The first predicted earthquake in Revelation is recorded in 6:12-17:
“When He opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’”
This event takes place during the opening of the seven seals by the Lamb, the first in a series of three recorded in Revelation. Each of the seven seals represents a period of time in the history of the decline and fall of the Roman empire, beginning with the time immediately at hand when John received the vision, and ending with the fall of paganism:
Seal 1. 96 – 180 A.D. Rome Victorious.
Seal 2. 185 – 284 A.D. Civil War.
Seal 3. 200 – 250 A.D. Taxation and Depression.
Seal 4. 250 – 300 A.D. Decay and Death.
Seal 5. 303 – 313 A.D. Christian Martyrs.
Seal 6. 313 – 395 A.D. Fall of Paganism.
(from The First Six Seals by Frank W. Dowsett J.P.)
If you are unfamiliar with the history of the decline and fall of the Roman empire, I encourage you to read about it in Gibbon’s excellent history. He was an ardent unbeliever, a great admirer of Rome, and a bitter critic of Christianity, which he blamed for Rome’s demise. But his history of the events which took place is exact, and you will see that what happened completely fulfills the prophecies given to John, in sequence, before any of them took place.
Even though there were ten terrible persecutions of Christians under the Romans, that the fifth seal represents the terrible Christian persecution under Diocletian from 303 to 313 A.D., I can attest by history. For the seventh persecution under Decius was so bad, that Guerber writes, “Such was the severity used during the two years of this persecution, that the Romans fancied that all the Christians had been killed, and that their religion would never be heard of again.” But of Diocletian’s, she writes that it was “the worst and bloodiest that had yet been known” of the Christian persecutions, including Decius’ (The Story of the Romans by H. A. Guerber, pages 174 and 178).
Rabbit trail: The events foretold to Daniel were so completely fulfilled by Alexander the Great, that when the high priest met Alexander before he reached Jerusalem, fresh on the heels of the utter destruction of Tyre, and showed him from Daniel that his success had been foretold centuries earlier by the God of the Jews, Alexander sacrificed to God, and did not destroy Jerusalem or ransack the Temple. (This footnote states that the detail in Josephus — in which Alexander was shown the prophecy of the Greeks conquering the Persians in Daniel — was not authentic because Daniel was written after the reign of Alexander. The assumption has to first be made that Daniel was not the author of Daniel; that the prophecies are accurate because they were written after the events they describe and not before. This assumption is the common one among the skeptics and scoffers. Daniel is the most attacked book of Scripture, after Genesis, because Daniel clearly points to the coming of Jesus the Messiah.) So John’s six seals accurately depict the decline of Rome and the fall of paganism.
That the opening of the sixth seal occasioned a great earthquake, or a great shift and shattering of tectonic proportions in the political, cultural, and societal realms of this world, I am not in doubt at all. The sixth seal represents the fall of paganism, and the beginning of the end of the reign of world empires. Both paganism and the imperial system of governance were established by Nimrod at Babel (Babylon), and paganism as well as imperialism had been the order of the day since the building of the Tower of Babel. The succession of imperialism in the ancient world was (broadly) first Sumerian, then Egyptian, then Israelite under Solomon, then Assyrian, then Babylonian, then Persian, then Greek, then Roman, in a nearly unbroken succession from Nimrod to Diocletian. It was truly the end of an age of world history, which even secular historians attest by assigning these events and prior as “ancient history,” and the events from that time forward as “medieval history.”
to be continued …
Previously: Earthquakes in context
Update: continued in Earthquake of the fall of Rome