revelation 9, the fifth trumpet: the army of locusts
revelation 9, the duration of the fifth trumpet
revelation 9, the fifth trumpet of torment but not death
revelation 9, the conclusion of the fifth trumpet
revelation 9, the four angels of the sixth trumpet
revelation 9, the sixth trumpet: crossing the euphrates
revelation 9, the duration of the sixth trumpet
And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm. Rev 9:17-19
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, the final third of mankind remaining to the Roman “beast” or Empire, fulfilled that figure. Let’s look at the unusual description of this army.
Red, blue, and yellow breastplates
The Seljuk Turks made many inroads against the Byzantine Empire, but a new family of Turks came to power within the Seljuk empire, the Ottomans, and they began expanding at the expense of the Seljuks by 1362. It was under Ottoman control of the Turkish empire that Constantinople was finally captured in 1453.
On the application of this passage to the Turks, Mr. Daubuz [British historian] justly remarks, that “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 the Greeks, Franks, or Saracens contemporarily.” Barnes Notes on the New Testament
heads of lions
John tells us that the heads of the horses were like the heads of a lion. Let us please remember that John is seeing symbols representing the reality; just as Daniel saw a four- headed leopard with four wings which represented the reality of the Greek empire. Let’s go on a little bunny trail:
The leopard represented Alexander the Great; he took the leopard as his symbol deliberately and with forethought 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. (The next time anyone is in an art museum, look at the ancient Egyptian art and look for the priests in their spotted cloaks.) Second, Alexander was a great admirer of Hercules, who he believed was his ancestor, 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 instead of the lion skin because of the eastern conquests he was planning to make. 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 was planning to do. So Alexander always wore a leopard skin as a saddle blanket on his horse (modern rendering based on historical records), and also wore a helmet covered in leopard skin (as can be seen on this ancient coin). Daniel saw the prophecy as a leopard with four heads, because after Alexander’s death, the Greek empire split into four kingdoms, to the four points of the compass (the four wings).
Back to horses with lions’ heads. The heads of the horses, i.e. the leaders of the army of horsemen, were seen as lions. 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. Subsequent leaders retained his title.
death by fire, smoke, and brimstone
The Turkish army was among the first to use firearms. Barnes considers that to John, who had not ever seen guns or gunfire before, it would appear that the horses themselves were belching forth smoke and sulfurous flame, as a mounted army fired guns against their enemy, thus bringing death. The Muslims invented the firearm, and the Ottomans used artillery against Constantinople successfully, whose thick walls had withstood invaders for over a thousand years.
“Nor was it possible to circumscribe the secret [formula for gunpowder] within the pale of the church; it was disclosed to the Turks by the treachery of apostates and the selfish policy of rivals; and the sultans had sense to adopt, and wealth to reward, the talents of a Christian engineer [in inventing the firearm]. By the Venetians, the use of gunpowder was communicated without reproach to the sultans of Egypt and Persia, their allies against the Ottoman power; the secret was soon propagated to the extremities of Asia; and the advantage of the European was confined to his easy victories over the savages of the new world,” Gibbon, chapter 65.
My book The Revelation of Jesus Christ Revealed, based on these studies but greatly expanded, is now available at Revelation Revealed Online. You may also be interested in reading the Book Extras and joining in on the Discussion.