Another event which occurs during the great earthquake of the sixth seal, besides the total eclipse of the sun and moon (the complete removal of Diocletian and his dual- emperor system from power) and the stars of the sky falling to earth (the complete loss of influence and authority of paganism
over the inhabitants of the Roman world), is the removal of every
mountain and island from its place. The historicists state that
mountains in Revelation refer to governments or principalities, and
islands to nations.
Diocletian became emperor in 284 ad.
He deprived the Roman senate of all power except that of governing the
city of Rome, so that the once- glorious senate, the check and balance
to the tyranny of the Roman rulers, was now reduced to the status of a
mere city council. Besides the disasters which the horsemen of the apocalypse
inflicted on Rome, the removal of the Roman senate from power was the
first blow to the authority of Rome, which had been a seat of power for
over 1000 years.
Now Diocletian spent much of his tenure in
war with Persia, so he lived and ruled from Nicomedia, in Asia Minor.
It was there that the imperial court gathered. He appointed a co-
emperor, as we have seen, who did not govern from Rome either, but
Milan. Thus the removal of the imperial court from Rome was the second
blow to the authority of Rome.
Now the old Roman empire
took existing nations and peoples under its authority, without changing
things too much. They acted just as the empires of the Greeks,
Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Egyptians which came before them
had. The nation might have a Roman governor, garrison Roman troops, and
pay taxes to Rome, but its native nobility and civilization were often
maintained in place. Thus for all appearances life went on much as it
had, as long as proper respect and deference (and tribute) were paid to
Diocletian changed that. He subdivided the existing
provinces into approximately one hundred, all told, nearly twice what
it had been. The provinces were furthermore organized into twelve
“dioceses,” or seats of authority. Diocletian and his successors then
organized the business of each province in the hands of a great number
of local officials graded into many ranks and classes from high to low.
There were vicars, each in charge of a diocese, and many other lesser
officials to rule successively smaller areas of concern. He birthed a
bloated civil bureaucracy, to restore order after the years of civil
unrest and military excess. Thus boundaries, seats of governments, and
rulers all radically changed from the nations and patterns they had
followed for millennia.
Under this system, Italy was
reduced to the position of a taxed province and had lost all of its
former superiority over the other provinces of the Empire. Thus the
third blow to the authority of Rome — its loss of its privileged
status — was only cemented when Constantine established the new
imperial seat at Constantinople. Within a generation after
Constantinople was founded, the Roman Empire had become two distinct
states in fact, if not in name.
Thus from 284 ad, “every mountain and island was moved from its place.”
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 6, the great earthquake: the wrath of the Lamb