S C I E N C EP R O V E S G O D

POMPEII - August 24, 79 A.D. / Part I - Year Pattern
The Science of Volcanoes
(posted: January 2011)

* All scripture references are from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible, unless otherwise noted.

    “In our attempts to explain nature, our ancestors created
      myths ... The god of the Israelites destroyed his
      enemies ... with floods, earthquakes, and other natural
      weapons ...” 1

  1. Introduction

    Vesuvius erupted on August 24, 79 A.D., destroying Pompeii, Herculaneum and the surrounding area. This volcano, possibly the most famous of all volcanoes, is unique because of two key features - preservation and documentation.

    Falling ash and rain preserved Pompeii as a virtual “time capsule” 7 of first century Roman civilization. Even more memorable, however, was the preservation of lifelike human forms at the instant of their death. Even a cursory review of historical Pompeii reveals many photographs of these often grotesque human casts.

    The day of hell on earth that descended on the region surrounding Vesuvius was extraordinarily well documented by a highly intelligent and observant seventeen year old boy, Caius Pliny (Pliny the Younger). Pliny wrote lengthy letters to his uncle in which he thoroughly detailed the horrific destructive force of a catastrophic volcanic eruption.

    As we will see in the scripture patterns, Pompeii and it’s citizens were not unknown to God. The city was a playground for the rich and powerful of Rome, including it’s high ranking military officers. A modern day comparison might be the city of Las Vegas. If it happened in Pompeii, it stayed in Pompeii - going on two thousand years now. When Vesuvius buried the city, it buried it’s cultural history and artifacts along with it’s decadence. Some of the people it buried were Roman military officers and government officials linked directly or indirectly to a massacre perpetrated nine years earlier.

    Titus, the newly crowned Roman emperor at the time of the eruption, was the commander of the Roman legions in 70 A.D. He and his armies laid siege to Jerusalem in late spring, and before year’s end, the entire city and, the Jewish Temple were completely destroyed. Titus’ army, under his direct command, slaughtered close to one million Jewish men, woman and children. They were killed in the most heinous ways imaginable; being hacked to death, tortured, crucified, and burned alive. 3

    Forty years prior to the devastation imposed on Jerusalem, both the Jews and the Romans shared blame in the murder of a certain individual of historic significance. The victim’s name was Jesus of Nazareth. Some say He was the Son of God.
  1. Biblical Year Pattern for August 24, 79 A.D. (Psalms 79, 39, 139)

    1. Psalm 79:1-7, 10, 11, 12 - Rome’s sin; groaning prisoners are preserved; God’s vengeance
      1a. O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy
              temple they have defiled ...
             “The Roman soldiers brought their military standards into the
              smoldering ruins of the Temple ... set them up and made sacrifices
              to them. Nothing could have spoken more eloquently to the defeat
              of the Jews.” 3
         b. ... they have laid Jerusalem in heaps.
             “... Temple Mount’s huge retaining walls ... deliberately thrown
               down and lay in heaps ...” 3
             “archeologists excavating just outside the Temple Mount have
               found thousands of stones - some weighing between three and
               five tons ...” 3
             “... stones had been torn out by rampaging soldiers - I could almost
               feel the horror and savagery of those days of destruction when
               Jerusalem and the Temple Mount ... were laid law.” 3
      2.   The dead bodies ... given as food for the birds ..., the flesh of
             Your saints to the beasts of the earth.”
             ”... now fewer than 600,000 (dead bodies) were thrown out at
             the gates.” 3 (Josephus)
             “Titus also sent a great number (Jewish captives) into the
              provinces ... that they might be destroyed ... by the wild beasts
              (in the arenas).” 3 (Josephus)
      3a. Their blood was shed like water all around Jerusalem ...
             “... the whole city ran with blood ... fire of many houses was
               quenched with ... blood.” 3 (Josephus)
         b. ... and there was no one to bury them.
              “... entire families of dead men ... upper rooms full of dead
                corpses.” 3 (Josephus)
              “As for burying them, ... these sick ... were not able ... (those who
                were still-able) deterred ... by the great multitude of dead
                bodies.” 3 (Josephus)
      4.    We have become a reproach ... a scorn and derision to those
               who are around us.
              [Those taken captive were used as slaves in the Egyptian mines
               or sacrificed in the arenas by “sword or wild beasts.” 3]
      5.    How long Lord? ... will Your jealousy burn like fire?
              “Titus ordered his soldiers to kill the inhabitants, plunder the
                entire city (Jerusalem) and burn it.” 3
              “... the Temple was consumed by the flames” 3
              “... six thousand died within the Temple complex that day;
                some hacked to death, others burned alive.” 3
      6.    Pour out your wrath ... on the kingdoms that do not know Your
              name.
              [Both the Jews and Romans rejected Christ (see John 3:36.]
      7.    For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his dwelling place
               “Josephus says that ... the number of those that perished during
                 the siege of Jerusalem was eleven hundred thousand.” 3
      10.  Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
               Let their be known among the nations, the avenging of the blood
               of Your servants which has been shed.
               “Six thousand people died within the Temple complex that day ...” 3
      11a. Let the groaning of the prisoner come before You ...
                “... jumble of skeletons, mouths frozen in silent screams.”4
                (newspaper preview of the Pompeii exhibit.)
                “... and gruesome, are casts of the people trapped ... contorted
                 in agony ...” 5
           b. ... Preserve those appointed to die. [“Preservation” was the
                defining characteristic of Pompeii’s destruction]
                “(body shapes) remain so well preserved ... able to make
                 plaster casts.”6
                “... and human remains preserved in the volcanic ash” 4
                “... volcanic destruction caused their ... preservation” 2
    2. Psalm 39:2-6, 9-11, 13 - Silence,; the fire burned; distinguished man killed by vapor; frozen but melted; common men killed by vapor; carbonized into shadows
      2.    I was mute with silence ... my sorrow was stirred up.
              “... mouths frozen in silent screams.” 4
      3.    My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned ...
              “... contorted in agony as a result of asphyxiation and burns.” 5
      5.    ... and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his
               best state is but vapor.
              [Distinguished man poisoned by gas.]
              “Pliny the Elder ... may have been poisoned by eruptive toxic
               gases such as hydrogen sulphide. Whatever the cause of his death,
               by early morning ..., Vesuvius had claimed it’s most
               distinguished victim.” 1
      6a.  Surely every man walks about like a shadow ...
               “Many of the victims ... were carbonized by the intense heat, ...
               up to 750°F.” 9
         b.  ... Surely, they busy themselves in vain; He keeps up riches,
                 and does not know who will gather them.
               “Hundreds of people perished in barricaded rooms ... with
                 their jewelry or their life savings.” 2
               “... a family of eighteen and their servants died with their gold
                 pieces and enough bread and
                 fruit to tide them over until the eruption should end.” 2
      9.     I was mute, I did not open my mouth because it was You who did it.
               “They died in breathless agony; trying desperately to stop the
                  deadly ... gas, not dust and ash, and mucus from clogging their
                  mouths and lungs.” 2
      10.  Remove Your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of
                 Your hand.
               “The people of Misenum were ... so terrified that they had
                  abandoned all hope as if they had entered Hell. And they were
                  32km from the volcano.” 2
      11a.  When with rebukes You correct men for iniquity, You make
                 his beauty melt away ...
                “Stabiage, Herculaneum and Pompeii ... were buried ... and lay
                 frozen in time.” 1
                “A World Flash Frozen” 4
                “The hollow spaces left in the ash by the decayed corpses were
                 filled with plaster ...” 8
                [Their world was flash frozen; but their bodies melted away.]
           b. ... Surely every man is vapor. [Common men poisoned by gas]
                “... clouds of poison gas rolled into the city. Those who were out
                  of their houses ... died instantly from the gas.” 6
      12a. Remove you gaze from me, that I may regain strength ...
                “We went back to Misenum, attended to our physical needs as
                 best we could ...”
                (Pliny the Younger in the aftermath of the eruption.)
           b. ... before I go away and am no more.
                “Herculaneum and Pompeii ... vanished off the face of the earth.” 2
                “Pompeii and Herculaneum were never rebuilt.” 7
    3. Psalm 139:5, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19 - Trapped; ascend to heaven, bed in hell; darkness falls; body shapes formed in the earth; plaster casts; it’s in the book; wicked are slain
      1-4. [God knows all our ways.]
          5. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand
                 upon me.
               “Having landed (Pliny the Elder and rescue ships), they found that
                 high winds and turbulent sees made escape impossible.” 2
               “The people waiting anxiously on the shore (for escape by sea)
                 would not have seen the nuee ardente (pyroclastic flow) until the
                 very last moment. When it suddenly fell upon them, they turned
                 and clustered desperately under the arches, crowding as far
                 inside as possible.” 2
         8a. If I ascend into heaven, You are there ...
                 “The erupting column was soaring 33km above Vesuvius.” 2
            b. ... if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
                 ... in the town ... sick had been left in their beds ... a boy was lying
                 in his bed ... a baby ... in it’s cradle.” 2
        11a. If I say. Surely darkness shall fall on me ...”
                 “We had hardly sat down to rest when the darkness fell upon
                  us.” 2 (Pliny the Younger)
             b. ... even the night shall be light about me.
                 “It was daylight elsewhere by this time, but they were still
                   enveloped in a darkness that was blacker and denser than
                   any night.” 2
        12a. Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines
                   as the day; ...
                 “Vesuvius’ eruption could be seen ... for miles. Bright flames blazed
                   in the darkness, turning night into day.” 8
             b. ... The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
                  “There had been total darkness in Pompeii since just after
                    1:00 PM on 24 August ...
                    They had no means even of telling the time.” 2
             15. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret,
                    and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
                    “The hollow spaces left in the ash by the decayed corpses were
                       filled with plaster to produce startlingly detailed casts of the
                       victims at the moments of their deaths.” 3
                    “The graphic casts are for more lifelike than Egyptian
                       mummies.” 2
                    “Skeletons that were found in the ruins were huddled together
                       under 66 feet of ash.” 1
           16a. Your eyes saw my substance being yet unformed ...
                    “Giuseppi Fiorelli (1861) hit upon the simple and brilliant idea
                      of pouring liquid plaster of Paris into the hollows as soon as
                      they were discovered. Once the plaster was set, encasing ash
                      was scraped away to reveal the shape.” 2
                 b. ... and in Your book they are written, the days fashioned for
                    me, when as yet there were none of them.
                    [The spiritual word of God became physical reality - the
                    foundational principle of Proves God.]

  2. Conclusion

    Thousands of Roman elite died during the eruption of Vesuvius. Emperor Titus, who had commanded the Roman legions nine years earlier at the sacking of Jerusalem, died two years after the eruption. He was succeeded by his psychopathic brother, Domitian, upon his death. Domitian launched a reign of terror against his own citizens, purging Rome of many of it’s finest.

    The scriptures teach us that judgement does not fall upon an individual or group without just cause. Both the Jews and the Romans were implicated in the crucifixion of Christ. Both nations suffered great losses in the years following His death. Perhaps this Christ, whom they crucified, truly was the Son of God.

Amos

  1. Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing?
  2. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed ...
  3. He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.
  4. ... and distress them in His deep displeasure ...
  5. ... the Lord has said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”
  6. Ask of Me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance ...
  7. Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed you judges of the earth.
  8. Serve the Lord with fear and trembling.
  9. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are those who put their trust in Him.

Psalm 2: 1-12

  1. Devastation! The World’s Worst Natural Disasters; Lesley Newson
  2. Vulcan’s Fury: Man Against the Volcano; Alwyn Scarth; 1999
  3. Jerusalem Besieged; Eric H. Cline; 2004
  4. A World Flash Frozen; Dallas Morning News; March 20, 2008
  5. Pompeii; Archaeology; September/October 2005; Antonia Holden, classical archaeologist at the University of Ottawa
  6. Mount Vesuvius; Answers.com
  7. Mount Vesuvius; Wikipedia.org
  8. Great Disasters in History; Genzmer, Kershner, Schutz

 

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