The Third Woe

Right click here and select "Open in New Tab" for this webpage in Romanian

There is a principle in Bible interpretation called the Triple Application of Prophecy. It says that the characteristics of the first and the second will be found in the third. For example, the characteristics of the first Israel (Jacob) and the nation of Israel, will be found in modern Israel. The characteristics of the first Elijah and the second Elijah (John the Baptist) can be found in the third Elijah (the Seventh-day Adventist church).

Therefore if we study the characteristics of the first and second woe, we will be able to determine the characteristics of the third woe. To study the first and the second woes, I recommend the book "Daniel and the Revelation" by Uriah Smith, but here I will try to present them in a very condensed form just to glean the relevant characteristics.

In Rev 9:1 we see a fallen star. Stars in Bible prophecy are religious messengers (Rev 1: 20; Dan 8:10 and 12:3). So Rev 9:1 introduces us to a fallen or false messenger. This, as you will see, is the prophet of Islam, Mohammed. We will see that in the first and second woes, God used Islam to punish apostate Christendom and enable the Reformation to go forward.

The Bottomless Pit here can mean the dark and evil side of the world or any desolate area, and Islam came upon the world from the desert lands of North Africa. The Abyss, many scholars believe, is a term describing the arsenal or stronghold of Satan. Any power emerging from the abyss is inspired by Satan. In the book of Revelation, powers inspired of God are represented as "coming from above", but powers inspired by Satan are represented as "coming from beneath", from the sea, from the earth, from the abyss. (Rev 10:8; 14:6,8,9; 13:1,11; 17:9; James 3:15-17.)

In Rev 9:2 this leader, Mohammed, in the first woe has the key to the abyss - the arsenal of Satan. The key represents power or authority - the ability to unlock, to free, or release, and he releases smoke that darkens the sun and air. The sun here represents Christ, the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2). Thus Mohammed releases falsehood and error that would darken the light of the gospel - that would obscure Christ the Light of the world.

Rev 9:3 describes the Mohammedans as locusts and scorpions. The Bible employs the locust as a symbol of the Arab. Speaking of the Midianite Arabs it says, "They came as grasshoppers [Hebrew: locusts] for multitude." Judges 6:5. Midianites and the Amalekites [Arab tribes]... lay along the valley like grasshoppers [Hebrew: locusts]..." Judges 7:12.

A famous traveller named Niebuhr in his journeys through Arabia described the appearance of the swarms of locusts, "The swarms of these insects darken the air and appear at a distance like clouds of smoke." NiebuhrTravels' Vol. II. p 337.

Edward Gibbon quoting Volney, "the most judicious of our Syrian travelers" declared, "The inhabitants of Syria have remarked that locusts come constantly from the desert of Arabia." C. Volney "Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie." Chap.XX Sect. 5.

So these two desert creatures closely resemble the Islamic armies of the Arabian desert; the locusts (that would come out of the deserts at certain times and destroy the crops) and the scorpion, (a feared and poisonous creature) that would strike with the sting in his tail inflicting agonising pain. So radical Islam in the third woe can be expected to attack the army of Rome suddenly and destructively, as they did in the first and the second woe.

Rev 9:4 prophesied how Abu Beker instructed his army to leave at peace those Christians who kept the true seventh-day Sabbath (the seal of God), but to kill the Catholic Christians. Here is an important characteristic, that Islam in the first woe is used as a shelter to God's people by distracting the army of Rome from persecuting them, and are also used to punish apostate Christendom. The army of Rome in the last days is America according to Rev 13 and The Great Controversy. Thus in the third woe we can expect the hand of Rome to be raised, ready to persecute Seventh-day Adventists, but somehow, radical Islam is used to shelter God's people during the time of the sealing of the saints (Rev 7:1-4).

Gibbon declares, "Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the success of their undertaking. 'Remember', said the successor of the prophet... 'Destroy no palm trees, nor burn any field of corn. Cut down no fruit trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat... As you go on, you will find some religious persons, who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way: let them alone and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries. And you will find another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter, till they either turn Mahometans or pay tribute'.

"Even in the 7th century the monks... shaved their heads when they were ordained priests. The circular tonsure was sacred and mysterious; it was the crown of thorns; but it was likewise a royal diadem, and every priest was a king." Abubeker's Command, Edward Gibbon 'Decline and Fall', Vol.V:489-490.

"In the early centuries of the Christian era, the church of the East [not the Western or Latin church] sometimes called the Assyrian church... [who were observers of the true Sabbath] very effectively spread throughout Asia and the East, but remained separate from the church in the West, especially the apostasy. These true Christians became the teachers of the Saracens..." B. G. Wilkinson, Truth Triumphant, P268-291.

"To his Christian subjects [i.e. the true Christians, not the apostates whom the Arabs tormented]; Mohomet readily granted the security of their persons, the freedom of their trade, the property of their goods, and the toleration of their worship." Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall', Vol.V:439-W; 579-580; 390-391.

Rev 9:5, 6. The Mohammedans tormented the Eastern Roman empire for 150 years, but never managed to destroy it completely, and were unable to conquer Eastern or Western Rome, thus "they should not kill them", but "hurt" them (v10) for 5 months. Therefore under the third woe, we can expect radical Islam to initially just hurt the army of Rome.

In Bible prophecy, 1 prophetic day represents 1 literal year (Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6). 1 biblical month equals 30 literal days, and so this 5 month prophecy equals 150 years. When did the 150 years start? According to Edward Gibbon, "Othman first entered the territory of Nicomedia on the 27th July 1299", and thus started to attack Eastern Rome, which ended in 1449. (1299 + 150 = 1449). In 1449 a change came. In the year 1448 John Paleologus, the Greek emperor, died, and on January 6, 1449 Constantine XI was crowned at Mistra.

Rev 9:7-9. When one examines the locust of Arabia he will soon see that they literally look like little horses. In fact the Bedouins describe them as "soldiers' horses". The old Italians called them "little horses". The locust is used in scripture to denote swarming numbers, and this was a neat symbol of the amazing numbers of the Arabs as they swarmed out of the desert in conquest. The prophet said, "Make thyself many as the locusts." Nahum 3:15. The Arab warrior on their swift horses did not march in rows or ranks like Greek or Roman soldiers, they swarmed down onto their enemies on their swift horses almost as quickly as if they were flying (sounding and behaving like locusts). The Arab tribes issuing from Arabia with their great speed, struck the army of Rome suddenly and unexpectedly, symbolised by the swarms of locusts.

The "Crowns of Gold" were the yellow turbans these men wore. It is interesting to note that the Bible says, "The Sabeans from the wilderness which put beautiful crowns upon their heads." Ezek 23:42.

They also wore iron breast-plates, long hair, either braided up or loose, with full beards, and the "teeth of lions" represented their fierceness in battle. Mohammedans were extremely destructive, which is typical of the lion. Naturalists inform us that the home of the lion is Arabia, and in Arabic literature the lion is the constant emblem of the valiant warriors.

Rev 9:11. There was no central king over the Arabs and each tribe had it's own ruler; but in 1299, Othman became king and the "Ottoman Empire" was set up. We know that the "five months" begins at this time because the prophecy says "they have a king".

Here the first woe ends and the second woe begins. Rev 9:12-15. Now, under the 2nd woe, we see this same dark, religious, Islamic power, but this time coming from the "river Euphrates", which is now the country of Turkey. The "four angels" refer to the four great sultanate's; Bagdad, Damascus, Iconium, and Aleppo of which at that time the Turkish power was composed. The Roman Empire was divided into 3 parts and this 3rd part related to the Greek, Eastern Roman empire, whose capital was Constantinople.

An hour, a day, a month, and a year in Bible prophecy equals 391 years and 15 days. Adding this period of time to the end of the 1st woe (27th July 1449) brings us to 11th August 1840, when the Turkish leader signed a paper that took away the independence and power of the Turkish Sultan forever. Turkish supremacy was passed to the four great Powers of Europe, Christian powers, who had come together in a "coalition of the willing" to decide the fate of Islam.

Verse 15 also tells us that the Turks "slay" the army of Rome. Thus under the third woe, we can expect radical Islam to first, suddenly and unexpectedly "hurt" the army of Rome, then the Christian powers come together in a "coalition of the willing" to decide the fate of Islam, when again, suddenly and unexpectedly radical Islam kill (or slay) the army of Rome.

The Greek and Hebrew text for Rev 9:16 is "myriads" (compare the Hebrew in Gen 24:60, Num10:36 and Dan 7:10) and was actually the Turkish method of numbering! They numbered by to tomens. A tomen is ten thousand people or the number ten thousand, or myriad. Gibbon himself uses this very term when he describes the Turks. Alluding to the leader of the Eastern Turks he says, "The [Bosporus] sea rolled between the two continents of Europe and Asia and the lord of so many tomens or myriads of horse was not master of a single galley".

Gibbon, Vol VII p72. Of the Turkish invasion of Asia Minor he says, "The myriads of Turkish horses overspread a frontier of 600 miles..." Gibbon, Vol VI P252.

In v17-18, the word "Jacinth" in the Greek denotes the colour blue. Thus when it speaks of "fire and jacinth and brimstone" it means red, blue and yellow. Fire is red, jacinth is blue and brimstone is yellow, and these were the colours of the uniforms of the Turkish army. Daubuz, an English scholar writing of the time, says, "From their first appearance the Ottomans have affected to wear war-like apparel of scarlet, blue and yellow..." Daubuz, Quoted By Elliott, "Horae Apocalyptica", ch. VII, p.508.

Furthermore, Mahomet II used canons to take Constantinople on 29th of May, 1453. Gunpowder and guns were used for the first time against Rome. When the pistols were held close to the horses as they rode to battle, it looked like fire and brimstone came from the mouths of the horses. So in the third woe we can expect radical Islam to suddenly and unexpectedly attack the army of Rome (now America) using explosives.

Verse 19 is referring to the Turks' ensign, the standard which was a horse's tail. The horse's tail was the badge of authority, as Elliott says, "The ensign of one, two, or three horse tails that marks distinctively the dignity and power of the Turkish Pasha". Elliott, ch VII, p.514. Verses 20 and 21 elaborate on how radical Islam is used to punish Rome and apostate Christianity, while they shelter God's people.

In this 2nd woe, Islam (under the Turks) again sheltered God's people during the Reformation, while they were used to punish apostate Christianity (Rome). It happened during the reign of Charles V {GC 197.2}, and, "In the 16th and 17th centuries support and encouragement for Protestants and Calvinists... were one of the fundamental principles of Ottoman policy." Halil Inalcik "The Heyday and Decline of the Ottoman Empire" in "History of Islam" pp.325-329.

Kenneth Oster writes, "There would have been no Protestantism had there been no Turk.", Islam Reconsidered, p.72. Quoted by M. Maxwell "God Cares II" pp.255-256.

Thus in the third woe we can expect the hand of Rome to be raised, ready to persecute Seventh-day Adventists, when suddenly and unexpectedly radical Islam strikes with explosives, "hurting" America. Then Rome's army is distracted while it "restrains" radical Islam and the people of God are sheltered during the sealing time (Rev 7:1-4). The Christian powers came together in a coalition of the willing to decide the fate of Islam, just as they did in 1840. Then, Amercia (the army of Rome) will be "slayed" by radical Islam.

But something else happened in 1840; the first angel of Rev 14 came down from heaven to begin the last day message to the world. It was a message that the judgement of the dead had begun. So under the third woe, can we expect an angel to come down from heaven to announce the last message to the world, and that the judgment of the living has begun? Just as the Midnight Cry was sounded in the 1840's, will the third woe signal the start of the Latter Rain message? In fact the only angel we are waiting for now is the 4th angel of Rev 18, and he does indeed bring the Latter Rain message with him.

The Millerites used the 1843 chart below to preach their message. Ellen White said that it was "directed by the hand of the Lord" (except for the date 1843). "I have seen that the 1843 chart was directed by the hand of the Lord, and that it should not be altered; that the figures were as He wanted them; that His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none could see it, until His hand was removed." Early Writings, 74-75. She also wrote, "I saw that God was in the publishment of the chart by Brother Nichols." {13MR 359.1}

Can you see what symbol God used to represent the Mohammedans in the first and second woes? They are on the right hand side of the charts (the 1843 and 1850 charts below). It is an angry horse.

The same symbol that Rev 9:7 uses, "And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle". So militant Islam is represented in Bible prophecy as an angry horse, war horse or battle horse. You can see this also in Rev 9:9, as "many horses running to battle", and in verse 16 as "an army of horsemen", and in verse 17 where John saw, "the horses in the vision... and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions". Lastly, Gen 16:12 introduces Ishmael, the father of Islam for the very first time. In the King James version it calls him, "a wild man", but if you look in the Hebrew it actually reads "wild ass" or donkey, or horse.

Resized JPEG graphic Resized JPEG graphic

So God has used the symbol of an angry horse to represent radical Islam. In the next chapter we will see what He says that angry horse will be doing at the end of the world The Four Winds Restrained for the Sealing