The first woe under the fifth trumpet falls on the eastern Christian Roman Empire, and a heavenly messenger “star” descends from heaven with a key that Christ gave him to open the “bottomless pit.” He opens this pit and demons and Satan comes out. They strengthen a people for actions of judgment against apostate Christians. These woes are literal judgments, just like those in the first four trumpets.
When did the events of the fifth and sixth trumpets occur? Martin Luther and other commentators applied the fifth trumpet to the Saracens coming from the desert wastes of Arabia under Abu Bakr. They began attacks on the Eastern Roman Empire headquartered in Constantinople. The sixth trumpet signaled the rise of the Ottoman Turks in warfare against apostate Christianity.
Josiah Litch, one or William Miller’s associates in the Advent movement, set the dates for the fifth and sixth trumpet from AD 1299 to AD 1840. In August of that year the power of theTurkish Empire was broken, when Mohammed Ali defeated the Turks and captured their navy. These events, coming at the time of Litch’s prediction, had a wide influence on the Millerite believers in America.
The description of the locusts given in this chapter recalls the dress of the early Arab horsemen in many ways. They spared the Sabbath keepers but they persecuted the rest of the Christians during this period. The citizens of the empire longed for relief from their misery, but did not find it. The locusts warriors during this time have a king or sultan over them, an agent of Satan himself. The succeeding sultans also are destroyers, destroying the remaining one-third of the old Eastern Roman Empire.
Once Litch understood that these dates ended in 1840, he noticed that this was the very time when Turkey, though her ambassador, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thus placed her under the protection of Christian nations. The event exactly fulfilled the prediction. When this became known, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation adopted by Miller and his associates, and a wonderful impetus was given to the Advent movement. Men of learning and position united with Miller, both in preaching and publishing, and from 1840 to 1844 the work rapidly extended.
Despite the trumpet judgments, the rest of the men refused to repent of their worship of demons, idols of their own making, and believing false doctrines. What more could God do? What about you and me? Are we continually responding to the promptings of God or are we resisting and not repenting of our wrongs? Let us not make the same mistake that these false Christians did and turn away from Christ’s intercession, but bow down every day and claim His loving grace for ourselves.
Kenneth Mathews, Jr. M.D.
Physician, Occupational Medicine
Greeneville, TN. U.S.A.