The Sixth Trumpet
The Rise and Duration of the Turkish Empire
9:13 And the sixth angel sounded and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 9:14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
Verse 12 identifies the fifth as the first and the sixth trumpet as the second woe trumpet. 9:12 The first woe is past, behold, There are two woes yet to come. This then is the second woe.
Which are bound in Euphrates: The four angels bring a “plague ,” their source is plain. They are beyond the Euphrates by which they have been bounded until the moment of loosing.
9:15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men. 9:16 And the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred thousand thousand; and I heard the number of them.
The third part of men: This completes the three thirds begun with the first four trumpets. An hour, a day, a month, and a year: Using the day year principle the time from their loosing until the final third falls is 397 years
Two hundred million horsemen! Only the Turkish Empire could fulfill this figure in history. If the 300 years of Crusaders could speak, they would say this accurately pictures what they faced.
9:17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses [were] like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke, and brimstone.
9:18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
9:19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails, for their tails were like serpents, and had heads and with them they hurt
9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues still repented not of the works of their hands,that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk;
Fire, smoke, and brimstone: Literal, destructive, explosive force.
The third part of men: The same figure is repeated to emphasize the completion of the cycle of thirds begun with the trumpets.
The rest of the men: The description of these sins is seen by most Protestant historical interpreters to prefigure the corrupt religious practices, adopted from the Babylonian, pagan, religions, in Western Christianity, fostered by the Papal system. In spite of the fall of the Eastern churches, they did not repent.
9:21 Neither did they repent of their murders, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
Take note that the second woe is not past here even though the description of the sixth trumpet is complete here. The announcement of the end of the second woe is in 11:14. This will be explained in the text.
The Turkish Empire, in the ninth and tenth centuries, arose first in Central Asia, then subjugated Persia, followed by Iraq, to its power. They extended their empire in all former Moslem Arab dominions as well as much of Christian Asia Minor before the end of the eleventh century.
By 1500 they had extended their dominions to the Austrian border to include all the Balkans — Bulgaria, Rumania, Moldavia, Greece, etc.
The facts of the history of the rise of the Turks are well known, having been recorded with precision by Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire. The Turks, originally from central Asia, made inroads into the Persian dominions as early as the tenth century.
The Arab Caliph, located at Baghdad, according to Wells had become, “a mere creature of his Turkish palace Guards.”* The Turks had most of the dominions east of the Euphrates under their control by the eleventh century and seemingly were restrained there. The Euphrates was no barrier to them but they did not cross it for further conquests, until the mid eleventh century. Gibbon gives us the outline of the crossing of the Euphrates.
* Wells, H.G. The Outline of History; Pub. first 1920, Garden City Publishing Company, pg. 636. This is a popular history and has enjoyed scores of reprinted editions.
“Togrul, the conqueror of the east...was invested in 1055 as the temporal lieutenant of the vicar of the prophet,- [the Caliph at Baghdad. Then proceeding to cross the Euphrates,] after the death of Basil,* his successors [the emperors at Constantinople] were assaulted by an unknown race of barbarians, who united the Scythian valor with the fanaticism of new proselytes…The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of 600 miles… and the blood of one hundred and thirty thousand Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet. Yet the arms of Togrul did not make a deep or lasting impression on the Greek empire.”**
*Gibbon, Edward; The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Six Volumes; Bigelow & Co. New York, no date. The text says 25 years after. This is a mistake.
If Basil died in 1025 as reported earlier by Gibbon, either Gibbon is mistaken, or both he and the editor, or the latter who has placed 1050 (25 years after Basil’s death) in the margin as the date of Togrul’s crossing the Euphrates bent on conquest. Togrul did not set out on Western invasions until he was invested by the Caliph of Baghdad in 1055.
** Ibid. Vol 5, pgs. 674-675.
If Togrul was invested as the military arm of the Caliph in 1055, then it would be the following year, 1056 that he led his troops across the Euphrates for the first time into the lands of the remaining emperors of the last vestige of the Roman Empire.
One third of the empire had fallen to the western barbarians, one third to the Arabian Moslems, and now one third, the last, would fall to the Turks–but it would take almost 400 years. It reaches exactly to the year that the prophecy predicted, that these “hordes of horseman” — for so both the prophecy and historians describe them, were prepared for–397 years; 397 plus 1056 is 1453, the year of the fall of Constantinople, or the Fall of the Roman Empire in the East.
The invasion under Togrul would be the first of many by different groups of Turks.
H.G. Wells, well known through his book Outline of History, was also a humanist philosopher. Another of his books, War of the Worlds, which was made into a motion picture, is representative of his evolutionary views on the salvation of man-kind through scientific advancement.
His agnostic non-christian stance is well known. He could not be accused of trying to support the Christian religion, but he does service in his description of the rise of the Turks by supplying information that matches the figures under the sixth trumpet. The four angels bound in Euphrates indicate several groups of invaders poised at the Euphrates, not one group. And so Wells describes the same invasion as above from a different perspective:
“But this direct thrust of the Turkish people against Christendom to the north of the Black sea, was in the end, not nearly so important as their indirect thrust south of it through the empire of the Caliph. We cannot deal here with the tribes and dissensions of the Turkish people of Turkestan, nor with the particular causes that brought to the fore the tribes under the rule of the Seljuk clan. In the eleventh century these Seljuk Turks broke with irresistible force, not in one army, but in a group of armies under two brothers, into the decaying fragments of the Moslem [Arab] Empire.”*
*Wells, H.G.; op. cit. pg. 636.
Wells gives us a picture of the Turks as coming in groups and at the right time. He says it was in the eleventh century. Gibbon and Wells have shown that the loosing of the Turkish hordes into the Arabian Moslem Empire and into the last remaining vestige of the Roman Empire in Asia Minor took place in 1056, or mid-eleventh century. Wells makes a statement that supports the prophetic description of their having been bound in Euphrates:
“Very early they conquered Armenia from the Greeks, and then, breaking the bounds that had restrained the power of Islam for four centuries, they swept on to the conquest of Asia minor, almost to the gates of Constantinople.”*
Wells then describes their long rise to power, winning victory after victory against the western powers as well as winning the majority of battles in the Crusades launched against the Turks for over 300 years. In the end, in spite of brief possession of the Holy land, the European Crusaders would abandon the Crusades and Jerusalem to the Turks who had become the greatest Empire in the world by the mid fifteenth century. By 1453 they had conquered Constantinople and the last third of the Roman Empire disappeared! How fitting the prophecy:
9:15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men.
Not only did they conquer the third part of men in a very real sense to fulfill this prophecy but they fulfilled the time prophecy. This is an extraordinary prophecy which is fulfilled according to the usual method in the prophecies. A day in prophecy equals a year in the fulfillment. A day and an hour, and a month and a year is the time. A year, (as the time is past Julius Caesar), equals 365. The month is 30, the day is one, and the hour is part of a year. Add them and you have to progress into the 397th year of the time element in this prophecy.
From the year of the Turks’ crossing of the Euphrates, where they had been bound for more than 100 years, to the crown of their conquests at the fall of Constantinople, we know, is precisely 397 years! Is this a coincidence? It is an absolutely astounding result of fulfilled prophecy. Let the reader check the sources and then give glory to the God of history, who is concerned that those in every age know that He is the master of events!*
* For a fuller and more detailed explanation of this prophecy and how it fits the Turks, we recommend that you read Albert Barnes’ Notes on Revelation. His discussion of the first use of artillery and gun powder in modern warfare and its figure of “smoke, fire and brimstone” coming from the Euphratean horsemen, is worth the reading. So also the same author on the fifth Trumpet.
The fifth trumpet ended with the announcement:
9:12 The first woe is past, behold, There are two woes yet to come.
The Sixth trumpet is the second woe trumpet. The woe does not end at the fall of Constantinople. The time of the 397 years takes us to the zenith of Turkish power, but not to the end of it. There would be further attacks on the West until well into the next century.* The era of the French Revolution, almost 350 years later, marks the obvious beginning of the long decline of the Turkish Empire.
One of the first times if not the first,** that the Sultan actually allied himself with a western power was under Napoleon, when the latter offered the Sultan anything he asked for to support him in his war against Austria. During the Napoleonic wars, British ships were chased out of the Dardanelles by the Turks with some British losses.
“Napoleon exulted in Turkey’s successes. To the Sultan he wrote: You have asked me for officers, I send them to you. Generals, officers, soldiers, arms of every kind, even money, I place at your disposal. You have only to ask. Ask plainly, and whatever you ask shall be sent, forthwith.”***
* For a view of the constancy of the Turkish threat to Europe, read, On War Against the Turks; by Martin Luther, found in Selected Writings of Martin Luther, Vol. 4; Edited by Theodore Tappert; pub. Fortress Press, 1967. This volume contains extensive footnotes listing Turkish invasions of Europe in the sixteenth century.
** There had been mutual defence and agricultural treaties between these states as early as 1529. In fact France had just concluded a war with Turkey when a mutual assistance treaty was signed.
These periods of cooperation existed while the Papal States and other states in Europe were in a perpetual state of enmity against the Turks. In Germany the epithet most scurrilous was, “You are worse than a Turk!”
*** Emerson, Edwin Jr.; A History of the Nineteenth Century Year By Year; in three volumes, P.F. Collier, N.Y. 1902. Vol. 1, pg. 195
At the beginning of this cooperation between France and Turkey, as Russia advanced, Austria showed concern; not concern for Turkish success, but lest the Turks collapse, and the French occupy their place. The same book says: “Austria had reason to feel concerned, for the Ottoman Empire then, as so often after this, seemed on the verge of dissolution.”*
The Turkish Empire had not dissolved when these words were written in 1900, but the fears of her decline began at the time of the French Revolution–which therefore marks the end of the second woe.
* Ibid. Vol. 1, pg. 176.
Thus the time of the 397 years ends at the point in time for which they had been prepared, the Fall of Rome in the East. But the sixth trumpet, the Turkish period, lasts longer. Thus the four symbols of the interlude of the sixth trumpet overlap the Turkish period. Note that the second woe is not past until the end of the symbol of the death and resurrection of the two witnesses and the earthquake of chapter eleven:
11:14 The second woe is past; behold, the third woe comes quickly.