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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Rev 9:13-16 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 men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. (Also See Rev. 9:17-21)

As the heavenly vision continued, the sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and John heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God. The voice is not identified, but this commandment came from the presence of God, directing the sixth angel to loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. Symbolically, this tells us that, in the area of the Euphrates River there were powers, which had previously been held from military conquests, but were now no longer restrained. When loosed, they were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. For the meaning of these time periods, we must, once again, consider their symbolism - one day meaning one year. Considering the solar year, and this being so, the period of time referred to here would be three hundred, ninety-six years, and four months. During this period of time, these mighty forces, being loosed, were destined to slay the third part of men, that is, a third of the known world, and its inhabitants. The literal number of horse-riding warriors referred to here would two hundred million; however, it is more probably used symbolically to represent myriads - a countless number of warring horsemen.

Continuing on with verses 17 through 21, John wrote that he saw the horses in the vision. Their riders wore breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone, symbols that signify their coats of mail were colored with bright red, blue, and yellow. (A)nd the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions, which represented the fierce strength of the armies. (A)nd out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone, indicating their devastatingly destructive power. These symbols are also said to indicate the use of gunpowder, which was known to have been invented, and used in military weapons, during this period of military history. It was by these three symbolic weapons, fire, ...smoke, and brimstone, thatthese mighty forces, destined to come from the vicinity of the Euphrates River, and destroy a third of the known world's population. The entire warring horse and rider, from head to tail, was symbolized as an unrelenting destructive force, destined to bring extreme harm to those that stood up against them.

The ravaging scourge of the Arabian armies had fulfilled its destructive mission by the year 782. Continuing the same sequence of events, the fulfillment of the prophetic symbolism seen, and recorded, by the apostle John, would naturally be expected to follow the siege of the Mohammedan inspired Arabs. During the many years of their warfare, much of the nations, and their possessions, which were controlled, and owned, by the Eastern Empire, were taken from them by the Arabian forces. Although weakened and pillaged, the Eastern Empire, with Constantinople as its capital city, was abandoned by these invading forces, and continued to exist for many more years. Following the literal events predicted by the symbolic message revealed by the fifth angel's trumpet blast, we can, likewise, look into history, and discover the subsequent fulfillment of the sixth angel's revelation.

Although there have been many explanations proposed regarding this symbolic message, none seem more exacting than that, relating to the emergence of the powerful Turkish nation, and their military conquests, as recorded by early historians. Primarily located east of the Caspian Sea, the power of the Turks grew as the power of the Arabians declined. The mighty Turkish armies marched southwesterly from the east until they came to, and crossed over, the Euphrates River, invading ,and subjecting, that nation to their rule. Once established there, they proceeded as far as, what is known today as the Indian Ocean, capturing both Persia and India. Satisfied with their conquests, it seems that their invasions stalled and, for some unknown reason, remained on the banks of the Euphrates River for approximately two generations.

Finally, in the year 1057, a warrior named Togrul, was commissioned by the Islamic leader, to lead the Turkish armies, and engage the Asia Minor countries in military battle, in an effort to convert as many people as possible to their Mohammedan religion. Crossing the Euphrates River, this mighty army marched over six hundred miles, into the remaining portion of the Roman Empire known as the Eastern, or Greek, Empire. In doing so, one historian, by the name of Gibbon, wrote that one hundred and thirty thousand Christians were slain. Without disclosing how many other Greeks were killed, this same historian said that Togrul, and his armies, failed to defeat the Greek Empire and retreated in defeat. Alp Arslan, the son of Togrul, replaced his father as leader of the Turkish armies, attacked and defeated the country of Cappadocia, and overran its capital city, Caesarea.

With this stronghold established in Asia Minor, the Arabian military awaited another favorable opportunity to invade the Greek Empire, and its capital city of Constantinople. Further advances by the Turkish armies carried them into strongholds within one hundred miles of Constantinople. At this same time, Palestine and the city of Jerusalem, were overrun, and its inhabitants came under Turkish rule, which resulted in additional oppression of the churches of Christ, that were established in this nation. With each conquest the captured population was immediately subjected to the Turkish language, civil law was administered under the law of the Koran, and the religion of Islam was preached in worship centers, and taught in all schools.

Finally, in the year 1453, the conquest of Constantinople, and the Greek Empire, was completed by the large numbers, and the overwhelming power of the Turkish armies, which established rule in Asia Minor and Southern Europe. This resulted in the complete downfall of the Roman and Greek Empires. The size of this army is described in verse 16 as two hundred thousand thousand, or two hundred million, which, symbolically, is thought to means myriads, or innumerable tens of thousands. The conquest, which began with the crossing of the Euphrates River by the Turkish armies in the year 1057, was completed in 1453. This period was three hundred and ninety-six years, which was represented symbolically as three hundred and ninety six and one third days in verse 15, in the lesson text.

This time frame certainly meets the symbolic prophecy predicted by the vision revealed by the sixth angel's trumpet blast. It also meets the place of its beginning - at the crossing of the Euphrates River (Vs. 14). The four angels (Vs. 15), represent the four divisions of the Turkish Empire, which were established after the death of its leader, Malek Shah and continued divided until the final assault of the Eastern (Greek) Empire, at which time they, once again, became united into one mighty nation of Turkish warriors. By referring to horses and horsemen (Vss. 16-17), it can be readily understood that this massive army was made up primarily, if not entirely, by Turk warriors on horseback.

Although the colors of red, blue, and yellow, symbolized by fire, jacinth, and brimstone (Vs. 17) were worn by other armies, the historian, Gibbon assures us that they were also the national colors, which were displayed by the armies of the Turks. The terms fire, smoke, and brimstone, which described the devastating weapons, used by these armies, clearly tells us of the first use of gun powder to fire missiles of destruction from cannons against a foe. Again, Mr. Gibbon confirmed this fact when he wrote, that great cannons hurled hundreds of ball-like weapons against the walls, that surrounded the city of Constantinople, bringing them to the ground, and opening great gaps through which the armies gained access to the Grecian people, their defenseless armies, and their governing leaders. The Turkish armies were further described as serpents having destructive power in their mouths, and in their tails (Vs. 18). This seems to symbolically describe the appearance of an extremely hurtful, and sometimes deadly, scorpion. Not only were the cities destroyed by this invading army, but also much death and harm was inflicted against their inhabitants.

The destruction of the Roman Empire was symbolically depicted by the trumpet blasts of six angels. Its fulfillment began approximately in the year 400 and completed in 1453. A third part of the Empire was destroyed by invasions foretold by the first four angels; another third part, prophesied by the fifth angel, was fulfilled by the destructive forces of the Mohammedan-Islamic Arabians; the final third, symbolized by the sixth angel was destroyed by the Turkomans, commonly referred to as the Turks. Thus the Roman Empire was completely destroyed beginning approximately in the year 400 and ending in 1453 A.D.