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John Walvoord: With both the seal and the trumpet judgments, there was an interlude in time before the execution of the sixth and seventh judgments. But there is no such break with the bowls. They are relentless in their outpouring.

John MacArthur: This final judgment of the present era will take place during the time when “the mystery of God is finished” (10:7). It is the last of the “seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished” (15:1). The seventh bowl will be the worst calamity in the world’s history, the most complete and devastating catastrophe the earth will ever experience. Its effects carry all the way to the establishment of the earthly kingdom of Christ. Like the fourth angel, the seventh angel did not dump his bowl on the earth, but poured it out… upon the air. Its first effects were on the earth’s atmosphere, as if God were cleansing the former domain of Satan and his demon hosts (12:9). The earth (v. 2), the sea (v. 3), the waters (v. 4), the sun (v. 8), and finally the air are the targets of judgment.

Grant Osborne: The bowl judgments finalize the central section of the book (6:1 – 16:21) focusing on the judgments that accompany the opening of the scroll and detailing the final events of world history and the arrival of the eschaton. In it God’s earthly judgment is complete, and the purposes of these events as noted above are finalized. All that remains is the destruction of the evil empire (chaps. 17–19) and the final judgment (chap. 20). The day of Yahweh and of the Lamb is about to arrive.

Robert Mounce: It is not surprising that there are a number of similarities between the last trumpet and the final bowl: they both bring history to a close.

Charles Swindoll: The description that follows in the remainder of Revelation 16 is a summary of what John will address in detail in Revelation 17:1 – 22:5. What he describes is nothing less than chilling if we read his words using our imaginations.

  • Lightning flashes from one end of heaven to the other.
  • Thunder roars through the atmosphere.
  • The worst earthquake in history shakes the world.
  • The Antichrist’s capital city is split into three parts.
  • Islands sink into the ocean.
  • Mountains collapse into the earth.
  • Hundred-pound hailstones pummel the earth.

What’s left of human civilization is shaken to its stone-age foundations, clearing the earth for an extreme makeover. What Revelation describes is nothing less than the end of the world as we know it. Everything about the earth, including its topography, will be prepared for a new regime, the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ.

Kendell Easley: The seventh bowl completes both the devastation of nature with the ultimate earthquake and the final devastation of the beast by destroying Babylon. . .  God’s final display of wrath will unravel the forces of nature and the forces of the Antichrist, climaxing in one final battle “on the great day of God Almighty.”

David Aune: The pouring out of the seventh bowl represents the climax to which the three heptads of seals, trumpets, and libation bowls have been leading, the last of the plagues sent by God to afflict humanity (15:1). For with the pouring out of the seventh bowl, God himself (identified as “a voice from the throne”) proclaims “It is done!” (16:17). As part of this final plague “God remembered great Babylon” (v 19), which suggests that the punishment of Babylon treated in 17:1 – 19:10 must be included as an aftereffect of the seventh plague. The author has used a transitional passage in 16:7–20, linking the series of seven bowls to the imminent destruction of Babylon.


A.  Target of the Judgment

And the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air;

John Walvoord: Some have compared this prophecy to Ezekiel 38:9, 16, where the host from the north is described as “coming on like a storm” and “like a cloud covering the land.” While this may imply an air attack, it is perhaps reading too much into the passage to assume this. In any event the seventh bowl, which is poured out in the air, has its principal result on the earth.

SonRise Community Church: From this we come to learn the seventh angel poured his bowl into the air. That might seem like a strange location to pour something as all the other bowls were poured into definitive objects or places or environments. But that this bowl is poured into the air suggests judgment being brought onto the Devil, or as he is referred to elsewhere “the prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians.  And as it’s poured out we hear a loud voice coming out from the throne within the temple. This is none other than the voice of God, because remember back in 15:8 the sanctuary was filled with the glory of God and no one could enter it. So out God’s voice goes and we hear the pronouncement, “Is it done!” 15:1 already told us of this reality, that the seven angels would come and finish God’s wrath by pouring it out. Well, now the angels have done just that so we hear the finality of it being accomplished in this pronouncement.

G.R. Beasley-Murray: The seventh bowl signifies the end of the end, but at the same time the beginning of the kingdom which knows no end.

B.  Termination of the Judgment

and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, ‘It is done.’

Buist Fanning: The declaration itself, “it has happened” (γέγονεν; v. 17c), should be understood in light of v. 1 and of other heavenly declarations recorded by John in recent chapters (10:6–7; 11:15; 12:10–12; 14:7–8; see also 15:1). The voice in v. 1 characterizes the seven bowl judgments as the pouring out of “God’s anger” on the earth, which in turn points back to 15:1 where it is said that in them “God’s anger will be completed.” So what “has happened” or taken place (v. 17c) is the sevenfold outpouring of God’s anger that has now reached its conclusion.  As in other heavenly announcements in these chapters (see 18:2 in addition to the verses cited above), this is recorded as already accomplished from heaven’s point of view, even though it is yet to be fully portrayed in John’s account of all that it entails. Moreover, it is of course still future in terms of actual events that will consummate God’s coming judgment and redemption on earth.

Richard Phillips: Readers familiar with John’s Gospel inevitably associate the “It is done!” from our passage with Jesus’ cry of victory on the cross, “It is finished,” after atoning for our sins (John 19:30). After all, John was the writer of both books: if readers today connect the sayings, it is hard to imagine that John himself would not have done so. Moreover, the “loud voice” coming “out of the temple, from the throne” (Rev. 16:17), can only be Christ’s. We were earlier told that while the bowls of wrath were being poured, only God could be in the sanctuary (15:8), and parallel passages have named these judgments “the wrath of the Lamb” (6:16). By connecting this cry of divine judgment with the crucified Christ’s cry of salvation, we join judgment and salvation as the two sides of Christ’s double-edged gospel sword (1:16).

Grant Osborne: “It is done” — God repeats this same statement in 21:6, at the creation of the “new heaven and new earth.” There is a certain inclusio between the two (16:17; 21:6), as 16:17 concludes the judgments that begin the eschaton, and 21:6 concludes the eschaton with the new creation.


A.  (:18) Unprecedented Natural Phenomena

  1. Lightning and Thunder

And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder;

Grant Richison: The last bowl judgment brings unprecedented natural disturbances.  These disturbances reduce the shrines of men to shambles.  The earth is the most stable thing we know.  When the earth shakes, we have no point of orientation.  There is nowhere to flee.  This “great” earthquake is a terrifying experience.

G.R. Beasley-Murray: The lightning and thunder of the storm are separated from the hail in order to bring the series of plagues to a climax in a judgment which terrifyingly surpasses its counterpart in the exodus-narrative.

  1. Great Earthquake

and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.

David Aune: The singularity and intensity of this occurrence is underlined by claiming that it is unique in the history of the world, or that an event of such magnitude had never before occurred.

Buist Fanning: Accompanying the announcement of v. 17 are the awesome phenomena of “flashes of lightning and rumblings and peals of thunder” as well as “a great earthquake” (v. 18a–b). These represent God’s terrifying presence originally experienced at Sinai (Exod 19:16–19) and repeated often thereafter in the Old Testament as typological symbols of God’s presence and as portents of coming judgment.  They have been features of John’s visions of judgment at key places: as part of the grounding vision in 4:5, then at 8:5 (related to the seventh seal), and then at 11:19 (related to the seventh trumpet). Here they signal the conclusion of the bowl judgments and God’s imminent appearance on earth through the return of his Messiah as king and judge (19:11–21).  This will constitute a greater intensification of the pattern of judgment than has ever been seen before, as John explicitly notes regarding the earthquake (v. 18c). The comparative phrasing (“such as . . .”) and reference to a range of past occurrences that are now exceeded (“from the time when humankind came to be on the earth”) are characteristic features of this typology and its escalation (most notably in Dan 12:1; Matt 24:21; Mark 13:19; but see also Exod 9:18, 24; Jer 30:7; Joel 2:2; cf. T. Mos. 8:1; 1QM 1:12). The “great” or violent (NRSV, REB) earthquake is specifically noted as completely unprecedented, and John reinforces its severity by adding two phrases at the end to reinforce what was already said, “so mighty an earthquake it was—so great” (τηλικοῦτος σεισμὸς οὕτω μέγας).  The occurrence of a “great earthquake” is a notable parallel to Ezekiel 38:18–20 (e.g., 38:19 LXX: σεισμὸς μέγας) that describes an invasion of many nations against the land of Israel and the violent shaking of whole earth that is the Lord’s response to their attack.

Sola Scriptura: Unlike the previous earthquakes, this one is unparalleled in all of human history.  This earthquake cannot be compared or thought to be one of the other earthquakes that has occurred in the Revelation.  Those who attempt to make this point ignore the textual details.  The author makes clear with the intensive nature of this earthquake that it is unparalleled.

B.  (:19a) Horrific Damage

  1. On the City of Jerusalem

And the great city was split into three parts,

Buist Fanning: The identity of “the great city” mentioned here is disputed, but given the earlier mention of “the great city” in 11:8 and its clear identification as Jerusalem in that context, it is evident that Jerusalem is in view in this verse as well.  The importance of Ezekiel as a background to this vision makes this the most natural reading: Ezekiel 5:1–13 (Jerusalem symbolically divided into threes to represent God’s discipline for her sins) and Ezekiel 38:17–23 (great earthquake in response to invasion of Israel by pagan nations). The clear contrast in v. 19a–b (the great city vs. cities of the nations, i.e., the gentiles) supports this identification from the passage itself. The fact that “Babylon the great” is mentioned in v. 19c and is regularly described as “the great city” in the next two chapters (17:18; 18:10, 16, 18 [2x], 21) does not weaken this conclusion for 16:19a. Babylon is added in v. 19c as a specific (and greatest) example of “the cities of the nations” (v. 19b), and from here on in Revelation it represents a typological contrast to Jerusalem: the dragon’s or the world’s city as opposed to God’s city (both viewed as women, either sinful or holy).  Here John notes that, among all the pagan world’s cities, God has not overlooked Babylon’s sins.

John MacArthur: The first effect of this great and mighty earthquake was that the great city was split into three parts. The great city cannot be Babylon, as some think, because it is distinguished from “Babylon the great” mentioned later in verse 19. A comparison with 11:8 clearly identifies the great city as Jerusalem, “the great city … where also [the] Lord was crucified.” That the great city is distinct from the cities of the nations offers further evidence that Jerusalem is in view. The massive earthquake will split Jerusalem into three parts, beginning a series of geophysical alterations to the city and its surrounding region that will conclude when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Zechariah 14:4–10 describes these changes in detail. The Mount of Olives will split in two, and a new valley running east and west will be created (Zech. 14:4). A spring of water will flow year-round from Jerusalem to the Mediterranean and Dead Seas (Zech. 14:8), causing the desert to blossom like a rose (cf. Isa. 35:1). Jerusalem will be elevated, and the surrounding region flattened into a plain (Zech. 14:10). Thus, the purpose of the earthquake as it relates to Jerusalem is not to judge the city, but to enhance it. Jerusalem was judged earlier in the Tribulation by an earthquake, which led to the salvation of those who were not killed (11:13). Thus, there is no need for further judgment on that city. The physical changes will prepare Jerusalem for the central role it will play during the millennial kingdom, when Christ will reign there as King (Ps. 110:2; Isa. 2:3; 24:23; Mic. 4:7).

Joe Beard: The first effect of this mighty earthquake is that it will split the great city into three parts.  The great city is the same phrase that John used in Revelation 11:8 as the great city of Jerusalem.  That John sets this city off as distinct from the rest of the cities of the nations or Gentiles offers further evidence that this is Jerusalem.  This severe earthquake will split Jerusalem into three parts, beginning a series of geographic changes to the city and the surrounding area that will be concluded when the Lord Jesus returns.  The Old Testament prophet Zechariah and others talk about these changes.  The purpose of the earthquake for Jerusalem is not to judge it, but to enhance it in preparation for the millennial kingdom.

Sola Scriptura: Scholars do not agree on the identity of “the great city.”  However, the context is clear.  Jerusalem is “the great city.”  Jerusalem is explicitly identified in Revelation 11:8 as “the great city.”  Why the city is split into three parts is not stated.  However, Zechariah 13:8 declares, “It will come about in all the land [of Israel], declares the Lord, that two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it.”  This accords with the destruction of “the great city” indicated in Revelation 16:19.  Also, Zechariah 14:2 indicates that God will leave a segment of His people just prior to His arrival with His angels for the battle of Armageddon.  The destruction of Jerusalem will be highlighted in Revelation 17-18.

Alternative View: Babylon

Kendell Easley: This is the end for the monster’s kingdom. His city split into three parts, that is, into total ruin. His entire world empire fell too: the cities of the nations collapsed. Assuming this is literal, it is the end of all that human political and military might have ever accomplished.

Grant Osborne: There is debate as to whether the “great city” is Jerusalem (Lohmeyer, Chilton), on the grounds that Babylon is mentioned separately later in the verse (cf. 11:8); Babylon/Rome (R. Charles, Lohse, Prigent, Mounce, Aune); or symbolic of rebellious humanity (Kiddle, Bruce, Morris). Yet Babylon/Rome, the “great city” in 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21, makes by far the best sense, and the mention in 16:19b is meant simply as an identification of the “great city” here.

G.K. Beale:  The background to the phrase Babylon the great is Dan. 4:30 (cf. 14:8), which is the only place in all the OT where the phrase “Babylon the great” occurs. Now the latter-day Babylon is about to face judgment, as did the proud Babylonian king who was so proud of his worldly and superficial “Babylon the great.” That the cities of the nations fell describes the universal extent of the last judgment to take place in history. It is not just Rome or some later great capital of evil which is decimated, but all the world’s cultural, political, and economic centers, because they are part of the great city and world system of Babylon.

John Walvoord: There does not seem to be any clear evidence that Jerusalem is destroyed with these judgments at the end of the great tribulation. Babylon, however, according to Scripture, is destined to be destroyed. Whether this refers to Rome, which is spiritual Babylon, or to a rebuilt city of Babylon on the Euphrates, it is clear that Babylon is the special object of divine judgment. Charles Dyer notes, “God says in Isaiah and Jeremiah and Zechariah, that … Babylon, the place where evils started, is going to be around and be judged by God.”  This is the final judgment of this evil city. The fact that the judgment is an earthquake seems to indicate that a literal city is in view, and that the judgment results in its physical destruction just prior to Christ’s second coming.

  1. On the Cities of the Nations

and the cities of the nations fell.

C.  (:19b) Babylon Is Especially the Target of God’s Wrath

And Babylon the great was remembered before God,

to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.

Warren Wiersbe: Satan’s entire system is now about to be judged by God: his religious system (the harlot, Rev. 17), his political and economic system (Babylon, Rev. 18), and his military system (the armies, Rev. 19).

Grant Osborne: When God is reminded and remembers, he acts. In 14:10–11 we were told of “the wine of the wrath of God that has been poured full strength into the cup of his anger,” and this language is borrowed here: God “gave her the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath,” which is best translated “God gave her the cup of wine, namely his furious wrath.”  Similarly, in 18:5, “God remembers her crimes,” leading to 18:6 that describes the absolute devastation as just retribution, saying that God will “pay her back double for what she has done” and “mix her a double portion from her own cup.” Again the principle of lex talionis is found: the sins of Babylon the Great have come to God’s attention, and he has reacted in kind. Since they have drunk “the wine that leads to passion for immorality” (14:8; cf. 17:2, 4; 18:3, 9), God will give them a wine cup filled with “his furious wrath.”

G.K. Beale: The picture here, give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath, develops the similar picture of the last judgment in 14:8, 10, where Babylon the great has fallen and her patron nations are made to “drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of his anger” (14:10). Now we find that Babylon herself, the inducer of the nations’ intoxication, will be punished in like manner, under God’s judging hand, by being made to drink the wine that leads to her own destructive intoxication. On the OT background of the pouring out of wine as describing the unleashing of divine judgment see on 14:10. The judgment highlights that Babylon’s punishment fits her crime, a principle already illustrated in 16:6. As she destroyed (11:18), so shall she be destroyed. V. 19, together with vv. 17-21, amplify the introductory statement of Babylon’s fall (in 14:8), which is expanded in detail in 17:1 – 19:10.

Kendell Easley: The three words God remembered Babylon are sad beyond words. They look back directly to the first time Scriptures record that “God remembered” something or someone. In Genesis 8:1, “God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock that were with him in the ark”—the totality of earth’s breathing creatures after the flood of judgment. The result had been his covenant of mercy with all living creatures, never to destroy the whole world with a flood again: “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Gen. 9:16).

Now at last, Babylon has provoked his wrath to the limit. Because of what she has done, she must drain the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. True to the promise made at Noah’s time, water will not be the instrument of destruction. Nevertheless, God must send his final judgment. If he remembered Noah in mercy, then he must remember Babylon in wrath.

David Aune: Divine justice is often intimately linked with the motive of divine remembrance, for the ancient Israelite and early Jewish view of God is that he does not let those who do good go unrewarded, nor does he allow those who do evil go unpunished. God’s “punitive remembrance,” somewhat surprisingly, is mentioned with relative infrequency in the OT and early Judaism (Hos 7:2; 8:13; 9:9; Jer 14:10; Sir 49:9). In prayer, God can be asked to remember past wickedness and to punish the perpetrators (Ps 137:7; Neh 6:14; 13:29; 1 Macc 7:38; 2 Macc 8:4).


A.  (:20) Removal of the Islands and Mountains = All that Seemed Permanent

  1. Islands

And every island fled away,

  1. Mountains

and the mountains were not found.

Richard Phillips: Objects that symbolize permanence—mountains and islands—are swept away in destruction.

John MacArthur: The final effect of the earthquake, as noted above, is to prepare the earth for the millennial rule of the Lord Jesus Christ. To that end, the earth’s topography will be drastically altered; every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. Islands, which are undersea mountains, will disappear and the mountains on land will be flattened (cf. Isa. 40:4), completing the process that began during the sixth seal (6:12–14).”The gentle rolling topography of the world as originally created will be restored. No more will there be great inaccessible, uninhabitable mountain ranges or deserts or ice caps. The physical environment of the millennium will be, in large measure, a restoration of the antediluvian [pre-Flood] environment” (Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record, 321). That may leave Jerusalem as the highest point on earth, making it a fitting throne for the Great King who will rule there during the Millennium (Jer. 3:17).

Craig Keener: The moving of islands and mountains, as in 6:14, is merely part of the image of dramatic, cosmic judgment (Isa. 42:15; 64:1–3; Nah. 1:5–6), especially appropriate to the end time (; 1 En. 1:6–7).  Ezek. 38:19–20; Mic. 1:3–4; Zech. 14:5

B.  (:21) Response to Severe Plague of Hail = Stubborn Blasphemy

  1. Big Hailstones

And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each,

came down from heaven upon men;

Daniel Akin: The heaviest hailstone on record in modern times was a mere 1.93 pounds! The earth, what little remains, will be pummeled and pulverized. Tragically, but now expected, men curse God for His righteous judgment (16:9,11). Beaten, they again blaspheme. Conquered, they curse. One last time they shake their fist in God’s face and curse His name. Judgment day has come. The results are certain. The response of humanity is stunning. So great is their hatred for God, they curse His name with their final, dying breath.

  1. Blaspheming God

and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail,

because its plague was extremely severe.