Now we have seen that the army to be released at the sixth trumpet is a vast army of horsemen. We have seen that the Turks which came against the Byzantine Empire fulfilled that figure. But then John gives a very unusual description of their appearance:
And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. Revelation 9:17-19
First let us look at the figure of the lion. In Daniel, the beast which turns out to be the Greek empire is described as a leopard. But leopards were not native to Greece, as locusts were to Arabia! Why a leopard? It was the symbol of Alexander the Great. He wore a leopard skin and it became associated with him (here is a modern rendering; here is an ancient coin where Alexander is wearing a leopard skin helmet).
Alexander took this symbol for several reasons: first, Nimrod is said to have worn a leopard skin, as a symbol of his status as a mighty hunter before the Lord. Thus the king or nobility or priest class in many eastern cultures which retained Nimrod’s paganism wore leopard skin capes as a symbol of their status. Second, Alexander was a great admirer of Hercules, who had slain the Namean lion, and who is often depicted in Greek art wearing the lion skin. Hercules is the Greek Nimrod, and Alexander returned to the leopard skin because of his eastern conquests. And finally, the leopard was the symbol of Dionysius, or Bacchus (“bar-Cush,” the son of Cush, a reference to Nimrod again), one of the Greek gods who conquered the east as Alexander had done.
The lion associated with the Turkish army is in the same vein, I think; the symbol associated with their leader. The greatest leader of the conquering Turks was Alp Arslan. This name is really a title which means, “valiant lion,” and the lion is his symbol.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 9: the description of the sixth trumpet army