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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 9:20

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Brass;   Demons;   Idolatry;   Impenitence;   Obduracy (Hardness);   Thompson Chain Reference - Demons;   Devil;   False;   Idolatry;   Images;   Satan;   Worship;   Worship, False;   Worship, True and False;   The Topic Concordance - Idolatry;   Seals;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Brass, or Copper;   Idolatry;   Repentance;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Day of the lord;   Demons;   Idol, idolatry;   Repentance;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Mahometanism;   Order;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Devil;   Idol;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Minerals and Metals;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Demon;   Devil;   Plagues of Egypt;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Angels;   Arts;   Demon;   Enoch Book of;   Form;   Gold ;   Plague;   Repentance;   Sacraments;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Demon;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Abaddon;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Gold;   Revelation of John:;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Yet repented not - The commission which these horsemen had was against idolaters; and though multitudes of them were destroyed, yet the residue continued their senseless attachment to dumb idols, and therefore heavier judgments might be expected. These things are supposed to refer to the desolation brought upon the Greek Church by the Ottomans, who entirely ruined that Church and the Greek empire. The Church which was then remaining was the Latin or western Church, which was not at all corrected by the judgments which fell upon the eastern Church, but continued its senseless adoration of angels, saints, relics, etc., and does so to the present day. If, therefore, God's wrath be kindled against such, this Church has much to fear.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-9.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Fifth and sixth trumpets (9:1-21)

Worse than the destruction by the forces of nature is the suffering brought by the forces of demons (fifth trumpet). These demonic forces are pictured in a strange and terrifying army of locusts. Though uncontrollable by any human power, they are not independent of the rule of God. He keeps them imprisoned in the abyss (RSV: bottomless pit), and even when he releases them he determines the extent of their activity (9:1-3).

The demons do not harm plant life (as ordinary locusts do), but harm people - though not God's people. They torment the ungodly with severe pain, rather like scorpions, but do not kill them. The vision shows how the ungodly become so tormented in mind and body by satanic forces that they wish to die, but they cannot. Just as a plague of locusts lasts for only a limited period, so does this attack by the forces of evil (4-6). John then describes the frightening appearance of this army of demons (7-10). He points out that they are led by a satanic leader whose name, whether in Hebrew or Greek, means 'destroyer' (11).

As the sixth trumpet sounds, a noise comes from the golden altar, giving a reminder that these judgments are a response to the prayers of the persecuted Christians (12-13; cf. 6:9-10). At that moment God allows wicked angels to be released and there is another outbreak of demonic activity. The locust-like demons were not allowed to kill people, but these demons bring widespread death to the human race (14-16). Again John describes the fearsome appearance of the demons. They are like an army of horses and riders equipped to bring suffering and death by the most frightful means (17-19).

God's aim is not merely to send his judgments upon the world, but to show people the seriousness of their sins so that they might repent and be saved. But no matter how severe his judgments, they continue in their sins (20-21).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/revelation-9.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And the rest of mankind, who were not killed with these plagues, repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk:

And the rest of mankind ... repented not ... The benign purpose of God, even in such terrible judgments as this, is seen in this mention of repentance. God does not desire the destruction of men, but their repentance; however, this prophecy indicates that hardened and rebellious men will not repent, no matter what dire judgments may befall them. "There is hidden in this, right here in the midst of what may be John's most terrible scene, a very positive note."[77] Although man's awful wickedness may result in the most terrifying disasters upon the whole world, some may find in such things the incentive and the occasion of their repentance and turning to God. This appears to be the important thing from the standpoint of God.

Demons ... gold ... silver ... brass ... stone ... wood ... Note the progressive downward movement in the objects of false human worship. Exactly the same thing was outlined in Paul's great discussion of pagan worship in Romans 1:18ff. People changed the worship of God into the worship of man ... birds ... four-footed beasts ... creeping things. The movement of the human soul is inevitably downward when once the vital link with God is severed.

Worship ... idols of gold, ... "These words do not restrict the application of this prophecy to those times when pagan idol worship prevailed, with its worship of the physical idols of antiquity. The ancient idols of the pagan temples are now gazing-stocks in museums; but the old gods of gold, wine, power, fame, sex, self, hatred, cruelty, and sensuality are still very much in business; and they are still worshipped by people who reject God and walk after their own lusts and selfish desires.

ENDNOTE:

[77] Vernard Eller, op. cit., p. 111.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-9.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues … - One third part is represented as swept off, and it might have been expected that a salutary effect would have been produced on the remainder, in reforming them, and restraining them from error and sin. The writer proceeds to state, however, that these judgments did not have the effect which might reasonably have been anticipated. No reformation followed; there was no abandonment of the prevailing forms of iniquity; there was no change in their idolatry and superstition. In regard to the exact meaning of what is here stated Revelation 9:20-21, it will be a more convenient arrangement to consider it after we have ascertained the proper application of the passage relating to the sixth trumpet. What is here stated Revelation 9:20-21 pertains to the state of the world after the desolations which would occur under this woe-trumpet; and the explanation of the words may be reserved, therefore, with propriety, until the inquiry shall have been instituted as to the general design of the whole.

With respect to the fulfillment of this symbol - the sixth trumpet - it will be necessary to inquire whether there has been any event, or class of events occurring at such a time, and in such a manner, as would be properly denoted by such a symbol. The examination of this question will make it necessary to go over the leading points in the symbol, and to endeavor to apply them. In doing this I shall simply state, with such illustrations as may occur, what seems to me to have been the design of the symbol. It would be an endless task to examine all the explanations which have been proposed, and it would be useless to do so.

The reference, then, seems to me to be to the Turkish power, extending from the time of the first appearance of the Turks in the neighborhood of the Euphrates, to the final conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The general reasons for this opinion are such as the following:

(a)If the previous trumpet referred to the Saracens, or to the rise of the Muhammedan power among the Arabs, then the Turkish dominion, being the next in succession, would be what would most naturally be symbolized.

(b)The Turkish power rose on the decline of the Arabic, and was the next important power in affecting the destinies of the world.

(c)This power, like the former, had its seat in the East, and would be properly classified under the events occurring there as affecting the destiny of the world.

(d)The introduction of this power was necessary, in order to complete the survey of the downfall of the Roman empire - the great object kept in view all along in these symbols.

In the first four of these trumpets, under the seventh seal, we found the decline and fall of the Western empire; in the first of the remaining three - the fifth in order - we found the rise of the Saracens, materially affecting the condition of the Eastern portion of the Roman world; and the notice of the Turks, under whom the empire at last fell to rise no more, seemed to be demanded in order to the completion of the picture. As a leading design of the whole vision was to describe the ultimate destiny of that formidable power - the Roman - which, in the time when the Revelation was given to John ruled over the whole world; under which the church was then oppressed; and which, either as a civil or ecclesiastical power, was to exert so important an influence on the destiny of the church, it was proper that its history should be sketched until it ceased - that is, until the conquest of the capital of the Eastern empire by the Turks. Here the termination of the empire, as traced by Mr. Gibbon, closes; and these events it was important to incorporate in this series of visions.

The rise and character of the Turkish people may be seen stated in full in Gibbon, Decline and Fall, iii. 101-103,105,486; iv. 41,42,87,90,91,93,100,127,143,151,258,260,289,350. The leading facts in regard to the history of the Turks, so far as they are necessary to be known before we proceed to apply the symbols, are the following:

(1) The Turks, or Turkmans, had their origin in the vicinity of the Caspian Sea, and were divided into two branches, one on the east, and the other on the west. The latter colony, in the 10th century, could muster 40,000 soldiers; the other numbered 100,000 families (Gibbon, iv. 90). By the latter of these, Persia was invaded and subdued, and soon Bagdad also came into their possession, and the seat of the caliph was occupied by a Turkish prince. The various details respecting this, and respecting their conversion to the faith of the Koran, may be seen in Gibbon, iv. 90-93. A mighty Turkish and Moslem power was thus concentrated under Togrul, who had subdued the caliph, in the vicinity of the Tigris and the Euphrates, extending east over Persia and the countries adjacent to the Caspian Sea, but it had not yet crossed the Euphrates to carry its conquests to the west. The conquest of Bagdad by Togrul, the first prince of the Seljuk race, was an important event, not only in itself, but as it was by this event that the Turk was constituted temporal lieutenant of the prophet‘s vicar, and so the head of the temporal power of the religion of Islam. “The conqueror of the East kissed the ground, stood some time in a modest posture, and was led toward the throne by the vizier and an interpreter. After Togrul had seated himself on another throne his commission was publicly read, which declared him the temporal lieutenant of the prophet. He was successively invested with seven robes of honor, and presented with seven slaves, the natives of the seven climates of the Arabian empire, etc. Their alliance (of the sultan and the caliph) was cemented by the marriage of Togrul‘s sister with the successor of the prophet,” etc. (Gibbon, iv. 93).

The conquest of Persia, the subjugation of Bagdad, the union of the Turkish power with that of the caliph, the successor of Muhammed, and the foundation of this powerful kingdom in the neighborhood of the Euphrates, is all that is necessary to explain the sense of the phrase “which were prepared for an hour,” etc., Revelation 9:15. The arrangements were then made for the important series of events which were to occur when that formidable power should be summoned from the East, to spread the predicted desolation over so large a part of the world. A mighty dominion had been forming in the East that had subdued Persia, and that, by union with the caliphs, by the subjugation of Bagdad, and by embracing the Muhammedan faith, had become “prepared” to play its subsequent important part in the affairs of the world.

(2) the next important event in their history was the crossing of the Euphrates, and the invasion of Asia Minor. The account of this invasion can be best given in the words of Mr. Gibbon: “Twenty-five years after the death of Basil (the Greek emperor), his successors were suddenly assaulted by an unknown race of barbarians, who united the Scythian valor with the fanaticism of new proselytes, and the art and riches of a powerful monarchy. The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of 600 miles from Taurus to Arzeroum, and the blood of one hundred and thirty thousand Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet. Yet the arms of Togrul did not make any deep or lasting impression on the Greek empire. The torrent rolled away from the open country; the sultan retired without glory or success from the siege of an Armenian city; the obscure hostilities were continued or suspended with a vicissitude of events; and the bravery of the Macedonian legions renewed the fame of the conqueror of Asia. The name of Alp Arslan, the valiant lion, is expressive of the popular idea of the perfection of man; and the successor of Togrul displayed the fierceness and generosity of the royal animal. (‹The heads of the horses were as the heads of lions.‘) He passed the Euphrates at the head of the Turkish cavalry, and entered Caesarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia, to which he had been attracted by the fame and the wealth of the temple of Basil” (vol. iv. 93,94; compare also p. 95).

(3) the next important event was the establishing of the kingdom of Roum in Asia Minor. After a succession of victories and defeats; after being driven once and again from Asia Minor, and compelled to retire beyond its limits; and after subjecting the East to their arms (Gibbon, iv. 95-100) in the various contests for the crown of the Eastern empire, the aid of the Turks was invoked by one party or the other until they secured for themselves a firm foothold in Asia Minor, and established themselves there in a permanent kingdom - evidently with the purpose of seizing upon Constantinople itself when an opportunity should be presented (Gibbon, iv. 100,101). Of this kingdom of Roum Mr. Gibbon (iv. 101) gives, the following description, and speaks thus of the effect of its establishment on the destiny of the Eastern empire: “Since the first conquests of the caliphs, the establishment of the Turks in Anatolia, or Asia Minor, was the most deplorable loss which the church and empire had sustained. By the propagation of the Moslem faith Soliman deserved the name of Gazi, a holy champion; and his new kingdom of the Romans, or of Roum, was added to the table of Oriental geography. It is described as extending from the Euphrates to Constantinople, from the Black Sea to the confines of Syria; pregnant with mines of silver and iron, of alum and copper, fruitful in grain and wine, and productive of cattle and excellent horses. The wealth of Lydia, the arts of the Greeks, the splendor of the Augustan age, existed only in books and ruins, which were equally obscure in the eyes of the Scythian conquerors. By the choice of the Sultan, Nice, the metropolis of Bithynia, was preferred for his palace and fortress - the seat of the Seljukian dynasty of Roum was planted one hundred miles from Constantinople; and the divinity of Christ was denied and derided in the same temple in which it had been pronounced by the first general synod of the Catholics. The unity of God and the mission of Muhammed were preached in the mosques; the Arabian learning was taught in the schools; the cadis judged according to the law of the Koran; the Turkish manners and language prevailed in the cities; and Turkman camps were scattered over the plains and mountains of Anatolia,” etc.

(4) the next material event in the history of the Turkish power was the conquest of Jerusalem. See this described in Gibbon, iv. 102-106. By this the attention of the Turks was turned for a time from the conquest of Constantinople - an event at which the Turkish power all along aimed, and in which they doubtless expected to be ultimately successful. Had they not been diverted from it by the wars connected with the Crusades, Constantinople would have fallen long before it did fall, for it was too feeble to defend itself if it had been attacked.

(5) the conquest of Jerusalem by the Turks, and the oppressions which Christians experienced there, gave rise to the Crusades, by which the destiny of Constantinople was still longer delayed. The war of the Crusades was made on the Turks, and as the crusaders mostly passed through Constantinople and Anatolia, all the power of the Turks in Asia Minor was requisite to defend themselves, and they were incapable of making an attack on Constantinople until after the final defeat of the crusaders and restoration of peace. See Gibbon, iv. 106-210.

(6) The next material event in the history of the Turks was the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 ad - an event which established the Turkish power in Europe and completed the downfall of the Roman empire (Gibbon, iv. 333-359).

After this brief reference to the general history of the Turkish power, we are prepared to inquire more particularly whether the symbol in the passage before us is applicable to this series of events. This may be considered in several particulars:

(1) “The time.” If the first woe-trumpet referred to the Saracens, then it would be natural that the rise and progress of the Turkish power should be symbolized as the next great fact in history, and as that under which the empire fell. As we have seen, the Turkish power rose immediately after the power of the Saracens had reached its height, and identified itself with the Muhammedan religion; and was, in fact, the next great power that affected the Roman empire, the welfare of the church, and the history of the world. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the time is such as is demanded in the proper interpretation of the symbol.

(2) “the place.” We have seen (in the remarks on Revelation 9:14) that this was on or near the river Euphrates, and that this power was long forming and consolidating itself on the east of that river before it crossed it in the invasion of Asia Minor. It had spread over Persia, and had even invaded the region of the East as far as the Indies; it had secured, under Togrul, the conquest of Bagdad, and had united itself with the caliphate, and was, in fact, a mighty power “prepared” for conquest before it moved to the west. Thus, Mr. Gibbon (iv. 92) says, “The more rustic, perhaps the wisest, portion of the Turkmans continued to dwell in the tents of their ancestors; and from the Oxus to the Euphrates these military colonies were protected and propagated by their native princes.” So again, speaking of Alp Arslan, the son and successor of Togrul, he says (iv. 94), “He passed the Euphrates at the head of the Turkish cavalry, and entered Caesarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia, to which he was attracted by the fame and the wealth of the temple of Basil.” If it be admitted that it was intended by John to refer to the Turkish power, it could not have been better represented than as a power that had been forming in the vicinity of that great river, and that was prepared to precipitate itself on the Eastern empire. To one contemplating it in the time of Togrul or Alp Arslan, it would have appeared as a mighty power growing up in the neighborhood of the Euphrates.

(3) “the four angels:” “Loose the four angels which are bound.” That is, loose the powers which are in the vicinity of the Euphrates, as if they were under the control of four angels. The most natural construction of this would be, that under the mighty power that was to sweep over the world, there were four subordinate powers, or that there were such subdivisions that it might be supposed they were ranged under four angelic powers or leaders. The question is, whether there was any such division or arrangement of the Turkish power, that, to one looking on it at a distance, there would seem to be such a division. In the “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (iv. 100) we find the following statement: “The greatness and unity of the Turkish empire expired in the person of Malek Shah. The vacant throne was disputed by his brother and his four sons; and, after a series of civil wars, the treaty which reconciled the surviving candidates confirmed a lasting separation in the Persian dynasty, the oldest and principal branch of the house of Seljuk. The three younger dynasties were those of Kerman, of Syria, and of Roum; the first of these commanded an extensive, though obscure dominion, on the shores of the Indian Ocean; the second expelled the Arabian princes of Aleppo and Damascus: and the third (our special care) invaded the Roman provinces of Asia Minor. The generous policy of Malek contributed to their elevation; he allowed the princes of his blood, even those whom he had vanquished in the field, to seek new kingdoms worthy of their ambition; nor was he displeased that they should draw away the more ardent spirits who might have disturbed the tranquility of his reign.

As the supreme head of his family and nation, the great Sultan of Persia commanded the obedience and tribute of his royal brethren: the thrones of Kerman and Nice, of Aleppo and Damascus; the atabeks and emirs of Syria and Mesopotamia erected their standards under the shadow of his scepter, and the hordes of Turkmans overspread the plains of Western Asia. After the death of Malek the bands of union and subordination were gradually relaxed and dissolved; the indulgence of the house of Seljuk invested their slaves with the inheritance of kingdoms; and, in the Oriental style, a crowd of princes arose from the dust of their feet.” Here it is observable, that, at the period when the Turkman hordes were about to precipitate themselves on Europe, and to advance to the destruction of the Eastern empire, we have distinct mention of four great departments of the Turkish power: the original power that had established itself in Persia, under Malek Shah, and the three subordinate powers that sprung out of that of Kerman, Syria, and Roum. It is observable:

(a)that this occurs at the period when that power would appear in the East as advancing in its conquests to the West;

(b)that it was in the vicinity of the great river Euphrates;

(c)that it had never before occurred - the Turkish power having been before united as one; and,

(d)that it never afterward occurred - for, in the words of Mr. Gibbon, “after the death of Malek the bands of union and subordination were relaxed and finally dissolved.”

It would not be improper, then, to look upon this one mighty power as under the control of four spirits that were held in cheek in the East, and that were “prepared” to pour their energies on the Roman empire.

(4) “the preparation:” “Prepared for an hour,” etc. That is, arranged; made ready - as if by previous discipline - for some mighty enterprise. Applied to the Turkmans, this would mean that the preparation for the ultimate work which they executed had been making as that power increased and became consolidated under Togrul, Alp Arslan, and Malek Shah. In its successful strides Persia and the East had been subdued; the caliph at Bagdad had been brought under the control of the sultan; a union had been formed between the Turks and the Saracens; and the sultanies of Kerman, Syria, and Roum had been established embracing together all the countries of the East, and constituting this by far the most mighty nation on the globe. All this would seem to be a work of preparation to do what was afterward done as seen in the visions of John.

(5) “the fact that they were bound:” “Which are bound in the great river Euphrates.” That is, they were, as it were, restrained and kept back for a long time in that vicinity. It would have been natural to suppose that that vast power would at once move on toward the West to the conquest of the capital of the Eastern empire. Such had been the case with the Huns, the Goths, and the Vandals. But these Turkish hordes had been long restrained in the East. They had subdued Persia. They had then achieved the conquest of India. They had conquered Bagdad, and the entire East was under their control. Yet for a long time they had now been inactive, and it would seem as if they had been bound or restrained by some mighty power from moving in their conquests to the West.

(6) “the material that composed the army:” “And the number of the army of the horsemen.” “And thus I saw the horses in the vision. And the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions.” From this it appears that this vast host was composed mainly of cavalry; and it is hardly necessary to say that this description would apply better to the Turkish hordes than to any other body of invaders known in history. Thus, Mr. Gibbon (vol. iv. p. 94) says, “The myriads of the Turkish horse overspread a frontier of six hundred miles, from Taurus to Arzeroum,” 1050 ad. So again, speaking of Togrul (vol. iv. p. 94), “He passed the Euphrates at the head of the Turkish cavalry” (ibid.). So again (vol. iii. p. 95), “Alp Arslan flew to the scene of action at the head of forty thousand horse.” 1071 a.d. So in the attack of the crusaders on Nice, the capital of the Turkish kingdom of Roum, Mr. Gibbon (vol. iv. p. 127) says of the sultan Soliman: “Yielding to the first impulse of the torrent, he deposited his treasure and family in Nice; retired to the mountains with fifty thousand horse,” etc. And so again (ibid.), speaking of the Turks who rallied to oppose the “strange” invasion of “the Western barbarians,” he says, “The Turkish emirs obeyed the call of loyalty or religion; the Turkman hordes encamped round his standard; and his whole force is loosely stated by the Christians at two hundred, or even three hundred and sixty thousand horse,” 1097 a.d. Every student of history knows that the Turks, or Turkmans, in the early periods of their history, were remarkable for their cavalry.

(7) “their numbers:” “And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand.” That is, it was vast, or it was such as to be reckoned by myriads, or by tens of thousands - δύο μυριάδες μυριάδων duo muriades muriadōn- “two myriads of myriads.” Thus, Mr. Gibbon (vol. iv. p. 94) says, “The myriads of Turkish horse overspread,” etc. It has been suggested by Daubuz that in this there may be probably an allusion to the Turkman custom of numbering by tomans, or myriads. This custom, it is true, has existed elsewhere, but there is probably none with whom it has been so familiar as with the Tartars and Turks. In the Seljukian age the population of Samarcand was rated at seven tomans (myriads), because it could send out 70,000 warriors. The dignity and rank of Tamerlane‘s father and grandfather was thus described, that “they were the hereditary chiefs of a toman, or 10,000 horse” - a myriad (Gibbon, vol. iv. p. 270); so that it is not without his usual propriety of language that Mr. Gibbon speaks of the myriads of the Turkish horse, or of the cavalry of the earlier Turks of Mount Altai, “being, both men and horses, proudly computed by myriads.” One thing is clear, that to no other invading hosts could the language used here be so well applied, and if it were supposed that John was writing after the event, this would be the language which he would be likely to employ - for this is nearly the identical language employed by the historian Gibbon.

(8) “their personal appearance:” “Them that sat on them having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone” - as explained above, in a “uniform” of red, and blue, and yellow. This might, undoubtedly, be applicable to other armies besides the Turkish hordes; but the proper question here is, whether it would be applicable to them. The fact of the application of the symbol to the Turks in general must be determined from other points in the symbol which designate them clearly; the only natural inquiry here is, whether this description would apply to the Turkish hosts; for if it would not, that would be fatal to the whole interpretation. On the application of this passage to the Turks Mr. Daubuz justly remarks, that “from their first appearance the Ottomans have affected to wear warlike apparel of scarlet, blue, and yellow - a descriptive trait the more marked from its contrast to the military appearance of the Greeks, Franks, or Saracens contemporarily.” Mr. Elliott adds: “It only needs to have seen the Turkish cavalry (as they were before the late innovations), whether in war itself, or in the djerrid war‘s mimicry, to leave an impression of the absolute necessity of some such notice of their rich and varied colorings, in order to give in description at all a just impression of their appearance,” vol. i. p. 481.

(9) “The remarkable appearance of the cavalry:” “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.” It was remarked in the exposition of this passage that this is just such a description as would be given of an army to which the use of gunpowder was known, and which made use of it in these wars. Looking now upon a body of cavalry in the heat of an engagement, it would seem, if the cause were not known, that the horses belched forth smoke and sulphurous flame. The only question now is, whether in the warfare of the Turks there was anything which would especially or remarkably justify this description. And here it is impossible not to advert to the historical fact that they were among the first to make use of gunpowder in their wars, and that to the use of this destructive element they owed much of their success and their ultimate triumphs.

The historical truth of this it is necessary now to advert to, and this will be done by a reference to Mr. Gibbon, and to the account which he has given of the final conquest of Constantinople by the Turks. It will be seen how he puts this new instrumentality of war into the foreground in his account; how prominent this seemed to him to be in describing the victories of the Turks; and how probable, therefore, it is that John, in describing an invasion by them, would refer to the “fire and smoke and brimstone,” that seemed to be emitted from the mouths of their horses. As preparatory to the account of the siege and conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, Mr. Gibbon gives a description of the invention and use of gunpowder. “The chemists of China or Europe had found, by casual or elaborate experiments, that a mixture of saltpetre, sulpher, and charcoal produces, with a spark of fire, a tremendous explosion. It was soon observed that if the expansive force were compressed in a strong tube, a ball of stone or iron might be expelled with irresistible add destructive velocity. The precise era of the invention and application of gunpowder is involved in doubtful traditions and equivocal language; yet we may clearly discern that it was known before the middle of the fourteenth century; and that before the end of the same the use of artillery in battles and sieges, by sea and land, was familiar to the states of Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and England. The priority of nations is of small account; none could derive any exclusive benefit from their previous or superior knowledge; and in the common improvement they stood on the same level of relative power and military science.

Nor was it possible to circumscribe the secret within the pale of the church; it was disclosed to the Turks by the treachery of apostates and the selfish policy of rivals; and the sultans had sense to adopt, and wealth to reward, the talents of a Christian engineer. By the Venetians the use of gunpowder was communicated without reproach to the sultans of Egypt and Persia, their allies against the Ottoman power; the secret was soon propagated to the extremities of Asia; and the advantage of the European was confined to his easy victories over the savages of the New World,” vol. iv. p. 291. In the description of the conquest of Constantinople Mr. Gibbon makes frequent mention of their artillery, and of the use of gunpowder, and of its important agency in securing their final conquests, and in the overthrow of the Eastern empire. “Among the implements of destruction he (the Turkish sultan) studied with special care the recent and tremendous discovery of the Latins; and his artillery surpassed whatever had yet appeared in the world. A founder of cannon, a Dane or Hungarian, who had almost starved in the Greek service, deserted to the Moslems, and was liberally entertained by the Turkish sultan. Muhammed was satisfied with the answer to his first question, which he eagerly pressed on the artist: ‹Am I able to cast a cannon capable of throwing a ball or stone of sufficient size to batter the walls of Constantinople? I am not ignorant of their strength, but, were they more solid than those of Babylon, I could oppose an engine of superior power; the position and management of that engine must be left to your engineers.‘ On this assurance a foundry was established at Adrianople; the metal was prepared; and at the end of three months Urban produced a piece of brass ordnance of stupendous and almost incredible magnitude: a measure of twelve palms is assigned to the bore; and the stone bullet weighed above six hundred pounds.

A vacant place before the new palace was chosen for the first experiment; but to prevent the sudden and mischievous effects of astonishment and fear, a proclamation was issued that the cannon would be discharged the ensuing day. The explosion was felt or heard in a circuit of 100 furlongs; the ball, by force of gunpowder, was driven above a mile; and on the spot where it fell it buried itself a fathom deep in the ground,” vol. iv. p. 339. So, in speaking of the siege of Constantinople by the Turks, Mr. Gibbon says of the defense by the Christians (vol. iv. p. 343): “The incessant volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of their musketry and cannon.” “The same destructive secret,” he adds, “had been revealed to the Moslems, by whom it was employed with the superior energy of zeal, riches, and despotism. The great cannon of Muhammed has been separately noticed - an important and visible object in the history of the times; but that enormous engine was flanked by two follows almost of equal magnitude; the long order of the Turkish artillery was pointed against the walls; fourteen battories thundered at once on the most accessible places; and of one of these it is ambiguously expressed that it was mounted with one hundred and thirty guns, or that it discharged one hundred and thirty bullets,” vol. iv. pp. 343,344.

Again: “The first random shots were productive of more sound than effect; and it was by the advice of a Christian that the engineers were taught to level their aim against the two opposite sides of the salient angles of a bastion. However imperfect, the weight and repetition of the fire made some impression on the walls,” vol. iv. p. 344. And again: “A circumstance that distinguishes the siege of Constantinople is the reunion of the ancient and modern artillery. The cannon were intermingled with the mechanical engines for casting stones and darts, the bullet and the battering-ram were directed against the same walls; nor had the discovery of gunpowder superseded the use of the liquid and inextinguishable fire,” vol. iv. p. 344. So again, in the description of the final conflict when Constantinople was taken, Mr. Gibbon says, “From the lines, the galleys, and the bridge, the Ottoman artillery thundered on all sides; and the camp and city, the Greeks and the Turks, were involved in a cloud of smoke which could only be dispelled by the final deliverance or destruction of the Roman empire,” vol. iv. p. 350. Assuredly, if such was the fact in the conquests of the Turks, it was not unnatural in one who was looking on these warriors in vision to describe them as if they seemed to belch out “fire and smoke and brimstone.” If Mr. Gibbon had designed to describe the conquest of the Turks as a fulfillment of the prediction, could he have done it in a style more clear and graphic than what he has employed? If this had occurred in a Christian writer, would it not have been charged on him that he had shaped his facts to meet his notions of the meaning of the prophecy?

(10) the statement that “their power was in their mouth, and in their tails,” Revelation 9:19. The former part of this has been illustrated. The inquiry now is, what is the meaning of the declaration that “their power was in their tails?” In Revelation 9:19 their tails are described as resembling “serpents, having heads,” and it is said that “with them they do hurt.” See the notes on that verse. The allusion to the “serpents” would seem to imply that there was something in the horses‘ tails, as compared with them, or in some use that was made of them, which would make this language proper; that is, that their appearance would so suggest the idea of death and destruction, that the mind would easily imagine they were a bundle of serpents. The following remarks may show how applicable this was to the Turks:

(a) In the Turkish hordes there was something, whatever it was, that naturally suggested some resemblance to serpents. Of the Turkmans when they began to spread their conquests over Asia, in the eleventh century, and an effort was made to rouse the people against them, Mr. Gibbon makes the following remark: “Massoud, the son and successor of Mahmoud, had too long neglected the advice of his wisest Omrahs. ‹Your enemies‘ (the Turkmans), they repeatedly urged, ‹were in their origin a swarm of ants; they are now little snakes; and unless they be instantly crushed, they will acquire the venom and magnitude. of serpents,” vol. iv. p. 91.

(b) It is a remarkable fact that the horse‘s tail is a well-known Turkish standard - a symbol of office and authority. “The pashas are distinguished, after a Tartar custom, by three horsetails on the side of their tents, and receive by courtesy the title of beyler beg, or prince of princes. The next in rank are the pashas of two tails, the beys who are honored with one tail” - Edin. Ency. (art. “Turkey”). In the times of their early warlike career the principal standard was once lost in battle, and the Turkman commander, in default, cut off his horse‘s tail, lifted it on a pole, made it the rallying ensign, and so gained the victory. So Tournefort in his Travels states. The following is Ferrario‘s account of the origin of this ensign: “An author acquainted with their customs says, that a general of theirs, not knowing how to rally his troops that had lost their standards, cut off a horse‘s tail, and fixed it to the end of a spear; and the soldiers rallying at that signal, gained the victory.”

He adds further, that whereas “on his appointment a pasha of the three tails used to receive a drum and a standard, now for the drum there have been substituted three horses‘ tails, tied at the end of a spear, round a gilded haft. One of the first officers of the palace presents him these three tails as a standard” (Elliott, vol. i. pp. 485,486). This remarkable standard or ensign is found only among the Turks, and, if there was an intended reference to them, the symbol here would be the proper one to be adopted. The meaning of the passage where it is said that “their power is in their tails” would seem to be, that their tails were the symbol or emblem of their authority - as in fact the horse‘s tail is in the appointment of a pasha. The image before the mind of John would seem to have been, that he saw the horses belching out fire and smoke, and, what was equally strange, he saw that their power of spreading desolation was connected with the tails of horses. Anyone looking on a body of cavalry with such banners or ensigns would be struck with this unusual and remarkable appearance, and would speak of their banners as concentrating and directing their power. The above engraving, representing the standard of a Turkish pasha, will illustrate the passage before us.

(11) the number slain, Revelation 9:18. That is said to have been “the third part of men.” No one in reading the accounts of the wars of the Turks, and of the ravages which they have committed, would be likely to feel that this is an exaggeration. It is not necessary to suppose that it is literally accurate, but it is such a representation as would strike one in looking over the world, and contemplating the effect of their invasions. If the other specifications in the symbol are correct, there would be no hesitation in admitting the propriety of this.

(12) the time of the continuance of this power. This is a material, and a more difficult point. It is said Revelation 9:15 to be “an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year”; that is, as explained, three hundred and ninety-one years, and the portion of a year indicated by the expression “an hour”; to wit, an additional twelfth or twenty-fourth part of a year. The question now is, whether, supposing the time to which this reaches to be the capture of Constantinople, and the consequent downfall of the Roman empire - the object, in view in this series of visions - in reckoning back from that period for 391 years, we should reach an epoch that would properly denote the moving forward of this power toward its final conquest; that is, whether there was any such marked epoch that, if the 391 years were added to it, it would reach the year of the conquest of Constantinople, 1453 a.d. The period that would be indicated by taking the number 391 from 1453 would be 1062 - and that is the time in which we are to look for the event referred to. This is on the supposition that the year consisted of 360 days, or twelve months of thirty days each. If, however, instead of this, we reckon 365 days and six hours, then the length of time would be found to amount to 396 years and 106 days.

This would make the time of the “loosening of the angels,” or the moving forward of this power, to be 1057 a.d. In the uncertainty on this point, and in the unsettled state of ancient chronology, it would, perhaps, be vain to hope for minute accuracy, and it is not reasonable to demand it of an interpreter. On any fair principle of interpretation it would be sufficient if at about one of these periods - 1062 a.d. or 1057 ad - there was found such a definite or strongly marked event as would indicate a movement of the hitherto restrained power toward the West. This is the real point, then, to be determined. Now, in a common work on chronology I find this record: “1055 a.d., Turks reduce Bagdad, and overturn the empire of the caliphs.” In a work still more important to our purpose (Gibbon, iv. 92,93), under the date of 1055 a.d., I find a series of statements which will show the propriety of referring to that event as the one by which this power, so long restrained, was “let loose”; that is, was placed in such a state that its final conquest of the Eastern empire certainly followed.

The event was the union of the Turkish power with the caliphate in such a way that the sultan was regarded as “the temporal lieutenant of the vicar of the prophet.” Of this event Mr. Gibbon gives the following account. After mentioning the conversion of the Turks to the Moslem faith, and especially the zeal with which the son of Seljuk had embraced that faith, he proceeds to state the manner in which the Turkish sultan Togrul came in possession of Bagdad, and was invested With the high office of the “temporal lieutenant of the vicar of the prophet.” There were two caliphs, those of Bagdad and Egypt, and “the sublime character of the successor of the prophet” was “disputed” by them, iv. 93. Each of them became “solicitous to prove his title in the judgment of the strong though illiterate barbarians.” Mr. Gibbon then says, “Mahmoud the Gaznevide had declared himself in favor of the line of Abbas; and had treated with indignity the robe of honor which was presented by the Fatimite ambassador. Yet the ungrateful Hashemite had changed with the change of fortune; he applauded the victory of Zendecan, and named the Seljukian sultan his temporal vicegerent over the Moslem world. As Togrul executed and enlarged this important trust, he was called to the deliverance of the caliph Cayem, and obeyed the holy summons, which gave a new kingdom to his arms. In the palace of Bagdad the commander of the faithful still slumbered, a venerable phantom. His servant or master, the prince of the Bowides, could no longer protect him from the insolence of meaner tyrants; and the Euphrates and the Tigris were oppressed by the revolt of the Turkish and Arabian emirs.

The presence of a conqueror was implored as a blessing; and the transient mischiefs of fire and sword were excused as the sharp but salutary remedies which alone could restore the health of the republic. At the head of an irresistible force the sultan of Persia marched from Hamadan; the proud were crushed, the prostrate were spared; the prince of the Bowides disappeared; the heads of the most obstinate rebels were laid at the feet of Togrul; and he inflicted a lesson of obedience on the people of Mosul and Bagdad. After the chastisement of the guilty, and the restoration of peace, the royal shepherd accepted the reward of his labors; and a solemn comedy represented the triumph of religious prejudice over barbarian power. The Turkish sultan embarked on the Tigris, landed at the gate of Racca, and made his public entry on horseback. At the palace gate he respectfully dismounted, and walked on foot preceded by his emirs without arms.

The caliph was seated behind his black veil; the black garment of the Abbassides was cast over his shoulders, and he held in his hand the staff of the Apostle of God. The conqueror of the East kissed the ground, stood some time in a modest posture, and was led toward the throne by the vizier and an interpreter. After Togrul had seated himself on another throne, his commission was publicly read, which declared him the temporal lieutenant of the vicar of the prophet. He was successively invested with seven robes of honor, and presented with seven slaves, the natives of the seven climates of the Arabian empire. His mystic veil was perfumed with musk; two crowns were placed on his head; two scimetars were girded to his side, as the symbols of a double reign over the East and West. Their alliance was cemented by the marriage of Togrul‘s sister with the successor of the prophet,” iv. 93,94. This event, so described, was of sufficient importance, as constituting a union of the Turkish power with the Moslem faith, as making it practicable to move in their conquests toward the West, and as connected in its ultimate results with the downfall of the Eastern empire, to make it an epoch in the history of nations. In fact, it was the point which one would have particularly looked at, after describing the movements of the Saracens (Revelation 9:1-11), as the next event that was to change the condition of the world.

Happily we have also the means of fixing the exact date of this event, so as to make it accord with singular accuracy with the period supposed to be referred to. The general time specified by Mr. Gibbon is 1055 a.d. This, according to the two methods referred to of determining the period embraced in the “hour, and day, and month, and year,” would reach, if the period were 391 years, to 1446 a.d.; if the other method were referred to, making it 396 years and 106 days to 1451 a.d., with 106 days added, within less than two years of the actual taking of Constantinople. But there is a more accurate calculation as to the time than the general one thus made. In vol. iv. 93Mr. Gibbon makes this remark: “Twenty-five years after the death of Basil his successors were suddenly assaulted by an unknown race of barbarians, who united the Scythian valor with the fanaticism of new proselytes, and the art and riches of a powerful monarchy.”

He then proceeds (pp. 94ff) with an account of the invasions of the Turks. In vol. iii. 307 we have an account of the death of Basil. “In the sixty-eighth year of his age his martial spirit urged him to embark in person for a holy war against the Saracens of Sicily; he was prevented by death, and Basil, surnamed the slayer of the Bulgarians, was dismissed from the world, with the blessings of the clergy and the curses of the people.” This occurred 1025 a.d. “Twenty-five years” after this would make 1050 a.d. To this add the period here referred to, and we have respectively, as above, the years 1446 a.d., or 1451 a.d., and 106 days. Both periods are near the time of the taking of Constantinople and the downfall of the Eastern empire (1453 a.d.), and the latter strikingly so; and, considering the general nature of the statement of Mr. Gibbon, and the great indefiniteness of the dates in chronology, may be considered as remarkable. - But we have the means of a still more accurate calculation.

It is by determining the exact period of the investiture of Togrul with the authority of caliph, or as the “temporal lieutenant of the vicar of the prophet.” The time of this investiture, or coronation, is mentioned by Abulfeda as occurring on the 25th of Dzoulcad, in the year of the Hegira 449; and the date of Elmakin‘s narrative, who has given an account of this, perfectly agrees with this. Of this transaction Elmakin makes the following remark: “There was now none left in Irak or Chorasmia who could stand before him.” The importance of this investiture will be seen from the charge which the caliph is reported by Abulfeda to have given to Togrul on this occasion: “The caliph commits to your care all that part of the world which God has committed to his care and dominion; and entrusts to thee, under the name of vicegerent, the guardianship of the pious, faithful, and God-serving citizens.” The exact time of this investiture is stated by Abulfeda, as above, to be the 25th of Dzoulcad, A.H. 449.

Now, reckoning this as the time, and we have the following result: The 25th of Dzoulcad, A.H. 449, would answer to February 2,1058 a.d. From this to May 29,1453, the time when Constantinople was taken, would be 395 years and 116 days. The prophetic period, as above, is 396 years and 106 days - making a difference only of 1 year and 10 days - a result that cannot but be considered as remarkable, considering the difficulty of fixing ancient dates. Or if, with Mr. Elliott (i. 495-499), we suppose that the time is to be reckoned from the period when the Turkman power went forth from Bagdad on a career of conquest, the reckoning should be from the year of the Hegira 448, the year before the formal investiture, then this would make a difference of only 24 days. The date of that event was the 10th of Dzoulcad, A.H. 448. That was the day in which Togrul with his Turkmans, now the representative and head of the power of Islamism, quitted Bagdad to enter on a long career of war and conquest. “The part allotted to Togrul himself in the fearful drama soon to open against the Greeks was to extend and establish the Turkman dominion over the frontier countries of Irak and Mesopotamia, that so the requisite strength might be attained for the attack ordained of God‘s counsels against the Greek empire. The first step to this was the siege and capture of Moussul; his next of Singara. Nisibis, too, was visited by him; that frontier fortress that had in other days been so long a bulwark to the Greeks. Everywhere victory attended his banner - a presage of what was to follow.”

Reckoning from that time, the coincidence between the period that elapsed from that, and the conquest of Constantinople, would be 396 years and 130 days - a period that corresponds, with only a difference of 24 days, with that specified in the prophecy according to the explanation already given. It could not be expected that a coincidence more accurate than this could be made out on the supposition that the prophecy was designed to refer to these events; and if it did refer to them, the coincidence could have occurred only as a prediction by Him who sees with perfect accuracy all the future.

(13) The effect. This is stated, in Revelation 9:20-21, to be that those who survived these plagues did not repent of their wickedness, but that the abominations which existed before still remained. In endeavoring to determine the meaning of this, it will be proper, first, to ascertain the exact sense of the words used, and then to inquire whether a state of things existed subsequent to the invasions of the Turks which corresponded with the description here:

(a) The explanation of the language used in Revelation 9:20-21.

The rest of the men - That portion of the world on which these plagues did not come. One third of the race, it is said, would fall under these calamities, and the writer now proceeds to state what would be the effect on the remainder. The language used - “the rest of the people” - is not such as to designate with certainty any particular portion of the world, but it is implied that the things mentioned were of very general prevalence.

Which were not killed by these plagues - The two-thirds of the race which were spared. The language here is such as would be used on the supposition that the crimes here referred to abounded in all those regions which came within the range of the vision of the apostle.

Yet repented not of the works of their hands - To wit, of those things which are immediately specified.

That they should not worship devils - Implying that they practiced this before. The word used here - δαιμόνιον daimonion- means properly “a god, deity”; spoken of the pagan gods, Acts 17:18; then a genius, or tutelary demon, e. g., that of Socrates; and, in the New Testament, a demon in the sense of an evil spirit. See the word fully explained in the notes on 1 Corinthians 10:20. The meaning of the passage here, as in 1 Corinthians 10:20, “they sacrifice to devils,” is not that they literally worshipped devils in the usual sense of that term, though it is true that such worship does exist in the world, as among the Yezidis (see Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, vol. i. pp. 225-254, and Rosenmuller, Morgenland, iii. 212-216); but that they worshipped beings which were inferior to the Supreme God; created spirits of a rank superior to human beings, or the spirits of people that had been enrolled among the gods. This last was a common form of worship among the pagan, for a large portion of the gods whom they adored were heroes and benefactors who had been enrolled among the gods - as Hercules, Bacchus, etc. All that is necessarily implied in this word is, that there prevailed in the time referred to the worship of spirits inferior to God, or the worship of the spirits of departed people. This idea would be more naturally suggested to the mind of a Greek by the use of the word than the worship of evil spirits as such - if indeed it would have conveyed that idea at all; and this word would be properly employed in the representation if there was any homage rendered to departed human spirits which came in the place of the worship of the true God. Compare a dissertation on the meaning of the word used here, in Elliott on the Apocalypse, Appendix I. vol. ii.

And idols of gold, and silver, … - Idols were formerly, as they are now in pagan lands, made of all these materials. The most costly would, of course, denote a higher degree of veneration for the god, or greater wealth in the worshipper, and all would be employed as symbols or representatives of the gods whom they adored. The meaning of this passage is, that there would prevail, at that time, what would be properly called idolatry, and that this would be represented by the worship paid to these images or idols. It is not necessary to the proper understanding of this, to suppose that the images or idols worshipped were acknowledged pagan idols, or were erected in honor of pagan gods, as such. All that is implied is, that there would be such images - εἴδωλα eidōla- and that a degree of homage would be paid to them which would be in fact idolatry. The word used here - εἴδωλον eidōlon εἴδωλα - properly means an image, spectre, shade; then an idol-image, or what was a representative of a pagan god; and then the idol-god itself - a pagan deity. So far as the word is concerned, it may be applied to any kind of image-worship.

Which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk - The common representation of idol-worship in the Scriptures, to denote its folly and stupidity. See Isaiah 44:9-19.

Neither repented they of their murders - This implies that, at the time referred to, murders would abound; or that the times would be characterized by what deserved to be called murder.

Nor of their sorceries - The word rendered “sorceries” - φαρμακεία pharmakeia- whence our word “pharmacy,” means properly “the preparing and giving of medicine,” Eng. “pharmacy” (Robinson‘s Lexicon ). Then, as the art of medicine was supposed to have magical power, or as the persons who practiced medicine, in order to give themselves and their art greater importance, practiced various arts of incantation, the word came to be connected with the idea of magic sorcery, or enchantment. See Schleusner, Lexicon. In the New Testament the word is never used in a good sense, as denoting the preparation of medicine, but always in this secondary sense, as denoting sorcery, magic, etc. Thus, in Galatians 5:20, “the works of the flesh - idolatry, witchcraft,” etc. Revelation 9:21, “of their sorceries.” Revelation 18:23, “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Revelation 21:8, “Whoremongers, and sorcerers.” The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament; and the meaning of the word would be fulfilled in anything that purposed to accomplish an object by sorcery, by magical arts, by trick, by cunning, by sleight of hand, or “by deceiving the senses in any way.” Thus, it would be applicable to all jugglery and to all pretended miracles.

Nor of their fornication - Implying that this would be a prevalent sin in the times referred to, and that the dreadful plagues which are here predicted would make no essential change in reference to its prevalence.

Nor of their thefts - Implying that this, too, would be a common form of iniquity. The word used here - κλέμμα klemma- is the common word to denote theft. The true idea in the word is that of privately, unlawfully, and feloniously taking the goods or movables of another person. In a larger and in the popular sense, however, this word might embrace all acts of taking the property of another by dishonest arts, or on false pretence, or without an equivalent.

(b) The next point then is, the inquiry whether there was any such state of things as is specified here existing in the time of the rise of the Turkish power, and in the time of the calamities which that formidable power brought upon the world. There are two things implied in the statement here:

(1)that these things had an existence before the invasion and destruction of the Eastern empire by the Turkish power; and,

(2)that they continued to exist after that, or were not removed by these fearful calamities.

The supposition all along in this interpretation is, that the eye of the prophet was on the Roman world, and that the design was to mark the various events which would characterize its future history. We look, then, in the application of this, to the state of things existing in connection with the Roman power, or that portion of the world which was then pervaded by the Roman religion. This will make it necessary to institute an inquiry whether the things here specified prevailed in that part of the world before the invasions of the Turks, and the conquest of Constantinople, and whether the judgments inflicted by that formidable Turkish invasion made any essential change in this respect:

(1) The statement that they worshipped devils; that is, as explained, demons, or the deified souls of people. Homage rendered to the spirits of departed people, and substituted in the place of the worship of the true God, would meet all that is properly implied here. We may refer, then, to the worship of saints in the Roman Catholic communion as a complete fulfillment of what is here implied in the language used by John. The fact cannot be disputed that the invocation of saints took the place, in the Roman Catholic communion, of the worship of sages and heroes in pagan Rome, and that the canonization of saints took the place of the ancient deification of heroes and public benefactors. The same kind of homage was rendered to them; their aid was invoked in a similar manner, and on similar occasions; the effect on the popular mind was substantially the same; and the one interfered as really as the other with the worship of the true God. The decrees of the seventh general council, known as the second council of Nice, 787 a.d., authorized and established the worshipping ( προσκυνέω proskuneō- the same word used here - προσκυνήσωσι τὰ δαιμόνια proskunēsōsi ta daimonia) of the saints and their images.

This occurred after the exciting scenes, the debates, and the disorders produced by the Iconoclasts, or image-breakers, and after the most careful deliberation on the subject. In that celebrated council it was decreed, according to Mr. Gibbon (iii. 341), “unanimously,” “that the worship of images is agreeable to Scripture and reason, to the fathers and councils of the church; but they hesitate whether that worship be relative or direct; whether the Godhead and the figure of Christ be entitled to the same mode of adoration.” This worship of the “saints,” or prayer to the saints, asking for their intercession, it is well known, has from that time everywhere prevailed in the papal communion. Indeed, a large part of the actual prayers offered in their services is addressed to the Virgin Mary. Mr. Maitland, “the able and learned advocate of the Dark Ages,” says, “The superstition of the age supposed the glorified saint to know what was going on in the world; and to feel a deep interest, and to possess a considerable power, in the church militant on earth. I believe that they who thought so are altogether mistaken; and I lament, abhor, and am amazed at the superstition, blasphemies, and idolatries, which have grown out of that opinion” (Elliott, ii. p. 10).

As to the question whether this continued after the judgments brought upon the world by the hordes “loosed on the Euphrates,” or whether they repented and reformed on account of the judgments, we have only to look into the Roman Catholic religion everywhere. Not only did the old practice of “daemonolatry,” or the worship of departed saints, continue, but new “saints” have been added to the number, and the list of those who are to receive this homage has been continually increasing. Thus, in the year 1460, Catharine of Sienna was canonized by Pope Pius II; in 1482, Bonaventura; the blasphemer, by Sixtus IV; in 1494, Anselm by Alexander VI. Alexander‘s bull, in language more pagan than Christian, avows it to be the pope‘s duty thus to choose out, and to hold up the illustrious dead, as their merits claim, for adoration and worship.

(2) the statement that idolatry was practiced, and continued to be practiced, after this invasion: “Repented not that they should not worship idols of gold, silver, and brass.” On this point, perhaps it would be sufficient to refer to what has been already noticed in regard to the homage paid to the souls of the departed; but it may be further and more clearly illustrated by a reference to the worship of images in the Roman Catholic communion. Anyone familiar with church history will recollect the long conflicts which prevailed respecting the worship of images; the establishment of images in the churches; the destruction of images by the “Iconoclasts”; and the debars on the subject by the council at Hiera; and the final decision in the second council of Nice, in which the propriety of image-worship was affirmed and established. See, on this subject, Bowers‘ History of the Popes, ii. 98ff, 144ff; Gibbon, vol. iii. pp. 322-341.

The importance of the question respecting image-worship may be seen from the remarks of Mr. Gibbon, iii. 322. He speaks of it as “a question of popular superstition which produced the revolt of Italy, the temporal power of the popes, and the restoration of the Roman empire in the West.” A few extracts from Mr. Gibbon - who may be regarded as an impartial witness on this subject - will show what was the popular belief, and will confirm what is said in the passage before us in reference to the prevalence of idolatry. “The first introduction of a symbolic worship was in the veneration of the cross, and of relics. The saints and martyrs, when intercession was implored, were seated on the right hand of God; but the gracious, and often supernatural favors, which, in the popular belief, were showered round their tombs, conveyed an unquestionable sanction of the devout pilgrims who visited, and touched, and kissed these lifeless remains, the memorials of their merits and sufferings. But a memorial, more interesting than the skull or the sandals of a departed worthy, is a faithful copy of his person and features delineated by the arts of painting or sculpture. In every age such copies, so congenial to human feelings, have been cherished by the zeal of private friendship or public esteem; the images of the Roman emperors were adored with civil and almost religious honors; a reverence, less ostentatious, but more sincere, was applied to the statues of sages and patriots; and these profane virtues, these splendid sins, disappeared in the presence of the holy people who had died for their celestial and everlasting country.

At first the experiment was made with caution and scruple, and the venerable pictures were discreetly allowed to instruct the ignorant, to awaken the cold, and to gratify the prejudices of the pagan proselytes. By a slow, though inevitable progression, the honors of the original were transferred to the copy; the devout Christian prayed before the image of a saint, and the pagan rites of genuflexion, luminaries, and incense ag

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-9.html. 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter9

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the eaRuth ( Revelation 9:1 ):

And it is interesting how that a great mountain of fire burning, a star falling, a star falling, these are like fallen stars. That is why I relate them to perhaps asteroids or meteorites. I could be completely wrong. In other words, there are a lot of people who would like to sort of speculate, and in observed and knowable phenomena, these are not unreasonable. We know of phenomena that could create such things, such as impacting with asteroids or meteorites or whatever.

So the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fallen from heaven unto the earth or a fallen star,

and to him was given the key of the abyss ( Revelation 9:1 ).

That is the abyss, or abussos in Greek, which is translated bottomless pit. The translation bottomless pit is a correct translation of this word abussos. And it is probably right in the heart or the center of the earth, because right in the center of the earth you would be constantly falling. There would be no end to your fall, because as the earth is rotating you would be constantly in a state of falling, a bottomless pit then. Because you would never get to the bottom of the thing, you would be in the middle. If it is always turning around, you are continually falling but you are right there in the heart of it.

We do know that Hades is in the heart of the earth, so this is probably one of the compartments of Hades. This particular compartment is where God incarcerates demonic spirits. It is where the antichrist has been incarcerated. It is where Satan shall be incarcerated for one thousand years. It is where demons are presently incarcerated, but are going to be released upon the earth during this period of time. It is a place where the demons will later on be incarcerated.

When Jesus came to Gadara and there was that man who was filled with devils, demons and Jesus said, "What is your name?" And they said, "Legion," because there was many. And they said, don"t send us to the Abussos, to the pit, before our time. Let us be free for awhile longer. Now, they knew that there time was coming when they would be confined to the abussos, a compartment in Hades. As there is another compartment called Tartarus, a compartment in Hades, this one for fallen angels or demonic spirits where as Hades itself is for the rebellious man.

So, he sees the fallen star from heaven, who no doubt is Satan. He has the key to the abussos.

And he opened the [abussos] 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 ( Revelation 9:2 ).

So, somewhere upon the earth there is probably a fissure of some kind that goes down to the heart of the earth that shall be open, and as it is like a furnace, this smoke is going to ascend from the heart of the earth darkening the skies. As the skies were darken after the eruption of Kartoa and after the eruption of Mount St. Helens.

And there came out of the smoke creatures [demonic creatures] ( Revelation 9:3 ):

As John sees them, because they swarm in great clouds, they are like locust, in that they cover the skies and the skies become dark. And of course, in a part of the world they have plagues of locust that there are so many millions of them that it turns the skies dark as they invade an area. So, these are like a locust plague.

and to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the eaRuth ( Revelation 9:3-4 ),

And of course that is the natural food of the locust.

neither any green thing, neither any tree [the general diet of the locust]; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads ( Revelation 9:4 ).

So, at this point God is going to start separating those that have His seal in their foreheads from those who do not, even as God made a separation in the plagues in Egypt. And, there was darkness in Egypt, but in Israel there was not darkness. Frogs in Egypt, but among the camp of the Israelites there were no frogs, frogs in their beds, frogs in their kneading troughs and so forth. They would knead their dough and just frogs everywhere, except in the area of Israel. God made a separation, a difference, and so He will again.

And to them it was given that they should not kill the people, but that they should be tormented for five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man ( Revelation 9:5 ).

Over there in the Middle East, of course upon the earth there are several varieties of scorpion, but there in the Middle East the scorpion there has a sting which is reported to be the worst pain of any sting possible. And these locusts have power to inflict this kind of a stinging torment like scorpions for a period of five months.

And in those days shall men seek death [the torment being so fierce men will seek death], and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them ( Revelation 9:6 ).

So, it is an interesting period when death takes a holiday for five months.

Now, death is an interesting phenomenon. It is something that we don"t fully understand, the mechanics of it. What does happen when the spirit of man leaves his body? Well, we say it is death. They have the EEG probes connected and they watch the little monitor and they watch the brain wave activity as it flutters there on the monitor and shows across the screen, but then when the line goes flat they will monitor it usually for twenty-four hours and then pull the plug. And when the oxygen is no longer being provided, if there is any life at all, the brain will start searching for oxygen and you will see a little flutter on the screen again and they will plug it back in, but if there is no flutter, the line stays flat, they say, "Well, he is dead." The spirit is gone. The soul is gone. The conscience is gone. He is dead.

What releases the consciousness? What releases the spirit of man from his body? We see people who can live for years in commas. The spirit doesn"t leave. Yet, their body is there, but they haven"t the capacity of doing anything. They are just in a comatose state. Why hasn"t the spirit left? What keeps the spirit there? We don"t really know for sure.

Jesus on the cross dismissed His Spirit. He said, "No man takes My life from Me. I give My life. I have the power to give it and I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. No man takes My life from Me." And on the cross it said He bowed His head and dismissed His Spirit. He gave up His spirit. He bowed His head and said, "Okay, you can go". Now, He had the power to do that.

There will come a time when your spirit will refuse to leave your body. And this could be one of the most awesome horrible periods of history. Imagine a person taking a .45 and putting it to his skull and pulling the trigger and blowing the back side of his head off and his brain is all over the room and yet he does not die, the spirit not leaving. And he goes around with this hole in his head, but he keeps on living. The spirit won"t leave. That could be horrible.

You see the real me is spirit. The body is the instrument that God has given to me whereby I can express myself. But the body is the medium of expression for me, but the real me is spirit. The real me is not the body. The real me is spirit. Through the body my spirit can express itself. And that is what God has designed. He has designed the body as the medium by which I can express myself to others and I can relate to others and they can relate to me. It is the medium by which we come to know each other, we come to appreciate and love each other, this medium of our bodies by which our spirits express themselves to each other.

Now, generally when through age, accident, illness, disease, or whatever, generally when the body can no longer fulfill the functions for which God purposed, when the body can no longer really express me, when the body gives me more pain and suffering than joy and pleasure, or when the body is so weakened that it can"t really express me anymore, then God releases my spirit from this body. And my spirit then moves into my new body, the building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

But there is going to come a time when God is not going to release spirits for five months and people will actually seek to die, perhaps mutilate their bodies and under normal circumstances their spirit would have left, but God is going to let them go on in that condition for five months. As I said, that will probably be one of the most horrible periods in the history of the world, when for five months people can"t die.

Death is a blessing to the child of God. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Hey, it is a blessing for the child of God. I don"t want to go on living in this body after it can no longer fulfill the functions for which God purposed and designed. I don"t want to just lie in a bed just staring at the ceiling with needles and intravenous into me and oxygen and people come in to look at me and I"m just dah. And have to be there month after month and year after year for fifty, hundred, two hundred years you just lie there and just staring at the sky and can"t say anything or do anything. That would be horrible. That would be hell. Death is a blessing.

When this old body gets to the place that it can"t function anymore, then God is going to release my spirit from it and that is going to be a blessing, not a curse. It would only be a curse if I weren"t a child of God, because then of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, he to be thought worthy, who had counted the blood of his covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and have done despite to the Spirit of grace. For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. So death takes a holiday. People are tormented.

Now, John is taken by the spirit to a day to the future in which he sees things he does not understand. He can only describe them in the language that he knows. Imagine a prophet being taken, say, into the midst of a battle in World War II, a prophet say in John"s day, taken by the spirit out into the future and dropped into the middle of a battle in World War II. He sees tanks and artillery. And he sees the planes, jets coming in and dropping bombs and all. How would you describe that when you don"t know what a plane, tank, ammunition or explosions are? How would you describe what you are seeing? You would be limited to your vocabulary and the language of your day in the things that you saw.

So, John now does his best to describe what he has seen, but if you are looking at demonic beings again, you are going to have to use language that is representative, but it falls short of a full and complete description. So, he tries to describe them somewhat.

And the shapes of the locust were like horses that are prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns of gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair like the hair of women [Sounds like some hippies, doesn"t it?] and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle ( Revelation 9:7-9 ).

You are doing pretty good John, if you were trying to describe a dive-bomber coming in, the roar from the wings and all, like many chariots running into battle. Who knows what he is actually seeing. He describes as he can with the language that is available to him.

And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and they had power to hurt men for five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit [or this fallen star], and his name in the Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek it is Apollyon ( Revelation 9:10-11 ).

And the words mean destroyer. So, another name for Satan, the destroyer, and oh what a destroyer he is. Look at this world. Look at men who have been destroyed by the power of Satan. "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth."

One now has past; but, there are two more to come. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God ( Revelation 9:12-13 ).

This altar of which the Mercy seat was a model.

Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 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 ( Revelation 9:14-15 ).

These fallen creatures, Satanic angels, so awesomely fierce that God has kept them incarcerated during these six millennia of man"s history, but in one hour he is going to release them. They have been held back for this one hour in which they enter the world to accomplish their mission. They are prepared for one hour of this particular day, of this month, of this year to slay a third part of men.

Now, in the first four horses of the apocalypse, the first four seals, one quarter of the earth"s population is destroyed. And now by these fierce angels loosed out of the river Euphrates another third of the earth"s population to be destroyed.

And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: [or two hundred million] and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and those that were sitting 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. 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. And 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. 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 can neither see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts ( Revelation 9:16-21 ).

And so the judgments of God do not really bring men to repentance. Man hardens his heart against the judgments of God. Paul said, "Don"t you realize it is the goodness of God that brings a man to repentance." That is why I seek in my messages to preach of the goodness of God and emphasize the grace of God. It is the goodness of God that brings man to repentance. I do talk about the judgments of God that are going to come, because I would be derelict in my responsibilities if I did not, because that is a fact that must be faced.

However, I do not like to make that an emphasis of my ministry. And I don"t, because the judgments of God are only going to harden the hearts of men and they fail to repent of all of their evil in which they do, even in the midst of this horrible period of judgment. They continue their worship of Satan and the representations and the idols.

Next week we"ll take the next three chapters. Two woes are past. The third woe is yet to happen, the seventh trumpet from which will come the seven vials, the last final plagues. But in the meantime we are going to have a little interesting digression. In chapter ten, we are going to have a little digression into the glorious return of Jesus Christ. In chapter eleven, we are going to be introduced to the two witnesses and to their ministries. In chapter twelve, we will be introduced to several different personages, the woman representing Israel, Satan the great dragon, and the war between the woman and Satan. So that is our menu for next Sunday night.

May the Lord be with you and watch over and keep you in His love. May you experience the touch of God upon your life, His strength, His help, His guidance, His wisdom. Give the week over to Lord, acknowledge Him in all things that He might direct your path in His way of righteousness as you live a life that is pleasing and accepting unto Him. "

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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/revelation-9.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The sixth trumpet (second woe) 9:13-21

As will become evident, the severity of these judgments increases as the trumpets (woes) unfold.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-9.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

These three severe judgments (fire, smoke, and brimstone, Revelation 9:17-18) will not move the remaining unbelievers as a whole to repent (cf. Exodus 7:13; Exodus 7:23; Exodus 8:15; Exodus 8:19; Exodus 8:32; Exodus 9:7; Exodus 9:12; Exodus 9:35; Exodus 10:20; Exodus 11:10).

"In all cases in the apocalyptic portion of the book, the word about repentance is negative as here." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p52. Cf. Revelation 9:21; Revelation 16:9, 11.]

"Metanoeo ek ("I repent of") in Revelation denotes a change of mind in rejection of something that is anti-God (cf. Revelation 2:21-22; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 16:11)." [Note: Ibid.]

Elsewhere in Scripture the phrase "the works of their hands" refers to idolatry (cf. Deuteronomy 4:28; Deuteronomy 27:15; Deuteronomy 31:29; 2 Kings 19:18; 2 Kings 22:17; 2 Chronicles 32:19; 2 Chronicles 34:25; Psalm 115:4; Psalm 135:15; Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 17:8; Isaiah 37:19; Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 10:3; Jeremiah 10:9; Jeremiah 25:6-7; Jeremiah 25:14; Jeremiah 32:30; Jeremiah 44:8; Hosea 14:3; Micah 5:13; Haggai 2:14; Acts 7:41). Idolatry is ultimately worship of demons (cf. Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:37; 1 Corinthians 10:20), an understanding that John reflected here. Ironically, these earth-dwellers refuse to stop worshipping demons who are responsible for their misery under this sixth trumpet judgment. In his day people fashioned idol images out of the materials that John mentioned. Today objects that people venerate made of these same materials can be bought in stores, and materialists idolize them. John reminded his readers of the helplessness of these idols (cf. Deuteronomy 4:28; Psalm 115:5-7; Psalm 135:15-17; Isaiah 44:12-20; Daniel 5:23).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-9.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The survivors" response9:20-21

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-9.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the rest of men which were not killed by these plagues,.... By whom are meant the western antichristian party; and such of them as were not plagued, harassed, and destroyed by the Turks, as in Germany, at least some parts of it, France, Spain, Italy, &c.

yet repented not of the works of their hands: their idols, their images of saints departed, which their hands had made; the goodness of God in saving them from the depredations of the Turks, should have led them to repentance for their idolatrous worship of images, but it did not:

that they should not worship devils; or demons, a sort of deities with the Heathens, that mediated between the superior gods and men; and here design angels and saints departed, which the Papists worship, and use as mediators of intercession for them; and this is no other than worshipping of devils, in God's account, and is downright idolatry, and the doctrine of it is the doctrine of devils:

and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood; which are the several materials of which the Popish images are made: and what aggravates the stupidity of the worshippers of these images, and of the persons represented by them, is, that these are such

which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk; can neither see their persons, nor hear their prayers, nor stir one foot to their help and assistance; see Psalm 115:4.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-9.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Seventh Trumpet. A. D. 95.

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. 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. 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.

Here let us consider the preface to this vision, and then the vision itself.

I. The preface to this vision: A voice was heard from the horns of the golden altar, Revelation 9:13,14. Here observe, 1. The power of the church's enemies is restrained till God gives the word to have them turned loose. 2. When nations are ripe for punishment, those instruments of God's anger that were before restrained are let loose upon them, Revelation 9:14. 3. The instruments that God makes use of to punish a people may sometimes lie at a great distance from them, so that no danger may be apprehended from them. These four messengers of divine judgment lay bound in the river Euphrates, a great way from the European nations. Here the Turkish power had its rise, which seems to be the story of this vision.

II. The vision itself: And the four angels that had been bound in the great river Euphrates were now loosed, Revelation 9:15,16. And here observe, 1. The time of their military operations and executions is limited to an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year. Prophetic characters of time are hardly to be understood by us but in general the time is fixed to an hour, when it shall begin and when it shall end and how far the execution shall prevail, even to a third part of the inhabitants of the earth. God will make the wrath of man praise him, and the remainder of wrath he will restrain. 2. The army that was to execute this great commission is mustered, and the number found to be of horsemen two hundred thousand thousand but we are left to guess what the infantry must be. In general, it tells us, the armies of the Mahomedan empire should be vastly great and so it is certain they were. 3. Their formidable equipage and appearance, Revelation 9:17. As the horses were fierce, like lions, and eager to rush into the battle, so those who sat upon them were clad in bright and costly armour, with all the ensigns of martial courage, zeal, and resolution. 4. The vast havoc and desolation that they made in the Roman empire, which had now become antichristian: A third part of them were killed they went as far as their commission suffered them, and they could go no further. 5. Their artillery, by which they made such slaughter, described by fire, smoke, and brimstone, issuing out of the mouths of their horses, and the stings that were in their tails. It is Mr. Mede's opinion that this is a prediction of great guns, those instruments of cruelty which make such destruction: he observes, These were first used by the Turks at the siege of Constantinople, and, being new and strange, were very terrible, and did great execution. However, here seems to be an allusion to what is mentioned in the former vision, that, as antichrist had his forces of a spiritual nature, like scorpions poisoning the minds of men with error and idolatry, so the Turks, who were raised up to punish the antichristian apostasy, had their scorpions and their stings too, to hurt and kill the bodies of those who had been the murderers of so many souls. 6. Observe the impenitency of the antichristian generation under these dreadful judgments (Revelation 9:20) the rest of the men who were not killed repented not, they still persisted in those sins for which God was so severely punishing them, which were, (1.) Their idolatry they would not cast away their images, though they could do them no good, could not see, nor hear, nor walk. (2.) Their murders (Revelation 9:21), which they had committed upon the saints and servants of Christ. Popery is a bloody religion, and seems resolved to continue such. (3.) Their sorceries they have their charms, and magic arts, and rites in exorcism and other things. (4.) Their fornication they allow both spiritual and carnal impurity, and promote it in themselves and others. (5.) Their thefts they have by unjust means heaped together a vast deal of wealth, to the injury and impoverishing of families, cities, princes, and nations. These are the flagrant crimes of antichrist and his agents and, though God has revealed his wrath from heaven against them, they are obstinate, hardened, and impenitent, and judicially so, for they must be destroyed.

III. From this sixth trumpet we learn, 1. God can make one enemy of the church to be a scourge and plague to another. 2. He who is the Lord of hosts has vast armies at his command, to serve his own purposes. 3. The most formidable powers have limits set them, which they cannot transgress. 4. When God's judgments are in the earth, he expects the inhabitants thereof should repent of sin, and learn righteousness. 5. Impenitency under divine judgments is an iniquity that will be the ruin of sinners for where God judges he will overcome.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Revelation 9:20". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/revelation-9.html. 1706.

Harold Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation

6. THE SIXTH TRUMPET--THE HORROR OF LAWLESSNESS

In this woe terrible horses are let loose in lawlessness to destroy human society on earth.

The barrier of the river Euphrates which separated Israel from the pagan world is dried up and invading forces rush in.

This sixth symbol is saying that mighty and malicious forces of lawlessness are let loose among men by their own rejection of God. Some day the barriers by which destruction has been held back by God will be removed and the world will be overtaken by the raging unhindered forces of man"s own lawlessness. Law and order in human society is destroyed. Mob violence takes over.

The idea of men being under the control of Satan is laughed at by modern pagans. But John says that there is a power abroad on earth which makes men IN-human. Even as men can be controlled by a good spirit--so men can also be controlled by an evil spirit and become inhuman.

Just as there is an interlude between the sixth and seventh seal vision as we saw earlier--so there is an interlude of3visions in chapters10,11before the seventh trumpet sounds. (We will return to these chapters later).

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