Let’s read Revelation 16:17-21: “Then seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air; and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since the plague was exceedingly great” (NKJV).

In the book of Revelation the apostle John was given a vision of judgments that would occur during the Tribulation Period that lasts seven years. There are seven SEAL judgments, followed by seven TRUMPET judgments, and ending with seven BOWL judgments. We have the very last judgment before us in this passage and it is the most solemn and devastating judgment of them all.

In verse 17 the seventh angel announces “It is done.” As we mentioned, this is the last judgment in the series of judgments and with it God’s divine purpose in judgment, regarding the Tribulation Period, is completed. It will set the stage for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, as seen in Revelation 19:11-21.

In verse 18 we read of “noises and thunderings and lightnings” followed by “a great earthquake” such as the world has never seen. Some expositors refuse to take this literally, believing that it illustrates “an upheaval of society and its governments” (pictured by the cities, islands and mountains in verses 19-20). But I believe we should take Scripture literally UNLESS the context forces us to take it symbolically. I see no reason why we can’t take this as a literal earthquake. The earth has experienced terrible earthquakes throughout time but never on the scale that we see here.

We learn in verse 19 that “the great city was divided into three parts.” In 11:8 this city is identified, “the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, WHERE ALSO OUR LORD WAS CRUCIFIED.” This clearly refers to Jerusalem. It won’t be completely destroyed, but it will be “divided into three parts.” Next we read that “the cities of the nations fell.” How solemn! Men boast of the greatness of New York City, London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo and many others, but in one swift judgment they will be reduced to rubble! And lastly, “great Babylon was remembered before God” where in this earthquake she will be made to drink of “the wine of the fierceness of His [God’s] wrath.” Which city is “great Babylon?” Will the city of Babylon that once existed on the Euphrates River be rebuilt and then destroyed in this powerful earthquake? We can’t be sure, but what we do know is that this city, wherever it is, will be the political and commercial center of the world leader (known as the Beast in Revelation 13:1-10) during the Tribulation Period. Its end is also graphically described in Revelation chapter 18.

Verse 20 teaches us that “every island” and “the mountains” will be removed. Can we even imagine the devastation that results in islands and mountains disappearing out of sight?

The last stroke of judgment is seen in verse 21 where “great hail from heaven fell upon men.” Each hailstone weighs “a talent,” which is 100 pounds! In Exodus 9:18-26 God rained down hail upon the land of Egypt, but that paled in comparison to the hailstones in this last great judgment. What is man’s reaction to this unparalleled judgment? Do they repent of their sins and give God the glory He deserves? No, instead “men blasphemed God.” Such is the heart of man, which will rebel against God to the bitter end. For unless divine grace works in their hearts and produces repentance that leads to eternal life, man will continue to manifest their hatred of God by blaspheming His holy Name. Has my reader experienced God’s grace which was manifested toward us at the cross where He judged His Son in our place? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  (216.7)  (DO)