Was Revelation 9:4-6 and Revelation 16:10-11 Fulfilled in the Eruption of Vesuvius?

In The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20 I explained how the eruption of Vesuvius appears to fulfill prophecies concerning the Parousia, the resurrection and the death of the beast, let us now turn our attention to how this event also fulfills the fifth trumpet of Revelation 9 and the fifth bowl of Revelation 16.  Revelation 9:4-6 reads:

They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months.  And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man.  During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

Was Revelation 9:4-6 and Revelation 16:10-11 Fulfilled in the Eruption of Vesuvius?: The Ash from Vesuvius Caused a Terrible Pestilence in Fulfillment of Revelation 16:10-11.

In Revelation 16:10-11, the beast’s kingdom is cast into darkness resulting in a plague of painful soars.  The locusts in the smoke in Revelation 9:5 cause similar pain and agony.  As mentioned above, Cassius Dio states that the smoke and ash of Vesuvius traveled throughout much of the Roman Empire even as far as Africa and Syria.  In the city of Rome, the air was so thick with ash that it darkened the sun and later caused “a terrible pestilence.”1  Though Cassius Dio does not elaborate, could this “terrible pestilence” be the cause of the painful soars referred to in Revelation 9:5 and Revelation 16:11?  Suetonius also mentions this plague saying that it was “one of the worst outbreaks of plague that had ever been known.”2

As stated in the commentary on Revelation 9, a swarm of locusts is a Biblical metaphor for an army.  Therefore, is it possible that these ghostly giants, whose “forms could be discerned in the smoke,”3 could be in some way responsible for facilitating this plague?  In other words, could the spirits in the smoke be the spiritual locusts described in Revelation 9?  Unfortunately, Cassius Dio does not give us a physical description of these “giants” in the smoke.4  According to v. 5, the locusts in these verses where not permitted to kill. Perhaps the locust giants in the smoke were simply responsible for the spread of the pathogen itself and thus had no involvement in the catastrophic loss of life as a result of the surge cloud?  The fifth bowl of Revelation 16:10-11 elaborates upon this plague mentioned in the fifth trumpet of Revelation 9:

The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness.  Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Was Revelation 9:4-6 and Revelation 16:10-11 Fulfilled in the Eruption of Vesuvius?: The Ashes released during the Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius Darkened the Skies over Rome as Dark as Night in Explicit Fulfillment of the Darkness mentioned in v. 10.

In the commentary on Revelation 16, I addressed the symbolic fulfillment of Revelation 16:10 in A.D. 68-70 culminating in the rise of Vespasian.   Interestingly, these prophecies appear to have been later fulfilled literally in A.D. 79 during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius at the death of Vespasian.  When a volcano erupts it can darken the sky above.  Describing the extent of the darkness induced by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, Cassius Dio writes:

[T]hen came a great quantity of fire and endless smoke, so that the whole atmosphere was obscured and the sun was entirely hidden, as if eclipsed.  Thus day was turned into night and light into darkness. . . . Indeed, the amount of dust, taken all together, was so great that some of it reached Africa and Syria and Egypt [all territories of the Roman Empire], and it also reached Rome, filling the air overhead and darkening the sun.”5

In the quote above, one can appreciate the literal darkness induced by the eruption of Vesuvius and the literal fulfillment of Revelation 16:10: “The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness.”  I believe that the metaphorical fulfillment of Revelation 16:10 in A.D. 69 was a type of its ultimate, literal fulfillment in A.D. 79 at the death of Vespasian.

Was Revelation 9:4-6 and Revelation 16:10-11 Fulfilled in the Eruption of Vesuvius?: Did Acid Rain Caused by the Eruption of Vesuvius Cause the Painful Sores of v. 11?

Volcanic eruptions often release great amounts of sulfuric dioxide into the atmosphere.  When this gas reacts with water vapor it forms sulfuric acid which falls to the ground as acid rain.  Could the “pains” and “sores” of v. 11 have also been induced by the caustic effects of especially-pungent acid rain?   In 1783 a vent eruption in Laki, Iceland ejected great quantities of gas and lava for eight months.  In Laki 17-mile-long volcanic vents expelled massive amounts of lava eventually covering an area of about two hundred square miles in molten rock.  Concerning the effects of the acid rain that followed these eruptions, one scientist stated that the people of Laki “reported that it [the acid rain] burned people’s eyeballs[. . . . and]  Livestock suffered lesions and burning of their skin, and plants were killed off.”6  Were the “pains” and “sores” of Revelation 16:11 caused by the caustic effects of acid rain following the eruption of Vesuvius?  Do any Roman historians record a terrible plague after the eruption of Vesuvius that may have fulfilled v. 11?

Was Revelation 9:4-6 and Revelation 16:10-11 Fulfilled in the Eruption of Vesuvius?: The Ashes from the Eruption of Vesuvius brought about “One of the Worst Outbreaks of Plague that had ever been Known.”  Did this Plague Cause the Painful Sores of v. 11?

Mirroring the plague of darkness and the plague of boils, the fifth bowl also fulfills the curses of Deuteronomy 28:29 and Deuteronomy 28:35.  See Deuteronomy 28:15-68: A Preterist Commentary.  In these two verses, the wicked are threatened with darkness and plague.  In fulfillment of v. 11, the plague of boils, Cassius Dio blames the ashes released by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius for having caused a terrible plague in Rome: “These ashes, now, did the Romans no great harm at the time, though later they brought a terrible pestilence upon them.”7  Suetonius says it was “one of the worst outbreaks of plague that had ever been known.”8  Was the “terrible pestilence” mentioned by Cassius Dio and Suetonius after the eruption of Vesuvius actually “pains” and “sores” induced by acid rain as predicted in v. 11?

  1. Cassius Dio Roman History 66.22-23.
  2. Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 10.8.
  3. Cassius Dio Roman History 66.22-23.
  4. The locusts in these verses where not permitted to kill. Perhaps the locust giants in the smoke were simply responsible for the spread of the pathogen itself and thus had no hand in the catastrophic loss of life as a result of the surge cloud?
  5. Cassius Dio Roman History 66.22-23.
  6. Prehistoric Disasters.  Episode 3, Season 1.  Director: Sophia Harris, 2009.
  7. Cassius Dio Roman History 66.23.
  8. Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 11.8.