Daniel and Revelation

Page 472

Picture on this page.

Page 473

Verse 1 And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

The first verse of this chapter relates to the events of the preceding chapters, and therefore should not have been separated from them by the division of the chapter. The series of seven seals is here resumed and concluded. The sixth chapter of Revelation closed with the events of the sixth seal, and the eighth chapter begins with the opening of the seventh seal. Hence the seventh chapter stands parenthetically between the sixth and seventh seals, and it appears that the sealing work of Revelation 7 belongs to the sixth seal.

Silence in Heaven. —The sixth seal does not bring us to the second advent of Christ, although it embraces events closely connected with that coming. It introduces the fearful commotions of the elements, described as the heavens rolling together as a scroll, the breaking up of the surface of the earth, and the confession by the wicked that the great day of God’s wrath is come. They are doubtless in momentary expectation of seeing the King appear in glory. But the seal stops just short of that event. The personal appearing of Christ must therefore be allotted to the next seal.

When the Lord appears, He comes with all the holy angels with Him. (Matthew 25:31.) When all the heavenly harpers leave the courts above to come to this earth with their divine Lord as He descends to gather the fruit of His redeeming work, will there not be silence in heaven? The length of this period of silence, if we consider it prophetic time, would be about seven days.

Page 474

Verse 2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

This verse introduces a new and distinct series of events. In the seals we have had the history of the church during what is called the Christian Era. In the seven trumpets now introduced we have the principal political and warlike events that occur during the same time.

Verse 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

After introducing the seven angels upon the stage of action in verse 2, John for a moment directs attention to an entirely different scene. The angel who approaches the altar is not one of the seven trumpet angels. The altar is the altar of incense, which in the earthly sanctuary was placed in the first apartment. Here then is another proof that there exists in heaven a sanctuary with its corresponding vessels of service, of which the earth was a figure, and that we are taken into that sanctuary by the visions of John. A work of ministration for all the saints in the sanctuary above is thus brought to view. Doubtless the entire work of mediation for the people of God during the gospel era is here presented. This is apparent from the fact that the angel offers his incense with the prayers of all saints. That we are here carried forward to the end of time, is evident from the act of the angel in filling the censer with fire and casting it unto the earth; by this act he shows that his work is done. No more prayers are to be offered up mingled with incense. This symbolic act can have its application only at the time when the ministration of Christ in the sanctuary in behalf of mankind has forever ceased. Following the angel’s act there are voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake— exactly such occurrences as we are elsewhere informed take

Page 475

place at the close of human probation. (See Revelation 11:19; 16:17, 18.)

But why are these verses inserted here? They are a message of hope and comfort for the church. The seven angels with their warlike trumpets had been introduced; terrible scenes were to take place when they should sound; but before they begin to blow, the people of God are directed to behold the work of mediation in their behalf in heaven, and to look to their source of help and strength during this time. Though they should be tossed upon the tumultuous waves of strife and war, they were to know that their great High Priest still ministered for them in the sanctuary in heaven. To that sacred place they could direct their prayers with the assurance that they would be offered with incense to their Father in heaven. Thus could they gain strength and support in all their tribulation.

Verse 6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

The Seven Trumpets. —The subject of the seven trumpets is resumed. These trumpets occupy the rest of this chapter and all of Revelation 9. The blowing of the trumpets by the seven angels comes as a complement to the prophecy of Daniel 2 and 7, beginning with the breaking up of the old Roman Empire into its ten divisions. In the first four trumpets, we have a description of the special events which marked Rome’s fall.

Verse 7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

Alexander Keith has justly remarked on the subject of this prophecy:

“None could elucidate the texts more clearly, or expound them more fully, than the task has been accomplished by Gibbon. The chapters of the skeptical philosopher that treat directly of the matter, need but a text to be prefixed and a few unholy words to be blotted out, to form a series of expository

Page 476

lectures on the eighth and ninth chapters of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.” [1] “Little or nothing is left for the professed interpreter to do but to point to the pages of Gibbon.” [2]

The first sore and heavy judgment which fell on Western Rome in its downward course, was the war with the Goths under Alaric, who opened the way for later inroads. The death of Theodosius the Roman emperor, occurred in January, A.D. 395, and before the end of the winter the Goths under Alaric were in arms against the empire.

The first invasion under Alaric ravaged the Eastern Empire. He captured the famous cities and enslaved many of the inhabitants. Thrace, Macedonia, Attica, and the Peloponnesus, were conquered, but he did not reach the city of Rome. Later, the Gothic chieftain crossed the Alps and Apennines and appeared before the walls of the Eternal City, which fell a prey to the fury of the barbarians in A.D. 410.

“Hail and fire mingled with blood!” were cast upon the earth. The terrible effects of this Gothic invasion are represented as “hail,” from the northern origin of the invaders; “fire,” from the destruction by flame of both city and country; and “blood,” from the terrible slaughter of the citizens of the empire by the bold and intrepid warriors.

The First Trumpet. —The blast of the first trumpet has it location about the close of the fourth century and onward, and refers to these desolating invasions of the Roman Empire under the Goths.

After quoting at some length from Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapters XXX-XXXIII, concerning the conquests of the Goths, Alexander Keith has presented an admirable summary of the historian’s words emphasizing the fulfillment of prophecy:

“Large extracts clearly show how amply and well Gibbon has expounded his text in the history of the first trumpet, the first storm that pervaded the Roman earth, and the first fall of

Page 477

Rome. to use his words in more direct comment, we read thus the sum of the matter: The Gothic nation was in arms at the first sound of the trumpet, and in the uncommon severity of the winter, they rolled their ponderous wagons over the broad and icy back of the river. The fertile fields of Phocis and Boeotia were crowned [sic] with a deluge of barbarians: the males were massacred; the females and cattle of the flaming villages were driven away. The deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths could easily be discovered after several years. The whole territory of Attica was blasted by the baneful presence of Alaric. The most fortunate of the inhabitants of Corinth, Argos, and Sparta were saved by death from beholding the conflagration of their cities. In a season of such extreme heat that the beds of the rivers were dry, Alaric invaded the dominion of the West. A secluded ‘old man of Verona’ [the poet Claudian], pathetically lamented the fate of his contemporary trees, which must blaze in the conflagration of the whole country [ note the words of the prophecy, —’The third part of the trees was burned up’]; and the emperor of the Romans fled before the king of the Goths.

“A furious tempest was excited among the nations of Germany; from the northern extremity of which the barbarians marched almost to the gates of Rome. They achieved the destruction of the West. The dark cloud which was collected along the coasts of the Baltic, burst in thunder upon the banks of the upper Danube. The pastures of Gaul, in which flocks and herds grazed, and the banks of the Rhine, which were covered with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms, formed a scene of peace and plenty, which was suddenly changed into a desert, distinguished from the solitude of nature only be smoking ruins. Many cities were cruelly oppressed, or destroyed. Many thousands were inhumanly massacred. The consuming flames of war spread over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul.

“Alaric again stretched his ravages over Italy. During four years the Goths ravaged and reigned over it without control.

Page 478

And in the pillage and fire of Rome, the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies; the flames consumed many public and private buildings; and the ruins of a palace remained, after a century and a half, a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration.” [3]

After making this summary, Keith completes the picture by saying:

“The concluding sentence of the thirty-third chapter of Gibbon’s History is of itself a clear and comprehensive commentary; for in winding up his own description of this brief but most eventful period, he concentrates, as in a parallel reading, the sum of the history and the substance of the prediction. But the words which precede it are not without their meaning: ‘The public devotion of the age was impatient to exalt the saints and martyrs of the Catholic Church on the altars of Diana and Hercules. The union of the Roman empire was dissolved; its genius was humbled in the dust; and armies of unknown barbarians, issued from the frozen regions of the North, had established their victorious reign over the fairest provinces of Europe and Africa.’

“The last word —Africa— is the signal for the sounding of the second trumpet. The scene changes from the shores of the Baltic to the southern coast of the Mediterranean, or from the frozen regions of the North to the borders of burning Africa. And instead of a storm of hail being cast upon the earth, a burning mountain was cast into the sea.” [4]

Verse 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

The Second Trumpet. —The Roman Empire, after Constantine the Great, was divided into three parts. Hence the frequent remark, “a third part of men,” is an allusion to the third part of the empire which was under the scourge. This division

Page 479

of the Roman kingdom was made at the death of Constantine, among his three sons, Constantius, Constantine II, and Constans. Constantius possessed the East, and fixed his residence at Constantinople, the metropolis of the empire. Constantine II held Britain, Gaul, and Spain. Constans held Illyricum, Africa, and Italy.

The sounding of the second trumpet evidently relates to the invasion and conquest of Africa, and afterward of Italy, by Gaiseric (Genseric), king of the Vandals. His conquests were for the most part naval, and his triumphs were “as it were a great mountain burning with fire, cast into the sea.” What figure would better, or even so well, illustrate the collision of navies, and the general havoc of war on the maritime coasts? In explaining this trumpet, we are to look for some events which will have a particular bearing on the commercial world. The symbol used naturally leads us to look for agitation and commotion. Nothing but a fierce maritime warfare would fulfill the prediction. If the sounding of the first four trumpets relates to four remarkable events which contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire, and the first trumpet refers to the ravages of the Goths under Alaric, in this we naturally look for the next succeeding act of invasion which shook the Roman power and conduced to its fall. The next great invasion was that of Genseric, at the head of the Vandals. His career reached its height between the years A.D. 428-468. This great Vandal chief had his headquarters in Africa. But as Gibbon states, “The discovery and conquest of the black nations [in Africa], that might dwell beneath the torrid zone, could not tempt the rational ambition of Genseric; but he cast his eyes towards the sea; he resolved to create a naval power, and his bold resolution was executed with steady and active perseverance.” [5] From the port of Carthage he repeatedly made piratical sallies, preyed on the Roman commerce, and waged war with that empire. To cope with this sea monarch, the

Page 480

Roman emperor, Majorian, made extensive naval preparations.

“The woods of the Apennines were felled; the arsenals and manufacturers of Ravenna and Misenum were restored; Italy and Gaul vied with each other in liberal contributions to the public service; and the imperial navy of three hundred large galleys, with an adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels, was collected in the secure and capacious harbor of Carthagena in Spain. . . . But Genseric was saved from impending and inevitable ruin by the treachery of some powerful subjects, envious, or apprehensive, of their master’s success. Guided by their secret intelligence, he surprised the unguarded fleet in the Bay of Carthagena: many of the ships were sunk, or taken, or burnt; and the preparations of three years were destroyed in a single day. . . .

“The kingdom of Italy, a name to which the Western Empire was gradually reduced, was afflicted, under the reign of Ricimer, by the incessant depredations of the Vandal pirates. In the spring of each year, they equipped a formidable navy in the port of Carthage; and Genseric himself, though in a very advanced age, still commanded in person the most important expeditions. . . .

“The Vandals repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece, and Sicily. . . .

“The celerity of their motions enabled them, almost at the same time, to threaten and to attack the most distant objects, which attracted their desires; and as they always embarked a sufficient number of horses, they had no sooner landed, than they swept the dismayed country with a body of light calvary.” [6]

A last and desperate attempt to dispossess Genseric of the sovereignty of the seas, was made in the year 468 by Leo I, the emperor of the East. Gibbon bears witness to this as follows:

Page 481

“The whole expense of the African campaign, by whatsoever means it was defrayed, amounted to the sum of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds of gold, about five million and two hundred thousand pounds sterling. . . . The fleet that sailed from Constantinople to Carthage consisted of eleven hundred and thirteen ships, and the number of soldiers and mariners exceeded one hundred thousand men. . . . The army of Heraclius and the fleet of Marcellinus either joined or seconded the imperial lieutenant. . . . The wind became favorable to the design of Genseric. He manned his largest ships of war with the bravest of the Moors and Vandals, and they towed after them many large barks filled with combustible materials. In the obscurity of the night, these destructive vessels were impelled against the unguarded and unsuspecting fleet of the Romans, who were awakened by the sense of their instant danger. Their close and crowded order assisted the progress of the fire, which was communicated with rapid and irresistible violence; and the noise of the wind, the crackling of the flames, the dissonant cries of the soldiers and mariners, who could neither command nor obey, increased the horror of the nocturnal tumult. Whilst they labored to extricate themselves from the fire ships, and to save at least a part of the navy, the galleys of Genseric assaulted them with temperate and disciplined valor; and many of the Romans who escaped the fury of the flames, were destroyed or taken by the victorious Vandals. . . . After the failure of this great expedition, Genseric again became the tyrant of the sea; the coasts of Italy, Greece, and Asia were again exposed to his revenge and avarice; Tripoli and Sardinia returned to his obedience; he added Sicily to the number of his provinces; and before he died, in the fullness of years and of glory, he beheld the final extinction of the empire of the West.” [7]

Concerning the important part which this bold corsair acted in the downfall of Rome, Gibbon uses this significant

Page 482

Picture on this page.

Page 483

language: “Genseric, a name which, in the destruction of the Roman Empire, has deserved an equal rank with the names of Alaric and Attila.” [8]

Verse 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11 and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

The Third Trumpet. —In the interpretation and application of this passage, we are brought to the third important event which resulted in the subversion of the Roman Empire. In revealing the historical fulfillment of this third trumpet, we shall be indebted to the notes of Albert Barnes for a few extracts. in explaining this scripture, it is necessary, as this commentator says, “that there would be some chieftain or warrior who might be compared with a blazing meteor; whose course would be singularly brilliant; who would appear suddenly like a blazing star, and then disappear like a star whose light was quenched in the waters. That the desolating course of that meteor would be mainly on those portions of the world that abounded with springs of water and running streams. That an effect would be produced as if those streams and fountains were made bitter; that is, that many persons would perish, and that wide desolations would be caused in the vicinity of those rivers and streams, as if a bitter and baleful star should fall into the waters, and death should spread over the lands adjacent to them, and watered by them.” [9]

It is here premised that this trumpet has allusion to the desolating wars and furious invasions of Attila, king of the Huns, against the Roman power. Speaking of this warrior, particularly of his personal appearance, Barnes says:

“In the manner of his appearance, he strongly resembled a brilliant meteor in the sky. He came from the East gathering his Huns, and poured them down, as we shall see,

Page 484

with the rapidity of a flashing meteor, suddenly on the empire. He regarded himself also as devoted to Mars, the god of war, and was accustomed to array himself in a peculiarly brilliant manner, so that his appearance, in the language of his flatterers, was such as to dazzle the eyes of beholders.” [10]

In speaking of the locality of the events predicted by this trumpet, Barnes has this note:

“It is said particularly that the effect would be on ‘the rivers’ and on ‘the fountains of waters.’ If this has a literal application, or if, as was supposed in the case of the second trumpet, the language used was such as had reference to the portion of the empire that would be particularly affected by the hostile invasion, then we may suppose that this refers to those portions of the empire that abounded in rivers and streams, and more particularly those in which the rivers and streams had their origin— for the effect was permanently in the ‘fountains of waters.’ As a matter of fact, the principal operations of Attila were in the regions of the Alps, and on the portions of the empire whence the rivers flow down into Italy. The invasion of Attila is described by Gibbon in this general language: ‘The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hundred miles from the Euxine to the Adriatic, was at once invaded, and occupied, and desolated by the myriads of barbarians whom Attila led into the field.’” [11]

The Name of the Star Is Called Wormwood. The word “wormwood” denotes bitter consequences. “These words— which are more intimately connected with the preceding verse, as even the punctuation in our version denotes— recall us for a moment to the character of Attila, to the misery of which he was the author or the instrument, and to the terror that was inspired by his name.

“‘Total extirpation and erasure,’ are terms which best denote the calamities he inflicted. . . .

Page 485

“It was the boast of Attila that the grass never grew on the spot which his horse had trod. ‘The scourge of God’ was a name that he appropriated to himself, and inserted among his royal titles. He was ‘the scourge of his enemies, and the terror of the world.’ The Western emperor with the senate and people of Rome, humbly and fearfully deprecated the wrath of Attila. And the concluding paragraph of the chapters which record his history, is entitled, ‘Symptoms of the Decay and Ruin of the Roman Government.’ The name of the star is called wormwood.” [12]

Verse 12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

The Fourth Trumpet. —We understand that this trumpet symbolizes the career of Odoacer, the first barbarian ruler of Italy, who was so intimately connected with the downfall of Western Rome. The symbols sun, moon, and stars— for they are undoubtedly here used as symbols— evidently denote the great luminaries of the Roman government, its emperors, senators, and consuls. The last emperor of Western Rome was Romulus, who in derision was called Augustulus, or the “diminutive Augustus.” Western Rome fell in A.D. 476. Still, however, though the Roman sun was extinguished, its subordinate luminaries shone faintly while the senate and consuls continued. But after many civil reverses and changes of political fortune, at length the whole form of the ancient government was subverted, and Rome itself was reduced from being the empress of the world to a poor dukedom tributary to the Exarch of Ravenna.

The extinction of the Western Empire is recorded by Gibbon as follows:

“The unfortunate Augustulus was made the instrument of his own disgrace: he signified his resignation to the senate; and

Page 486

that assembly, in their last act of obedience to a Roman prince, still affected the spirit of freedom, and the forms of the constitution. An epistle was addressed, by their unanimous decree, to the emperor Zeno, the son-in-law and successor of Leo, who had lately been restored, after a short rebellion, to the Byzantine throne. They solemnly ‘disclaim the necessity, or even the wish of continuing any longer the imperial succession in Italy; since in their opinion the majesty of a sole monarch is sufficient to pervade and to protect, at the same time, both the East and the West. In their own name, and in the name of the people, they consent that the seat of universal empire shall be transferred from Rome to Constantinople; and they basely renounce the right of choosing their master, the only vestige that yet remained of the authority which had given laws to the world.’” [13]

Keith comments on the downfall of Rome:

“The power and glory of Rome as bearing rule over any nation, became extinct. The name alone remained to the queen of nations. Every token of royalty disappeared from the imperial city. She who had ruled over the nations sat in the dust, like a second Babylon, and there was no throne where the Caesars had reigned. The last act of obedience to a Roman prince which that once august assembly performed, was the acceptance of the resignation of the last emperor of the West, and the abolition of the imperial succession in Italy. The sun of Rome was smitten. . . .

“A new conqueror of Italy, Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, speedily arose, who unscrupulously assumed the purple, and reigned by the right of conquest. ‘The royalty of Theodoric was proclaimed by the Goths (March 5, A.D. 493), with the tardy, reluctant, ambiguous consent of the emperor of the East.’ The imperial Roman power, of which either Rome or Constantinople had been jointly or singly the seat, whether in the West or the East, was no longer recognized in Italy, and the ‘third

Page 487

part of the sun’ was smitten till it emitted no longer the faintest rays. The power of the Caesars was unknown in Italy; and a Gothic king reigned over Rome.

“But though the third part of the sun was smitten, and the Roman imperial power was at an end in the city of the Caesars, yet the moon and the stars still shone, or glimmered, for a little longer in the Western hemisphere [empire], even in the midst of Gothic darkness. The consulship and the senate [“the moon and the stars”] were not abolished by Theodoric. ‘A Gothic historian applauds the consulship of Theodoric as the height of all temporal power and greatness;’ —as the moon reigns by night, after the setting of the sun. And instead of abolishing that office, Theodoric himself ‘congratulates those annual favorites of fortune, who, without the cares, enjoyed the splendor of the throne.’

“But, in their prophetic order, the consulship and the senate of Rome met their fate, though they fell not by the hands of Vandals or of Goths. The next revolution in Italy was its subjection to Belisarius, the general of Justinian, emperor of the East. He did not spare what barbarians had hallowed. ‘The Roman Consulship Extinguished by Justinian, A.D. 541,’ is the title of the last paragraph of the fortieth chapter of Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of Rome. ‘The succession of the consuls finally ceased in the thirteenth year of Justinian, whose despotic temper might be gratified by the silent extinction of a title which admonished the Romans of their ancient freedom.’ ‘The third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars.’ In the political firmament of the ancient world, while under the reign of imperial Rome, the emperorship, the consulate, and the senate shone like the sun, the moon, and the stars. The history of their decline and fall is brought down till the two former were ‘extinguished,’ in reference to Rome and Italy, which so long had ranked as the first of cities and countries; and finally, as the fourth trumpet closes, we see the ‘extinction of that illustrious assembly,’ the Roman senate. The city that

Page 488

Picture on this page.

Page 489

had ruled the world, as if in mockery of human greatness, was conquered by the eunuch Narses, the successor of Belisarius. He defeated the Goths (A.D. 522 [*]), achieved ‘the conquest of Rome,’ and the fate of the senate was sealed.” [14]

E. B. Elliott speaks of the fulfillment of this part of the prophecy in the extinction of the Western Empire, as follows:

“Thus was the final catastrophe preparing, by which the Western emperors and empire were to become extinct. The glory of Rome had long departed; its provinces one after another been rent from it; the territory still attached to it become like a desert; and its maritime possessions and its fleets and commerce been annihilated. Little remained to it but the vain titles and insignia of sovereignty. And now the time was come when these too should be withdrawn. Some twenty years or more from the death of Attila, and much less from that of Genseric (who, ere his death, had indeed visited and ravaged the eternal city in one of his maritime marauding expeditions, and thus yet more prepared the coming consummation), about this time, I say, Odoacer, chief of the Heruli —a barbarian remnant of the host of Attila, left on the Alpine frontiers of Italy— interposed with his command that the name and the office of Roman Emperor of the West, should be abolished. The authorities bowed in submission to him. The last phantom of an emperor —one whose name, Romulus Augustus, was singularly calculated to bring in contrast before the reflective mind the past glories of Rome and its present degradation— abdicated; and the senate sent away the imperial insignia to Constantinople, professing to the emperor of the East that one emperor was sufficient for the whole of the empire. Thus of the Roman imperial sun, that third which appertained to the Western Empire was eclipsed, and shown no more. I say that third of its orb which appertained to the Western empire; for

Page 490

the Apocalyptic fraction is literally accurate. In the last arrangement between the two courts, the whole of the Illyrian third had been made over to the Eastern division. Thus in the West ‘the extinction of the empire’ had taken place; the night had fallen.

“Notwithstanding this, however, it must be borne in mind that the authority of the Roman name had not yet entirely ceased. The senate of Rome continued to assemble as usual. The consuls were appointed yearly, one by the Eastern emperor, one by Italy and Rome. Odoacer himself governed Italy under a title (that of patrician) conferred on him by the Eastern emperor. And as regarded the more distant Western provinces, or at least considerable districts in them, the tie which had united them to the Roman Empire was not altogether severed. There was still a certain, though often faint, recognition of the supreme imperial authority. The moon and the stars might seem still to shine on the West with a dim reflected light. In the course of the events, however, which rapidly followed one on the other in the next half century, these, too, were extinguished. Theodoric the Ostrogoth, on destroying the Heruli and their kingdom at Rome and Ravenna, ruled in Italy from A.D. 493 to 526 as an independent sovereign; and on Belisarius’s and Narses’s conquest of Italy from the Ostrogoths (a conquest preceded by wars and desolations in which Italy, and above all its seven-hilled city, were for a time almost made desert), the Roman senate was dissolved, the consulship abrogated. Moreover, as regards the barbaric princes of the Western provinces, their independence of the Roman imperial power became now more distinctly averred and understood. After above a century and [a] half of calamities unexampled almost, as Dr. Robertson most truly represents is, in the history of nations, the statement of Jerome —a statement couched under the very Apocalyptic figure of the text, but prematurely pronounced on the first taking of Rome by Alaric, —might be considered as at length accomplished: ‘Clarissimum terrarum lumen extinctum est.’ ‘The world’s glorious sun has been extinguished;’

Page 491

or as the modern power has expressed it, still under the same Apocalyptic imagery—

‘She saw her glories star by star expire.’

till not even one star remained, to glimmer on the vacant and dark night.” [15]

The fearful ravages of these barbarian hordes who under their bold but cruel and desperate leaders devastated Rome, are vividly portrayed in the following spirited lines:

“And then a deluge of wrath it came,

And the nations shook with dread;

And it swept the earth, till its fields were flame,

And piled with the mingled dead.

Kings were rolled in the wasteful flood,

With the low and crouching slave,

And together lay, in a shroud of blood,

The coward and the brave.”

Fearful as were the calamities brought upon the empire by the first incursions of these barbarians, they were light as compared with the calamities which were to follow. They were but as the preliminary drops of a shower before the torrent which was soon to fall upon the Roman world. The three remaining trumpets are overshadowed with a cloud of woe, as set forth in the following verses.

Verse 13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound.

This angel is not one of the series of the seven trumpet angels, but simply another heavenly messenger, who announces that the three remaining trumpets are woe trumpets, because of the more terrible events to take place under their sounding. Thus the next, or fifth trumpet, is the first woe; the sixth trumpet, the second woe; and the seventh, the last one in this series of seven trumpets, is the third woe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[1] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 241.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., pp. 251-253.

[4] Ibid., p. 253.

[5] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. III, chap. 36, p. 459.

[6] Ibid., 481-486.

[7] Ibid., 495-498.

[8] Ibid., chap. 33, p. 370.

[9] Albert Barnes, Notes on Revelation, p. 239, comment on Revelation 8:11.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid., p. 240.

[12] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 267-269.

[13] Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. III, chap. 36, p. 512.

[14] Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, p. 280-283.

[15] Edward B. Elliott, Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. I, pp. 354-356.

[*] Edward Gibbon, in History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume IV, chapter 43, pages 273, 274, places the defeat and death of Teias, the last king of the Goths, in A.D. 533. This is the date usually accepted by historians, and is the one used by the author of this book. (See pages 127, 128.) —Editors.