in Bible Prophecy
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Islam and Christianity, have developed from common roots and it is not surprising that Christian leaders from the time of the Reformation have seen the growth and actions of Islamic nations in the Bible. Several leaders of the Protestant Reformation (Martin Luther, Joseph Mede and Isaac Newton) have interpreted the fifth and sixth trumpet events of Revelation 9 as descriptions of the Islamic strength that they were witnessing.
The Christian and Moslem religions and the people who have followed them have been, to a large degree, descendants of the two sons of Abram (later called Abraham ge1704,5). The sons were Ishmael and Isaac. Abraham was an important patriarch and is the common ancestor of both Arabs and Jews. According to the Torah, (books written by Moses and part of the Hebrew Bible), Allah (God) promised Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars (Gen. 15:3-6) but his wife Sarai (later, Sarah) had not borne him a son. Finally Sarah proposed a substitute mother, her Egyptian maid Hagar (Gen. 16). Abraham's having a son by Sarah's maid Hagar had not been God's plan (Gen. 17:15, 16). The Qur-an describes some of these events a little differently but comes to many of the same conclusions. Let's look at a piece of the story from the Bible.
|Beginning with Genesis 16, verse 1:
Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian
maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from
having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me."
"Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?"
"I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered.
Then the angel of the Lord told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count."
The angel of the Lord also said to her:
"You are now with child and you will have a son.
"You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.
"He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hands will be against everyone
And everyone's hand against him,
and he will live in hostility toward his brothers."
She gave this name to the
LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I
have now seen the One who sees me." That is why the well was called Beer
Lahai roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
Quoted from Moses' book of Genesis – 16:6-16
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
As head of his household Abram should have helped Sarai see that her attitude toward Hagar was wrong. He should have taken the responsibility to settle the matter and should not have given Sarai freedom to do as she pleased to Hagar.
Trumpet calls of the 5th and 6th angels
Our contact with Islam is seen by some in Revelation 9 as already mentioned. On other pages (begin 0900), I have described the scenes of these trumpet calls with only a few brief comments about Islam. This other interpretation is from my personal study and by comparing to other passages of Scripture that deal with what I see as the same events. The conclusions of that approach and the one we are about to look at are very different. In fact some of my Christian friends will likely question the other study and particularly a two-part interpretation.
Multiple fulfillment of prophecy
First, I'd like to clarify that the Scriptures are reliable and specific. Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament thus considering it as authoritative (Matt. 4:4, for example). The Christian Scriptures are a collection of stories and principles I have found to be true. However, we may not draw from them conclusions which are not in harmony with the whole body of established truth.
The most familiar example of multiple fulfillment is the pattern set in Matthew 24. Jesus had explained to his disciples that the temple would be destroyed. Their response was, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matt. 24:3). Jesus answered an immediate question of the disciples by telling them a lot more mt24. He described a pattern that would be repeated several times.
case of a parallel fulfillment was described by Malachi's prophecy of the
coming of future Elijah.
"And his disciples asked him [Jesus], saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed [wished]. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." (Matt. 17:10-13)
The scribes were looking for ways to discredit the ministry of Jesus. Was He right in applying the prophecy of the return of Elijah to himself? Here is the text they had in mind:
"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness [Messiah] arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Mal. 4)
The "great and dreadful day of the Lord" was coming in the destruction of Jerusalem. But that was again only symbolic of the global day of the Lord which is still to come. The scribes were right, but also wrong. Jesus would later explain that he was coming a second time. "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3)
The prophetic voice, symbolic of Elijah, would announce each coming. In fact, the first verses of Malachi 3 describe the messenger of the covenant (Jesus) coming suddenly to his temple. He entered the Jerusalem temple when on earth and before He returns to take us home, He enters the temple in heaven. In terms of the sanctuary system, His coming was an expression of faith in the Redeemer that would die on the cross taking the punishment for our sin. He died on earth as the lamb of God. In yielded to condemnation and death by the Jewish leaders and He comes to his temple in heaven as priest to minister that blood, both following the pattern of the sanctuary. Many Jews accepted Jesus as their Messiah.
Other prophecies of the Old Testament such as those of Isaiah may have had an immediate fulfillment, but in reading them, one is impressed that they must also have a final fulfillment.
To understand we go back to the story of Abraham and his two wives.
The Islamic forces, in the
fulfillment of Revelation 9, had meaning for the Protestant Reformation,
and perhaps more importantly, a little later, at the climax of the spiritual
awakening that followed France's violent reaction to the oppression of
the Roman church. We explain the message of William Miller (and others)
in connection with the fifth seal 06e.
That was over 150 years ago. The message of the coming judgment was important but the advent preachers did not see the whole picture in the prophecies of Daniel. They thought that the earth would then be destroyed by fire and that Jesus would return. That didn't happen in A.D. 1844 as they had expected, although they were right about the special judgment that began at that time.
The reformers of the late Middle Ages also missed part of the meaning of the Moslem expansion. They did not see the hand of God in sending the followers of Mohammed to hold back their own attempt to force acceptance of their wrong understanding of Christianity. The Roman church had trampled the consciences of all of Europe. As God sent Babylon to take Jerusalem and thus stop the idolatry of those who claimed to be his followers (Jer. 51:1, 20), so I believe he sent the Moslem forces to weaken the misused power of the church.
In 1519, two years after Martin
Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation, Charles V became emperor of
Germany. He was powerful, a devout Catholic, and very much against the
Reformation. Constantinople had just fallen to the Ottoman Turks and Suleriman
the Magnificent had become their leader. In addition to Suleriman, Charles
V was threatened by the pope, the king of France, and even some of his
own princes! Suleriman, in opposing Charles V, helped the Protestants militarily
and financially. God thus used the Moslem nation to provide opportunity
for the Reformation to grow in Germany and in the rest of Europe.
To balance the picture, we also recognize that Islam was not to take over all of Europe either. In 732 Charles Martel of France stopped the Moslem tide in the Battle of Tours.
In the Garden of Eden after the creation of this world, God gave man free choice (Gen. 2:16; 3:1-8). He wanted worship only from the freedom of love. This will forever be his plan.
"Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:" (Dan. 2:20, 21)
"And when they drew nigh unto
Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent
Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against
you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose
them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall
say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All
this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,
saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee,
meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
"And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."
Instead of working a miracle
to overpower the Jewish leaders and the Romans, Jesus went to the temple
and condemned its desecration. On the following Friday he died. Then he
arose from the tomb and some days later gave final instructions to his
followers. "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he
was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they
looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by
them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand
ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into
heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
When the people watching the procession started to praise him and talk about his becoming king, he could have explained that what they had in mind would not happen. He had, in fact told his disciples that he ". . . must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again." (Mark 8:31).
Of course, Jesus was their king. They had correctly quoted the prophecy of David, but his kingdom was not of the world (John 18:36). Why did Jesus allow the people to proclaim him king? To focus attention on the coming events surrounding his sacrifice and death. The people needed to understand the whole picture, and those who had come from all over the western world for the Passover feast would return home and convince others about Jesus.
God used a partial understanding of the prophecy in order to reveal more of his glory. The prophecy will be fulfilled again. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." (Matt. 16:27). He will be king of kings and lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).
In the same way, the prophecies of Revelation 9 were fulfilled in the past and will be again in the future.
Important past fulfillment
At the time when many people were expecting Jesus to come in 1843 or 1844, the theologians and Bible students had explanations for how the Moslem Turks had fulfilled the prophecies of the fifth and sixth trumpets. In 1838, Josiah Litch, an associate of William Miller, discovered something interesting on the topic and published his ideas. Under the fifth trumpet is a period of "five months." Under the sixth, is the "year, and month, and day, and hour." (Rev. 9:10, 15). To understand the context, we note that the 2300 day prophecy pointing from just after the time of Daniel to 1844 was calculated by taking the word "day" as a symbol of a year of literal time Rev. 13:5a. In other words, the time span is 2300 literal years He, as others, saw two periods of Turkish influence, one under the fifth trumpet and on under the sixth.
Five months of scorpion torment (9:10) would be 150 years at 30 days per month. the year, month, day, and hour would be 360+30+1+1/24. An hour is 1/24 of a day so in years, it would be 360/24 or 15 literal days. The total is 391 years and 15 days. Now let's read what Litch wrote:
"Allowing the first period, 150 years, to have been exactly fulfilled before Deacozes ascended the throne by permission of the Turks [who were Moslems], and that the 391 years, fifteen days, commenced at the close of the first period, it will end on the 11th of August, 1840, when the Ottoman power in Constantinople may be expected to be broken. And this, I believe, will be found to be the case." (Josiah Litch, Signs of the Times, and Expositor of Prophecy, Aug. 1, 1840.)
Litch made a very bold prediction! Let's look at history to see what happened.
According to Gibbons in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Turk assaults on Constantinople began when they invaded the territory of Nicomedia on July 27, 1299. The city was the capitol of Greece and of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Turks were unsuccessful, however, and continued to be for many years. This effort against the city may be considered as the time of the 150 years of torment. They finally succeeded under Mohammed II in 1451, and the city, now Istanbul, has been an important Moslem center ever since. We have a problem, however. A little math will show us that 1453 is well beyond the 150 year target. We were looking for July 27, 1449.
While the city was still in Christian Greek hands at that time, the power was not. Several provinces of Greece had fallen. Then on July 27, the Greek emperor died and was to be succeeded by his brother Constantine XIII. But in order to take the throne, Constantine got permission from Amurath, the Ottoman sultan then in charge. The Turks were clearly in control of Constantinople.
Litch took the 1449 date as the beginning of the 391 years, 15 days which would end on August 11, 1840. He figured that the loss of power would be demonstrated in a way similar to how the assumption of it had been shown at the beginning of that long period of time. So what happened?
During the previous year, the pshaw of Egypt, who was theoretically a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, resumed his fight for independence and soundly defeated the Turkish sultan taking practically his whole fleet of ships home with him! The pshaw was preparing to become the next owner of Constantinople. Several significant Christian nations of Europe (England, Austria, Prussia, and Russia) were watching and did not want to see Egypt gain that much power. On July 15, 1840 they held a council and got Turkey to agree to abide by the decision they would make. On August 11 the treaty was signed restricting the pshaw to Syria and Egypt and making him give back the ships. The Turks became a protectorate of the coalition. Control was now in the hands of the Christian nations, and time of the Ottoman power was past. Its significant political relationship to Christianity had lasted exactly 391 years and 15 days!
Others have come up with different dates, but the grand picture is clear, and I believe the details Litch discovered are, too.
The fulfillment of Litch's calculations brought more popularity to Advent movement. The day-year principle that pointed to 1844 as the time of judgment was easier to believe. This, I believe, was divine providence.
Why this part
of Islamic history?
History seen in Bible prophecy, whether Christian or Moslem, includes events which impact God's people and their salvation.
We will next look at the other symbols of the fifth and sixth trumpets as they describe the development of Islam. Then I'll explain the relationship I see between the two interpretations.