Biblical Apocalypses That Have Actually Happened

The End Times are nigh! Or so I’ve heard for as long as I can remember. It seems that there are always folks who are eager to bring the world to an end, or at least declare that an apocalypse is imminent.

Raining Cats & Dogs (or Frogs?)

“Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’”

Raining Frogs

Raining Frogs

The very odd phenomenon of flightless animals falling from the sky, as though raining, has been reported on and off throughout history. Though rare, such reports date back to the first century AD when Roman naturalist Pliny The Elder documented storms of frogs and fish. Later, French soldiers witnessed toads fall from the sky during heavy rain near the French city of Lille in 1794. In Marksville, Louisiana in 1947, fish fell from the sky onto cars, roofs and roadways. As recently as 2010, spangled perch fell out of the sky over a remote desert town in the Australian outback, Lajamau.

Some reports of animals falling from the sky can be attributed instead to mass die-offs of animals in a concentrated area, all terrestrial in origin. Passersby see the cluster and mistakenly assume that the animals were dropped there. Other events, however, are not so easy to explain. Witnesses actually see the animals falling from the sky like rain, and science hasn’t had a satisfactory answer so far. The best theory we have is that waterspouts, like tornadoes over bodies of water, lift up the creatures and re-deposit them elsewhere.

Plague of Locusts

“So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again.”

Growing up in Ohio, I’m no stranger to invading insects. Every dozen years or so, cicadas descend on Columbus in great buzzing droves leaving their molted shells behind like dried leaves. You have to hide your hair and protect yourself from getting dive-bombed by these periodical pests. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, as many as 2-3 BILLION emerge from gestation in a few-week season in southwestern Ohio alone.

If cicadas don’t do it for you, fear not. You can find actual plagues of locusts, too. In the summer of 2015, clouds of locusts “blackened the skies” of southern Russia, threatening to destroy crops from Chechnya to Astrakhan. Worse, this is an annual occurrence! The authorities usually destroy the locusts before they hatch. This swarm, however, came in from neighboring regions.

Plague of Blood

This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.

Water that appears as blood is a phenomenon documented throughout history both as standing bodies of water and falling as rain from the sky. The earliest literary instance is in Homer’s Iliad, in which Zeus twice caused a rain of blood, on one occasion to warn of slaughter in a battle. The occurrence of blood rain eventually became known as a bad omen. In Germany, a blood rain was recorded before the widespread onset of the black plague in 1348-9.

Blood rain

Blood rain

The phenomenon is still happening in modern times. Blood rain received international coverage after a red rain fell in Kerala, India in 2001 and again in 2012. A 2015 study firmly established that the cause of blood rain was airborne spores of an algae, Trentepohlia annulata, that came from clouds over the ocean. Similarly, water that appears as blood can be caused by another algae, Oscillatoria rubescens. It multiplies quickly and stains the water red as it dies.

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