Revelation 16:18 Commentaries: And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; 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.
Revelation 16:18
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightning; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were on the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
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(18) And there were voices . . .—There is some variety in the order of the words in different MSS. There were lightnings, and voices, and thunders (comp. Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:19); there was a great earthquake, such as was not from the time there was a man upon the earth. The earthquake, which is the shaking down of the kingdom of evil (comp. Hebrews 12:26-29), completes the overthrow of which the earlier judgments have been precursors. The throne of the wild beast has been visited, the centre of his power smitten; now the metropolis of his empire is about to fall. And the great city (i.e., Babylon, the symbol of the world-power’s capital) became into three parts. It lost its power of cohesion. The three evil spirits endeavoured to unite all powers in one grand assault, but there is no natural cohesion among those whose only bond is hatred of good. The first convulsion shakes them to pieces, and the cities of the nations fall. Every subordinate power in which the earthly element was mingled (comp. Daniel 2:41-44) is overthrown in the earthquake, even as every tree which the “Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13); and great Babylon was remembered before God, &c. The features of the overthrow of Babylon are described more fully later on (Revelation 17, 18), where the various aspects of evil in the great metropolis of the world-power are dealt with (Revelation 17:1-7; Revelation 18:1-3). The fall of Pagan Rome is but one illustration of the overthrow of Babylon.

16:17-21 The seventh and last angel poured forth his vial, and the downfal of Babylon was finished. The church triumphant in heaven saw it and rejoiced; the church in conflict on earth saw it and became triumphant. God remembered the great and wicked city; though for some time he seemed to have forgotten her idolatry and cruelty. All that was most secure was carried away by the ruin. Men blasphemed: the greatest judgments that can befal men, will not bring to repentance without the grace of God. To be hardened against God, by his righteous judgments, is a certain token of sure and utter destruction.And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings - Accompanying the voice that was heard from the throne. See the notes on Revelation 4:5; Revelation 11:19.

And there was a great earthquake, ... - See the notes on Revelation 6:12; Revelation 11:19. The meaning is, that a judgment followed as if the world were shaken by an earthquake, or which would be properly represented by that.

So mighty an earthquake, and so great - All this is intensive, and is designed to represent the severity of the judgment that would follow.

18. voice … thunders … lightnings—A has the order, "lightnings … voices … thunders." This is the same close as that of the seven seals and the seven thunders; but with the difference that they do not merely form the conclusion, but introduce the consequence, of the last vial, namely, the utter destruction of Babylon and then of the Antichristian armies.

earthquake—which is often preceded by a lurid state of air, such as would result from the vial poured upon it.

men were—so B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Andreas. But A and Coptic read, "A man was."

so mighty—Greek, "such."

See Revelation 4:5 6:12 11:13,19. Either declarative of the majesty and power of God, {as Exodus 19:16, when God came forth to give his law} the violation of which God here was coming out to punish; or of the great stirs and confusions in that part of the world where the beast’s greatest interest lay. Or, the

voices, thunders, and lightnings, may be understood as declarative of the former, and the great earthquake of the latter. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings,.... As at the giving of the law, Exodus 19:16 and at the sounding of the seventh trumpet; see Gill on Revelation 11:15 and may intend either the pure ministry of the Gospel in the spiritual reign, the voices of Christ's ministers, and the effects of them, who will be "Boanergeses", sons of thunder, and will be the means of enlightening the minds of many, as well as of shaking the consciences of men, signified by the earthquake following; or rather, the tremendous and awful judgments of God upon the remains of the antichristian party, as the very great commotions and changes that will be made in the world are expressed in the next clause:

and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great: for as the changes made in the Jewish state, civil and ecclesiastical, are signified by the shaking of the heavens and the earth, and as the fall of Paganism is expressed by an earthquake, and the fall of the tenth part of the city is the effect of another; so the destruction of all the antichristian powers, and the mutations made in the earth thereby, are designed by this; see Hebrews 12:26 Joel 3:16. Mr. Daubuz applies the whole of this vial to the, Reformation, when such a revolution was made in a short time, as has not been known since the world was, or men became worshippers of the beast; at which time Christendom was divided into three parts, the eastern or Greek church, the western or Latin church, and the reformed churches.

{25} And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

(25) Now is declared the execution (as is said) in Re 16:17 and the things that shall last come to pass in heaven and in earth before the overthrow of the beast of Babylon: both generally in Re 16:18 and particularly in the cursed city, and such as have any familiarity with it, in the last verses.

Revelation 16:18. The conventional stormtheophany brings on an exceptionally severe earthquake, which (Revelation 16:19) shatters Jerusalem into three parts and entirely overthrows the pagan cities. Rome’s more awful ruin is attributed in Revelation 17:16 to the invasion of Oriental hordes (cf. Revelation 16:12); here the allusion to her downfall is proleptic (= Revelation 17:2, Revelation 18:6 f.), as a climax to the foregoing catastrophe. Probably the great city is Jerusalem (sc e.g., Andr., Bengel, Simcox, B. Weiss, J. Weiss), as in Revelation 11:8. She is distinguished from the Gentile cities as Rome also is singled out from her allies and adherents. Being primarily guilty, Rome-Babylon is reserved for a special fate. The whole passage is enigmatic and obscure. Did the earthquake destroy the inhabitants of Jerusalem? and why? The allusion must be to some form of the tradition underlying Revelation 11:1-13 and Revelation 14:18-20, or to that of Zechariah 14:4-5. Both earthquakes and invasions had been combined already in the O.T. eschatology (cf. Isaiah 13:13 f.; Haggai 2:21 f.); both perils were real, at this period; and, in delineating both dangers with a free, poetic imagination, the prophet aims as usual at impressiveness rather than at any systematic regularity. For earthquakes in Jerusalem, cf. G. A. Smith’s Jerusalem, i. pp. 61 f.—ἐμνήσθη: neither magnificence nor age wins oblivion for an empire’s crimes against the moral order.18. voices, and thunders, and lightnings] Revelation 8:5, Revelation 11:19. Here the best reading is lightnings and voices and thunders.

earthquake] Revelation 6:12, Revelation 11:13 : but this earthquake seems distinguished from those as surpassing them greatly in degree:—unless the second of those be the local aspect of this.

such as was not, &c.] Cf. Daniel 12:1; St Matthew 24:21.Verse 18. - And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. The usual accompaniments of any special manifestation of God's power or presence (see on Revelation 4:5 and Revelation 6:12-17). A similar description is given of the close of the seal and the trumpet visions.
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