Phoenix Bird


By James Duffee

The manner in which the original translators divided the King James Bible often confuses even the most alert Biblical scholars. The seventh seal should not have been separated from the other six by a new chapter heading. The wording here has led many people to believe that the Revelation prophecies were given in a continuous chronological order, with the seven trumpets following the seven seals. John reveals that Revelation was not a single vision, but several. When he begins with the words "And I saw", it marks the close of one vision and the beginning of another. He had just related the symbolic events under the seven seals, now he continues with a new vision of seven trumpets.

The seven trumpets, intended to reveal events during the "Christian era", begin with the Roman Empire. The first trumpet reveals the first great struggle the Roman Empire faced, leading to its downfall. This struggle began at the death of the Roman emperor Theodosius. At his death in 395 AD, the Gothic leader Alaric seized the opportunity to attack. This attack came from the north, represented in this prophecy by hail. The fire mingled with blood symbolizes the results of the barbaric attacks. Each city the Goths attacked was burned to the ground and its inhabitants slaughtered. The Goths conquered approximately one third of the Roman Empire, as prophesied here by "a third part of trees", concentrating on the northern and western provinces. This fertile pasture country was destroyed by the Barbarians, represented in this prophecy by the burning up of "all green grass".

In prophetic imagery, the term "mountain" is used to represent a nation, and "sea" and other forms of water represent people. Under this second trumpet period, the Roman Empire was divided into three parts, thus the term "third part" in these images reveal that this battle would effect one of these three parts. This division of Rome occurred at the death of Constantine, with the empire controlled by his three sons Constantius, Constantine II and Constans. Constantius controlled the eastern part of the empire, centered at Constantinople. Constantine II held Britain, Gaul (France) and Spain. Constans ruled over Illyricum, Africa and Italy. This third part, ruled by Constans was the one this prophecy is directed at, displaying the conquest of Africa and Italy under the naval power of Genseric, leader of the Vandals. Genseric attacked primarily the sea coasts, destroying a third of the ships and people (creatures) of the Roman Empire. The Vandals continued this marauding for forty years, from 428 AD through 468 AD.

In prophecy, a star represents a leader of a group or nation, such as in the first three chapters of Revelation, where stars were used to portray leaders of a church. This burning star represents a great leader who would fall upon a third of the people (waters), another third of the Roman Empire. The continual reference to waters here suggests that this trumpet affects an area that is very fertile. The waters would be made bitter by this star, revealing a poison-like affect of this new leader. This leader was Attila, king of the Huns. His attacks were centered in the eastern third of the empire, the region of the Alps, some of the most fertile lands in Europe. His manner of conquest was utterly repulsive to everyone in the region, as implied by the name given to him here - Wormwood. It was Attila's goal and habit to not only conquer, but to exterminate; to completely erase any trace of the people he defeated. His conquests are accurately depicted by a poisoned water supply. The result of either is the complete annihilation of entire villages and provinces.

These symbols of the sun, moon and stars relate to the governing system of Rome, with its emperors, senate and consuls. Under this trumpet, the final third of the Roman Empire was darkened, or extinguished. Following the many attacks of Odoacer, a king of Italy, the western third of the Roman Empire was, quite literally, extinguished. The emperor Romulus, also known as Augustulus, abdicated the throne, followed by the disbanding of the senate. The senate relinquished control and authority of the western empire to Zeno, ruler of the Byzantine Empire, swearing allegiance to him, and turning to him for protection.

This message of "woe" indicates that the remaining three trumpets will affect the entire earth, rather than just the area of the Roman Empire. Because of the more widespread meaning, the following trumpets are given in much more detail than the first four.

Here again we are shown a star, a great leader. The term "bottomless pit" is from the Greek "abyssmos", and refers to any desolate, barren place, like a desert. Just prior to the sounding of this trumpet, the last Roman emperor at Constantinople (Heraclius) was in continual conflict with a Persian king, Chosroes II. As these two kingdoms battled each other, they exhausted their military capabilities, making way for the conquests of the new leader told of here. This new star did not fall on a specific place, but on the whole earth, and opened up the abyss. Smoke rose up out of the abyss, and out of the smoke came locusts. This is an accurate depiction of the rise of Mohamet (Mohammed), who led his followers out of the desert regions - the bottomless pit. As both the Roman Empire and the Persians were weakened, Mohamet seized the opportunity to raid villages over the entire region. The smoke from the bottomless pit portrays the dust from the desert as the legions of Saracens (Mohamet's followers) swarmed out of it like locusts.

In these verses we can see a vivid account of both the appearance of these soldiers and their actions. The locusts were shaped like horses, but had the faces of men, indicating men on horseback. This was the pride of the Saracens, each riding Arabian stallions. In contrast to the infantry style of warfare practiced by the preceding empires, the Saracens used cavalry methods, attacking swiftly and retreating just as swiftly to avoid counter-attacks. These locusts are said to have crowns of gold, symbolizing the golden turbans worn by the Saracens in battle. Having the hair of women denotes the Saracen practice of having uncut hair, as opposed to other cultures at the time, who associated long hair with femininity. The teeth of iron, like the same imagery used in the visions of Daniel, represent the ferocity of the attacks and conquests of the Saracens. The sound of these locusts was like that of many chariots of horses. Here again is the description of this army as a cavalry rather than an infantry. This cavalry attacked swiftly, the riders wearing breastplates and golden turbans, with hair like women.

In verses four and five it is said that these locusts, with tails like scorpions, were commanded not to hurt those who had the seal of God in their foreheads, nor the trees, grass or any green thing. It is also said that they would not kill, but would torment for five months. This reveals the nature of conquest under the Saracens, as well as the length of time they would occur. The Saracens did not utterly destroy villages the way the Huns and other preceding empires had done. They would conquer a region and leave its remaining citizens alive, forcing them to accept the Moslem religion. This is the scorpion's sting. The false religion these locusts left behind was a poison. At the death of Mohamet in 632 AD, the Saracens were commanded by Abu-bekr. He issued the following orders to his generals concerning warfare:

Verse ten repeats that these locusts would hurt men for five months, but verse eleven gives a clue as to when this five month period would begin. "And they had a king over them, [which is] the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue [is] Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath [his] name Apollyon." For hundreds of years, from the time of Mohamet to the close of the thirteenth century, the Saracens raided and looted villages throughout the area of the Roman Empire. During this time, they were divided into many different groups under various leaders, with no king over them all. Finally a king arose, named Othman, who gave birth to the Ottoman Empire. This king united the Saracens into one empire, with one system of government. The prophecy refers to this king as Abaddon in Hebrew and Apollyon in Greek. Both of these names simply mean "the destroyer".

To count the time period of five months, it is necessary to remember the prophetic symbolism of one day equaling one physical year. Five months is one hundred and fifty days, meaning one hundred and fifty literal years for this empire to hurt men. Beginning with the first battle under this one king, which occurred on July 27, 1299 AD, the one hundred and fifty years would reach until July 27 of 1449 AD. This date marks the close of the fifth trumpet age.

The four angels bound in the Euphrates refers to the four primary Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. These were the Sultans of Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus and Bagdad, all regions that are watered by the Euphrates. These Sultans had been restrained through God's command that they would hurt, but not kill, "the third part of men" under the sixth trumpet. But these Sultans were now loosed, to kill or destroy the last vestige of the Roman Empire, centered in. The fact that these sultans were "loosed" indicates that the authority of the Roman Empire would be given to them, rather than taken by force. Late in the year 1448 AD, as the one hundred and fifty year period of the previous trumpet was about to close, the reigning king of the Eastern Empire (John Palaeologus) died leaving no son to take his place. His brother (Constantine XIII) was the lawful successor to the throne, but he refused to claim authority without the consent of the Turkish Sultan. This Sultan (Amurath) permitted Constantine to rule over the Eastern Empire in Constantinople. On July 27, 1449, exactly at the end of the one hundred and fifty year period, Constantine was crowned as emperor, by consent of the Ottoman Empire.

In essence, though, Constantine surrendered even before being crowned, as he admitted that he could not rule without Amurath's permission. This is the event that loosed the four Sultans, encouraging them to finally eradicate the remnant of the Roman Empire. In 1451 AD, Amurath was succeeded at his death by Mohamet II, who set his sights on Constantinople. Mohamet II attacked Constantinople on April 6, 1453, and the siege continued until May 16, 1453, when the city was defeated and the last of the Constantines was killed. Thus, the last remaining territory of the Roman Empire, or "the third part" was destroyed, and the Ottoman Empire reigned supreme.

During the battle at Constantinople, this prophecy describes the Turkish warriors quite vividly. The horsemen are said to wear breastplates of fire, jacinth and brimstone, or red, blue and yellow. These were the colors of the uniforms worn by the Turks. The heads of the horses (or horsemen) are said to be like lions, indicating strength and ferocity. These horsemen issued fire, smoke and brimstone (sulfur) out of their mouths, and it is with these three things that they killed. This vision relates the first time that firearms are known to have been used in battle. A rider on horseback, aiming and firing a blackpowder musket, would appear to be spewing fire, smoke and sulfur from his mouth.

The four Sultans were said to be loosed and prepared for "an hour, a day, a month and a year". In prophetic time, this would equal three hundred and sixty years (one year), plus thirty years (one month), plus one year (one day), plus fifteen days (one hour). Beginning at the end of the one hundred and fifty day period of the previous trumpet (July 27, 1449), this time period of three hundred ninety one years and fifteen days would end on August 11, 1840. This would mark the exact time that the power and independent rule of the Ottoman Empire would end. As with the Constantines though, this would be expected to be a non-violent loss of power.

This analysis of the prophetic time periods was first determined and publicly announced by a Baptist preacher named Josiah Litch in 1838. The entire world was waiting to see what would happen on August 11, 1840. In the preceding years, the Pasha of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, had been rebelling against the Ottoman Sultan. In 1839, the armies of the Egyptian province had captured the majority of the Turkish fleet, and held it as a bargaining tool, seeking independent rule for Egypt. This stand off in the Mediterranean Sea caused great difficulties for trade vessels, and threatened to halt trade altogether. This was a situation that could not be tolerated by other world powers, namely England, Austria, Russia and Prussia, who relied heavily on trade with the Middle East. These four world powers devised a settlement for this dispute, giving Mehemet Ali independent rule over Egypt in exchange for returning the captured fleet to the Ottoman Sultan.

The Sultan accepted this intervention and the terms set forth by the European nations. He sent Rifat Bey as an ambassador to Egypt with this signed agreement, along with the threat of military action by the four European powers if the Pasha refused. This agreement was received and signed by Mehemet Ali on August 11, 1840. Just as Constantine XIII had relinquished authority to the Turks, the Turks now relinquished authority to the four European powers, bringing the time period of this sixth seal to a close.

As mentioned previously, this seventh and final trumpet will signal the return of Christ. The lightenings, thunderings, earthquake and great hail are all events which take place under the seventh plague of God's wrath. These prophecies reveal that the opening of the seventh seal, the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and the pouring out of the seventh vial are simultaneous events. We stand in a point in time when only one seal remains unopened, and only one trumpet is left to sound. We know that before these things can happen we must endure the tribulations and persecutions under the beast empire, then watch as God pours out His wrath on the ungodly in the form of world-wide plagues. The other prophecies have been fulfilled, and the signs have been given.

Next in this series: "God's Warning Message"