Friday Morning Manna     

The Fourth of the Seven Trumpets: What the ‘smiting of the third part of the sun, moon, and stars’ mean

     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.” Revelation 8: 12, K.J.V.

      “The sun, moon, and stars have been interpreted to represent the great luminaries of the Western Roman government—its emperors, senators, and consuls. With the extinction of Western Rome in A.D. 476, the last of the emperors ceased to reign. Later its senate and consulship came to an end.” Elucidating on the seven trumpets, specifically the fourth, Uriah Smith, in his book Daniel and the Revelation, quotes at least three historians–Gibbon, Keith, and Elliott, whose individual works share the same interpretation of the trumpets. We read:

     “We understand that this trumpet symbolizes the career of Odoacer [A.K.A. Odovacar], 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 the consuls. The last emperor of Western Rome was Romulus, who in derision was called Augustulus, or the ‘diminutive Augustus.’ Western Rome fell in 476 A.D. 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 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  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 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 in the authority which had given laws to the land.’- Edward Gibbon, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. III, ch. 26, p. 512.

    “Keith comments on the downfall of Rome:

     ‘The power and the 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 of 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 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’ (Mar 5, A.D. 493), with the tardy, reluctant, ambiguous consent of the emperor of the East [Zeno]. 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 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 [that later became the ‘city of the popes’!], 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 the 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 tempermight be gratified by the silent extinction of a title [consul] 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 toRome and Italy, which so long had ranked as the first cities of the countries; and finally, as the fourth trumpet closes, we see the ‘extinction of that illustrious assembly,’ the Roman senate.  The city that had ruled the world, as if in mockery to human greatness, was conquered by the eunuchNarses, the successor of Belisarius. He defeated the Goths (A.D. 552*), achieved the ‘conquest of Rome,’ and the fate of the senate was sealed.”- Alexander Keith, Signs of the Times, Vol. I, pp. 280-283.

     “E. B. Elliot 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 had been rent from it; the territory still attached 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, which much less from that of Genseric (who, ere his death, had indeed visited and ravaged the eternal city in one of maritime marauding expeditions), and thus yet more prepared the coming consummation), about this time, I say, Odoacer [Odovacar], 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, the third which appertained to the Western Empire was eclipsed and shone no more. I say that third of its orb which appertained to the Western empire; for the Apocalyptic fraction is literally accurate. In the last arrangement between the two courts, the whole of the Illyrian third has 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 namehad 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 (Odovacar) 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 [later became the supreme papalauthority—from   Rome of the Caesars to  Rome of the popes]. 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, [as prophesied the fourth trumpet], 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 and an independent sovereign; and on Belisarius’ and Narses’ 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 a desert), the Roman senate was dissolved, and the consulship abrogated. Moreover, as regards the barbaric princes of the Western provinces, their independence of the Roman imperial power became now more fully averred and understood. After above a century and a half of calamities unexampled almost, as Dr. Robertson most truly represents it, in the history of nations, the statement ofJerome*,–a statement couched under the very Apocalyptic figure of the text, but prematurelypronounced on the first taking of Rome by Alaric, —might be considered as at length accomplished: ‘Clasrissimum terrarium lumen extinctum est,’ meaning, ‘The world’s glorious sun has been extinguished;’ or as the modern poet has expressed it, still under the same Apocalyptic imagery—‘She saw her glories star by star expire’ till even one star remained, to glimmer in the vacant and dark night.’ – Edward B Elliott, Hora Apocalytica, Vol.I, pp. 354-356.

    “Fearful as were the calamities brought upon the empire by the first incursions of these barbarians [in the first, second, third and fourth trumpets], 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 on the Roman world. The three remaining trumpets are overshadowed with a cloud of woe, as set forth in [Verse 14 of Revelation chapter 8.”

To make plain the truth that Mohammedanism or Islam—through the Saracens, followed by the Turks—had prophesied roles in the final breaking up of the ancient Roman Empire, is the very burden of the fifth and sixth trumpets.  To the delight of the truth-seeker, this prophecy is dramatically highlighted by a terminating specific time prophecy—predicting the very year, month, and day theOttoman Empire (founded by Othman who gave structure and leadership to a leaderless “locust-like” people from the desert) would endin August 11, 1840. Thus ended the role of Islam in the prophetic scheme of the great controversy and the plan of redemption There is no antitypical application for this prophecy. Though a continuum, 1840 signals the start of a new cluster of specific prophecies leading to the culmination of the 2300-day prophecy in 1844, whence began the solemn pre-advent judgment! According to Palmoni’s time-clock the proclamation of the first of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14—earth’s final merciful warnings—could only begin in 1840! “The special light given to John, which was expressed in the seven thunders [Rev. 10: 3] was a delineation of events which would transpire under the first and second angels’ messages.”-7 BC 971. (To be continued next week)