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 Rome.
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