August 19th, 2017

Attila the Hun and the Barbarian Invasions of Roman Empire

The Barbarians and the Trumpets of Revelation: Expected by the Churches ... Believed by Barbarians

The Barbarians knew “They” were the Judgment(s)  of God. Genseric himself, King of the Vandels,  though in a very advanced age, still commanded in person the most important expeditions. His designs were concealed  with  impenetrable  secrecy, till the moment that he  hoisted sail. When he was asked by his pilot what course he should steer, his answer is instructive:

Leave the determination to the winds (replied the Barbarian,  with pious arrogance:)  They will transport us to the guilty coast, whose inhabitants  have provoked the divine justice…

Note his language: "guilty coast" and "the divine justice".  Divine justice and guilt as anticipated in the deterioration of the Churches (Pergamos, Thyatira, and the dead Church of Sardis), predicted in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.

He is by no means the  only Barbarian chieftain who understood  and  accepted  the fact he was appointed to bring the Judgment of the  Lord upon the Roman world and its Christianity. Attila the Hun relished  the title “The Scourge of  God”.  Alaric the Goth saw himself  as the  avatar of God’s vengeance upon the Roman world. 

The Empire is thoroughly engaged in a war for its very existence. The infrastructure of the Roman world is challenged, with impoverishment growing steadily everywhere. Increasing  chaos  has become the only real constant in life. With nothing predictable,  economy slows to a halt. Even farming throughout the Empire is meager since the odds that any one field of  grain will see armies harvesting it… or trampling it, is greater than at any time in Roman history.

All of this bloody sea imagery is  reminiscent of the judgment upon Nile in the Exodus  history.  However,  as it was  then, so now: the wrath of  the Triune God is just getting started.  [Go to Revelation page]


The Third Trumpet Sounds … Attila the Hun and the Hun Empire

And the third angel of Revelation sounds his Trumpet - a sign of Regal Judgment by the One Who Sits in the Temple of God in Revelation 1, namely Jesus Christ the Great Melchizedek.  We are told that the Trumpet's Judgment brings the fall from heaven of a great power...

... a 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.  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."– Rev.  8: 10- 11.
Notice how the "star" imagery "falls from heaven"... like Satan. Jesus said as much: "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven..."  - Luke 10: 18

Note the direct comparison we can make to the "falling": 1) Satan falls from heaven 2) So do evil men and movements "fall from heaven" (meaning,  they are given authority from heaven to bring Judgment - Romans 13: 1); 3) They are raised up by Satan, but sent by God:

The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.- Psa. 110:5

The star imagery is clearly associated with angels in Revelation 1: 20.  There, we saw that when God identifies angelic activity with “kingdoms” in view, they are designated “stars”. So it was in that chapter, pointing to the Churches distinguishing 7 distinct eras of  God’s Kingdom on earth and its progressive march through history.

So it is here. Except it involves a “fallen angel”. Since one third of the angels fell with Satan, this may reference one of the hierarchy of  his “chain of command”, so to speak. It may actually reference him (cf. Daniel 10:13,20 where the malevolent angel is properly referenced as שַׂר – [Hbr: “sar”,  prince, chief, ruler, officer], personally, but the result is the same … destruction of whole kingdoms.

However, the star invests itself in a POWER … a government in the human sphere, as clearly as God declared of  Babylon and Tyre (cf. Ezekiel 28: 2-19, in verse 2 a Hebrew synonym for Sar is used of Satan and his invested presence in the king of Tyre : נָגִיד - ruler, prince.)

Words fail to describe what God  brought upon Europe in the work of the “Scourge of  God” –  Attila the Hun. Tradition has it, he heard this expression from  a monk, who  cursed  him and hated him. However, mere monks don’t have a propaganda mill sufficient for widespread success of  “buzz” this effective.

No. The phrase "Scourge of God" effectively “caught on” because  it was already  spreading among the masses via its use in the churches. The monk was quite probably only repeating what was commonly  believed… and Attila enjoyed it.

In other words, a guilty people KNEW their time had arrived. Cognizance of  the arrival of God’s Judgment upon the  guilty has a tendency to either “harden” the  heart (cf. Mark 12:12), break it in despair (cf. Matt.  27: 3-5) or make it cry out to God  for help (Psalm. 40: 12-17), realizing there is no other option (cf. Psalm. 71: 10-16).

Attila’s army of the Huns roared out of  the eastern domains of the Volga with over half a million soldiers to establish the short-lived Hun Empire.  An indication of the  ferocity and terror of  the Huns is found  in the fact that the other Barbarians, so terrifying to Europe, moved into the Roman domains FLEEING THE HUNS.

The falling of a great star from heaven is used of a great authority (like Satan, for instance, in a comparison to lightning falling from heaven). Stars are used of authorities, especially God’s people, and other symbols from the heavenly domain. Antiochus IV  was said to  exalt himself… and Scripture speaks of him...  “it cast down some of the host and of the stars” in Daniel 8:10.

The sequence of  events brings us  to the  only candidate for the great star here. It is interesting  to  note that all of Europe anticipated more fearful judgments ahead (because  of the Judgments of the Revelation). Attila knew and used  this anxiety and anticipation:

It is obvious enough why he styled  himself “By the Grace of  God, King of  the Huns and Goths”… [Attila the Hun was motivated by]  a burning desire of turning to his purpose the legends and forebodings which then were universally spread throughout the  Roman Empire, and must have been well known to the watchful  and ruthless Hun Attila.  (Delbruck, Hans. The Barbarian Invasions, History of  the Art of War, Vol. II. (Lincoln: University of  Nebraska Press, 1990), p. 286.).

Note the secular historian's language: "turning to his purpose the legends and forebodings which then were universally spread throughout the  Roman Empire,"
It  is  to be noted that all of Christian Europe expected another,  greater Judgment. It was the case that the Book of the Revelation’s message was known and was now expected to confirm yet another greater Judgment.  Attila and his Huns would  not disappoint them.  [Go to Revelation "Library" offer page]    Or...  [Go to Revelation page]

Historical Markers ... Waters of Europe are Poisoned by Years of Bloodshed

But, the damage to the waters (of Europe) as a bitter "Wormwood" are excellent historical markers:

The Romans knew little about the  Huns until they appeared on the banks of the Danube. Edward Gibbon, the author  of the classic, authoritative history, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire tells us: 

...the Huns were masters of the great river. Being experts of navigation on Russia’s great rivers, they had no problem decimating the regions of the Danube, Rhine, and Po river systems.

Those who “smile” at the historicist position, imagining that such descriptions are exaggerations to make the text “fit” the history, usually are quite unfamiliar with the extensive history themselves. Note the following description:

The Illyrian frontier was covered by a line of castles and fortresses; and though the greatest part of them consisted only of  a single tower, with a small garrison, they were commonly sufficient to repel or to intercept, the inroads  of  an enemy, who was ignorant of the art, and impatient of the delay, of a regular siege. But these slight obstacles were instantly swept away by the inundation of the Huns.

They destroyed,  with fire  and sword, the populous cities of Sirmium and Singidunum, of Ratiaria and Marcianopolis, of  Naisus, and Sardica; where every circumstance  of the discipline  of the people,  and the  construction of the buildings had  been gradually adapted to the sole  purpose  of defense.  The whole  breadth of  Europe, as it extends above five hundred miles from the Euxine [Black Sea, ed. note] to the Hadriatic , was at once invaded, and occupied, and desolate, by the myriads of  Barbarians whom Attila led into  the field…. But, the troops which had been sent against Genseric, were hastily recalled  from Sicily; the garrisons, on the  side of Persia, were exhausted; and a military force was collected in Europe,  formidable by their arms and numbers, if the generals had understood the science of command,  and  their soldiers the duty of obedience. The armies of the Eastern empire  were vanquished  in three  successive engagements; and the progress of Attila may be traced by the fields of  battle. The two former, on the banks of  the  Utus,  and under the walls of Marcianopolis, were fourth in the extensive plains between the Danube and Mount Haemus. As the Romans were pressed by a  victorious enemy,  they gradually, and unskillfully, retired towards the Chersonnesus of Thrace; and that narrow peninsula, the last extremity of  the land,  was marked by their third, and irreparable, defeat. By the destruction of this army, Attila acquired the indisputable possession of the field. From the Hellespont to Thermopylae, and the  suburbs of  Constantinople, he ravaged, without resistance,  and without mercy, the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia. Heraclea and Hadrianople might,  perhaps, escape this dreadful  irruption of the Huns; but the worst, the most expressive of total extirpation and erasure, are applied to  the calamities which they inflicted on seventy cities of the Eastern empire.  Theodosius, his court,  and the unwarlike  people, were protected by the walls  of Constantinople; but those walls had been shaken by a recent earthquake, and the  fall of fifty-eight towers had opened a large and tremendous  breach. The damage indeed was speedily repaired; but this accident was  aggravated by a superstitious fear, that Heaven itself had delivered the Imperial city to the shepherds of Scythia,  who  were strangers to the laws, the language, and the religion, of the Romans.   -Gibbon, Decline and Fall, vol. III, p. 151 -152. (Nineteenth century edition).

The Huns shed so much blood that the waters were thoroughly  polluted  with bodies and blood.  Just one account of  ONE BATTLE (Catalaunian Plains) describes in detail the damage done to  the streams and rivers around the battlefield:

And although the situation was itself fearful, yet the presence of the king dispelled anxiety and hesitation. Hand to hand they clashed in battle, and the fight grew fierce, confused, monstrous, unrelenting – a fight whose like no ancient time has ever recorded. There were such deeds  done that  a brave man who missed this marvelous spectacle could not hope  to  see anything so wonderful  all his life long.  For if we may believe our elders, a brook flowing between low banks  through the plain was greatly increased by blood from the wounds of the slain. Those whose wounds drove them to slake their parching thirst drank water mingled with gore. In their wretched plight they were forced to drink what they thought was the blood they had poured out from their own wounds. -Jordanes, History of the Goths. Chap. 38. Mierow’s Translation. Cited by Davis, William S., Readings in Ancient History: II. Rome and the West. (Boston: Allyn and  Bacon, 1913) p. 324.

This battle in 451 AD, though decisive in saving what  was left of  the Roman Empire, was not anywhere near the size or scope of the damage done  by the Huns in the Danube,  Rhine,  or Po river areas. The Wormwood – bitter, toxic pollution – as prophesied, marks the utter pollution which dead bodies contribute  to the environment. However, the deaths and refuse of horses and other animals, adds more  organic debris to the landscape. The above cited battle records Attila piling up huge  mounds  of  horse dung as battlements. 

Attila was stopped  by an alliance of  Goths  and Romans under Aetius and Theodoric in 451. The ravages of  Attila comprised extensive  lands of the Empire. Again, a large portion of the river systems and streams were affected by the wars throughout the east, central Europe and the West. 

Such carnage is  again put in terms of “one third” of the waters. The usage again appears to be judicial. The trees, the sea, the waters, all see a third of them struck. Three thirds of Europe (all of it!) has now been struck with  severity by God’s wrath in three judgments.
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