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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Revelation 9

 

 

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Verses 1-21

MOHAMMEDANISM

This chapter is a thrilling description of the rise and progress of the Mohammedan wars. A most wonderful Providence circumvents and overrules all the works of the devil. Satan never could have come on the earth without Divine permission; and he can only stay through the period of that permission. We live in a most auspicious era, when Satan is fast approaching the end of his earthly peregrinations. The day is dawning when we will have a world without a devil in it. Glory to God forever!

At the rise of Mahomet, in the seventh century, the visible Church, both Greek and Latin, had degenerated into formality, hypocrisy, and gross idolatry, being filled with image-worship. Mahomet proclaimed to the world that God had sent him on a universal mission of iconoclasm; i.e., to destroy idolatry out of the world and establish a pure Monotheism; i.e., the worship of God alone among all the nations of the world. Notwithstanding the transparent plausibility of his proclamation, it was the climacteric institution of the devil. Despite his translucent pretensions to establish the worship of God only, purify the nations from idolatry, and unify the religions of the world, while he demolished all systems of idolatry, he established a cruel, bloody, murderous, tyrannical superstition, infinitely worse than the most barbaric idolatry that has ever cursed the world.

As this chapter is all on Mohammedanism, we now invite the reader to accompany us, for a time, into Daniel’s prophecies, where we have the same vision lucidly revealed in the eighth chapter, six hundred years before John saw it. After we shall have expounded Daniel’s vision (D.V.), as recorded in Daniel 8 th, we will return to the wonderful Apocalypse of John.

Now remember this vision begins with the ram, which represents the Persian Empire; which, under the leadership of Cyrus the Great, reached universal dominion.

5-8. The “he goat” is the Grecian Empire under Alexander the Great, who himself is the solitary horn between the eyes. In his precipitate conquest of the whole world, he rushes furiously against Media and Persia, the horns of the ram, and breaks them to pieces.

The four horns which came up are the four kingdoms-i.e., Greece, Egypt, Syria, and Central Asia into which the universal empire was divided by his four surviving generals, when he died of dissipation; i.e., the great horn was broken only one year after he had reached the pinnacle of universal empire.

9. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceedingly great towards the South, and towards the East, and towards the ‘Pleasant Land.’ Horn, throughout these prophecies, means political power, because human government is nothing but brute force, in the Bible symbolized by a wild beast. The nations themselves recognized this cruel fact. Great Britain is symbolized by the lion, Russia by the bear, and the United States by the eagle, all of which are ferocious, blood-thirsty animals. Why is Mahomet called a little horn? Because Arabia was at that time, and always has been, very weak politically, consisting mainly of arid mountains and sandy deserts, roamed over by the predatory Bedouins. Hence Mahomet, the false prophet, and the wonderful head of the great Eastern hemisphere of anti-Christendom, is called a little horn. For the same reason, the pope of Rome, whose political dominions were quite small, is called a little horn, though he is the great head of the Western hemisphere of anti-Christendom. Mahomet and the pope are the right and left supporters of his Satanic majesty, while Diabolus sits upon his ebon throne in the Pandemonium and rules the world. It says this little horn waxed great towards the South, the East, and the “Pleasant Land.” Africa means South, Asia means East, and “Pleasant Land” means the Holy Land. It is a patent historic fact that Mahomet, in his early conquest, overran the fairest portions of Asia and Africa, and in A.D. 637 Omar, the leader of the Moslem armies, overran all Palestine, consummating the conquest and the capture of Jerusalem and the occupancy of the temple. While the Moslem armies pushed their conquest throughout these countries, all Asia and Africa, where the apostles had preached the gospel, they not only took possession of the people, the spoils, and the government as they went, but they gave the people the solitary alternative of the Koran or the sword, thus exterminating Christianity as they went, and everywhere establishing the religion of the false prophet.

10. And it waxed great to the host of heaven, and it cast down some of the host and stars to the ground and stamped upon them.” Heaven is in the singular number, and means the firmament; “stars” means the rulers of the world; these everywhere Mahomet subdued, cast down, and “stamped upon them.”

11, 12. He magnified even to the prince of host;” i.e., Mahomet became the leader of this military movement, which proposed to conquer the world and establish the Moslem faith in every nation. “By him the daily sacrifice was taken away.” “Sacrifice” is not in the Hebrew, which only says “daily.” It does not mean sacrifice, for this had not been offered in the temple since the Romans destroyed it, A.D. 73. It simply means that the daily worship was taken away. At that time the Greek Christians were in all that country, and Sophrosus, the venerable Greek patriarch, presided over the temple. When the Moslems captured it, A.D. 637, he fled away, exclaiming, “Alas alas! the abomination of desolation is now set up in the holy place!” “And an host was given unto him against the daily worship by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground, and it practiced and prospered.”

When Satan succeeded in the postponement of God’s millennium and the inauguration of his own, in its worldwide dominion, he climaxes the hellish enterprise by raising up Mahomet to rule the East, and the pope the West, as his faithful subordinates in the wholesale damnation of the world. You must remember that the very ingress of Satan into this world is by Divine permission, and in due time God will take him out. Neither Mahomet nor the pope, though raised up by Satan, could ever have encumbered a throne or rendezvoused an army without God’s permission. We see here, in Daniel 8:12, that Mohammed was permitted to take the Holy Land and destroy the temple because of transgression. The Christian Church, East and West, had not only degenerated into formality and hypocrisy, but had actually gone off into idolatry, so that image worship everywhere abounded. Why did God ever permit Mahomet, the pope, and the devil, and other innumerable diabolical agencies, thus for ages to inundate the world with sin, misery, violence, bloodshed, and every species of diabolism which earth and hell could invent? The solution of this problem goes deep down into the hidden mysteries of human probation.

Romans 8:28 : “God worketh together for good all things to them that love God.” You could not have all things and leave out Mahomet, the pope, and the devil, for they are the biggest things in the world. Hence it follows as a legitimate deduction from the Divine ipse dixit that they are a blessing to God’s true people. It seems that all the powers of hell are turned loose to tempt the bride of Christ. In the glorious scheme of divine administration, Christ proposes to evangelize and rule this and many other worlds through the instrumentality of His true, faithful, and loyal bride. Hence, it is pertinent that all the candidates for the heavenly bridehood be subjected to every conceivable temptation, lest they might deflect and fall amid the momentous responsibilities incumbent on them in their responsible participation of the divine administration amid the bright immortal worlds which shall constitute the celestial empire in the ages of coming eternity. For reasons by us, amid the joys and storms of this fleeting probation, utterly incomprehensible, it is imperatively requisite that we pass through all the flint-mills earth and hell can invent. If we do not come out with a shout, it is demonstrative proof that we still need another flint-mill. I doubt not but the transcendent grace of God in Christ actually makes the devil himself one of the most prolific media of blessing to His true people. So let us shout over Mahomet, the pope, and the devil, and live in glowing anticipation of our descending Lord, who will forever take them all, with the countless myrmidons, out of the world.

13, 14. Here Daniel specifies the period during which the temple will be polluted by idolatry twenty three hundred years. Remember, this vision opens with the Persian Empire, which was founded by Cyrus the Great, and succeeded the Chaldean. Cyrus, with money out of the royal treasury, carried the Jews back to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple, B.C. 440. As the temple was built by a heathen monarch, with heathen money, and ruled by the same heathen king, the theocracy desolate in oblivion, it was much contaminated with idolatry. B.C. 444 plus A.D. 1896 equals 2340. The temple was forty nine years in building. Hence 2340 minus 49 leaves 2291 years elapsed since the temple under Nehemiah was finished. Daniel’s time for the cleansing of the temple is 2300 years. Now 2300 minus 2291 leaves 9 years yet to come till the temple at Jerusalem will be cleansed from idolatry.

The Moslem army under Omar captured Jerusalem A.D. 637. Daniel 12:7 says they shall hold it a time, times, and half-time. A time is a year in lunar chronology — 354 days; in calendar chronology, 360 days; and in solar chronology, 365 days. We can only understand prophetical fulfillments proximately, because we have no definite system of chronology, and do not know which one obtains in any given prophecy. Really we do not know that any one of the three is precisely correct. However, they are all near enough to the true and exact chronology for all practical purposes. Hence, no one knows the day of these wonderful prophetic fulfillments, and the appointing of the day is fanatical. But Daniel 12:4 assures us that the time of the end shall be known, for many shall run to and fro, and spread the knowledge of the thrilling fact that we are living in the time of the end. Let us take the middle chronology — 360 days in a year — and calculate Daniel’s time, times, and a half-time. A time is 360. Times are 360 plus 360 — 720. Half-time is 360 divided by 2— 180. Now these items — 360 plus 720 plus 180 — equal 1260 days; i.e., 1260 calendar years. Moslem rule began A.D. 637. Now, 1896 minus 637 leaves 1259. Hence you see, by this calculation, the Moslem power will fall at Jerusalem in 1897. When I was there last summer (1895), all nationalities were on the constant lookout for the fall of the Turkish government in Palestine. Turkey is already a political corpse, served by the Christian Powers as pallbearers. The government will fall whenever they see proper to bury the corpse. All nations are in daily expectation of the Turkish collapse. There is no possible alternative, upon the fall of the Turkish power at Jerusalem, but Palestine must come into Christendom. Then, of course, the temple will be cleansed. Revelation 12:6 gives the period 1260 days. The 14th verse, same chapter, gives the statement times, times, and a half-time. Upon examination, you find these two statements synonymous. Hence, you may rely on 1260 years as the solution of time, times, and a halftime. Daniel 12:11 gives the period 1290. This is readily explained on the hypothesis of lunar chronology, in which 1290 would just about equal 1260 years calendar chronology. You see all these numbers, which God in His mercy has hung out over the dark night of Satan’s reign to illume the pilgrim’s dreary journey “till the Sun of righteousness rises with healing in His wings,” beautifully and reciprocally corroborate and confirm the conclusion that we are living in the time of the end of the Gentile Dispensation, when these wonderful latter-day prophecies hasten to their fulfillment. They tally and harmonize sufficiently for all practical purposes. Let us not be croaking critics, but sit meek and lowly, like little children, at the feet of Jesus, and be taught by the Holy Ghost the deep things of God.

17-27. These wonderful prophetic visions so wrought on Daniel’s nerves that he fainted, and was sick several days; yet this wonderful vision of the end was not revealed to him. He was too far from the time of fulfillment to receive knowledge of the vision. These prophecies cover the intervening centuries down to the end. The Holy Ghost, in His mercy, has given His saints in every age the needed light on contemporary fulfillments. Daniel, with bygone generations, did not need a revelation of the fulfillments reserved for our day; but we have the profoundest interest in the fulfillment of the prophecies, which literally moved in panorama all around us and shaped the destiny of the world. Daniel was thrilled with the most eager enthusiasm to understand the wonders of the latterday prophecies, but God said to him (12:9):

“Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed to the time of the end.”

This not only means that the revelation of this prophecy was postponed till the time of the end, but that it is to be revealed in the time of the end. I find a thousand corroboratives that we are living in the time of the end, and this prophecy is now fast being revealed to the saints of God.

Daniel 12:10 :

“Many shall be purified, made white, and tried, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”

This verse is now everywhere being fulfilled in the Holiness movement, which belts the globe and moves like a race-horse through every nation. It is really wonderful how God is now, by His blessed Holy Spirit, revealing these prophecies to His saints. Yet the dead, popular Churches and wicked world are utterly blind and deaf to these stirring realities. Preachers and people are asleep to the mighty issues which rush on us like an avalanche.

Daniel 12:7 :

“When He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.”

God, at the present day, is using myriads of agencies, directly and indirectly, to scatter the power of His holy people throughout the whole earth. Mighty armies of evangelists, male and female, are everywhere rising up and hastening to the ends of the earth, scattering broadcast the power of the holy people. When bishops and presiding elders have the true light of God, they will unite their counsels to send the sanctifying fire to the ends of the earth. In countless instances, ecclesiastical magnates lay all their wits under contribution to kill out the Holiness movement. In that case, they diligently take up every sanctified preacher and send him to the North Pole. The fire already kindled spreads and intensifies after he is gone, and the new preacher gets sanctified. Whither he goes heavenly fire comes down, melts and floods the icebergy Churches, spreads all over the surrounding country, catches the presiding elder, raises up a regiment of fire baptized workers, who take the district for God, while many missionaries go into regions beyond. Oh, how blind, how blind, the enemies of God’s holy people! They are doing their utmost to scatter the power and expedite the Lord’s coming, as profoundly ignorant that they are fulfilling prophecies as the high priest of Jerusalem when he signed the death warrant of our Savior.

23. A king of fierce countenance shall stand up.” That king is Mahomet, the Arabian impostor. The Koran, by whose falsifications he has substituted the Bible, is full of dark sentences, expounded only by the muttering Moslem priest. The temple ground on Mt. Moriah contains ten acres, surrounded by great stone edifices occupied by the Mohammedan priests.

24. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” While the Mahometan religion, from the beginning, was propagated by the sword, he was not a military leader. He was only a prophet, while the princes of the earth, loyal to the Koran, led his armies.

25. Through his policy also shall cause craft to prosper in his hand. He shall stand up against the Prince of princes, but he shall be broken without hand.” All the Moslems are wizards and witches. While on the summit of the largest Egyptian pyramid. five hundred and fifty feet high, and covering thirteen acres of ground, they did their utmost to get me to give them money to work miracles. They did the same when I was in the interior of the pyramid and elsewhere in my peregrinations with the tricky children of Esau. The Prince of princes is Christ, whom Mahomet avowedly rivals, supplants, supersedes, and eclipses, everywhere destroying the Bible and substituting the Koran. “He shall be broken without hand.” This is profoundly significant. All the kings of the earth have fought against the Moslem power in vain. During the Crusades, all Christendom united to drive the Mohammedans out of the Holy Land. They fought two hundred years, lost two millions of lives, and were driven out of Asia in utter despair. But while the combined powers of earth have been forced to submit to this cruel monster twelve hundred years (and even now they connive at his merciless Armenian murders), in due time God is going to kill this monster. All nations can’t kill him, but God can. For the last two hundred years, the hand of the Almighty has been heavy on the Turkish Government. Life is almost extinct; he is almost dead. No human being has killed him; in fulfillment of prophecy, he is dying without human hand. The hand of the Almighty is killing him. Good Lord, in condescending mercy to a suffering world, cut the work short in righteousness!

We now return to Revelation 9 th.

1. It should read: “I saw a star having fallen from heaven.” Satan is that star; his archangelic name was Lucifer. Isaiah 14:12 :

“How thou art fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning.”

John has a retrospective vision of Lucifer’s apostasy and fall from heaven. Doubtless Satan, before he fell, was one of the brightest of all the heavenly host, as his name, “Lucifer,” is a Latin compound, and means light-bearer. John tells us (Revelation 12) that “one third of the stars — i.e., the angels — followed his evil influence and were cast down. Doubtless all created intelligences were originally probationers. Unfortunately, Lucifer, with many others, forfeited his probation and was cast out. Presumptively the probation in these celestial worlds has already expired, while we are still on probation. From this fatal apostasy originated all the evil spirits in earth and hell. They not only throng the dark pandemonium, but for wise purposes connected with our probation are permitted to interpenetrate the atmosphere enveloping this earth, coming in contact with human spirits, tempting and trying them in every conceivable way. Millions of souls fall under their mighty assaults and plunge into endless woe, while the heroic and true-hearted gloriously triumph through the blood of Christ. This verse tells us that the key of hell was given to Satan six thousand years ago. During all these centuries the devil has held the key and turned it against multiplied millions.

Revelation 20:1 : We find the key in the hands of the angel, who arrests the devil and locks him up in hell. Doubtless, during the terrible Armageddon wars, the tide will turn against the devil and he will suffer signal reverses. The Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13) — i.e., that is, God the Father — will be here in person sitting in judgment against a wicked world and fallen Church. Amid Satan’s signal and awful defeats, even the key of hell will be wrested from him and turned over to the Apocalyptic Angel, who will arrest the devil like a common criminal and lock him up in hell.

We have now reached the seventh century in the prophetical panorama. Satan’s millennium, thoroughly inaugurated, is getting under full headway. The devil now raises up Mahomet to run the Eastern hemisphere, and the pope the Western.

2-12. We see here that Mohammedanism actually came from hell, sweeping out of the open vortex like vast swarms of locusts. The Holy Spirit compares them to scorpions, whose fiery fangs wither and blight everything with which they come in contact. In their desolating marches, the authorities protected the trees, which are rare and valuable in the Old World. The people who had the seal of God in their foreheads — i.e., the sanctified, who are few and unknown — were providentially rescued from this bloodthirsty monster. Mahomet constantly declared himself a purifier of religions, sent by the Almighty to destroy idolatry from the face of the earth, establish a universal Monotheism, and exterminate polytheism from the globe. At that time, nominal Christianity was confined to the Greek and Latin Churches, which had not only retrogressed into formality and hypocrisy, but they had filled their temples with idol-worship.

For wise purposes, God permits the devil to be in this world. Doubtless, for a similar reason, inscrutably connected with our probation, he permitted Mahomet to rise. He is the scourge of God for the castigation of fallen religion. The five months during which this awful havoc against humanity deluged the world with blood and bleached it with bones are one hundred and fifty prophetic years, and measure the first great period of the Moslem wars.

Meanwhile the Saracens overran Syria, Palestine, all Asia Minor, Egypt, the Barbary States of Africa; crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, subjugated all Spain, scaled the Apennines, poured their motley myriads of Oriental barbarians into France, sanguine with the hope speedily to overrun all Europe, exterminate Christianity from the globe, and unfurl the Crescent beneath every sky.

A.D. 733, precisely one hundred years after the death of Mahomet, Charles Martel, the French hero, immortalized his name by the signal defeat of the Moslem armies at Tours. Martel is a French word, and means “hammer.” This name was given to Charles, the heroic leader of the Christian armies, because he indefatigably hammered the Moslems till he signally defeated them at Tours. The Mussulmen had met no such defeat in a hundred years. Christendom knows not how much she is indebted to Charles Martel for the defeat of the Mohammedans at Tours. At that time they had driven Christianity out of Asia, Africa, and Spain. The trembling devotees of the lowly Nazarene had taken refuge in Europe, which, at that time, was the wild West. Meanwhile, the Crescent floated over the time- honored capitals of the world.

7. The golden crowns here spoken of are the yellow turbans worn by the Mussulmen.

8. The Saracen warriors wore long hair, like women, and were ferocious as lions.

10. The scorpion-stings and snake-heads, here described in the tails of their horses, emblematize the fatal destructiveness of their retreats. Such was their wonderful equestrian agility that their retreats were, if possible, more fatal than their attacks. Riding at sweeping gallop, they were accustomed to shoot backward with unerring precision, thus mowing down their pursuers in piles.

11. Abaddon is a Hebrew word, and means destroyer; Apolyon is a Greek word, precisely synonymous with Abaddon. This forever settles all questions as to the Satanic origin and authorship of the Mahometan religion.

12. We now wind up the fifth trumpet and the first woe. When the seventh seal was opened, in the eighth chapter, the volume of this wonderful prophetical book was reached. So momentous were the contents that seven trumpet-bearing angels were called out to proclaim successively the wonderful mysteries revealed in the book. Revelation moves in a geometrical progression. The first trumpet proclaims the ingress of that moral and spiritual corruption which derailed the Apostolic Church, propagated the dogmata of a sinning religion, prepared the way for the rise of the papacy, sapped the foundation of ancient civilization, undermined civil government, and brought on the Dark Ages. In the second trumpet, the infection reaches all classes of society, everywhere infusing an insurrectionary spirit. In the third trumpet, it reaches the subordinate departments of the governments, stirring up revolution. During that trumpet, Satan invents alcohol, called wormwood (8:11) — Greek, absinthe — which is the intoxicating element in whisky. During the fourth trumpet, all the thrones of earth’s time-honored empires totter and fall. By this time the Roman Empire, the upholder of ancient civilization, has been overturned by the Goths, Huns, and Vandals, and a barbarian encumbers the palace of the Caesars. The Dark Ages, memorialized by sin, ignorance, superstition, violence, rapine, and bloodshed, envelop all nations. Satan’s millennium is now in full blast. So he raises up Mahomet and the pope to run the machinery of the world.

So fearfully momentous are the proclamations of the fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpets, that they are denominated woes by the Holy Ghost. Remember. the geometrical ratio which obtains in the first, second, third, and fourth trumpets continues through the fifth, sixth, and seventh, which the Holy Ghost denominates “woes.” Doubtless, the last trumpet, which proclaims the last woe, will contain more than the preceding six.

Herewith (9:12) we wind up the fifth trumpet and the first woe. It lasts five months; i.e., one hundred and fifty prophetic years. The signal defeat of the Mussulmen at Tours, France, by Charles Martel, is the salient epoch in the first woe. For three generations the Moslem conquest had rolled its bloody tide over Christendom, driving it out of Asia, where it began, and Africa, where it was first propagated, till, panic-stricken for its doom, it trembles amid the wilds of Europe. Thus one woe is past, and, behold, two others come quickly!

SECOND WOE — Revelation 9:9-13; Revelation 9:11-14

Loose the four angels bound in the great river Euphrates” (14, 15). The four angels are the four greatest Turkish Sultanies in the world, which bordered on the river Euphrates. This is the second great outbreak of Mohammedan wars, which lasted, without intermission, four hundred years, as we have a year (i.e., 365 days), a month (i.e., 30 days), an a day — 396 days; or, in round numbers, four hundred years. The Crusades, which are described in the tenth chapter, come in before this period, and are somewhat parenthetical in the Moslem conquests.

16. Two myriads of myriads, as the Greek says, are two hundred millions. That is certainly a wonderful host, marshaled and fighting for the extermination of Christianity four hundred years. No doubt but that inconceivable host were engaged during the four hundred years.

17-20. You see, from the description, they are the same people you saw in the first woe. Their attack is like lions, and their retreats like serpents coiling around their pursuers.

20, 21. Here we find a sad statement. All these horrific calamities, with wholesale murders, thefts, robberies, and every conceivable woe, till men sought death in preference to life, still did not bring them to repentance.

Daniel 8:12 says Mahomet was permitted to rise and chastise the fallen Church because of transgression. People claiming to be Christians were gross idolaters, and worshipped devils. Yet they would not repent. No wonder the last woe is hastening to come on the fallen Churches of the present day. All who believe and preach a sinning religion worship devils. God’s religion saves you from sin, while Satan’s religion lies you out of your soul by offering you salvation in sin. Doubtless similar results will characterize the great tribulation, when the last woe will flood the earth with calamities such as the ages have never known. Millions on the earth are now worshipping devils, thinking they are worshipping God. Reader, will you not wake up before the awful storms of divine wrath wrap the world in cataracts of woe?

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 9:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-9.html.

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