FROM SEALS TO TRUMPETS
FOLLOWING the seven seals, under what symbols was the next series of thrilling events shown the apostle, John?
"And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets." Revelation 8:2. With what do these trumpets deal? With the wars, commotions, and political upheavals which result in the breaking up and downfall of the Roman Empire—the first four with the downfall of Western Rome, the fifth and sixth with the downfall of Eastern Rome, and the seventh with the final down- fall of Rome in its broadest sense, or all the kingdoms of the world. (See Revelation 8 and 9 and 11:14-19.) A trumpet is a symbol of war. (Jeremiah 4:19, 20; Joel 2:1-11.)
THE TRUMPETS ONE BY ONE
Under what figures is the first trumpet described?
"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." Revelation 8:7.
NOTE.—"The first sore and heavy judgment which fell on Western Rome in its downward course, was the war with the Goths under Alaric, who opened the way for later inroads. The death of Theodosius, the Roman emperor, occurred in January, A.D. 395, and before the end of the winter the Goths under Alaric were in arms against the empire.
"The first invasion under Alaric ravaged the Eastern Empire. He captured the famous cities and enslaved many of the inhabitants. Thrace, Macedonia, Attica, and the Peloponnesus were conquered, but he did not reach the city of Rome. Later, the Gothic chieftain crossed the Alps and the Apennines and appeared before the walls of the Eternal City, which fell a prey to the fury of the barbarians in A.D. 410.
" 'Hail and fire mingled with blood' were cast upon the earth. The terrible effects of this Gothic invasion are represented as 'hail,' from the northern origin of the invaders; 'fire,' from the destruction by flame of both city and country; and 'blood,' from the terrible slaughter of the citizens of the empire by the bold and intrepid warriors."—URIAH SMITH, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation (1944 ed.), p. 476. (See Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 3, chaps. 30-33.)
What striking figure is used to describe the destruction wrought under 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." Verses 8, 9.
NOTE.—This describes the invasions and conquests of the Vandals under the terrible Genseric. His invasions, first of Africa, beginning about A.D. 428, and later of Italy, were largely by sea. In a single night, near Carthage, he de- stroyed, by fire and sword, more than half the Roman fleet, consisting of 1,113 ships and over 100,000 men. (See Gibbon, chapter 36.)
What was to take place under the third trumpet?
"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon 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." Verses 10, 11.
NOTE.—The harassing invasions and conquests of Attila, the Hun, are foretold here. His conquests were characterized by fire, sword, and pillage along the Rhine, in Gaul, and northern Italy. He was called the "Scourge of God,"and boasted that grass would never grow again where his horse had trod. His greatest battle was at Chalons, in Gaul, A.D. 451, where his mighty army suffered fatal losses. It is said that 100,000 to 300,000 were left dead. (See Gibbon, chapter 35, and Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, by Ed- ward Creasy, chapter 6.) Says Gibbon (chapter 34), "In the reign of Attila, the Huns again became the terror of the world"; and he proceeds to describe "the character and actions of that formidable Barbarian, who," he says, "alternately insulted and invaded the East and the West, and urged the rapid downfall of the Roman empire."
What was to occur under 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 the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise." Verse 12.
NOTE.—This trumpet brings us to the end of the Western Roman Empire in A.D. 476, when the leader of the Herulian barbarians, Odoacer, deposed the last puppet emperor of the West, and himself took the scepter of Rome. Its luminaries, or civil rulers, were smitten, and ceased to shine. Italy now became nominally a province of the empire of the East, but actually a Germanic kingdom under Odoacer. The Roman Empire in the West had come to an end.
What was to be the character of the last three trumpets?
"And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" Verse 13.
After the fall of Western Rome, what power in the East arose to harass and overrun the Roman world, East and West?
Mohammedanism, which arose in Arabia, with Mohammed, in A.D. 622, and later the Turkish or Ottoman power.
How is the fifth trumpet, or first woe, introduced?
"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." Revelation 9:1-3.
NOTE.—Attila is symbolized by the star of the third trumpet (Revelation 8:10, 11); Mohammed, by the star of this trumpet. The bottomless pit doubt- less refers to the wastes of the Arabian desert, from which came forth the Arabs (Saracens) like swarms of locusts under the new battle cry of Islam. The darkening caused by the smoke fitly represents the spread of Islam and its doctrines over Asia, Africa, and portions of Europe. Their power as scorpions is strikingly seen in their vigorous and speedy attacks upon and overthrow of their enemies. Over a large part of Spain, over North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Babylonia, Persia, North India, and parts of Central Asia the Arabian conquerors superimposed their religion and to a large extent their language and manners upon the native customs, speech, and worship of each of these areas.
What command was given these locusts?
"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." Verse 4.
NoTE.—Abu Bekr, the caliph, said to army group leaders before departing on the Syrian campaign: "Men, . . . I have ten orders to give you, which you must observe loyally: Deceive none and steal from none; betray none and mutilate none; kill no child, nor woman, nor aged man; neither bark nor burn the date palms; cut not down fruit trees nor destroy crops; slaughter not flocks, cattle, nor camels except for food. You will fall in with some men with shaven crowns; smite them thereon with the sword. You will also meet with men living in cells; leave them alone in that to which they have devoted themselves."—SIR WILLIAM MUIR, The Caliphate, Its Rise, Decline, and Fall (1924 ed.), p. 65.
What were these locusts said to have over them?
"And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bot- tomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon [margin, "a destroyer"]."' Verse 11.
NOTE.—" 'They had a king over them.' From the death of Mohammed until near the close of the thirteenth century, the Mohammedans were divided into various factions under several leaders, with no general civil government extending over them all. Near the close of the thirteenth century, Othman founded a government which has since been known as the Ottoman govern- ment, or empire, which grew until it extended over all the principal Moham- medan tribes, consolidating them into one grand monarchy. "Their king is called 'the angel of the bottomless pit.' An angel signifies a messenger, a minister, either good or bad, and not always a spiritual being. The angel of the bottomless pit' would be the chief minister of the religion which came from thence when it was opened. That religion is Mohammedan- ism, and the sultan was its chief minister. "His name in the Hebrew tongue is `Abaddon,' the destroyer; in Greek, 'Apollyon,' one that exterminates, or destroys. Having two different names in two languages, it is evident that the character rather than the name of the power is intended to be represented. If so, as expressed in both languages, he is a destroyer. Such has always been the character of the Ottoman gov ern- ment."—URIAH SMITH, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 502, 503.
What definite period is mentioned under this trumpet?
"And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months." Verse 10. (See also verse 5.) NOTE.—It was on July 27, 1299, says Gibbon, "that Othman first invaded the territory of Nicomedia,"- in Asia Minor, "and the singular accuracy of the date," he adds, "seems to disclose some foresight of the rapid and destructive growth of the monster."—Giasox, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 4. This, then, we take to be the beginning of the period referred to. A prophetic month consists of thirty days; five months would be 150 days. (See page 219.) Allowing a day for a year, 150 years from July 27, 1299, would reach to 1449. During this period the Turks were engaged in almost constant warfare with the Greek Empire, but yet without conquering it.
With what statement does the fifth trumpet close?
"One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter." Verse 12.
What command is given under the sixth trumpet?
"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." Verses 13, 14.
NOTE.—These four angels are understood to refer to the four leading Turkish sultanies—Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus, and Baghdad—of which the Ottoman Empire was composed, situated in the country watered by the river Euphrates. (See Uriah Smith, p. 506.)
What warlike scene is given under this trumpet?
"The number of the armies of the horsemen was twice ten thousand times ten thousand: . . . and the heads of the horses are as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceedeth fire and smoke and brimstone." Verses 16, 17, R.V.
NOTE.—In 1453, Mohammed II, the great Turkish sultan, laid siege to Constantinople with a vast army and fleet, and after a short investment, took it by storm. The cross, which since the time of Constantine the Great had been the symbol of the city, was replaced by the crescent, which remains to this day. Thus. Constantinople, the eastern seat of the Roman Empire since the days of Constantine, was captured by the Turks. "Quite an agreement exists among the commentators in applying the prophecy concerning the fire, smoke, and brimstone to the use of gunpowder by the Turks in their warfare against the Eastern Empire."—URIAH SMITH, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, p. 510. (See notes on Revelation 9:17 in Adam Clarke, Commentary on the New Testament; Albert Barnes, Notes on the Book of Revelation; The Cottage Bible.)
What was the result of this warfare by means of "fire and smoke and brimstone"?
"By these three was the third part of men killed." Verse 18.
NOTE.—"Constantinople, which had defied the power of Chosroes, the Chagan, and the caliphs, was irretrievably subdued by the arms of Mahomet the Second. Her empire only had been subverted by the Latins; her religion was trampled in the dust by the Moslem conquerors."—GIBBON, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 68.
What definite period is mentioned under this trumpet?
"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." Verse 15.
Note .—Since a day in prophetic time (see page 219) stands for a year, an hour is equal to fifteen days, a month to thirty years, a year to 360 years. Added together these amount to 391 years and fifteen days, the time allotted for the Ottoman supremacy. Commencing July 27, 1449, the date of the close of the fifth trumpet, this period would end August 11, 1840. In exact fulfill- ment of the words of Inspiration, this date marks the time when the vassalage of the Ottoman Empire began. His empire wasted beyond hope of recovery in a war with Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt, the sultan of Turkey submitted to the dictates of the then four great powers of Europe, and his minister, Rifat Bey, on that very day, August 11, 1840, reached Alexandria, bearing the sultan's ultimatum, dictated by the powers, to place in the hands of the rebellious pasha. On that day, also, the allied fleets appeared before Beirut, prepared to enforce the ultimatum. (See Uriah Smith, pages 505-517.)
THE MYSTERY OE GOD FINISHED
With what announcement does the sixth trumpet close?
"The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly." Revelation 11:14.
At what time is the mystery of God to be finished?
"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." Revelation 10:7. NOTE.—The mystery of God is the gospel. (Ephesians 3:3-6; Galatians 1:11, 12.) Soon after this trumpet begins to sound, therefore, the gospel will close, and the end will come.
What takes place under the sounding of the seventh trumpet?
"The seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the king- doms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. ... 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 unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." Revelation 11:15-18.
NOTE.—The closing scenes of this world's history are here brought to view. Ever since 1840, when the Ottoman Empire became a vassal of the Western powers, the nations have been preparing for war as never before. The mention in this chapter, under the seventh trumpet, of the angry nations and the judgment of the dead, makes it clear that the seventh angel has begun to sound. "The time of the dead, that they should be judged" began in 1844, at the close of the prophetic period of 2300 days. (See readings on pages 228-248.) Furthermore, the seventh verse of the tenth chapter says it is "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound," that the work of the gospel in the world is to be finished. The "voice" of the seventh angel's trumpet will be sounding when human probation closes. The "time of trouble," of Daniel 12:1, and the seven last plagues and the battle of Armageddon, spoken of in Revelation 16, will take place under the sounding of the seventh trumpet.
What scene in heaven was presented to the prophet as the seventh trumpet began to sound?
"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." Revelation 11:19.
NOTE.—Since the period allotted to the sounding of the sixth trumpet ended in 1840, and the judgment in heaven began four years later, it is clear that the seventh angel began to sound in 1844. In the latter year Christ closed His priestly work in the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, and began His work in the most holy place. And "the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament." Late in 1844, and in the years just afterward, special study was given to the sanctuary question. It was seen that the Scriptures tell of a sanctuary and a sanctuary service in heaven, of which Christ is the Minister and High Priest, and of which the earthly sanctuary of ancient Israel was a type. Thus was God's heavenly temple opened to view. The "ark," or golden chest, containing the law of God written on tables of stone, was in the most holy place. Mention of the ark in connection with the judgment is a forceful reminder that the law of God, the Ten Command- ments, within the ark, is the standard in the judgment. (See Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; Romans 2:12; James 2:8-12.) While the seventh trumpet is sounding, the world's probation will close, the seven last plagues will fall (note the "great hail," and compare Revelation 16:17, 18), and Christ, the Lord of glory, will come in the clouds of heaven to take His people to be with Him. And He will reign forever.
WHEN THAT DAY COMES
Some years ago the editor of the San Francisco EXAMINER made this comment:
"When that day comes, what will be the feeling of the world; of those who have lain buried, quiet through so long centuries; of yourself; and of all others living? Suppose that tomorrow a giant angel should appear in the sky a mile or a thousand miles high, blowing a trumpet, that could be heard all around the world, summoning the dead and the living to judgment? How trifling would seem our little occupations, our interests —our stocks, automobiles, worries, quarrels, wars, etc. For each one the last earthly call will come soon, and we forget it."