woe in 11:15ff. But the seventh trumpet is mostly rejoicing and has only a minimal mention of negative events. Thus the third woe is the seven last plagues of the bowls.

            With "the time to judge the dead" (ho kairos tôn nekrôn krithênai) we have an apparent reference to the judgment of the great white throne in Rev 20:11-15. This points the reader to the context of the millennium and its aftermath.

            The time of rewards (dounai ton misthon tous doulois sou . . .) is mentioned again in 22:12 where Jesus rewards His faithful ones at His Second Coming. The contrasting reward "to destroy those who are destroying the earth" (diaphtheirai tous diaphtheirontas tên gên), is mentioned in 19:2 which summarizes the results of the plagues and the fall of Babylon.

            It is clear from the above analysis that the seventh trumpet is a summary statement in advance of the contents of the rest of the book of Revelation. As such the seven trumpets have a certain structural relationship to the events portrayed in chapters 12-22. This relationship is especially striking in terms of the parallels and contrasts between the trumpets and the seven bowls.(18)
 
 
The Three Series of Plagues

            In a study of the seals, trumpets and bowls, then, there is a tension between recapitulation and contrast. As noted earlier, one of the most significant contrasts is in the territorial limitations of the seals and the trumpets as opposed to the bowl plagues.(19) Thus there is a dramatic crescendo of judgment in the seals, trumpets and plagues.(20) The seals and the trumpets are preliminary and partial in character in comparison with the bowls which consummate the wrath of God.(21)

            Therefore, the trumpets should not be interpreted in terms of the final consummation, although they lead up to it. They are limited territorially to thirds of the earth, they are limited to periods of time (five months) and they are limited in their destructive capacity (9:5,6). By contrast, the bowls are an advancement in the state of God's judgments. They are called the seven "last" plagues. In them God's wrath is for the first time brought to its full completion. They are poured out with reference to the beast while there is no mention of the beast in the trumpets until just before the seventh. The result of the plagues is that the redeemed, the product of the Christian era, stand by the sea. Thus the author intended the reader to see the plagues as the consummation of the end-time while the trumpets point to a series of events that lead up to the end-time.
 

Summary of Structural Context

            The various structural elements that have been noted in the relationship of the trumpets to the material which precedes and follows indicate that chapters 4-11 of Revelation should be understood as parallel to 12-18. Both the seals and the crisis of chapters 12-14 are related to the experience of the church in its proclamation of the gospel despite severe persecution. The trumpets, on the other hand, are parallel to the bowls in their focus on the enemies of God's people who are being judged for their rejection of the gospel and their persecution of those who proclaimed it.

            By way of contrast, however, the seals and the trumpets share a partial and preliminary character in relation to the later descriptions. They are not dealing with the consummation but are leading up to it. Thus the author wants the reader to understand that the seals and the trumpets concern the character of the age leading from his day to the end, while the crisis of 12-14 and the bowls are concerned primarily with the end-time consummation itself.(22) This series of inter-relationships in the heart of the book of Revelation can be illustrated by means of the following table:
 

Center
of
Book
Seals
Gospel
and
Church
Related
Trumpets
Judgment
of
Wicked
World
Rev 12-14
Gospel
and
Church
Related
Bowls
Judgment
of
Wicked
World
 

Historical

End-Time Crisis
 
The Old Testament Context

            Although there are nine different Hebrew words that refer either to the act of blowing a trumpet or to the instrument itself,(23) there is only one root structure for trumpeting in New Testament Greek.(24) This word group is found 134 times in the Greek Old Testament. Through a careful study of all the passages, the various usages have been grouped into the following categories:
 

Liturgy and Worship 
Worship in the Context of Battle 
Other Battle Usages 
Warning 
Coronations 
Signaling 
Theophany
54
22
28
10
9
5
6
                                                                                        Total:     134

            Liturgy and worship involve the use of the trumpet in the context of the temple rituals, hymns and related activities of corporate worship. In addition the trumpet also had a liturgical significance in battle. The battle trumpets of Israel were to be handled only by the priests. General references to battle trumpets and incidents where someone other than a priest used the trumpet are combined under the category Other Battle Usages. The category of Warning arises primarily from Ezek 33, although it may well play a subsidiary role in some of the other usages as well.(25) The category of Signaling has primary reference to Num 10 which contains marching orders for the Israelite camp.(26) Trumpets were prominent also in the coronations of ancient Israel and in the enthronement Psalms (such as Ps 47) which looked forward to the time when God's kingdom would be established over the whole earth.(27) Trumpets were also associated with theophanies in Exodus 19 and Zech 9:14. While this association is rare in the OT, it becomes a predominant emphasis in the NT.(28)

            Thus, the predominant usage of trumpets in the OT is in a liturgical context. The key theological passage is Num 10:8-10:

                The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. Also at your times of rejoicing--your appointed feasts and New Moon festivals--you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.
            This passage clearly indicates that there was a liturgical significance to the blowing of the trumpet regardless of the context. Its use was confined to the priests. Whether in battle or in worship its use by God's people was to result in remembrance (nizkartem--v. 9, lezikkârôn--v. 10, root--zkr) on His part. In battle this remembrance took the form of deliverance from their enemies (v. 9). In worship this remembrance took the form of forgiveness and acceptance within the parameters of the covenant (v. 10--"I am the Lord your God."). Thus, theologically, Israel did not distinguish between battle and worship as far as the trumpet was concerned. The sounding of the trumpet became a symbol of covenant prayer. When the priests blew the trumpet they were reminding God of His covenant with His people. Thus, the predominant usage of the trumpet in the OT (80 times out of a total of 144 or 56%) is in a liturgical context and its primary theological significance is as a symbol of prayer.(29)

            In addition to their background in OT trumpeting, the seven trumpets point back to such OT events as creation,(30) the Exodus(31) and the fall of Jericho.(32) There is also frequent reference to the book of Joel(33) and "thirds" appear in a number of places.(34) Joel and the "thirds" are most closely related to the themes of exile and return in the prophets, thus the seven trumpets point to aspects of the three major events of OT history, the Creation-Fall, the Exodus and the Exile/Return.(35)

            In a subtle manner the author of Revelation combines the plagues on Egypt with Joshua's attack on Jericho. As at Jericho, the trumpets precede the fall of a great city (cf. Rev 11 and 18), and the entrance of God's people into the promised land (cf. Rev 21 and 22). The trumpets, however, are also part of what Strand has called the "Exodus from Egypt / Fall of Babylon" motif.(36) While most of the plagues are based directly on the Exodus motif, we really have a blending of the Exodus with the Exile.(37) The extent of this blending can be seen in the fact that in Revelation Jericho has become Babylon. It is Babylon which falls after the blowing of the trumpet. As with the Exodus and the Return from Babylonian exile, the trumpets are a covenant execution on the part of God. He judges the wicked for their opposition to Him and His people, in the process delivering the righteous and preparing the way for their inheritance of the kingdom (cf. the shout of Rev 11:15).
 

The Intertestamental Background
 
            A clear trend in the intertestamental period was the increasing association of trumpets with judgment.(38) This can be seen in a number of early paraphrases of the Hebrew text,(39) in Philo,(40) the Mishnah,(41) and non-canonical Jewish apocalypses and hymns.(42)

            Trumpets were also associated during this period with signaling in battle,(43) and prayer,(44) but these themes play a minor role in the thought of the period as far as we can reconstruct it from the extant literature. The association of trumpets with judgment and the eschaton is the predominant emphasis with overtones of liturgical war, so common in the OT, only in the War Scroll of Qumran.
 

The New Testament Context

            In the NT the salpigx/salpizein word group has taken over all the Greek and Hebrew meanings of trumpet and trumpeting which the NT writers considered pertinent to their writings. These two words appear in the NT a total of 23 times. Of these, two can be ignored for the purposes of our study.(45) Of the other 21 usages, 14 are found in Rev 8-11. Before we look at that passage we will study the other seven usages, which appear to fall into two groups.
 

Trumpets as theophany

            Heb 12:19 alludes to Exod 19:13-19. The cloud, the darkness and the storm are all theophanic phenomena. The author of Hebrews contrasts the security of the one who accepts Christ (v. 22-24) with the terror and gloom of the mountain of the law. Another theophanic use of the trumpet can be found in Rev 1:10 cf. 4:1. In both passages there is a movement from theophany to Christophany. The NT writers came to equate Jesus Christ with the Yahweh of the OT.
 

Trumpets and the Parousia
 
            Trumpets appear four other times in the NT in connection with passages dealing with the Parousia (Matt 24:31; 1 Cor 15:51,52; 1 Thess 4:16,17). The trumpets may have been understood as a symbol of the voice of Christ that awakens the dead (cf. John 5:28,29). In these four passages the language of theophany is associated with the Parousia and the end-time resurrection of the dead. Thus the predominant usage of trumpets in the New Testament outside the seven trumpets is in relation to theophany or, more accurately, Christophany.
 

New Testament Use of the Old

            The interpreter of the seven trumpets must not only be aware of allusions to the NT in the seven trumpets but of the general impact the NT has on the use of the OT in the book of Revelation. Unless we see how the NT transforms the history and the symbolism of the OT we will tend to interpret Revelation in terms of the OT background rather than seeing the unique use that John has made of this OT material.(46)

            In the NT, the things of Yahweh and the things of Israel tend to be applied to Jesus Christ. Theophanies become Christophanies. The Day of Yahweh becomes the day of Jesus Christ. As the blowing of trumpets in the OT related to the things of Yahweh and Israel, so in the NT they are related to Jesus and His people.

            The Exodus from Egypt is applied in the primary sense to the death of Christ on the cross and in a secondary sense to the experience of every believer in Christ (Rom 6:3-6; 1 Cor 10:1-13). As do the plagues of Egypt, the trumpet plagues precede an exodus, but it is not the exodus of ancient Israel or of the Jews of the author's day, it is the exodus of the church from exile in spiritual Babylon that is preceded by the trumpets. As the history and the imagery of the OT is freely applied to Christ in the NT, the things of Israel are just as freely applied to the church. Instead of a literal-local-ethnic Israel surrounded by literal enemies such as Babylon, the NT Israel is a spiritual-worldwide-universal body of believers who have spiritual enemies such as spiritual Babylon which consists of all those who actively refuse to accept Christ and thus seek to persecute those who follow Him.

            Thus when John, in the seven trumpets, alludes to the experiences of Israel in the OT, he has the church in mind. When he alludes to Yahweh, he generally has Christ in mind. When he alludes to Babylon, Egypt, Assyria or Edom he has the opposers of the gospel of Jesus Christ in mind. Thus, the author of Revelation is able to update the entire OT and make it relevant for the situations faced by followers of Jesus. The seven trumpets have a Christian message that was relevant to the churches in Asia Minor as well as to us.
 



Edited by reddogs - 13 Feb 2010 at 3:19pm
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 2:54pm
EXEGESIS OF THE SEVEN TRUMPETS
 
            Exegesis, by definition, involves the attempt to understand what the original writer meant in addressing the issues he faced, and the impact that his work might have had on the original audience. While the task of exegesis does not deny that God may have placed a special meaning in the text for today, the exegete limits himself to the original meaning of a passage, leaving to the Biblical or Systematic theologian (who should also be a skilled exegete) the task of building on that exegetical foundation.

            Thus, it is the task of this chapter to unlock the meaning of the language used in the seven trumpets as it would have been understood in the first century. The interpretation of the passage from a 20th century perspective will be left for the next chapter. To accomplish this exegetical task, each trumpet will be translated into English, then relevant allusions and symbols drawn from other literature will be listed. Finally, an attempt will be made to show the deeper meaning behind the symbols that an intelligent first century reader would have understood.
 

The First Trumpet
 
                "The first angel sounded his trumpet; with the result that hail and fire mixed with blood were flung to the earth. A third of the earth, a third of the trees and all the green grass were burned up."
    Rev 8:7
 
Parallels in Revelation
 
7:1-3 11:19
8:5 14:18
9:4 16:21
11:5 20:10,14,15
Old Testament Allusions
 
Reasonably Certain
 
Ezod 9:23-26 Ezek 38:22
Isa 10:16-20 Zech 13:8-9
Ezek 5:1-4
 

Moderately Certain
 

Exod 7:17ff. Isa 30:30
Deut 32:22 Jer 11:16-17
Ps 18:13 Jer 21:12-14
Ps 80:8-11,15,16 Ezek 15:6-7
Ps 105:32 Ezek 20:47-48
Isa 28:2 Joel 2:30-31
 

Symbolic Concepts (Echoes)
 

Hail Earth
Fire Trees
Blood Grass
 

Contemporary Literature
 
4 Ezra 5:8 in context
Sib Or V:376-378
Wis Sol 16:16-24
 
 
New Testament Allusions
 
Reasonably Certain
 
Matt 3:10
Luke 12:49
Luke 23:28-31
 

Uncertain
 
Rom 8:20ff.
1 Cor 3:13-14
Jude 11-12
 
 
Exegetical Meaning
 
            In the first trumpet John draws on the imagery of God's judgments on Egypt (Exod 9:23-26), Assyria (Isa 10:16-20), Gog (Ezek 38:22) and Jerusalem (Ezek 5:1-4). It is clear that the language of the first trumpet describes an act of God's judgment against a power that opposes Him. In the OT these judgments were covenant related, thus could be turned on God's own people when they broke the covenant (Deut 32:15-22). The later prophets, especially, applied the hail and fire of God's judgments more and more to Israel and Judah (Ps 80:8-16; Isa 28:2; Jer 11:16,17; 21:12-14; Ezek 15:65,7; 20:47,48).

            In the OT, hail and fire symbolized weapons of God's wrath used in judgment on His enemies (Exod 9:23-26; Job 38:22; Ps 18:13; Isa 10:16-20; 28:2; 29:1-6; Jer 21:12-14).(47) Blood symbolized violently destroyed life (Gen 9:5,6; 1 Kgs 2:5; Ps 79:3; Mic 3:10). The earth symbolized the habitable portion of the planet, and in contrast to the sea, the land of Israel itself (Isa 28:2; Lev 26: Jer 9:10-12). Fresh grass was a symbol of God's people while dry grass portrayed the fate of evildoers (Isa 44:3,4; Ps 37:1,2). Fruitful trees were particularly associated with the faithful followers of Yahweh (Ps 1:3; 52:8; 92:12,13; Isa 61:3) while dry or wild vegetation symbolized the unfaithfulness of Israel (Isa 5:1-7; Jer 2:21; Ezek 15:6,7; 20:47,48; Hos 10:1).(48)

            In Revelation, as in the OT, hail and fire are associated with heavenly things and with God's judgments on His enemies (Rev 16:21; 20:10,14,15) and the enemies of His people (8:5; 11:5). Greenery is also a symbol of God's people who are usually protected by His seal (7:1-3; 9:4). Thus the greenery here represents followers of God who are not protected and thus have probably forsaken the covenant. The thirds are best understood as portions of Satan's kingdom which has three parts (Rev 16:14,19).(49)

            Thus the first trumpet portrays a judgment of God, in response to the prayers of the saints, which falls on a portion of Satan's kingdom that may once have given allegiance to God's kingdom. Do we have any idea with whom the readers of the Apocalypse would have identified this judgment? In Matt 3:10 trees were a symbol of fruitless Jews who had rejected John the Baptist's message and thus were exposed to the fire of Messianic judgment that Jesus would pour out (Matt 3:12; Luke 12:49). In Luke 23:28-31 Jesus applied the imagery of dying trees to the destruction of Jerusalem. If a righteous man such as He can be treated as He was what will be the fate of a rebellious and wicked nation, who crucifies its redeemer? These NT references make it virtually certain that John intended his readers to see in the first trumpet the fate of the Jewish nation that had rejected Jesus as its Messiah.
 

The Second Trumpet
               "The second angel sounded his trumpet; and something like a great mountain burning with fire was flung into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, and a third of the creatures that were in the sea, who have souls, died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."
    Rev 8:8-9
Parallels in Revelation
 
6:12-17 17:16
12:12 18:8,9,18
16:4-6 18:17-19
17:1-3 18:21
17:9 18:24
 

Old Testament Allusions
 
Reasonably Certain

Gen 1:20,21
Exod 7:19-21
Exod 19:16-20 Ps-J
Jer 51:24,25,41,42
 
 
Moderately Certain
 
Ps 46:2-3
Isa 10:16-18
 
 
Symbolic Concepts
 

Mountain Blood
Fire Sea Creatures
Sea Ships
 

Contemporary Literature
 

1 Enoch 18:13-16 2 Baruch 10:1-3
1 Enoch 21:3-10 2 Baruch 11:1
1 Enoch 108:4-6 2 Baruch 67:7
4 Ezra 3:1,2,28-31 Sib Or V:143,158,159
4 Ezra 13:21-24
 

New Testament Allusions
 
Matt 21:21 
Matt 13:47-50
Luke 5:1-10
Luke 21:25
 
 
Exegetical Meaning
 
            While the burning mountain might have brought the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD to the first century mind, the second trumpet is built primarily on the Old Testament. Gen 1:20,21 is the source of the language with which the author describes the fish that are destroyed in the sea. The bloody water and the dead fish are reminiscent of the plagues on Egypt (Exod 7:19-21). The Pseudo-Jonathan Targum to the Penteteuch causes one to suspect that John may have had the theophany on Sinai in mind as he wrote here (Exod 19:16-20 Ps-J). The most significant Old Testament allusion in the second trumpet is the reference to Jer 51. Just as the Euphrates River is the means by which the original Babylon fell, so the sea here swallows up another Babylon. In Isa 10:16-18 the reference is to the fall of Assyria. While the Old Testament background of the first trumpet suggests that the plague falls on a power that once followed God but has now broken the covenant, the Old Testament background to the second trumpet points to a judgment on Gentile nations rather than an apostate Israel.

            As with the first trumpet, there are six symbolic concepts in Rev 8:8,9. A mountain can symbolize a nation (Isa 13:4; Jer 51; Isa 10), God's throne (Isa 2:2,3; 14:12-14; Ezek 28:14) or an obstacle to faith (Zech 4:7-10). Of the three the first is the most relevant to the context of the second trumpet. Fire, as in the first trumpet, is a symbol of violently destroyed life. In 1 Enoch (18:13-16; 108:4-6) the burning of a mountain indicates that it is subject to God's judgment as was the case with the mountain of Babylon in Jer 51. The sea is most likely to be understood in terms of nations in opposition to God (Isa 57:20; 17:12,13; Jer 51:41,42; cf. Rev 13:1ff.; 16:12; 17:15). Sea creatures are a symbol of people (Ezek 29:5; Hab 1:14). The destruction of fish is symbolic of God's judgment upon evildoers (Hag 4:3; Zeph 1:3). Ships are symbolic of the sources of a nation's wealth and its pride in being able to take care of itself (Ezek 27:26; 2 Chr 20:37; Isa 2:16). The destruction of ships leads to economic chaos resulting in the humiliation of that nation (Rev 18:17-19).

            In Revelation "great mountain" clearly points to ancient Babylon as a symbol of the end-time opposers of Christ and His people (17:1-3,9; 18:21). This end-time Babylon is symbolically destroyed by fire as was the first (Rev 17:16; 18:8,9,18). The fact that there is only one mountain in Rev 8:8 and seven mountains in Rev 17:9 indicates that this plague does not fall on the end-time Babylon of Rev 17 but on a preliminary manifestation of that Babylon.(50) The blood in the second trumpet probably represents a reversal of the persecution of God's people by the wicked (cf. Rev 16:4-6; 18:24). They receive in kind for what they have done. The sea appears to be a reference to the Euphrates, the waters of Babylon (9:14; 16:12; 17:1,15). In summary, the second trumpet is a judgment of God, in response to the prayers of the saints, which falls on an enemy of God's people. This enemy is represented by a great burning mountain which is identified with ancient Babylon.(51) In judgment God burns the mountain and casts it into the sea of wicked nations, resulting in economic and commercial chaos for the ancient world.

            Do we have any idea with whom the readers of the Apocalypse would have identified this judgment? It was common in first century Judaism to use Babylon as a cryptic reference to Rome.(52) Would John have been likely to do the same? Matt 21:21 relates the moving of mountains to Christian faith. A mountain is any power that opposes the establishment of Jesus' kingdom. In Luke 21:25 the unruly sea represents the wicked nations of the world in an unsettled state. In Luke 5:1-10 and Matt 13:47-50 the fish of the sea represent individuals to whom the gospel is preached. Thus the symbols are used similarly to the OT but in a Christ-centered context.

            The mountain facing Jesus and His disciples in Matt 21 was the opposition of the Jewish nation to Jesus. By the time Revelation was written a far larger mountain had erected itself in the path of Christ's kingdom, Rome. Rome was not the end-time Babylon for John, but its persecution and ridicule hindered the preaching of the gospel and tempted many Christians to apostatize from the faith. Given the weight of evidence it is likely that a first century reader would understand the second trumpet as a prediction that the Roman Empire was soon to fall along with its entire social order. Although the Empire was used by God as the executor of His covenant on the Jewish nation, its hostility toward Christ and his people, and its persecution of them called for its ultimate downfall. When that time came it would apparently be as the result of universal revulsion. She would sink beneath the waves of a sea of nations. The result would be the devastation of the whole economic and social order.
 

The Third Trumpet
               "The third angel sounded his trumpet; and a great star burning with fire fell out of heaven. It landed on a third of the rivers and springs of water. The star's name was called "Wormwood." A third of the waters became wormwood with the result that many men died from the waters because they had been made bitter.
    Rev 8:10-11
Exegetical Meaning(53)
 
            The main symbolism of the third trumpet revolves around the great falling star and the rivers and springs which it defiles. The falling star is particularly reminiscent of the Lucifer account (Isa 14:12-15) and the activity of the little horn (Dan 8:10,11) in the Old Testament. In both texts there is the attempt to usurp God's authority. In Isa 14 the falling of the star is the punishment for Lucifer's activity, in Dan 8 it is the result of the little horn's persecuting activity.

            Rivers and fountains, when pure, are sources of life in the Old Testament (Deut 8:7,8; Ps 1:3). Thus they became symbols of spiritual nourishment (Ps 36:8,9; Jer 17:8,13; Prov 14:27; Ezek 47:1-12). Impure fountains, on the other hand, would have the opposite spiritual effect (Prov 25:26). Bitter water cannot sustain life and growth.

            Wormwood and bitterness are associated together in Lam 3:15,19. In Deuteronomy wormwood represents anyone who turns away from Yahweh into idolatry (Deut 29:17,18). In Jeremiah it symbolizes the punishment Yahweh was planning to mete out because of Judah's apostasy (Jer 9:15: 23:15). The Marah experience is also a close parallel to the third trumpet (Exod 15:23). The children of Israel were dying of thirst. With great anticipation, they approached the spring-fed oasis of Marah only to find that there was no life in the bitter water.

            Other parts of the New Testament also contain parallels to the third trumpet. In Luke 10:18 Satan is the one who fell from heaven. Similar imagery is used in Rev 12 where the dragon's tail sweeps a third of the stars of heaven to earth before being thrown to the earth himself (Rev 12:3,4,9). In the Gospel of John "living" spring water is a symbol of what Jesus brings to the believer through the Holy Spirit (John 4:10-14; 7:37-39).

            What was John trying to say with by means of these images? The overwhelming flavor of this account is one of apostasy. Stars and fountains are positive images in Scripture but here John drew on passages such as Isa 14 and Deut 29 where a good thing becomes evil due to apostasy. The little horn of Dan 8 also encourages apostasy in its usurpation of the sanctuary service. Such apostasy is the first step on the road to spiritual death in that it results in a distortion of the source of spiritual nourishment, the Word of God. Through distorted views of God the Scriptures are made of no effect in giving life to the people.

            The early church was aware that apostasy loomed large in its future (Acts 20:28-31; 2 Thess 2; 1 Tim 4:1ff.). It was also aware that pure doctrine can only be maintained with diligent effort (1 Tim 4:1,2; 1 John 4:1-3; Jude 3,4). The message of the third trumpet underlines these convictions. The removal of Rome and Judaism as effective opponents would have seemed to open the way for the church's advancement and growth. But John warns in apocalyptic language that such a removal only diverts Satan's attack. He then will concentrate on destroying the church from within, knowing that if the church's life-giving message can be subtly distorted, mankind will fail to find the spiritual nourishment it needs, but instead will find only bitterness. Indications that this iniquity was already at work in John's lifetime are found in New Testament books such as 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians and Hebrews.
 

The Fourth Trumpet
                "The fourth angel sounded his trumpet; and a third of the sun, moon and stars were smitten with a plague, resulting in a third of them being darkened so that a third of the day did not shine and the night likewise.
    Rev 8:12
Exegetical Meaning
 
            There is an apparent contradiction in this verse. The plague smites a third of the sun, moon and stars with darkness, which one would expect to result in a dimming of the intensity of the heavenly lights. Instead a third of the day and a third of the night are darkened as in an eclipse. Since the latter is more sound grammatically, the plague probably points to a darkening of the heavenly bodies for a third of the time.

            This passage is strongly based on the darkness of the ninth plague on Egypt (Exod 10:21-23) and the lamentation over Pharaoh in Ezek 32:2-8. Darkness is one of the curses of the covenant (Deut 28:29). The sun is a symbol of the Word of God in the Old Testament (Ps 19; 119:105). The moon represents beauty and fertility (SS 6:10; Deut 33:14). Stars represent angels and the people of God (Dan 8:10; 12:3). The choice of symbolism points to a partial obliteration of the Word of God resulting in spiritual darkness.

            John seems to be pointing to an attack on God's word and His people that is of a different nature than that of the third trumpet. While wormwood represented a distortion of the Word of God the fourth trumpet results in the obliteration of that word. It is no longer visible. In the third trumpet people continued to drink from the springs, hoping to gain life, in the fourth trumpet the very presence of the life-giving sources is removed.

            John seems to be pointing to a new power which would oppose the truth and the people of God in a more direct way. Perhaps the model for such a power can be found in the Pharaoh of the Exodus, who denied the very existence of Yahweh (Exod 5:2). It is difficult to know what kind of movement John would have had in mind, likely he was pointing to something completely new.

            There is a seeming contradiction in that the trumpets are judgments of God on the enemies of His people, yet the third and fourth trumpets seem to be attacks on the gospel and those who proclaim it. But God's judgments come in two forms in the Bible. There is the judgment of open intervention as in 2 Kgs 19 where 185,000 Assyrians were slain. Similar is the sending of Cyrus to defeat Babylon in order to free Israel. On the other hand, as in Rom 1, God's judgments often come in the form of permitting people and nations to reap the consequences of their own actions (cf. Hos 4:17). Thus, while the direct enemies of the church are removed in the first two trumpets, God permits an apostasy which results in two new enemies, one from within and one from without. In its apostasy the church, as with Judaism, becomes an enemy of God's true people.
 
 
Transition

                "I saw and heard a vulture flying in mid-heaven saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to those who live on the earth because of the rest of the trumpet sounds belonging to the three angels who are about to blow their trumpets."
    Rev 8:13
             The vulture is a symbol of God's covenant judgments (Hos 8:1; Ezek 32:4; Hab 1:8). God is moving to attack those who are spiritually dead as a result of the apostasy. The three woes indicate that the worst is yet to come. Now that the darkness has been unleashed, all the powers of darkness are freed to torment humanity until the end. For John, the road to the Parousia is a downhill road to destruction apart from Christ. 
 
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 2:56pm
The Fifth Trumpet
                "The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
                "The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lion's teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon."
    Rev 9:1-11 NIV
 
Exegetical Meaning
 
            The fallen star of verse 1 connects this trumpet with the third where the star actually fell. While the star, in its primary sense refers to Satan (cf. v. 11 and Isa 14), it is connected with apostasy in the third trumpet. Thus, in some sense, the apostasy of the third trumpet may be related to the unlocking of the abyss.

            That God also had a hand in the unlocking of the abyss is clear for a number of reasons. 1) The divine passives (vv. 1,3,5). 2) The star fell from heaven. 3) The locusts receive exousia. 4) In Exod 19:18 the "smoke of the furnace" arises from the presence of Yahweh on Mt. Sinai. 5) Locusts in the Old Testament are a symbol of God's judgment.

            The abyss is a symbol that has reference to the past, the present and the future. It is reminiscent of the earth in its precreation chaotic condition (Gen 1:2). Thus it could represent those who are in opposition to God's re-creation in Christ. On the other hand, the abyss is the abode of demons in the present (Luke 8:28-31). It also looks forward to the fate of the wicked (Gen 10:22 Pal Targ) and is associated with the beast of the end-time (Rev 11:7; 17:8).

            The smoke which arises out of the abyss does not dim the sun, it eclipses it. The sun is still there but is no longer seen by the "earth-dwellers." This darkness is a connection to the fourth trumpet, which depicted the rise of a power which sought to blot out the knowledge of God. In Gen 19 the smoke of a great furnace describes the destruction of godless Sodom (cf. 11:8).

            Verse 3 introduces locusts which have the power of scorpions. Locusts would symbolize quantity while scorpions symbolize harmfulness toward mankind. This heightens the terror of the description. In the ancient Near East locusts and scorpion men were symbols of the rulers of the underworld (cf. v. 11). The locusts here are not literal for they attack men, not vegetation, and they have a king over them, unlike natural locusts (Rev 9:4,11 cf. Prov 30:27).

            Locusts are used in the Old Testament as symbols of God's judgments (Ps 78:46; Deut 28:42,45; 1 Kgs 8:37). These are often directed at those who have apostatized from following Him (Joel 1:4-18; 2:1-11; Jer 4; Gen 6-9). As such they could only be turned back through repentance at the Sanctuary (1 Kgs 8:35-40; 2 Chr 7:13,14; Joel 2:12-17).

            The locusts of the fifth trumpet arise from the abyss, which is devoid of vegetation (cf. targum to Gen 1:2), in order to turn the earth into an abyss like their own. But this God does not permit (Rev 9:4). God's people are safe from the demonic forces of Satan (Luke 10:17-20; 8:28-31) which arise out of the abyss. God has given them a mark of protection (Gen 4:15 cf. Ezek 9:4). On the other hand, the fate of those who have rejected Christ is horrible. The king of the abyss torments his own subjects as with scorpions (2 Chr 10;11,14). These torments are to be understood as spiritual not physical. In Ps 71:20,21 the abyss is paralleled to "many and bitter troubles." Death is sought by those in bitterness and grief, for whom life has lost its meaning.(54) This torment is to some degree self-inflicted. Their unbelief has driven them into foolish practices which reap a harvest of despair (Rom 1:21-26).

            It is possible to make too much of the elaborate description of the locusts. Perhaps they symbolize human beings inspired by Satan (Rev 9:7,8,11). Whether man or demon, these fiends "are as strong as horses, as powerful as kings, as cunning as the wiliest man, as seductive as a beautiful woman, and they can cause pain like a scorpion."(55) In verse 11 Satan's names (Apollyon and Abaddon) are personifications of death, the fate of the wicked (Job 26:6; 31:12; Ps 88:11). This fits in with the character of one who was a murderer and a liar from the beginning (John 8:44). He exercises his lies through the tails of the locust-men (Isa 9:15). Just as his confinement to the abyss (Rev 20:1-3 restricts his deceptions, so the opening of the abyss is the release of his deceptions to do their deadly work. In those who reject Christ the light of truth is extinguished by Satan (cf. 2 Thess 2:9-12--with God's permission).

            John apparently foresaw a time when the darkness of the fourth trumpet would become total and worldwide, limited only by a period of time (five months).(56) With God and truth totally eclipsed, sinful mankind is left to the demonic torment of suicidal desires. Here in graphic terms the author of Revelation has portrayed the ultimate results of apostasy and opposition to God. In all this the only safety belongs to the sealed. In Christ they are free from darkness and despair. Regardless of when John's readers thought this plague would appear they would perceive a powerful appeal to stay true to the gospel no matter what the temporal consequences.
 

Transition

    "The first woe has passed. Behold two more woes come after this."
    Rev 9:12
            This transition verse, along with 11:14, makes it clear that the three woes are to be identified with the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpets.
 
The Sixth Trumpet
                "The sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.
                "The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
                "The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts."
    Rev 9:13-21 NIV
Exegetical Meaning
 
            Verse 13 explicitly indicates that the events of the sixth trumpet occur in relation to the activity of intercession and judgment taking place at the golden incense altar. The commanding voice from the four horns of the altar is probably the voice of Christ.

            In verse 14 there is an interesting contrast to Rev 7:1-3. Four angels are bound at the great river Euphrates. Their release brings great evil to mankind. On the other hand, in chapter 7 the angels are at the extremities of the earth and restrain evil by holding it back. Thus these two groups of angels are not the same. Since the winds of Rev 7 and the angels of 9:14 are both restrained and produce evil results when released, they may well be symbols of the same thing. If so it is likely that the sixth trumpet reveals a later development of the situation in Rev 7:1-3. Thus, the events of this plague take place in the very shadow of the consummation.

            The Euphrates River was the northern border of the land promised to Abraham (Gen 15:18; Josh 1:4, etc.). The language here is reminiscent of Isa 8:7,8 where the Assyrian invasion of Judah is described in terms of the Euphrates River overflowing its banks and flooding Palestine. Here again the Euphrates is the source of a great assault against God's people. This plague appears to be a gathering of the forces of evil for the final battle (cf. 16:13-16; 20:7-9).

            It is arguable whether the hour, day, month and year of 9:15 are to be understood as successive periods of time or as the point of time at which the angels are released. The grammar leans in favor of the latter. In either case the time of release should probably be associated with the decisive moment of Rev 10:6 when chronos comes to an end.

            As in Rev 7:4, John doesn't see 200,000,000 horsemen in 9:16, he hears the number. This is Satan's host in contrast to the sealed of God who number 144,000. In verses 17-19 the horsemen are equipped with material from the lake of fire. This plague is a composite with the fifth trumpet, for the horsemen not only harm men with the fire, smoke and sulphur which comes out of their mouths but with their tails, which remind one of 9:10. The flavor of these images reminds one of the beasts of chapter 13 and the frogs which come out of their mouths in 16:13. Thus the sixth trumpet is related to the account of the final crisis in Rev 13-16.

            In Rev 9:20,21 there are many references to the fall of Babylon in the Old Testament. The images of idolatry are drawn from Dan 5:4,23; a description of Babylon just before the Euphrates River dried up! Verse 21 is based on Isa 47:9-12, a prediction of Babylon's fall.

            In summary, this trumpet is based on imagery that points in two directions. There are references to Babylon in the Old Testament and its river, the Euphrates. And there are many connections with the three-fold Babylon of the end-time crisis. Since the closest parallels are with Rev 16:12,13 it seems reasonable to suggest that John was here portraying the gathering of Satan's host which precedes the battle of Armageddon. With this plague we clearly enter the arena of final events.
 

Interlude

            The view of Satan's host in Rev 9:13-21 is balanced by a view of the experience of God's people during this period in Rev 10:1-11:14. They are seen in terms of the fulfillment of Daniel's time prophecies (Rev 10:6 cf. Dan 12:7). Their task is the proclamation of the gospel to the world so that the end can come (Matt 24:14; Mark 13:10).
 

The Seventh Trumpet
                "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
                            "The kingdom of the world has become
                                    the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
                                    and he will reign for ever and ever."
                And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:
                            "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
                                        who is and who was,
                            because you have taken your great power
                                        and have begun to reign.
                            The nations were angry;
                                        and your wrath has come.
                            The time has come for judging the dead,
                                        and for rewarding your servants the prophets
                                        and your saints
                                        and those who reverence your name,
                                                    both small and great--
                                        and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
    Rev 11:15-18 NIV
 
Exegetical Meaning
 
            In Rev 10:7 it is stated explicitly that the "mystery of God (to mustêrion tou theou)" will be consummated (etelesthê) at that point in history when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet (hotan mellê salpizein). The mystery of God is an acronym for the gospel in the New Testament (Rom 16:25,26, cf. Col 1:25-28; Eph 6:19). Thus, the sounding of the seventh trumpet signals the close of the great work of proclaiming the gospel to every nation, kindred, language and people (Rev 14:6,7). It ushers in the final events connected with the battle of Armageddon.

            The seventh trumpet irreversibly sets the final events in motion. The Godhead reclaims the kingdom of the world to the rejoicing of heaven. The nations, led by the dragon, make their last attempt to prevent this. The battle of Armageddon, between the wrath of the nations and the wrath of God, is fought. The result is victory for Almighty God, reward for the saints and destruction for their enemies.

            Thus the seventh trumpet contains a summary foretaste of the final victory of God and a summary introduction of the third woe, the climax of all evil. The seventh trumpet has set the stage for the complete outline of final events that begins in chapter 12.
 
 
 

 THE THEOLOGY OF THE SEVEN TRUMPETS
 
            In New Testament interpretation the next step following exegesis is to attempt to outline the contribution that a given passage makes to our understanding of the author's theology and, ultimately, to the theology of the New Testament as a whole. This chapter is an attempt to make some suggestions along these lines.

            In his Theology of the New Testament George Eldon Ladd suggests that there are three main elements in a theology of the book of Revelation: the problem of evil, the visitation of God's wrath and the coming of the kingdom of God.(57) While these suggestions sound a bit thin for the Apocalypse as a whole, they seem to summarize the basic theology of the seven trumpets quite well.
 

The Problem of Evil

            As has been pointed out, the trumpets are to be understood as a response to the prayers of the souls under the altar in the fifth seal. The cry "how long" has a rich background in the OT.(58) It is used there to represent how God's people feel when He seems slow to fulfill His promises to deliver them from their oppressors. "How long" summarizes in two words humanity's age-old complaint against God, "If You are so good, why does evil reign? How long will You permit it to continue? Are You evil Yourself, or just powerless?"

            The problem was acute enough in OT times. But the NT heightens and intensifies the questioning. A change has come, the last days have arrived, a "new age" has dawned. All power has been given to Christ (Matt 28:18). The prince of this world has been cast out by the cross (John 12:31,32). Yet in spite of all these claims, evil still seems to reign. The NT would be a farce if it did not address this question. The intensity of the problem is certainly recognized in the book of Revelation:

            "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
                        `Now have come the salvation
                                    and the power
                                    and the kingdom of our God,
                                    and the authority of his Christ.
                        For the accuser of our brothers,
                                                who accuses them before our God day and night,
                                    has been hurled down.
            They overcame him
                        by the blood of the Lamb
                        and by the word of their testimony
            they did not love their lives so much
                        as to shrink from death.
            Therefore rejoice, you heavens
                        and you who dwell in them!
            But woe to the earth and the sea,
                        because the devil has gone down to you!
                        He is filled with fury,
                                    because he knows that his time is short.'"

Rev 12:10-12 NIV

            Here the tension is directly portrayed. Yes, the cross has fundamentally changed the order of the universe. Yes, the accuser of our brothers has been cast down. Yes, he is overcome. Nevertheless, he is still alive and his sting can still be felt, even unto death (verse 11). There are still martyrs and great tribulations. There are churches like Smyrna who are all but crushed out for the faith. What answer does the book offer to the question "how long?"

            The seals and the trumpets seem designed to deal with this issue. Rev 5 sets the stage with the symbolic depiction of the cross followed by the enthronement of the Lamb (vv. 6,9-14). The scenes described are so glorious that one would expect them to lead to the climax of all world history, the end of suffering and death. But it is immediately clear that this is not the case. Chapter 6 opens with a series of horsemen who spread carnage over the earth. That this carnage affects the Christian community is apparent from the fifth seal. How long will this carnage go on? Why is there a delay in enthroning the Lamb over the entire earth?

            The flow of the book suggests that the seven trumpets provide the answer to the problem of evil as expressed in the fifth seal. The trumpets open the veil of history to show that God's hand is still in control in spite of the fact that, to human eyes, the world is out of control. Nothing is done without His permission. The very events of history which seem to indicate that things are out of control are seen to be under His control. The answer of the book of Revelation to the question of the fifth seal lies in the other theological themes of the seven trumpets.
 

The Visitation of Wrath

            God's judgments of wrath have a long history in both the Old and the New Testaments. OT judgments consisted primarily of historical acts of God. Such judgments were always in relation to God's covenant with His people, and provided an anticipation of the great final day of judgment.

            In the NT the final judgment is divided into two great phases centered around the cross and the Parousia. In both cases judgment is in relation to Christ and the gospel. The judgments of the seven trumpets are also related to Christ. They are in response to the prayers of the saints; those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (5:9,10 cf. 21:11). The dividing line between the wicked and the righteous is drawn in relation to the cross of Christ. Judgments fall on those who have rejected Christ and His cross, while those who have accepted his seal (cf. Eph 1:13 and 4:30) are not harmed by these judgments (Rev 9:4-6).(59)

            Judgment in the trumpets is also covenant-related. Thus if God is acting in judgment in the trumpets, it is for the purpose of delivering the righteous. Although this is not explicitly stated in the passage, we must not forget that the trumpets are in response to a cry for deliverance. In the judgments on His enemies God is acting to bring justice and deliverance for His people.

            Last, but not least, the judgment plagues of the seven trumpets of Revelation are all anticipations of the great final judgment. They are moving toward a climax. This is shown by the intimate relationship they bear to the seven bowls, which are the consummation of the wrath of God. Each trumpet is a foretaste and a warning of the great final judgment.

            In these judgments, the author of Revelation has sought to provide an answer to the problem of evil; although the saints cannot perceive it, God is in full control of history and nothing touches His people but with the permission of infinite love. Although invisible the kingdom of God is real. The divine passives clearly indicate that the trumpets are from God and are under His control. Although the saints suffer, God is still in sovereign control over history and both suffering and judgment are limited for the sake of His people.
 

The Kingdom Comes

            The climax of the seven trumpets comes with Rev 11:15:

            "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet,
                                    and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
                        `The kingdom of the world
                        has become the kingdom of our Lord
                                    and of His Christ,
                        and He will reign for ever and ever.'"

            This depicts the enthronement of God and Christ over all the nations of the world. The passage finds its root in Exod 15:18 where Yahweh is said to reign forever and ever as a result of the crossing of the sea. Prior to the events of the poem the Israelites were subjected to bitter bondage. God could not be enthroned as the ruler of His people until the oppression of the Egyptians had been brought to an end. Exod 15 was the celebration of that event.(60)

            This enthronement theme is expanded in a number of Psalms which have, therefore, been called "Enthronement Psalms." These Psalms have a "now and not yet" feature. Although in a sense Yahweh is already the king over all the earth, He is not yet acknowledged as such. The enthronement Psalms look forward to a time when God will be enthroned over all the nations and receive their willing obedience.(61)

            In the NT this "now and not yet" feature is carried a step further. In Christ, God is enthroned over the nations and the usurper is cast out (John 12:31,32). The gospel becomes the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord. All who are willing to acknowledge His rule and obey His will are accepted as subjects of that kingdom. Yet even here it becomes clear that most individuals have not accepted God's rule over them personally. Phil 2:9-11 points to a future time when Christ's exaltation will be acknowledged by all.

            The book of Revelation maintains this "now and not yet" feature right up to the consummation at the Parousia. Christ is already enthroned but that enthronement will not be acknowledged by all until the consummation (Rev 3:21; 5:9-14). He reigns in the hearts of His people but not publicly. The making public of the reign of God is pre-eminently the subject of the latter portion of the book of Revelation. But already here in the seven trumpets there is a marvelous foretaste of the final enthronement of Christ which will result in the complete subjugation of all that is evil and the permanent exaltation of all who are righteous (Rev 11:15). Thus the process of divine enthronement that began with a song by the Red Sea ends with the same song by another red sea (Rev 15:2-4).
 

Conclusion

            The theology of the seven trumpets is a marvelously constructed unity. It consists of a question which recalls to our minds the problem of evil. It concludes with two answers to that question. The first is summed up by the theology of judgment which indicates that, although they are unaware of it, the prayers of the martyrs under the altar are already in the process of being answered by the judgment wrath of God on those who have persecuted and slain them.

            The second answer to the question raised in the prayer of the saints is summed up in the foretaste of the final enthronement which is found in the seventh trumpet. The mystical victory of God became a reality in the cross of Christ. Soon that victory will become a public event. In the glorification of Christ the saints will also be glorified. The saints are encouraged to be patient in the light of the glory to come.

            In short the seven trumpets of Revelation are a fearful message of doom and warning to those who have rejected the gospel and persecuted the people of the Lamb, thus they are also a message of comfort to all who have sacrificed everything in order to follow Him, yet must endure suffering a little while longer. They are encouraged not to focus on the things of earth but rather on the songs of heaven, the sound of which is ever nearer as the long awaited consummation approaches.

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
reddogs View Drop Down
Full Member PLUS
Full Member PLUS
Avatar

Joined: 21 May 2008
Location: Florida
Status: Offline
Points: 1300
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reddogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2010 at 3:04pm
So how do we interpret what Ellen White says on the trumpets, is it to come or have they already started and are historical?

    "This is the sharpest experience I have ever had in a carriage in a storm...I thought of the day when the judgments of God would be poured out upon the world, when blackness and horrible darkness would clothe the heavens as sackcloth of hair...my imagination anticipated what it must be in that period when the Lord's mighty voice shall give commission to His angels, 'Go your ways and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth'. Revelation 6 & 7 are full of meaning terrible are the judgments of God revealed. The seven angels stood before God to receive their commission.  To them were given seven trumpets.  The Lord was going forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth.  When the plagues of God shall come upon the earth hail will fall upon the wicked about the weight of a talent." Letter 59, 1895.
 
"Solemn events before us are yet to transpire.  Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth." Maranatha 237, 3 Selected Messages 426.
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also......
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123 6>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.750 seconds.