James J. Barker

Lesson 29

Text: REVELATION 16:1-21


  1. We were blessed these past three weeks with special meetings with Bro. Van Gelderen.  Let us quickly review (15:1; 16:1-16).
  2. There is an old saying, "coming events cast their shadows before them."  Today we are seeing the shadows of the battle of Armageddon (16:16), and the second coming of Christ (22:20).
  3. In verse 17, the seventh angel pours out his vial "into the air."  This will be the consummation of God's wrath, the final overthrow of all the God-haters, Christ-deniers, Bible-critics, scoffers, skeptics, scorners, atheists, agnostics, humanists, ecumenicalists, modernists, liberals, cultists, and sex perverts.
  4. The pouring of the seventh vial will be accompanied by a great voice out from the throne of God in the temple in heaven, saying, “It is done!”
  5. This will be the final act of God preceding the second coming of Christ, and it will be accompanied by voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and a great earthquake (16:18).
  6. We have noted in chapter 8, and then in chapter 11 that there will also be voices, thunders, lightnings, and a great earthquake after the seventh seal, and then again after the seventh trumpet (8:5; 11:19).
  7. There is perfect symmetry and harmony in the book of Revelation.
  8. There is perfect symmetry and harmony all throughout the Bible. For example, in the book of Genesis we see the creation of the heaven and the earth.  In the book of Revelation we see a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away (21:1).
  9. The tree of life is prominent in the book of Genesis and also in the book of Revelation.
  10. In Genesis we see Adam, the first man, and his wife set over all of God's creation.  In the book of Revelation we see the "second Adam" and His wife ruling over a redeemed world.
  11. In Genesis we are introduced to the first sacrificial lamb. Throughout the book of Revelation the Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as "the Lamb."
  12. The serpent beguiled Eve in the beginning of the book of Genesis; and the great dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world is cast into the lake of fire in the end of the book of Revelation.
  13. In the early chapters of Genesis we see the rise of Babylon.  In the final chapters of Revelation we see the destruction of Babylon.
  14. Many other examples could be given, showing the perfect symmetry and harmony of Scripture.
  15. Dr. A.T. Pierson wrote a book entitled, The Bible and Spiritual Criticism, which deals with the spiritual symmetry of the Bible and other similar themes.  It is a fascinating book.


I. IT IS DONE (16:17).

  1. In the seventh seal are the seven trumpets, and in the seventh trumpet are the seven vials.
  2. The seventh vial contains God's final judgment upon the earth, and His voice from the throne saying, "It is done" (16:17).
  3. William Newell, in his excellent commentary on the book of Revelation, says, "'It is done!' is the great voice from the throne, when this seventh bowl is poured out.  Men would not have the Saviour's 'It is finished!' on Calvary; so they must have the awful 'It is done!' from the Judge!  Alas!  Alas!  Oh, that men today would hear and be warned to flee from the coming storm!" (Revelation).
  4. Surveys indicate that millions of Americans reject the Gospel because they do not accept Biblical standards of morality, and they do not like the exclusive claims that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
  5. But some day, there will come a great voice from heaven, saying, "It is done" (16:17).



  1. Verse 18 tells us that after the voice from heaven, there will be "a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great" (16:18b).
  2. Then verse 19 declares that “the great city” will be split into “three parts” and that "the cities of the nations" (the other great cities of the Gentile world) will also fall.
  3. Rome, Paris, London, New York, Washington DC!  It is a picture of awesome destruction.
  4. There has been some debate over the identity of "the great city" in verse 19.   Babylon is specifically mentioned later in the verse, but Revelation 17 refers to "MYSTERY BABYLON," which most expositors identify as Rome, not ancient Babylon.
  5. Some identify the city as the literal city of Babylon, which they believe will be rebuilt in modern-day Iraq.
  6. Still others have identified the great city as Jerusalem, because in Revelation 11:8 Jerusalem is referred to as “the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
  7. To give credence to this view, it should be noted that great topographical changes will take place around Jerusalem in connection with the judgments during the tribulation period (cf. Zech. 14:4).
  8. However, I do believe the "great city" referred to here is Rome (17:18).
  9. Babylon is destined to be completely destroyed (cf. 18:21), and whether this coming judgment refers to Rome which is spiritual Babylon or to a rebuilt city of Babylon on the Euphrates River, it seems clear that Babylon is "the great city" (16:19).
  10. There were no chapter and verse divisions in the original Bible, and these verses lead up to chapters 17 and 18, which deal with God's judgment upon Babylon, which expositors have always identified with the Roman Catholic Church.
  11. This was the view of John Huss, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, John Knox, Sir Isaac Newton, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Matthew Henry, C.H. Spurgeon, and a host of others.
  12. God's fierce judgment upon Babylon is expressed graphically in the statement “to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (16:19b; cf. 17:1; 18:8, 21; 19:1-6).
  13. This final judgment of this wicked city, and all it represents, will take place just prior to the second coming of Christ.
  14. John Walvoord says, not only will "every city of the world come under terrible judgment as a result of the great earthquake which leaves all monuments of men’s ingenuity in shambles, but the Scriptures also indicate great changes in the topography of the entire world. The sweeping statement is made in verse 20 that every island is affected and mountains disappear. The fierceness of the wrath of God in verse 19, literally the anger of His wrath, is manifested in the entire physical earth. The movement of the islands and mountains mentioned in 6:14 as stemming from the sixth seal is here carried to a more violent conclusion with apparently the entire earth radically changing its appearance. Such a judgment undoubtedly causes great loss of life and disruption of such world organization as may have remained up to this time. There does not seem to be any good reason for taking this verse in other than its literal meaning, coming as it does at the climax of the great tribulation when many other Scriptures indicate changes in topography including an entirely new appearance of the holy land itself" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).



  1. In addition to mentioning the great earthquake, verse 21 predicts "a great hail" with every stone about the weight of a talent.
  2. A talent weighs about 100 pounds. "Such a hail from heaven falling upon men would have a devastating effect and would destroy much that was still left standing by the earthquake" (Walvoord).
  3. It will be a judgment similar to that of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah but here it will not be limited to just one area, but it will extend over the entire earth.
  4. Although the judgment will be severe, men will still refuse to repent. Verse 21 concludes with the sad statement that “men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”
  5. John Walvoord summarizes this seventh vial judgment by saying, "Though from the contemporary point of view all the details of these dramatic judgments are not immediately understood, the unmistakable impression of the Scriptures is that the whole world is being brought to the bar of justice before Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no escape from divine judgment except for those who avail themselves of the grace of God in that day by faith in Jesus Christ. The utter perversity of human nature, which will reject the sovereignty of God in the face of such overwhelming evidence, confirms that even the lake of fire will not produce repentance on the part of those who have hardened their hearts against the grace of God" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).



  1. Revelation 17:1 through 19:10 is parenthetical and deals with the destruction of Babylon, and the marriage supper of the Lamb.
  2. Chronologically, the narrative continues at Revelation 19:11 with the second coming of Christ.
  3. Therefore, chronologically chapter 16 brings us to the very end of the tribulation when God pours out His wrath upon the world (cf. 15:1, 7; 16:1), and God says, "It is done" (16:17).
  4. H.A. Ironside says the pouring out of the seventh vial signifies "the absolute overthrow of civilization, and the complete wreck of all man’s hopes to bring in even livable conditions in this world, while rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ. The scene is one of anarchy and confusion, but, despite the signs of divine wrath resting on the souls of men, they still blaspheme God, and give no sign of repentance" (Revelation).

<< Back                                       Next >>