THE FIFTH TRUMPET IS SOUNDED
Rev 9:1-6 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; 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 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. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. (Also See Rev. 9:7-12)
The last verse of the previous chapter of this letter tells us that the last three angel's trumpet soundings will usher in a period of "woes" on people of the world known at that time. We are also assured that these "woes" would follow the fulfillment of earthly events symbolized by the visions found at the sounding of the trumpets of the first four angels. Therefore, the woeful occurrences predicted by the last three angel's trumpet soundings must take place after the year A.D. 476, as noted in the previous lesson. Three "woes" were mentioned in verse thirteen of chapter eight, and significantly, three angels remain to sound their trumpets in this heavenly vision witnessed, and recorded, by the apostle John.
At the sounding of the trumpet of the fifth angel, John saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth. Once again, "a star" is a symbol of a strong military leader. Proceeding through the remaining symbolism revealed by the fifth angel, let us note the character of the predicted leader, and the woeful events that are to follow. Having been given the key of the bottomless pit, probablymeans that this leader held the power to release Satan-like influences upon the people of the earth. Smoke arose from this hellish pit so dense that it covered the earth, hiding it from the light of the sun. Once released from the pit, the smoke seems to evolve into a horde of destructive locusts, the kind that originated in deserts of Arabia. Therefore, it is easy to assume that these represented militant armies from Arabian nations. Normally locusts devour grasses, trees, and crops of the field. However, these symbolic locusts were commanded not to harm earthy vegetation, but, like scorpions, were given the power, with one exception, to inflict destructive harm to the people of the lands they chose to invade. The exception was that they were not to harm God's children - Christians, represented here as those having the seal of God in their foreheads. This destructive horde was given instructions to inflict woeful pain, distresses, and suffering upon the people of the nation they invaded, but they should not kill them.
This symbolic warring force was to torment the inhabitants of the nation they invaded, but were to stop short of slaying them. This was predicted to take place for five months. To arrive at the true meaning, we must again refer to the table of symbolism. For instance five months would approximately one hundred and fifty days. Symbolically, one day (one revolution of the earth on its axis) means one year (one revolution of the earth around the sun). The symbolism of a "day for a year" was used to foretell the forty years of wilderness wonderings by the Israelites (See Num. 14:29-34). It was also used in Ezekiel 4:1-6. Considering this, the period of five months would symbolically mean one hundred and fifty years, a period of time that is extremely significant in the fulfillment of the events referred to in the lesson text. The torment, described in this prophecy, will be so severely unrelenting, that those suffering such punishment, will consider death as the ultimate relief from the woeful sorrows of their physical distress.
When searching historical records for the fulfillment of this prophetic event, many other things should be remembered about the symbolic images seen by John in this revelation. For instance the fact that the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle and wearing crowns like gold are important. Having the faces of men, ...the hair of women, and ...the teeth of lions, wearing breastplates of iron, making the sound of horses pulling chariots into battle, having stinging tails like unto scorpions, are equally significant. And finally this symbolism tells us that the one leading these warring images was a king, described as the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon (See Rev. 9:7-11).
B. W. Johnson, in his New Testament Explanatory Notes, said this about the fulfillment of the symbolic prophecy of this text, "I believe that there ought to be no reasonable doubt that the uprising of the Mohammedan or Saracen power is meant." In order to give validity to this positive assessment, we only need to examine the history that followed the fall of the Italian, or Western portion, of the Roman Empire, which resulted from the unrelenting siege of the Huns under the leadership of Attila in the year 476. The Eastern portion of the Roman Empire, with Constantinople as its capital, withstood the Hungarian invasion and, although weakened, it remained a nation of people known as the Greek Empire.
A brief history of Mohammed (or Muhammad) tells us that he was born in the year 570 in the Arabian city of Mecca. He was born as a prince, and heir to the ruling family of the Arabian world, having its seat of government in the city of Mecca. However, both his grandfather and father died at an early age, and young Mohammed was forced to relinquish his right to the Arabian throne, and became a servant to those that forcefully became the rulers of this Eastern nation. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by his uncle. With the trades of merchantmen and shepherding he labored in menial tasks and was married at the age of 25. He became discontent with life in Mecca, and at age 40, he fled to a mountainous cave and experienced deep reflection upon his life, as well as the lives of all Arabians. From this period of meditation, he established the Islamic religion, which he began preaching to the Arabian people. He gained few followers at first, and was treated harshly by his people, causing him to migrate to the city of Medina in the year 622. Within the next ten years his following grew to over ten thousand warring soldiers who invaded, and conquered, the capital of the Arabian nation, and forcefully converted the entire Arabian Peninsula to Islam. Soon after this, Mohammed became critically ill and died on Monday, June 8, 632, at the age of 63, but the once docile nation of Arabia had now become an aggressive nation of Arabian warrior, led by Islamic religious leaders, bent on world domination.
Now let us note the many things that corroborate, and establish, the Mohammedan/Saracen Arab uprising, as the fulfilling of the symbolic prophecy, brought to light by the sounding of the trumpet by the fifth angel. Mohammed was, indeed, a fallen angel, having been dethroned by enemies of his ruling grandfather and father. Before the rise of Mohammed, the Arabian nation was unknown as a military power. Assembling a mighty warring force, they appeared to the world as locusts coming out of the smoke that ascended over the earth. Arabia, at this time in history, was known as a breeding ground, and a primary source of earth-destroying locusts.
The Arabian armies assailed the Eastern Empire in the year 632, the same year of Mohammed's death. Their attacks were made on horseback, without any foot soldiers. These warriors wore turbans on their heads, which, according to historians, were strikingly similar to gold crowns. Other invaders of the Roman Empire descended from northern nations, and were clean shaven, yet these Arab invaders wore long, patriarchal beards, which were termed locusts, having the faces of men. They also had long, flowing hair, which was said to resemble the hair of women. The biblical-age historian, Pliny, who lived during the same age as the apostle John, wrote that Arab men, of this age, wore turbans and had uncut hair. Other historians spoke of Arab men having long hair which flowed down upon their shoulders. The warring Arabs, seen by John as cloud-darkening locusts, wore breastplates of iron. Again, historians described Arabian warriors as wearing iron coats of mail to defend themselves in battle.
For one hundred and fifty years, a continuous war was waged by the Arabian armies, against many Asian and European nations. During this period, Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Empire, was besieged twice and brought to its knees, but was never defeated. The churches of Christ in Asia Minor were threatened and suffered great trials and tribulations, but withstood the persecution and remained true to God, and the cause of Christ. Also during this period Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, North Africa, Spain and Portugal were all subdued, and occupied, by these fierce horse-riding, locust-like, turban-covered, armor-wearing, long-haired Arabian warriors. It is also worth noting that these warriors were commanded by their Islamic leaders; they were to battle only the armed men of the nations they invaded; they were not to shed the blood of women and children; they were not to destroy fruit-bearing trees, or food crops that had been planted in the fields; they were not to kill any cattle of their enemies, other than that which was needed for their own sustenance.
The ruler of the Arabian nation directing this mighty army, was referred to as the angel of the bottomless pit and given the Hebrew name of Abaddon, the Greek derivation being Apollyon, which carried the meaning of Destroyer. Indeed, the Arabian warriors, under the leadership of Mohammed-inspired, Islamic rulers, is almost an exacting fulfillment of the symbolic prophecy John witnessed at the sounding of the trumpet by the fifth angel. Looking back at the dates of history in which this Arabian siege took place we find that it began in the year 632. For one hundred and fifty years war raged, with great success, against most of the known nations of Asia, North Africa, and Europe. This would bring us to the year 732, the second year of the reign of the Arabian king, Haroun Al Rashid. During that year, by edict of this king, the Arabic Saracens ceased all efforts to conquer other nations, and convert the world to Mohammedanism. Those which had the seal of God written on their foreheads were symbolically the members of the church of Christ. They suffered great torment but were divinely spared by the protective hand of God. We are left with this warning of things to come in the near future: One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter (Rev. 9:12).