Doomsday: 79 A.D.

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By Greg Dumas

In the year 79 A.D. a mountain named Vesuvius, in southwestern Italy, literally blew its top, burying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.  At the time of the eruption, Pompeii was a thriving commercial port at the mouth of the Sarno River.  It was a destination for wealthy Roman citizens who often vacationed there, being a city of considerable size with numerous attractions such as its own amphitheater, complete with gladiatorial school.
Pliny the younger, a Roman administrator and poet, was an actual eyewitness to the events that took place in 79 A.D. and his account leaves no doubt that the citizens of that city were caught quite unprepared.  They had indeed experienced earth tremors but earth tremors were not uncommon in that part of the world.
Archaeologists have worked at that site since the 18th century and excavation has been on-going to the present with Maiuri being the first Pompeian archaeologist to decide to uncover Pompeii’s Pre A.D. 79 history. But it was Guiseppe Fiorelli who undertook full- scale excavations of Pompeii in 1860 and it was he who developed a system of forming the plaster casts which people are so familiar with today. Archaeologists poured liquid plaster into the hollows left in the ash when the bodies had decomposed and thus recreated the figures at the moment of their death.
When Tony, Josh, and I visited the site, we learned that the people of that city were very carnal-minded, evidenced by the fact that they indulged in forms of recreation that pitted man against man in fights to the death.  Statuary, paying homage to various Roman deities, was common throughout the city.  And finally, we were introduced to the infamous red-light district, complete with a stone bed; ouch!
There is little evidence that some who embraced the Christian faith lived in that city but, if they did, they certainly would have had their work cut out for them.  The preponderance of evidence clearly points to the fact that the inhabitants of that city were not overly concerned with things, spiritual.
The catastrophic magnitude of the eruption that occurred in A.D. 79 was connected with an extended period of inactivity that preceded it.  A long interval, combined with mounting seismic activity, is a sure sign of impending disaster, but then, the citizens of ancient Pompeii knew little about such matters.  That period of inactivity, unsuspectingly, lulled the people of the region into a false sense of security and they were totally unprepared for what was about to happen.
Likewise, many people have been lulled into that same false sense of security today.  
The Bible teaches that “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,”
2 Peter 3:10-13.  
Surely, those residents of ancient Pompeii must have thought that the world was coming to an end on that day so long ago, and for them, it truly was!
The day of the Lord will come for us; let us believe that statement from God’s word and, like I learned so long ago when I was a boy-scout, BE PREPARED!
Gene Dumas is preacher at Manatee Springs Church of Christ.