Great Earthquake

The final day of wrath is characterized by unprecedented celestial and terrestrial events, including the “great earthquake”Revelation 6:12-17

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash
In four separate passages, 
Revelation refers to the coming “great earthquake,” and each time, it locates this event at the end of the age, the day of God’s final “wrath.” Chaos in the heavens and unimaginable seismic shifts on the earth will mark the arrival of the “Day of the Lord,” the Great Dénouement when God vindicates His people and punishes His enemies - [Photo by NOAA on Unsplash].

When John was summoned to ascend to heaven, he observed the “throne” at the center of the universe and “One sitting on it.” The “throne” was surrounded by twenty-four smaller thrones occupied by “four and twenty elders arrayed in white garment, wearing golden crowns.” A series of visual and audible phenomena proceeded from the divine “throne… flashes of lightning, loud voices, and claps of thunder” – (Revelation 4:1-5).

Later, when the “Lamb” opened the “sixth seal,” the “great earthquake” shook the earth, accompanied by celestial upheaval. The entire Cosmos was shaken to its foundations:
  • The sun became black as sackcloth, and the whole moon became as blood. The stars of the heaven fell to the earthAnd the heaven was removed as a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” – (Revelation 6:12-17).
The description of cosmic chaos echoes Old Testament passages about the “Day of Yahweh,” the dreadful time of His judgment. For example:
  • (Joel 2:30-31, 3:15) - “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Yahweh is coming. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. And Yahweh will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake.”
  • (Isaiah 13:9-11) - “ Behold, the day of Yahweh is coming, cruel with wrath and fierce anger; to make the land a desolation, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine.
So, also, when the “sixth seal” was opened, it was the time for the “wrath of the Lamb” and that of the “One who sits on the throne,” the “great day of their wrath” and the judgment of the “kings of the earth, the princes, the chief captains, the rich, the strong, and every bondman and freeman.” On that day, “Who will be able to stand,” and no one will escape.
The “great earthquake” and the awesome celestial events unleashed by the “sixth seal” do not portend the imminence of the end. Instead, these phenomena accompany the arrival of that day, as the entire creation reacts to the approach of the “Day of the Lord.” Mountains are laid low, and “every island flees” before the presence of the “Lamb” and the “One who sits on the throne.”

At the close of the “seven seals,” an angel filled his “censer with the fire from the altar” and cast it onto the earth, which produced “claps of thunder, loud voices, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake,” the same phenomena seen around the “throne,” only now, the “earthquake” is added to the mix - (Revelation 8:5).

After the Spirit of God raised the “two witnesses” from the dead, a “great earthquake” overthrew a “tenth of the city,” identified as the “great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” Elsewhere, the “great city” is identified as “Babylon, the Great Harlot.” Just as God shook the city of Jerusalem following the death of Jesus, so He shook the “great city” after the death of the “two witnesses” – (Matthew 27:51, Revelation 16:19, 17:18).

The ascension of the “witnesses” was followed by the sounding of the “seventh trumpet,” which produced the victory of the kingdom of God, the time of “wrath” on the nations, the judgment of the dead, the punishment of the wicked, and the vindication of the righteous. The “seventh trumpet” concluded with “flashes of thunder, loud voices, claps of thunder, and an earthquake,” but now, “great hail” is added to the series – (Revelation 11:15-19).

When the seventh angel emptied the final “bowl of wrath,” a great voice declared, “It is finished!” The “seven bowls of wrath” completed the “wrath of God.” The declaration was followed by “flashes of lightning, loud voices, claps of thunder, and the great earthquake.” The earthquake was so massive that “every island fled away, and the mountains were not found,” the same terrestrial upheavals caused by the “sixth seal.” The parallel descriptions are not coincidental; the same final event is in view here.

Once again, the “great city” suffered. It was divided into three parts,” signifying the fall of the “cities of the nations,” and the time for “Babylon the great” to drain the “cup of the wine of the fierceness of God’s wrath.” This judgment was anticipated in chapter 14, where an angel declared the fall of “Babylon the great,” because she made “all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” So, here, with her fall, the “great city” drank the full “fierceness of the wrath of God” – (Revelation 14:8).

The same fall of “Babylon” is presented in greater detail in chapter 18. The day of her judgment arrived:
  • For her sins have reached even to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities… Therefore, in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
The “kings of the earth” who committed fornication with her stood afar off, crying, “Woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city, for in one hour is her judgment come!” Likewise, the merchants and mariners of the earth enriched by her wailed:
  • Woe, woe, the great city…for in one hour so great riches is made desolate… and they cried out as they looked upon the smoke of her burning, saying: What city is like the great city?... Woe, woe, the great city, for in one hour is she made desolate.”
What is described is nothing less than the final overthrow and destruction of “Babylon.” As the chapter concludes, “Thus with a mighty fall shall Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and she shall be found no more at all.”

Lightning Storm Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash
Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

In
Revelation, all three sevenfold series conclude with the same phenomena, “flashes of lightning, great voices, claps of thunder,” along with the “earthquake” and “hail.” Not coincidentally, the last two items intensify as the final series completes the “wrath of God.” So much so, the final seismic event is greater than any in human memory, as is the “great hail” that tormented humanity, “for the plague thereof was exceeding great.” These are not everyday storms and quakes, but extraordinary events never experienced by humanity prior to the final day.

The verbal links between the final events of each sevenfold series are deliberate. The end of each series reaches the same endpoint, the “day of the Lord,” the time for the “wrath.” With the arrival of that day, the entire Cosmos is shaken to its core. Stars fall, the earth shakes, mountains and islands flee.

Whether the “great earthquake” is literal or figurative, it is final.  It is NOT a harbinger of things to come, but one of the unprecedented events that characterize the arrival of THE final day, the “day of the Lord” and the time of “wrath.” For the wicked, there will be no escape. For the righteous, however, it will be the time of resurrection, vindication, and victory, as the reign of God is consummated throughout the Cosmos.




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