Revelation 16:17-21: A great fall.
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about forty kilograms fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. NIV UK
Like Humpty Dumpty, ‘Babylon’ is going to have a great fall, and the next two chapters will deal with this subject in great detail. In John’s day, people would probably have understood ‘Babylon’ to represent Rome. Rome has long gone of course, but the ungodly, indeed demonic, world system that was expressed in the Roman Empire, is still with us. But one day, it will all come crashing down.
Consider Tom Wright’s words:
‘John’s hearers would have no difficulty in getting the point. This is not the collapse of the physical earth. This is the only way to describe the collapse of the entire social and political system on the earth. Terrible things will happen in human society, for which the only fitting metaphor will be earthquakes and huge hailstones. God will allow the lie at the heart of pagan society, like a crack in the earth’s crust, finally to be exposed. The tectonic plates of different idolatrous human systems will move against one another one more time, and nothing will ever be the same again.’ ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.148.