What does Revelation 16:20 mean?
ESV: And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.
NIV: Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.
NASB: And every island fled, and no mountains were found.
CSB: Every island fled, and the mountains disappeared.
NLT: And every island disappeared, and all the mountains were leveled.
KJV: And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
The earthquake not only destroys cities but also triggers massive geological change. Earthquakes are a major cause of tsunamis, and this earthquake is so massive that islands are noticeably moved. The earthquake also flattens mountains. The world will undergo tremendous topographical changes that include changes to Israel's landscape. The Mount of Olives will split into two. One half of the mountain will move northward; the other half will move southward (Zechariah 14:4). This event will create a very wide valley. After the tribulation, Jerusalem will become a seaport (Zechariah 14:8). The mountainous parts of Israel will disappear (Revelation 16:20). A river will begin its flow from Jerusalem and enter the Dead Sea, making this otherwise unproductive body of water a productive place for fishermen (Ezekiel 47:7–10).
Also, the barren desert will become fertile. Isaiah 35:1 prophesies: "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus." Verse 6 says waters will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. Verse 7 predicts that the burning sand will become a pool and thirsty ground will become springs of water.
Revelation 16:17–21 tells what happens when the seventh angel empties his bowl of the wrath of God. This is the last stage of the tribulation—the final chapter in God's outpouring of wrath on the world. What the sixth angel did prepared the way for the seventh bowl judgment to put an end to the kingdom of the beast. Chapters 17—19 give a detailed account of the fall of the beast and his kingdom.
This chapter explains the bowl judgments, which are the last and most severe of God's outpouring of wrath on earth. The first three bowls bring sores, seas of blood, and rivers of blood. After a declaration of God's justice come the next three bowl judgments, involving scorching sunlight, darkness, and a drying of the Euphrates to clear the way for an invading army. In the final, seventh bowl judgment, an earthquake tears Jerusalem into three parts, levels cities worldwide, and displaces islands and mountains. Hundred-pound hailstones fall, but unbelievers refuse to repent and instead continue to curse God.
Revelation 16 resumes the account of God's judgments on the wicked. It describes the bowl judgments, the third and final series of judgments. The seven seal judgments of Revelation 6:1–17 and 8:1 are the first series of judgments. The trumpet judgments of Revelation 8:1—9:21 and 11:15 are next. All of these judgments vent God's wrath and are recognized as the day of his wrath and the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:17). Chapters 17 and 18 further describe the destruction caused by the judgments. Revelation 19 and 20 will describe the culmination of God's wrath and the final events of the end times.
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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