150 Year Prophecy - Revelation 9: 12-21

             The  150 - Year  Prophecy          

 For purposes of understanding the Ottoman Empire as the fulfillment of the Sixth Trumpet in Revelation, we must take note of specific events that delineate the commencement of Ottoman aggression toward Christendom in 1299 A.D. and resulted in a significant political shift that occurred in 1449 A.D.:

It was on the 27th of July, in the year 1299 of the Christian era, that Othman [i.e. Osman I] first invaded the territory of Nicomedia; and the singular accuracy of the date seems to disclose some foresight of the rapid and destructive growth of the monster.  The annals of the 27 years of his reign would exhibit a repetition of the same inroads; and his hereditary troops were multiplied in each campaign by the accession of captives and volunteers. (-21-

Josiah Litch was a Millerite who took a very keen interest in Revelation 9.  Indeed, Litch is a very important expositor of this prophecy and a focal point of our study going forward.  It was, in fact, a prediction of Litch’s that was widely followed to its fulfillment that set the stage for the 1,000 converts to Christianity.  But more on that later in the article.

Of the 150-year prophecy found in Revelation 9: 5, 10  Litch said:

"And their power was to hurt men five months.”  Thus far their commission extended, to torment by constant depredations, but not politically to kill them.  “Five months” [30 days to a month, 150 days], that is, one hundred and fifty years.  Commencing July 27, 1299, the 150 years reach to 1449.  During that whole period the Turks were engaged in an almost perpetual war with the Greek Empire, but yet without conquering it.  They seized upon and held several of the Greek provinces, but still Greek independence was maintained in Constantinople.  But in 1449, the termination of the 150 years, a change came.(-22-)  [brackets and italics are Uriah Smith’s

What was this “change” and why is it significant?  The following quotes point out in detail that in 1449, the Byzantine Empire acquiesced to Ottoman power – a maneuver that led to the Fall of Constantinople a few years later:

Late in the year 1448, as the close of the 150-year period approached, John [VIII] Palaeologus died without leaving a son to follow him on the throne of the Eastern Empire. His brother Constantine [XI Palaeologus], the lawful successor, would not venture to ascend the throne without the consent of the Turkish Sultan. Ambassadors therefore went to Adrianople, received the approbation of the Sultan, and returned with gifts for the new sovereign.  Early in the year 1449, under these ominous circumstances, Constantine, the last of the Greek emperors, was crowned.  { Smith, page 506 }

Let this historical fact be carefully examined in connection with the [150-year] prediction. This was not a violent assault made on the Greeks, by which their empire was overthrown and their independence taken away, but simply a voluntary surrender of that independence into the hands of the Turks, by saying, “I cannot reign unless you permit.”  { Litch. page 182-183 } 

As an interesting side note about Byzantine emperors, both John VIII Palaeologus (ruled 1425 -1448 A.D.) and Constantine XI Palaeologus (ruled 1449-1453) were sons of Manuel II Palaeologus (ruled 1391-1425 A.D.), the very emperor quoted by Pope Benedict XVI in a speech on Sept. 12, 2006.  

The full text of his speech that fueled Muslim anger can be found on the Vatican's website http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_en.html.   Nahmias, Roee - Sept. 16, 2006  “Arab op-ed:  Pope’s remarks may lead to war.”  Ynetnews.   http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3304575,00.html.

Getting back to the 13th and 15th Centuries, we can see a 150-year period emerge from the four quoted texts above beginning with the invasion of Byzantine territory by Osman I in 1299 A.D. and the gaining by the Ottomans of the upper hand in the political struggle in 1449 A.D. when Constantine XI accepted the Byzantine crown only with the permission of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II (ruled 1421-1444, 1445-1451 A.D.).

Even though some historicists may view that the 150-year prophecy refers to a different period – for instance, the rise of the Arab Muslims as opposed to the rise of the Ottoman Turks – for purposes of understanding the prediction of Josiah Litch, we will follow the interpretation of the 150 years as coinciding with the rise of the Ottomans against the Byzantine Empire as manifested over the period 1299 to1449 A.D. (-23-)

                 The Fall of Constantinople

The capitulation of the Byzantine Empire only emboldened the Ottomans, and shortly thereafter, the siege of Constantinople ensued.  This siege and the warfare methods of the Ottomans are symbolically described in the passage on the Sixth Trumpet found in Revelation 9.

So terrified were the inhabitants of Constantinople at their prospects in the siege that the people lamented, “This is the end of the city, the end of our race.  These are the days of the Antichrist.”  {Kinross. page 98}

The use of canons to breach the walls of a fortress was quite new at this time, and the siege of Constantinople was aided by such an Ottoman bombardment due to the services of a cannon maker who had been rebuffed by Constantine XI Palaeologus and subsequently hired by Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror (ruled 1444 to 1445, 1451 to 1481 A.D.). {Kinross. page 99, 102, 107-108}  It is also recorded that muskets were used in the siege. {Gibbon. Chapter 68}.

As with the Fifth Trumpet, a detailed study of the Sixth Trumpet is very interesting and somewhat beyond the scope of this article.  However, Table 2 shows in brief a comparison of symbols mentioned and their identified counterpart in the Ottoman Empire and can be used as a quick reference for studying the passage in light of historicism. (-24-)

                                                Table 2:         Summary  of  Sixth  Trumpet  Terminology
                                                                                    ( Revelation  9: 13 - 21 )

Symbol(s)  Verse(s)             Interpretation
Four angels    14-15  Islamic leaders, four principal sultanies of Islamic world
Euphrates     14  Mesopotamia, reference to Asia Minor and near regions
Hour, Day,
Month, Year
   15  391 years and 15 days14,16
Third part of man     15,18    Byzantine Empire, Greek portion of the Roman Empire
Army of horsemen    16     Ottoman cavalry, swiftness of the visitation
200,000,000     16   Symbolic of vast innumerable host
Mouth(s)    17-19  Gunpowder aggression by individual soldiers, musketry
Fire, jacinth, brimstone    17a   Use of gunpowder weapons by Ottomans
Heads of lions     17    Ferocity and majesty
Fire, smoke, brimstone  17b-18  Use of gunpowder, firearms, and muskets by Ottomans
Tails         19    Ottoman standards, military organization
Rest of Men     20   Those not destroyed in this visitation
Works of their hands    20    Idols, structures of human inventive genius
Worship of devils    20  Spirit worship
Murders, sorceries    21 Sin that comes about from worshipping false gods

                

In 1453, Constantinople fell, and Ottoman control of Southeastern Europe was now complete.  The psychological effect on the rest of Europe, indeed Christendom itself, was profound:

The Fall of Constantinople struck Western Christendom with a sense of doom.  Lamentations arose from all those and which had done so little to save it – the more so as an eleventh-hour effort to do so, with a papal armada of Venetian galleys, had failed to penetrate farther than the shores of the Aegean.  Too late now, Christians awoke to the loss of this bastion, behind which the West had for so long sheltered and squabbled in false security.  Here surely was a calamity which threatened Western civilization itself….  The shock of the actual event was nonetheless great to the people of the West for the fact that, preoccupied with their own local concerns, they had failed to foresee it, remaining blind to the military realities inherent in a garrison so immeasurably outnumbered and outgunned within medieval walls by a great modern army. {Kinross. page 111}

Surely the visitation of tribulation as warned in Revelation 2: 22 - 23 was occurring in the warfare of the Ottoman Empire.  The Sixth Trumpet description in Revelation 9: 13-21 even alludes to certain features of the Fall of Constantinople like the use of firearms and canons, the presence of cavalry, and the immeasurable number of Ottoman fighters.

The Fall of Constantinople set the stage for Ottoman domination of its imperial reach for another four centuries.  This measure of time is prophesied in Revelation 9 in addition to the 150-year prophecy already discussed.

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Related Information

Prophecies in 5th and 6th Trumpet Article on Fifth Trumpet - Revelation 9: 1 - 12 Footnotes to 5th & 6th Trumpets Revelation 9 - The 391 Year Prophecy