(cf. Rev. 16:17-21)
Notice if you would that there was thundering and lightning in the great city. Several times the book of Revelation seems to refer to the great city, to Rome. Some refer it to Jerusalem, based on chapter 11:8. But even there i think it’s really an allusion to the place of judgement between God and the forces of evil – Rome. In John’s day it might be a different city at the end-time, but i think it really stands for organized human society apart from God. And it’s broken into three parts, and this may go back to the prophecy of Ezekiel chapter 5, and you might want to see that. Then it says, “Babylon the great was remembered before God…” – always in the Bible when God ‘remembers’, it refers to judgment. Notice that “…every island fled away,…” – that’s very much like the sixth seal (cf. Rev. 6:14); you might want to see Micah 1:4. If there’s no mountain literally, it’s going to be hard for Jesus to put His feet on the Mount of Olives, so it’s again a symbol. “…And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men…” here again is an allusion to the plagues of Egypt (cf. Exo. 9:24). But there are several Old Testament passages where hailstones have been used by God (cf. Ps. 18:12; 78:47; Isa. 32:19). Now they’re heavy as a talent, and there are different views about how much a talent weighs. One view says it’s 66 to 138 lbs., another says it’s 66 to 138 lbs. So we really don’t know, but huge hailstones are going to fall in this climactic end-time battle between the forces of God and the forces of this world. It’s not really a fight to see who’s going to win, because God is obviously going to win. But God is going to consummate His promises in history as He gave His promises in history. So i think it’s the first of two end-time battles. This one is where God overcomes the beast, which is the incarnation of satan. The next two chapters will talk about the false prophet and this human government known as the Whore of Babylon, which i think in John’s day would be Rome. And again, it’s really very confusing if you don’t see that John brings these themes in like a tapestry, and then he develops the color a little later on. And i think it will truly be helpful if we see these series of developments in the book of Revelation.