In Mecca, on the mideastern shores of the Red Sea, in the year 569 A.D., and 153 years after the opening of the Fourth Seal when Death began to ride the Pale Horse, Mohammed, the son of Abdallah, was born. One day, at the age of forty, he was wandering among the rocks at the foot of Mount Hara. He entered the mouth of a cave and sat there musing. As he mused he was shaken by an unseen power. As he sat there trembling and disturbed, suddenly a light flashed and the Angel Gabriel stood before him and in the name of God (Allah) commanded him to preach the true religion.
Mohammed is reported to have run home and told his wife that he was possessed of a devil and had gone mad. She listened to the account of his experience and told him that he was to be a prophet to his people. But Mohammed was tortured with the thought that the revelations he was receiving might be from the Evil One. John declared that Mohammed was inspired from the Bottomless Pit, so his apprehensions and fears were apparently well founded.
ďAnd the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.Ē (Revelation 9:1)
The activity of Mohammed, who by the fourth year of his mission had made forty proselytes, was to be far-reaching. One injunction of the Koran which was responsible for making Mohammedís followers willing to die on the battlefield in the making of war against the infidels was, ďHe who was slain while fighting in defense and for the propagation of Islam is a martyr.Ē
Persistently persecuted, for he inveighed against the superstitions and idolatrous worship of his day, Mohammed decided to seek refuge in Medina. About one hundred families of his adherents had preceded him to this town. From this flight dates the Hegira, or Mohammedan Era. This year, 622 A.D., is very important as it is the beginning of significant prophetic time-periods with which we will deal later.
Mohammed now assumed the position of judge, lawgiver and ruler of the city and two powerful Arabic tribes. It was from this city that he set out on the wars which resulted in the conquest of Mecca and the ultimate subjection of Arabia. Thus the way was being prepared for the ruse of the Little Horn of the East as the Prophet and his forces, inspired and strengthened for battle from the Abyss or Bottomless Pit, continued their war fare.
The evil genius which Mohammed feared might be directing him in his course was the very power urging him on and which animated his followers in their wars against the Christians. No wonder John saw as it were a smoke out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace, obscuring the light and polluting the fresh air of truth, offering the sensuous pleasures of life as the reward of the faithful in the life to come.
The following detailed description of the locusts definitely precludes them from being the insect itself and proves that the insect is used as emblematical of devastating hordes invading one country after another.
1). Their shape is like unto horses prepared for battle.
2). On their heads there are crowns of gold.
3). Their faces are the faces of men.
4). They have hair like the hair of women.
5). Their teeth are as the teeth of lions.
6). They wear breastplates of iron.
7). The sound of their wings is as the sound of chariots and hoses running to battle.
8). Their tails are like unto scorpions.
9). They have stings in their tails.
10). They have power to hurt men for five months.
ďAnd they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.Ē (Revelation 9:11)
Converts to Mohammedanism:
John saw these locusts come out of the smoke that arose from the pit. They, therefore, represent converts to Mohammedanism riding forth from the land of the locust, the Arabian peninsula. They were commanded not to hurt the grass or any green thing, but only those men who had not received the seal of God in their foreheads. These they were not to kill but were to torment them five months. Men would seek death and would not find it, and desire to die, but death would flee from them.
The seal is a sign of protection and, when used s above, denotes Godís people. The seventh chapter of Revelation shows the tribes of Israel being sealed and out of all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues a great multitude becoming one with those of Israel who have accept Jesus Christ as Lord and King. All such have the seal of God in their forehead. Who, then, are those men that have not the seal of God?
Christianity had degenerated. Instead of faith in Jesus Christ, works were preached as the means of salvation, but works without faith bring spiritual death. There are multitudes of men and women, even members of ecclesiastical organizations, who have failed to comply with the spiritual requirements that would number them among those having the seal of God in their foreheads. When we realize that Papal Rome is the revival of the Roman Empire and also the apostate Church, then it is upon her adherents and followers that this plague of locusts was to fall.
Italy Immune From Attack:
John was told that the locusts were not to hurt the grass of the earth and the trees. We have seen in the first trumpet that the grass and trees represent the citizens of the Western Roman Empire who reside in the Italian peninsula. Thus Italy is to be immune from invasion by these locusts.
The Desert Horsemen:
We have in the locusts a perfect description of the Saracens in a most remarkable blending of the literal and the figurative. These horsemen of the desert are well typified by the locusts for a country overrun by them was literally infested as by a plague of locusts. Moreover they came from the land of the locusts and confined their attacks to the five summer months each year. Five months is also the time-period during which locusts perpetrate their annual depredations. History verifies the fact that they fulfill the requirements, for though Syria, Palestine, Persia and Egypt felt their power and their sway was extended over Northern Africa Spain, Gaul and into Sicily, yet Italy was never invaded nor Rome attacked by them.
However, apostate Rome saw her followers by the thousands succumb to the Saracens. Truly the brunt of the devastating forces of evil fell as a fearful scourge in the events of this first Woe upon those who were the spiritual children of a worldly church.
Unable to Die:
As apostasy had overspread Christendom and thousands renounced Christianity for Mohammedanism before the advance of the Saracens. Truly men who desired to die found death fleeing from them, for they lacked the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit to face a martyrís death. Rome had substituted for Christ (in whom by faith many a martyr had cheerfully faced death) the doctrines of a Church and a ritual of works. Men could not face death for such things and under such conditions. Hence thousands renounced their religion and, in order to save their lives, became followers of the False Prophet.
The description of the locusts further bears out the fact that they represent the Saracens. These men were noted for their horsemanship and, as we think of them, we visualize a band of horsemen riding swiftly across the plain as they charged into battle. Thus John saw them and said that the locusts were like horses prepared for battle.
The crowns on their heads is a reference to the many-colored turbans worn by the Saracens. Ezekiel refers to the beautiful crowns upon the heads of the Sabeans from the wilderness. (Ezekiel 23:42) The reference to faces as the faces of men is a description of men with full beards as was the custom among the Saracens; but John says their hair was as the hair of women. This also was true for these horsemen had long hair under their turbans. Their teeth were like a lionís teeth. This could refer to the terrible destructiveness of these fearless warriors of the desert in battle.
It is also is of interest to note that there are many names in their language for the king of the beasts. These names were used as titles by their leaders as they led their followers forth to battle. John describes them as wearing breastplates of iron. The Saracens wore such armor. The effect of the coming of the Saracens was as the sting of scorpion, very painful, as they tormented as distressed men who had not the mark of God in their foreheads.
The Duration of The First Woe:
Power was given to the Saracens to torment and to hurt men for five months. Taking the prophetic measure of thirty days to the month, we have two periods of one hundred and fifty days each. In the message to the Church of Smyrna we saw that the ten days of persecution could apply to the ten years during which hundreds of thousands of Christians died. So also the two periods of five months (verses 5 and 10) could refer to three hundred years of Saracen aggression and conquest over Christendom, with Italy exempt from such attacks. The brunt of this warfare was borne by the eastern portion of the old Roman Empire.
The Rise of Omar:
The doctrine of Mohammedanism that a future state of reward and punishment made it incumbent on all the followers of the false prophet to spread these doctrines by the sword produced fanatics ready and willing to die in battle.
Omar came to power in 634 A.D., and with an army of these fanatics he began to build an empire. Jerusalem was taken in 637 A.D., and the mosque of Omar was built. Following the death of Omar, the Saracens continued their campaigns. Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Empire, was besieged in 668 A.D., but the Greek fire saved the city; and it then was tormented by the ravages of the Saracens in their territory and outlying district for three hundred years following the rise of Omar. Then the Greeks began to overcome the Saracens and recover some of the territory they had taken until finally the crusades came, creating a new state of affairs.
After three hundred years of Saracen activity the Eastern Empire began to assert itself. By 1118 A.D., it became an objet of terror or respect to the powers of Asia and Europe. Thus the Saracens were unable to destroy or kill but were able only to harass this empire.