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13 And the same hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the rest were frightened, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe comes quickly.




*** A Great Earthquake ***: In Revelation 11:13, we see an earthquake capable of destroying the tenth part of the city and killing 7,000 men. There are two other earthquakes mentioned in the book of Revelation that seem to relate to the one in Revelation 11:13: one during the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12) and one in Revelation 16:18. Based on the language of the text, the earthquake mentioned in Revelation 6:12 seems to refer to an actual earthquake (see study #43 for the in-depth explanation). The earthquake mentioned in Revelation 16:18 is unlike any other earthquake ever seen before. People’s reaction described in Revelation 11:13 (giving glory to God) is the exact opposite of what we see in Revelation 6:15-16 and Revelation16:21, where they hide themselves and blaspheme God.


Revelation 11:13 Revelation 6:12-17 Revelation 16:18-21
A great earthquake A great earthquake  A great earthquake
The tenth part of the city fell Every mountain and island were moved out of their places The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell
7000 men were slain Who shall be able to stand on the day of His wrath? Great hail out of heaven fell upon men
The rest were frightened, and gave glory to the God of heaven Men hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, wishing to hide from the face of the One who sits on the throne. Men blasphemed God 


Unlike Revelation 6:12-17, the description of the earthquake in Revelation 11:13 was not written as a comparison between the real and the symbol. In Revelation 11:13, John is making a statement about the earthquake affecting the great city without using comparative words such as ‘like’ or ‘as'. This direct form of writing leads us to believe that the focus of the message here is spiritual rather than literal. The great earthquake here could be the spiritual representation of the real earth quake mentioned in Revelation 6:12-17. The spiritual shaking would be so severe that it would actually have extreme destructive powers.

*** Tenth part of the city destroyed ***: In the old Testament, God used the strength of earthquakes as a symbol of His presence among the people and how it could affect them (Ezekiel 38:19-20; Joel 2:10-11; Amos 8:8; Haggai 2:4-7). Revelation 11:13 tells us that the earthquake destroyed the tenth part of the city. The first question that comes to mind is: which great city? The answer is found in the middle of the study about the two witnesses, just a few verses earlier. The Bible tells us that the great city is a reference to the city “which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8). We saw in study #74 that Sodom and Egypt are symbols of the wickedness of the people. Spiritual immorality and self-importance prevented them from accepting their need of a savior. Spiritual immorality (Sodom) refers to people’s unfaithfulness when they replace God and His Truth with other forms of worship not specified by God. Self-importance (Egypt) refers to the elevation of Self above God when people abandon a God-centered life for one where Self is at the core. The great city is later mentioned in Revelation as Babylon, a symbol of a wicked worldwide power that deceived the nations (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2,4,10,21).

We read in Revelation 11:13 that the earthquake caused a partial destruction of the great city. Only one tenth of it was destroyed. The earthquake in Revelation 16:18-19 split the great city into three parts, causing the cities of the nations to collapse. The earthquake in Revelation 6:12-17 caused the islands and the mountains to be moved from their places. God’s presence always leaves a mark and things are not the same as they were before. The destruction of the tenth part of the city implies that the other ninety percent of the wicked city was not affected. This tells us that this is not yet God’s final destruction of those who rejected Christ. Even though only part of the city was destroyed, the effects of the earthquake had an important spiritual impact, as we will see later. This is another reason to understand this particular earthquake as a spiritual event.

*** Seven thousand men were slain ***: The number seven is important throughout the entire Bible. We see it from Genesis, with the story of creation, through Revelation. In Revelation, we see seven lamp stands, seven stars, seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven angels, seven bowls, and seven last plagues. As we saw in study #11, the number 7 is a number that has to do with completeness, full restoration, full cleansing, victory, and things that are blessed and made holy by God. It is a symbol of God's perfection. The earthquake had a great impact on the inhabitants of the great city. Seven thousand died. If we are looking from a spiritual perspective, we can understand that they died spiritually. In other words, they made up their minds permanently against God’s Truth. The number seven thousand was a perfect, complete and full representation of the people who forever rejected God. This number represents the reverse of the 7000 faithful mentioned in the story of Elijah (1 Kings 19:18). In the story of Elijah, those 7000 represented the totality of those who had remained on God’s side.

*** What happened to the rest? ***: More than seven thousand people were living in the great city. The earthquake had a significant impact on the lives of those who did not die spiritually. The ones who survived the shaking had a completely different experience. They recognized God’s supremacy instead of rejecting Him. They feared His presence, in a sense that they respected God's authority. So much so that they gave Him glory (Revelation 11:13). This reaction reminds us of the experience described in Daniel 4:28-37 when king Nebuchadnezzar went through 7 years living like an animal. At the end of his tribulation, he was able to recognize God’s sovereignty, and he said: “I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that lives forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation”. (Daniel 4:34).

*** End of the second woe ***: The passage in Revelation 11:13 announces the presence of God through the preaching of His message. It is interesting to note that God’s presence was felt on Earth even though this happened before the Second Coming. As we see in Revelation 11:14, the earthquake mentioned in Revelation 11:13 happens before the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The first and second woes refer to the sounding of the fifth and sixth trumpets. This means that the events of the second woe end with the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the Earth. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” As we saw in study #65, the sounding of the seventh trumpet (third woe) brings us to the Second Coming of Jesus.

*** Overview ***: Following the order of events leading to the end of the world history, as described by Jesus in Matthew 24:14, the first item on the list is the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. This order is also seen in the message of the three angels, described in Revelation 14:6-13. The angel has the Gospel in his hand, to preach to the unbelievers. The call the angel makes to the nations parallels the reaction of those who survived the earthquake of Revelation 11:13: "And I saw another angel fly in midheaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:6-7). There is no time to waste. The fate of those who reject this call is spiritual death and consequently eternal death. Now is the time to repent, fear God and give Him glory.

2 And he had in his hand a little scroll open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,

4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.


Part 2 - Revelation 10:2,4


*** An open little scroll ***: The Greek word used for little scroll in Revelation 10:2 is biblaridion. This verse tells us that this small scroll is open but in Revelation 5, we see a closed scroll. The word for scroll in chapter 5 was translated from the Greek biblion. Biblaridion is the diminutive form of biblion or biblos and refers to papyrus scrolls. The content of the sealed scroll of chapter 5 can only be fully revealed once all the seals are broken. We will study this later in more detail when we start Revelation chapter 12. For now, we must concentrate on the fact that only a portion of the scroll is being revealed to John, in the form of a small scroll.

Some Bible commentators suggest that the small scroll is the book of Daniel, which was sealed "until the end of time" (Daniel 12:4,9). This concept is interesting but limited. The content of the little scroll seems to go beyond the time-frame described in the prophetic portions of the book of Daniel. Let's keep in mind, however, that John did not yet know the content of the little scroll at this point. All he knew was that the little scroll was open and that it was sent by God through a strong angel.

*** Seven Thunders ***: When John heard the angel's cry out with a loud voice (Revelation 10:3), he heard another sound as well. John described this voice as the voice of the seven thunders. In the Greek manuscript, we see the article "the" used before "seven thunders" in both verses (Revelation 10:3,4). These were not any seven thunders. They were THE seven thunders - the thundering voice people were already familiar with (Psalm 29:3-9; Job 26:14; Job 37:5). The angel's cry preceded the sound of seven thunders. The voice of God is often represented in the Bible by the voice of thunders. The fact that there are also seven thunders is important. As we have seen before, the number seven plays a recurring role in the Bible. The number seven often represents the totality of God, and His perfect fullness (See study #31 and #11). The number seven is a symbol in itself. John described the voice of God, as the seven thunders. John seemed to be able to understand what the seven thunders said because he was preparing to write the words down. But a voice from Heaven commanded that John did not write anything, and seal the words that the seven thunders had spoken. No one, but John, was to know what the seven thunders had uttered (Revelation 10:4). On the other hand, God's message given by the strong angel, in his lion-like roar, was to be revealed to all (Revelation 10:6-7). God's voice prophesying impending judgment is sometimes compared to a lion's roar (Jeremiah 25:30; Hosea 11:10; Joel 3:16; Amos 1:2; Amos 3:8). God's voice as thunders depicts how infinitely big and powerful He is (Revelation 4:5; Psalm 18:13; Psalms 81:7;  1 Samuel 7:10; Job 40:9).

In John 12:20-36, God speaks from Heaven, and some people "that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered" (John 12:29). In the Bible, thunders often come before important divine actions. Stefanovic points out the following events where we see the voice of the thunders:
- Before breaking of the seven seals (Revelation 4:5; Revelation 6:1)
- Before the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:5)
- Before the war between the dragon and the woman, which culminated in the seven last plagues (Revelation 11:9)
- Before the final moments of this world and final judgment (Revelation 16:18)

*** Seal up the statement ***: What God said as the seven thunders seem to be of extreme importance but we do not know what He said. John attempted to write it down immediately but God had other plans. God thought it was only necessary for John to hear the information. The fact is that we do not know what He said at that moment. The angel had an unsealed revelation but the seven thunders had a message that was to be sealed (Revelation 10:4). There should be no record of what the seven thunders had spoken. Yet, it was important that John included that the seven thunders have said something. Somehow, we would benefit from knowing He had said something. Everywhere else in the book of Revelation, John is instructed to write down the vision (Revelation 1:11,19; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:5). We then can conclude that the request to seal the words of the seven thunders is what Deuteronomy called: the secret things that belong to God (Deuteronomy 29:29). When Paul received a vision, he also "heard unspeakable words, which [were] not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Corinthians 12:4). Those "unspeakable words" were not meant for humans to repeat. They were words that belonged to God alone. Like Paul, John heard such words. It is possible that those words were not words of prophecy, and that is why he had to seal them up. Later in Revelation, John receives instructions regarding the prophetic message he is supposed to pass along to the churches: he is commanded not to "seal the words of the prophecy of this book" (Revelation 22:10). In contrast to the words of the seven thunders, which are sealed and belong to God, the words of the little scroll, which is open, are prophecies being given to humans.

*** Overview ***: John was in a state of readiness. He was prepared to write down everything that he was seeing and hearing in the vision. As he received a message from God, through the angel, another message comes along, through the sound of seven thunders. One message was open to the public, the other was not. One was being revealed, the other was being sealed up. The seven thunders could be seen as God's personal authentication of the message the angel was bringing. God was directly controlling what information had to be communicated to the people, and which things were not to be transmitted. This shows that what John revealed in the Book of Revelation is not the content that John saw fit to include. The message was carefully assembled by God Himself.

11 […] “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

19 "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”
(Revelation 1:11, 19 NIV)
Nothing in Revelation happens by chance. Jesus spent the first chapter of this book describing in detail who He is. This gives us the impression that we need to keep these descriptions of Him in mind when we study the rest of the message. He is King, Priest, and Savior. He knows everything about each of His children. We saw how much He cares about human beings. He protects us with His powerful hand. This level of care and detail is present throughout the book of Revelation. And now, that we are gonna start studying the seven churches, this will become very evident.
In John's first vision, Jesus said that John should send the message of Revelation to seven churches in Asia Minor. In verse 11 of chapter one, we read the names of those churches, listed in this order: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. In the original text in Greek, there is an "and" in-between all the church names. So, the list is: Ephesus and Smyrna and Pergamum and Thyatira, and so forth. This gives us the impression that the order of this list is important. So, before we breakdown every single verse for each of the specific church messages, let's take a look at the big picture first.
From a geographical point of view, the order of the church list makes perfect sense. Ephesus was the city on the list that was closest to Patmos. It makes sense that someone leaving the island of Patmos on a boat would first arrive in Ephesus. The path in between the cities, that the person carrying the letters would take was, most likely, roads. The Romans were famous for their roads, and people traveling between those cities would travel along roads connecting them in that order. Starting at Ephesus, someone traveling to the next city would go in a somewhat clockwise direction. From each of them, the letters could easily spread out to Greece, and Europe, as well as to Damascus and further East. These seven churches were strategically located. It is interesting to know that they were not the only churches in Asia Minor. The Bible mentions several others: the churches in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:14), Colosse (Colossians 1:2), Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13), Iconium (Acts 14:1), Derbe (Acts 14:20), Lystra (Acts 14:6), Troas (Acts 20:5), and Miletus (Acts 20:17). 
You can see that Jesus’ command was not to send these letters to 15 churches in Asia or to just 3 churches. We can imagine that God had a good reason to select these specific seven churches since there were more in the region to choose from. In the next studies, we will see that the particular issues and circumstances of each church play a very important role in why they were chosen. Certainly, we cannot ignore the fact that seven is the number of chosen churches. In the book of Revelation, there are not only Seven Churches, but also Seven Seals (Revelation 5:1), Seven Trumpet (Revelation 8:2), Seven Last Plagues, and Seven Bowls (Revelation 16:1). The number seven appears frequently throughout the Bible, not just Revelation. The number seven is a very important symbol. As always, we need to find the meaning of this symbol in the Bible. So let’s see what the Bible has to say about the number seven. 
  1. The first time we see the number seven is in Genesis. God had finished His creation and made the seventh day holy. And Genesis 2:2-3 says: "By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." (NAS). The seven-day week is not a human invention. God is the One who planned the division of the week in format. On the seventh day, God celebrated what He had done. His Creation was complete.
  2. Noah was in the Arc for 7 days before God sent the Flood (Genesis 7:1, 4). In this case, the number 7 represents a waiting time. Again, the duration of this time was in God’s hands. He had control over this period of time. When the waiting time was over, or complete, the flood came.
  3. The next example comes in Genesis 9:13, when after the Flood, God sets His rainbow up in the sky. This example is not very obvious right away because the text only says that God set His bow in the cloud. But as you know, rainbows have seven colors. So let’s find out more about the meaning of this rainbow. God had destroyed the earth with a flood because of the iniquities of the people. For 120 years, Noah had preached the message of this destruction, warning the people to get ready for this day. Despite all the opportunities God gave everyone, only Noah and his family were ready on that day. When the Flood ended, God made a promise to Noah. He said He would never again destroy the Earth with water. God is the One who chose the rainbow as the symbol to represent this promise. And so, every time it rained and people saw the rainbow in the sky, they would remember that the Destruction of the Earth with water was complete, to never happen by flood again.
  4. The next story is found in Genesis 29:15-30, and it tells us the story of how Jacob worked for 7 years and then another 7 years to marry Rachael. Once again, we see here a waiting time that got ended after a period involving the number 7. At the end of this period, it was clear to Jacob and his father-in-law that the agreement between them had been fulfilled. The waiting time was complete.
  5. Let’s go to our next example, and we see it in Joshua 6:1-16. This example mentions the number 7 many times. God told the Israelites to conquer the city of Jericho but Jericho was a fortified city, with very tall walls. God’s instructions were very specific on how they should go about it. And the way He put together this plan, it would make it very evident to everyone that Victory over Jericho would be due to God’s power, not because of human effort. And this victory happened like this: Joshua and the Israelites marched around Jericho for 7 days, with 7 priests carrying 7 trumpets. On the 7th day, they marched 7 times, blew the 7 trumpets, and the walls of Jericho fell down. God gave them that city in its entirety.
  6. The last example we are going to mention here is in 2 Kings 5:10. And this story is about Naaman. Naaman was a commander for the Syrian army, which means he was not an Israelite. He was a man of high prestige. It just so happens that Naaman got sick with leprosy. There is no cure for it. This was a tragedy in Naaman’s life. But there was a young Israelite woman who worked there, in Naaman’s house. This young woman was faithful to God. She said the prophet in Samaria would be able to cure him. And so, Naaman went to see the prophet, and the prophet told him exactly what to do. Naaman had to bathe 7 times in the Jordan river to be cured of leprosy. When he dove in for the seventh time, his wounds disappeared and he was fully restored and cleansed.
Now, after seeing all these Bible texts, it becomes clear that the number 7 is a number that has to do with completeness, full restoration, full cleansing, victory, and things that are blessed and made holy by God. The number 7 is a symbol of God's perfection. Under this view, we can see that the Seven Churches are a full, complete, and perfect representation of God's people. In the context of what Jesus tells John, we can also see that these churches are not just the representation of the people of God at that time (as the verse in Revelation 1:19 says, the time of "what is now", but they are also directed towards God's people in future times (as this same verse says, the time of "what will take place later". Once again, we need a historical approach to understand this other dimension of these Churches.
The problems the churches were having as a group is a reflection of the problems the individuals of the churches were undergoing. The church is formed by each one of its members (1 Corinthians 12:27). So, not only we need to interpret this message as information being passed along to the church community at that time and to the generations that followed, but also, we need to interpret the message to the Seven Churches as something addressing what we may go through personally in our own personal and spiritual life. We can see that this message to the seven churches is perfect, and it needs to be analyzed in many different layers. This is a very deep message.
*** Overview ***: The Seven Churches are perfectly selected geographically and spiritually to receive an important message addressing the serious issues afflicting each one of them. The message is primarily directed at those churches in Asia Minor, but they also carry spiritual significance for the churches throughout the centuries and each individual who is part of the Body of Christ. The number 7 indicates that God chose each one of these churches for a very specific reason. They were not randomly selected. The geographic and spiritual rout reflect God’s wisdom. This route is an indication of the physical, spiritual, and historic path that this message will take. This is a literal message for the first century Christians and a prophetic message to the Christians who came later. God's message to the churches is profound, multi-layered, and complete.

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