Sunday, 16 May 2021
Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. Revelation 16:20
The previous verses referred to the mightiest earthquake that ever occurred since men were on earth, and that the great city (Jerusalem or Babylon) was divided in three parts. Further, the cities of the nations fell, and Babylon was remembered before God as being ripe for judgment. It is possible that what is referred to is symbolic. However, it is (as previously noted) more likely to be taken literally.
It must be remembered that at the time of the flood of Noah, a real event in human history, there would have been immense cataclysms and upheavals of the land. And yet, what was stated in those previous two verses is said to be greater than even that. The importance of this will be analyzed now in this verse. In it, John begins with, “Then every island fled away.” The thought here has already been seen in verse 6:14 –
“Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.”
Various suggestions were proposed as to whether what was said there was literal, symbolic, and so on. The same may be applied to this verse, or it could be that one is symbolic, and one is literal. These events are future and what occurs will be understood at that time to be the fulfillment of the event.
If the events now are literal, it does not mean that there will be no more islands after the event. It probably means that the islands are actually rocked on their very foundations and probably inundated with giant waves that would accompany such an earthquake. The islands of the world would appear to be swimming in the movement of the oceans, seas, and lakes.
John next says, “and the mountains were not found.” Mountains arise through geologic movement, and mountains will be leveled by them as well. These things are, of course, assuming that the events are to be taken literally. Rereading the commentary on verse 6:14 will explain both possibilities as a reminder.
However, as this is at the end of the tribulation period, the direct question is more relevant than before, “Is this literal or symbolic?” Based on the fact that it occurs in conjunction with “a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth,” it probably should be taken as literal. The entire topography of the earth will be changed.
What would be the importance of this then? It is because the earth was in a different state before the flood than after it. People lived longer, meat was not given to them for food yet, and so on. These things were surely because of the physical makeup of the earth at that time. What is likely is that the size of the earth and the timing of the earth’s rotation will also be affected by this earthquake.
The Bible is consistently based on a 360-day year, regardless of how our calendars line up with events. This 360-day year is known as the “prophetic calendar” and was more than probably the way the world’s rotation was originally designed. It is likely that at the time of the flood, this was changed, but the Bible continues to use this pattern for its dating – even through the book of Revelation. Recent earthquakes have moderately affected the earth’s rotation (by milliseconds), but this one will be so large, it may return things to what was originally intended.
Of course, this is all speculation, but the restoration of that which has been lost is a major theme of the Bible and so this may be true with the planet’s timing as well. Along with this is the prospect of mountains being leveled and islands being removed. This is hard to imagine, but so was flying to the moon just a few short decades ago. Just because we can’t mentally grasp what is depicted doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.
There will certainly be an entirely different ecosystem on the earth when this occurs. The changes will be so pronounced that Isaiah says –
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9
Further, the age of man will again be able to attain hundreds of years –
“No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.”
Certainly, big changes are coming in the time ahead. What will bring about these changes so that what was lost will be restored during the millennium? It appears that just as a great set of cataclysmic events took place before the flood and brought the world out of the original design, it may be that another set of cataclysmic events will bring it back into a harmonious design that will positively affect the very nature of life on earth.
Life application: Whatever is coming in the future, it will be glorious. A time of great peace on earth will occur, and the people of the world will receive the wonder and marvel that is prophesied for that time to come. However, before that occurs, there will be such great destruction on the planet that the vast majority of humanity will be annihilated.
Because these things are certain, it is important that people wake up to the truth of God in Christ now. Without Him, there is only anticipated death and separation from God. But through faith in Him, there is life and restoration. Let us put our hope and confidence in God’s provision today. Let us set our hearts, minds, and affections on God’s Messiah, our Lord JESUS!
Lord, we look forward to the time when the world shall be full of the knowledge of who You are and the great deeds You have accomplished. Until then, let us work diligently to bring many to a saving knowledge of You, so that they too can share in the wondrous day ahead when You rule and reign on Your glorious throne. Amen.