The Little Book.
The Events of the Interlude of the Trumpets.
The Rebirth of The Bible and the Political Consequences in Europe.
10:1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was on his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.
2. And he had in his hand a little book open; and he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the earth;
3. And cried with a loud voice, like a lion roars; and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices;
4. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write, and I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
5. And the angel which I saw stand on the sea and the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
6. And swore by him that lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are there, and the earth and the things that are there, that there should be time no longer.
7. But 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 has declared to his servants the prophets.
8. And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.
9. And I went to the angel and said to him, Give me the little book. And he said to me, Take it and eat it up; and it shall make your belly bitter, but it shall be in your mouth sweet as honey.
10. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey, and as soon as I had eaten it my belly was bitter.
11. And he said to me, You must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
The Vision of the Little Book is Designed to Take Place During the Sixth Trumpet — The Second Woe Trumpet
The Turkish threat to Europe did not end with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The threat of invasion and conquest remained in Europe almost to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Hungary fell to the Turks in the spring of 1526 and the Turks then threatened to invade Austria and Germany. * Luther wrote his essay, On War Against the Turks,** in 1529 in which he describes the continuing threat.
This condition existed in Europe, off and on, till the end of the eighteenth century. The threat of invasion ended just after the time of the French Revolution, when the Turkish Empire began to lose its internal control of its own possessions. From that time, the Turks were no longer occupied with expansion of territory but with the problems of keeping together their tottering imperial holdings.
From the mid-nineteenth century, European nations actually fought each other to protect the Turkish Empire from a take-over by one or another of them, in order to keep the balance of power.*
* Tappert, Theodore G, editor; Selected Writings of Martin Luther in four Volumes; Pub. Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1967. Vol. 3 pg. 476 n.
** Tappert, Theodore G.; ibid. Vol. 4, pgs. 9 – 53.
***Schevill, Ferdinand; A History of Europe from the Reformation to the Present Day; Harcourt, Brace and Co, New York, 1946.
For a discussion of British foreign policy of supporting the Turks against Russia, which led to the Crimean War, (1854-1856), see pages 528-530 and chapter 30 “The Russian and the Ottoman Empires from the Congress of Vienna (1815) to the Outbreak of World War I;” pgs. 604-631.
But the Turks were still at the peak of their power in the sixteenth century and this continued in the seventeenth. In 1611, in Vienna, “the Austrian Habsburg family council appointed [a new ruler] Matthaius to rule Hungary and Austria, in hope of saving the eastern frontier from the Turks.”*
* Hollings, Mary A.; revised by Gordon, D.K., Europe in Renaissance and Reformation, London, 1934, pg. 198
In 1629, after the peace of Lubec, at the conclusion of northern European wars over church lands and bishoprics, one of the most popular military leaders, Wallenstein, proposed leading a crusade against the Turks.*
* Ibid. pgs. 203, 204.
In the midst of another war, in the series of seemingly endless European “religious” wars,* in 1672 “the Turks had just laid siege to Vienna.”** A little later, European politicians continued the policy of intrigue and war among their emerging national groups, so the Turks continued assaulting the back door. Leopold, the Holy Roman Emperor, was involved in dismembering Spain in 1687 at the same time that he was at war with the Turks.***
*Religious wars were truly seemingly endless “Disaster for Europe began in 1610, when Henri IV of France was assassinated by a lunatic who deemed him insufficiently Catholic.
In 1618 the Thirty Years’ War started in Germany with Bohemia’s defiance of the emperor. The rapid defeat of the Bohemian king in the Battle of the White Mountain by the emperor and the League of Catholic Princes made grimly clear to the German Protestant north that it would have to fight a long and costly conflict if it was not to be totally subdued by Emperor Ferdinand II, whose avowed goal was to eradicate the new faith.
In 1621 the long truce between Spain and the Netherlands expired, and Philip III’s minister Lerma went enthusiastically back to a savage, expensive and fruitless war. The horror that settled over Europe was unequalled by anything since the fall of the Roman Empire, and the nightmare was intensified by a plague of superstition that caused the burning of a million witches.”
From the book Richelieu by Louis Auchincloss
** Robinson, James Harvey; History of Western Europe; Ginn, 1934, pg. 527
** Ashley, Maurice; The Glorious Revolution of 1688; First published Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd., London, 1966; Panther edition pub. 1968, pg. 120.
The continuation of Turkish power into and through the eighteenth century, although not at the strength it achieved in the sixteenth century, was marked by similar conditions of waning influence and resurgent strength.
As late as 1801 Turkey was able to rout Napoleon from Egypt and restore that country to the Turkish Empire, even though Napoleon had allied himself with the Czar. However, not long after (actually by 1810), Turkey began to permanently lose provinces from her empire. Her long decline from the position of a world power had begun.*
* For a more extensive look at the Turks, just previous to, and during the Napoleonic period see: Herold, Christopher; The Age of Napoleon; American Heritage, 1963, Dell edition, 1965, pgs. 286-292.
The Bible Became a Political Force As a Result of the Turkish Conquests
The Protestant Reformation, beginning in 1520, took place and grew in a European continent still under the Turkish threat. Ironically, the renaissance of learning and the coincident reformation were a direct result of the fifteenth century advance of the Turks, and finally the fall of Constantinople to them in 1453.
The libraries of the Greeks were moved by eastern monks and the clerics of eastern churches to the safe haven of Europe as the Turks advanced across the remaining part of Byzantine Asia Minor. The trickle of old manuscripts to the West became a flood when the Turks laid siege and finally destroyed the civilization of Constantinople to replace it with their own. The access to hitherto unknown multitudes of ancient Biblical texts created first a flurry and then a storm of intellectual activity.
The manuscripts of the Greek philosophers, which had been preserved in the East, but were unknown to the western Europeans, were read again and the glory of the old world created a rebirth in learning in philosophy, law, science, and art, that we call the Renaissance. Protestantism and humanism were born of this activity. Schevill gives this account of these same events:
“…a number of scholars from the Greek east had been drawn to Italy as teachers; and in the first half of the fifteenth century these scattered forerunners were followed by a voluntary influx, due to the gradual conquest of the Byzantine Empire by the Ottoman Turks.
When, in 1453, Constantinople, the Greek capital, itself fell before the Asiatic onslaught, still greater numbers of scholars turned their footsteps toward Italy, taking with them as their most precious possession such books and art treasures as they succeeded in saving from the wreck of their world. In this way the treasure house of Greek literature, immeasurably richer than that of Rome, was again made accessible to the western seeker after knowledge;”*
*Schevill, Ferdinand; op. cit. pg. 35.
Almost immediately the Bible was reborn in society. Erasmus, of whom it was said. “Erasmus laid the egg and Luther hatched it,” is also called the prince of humanists. He made possible the Protestant Revolt but he did not join it. Of his major contributions to the Christian religion Schevill says:
“Erasmus’s most important contribution to Christian, as distinct from classical, scholarship was the publication of the New Testament in Greek, accompanied by a new Latin translation of his own. In this work he exposed the numerous errors of the [old] Latin version of the New Testament which the church had stamped with its approval and incorporated in the official version of the Bible called the Vulgate.”*
* Scheville, Ferdinand; ibid. pg. 97.
It was Erasmus’s Greek Text that provided the basis for the multitude of translations that followed shortly in the languages of Europe. Translations were made in French and German, in 1522 and in English in 1525, and in Italian in 1532. These were followed by a host of others in many languages which gave rise to a new era of freedom of thought. The multiplying of Bible versions has continued unabated until this day.
The rebirth of learning and the renewal of the Bible as a part of daily life were the intellectual realities of the period. You could no more understand the political developments of the next three hundred years in Europe without the Bible, than you could understand the politics of the Middle Ages without the Pope!
Medieval European society was going to change as a result of the opening of the Bible, but not without a struggle.
The structure of medieval European society was developed as a continuous ascending pyramid of vassals and lords with an exploited, and often abused, peasantry at the base and with the emperor who was crowned by the Pope at the pinnacle. The peasantry, called serfs, were often little more than chattel, who were bought and sold with the land. This “feudalism” as it was called would change gradually and finally receive its death blow in Europe through the thinkers of “the Age of Reason,” whose democratic ideals brought on the French Revolution of 1789.
That revolutionary thinking developed in a direct line from Protestant reactionary thought against the autocratic power of the Papacy. At that time, in 1520, a revolution in thought had taken place in Protestant lands. That thought was derived from the rebirth of the Bible in the minds of all men, no longer just in the hands and minds of clerics. Thanks to the newly invented printing press everyone in every village and town knew what Bible principle the reformers were arguing about this month.
Protestantism Should Have Been the Harbinger of Individual Freedom But It Was Not
Thus, the first blow to be struck against the arbitrary rule of the clerics and aristocrats who were in the ruling class should have been the Protestant Reformation with the ideals that Luther appealed to for himself.
Among those are: that a man must live by the dictates of his conscience; and the doctrine of justification by faith; and the doctrine of the freedom of the will. Why this did not happen is in both the historical record and the symbol of the period in Revelation.
The Symbol of the Little Book Matches this History
The symbol in Revelation that pictures this period includes all these mixed events. The little book which is to prophesy again is obviously the Bible. It came to life again during the second woe, or Turkish woe trumpet. This symbol of the little book makes its advancement under that sixth trumpet. Historically we have shown that this is exactly what happened.
The other symbols which follow it indicate prophetically that historical periods, of a religious nature, would come after the rebirth of the Bible before the end of the second or Turkish woe trumpet, which is in accordance with actual history.
In the symbol of the little book, a scene that appears with the angel standing with the book in his hand shows that a long period of time has ended. The angel swears that there should be time no longer! That the end of the world is not indicated is seen in verse 7, where, lest you not understand that the vision points to some event that ends the time of a long condition, we are reminded that the end of all things is reserved for the seventh trumpet and this is only the sixth.
Thus it cannot be the end of the world. It is the end of the muted prophecy of the little book. It comes alive to prophesy again, not everywhere to be sure. It is at the time of this symbol (the 1500’s) still “prophesying in sackcloth” in those nations allied to the Papacy; but in Protestant lands from 1520 the book was open.
If the Bible was still prophesying in sackcloth, then the 1260 years had not yet ended.
The symbol that ends the 1260 years begins in Rev. 11:3. They will end at the same time as the second woe. That means that the symbol of the little book which is the Protestant Reformation did not end or even begin the end of the Papal autocratic power. That power would not receive its first blow until the first bowl is poured out in Chapter 16.
Historically this is true. In Protestant lands there would be a swifter (but not immediate) arrival of freedom and dignity being recognized as a right for all individuals regardless of economic or other class distinction than there would be in those nations allied to the Papacy.
In those lands allied with the Papacy, autocratic power, and supreme unquestioned authority, over the souls and bodies of men would not begin to end until the French Revolution. One of the most merciless exhibitions of possessing and using that power by the Papacy was the infamous Inquisition.
The Inquisition was started in the fourteenth century and its inquisitors used torture to bring men to obedience to the Papal authority. It was revived again at the very time we are discussing and continued for centuries! It was used as a counter reformation tool. Although it would have “finished” written on it by 1800, its restoration was attempted as a political tool in Spain in 1810. The authority of the beast did not begin to end at the Protestant Reformation.
John was told to eat the little book which was sweet as honey in his mouth, but when it reached his stomach it became bitter. This is a picture of the euphoric reception of the scriptures by the masses of northern Europeans that accompanied the beginnings of the Protestant period, but that euphoria would turn to bitterness almost immediately.
Many groups formed to take advantage of the new liberty and rebelled against the overlords. Incredibly, Martin Luther opposed them and set the cause of freedom back by his opposition to changing the feudal order. He supported the Imperial system on the basis of the scriptures that say that kings, or powers that be, are ordained of God, and whoever resists the power resists God. In the Peasants’ Revolt in Germany, the peasants, through their charismatic Christian leaders, attempted to establish communities and to control their own lives and land.
The appeal of the peasants in The Twelve Articles* which they issued contains demands that most civilized nations now accept as ordinary rights of all men everywhere. Not so Martin Luther; he condemned their rebellion as anti-God, and since they would not follow the scripture in submitting to the powers that be, they would be damned if they died in battle. On the other hand Luther took the most incredible position that the lords would be saved by their very act of killing the rebels because they were doing their God given-duty!**
In the passage that follows Luther is defending the harsh attack that he had made on the peasants before the revolt and he rebukes the people who now urged clemency to the peasants who were still being slaughtered even though they had been defeated and had surrendered.
* Tappert, Theodore G.; op. cit. pgs. 308-316.
**Tappert, Theodore G.; op. cit. pgs. 353, 354. In this essay, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants; Luther makes some of the most extreme statements on war and slaughter that even the stoutest hearts must cringe.
“If they think this answer is too harsh, and that this is talking violence and only shutting men’s mouths, I reply, ‘That is right.’ A rebel is not worth rational arguments, for he does not accept them. You have to answer people like that with a fist, until the blood drips off their noses.
The peasants would not listen; they would not let anyone [he means himself] tell them anything, so their ears must now be unbuttoned with musket balls till their heads jump off their shoulders. Such pupils need such a rod. He who will not hear God’s word when it is spoken in kindness, must listen to the headsman when he comes with his axe.
If anyone thinks that I am being uncharitable or unmerciful about this, my reply is: This is not a question of mercy; we are talking about God’s word. It is God’s will that the king be honored and the rebels destroyed; and He is as merciful as we are.”*
* Tappert, Theodore G.; op. cit. Vol. 3, pgs 365, 366.
Ironically the same emperor whom Luther would support as ordained of God to put down the peasant revolt would install the inquisition to clean out by torture and murder Protestant adherents in Spain and Holland. Wells says this same emperor, Charles V, called on the grand inquisitor when Protestant teaching was discovered close to his own city.
“Tell the grand inquisitor to lay the axe at the root of the evil before it spreads any further.” [He recommended as an example his own mode of proceeding in the Netherlands,] “where all who remained obstinate in their errors were burned alive, and those who were admitted to penance were beheaded.”*
* Wells H.G.; The Outline of History; Garden City Pub. New York; 1950; pg. 764
Ironically, Luther, who should have been the champion of individual rights, set the cause of Protestant freedom back literally hundreds of years and he imposed on the German people the “iron fist” method of discipline and the unthinking obedience to government authority that has molded many a German family* as well as the German nation, including the Third Reich.
This is not to discount the immense good that Luther contributed to faith and morals in opposing wrong when he saw it and releasing the scriptures to the European nations. But he has to have been mistaken in his dealings with the peasants. Even the Catholic rulers used Luther’s tract, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants to justify their own slaughter of the peasants whom they had defeated. God knew he would be mistaken in this area; He said, “it shall make your belly bitter.”*
*Of whom this writer is one.
Beside the Peasants’ Revolt in which over 100,000 peasants were slaughtered, the new thinking of the open Bible would be the cause of political unrest (not yet revolutionary but continuous) that would be the cause of seemingly endless wars and disputes in a mixed Protestant-Catholic feudal order until the old order that Luther thought was God-ordained passed.
You see, God had not crowned the emperor, the Pope had crowned the emperor.* The symbol in Revelation says the little book would be sweet in the mouth but when it was digested it would make the belly bitter. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
* Emperor Charles V of Spain was made emperor by the seven electors in 1519. He had himself crowned by the Pope with great pomp at Bologna, Italy, in February 1530 to validate with this final touch his claim to the medieval position of Holy Roman Emperor.