God told Haggai that he would shake both heaven and earth in order to establish the rule of Christ (Haggai 2:6-7). That is certainly a word-picture; before the return of Christ to rule, God will disturb everything that has power over this world. However, some Bible passages cause us to think that it is also an actual physical event. In other words, the earth will shake severely enough to change its geography.
We could discuss here Isaiah 2:2 and Ezekiel 48:1-29; however, there are other ways to understand those passages. Probably the clearest passage on this subject is Zechariah 14:2-8. That passage clearly refers to the same events as Revelation 16:17-21. It explains how God will rescue his people in Israel during the great final battle in Revelation 19:11-21. God will cause a mountain in Jerusalem to split apart, in order to create a new valley (Zechariah 14:4-5). Jerusalem’s inhabitants will escape along that valley while their many enemies suffer a terrible punishment (Zechariah 14:12-13).
Revelation 16:18-20 shows that the earth will shake, not just in Israel, but across the whole world. Normally in great troubles people escape to the islands; then, the islands themselves will escape (disappear). Normally, people run away to the mountains; then, they will be unable even to find the mountains. Jerusalem will split apart; but cities across the world will fall to the ground.
In the middle of the description of these troubles, there is a simple statement of great importance: ‘God remembered Babylon’. To remember here means to punish. In the Book of Revelation, Babylon means not just that one city, but the systems of trade and wealth that control the whole world. We will understand this much better when we have studied chapters 17 and 18.
Next part: Giant hailstones (Revelation 16:21)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.