Revelation 16:18

Friday, 14 May 2021

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. Revelation 16:18

As a note concerning manuscripts, the order of the three events is different depending on which manuscript is used –

And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; (NASB)
And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; (NKJV)

Whichever is correct, the idea remains the same in both regardless of the order. With that understood, John begins with, “And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings.”

Following the pattern of previous instances (Revelation 4:5 & 11:19), these accompany the spoken words of the previous voice which said, “It is done.” There is a difference, however, in that mentioning these events in Revelation 4 and 11 formed the close of the judgments. In this case, mentioning them serves to introduce the result of the last bowl judgment. That result begins with “and there was a great earthquake.”

This is a form of judgment all by itself, especially as it is noted within the prophecy. Earthquakes are a part of the normal events of the earth and cannot always be considered as some form of judgment. But this one, being prophesied in advance, and being connected with other events in the narrative, is to be taken as a direct judgment. Of this earthquake, John says it is “such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.”

This earthquake is not to be spiritualized into something like “turmoil within the church,” or some other such analysis. Rather, the description of it, and the effects resulting from it, are spoken of as literal events. It is a cataclysm that will shake the entire earth. The effects of it will be seen in the next verses.

Life application: In Revelation 6:12, during the opening of the 6th seal, there was an earthquake. Again, in Revelation 8:5, after the opening of the 7th seal and prior to the sounding of the 7 trumpets, there were “noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.” Next in Revelation 11:13 during the 2nd woe and prior to the sounding of the 7th trumpet, “a tenth of the city fell [and] in the earthquake seven thousand people were killed.” This was at the time of the resurrection of the two witnesses. Then a little later, after the sounding of the 7th trumpet (which would precede the 7 bowl judgments), it said –

“Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.” Revelation 11:19

The time of tribulation will be a time of great upheaval on the earth and there will be much destruction from these events. However, the magnitude of the earthquake described in verse 16:18 will be far more immense.

News flash: For those who believe Revelation is concerning events that were fulfilled in the past, these cataclysms have never occurred before, and in particular this great earthquake cannot be identified as a fulfilled event. Therefore, again as has been pointed out many times, the book of Revelation is speaking about future events, most especially surrounding the unrepentant of the world and Israel, not the church.

Verses such as this one cannot be “spiritualized” without destroying the entire context of what is being relayed. The world is (future) coming under God’s judgment and when these events occur, they will be without precedent in their size and scope.

The very shape of the earth and its rotational speed and axis will likely be affected in an enormous way from the earthquake which is predicted in this verse. If this is so, it may explain other events that will come about during the millennium concerning the nature of the world, the longer lifespan of people at that time, and so on.

However, before that time of marvel and beauty arrives, the world must go through terrible times. The tribulation is not a time any sane person would voluntarily want to enter. And so, if the warning of the book of Revelation is understood, the reader should opt to avoid that time by calling out today for God’s provision in the giving of His Son. God will keep those who come to Him out of this time to come. So, call on Him today. Call out to JESUS!

Lord, we know that Your judgments are just and that in righteousness they are executed. Thank You that we have the complete assurance that nothing is done in an arbitrary manner, but Your judgments are a result of our own failures in Your presence. And so, thank You for the mercy You have provided through the giving of Your Son. Because of this, we stand and praise You forever. Amen.