1. And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
2. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
3. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
Note.-- The prophecy pictured the scene 600 years before the events. The modern historian, Sir William Muir, describes it in terms very similar: "Onward and still onward, like swarms from the hive, or flights of locusts darkening the land, tribe after tribe issued forth, and hastening northward, spread in great masses to the east and to the west."--- "The Caliphate," p.44.
4. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
Note.-- Abu-bekr, successor of Mohammed, gave his forces this instruction as he led them into the Roman territories: "Destroy no palm trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit trees."
5. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
6. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
8. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
9. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
10. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
11. 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. (which means destroyer).
Note.-- The religion of Islam had fired the hearts of these Arabian hordes with zeal for the conquest of Roman and Greek Christendom. Like swarms of locusts they came forth from the deserts to "torment," but not to kill or utterly destroy, the empire of Rome. "They besieged Constantinople, and even plundered Rome: but they could not make themselves masters of either of those capital cities."-- Dr. Thomas Newton's "Dissertations." After a time they had spent their fury and settled down, the Eastern Empire having a time of comparative rest unto the coming of the successors to the Saracens, the Turks from Central Asia.
12. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
13. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14. Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
Note.-- John Foxe, the old writer of the history of the martyrs, wrote of this prophecy in 1563, in the days when the Turkish armies were a terror to Europe: "Among all the prophecies both of the Old Testament and of the New, there is none that pointeth out the anti-Christian kingdom of the Turks better than doth the Revelation of St. John, whose words let us weigh and consider.... By loosing the angels who had rule of the great river Euphrates, is signified the letting out of the east kings, that is, the Turks, out of Scythia, Tartary, Persia, and Arabia, by whom the third part of Christendom shall be destroyed, as we see it this day hath come to pass."-- "Acts and Monuments," Vol. IV, p. 102.
15. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
16. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
17. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
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.
Note.-- Plainly a graphic description of the use of firearms which had become a feature in the wars of the later years of this period. Dr. Albert Barnes, the Presbyterian commentator, says: "The exact idea, whether that was intended or not, would be conveyed by the discharge of musketry or artillery. The fire, the smoke, and the sulfurous smell of such a discharge would correspond precisely with this language.... One thing is certain, that this is not language which would be employed to describe the onset of ancient cavalry in the mode of warfare which prevailed then. No one describing a charge of cavalry among the Persians, the Greeks, or the Romans, when the only armor was the sword and the spear, would think of saying that there seemed to be emitted from the horses' mouths fire, and smoke, and brimstone."
19. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
20. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet 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 neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
21. Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
Note.-- This invasion was to "slay the third part of men," this time the Eastern third of the empire. The Saracens "tormented," but the Turks were to "kill." By attack of the Turkish forces, Constantinople was taken in 1453, and the Eastern Empire fell into the hands of the Moslems.
Instead of learning the lesson taught by these calamities, the great ecclesiastical systems continued their worship of saints and images, and clung to all the perversions of the truth that had crept in. Then came the great Reformation, calling Christendom back to the open Bible and the way of faith, the call of reform to continue to the end. The series of six trumpets brings us face to face with living factors of today.
The first four trumpets described the Gothic invasions that broke up Western Rome and led to the setting up of the kingdoms of Western Europe, the nations acting their part before our eyes today. In the prophecy of Daniel 2 we saw that "in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom"-- the eternal kingdom that shall ever pass away.
In these fifth and sixth trumpets we have seen the judgments brought upon the Eastern Roman Empire by the invasions of the Saracens and then of the Turks. And here again we are face to face with agencies that are to act a part till the very end. In the 16th chapter of Revelation we shall soon be noting that the drying up, or coming to an end, of the power by the river Euphrates-- which river has all along been identified with the Turks in modern history-- is the signal for the gathering of the armies of the world to the final battle of Armageddon. Amidst that conflict the Lord Jesus comes in power and glory. These prophetic outlines continually point us to the approaching climax of human history.