Bowl 7, The Earthquake, Revelation Chapter 16 Verses 17-21 (NASB)

    And the SEVENTH ANGEL poured out his BOWL upon the air;

Previously, water was turned to blood (verses 3 and 4) and the sun scorched the earth with intense heat (verse 8). Now the last necessity for life, AIR, is under judgment. Since air totally surrounds the earth, this judgment affects the entire earth. Amazingly, the effects on the AIR itself are not recorded. This leads some scholars to say this is wholly symbolic of the final spiritual attack on evil. This bowl certainly does attack Satan in his power base (Ephesians 2:1-3).

On the other hand, there are tremendous physical consequences as we will see in the next verse. There is no doubt that the whole earth is in this judgment, both physically and spiritually.

    and a loud voice came out of the TEMPLE from the THRONE, saying, "IT IS DONE."

This loud voice is proclaiming completion of the "mystery of God" in the 7th trumpet (Revelation 10:7). That the loud voice comes from the THRONE (righteousness of God) in the TEMPLE (holiness of God) indicates this is the voice of God. It is the same voice we find in Revelation 21:6.

Interesting to note that the TEMPLE is involved in each of the "7th" judgments: 7th seal (Revelation 8:3), 7th trumpet (Revelation 11:19), and this verse. This supports the view that all these "7th" judgments are different views of the same event. Inasmuch, the 7th seal contains the 7th trumpet which contains the 7th bowl, one can accept this argument.

This is the second of three "completions". The first "completion" was uttered by Christ (John 19:28-30), and it completes the redemption of mankind from sin. This verse's "completion" finishes the redemption of the old earth from the sin curse (Genesis 3). The final "completion" (Revelation 21:6) completes the Revelation vision with the establishment of a new heaven and new earth.
    And there were flashes of LIGHTNING and SOUNDS and peals of THUNDER; and there was

Before the 7th trumpets' judgments, a similar event occurred (Revelation 8:5). Just as the fire traveled through the air to the earth at that time, so now this bowl judgment travels through the air (previous verse) to cause this physical phenomena.

The use of SOUNDS shows that these were noises John couldn't readily identify. The earth at the end of the tribulation will be so much different from what we live in today. However, one can't help but think this may be a Revelation-like reference to the multimedia crazed world we now are just beginning to experience.

The events recorded here are much like the prophesy of Isaiah 29:1-8. Recall that the gathering in Isaiah 29:8 will, by this time, have already taken place (verse 16). The final outcome of the gathering still remains to be determined.


    a GREAT EARTHQUAKE, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth,

The Old Testament is full of God shaking the earth (Isaiah 2:19-21; Isaiah 24:16-23; Isaiah 30:30-33; Haggai 2:6,7,20-23; Zechariah 14:4-5; and Ezekiel 38:17-23). Can you tell whether these prophetic writings are talking about this GREAT EARTHQUAKE?

This will be the GREATEST EARTHQUAKE ever. I wonder how it compares to the greatest earthquake of the 1900s? That one occurred in 1970 in the Pacific Ocean near Chile. In that quake, a fault 500 miles long moved 70 feet. The quake's moment magnitude was 9.5 (or 8.3 on the Richter scale).

    so GREAT an EARTHQUAKE was it, and SO MIGHTY.

Symbolically, this GREAT EARTHQUAKE is tied to the next verse where we will find the GREAT CITY split apart. One could interpret this as a great shaking of the world governments, economic systems (World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), for example), and religious sects. As this is being written, the United States (and world) has been shaken by terrorists flying commercial aircraft into the World Trade Towers. The economic impact of that act has yet to be fully realized, I suspect.

Interestingly, third world countries can have civil wars going on for years and a government (usually dictatorial) stays in power. However, let a natural disaster occur in that country, and the government collapses within months if not weeks. So this MIGHTY EARTHQUAKE may just be the final catalyst to topple the world governments in preparation for the millennial reign of Christ on this earth.

Verses 19, 20, and 21 contain the consequences of the GREAT EARTHQUAKE (previous verse).

    (1)   THE GREAT CITY was split into three parts, and

In scripture, only Jerusalem (where Jesus was crucified, Revelation 11:8) is referred to as the GREAT CITY. Having said this, it should be noted that scholars have identified the GREAT CITY variously as Rome, Jerusalem, or Babylon. Since all three cities are close to tectonic boundaries, it is plausible that physically any one of them could split into three parts.

Symbolically, this could be a spiritual split of Jerusalem into three factions. For example, Arabs, Jews, and Gentiles or, perhaps, Palestinians, Orthodox Jews, and Moderate Jews. This may be the visionary way of showing that the Unholy Trinity is having a difference of opinion among its ruling ranks.

    (2)   the cities of the NATIONS fell. And

The whole world is affected by this GREAT EARTHQUAKE. Previously in the 6th seal's GREAT EARTHQUAKE (Revelation 6:12), cities may have escaped the massive destruction and death that usually accompanies these events. In this last GREAT EARTHQUAKE, already weakened cities worldwide fall.

Carrying the symbolic viewpoint forward, the Antichrist loses control of the cities of the world. Perhaps the people who took the mark of the beast suddenly, like an earthquake, realize that they have been deceived by the great deceiver (Revelation 12:9).

    (3)   BABYLON THE GREAT was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of HIS FIERCE WRATH.

This may be the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 13:1-16).

Just as God promised to remember his covenant with Israel (Psalm 98:3, Psalm 105:8-15, Psalm 105:37-42), so, too, He will remember BABLYON THE GREAT with the cup of the wine of HIS FIERCE WRATH (Psalm 137).

As we will find in chapters 17 and 18, Babylon can be considered as the sum of the evil social, religious, and political worlds. God now focuses His full attention on this Devil-assisted but manmade structure.
    (4)   every island (mountains under the sea) fled away, and

The use of the word "fled" reminds us how quickly this occurs. See Revelation 9:6 and Revelation 12:6 for the other times when things or people fled.

This verse implies a complete reversal of the earth's tectonic plate movements. Over the years since creation, land masses slid over each other (sometimes violently with earthquakes) to form mountain ranges, valleys, and islands. So as part of the reclamation of the title deed for the earth as embodied by the scroll in chapter 5, it is entirely appropriate to "unslide" the earth's tectonic plates to restore the earth to its pristine creation state. All this is in preparation for the millennial reign.

    (5)   the mountains were not found.

Mountains have been the place where God meets mankind (Exodus 19:1-9; Exodus 19:16-25; Isaiah 2:1-4; and Matthew 17:1-13). However, during the millennium, God/Christ will again dwell among men and will not speak to them from a mountain top. That is not to say, there won't be "mountains" around during the millennium. I suspect that there will be a mound at Jerusalem as that city will be the capital of the whole earth during that period.

Evil men have used mountains to hide in (Revelation 6:15-16-17). However, at this time (end of the tribulation period), there is no need for men to hide. Those who received the mark of the beast are clearly identified, and into the millennium, society will expect God to walk among them just like God walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve (pre Genesis 3). Curiously, even as in Genesis 3, Satan will be released after the 1,000 years to try to tempt mankind again (Revelation 20:7-10). 
    (6)   huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, CAME DOWN from heaven UPON MEN;

While the 666-marked people on earth curse God because of this hailstorm, it really could be that the earth is giving praise back to God for its deliverance (return to the pristine created form) from the sin curse (Psalm 148). Or it could be the earth reacting to God's FIERCE WRATH (verse 19), or as the Psalmist testifies in Psalm 18:7-15.

The punishment of blasphemy under Levitical law was stoning (Leviticus 24:10-16), and this is God's way of stoning the blasphemous people. This implies many men will die worldwide ... their dwellings have been flattened by the GREAT EARTHQUAKE (verse18), so they are outside, unprotected from this plague.

Great hailstones have killed people in recent times; however, these hailstones or boulders are many times larger. Henry Morris in "The Revelation Record" points out the Greek (chalaza) means 'something which falls' and (lithinos) is always used for true rock material. The tectonic undoing during the GREAT EARTHQUAKE certainly could/would open huge gashes in the earth's crust and would force 'lava' boulders high into the air (heaven).

    and MEN BLASPHEMED GOD because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.

This is the third time the marked MEN have blasphemed God (Revelation 16:9 and Revelation 16:11). It almost is like complete denial of God comes in threes (Matthew 26:69-75).

If this verse tells us anything, we need a 'protector' around us when this happens. Accept Christ TODAY to be protected from this horrible plague!
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only