Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls[a] of the wrath of God on the earth.”
As I mentioned before, these 'angels' are seen to partake in this judgment. This is particularly significant if, as traditionally understood, the ministers, pastors, if you will, of the 'seven churches of Asia', being 'the angels of the seven churches'. This is significant because, as we have seen in this study, and other studies that I have done, because the very name 'Israel' ( ruler with God ) indicate that God's people rule with, and even sit as judges with God! In I Corinthians 6:2; Paul revealed to his readers that they to, along with Jesus disciples ( Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:28-30 ) would 'judge the world'.
Throughout this study, and throughout Scripture; we have also seen repeatedly that, even in cases where the use of the number 'seven' could well have had a physically literal meaning, it is most often indicative of 'completeness, perfection, etc.'. As the Nestle/Aland ( NU ) text reads in the verse above, the angels mentioned carried the 'seven bowls' of the wrath of God, 'for in them the wrath of God is complete', as we saw in the last chapter (15 ). This was the final judgment of those, as Amos 6:6 reads, 'Who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph', for those '[ who are ] at ease in Zion, and trust in Mount Samaria', and as God argued in Jeremiah 2:13, 'For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, [ and ] hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water' ( Jeremiah 17:3 ( Revelation 7:17 ). The 'children' of Israel, in their rejection of God's promised Messiah, had finally reached 'the boiling point', and were about to be ( Greek 'mello' ) judged, and that in finality!
So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.
'So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” Then they took ashes from the furnace and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses scattered them toward heaven. And they caused boils that break out in sores on man and beast.' ( Exodus 9:8-10 )
'From the sole of the foot even to the head, [ there is ] no soundness in it, [ but ] wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment.' ( Isaiah 1:6 )
'The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed'. ( Deuteronomy 28:27 )
As we have seen before in this study; the plagues of Egypt served a a type of the 'plagues' that were loosed on Old Covenant Israel at the time of the end. I noted previously, in other words, maybe, that the fact that the Lord visited these 'plagues' upon His Old Covenant children is likely indicative of, among other things, the fact that these 'children had apostatized to the point that God no longer made a difference ( Exodus 8:23 ) between Old Covenant Israel, and the nations around them.
God began to recount, through the prophet Isaiah, how many great and awesome things He had done, and continued to do, for His covenant 'children', and how they had continually been disobedient and un-thankful, which led to their being punished, through many different means, but their wounds that came as a result of God's righteous discipline had not been 'bound up' by their religious leaders, as they should have. Because of this; their 'wounds' began to putrefy and became gangrenous to the point that God's justice required that they be 'cut off' ( Romans 11:17-24 ), removed from their covenant status ( for a time, anyway ).
The famous 'blessing & cursing' chapter of Deuteronomy 28, outlines the blessings or cursings that would be visited upon God's covenant 'children' for either their obedience or dis-obedience to His laws. In verse 27, which I've quoted above; God promised to treat His covenant 'children' as if they were not in covenant with Him, but to treat them just as He had treated the Egyptians for their sake, not too long before.
Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
'Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.' ( Revelation 8:8 )
'Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in [ buckets of ] wood and [ pitchers of ] stone.' ( Exodus 7:19 )
'So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who [ were ] with him in the ark remained [ alive ].' ( Genesis 7:23 )
You may have heard that the 'bowl judgments were simply a repeat of the 'seven trumpets', and while this may be true enough ( we'll see as we continue our study ): John 'sees' a slightly different aspect of the catastrophic vision. For instance; when the first trumpet sounded; John saw all the vegetation of the earth being burned up by fire mixed with hail and blood, all significant of the judgments on Egypt. When the first angel poured out his bowl on the earth, it was not the vegetation, but men, women, and children who suffered the eternal vengeance. With the second bowl; John 'saw' that the sea was turned to blood ( just as the rivers in Egypt ) and all living things in it died ( just as in Egypt-Exodus 7:18 ), but when the second angel sounded, as we read back in Revelation 8; a mountain burning with fire ( remember the vegetation being burned up? ) was thrown into the sea, and the sea became blood, as of dead men ( not vegetation ).
Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “ You are righteous, O Lord,[b] the One who is and who was and who is to be,[c] because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For[d] it is their just due.” And I heard another from[e] the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”
This third 'bowl' of judgment, which was poured ( symbolically ) on the rivers and springs of water, is, you might say, very similar to the second, so why did God show John the same thing ( almost ) twice? We have often seen before, that when a judgment is certain, or very near, about to be ( Greek-mello ); God often revealed it to His prophets twice, or more, in slightly different ways, but as you may see in the above passage, although it is more similar to the first plague upon Egypt ( rivers of blood ); God also revealed more and more the reason for His judgment. Number one, it was a just ( deserved ), and promised judgment, and two, we can see that this is more obviously geared toward His covenant 'children', because remember, for example, that, in Luke 11:47, Jesus pronounced this judgment on the Pharisees ( one of the ruling classes in Israel ), saying 'Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.' He went on to allude to His own words to them, recorded in Matthew 23:34 ( a parallel passage ), accusing them of being partakers in the wrongful actions and guilt of their fathers. Paul, speaking of these same Judeans, comforted the Thessalonians in I Thessalonians 2:15, reminding them that they were not alone in their tribulation, because the Jews had 'killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men.' Near the end of his farewell address to his errant people, in Acts 7:52, Stephen reminded them, 'Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers'. There are many examples, beginning with the first recorded murder of an innocent, in Genesis 4:1-15 ( of Abel ), to the murder of 'Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar', which is recorded only, well after the fact, in Matthew 23:35 in the Old Testament, showing how deserved this judgment was.
Significant too, is the fact that an angel calls from the altar, praising God for His righteous judgment, for remember 'the souls ( of the saints and prophets ) under the altar', that have been mentioned, in Revelation 6:9?
Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
'Furthermore the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest land, the South,[g] and say to the forest of the South, ‘Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.”' ( Ezekiel 20:45-48 )
'But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.' ( Matthew 13:6 )
The passage above, from Matthew 13, is most often applied to modern-day hearers of the Word, who receive it gladly at first, but then later reject it when persecution ( in whatever form ) arises because of it, but, keeping in mind the covenantal and historical context of Jesus' words, and also the eschatological nature of Scripture; it is clear that Jesus is referring to the Old Covenant 'children' of Israel, who, in the beginning of His ministry, received Him ( for the most part ) with joy, but when persecutions ( Acts 7 & 8 ) arose, quickly fell back into 'the old ways'.
When the prophet Zechariah revealed to these 'children' what God would do to them in the latter days ( which, I'm sure, is one of the things that got him killed ), prophesying that they themselves would become their own judgment ( by 'fire' ), we can see that this fourth 'bowl' judgment, like the corresponding seal and trumpet, fulfills ( symbolically ) this judgment perfectly.
Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
'You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.' ( Daniel 2:34 & 35 )
'For the LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, [ namely ], the seers.' ( Isaiah 29:10 )
'Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.”' ( Exodus 10:21 )
'The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.' ( Isaiah 9:2 )
'Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' ( Luke 16: 24 )
'Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and[a] cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’' ( Matthew 22:13 )
'When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with [ their ] teeth.' ( Acts 7:54 ( Psalm 35:16 )
In all of these 'bowl' judgments; we must remember, first of all, that they are symbolic and even allegorical ( as you can see from the passages I've quoted ), and secondly, that it was God Himself who ultimately unleashed these terrible judgments. For instance, when Isaiah wrote that God would close their eyes and cover their heads; God wasn't literally closing their physical eyes, and covering their physical heads, but was, in reality, giving 'them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves' ( Romans 1:24 ), in effect, making them 'blind leaders of the blind' ( Matthew 15:14 ), and thus fulfilling His words to the prophet, in Isaiah 6:10, saying, 'Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.'
In the famous 'blessing & cursing' passage of Deuteronomy 28, which I mentioned above; God promised His blessing on His people if they obeyed and His cursing on them if they were disobedient to His covenant. Because the 'children' of Israel had broken His covenant, even vows that they themselves had made ( Joshua ); God told them, through the prophet Jeremiah, 'Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place—on man and on beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it will burn and not be quenched.' ( Jeremiah 7:20 ( 42:18 ) In Lamentations 4:11; Jeremiah mourns the just fulfillment of God's righteous promise, when he cried 'The LORD has fulfilled His fury, He has poured out His fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion, and it has devoured its foundations' ( these words could almost be written by Josephus of the AD70 destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, while they also bring to remembrance Jesus words in Matthew 24 ) Recounting the wickedness of Israel's leaders, in Ezekiel 22:31; God spoke these words through the prophet, 'Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads' ( remembering this judgment, in Ezekiel 36:18, God then promises blessing upon His people ) Daniel, in his famed prayer on behalf of his people ( Daniel 9: 1-19 ), mournfully recalled God's promise in Deuteronomy 28, when he wrote 'Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.' ( verse 11 ) Quoting Joel 2:28-32 ( from the Septuagint, I believe ); Peter recalled to the minds of his mockers what the prophet had said of the 'last days' and of the coming 'Day of the Lord', revealing that 'it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, our young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.' ( Acts 2:17-21 ) In 'pouring out' His Spirit upon His people; God was, in effect, 'killing two birds with one Stone ( Daniel 2:44 )': referring once again, to His promises in Deuteronomy 28, God blessed His true people ( Isaiah 65:8-16, Romans 9:6-8 ), and cursed those who were not His ( 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity'-Luke 13:27, Galatians 3:7 ( Hosea 1:9 )
Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [ coming ] out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, [ which ] go out to the kings of the earth and[f] of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed [ is ] he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon .
'So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood [ still, and ] rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that [ is ] beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, [ and ] were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.' ( Joshua 3:14-16 )
'And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.”' ( Mark 3:11 )
'Then [ Micaiah ] said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade [ him ], and also prevail. Go out and do so.’' ( I Kings 22:19-22 )
'But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD—that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.' ( Judges 14:4 )
We have noted before, in this study, that these 'children' of Israel had apostatized to the point that one could barely distinguish between them and the nations around them, and this was why God judged them in the manner that He did; they had assimilated the cultures of all those around them, and were sharing, as well, in the judgment that God had 'meted' out on those nation! As you may read earlier in Judges 14 above; we can see that this occasion that was 'of the LORD', was the marriage of one of God's special people ( indeed, a type of Christ ) with a Gentile, a Philistine, no less! While we may not agree with the methods that God employed throughout history ( especially in this case ) to accomplish His purposes; they are His purposes, not ours, and His ways, not ours! ( Remember what Isaiah had to say about God's ways as opposed to ours? ( Isaiah 55:9 ) The situation, as recorded in I Kings 22, where God purposed to destroy Ahab, was that the king of Judah, who claimed to follow the Lord and walked in His ways, sought to ally himself with the wicked king of Judah: God used this occasion to show firsthand to the king of Judah what happened to those who wickedly departed from His precepts, as the king of Israel had. We read in Joshua 3 then, how God had opened a path through the ( overflowing-flood stage ) Jordan river, in order that His people might pass through to accomplish His purpose. The point of the passage from Mark 3, and others like it, is that even unclean spirits have no choice but to fall to their knees when confronted by the awesome Presence and Power of God!
'And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.' ( Genesis 9:20-23 ( 3:10, Exodus 20:26 ( Leviticus 18:7 )
'Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you.' ( Isaiah 52:1 )
'And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.' ( Daniel 3:27 )
'Lately My people have risen up as an enemy— you pull off the robe with the garment from those who trust [ you ], as they pass by, like men returned from war.' ( Micah 2:8 ( Isaiah 47:3, Ezekiel 16:39 ( 23:10 )
'Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.' ( James 5:2 )
'You[b] have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.' ( Revelation 3:4 ( 5 & 18 ( II Corinthians 5:3 )
As we have seen, in many places throughout this study, and in the Scriptures; the Old Covenant 'children' of Israel, the typical people of God, had become so corrupt and apostate, finally, that God did to them what they had done to other wicked nations and even to His true people, and exposed their nakedness, taking away their garment, showing that, indeed, in reality 'the emperor had no clothes'!
The story of 'the three Hebrew children' in Daniel 3 shows us that, with the covering, the true clothing that God, in Christ, provided, we can, to use an old phrase, 'walk through the fire and not get burned', and if those first-century Christians were careful, as Isaiah wrote, to put on their Strength, they would, as Jesus warningly promised, 'keep their garment' and not be ashamed at His coming, as those apostate Jews who denied Christ and the clothing that He provided!
Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
Jesus had warned, as a prelude to these 'bowl' judgments, that the wrath of God would be completed, with the pouring out of the seventh ( remember the significance of the number '7'? ) 'bowl'; now John hears a voice from 'Heaven' crying out that it has indeed been completed, it was spent, finished, bringing to mind Jesus' words on the cross, where He said 'it is finished'! God's purpose in the destruction of the Temple and of the Old Covenant ( Jewish ) economy was significantly complete, their 'cup of wrath' ( Genesis 15:16 ) had become full, to overflowing.
'And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.' ( Judges 1:28 )
'They did not destroy the peoples, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them, but they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them.' ( Psalm 106:34-36 )
'But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love.' ( I Kings 11:1 & 2 )
'[It is ] not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart [ that ] you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations [ that ] the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' ( Deuteronomy 9:5 )
Because the 'children' of Israel had failed to follow God's instructions 'to the letter': they had assimilated the corruption of the nations around them, and apostatized from the covenant that they had entered into with God Almighty; God had unleashed upon them ( Hebrews 8:7-13 ) the discipline He had promised, and finally destroyed their covenant of death ( Isaiah 28:15-18 ).
And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.
'Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.' ( Exodus 19:16 )
'Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.' ( Revelation 8:5 )
'The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.' ( Psalm 77:18 ( 97:4 )
'Then the LORD will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord GOD will blow the trumpet, and go with whirlwinds from the south.' ( Zechariah 9:14 )
'For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.' ( Matthew 24:27 ( Ezekiel 21:10 ( 1:14 ( Luke 17:24 ) Revelation 4:5 )
'For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: ‘Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.' ( Ezekiel 38:19 & 20 )
'Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.' ( Matthew 27:51 )
'And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door,[a] and sat on it.' ( Matthew 28:2 )
Throughout the prophetic Scriptures, both Hebrew and Greek; earthquakes most often symbolize the presence of God, either directly or indirectly. Not only do earthquakes often signal the presence of God; as we read in the passage from Exodus, they can also signal the establishment and spiritually, the consummation of a covenant.
The veil of the temple being split in two, as recorded in Matthew 27, signified the opening of the way into the 'Holy of Holies' ( symbolic of 'Heaven', or the Presence of God ), which also signaled, in a sense, the beginning of the end for the Old Covenant economy, or system. The Presence of God, in the passage from Matthew 28, signified that God had accepted His Son's sacrifice ( once for all ): this also signified the end of the Old Covenant system of animal sacrifice.
Lightning also often signified the presence of God, as can be seen in the passage from Exodus, but could maybe be more readily related to the iteration of the Son of Man, which can be seen in places like Matthew 24 ( most famously ) and the related passages in Luke 21 and Mark 13, in the 'Olivet Discourse'.
Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.
'But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.' ( Matthew 12:25 )
'In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.' ( Isaiah 19:24 & 25 )
'And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!' ( Daniel 7:5 )
'And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber’s razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the hair. You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them. You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment. ( Ezekiel 5:1-3 )'
'Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty. He will break down their altars; He will ruin their [ sacred ] pillars.' ( Hosea 10:2 )
In the past; we have noted that the number '3', or variations thereof, is also often used in a symbolic way, significant of somewhat the same thing as is '7', an symbol significant of wholeness, completeness,even of perfection. Gods purpose, I believe, in dividing the city into three parts, was to show, as in Ezekiel 5, that two-thirds of the city ( significantly ) would be destroyed ( by one means or another ), while the one-third ( a remnant-Isaiah 65:8, Jeremiah 31:10 ) would be saved from the destruction, and gathered 'under the wing'-Jeremiah 23:3, Isaiah 37:32 ( Matthew 23:37 ) of Almighty God!
Jesus; speaking to the Pharisees, in Matthew 12, was referring, in the immediate context, to their blasphemy in relating His work to the work of the 'devil', but He was also prophesying, as in many of the parables ( Matthew 22:1-14 ), and parabolic stories ( Luke 20:9-19 ( Isaiah 5:1-7 ) that He told, of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, because, as with their King Solomon, their allegiance had become divided, thinking that they could worship other 'gods' while pretending to worship the true God, as well!
Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
'It shall come to pass in that day [ that ] the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea.' ( Isaiah 11:11 ( Matthew 24:31 ( Jeremiah 23:3 )
'Behold, the nations [ are ] as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.' ( Isaiah 40:15 )
'I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth.' ( Jeremiah 4:24 ( Psalm 72:3 )
'The mountains saw You [ and ] trembled; the overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, [ and ] lifted its hands on high.' ( Habakkuk 3:10 )
If you have ever read the book of Revelation, you might remember reading in chapter 21, the phrase, 'there was no more sea': although some might try to affix a more literal meaning to these words; a study of Old Testament prophetic ( symbolic ) language makes it clear, and fairly easy to see, that John was referring to the fact that the separation between Jew and Gentile ( goyim-the nations ) had been removed, and that the distinction no longer existed. Such, I believe, is the case here; but not only had the distinction become non-existent, there would come no help from either the nations with whom they had committed spiritual adultery ( Jeremiah 3:9, Ezekiel 16:26, 23:7 ), or the 'mountains' ( Psalm 121:1 ( Jeremiah 3:23 ( 68:16, 72:3, 97:5, Isaiah 2:14, 34:3, 44:23, 65:9, Jeremiah 50:6, Ezekiel 6, 33:28, 36, Hosea 10:8, Micah 1:4, 4:1, 6:1 & 2, Matthew 24:16 ), to whom they looked for their strength.One might well attach a very physical explanation ( an earthquake, for instance ) to many of these passages, such as Habakkuk 3:10, and while this is very likely true; a deeper spiritual meaning is to be sought and found here, in reference to the vaunted strength ( not the true Strength ) of Israel, their religious ( spiritual ) leaders.
And great hail from heaven fell upon men, [ each hailstone ] about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
'Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now. Therefore send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home; and they shall die.' ( Exodus 9:18 & 19 )
'And it happened, as they fled before Israel [ and ] were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. [ There were ] more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.' ( Joshua 10:11 )
'From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.' ( Psalm 18:12 )
'Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one, like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, like a flood of mighty waters overflowing, Who will bring [ them ] down to the earth with [ His ] hand.' ( Isaiah 28:2 )
'And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who [ are ] with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.' ( Ezekiel 38:22 )
'I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the LORD.' ( Haggai 2:17 )
God had many times throughout their history, used hail, whether actual or symbolic, to punish ( destroy ) not only the enemies of His typical 'children' of Israel, but to discipline ( bring into line ) His people, the true 'Israel of God! As their 'cup of wrath' was ( being ) filled; God, through His prophets, sent to them time and time again, in order that they might 'have no excuse' ( Ecclesiastes 5:6, John 15:22 ( Psalm 51:4, Romans 2:1-3 ), and that their judgment might be found just. One of their own, the historian Josephus, wrote words to this effect, when he postulated, 'it is God, therefore, it is God Himself Who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up this city which is full of your pollutions' ( 'Wars' Book 6, chapter 2, 110 ), and of Titus Caesar, that he 'excused himself before God as to this matter, and said that he had proposed peace and liberty to the Jews, as well as an oblivion of all their former insolent practices; but that they instead of concord, had chosen sedition, instead of peace, war; and before satiety and abundance, a famine.' ( 'Wars' Book 6, chapter 3, 215 )
It was finally 'time to pay the piper'!