With the destruction of the ozone layer which "departed as a scroll "when it is rolled together" humankind will be forced to seek shelter wherever it can find it. The following verse (6:15) reveals how at that awful time everyone, from kings and rich men down to ordinary free men, will hide "themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains".
Contemporarily this verse has been interpreted as the population escaping nuclear fallout in underground shelters, but it might also be some kind of ecological disaster.
In the next chapter St John envisions "four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree". This verse invokes an eerie vision of a noiseless land with not a breath of wind, that pregnant pause before disaster hits.
Before the full horrific forces of destruction are released, a voice commands that the servants of God be identified by a mark on their foreheads so that they can escape harm. Interestingly, the same marking is carried out by the Beast, so that he, like God, will be able to distinguish his own.
Until this is completed, the avenging angels are commanded to "hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees" (7:3). This verse is practically a direct plea to our age to stop raping the earth, polluting the sea, and cutting down the once great forests of the Amazon.
Finally, after the seventh seal has been unlocked, there is a period of silence before "there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake" (8:5). The earthquake paves the way to widespread volcanic eruptions from which fire, hail and blood rain down on the vegetation. Then a "great mountain burning with fire" (8:8) turns the sea to a blood color, poisoning one-third of the fish in the oceans.
The third trumpet conveys yet greater destruction, "and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters". The star is named Wormwood, which does not appear in any catalogue of stars. The word is used as a pun on the bitter herb which went into the making of the drink absinthe, "and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter" (9:10-11) or poisonous.
This might point toward a poisoning of water supplies, possibly by some new plague from outer space. Another ambiguous passage concerns a type of poisonous locust which is sent to plague mankind.
When the fourth trumpet sounds more cosmic changes occur, reminiscent of Velikovsky's theories of cosmic cataclysm: "the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part, and the night likewise" (8:12).
These are the passages in the Apocalypse of St John which seem to have ecological disaster significance.
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