Monday, 17 May 2021
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 that plague was exceedingly great. Revelation 16:21
The previous verses referred to the great earthquake and its associated terrors. This final verse of Chapter 16 continues with that theme, saying, “And great hail from heaven fell upon men.” Hail was one of the plagues of Egypt as is described in Exodus 9:22-32. That account was hail that was mingled with fire that was “so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation” (Exodus 9:24).
In this account, it is not so much the volume as in Egypt, but it is rather the weight of the hail. As John says, “each hailstone about the weight of a talent.” A talent is approximately 75 pounds. Because of this, the effect will be devastating.
If this is to be taken literally, one possibility to explain such great hail is that the great earthquake mentioned in the preceding verses will cause such great atmospheric changes that massive hailstones will result. Or it could be that along with the earthquake, other events occurred which caused great amounts of debris to be cast into the air, and which then falls back to earth as if hailstones.
A third possibility is that a major meteor hits the earth which would cause:
1) a change in the earth’s rotation
2) a massive earthquake
3) breakaway meteorite chunks flying everywhere (hail)
4) Lots of debris once it hits
Whatever the cause of them, in the Bible they are considered their own form of judgment. This is seen elsewhere besides the exodus account, such as –
“The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard,
And show the descent of His arm,
With the indignation of His anger
And the flame of a devouring fire,
With scattering, tempest, and hailstones.” Isaiah 30:30
Hail as judgment is also seen in the Psalms, other passages in Isaiah, in Ezekiel, and in Haggai –
“I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the Lord.” Haggai 2:17
An event of hailstones falling on Israel’s enemies during battle is seen in Joshua 10:11 as well. The terror of hail is that there is no way to know where or when it will land. Like being in an artillery barrage, there is no certainty of life from moment to moment. Because of such terror, John says, “Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail.”
It is the same reaction as that of the pouring out of the fourth bowl. Instead of appealing to God, the people will blaspheme Him. The minds of the people will be so twisted and corrupt that they curse the Creator, as if it could have any effect on Him. The hail was prophesied in advance, showing that even if it is a result of the earthquake or some other natural event, it was known to – and allowed by – God to occur. And yet they still blaspheme Him “since that plague was exceedingly great.”
The judgment of hail is great because the sin of the people is great. The judgment is just and right. It is not unlike that which will occur during the battle of Gog and Magog as is recorded in Ezekiel 38 –
“And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 23 Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 38:22, 23
Life application: These occurrences have come about ,and will come about, because of the sins of the people and a rejection of God.
This is the state of depravity in the human heart. We ignore God, claim He doesn’t exist, and we fight against Him. But when tragedy strikes, we blame Him and curse His name. Our words and actions toward God are usually contradictory. Instead of acknowledging His sovereign greatness, we exalt ourselves above Him by judging His actions.
But humanity is a part of creation, and God has every right to dispense with His creatures in whatever way He deems is appropriate. The amazing thing isn’t that God doesn’t keep us from harm. The amazing thing is that He lets us live at all. We have sinned, we have failed to recognize His glory, we find other avenues to pursue from day to day without having Him as our greatest joy.
Despite these things, He took the initiative in order to reconcile us to Himself. He accomplished the work, He sent His Son, and He allowed us to crucify Him. All that is needed to bring us back to Himself was accomplished by Him. And all He asks for is that we will just believe. Let us turn to Him through this marvelous message of reconciliation. Let us praise Him forevermore for the giving of His Son, JESUS.
It is hard to imagine how unclear our thoughts are toward You, O God. We try to hide from You and we speak ill of You – as if You couldn’t hear. We even curse You when we receive Your stern hand of discipline and correction. Were it not for Jesus, we certainly would be utterly swept away. Thank You for Jesus! Thank You for peace and hope through Him. Amen.