Many are not aware that these signs of Revelation 6:12-14 have already taken place. Therefore, the following historical documentation is provided as verification and resource for further study.
THE GREAT EARTHQUAKE
On November 1, 1755 such an earthquake did occur. This earthquake is often referred to as the Lisbon earthquake and is a striking fulfillment of this prophecy.
In his book, Wonders of the World, Robert Sears has given us this account of that catastrophic event:
"The great earthquake of 1755 extended over a tract of a least four million square miles.... It pervaded the greater portion of the continents of Europe, Africa, and America; but its extreme violence was exercised on the southwestern part of the former....
"In Africa this earthquake was felt almost as severely as it had been in Europe.... It is probable...that all Africa was shaken by this tremendous convulsion. At the North, it extended to Norway and Sweden, Germany, Holland, France, Great Britain and Ireland were all more or less agitated by the same great and terrible commotion of the elements." (Robert Sears, Wonders of the World, pp. 50, 58).
History also reveals that "In the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, ship's anchors were snapped. The quake dried up hot springs in Bohemia, almost 1,400 miles away. An ugly fissure occurred in Derbyshire, England. Another chasm gaped open for fifteen miles through the Pyrenees. Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Corsica and the West Indies all felt the earth move. Mt. Vesuvius (Italy), then in eruption, suddenly ceased its bellowing. Cadiz, Spain was elevated several feet by the quake. People on a ship in the West Indies were thrown up a foot by the seismic waves that hit there.
"A sixty-foot seawave struck Cadiz, and a fifty-foot wave hit Cornwall, England, the Canaries, the Azores and Madeira. The wave traveled in less than an hour to Leyden, Holland, and reached the Gulf of Finland hours later. A 'black wall of water' twenty-two feet high, roared against the Lesser Antilles. In Martinique and Barbados water rose to the roofs of houses and receded in seconds." (Jay Robert Nash, Darkest Hours, p. 339).
It has been estimated that as many as 90,000 to 100,000 persons lost their lives on that fatal day. The magnitude of this upheaval becomes even more evident when we consider Sir Charles Lyell's graphic description of it.
"A sound of thunder was heard underground, and immediately afterwards a violent shock threw down the greater part of the city (Lisbon). In the course of about six minutes, sixty thousand persons perished. The sea first retired, and laid the bar dry; it then rolled in, rising fifty feet above its ordinary level...eight leagues from Morocco, a village, with the inhabitants to the number of about eight or ten thousand persons, together with all their cattle, were swallowed up. Soon after the earth closed again over them...a great wave swept over the coast of Spain, and is said to have been sixty feet high at Cadiz." (Ainsworth Spofford & Charles Gibbon, Eds., The Library of Choice Literature, pp. 162, 163).
While other earthquakes may have been as severe in particular areas, none meet all of the necessary conditions to constitute it a fitting event to mark the opening of the sixth seal as does the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. It is also interesting that it was determined that this tremendous earthquake, with its more than 500 aftershocks, was "caused by the sudden movement of a submarine fault off the coast (although there are no deep trenches in the ocean floor off the coast of Portugal). It is indeed "the most notable earthquake of history" in exact fulfillment of the time line of this prophecy.
BLACK SUN, BLOODY MOON
The next two events to take place in this prophetic chain is for the sun to become black and the moon as blood. History clearly reveals the fulfillment of these events as well.
"Almost, if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and as yet unexplained phenomenon of its kind, in nature's diversified range of events...stands the dark day of May 19, 1780 -- a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens and atmosphere in New England." (R. M. Devens, Our First Century, pp. 89, 90).
This event is little known today, yet in the last century it was considered so important that Noah Webster defined it in his American Dictionary of the English Language, 1882 Ed.
"Dark Day, The, May 19, 1780---so called on account of a remarkable darkness on that day extending over all of New England... The obscuration began about ten o'clock in the morning and continued until the middle of the next night, but with differences of degree and duration in different places... The true cause of this remarkable phenomenon is not known." (Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1882 Ed.).
Professor Samuel Williams gives this account in Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences:
"The appearance and effects were such as tended to make the prospect extremely dull and gloomy. Candles were lighted up in the houses; the birds, having sung their evening songs, disappeared, and became silent; the fowls retired to roost; the cocks were crowing all around, as at break of day; objects could not be distinguished but at a very little distance; and everything bore the appearance of gloom and night." (Samuel Williams, Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 1, pp. 234, 235).
"The darkness of the following evening was probably as gross as ever has been observed since the almighty first gave birth to light... I could not help conceiving at the time, that if every luminous body in the universe had been shrouded in impenetrable shades, or struck out of existence, the darkness could not have been more complete. A sheet of white paper held within a few inches of the eyes, was equally invisible with the blackest velvet." (Samuel Tenney, Collections of Massachusetts Historical Society for the Year 1792, Vol. 1, pp. 97, 98).
In the event that some may assume that what occurred here was merely an eclipse of the sun, consider the following statements.
"'Although the moon rose nearly full about nine o'clock, yet it did not give light enough to enable a person to distinguish between the heavens and the earth.' 'The moon, though in the full, gave no light.' 'The moon, which was at the full, had the appearance of blood.'" (James Edson White, The Coming King, pp. 119, 120).
Had this unusual phenomenon been nothing more than an eclipse, it would have lasted only a short period of time, not fourteen hours or until nightfall, as was the case here. Furthermore, the moon was in the full at this time and an eclipse of the sun can occur only at new moon. And finally, science shows that the moon was more than one hundred and fifty degrees from the sun all that day.
The great astronomer, Sir William Hershel, in speaking of this unaccountable event has said, "The dark day in North America was one of those wonderful phenomenon of nature which will always be read with interest, but which philosophy is at a loss to explain." (R.M. Devens, Our First Century, p. 90).
The questions which remain to be settled are: "Does this dark day of May 19, 1780 fulfill the prophecies in Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:24, Revelation 6:12? Is this one of the signs placed upon the face of nature to warn us that we are living in "the time of the end? " If so, how shall we place ourselves with relation to it?
If this event is so important that Christ has presented it to us so many times in His Word, it is certainly of such importance to us that we should ponder it well. Remember well the words of our dear Saviour, "Take heed that no man deceive you." Do not allow anything or any individual to belittle an event which was important enough for the Lord Jesus to foretell so explicitly.
THE STARS OF HEAVEN FELL
The third sign to take place under the sixth seal of Revelation 6:12-17 is the falling of the stars. As we have discovered, the great earthquake took place November 1, 1755, and the dark day May 19, 1780. Therefore, the falling of the stars would have to occur sometime after 1780. This event was literally fulfilled in the great meteoric shower which took place November 13, 1833. Denison Olmsted of Yale University has given the following account of this spectacular occurrence.
"The shower pervaded nearly the whole of North America, having appeared in nearly equal splendor from the British possessions on the North, to the West India Islands and Mexico on the South, and from sixty-one degrees of longitude East of the American coast, quite to the Pacific Ocean on the West. Throughout this immense region, the duration was nearly the same. The meteors began to attract attention by their unusual frequency and brilliancy, from nine to twelve o'clock in the evening; were most striking in their appearance from two to five; arrived at their maximum, in many places, about four o'clock and continued until rendered invisible by the light of day." (Denison Olmsted, The Mechanism of the Heavens, p.
Professor Olmsted also gives this account: "`The meteors did not fly at random over all parts of the sky, but appeared to emanate from a point in the constellation Leo, near a star called Gamma Leonis, in the bend of the sickle.'" (Denison Olmsted quoted by J.E. White, The Coming King, p. 127).
Try and imagine, if you can, what it must have been like to have lived through this experience. To have looked up from beneath a canopy of "shooting stars." To have seen them flying forth from one central point and being flung to the farthest points of the compass in all directions, as they descend covering you as a giant umbrella of brilliant streaks of light. Then picture in your mind, the tremendous magnitude of the area covered by this phenomenon as it stretches from the Sargasso Sea east of Bermuda and across the vast expanse of North America and into the Pacific Ocean. To have extended from Canada, the United States, Mexico, and on into the West Indies and the Islands of the Caribbean. This event had such a tremendous impact on the people who witnessed it that even the secular papers recognized its correlation to the prophecy of Revelation 6:13.
The New York Journal of Commerce of November 14, 1833, the day following this phenomenal event, contains this record:
"The stars fell 'even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken by a mighty wind.' Here is the exactness of the prophet. The falling stars did not come, as if from several trees shaken, but from one: those which appeared in the east fell toward the east; those which appeared in the north fell toward the north; those which appeared in the west fell toward the west; those which appeared in the south...fell toward the south; and they fell, not as ripe fruit falls. Far from it. But they flew, they were cast, like the unripe fruit, which at first refuses to leave the branch; and, when it does break its hold, flies swiftly, straight off, descending; and in the multitude falling, some cross the track of others, as they are thrown with more or less force, but each one falls on its own side of the tree." (New York Journal of Commerce, November 14, 1833, Vol. VIII, No. 534, p. 2).
The number of these falling stars at some stations has been estimated as high as 200,000 an hour for as long as five or six hours. Peter Millman stated in The Telescope that "more than a billion shooting stars appeared over the United States and Canada alone." It rained stars all night, yet the heavens did not empty.
To the student of prophecy there can be no question that this event is but another link in the chain of prophecy pointing to the nearness of the return of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven. In speaking of these very events and His second coming in Matthew 24:29-31, Jesus went on to say "when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" Matthew 24:33. When this exact time is, no one can say, but we do know that it is very close indeed. This is why Jesus said, "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning" (Mark 13:35). "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is" (Mark 13:33). The watching and praying must be done now for when the Lord comes, be it tonight or tomorrow, it will be too late.
As we have seen, the three signs that were to occur under the sixth seal of Revelation 6:12-13 have already taken place. The earthquake on November 1, 1755; the "Dark Day" on May 19, 1780; and the falling stars on November 13, 1833. The last event to occur in this prophecy is for the heaven to depart “as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places" and "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel." (Revelation 6:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8).