Tuesday, 16 February 2021
In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. Revelation 11:13
In the previous verse, the two witnesses ascended to heaven in a cloud. With that event complete, it now says, “In the same hour there was a great earthquake.” The Greek reads, “In the hour there was…” It is a way of showing that the two events are connected and not merely coincidence. It is the same thought that is conveyed in Matthew at Christ’s death –
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:50, 51
And again, at Christ’s resurrection –
“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2
The earthquakes coinciding with such major events are to alert those who experience them that they are more than chance events, they are perfectly time events to confirm they are of God. With the coming of the earthquake, it then says, “and a tenth of the city fell.” Of the number ten, EW Bullinger states –
“It has been already pointed out that ten is one of the perfect numbers, and signifies the perfection of Divine order, commencing, as it does, an altogether new series of numbers. The first decade is the representative of the whole numeral system, and originates the system of calculation called ‘decimals,’ because the whole system of numeration consists of so many tens, of which the first is a type of the whole. Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete.”
As Bullinger notes, “the first decade is the representative of the whole numeral system.” In a tenth of the city falling, it is revealing that the whole is judged. An example of a tenth representing the whole is the Old Covenant system of tithing. The first tenth is representative of the whole. The idea here is the “judgment has come upon the whole.” With that understood, John next says, “In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed.”
The Greek reads, “names of men.” It is a way of positively identifying those of a set number rather than a rounded number. It is the same number that was claimed by the Lord at the time of Elijah. In 1 Kings 19:18, the Lord said to him, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” Surprisingly, a liberal newspaper in Israel, Ha’Aretz, reported in 2018 that this exact number is anticipated to die in a major earthquake. The title of the article says, “Minister: Major Earthquake in Israel Could Kill 7,000.”
It should be noted that it says a tenth of the city was destroyed, but it doesn’t say that seven thousand is a tenth of the people. The facts stand alone, but they are connected by the event. The number seven is the number of spiritual perfection. Thus, whether seven thousand are reserved by the Lord (as in the days of Elijah), or seven thousand are killed at the time of the earthquake, it is a spiritually perfect claim by God on the whole. Because of what occurs, John then says, “and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
The meaning of this is that they recognized God’s hand in what has occurred and acknowledged it as such. It cannot mean that all of them will turn to God and believe unto salvation. Later in Revelation, it will explicitly say that any who take the mark of the beast cannot be saved (vs. 20:4). For any who take the mark, there can only be condemnation. For those who do not, they can turn to God through belief in Christ and be saved.
Life application: God has given His word to us to lead us back to Himself. However, many carelessly fail to pick it up and read it. However, He will also work through natural events to wake people up by His judgments. Tragedy, in one form or another, has a way of causing people to seek out God and have a proper relationship with Him. If this results in a person turning his heart to the Lord, then the tragedy was worth it. In the end, no tragedy is worse than dying apart from God’s one and only means of restoration with Him. And that means is through His Mediator, our Lord JESUS.
Lord God, we in the world find every reason to ignore you and Your obvious call to us through the written testimony in Your word. Therefore, judgment is often the only remedy. Because this is so, and because it will bring You glory, let Your judgment come so that You may receive what we have otherwise failed to give. Amen.