Home > Book of Revelation, Ezekiel, Olivet Discourse > The great hail of Revelation 16:21

The great hail of Revelation 16:21

As part of the seventh vial, a plague of great hailstones is described in Revelation 16:21. Like the fire that devours the hordes of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:9, the hail is said to fall upon men from heaven.

In Revelation 20:8-9, people from all parts of the earth, who number as the sand of the sea, come against the camp of the saints, and the holy city, which is the church.

In both of these events John alludes to the prophecy of Ezekiel 38, where God’s judgments on the armies of Gog and Magog, including hailstones, pestilence, blood, rain, fire and brimstone, are all mentioned together in the same verse.

Ezekiel 38:22
And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

In Revelation, John connected the plague of hailstones with the parable of Jesus about the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, by saying each hailstone weighed about a talent.

Revelation 16:21
And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

In the parable of Jesus, the talents issued to the servants represent God’s word, which all believers have received. This applies more specifically to prophecy, as the parable is included in the Olivet Discourse.

The man who received five talents traded with them, and gained five more, meaning that he was creative in the way he used his talents. Trading with the talents suggests he applied the scriptures in various ways, and did not cling to the literal words, but let the message and sense of the prophecy develop and mature, becoming more meaningful, eventually turning into something greater, and more valuable, than what he received. He was “fruitful.” This pictures the person who is willing to interpret the scriptures according to the spirit, rather than according to the letter.

In contrast, the man who received only one talent buried it in the ground. This is like the attitude of those who insist that the words of scripture can mean only what they literally say. Typically such people disregard scholarship, and the interpretations of others; a great earthquake, in the apocalyptic language of Revelation 16, must mean a literal earthquake; islands must be literal islands; mountains that can’t be found are literal mountains; hail is hail, etc. In the judgment this person says to Christ, “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.” [vs. 24-25]

The Lord answered him: “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Hail that weighs a talent in Revelation 16:20 links to this famous parable of Jesus.

A literal approach to many of the judgments in scripture causes men to blaspheme; “and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

Taking prophecy literally often leads to absurd conclusions. Some who lack understanding make ridiculous claims about God’s judgments, causing those who are not believers to blaspheme. Paul noted that this problem existed among Jews in the first century. He said, “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” [Romans 2:24]

Because of the attitude of literalist, “holier-than-thou” deceived false prophets, “the way of truth” has been maligned and ridiculed; it is “evil spoken of.”

2 Peter 2:1-2
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

The great hailstones in the prophecy of Ezekiel are associated with rain, and Isaiah compared God’s word to rain and snow. Eventually, it will accomplish its purpose.

Isaiah 55:10
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

About these ads
  1. Ironbark
    October 7, 2011 at 11:05 am | #1

    There are some things to note here. Both the talent in Matt 25 and the hail with the weight of a talent in Rev 16 come from the Strong’s number: G5007, yet their interpretation based upon context is NOT the same.
    In the Jewish system, the talent was either in reference to weight or to currency – a sum of money. Very clearly Matt 25 speaks about about the talents in reference to money (note vs 18). This is made clearer when we have the concept of the servants trading their talents to thus double them. These talents are not in regards to their use of scripture at all – Jesus never mentioned this in this parable.
    Now, in Revelation 16, it cannot be in reference to money, as we know that the object it refers to is hail – hail which is the weight of a talent.
    Now, let us deal with literalism verses symbolicalism here. You mention that the literal approach to many of the judgments in scripture cause men to blaspheme, of which you connect it to Rev 16. Here it describes the men blaspheming God because of the plague of the hail, as it was great. You are not following biblical reasoning here at all. How can symbolic hail (which represents God’s Word) as you suggest, cause men to blaspheme God? God’s Word doesn’t cause men to blaspheme God, as Satan is the only one who can do this. (Also, Rom 2:24 is connected to circumcision and the law, not in regards to addressing wrong interpretations of prophecies – Paul wasn’t addressing this).

    Now if you want to say that the hail is not literal, then you need to follow through with this according to the biblical principles of contextual interpretation. If the hail is symbolic, then also the earthquake, islands moved, are symbolic, which you have said. If this is so, then what do they represent? How do you connect that to Rev 6 where at the end you have a very similar picture presented of earthquakes, Islands moved, and this time in connection to Christ’s 2nd Coming. Now, if the earthquakes, islands and mountains moved, and hail which are ALL connected not long before the 2nd Coming contextually are symbolic not literal, than that would also mean that Christ’s 2nd Coming contextually according to the context of Rev 16 and 6, is also symbolic – it won’t happen literally? How do you explain that? We have to be careful to always apply the principles of interpretation accross the board.

    Eze 38 – yes hailstones are associated with rain, but not in connection with Isa 55:10. That is totally out of context and there is no connection there. Rev 16 clearly deals with the outpouring of the wrath of God upon the unrepentent wicked – according to Revelation this is after the close of probation, upon which the wicked have already been given their last chance to repent, and thus the wrath of God is poured without mixture upon them just before Christ’s 2nd Coming (study Rev 14-16 carefully). Now, how can hail which are a part of God’s judgments (the 7 plagues) connect with the outpouring of God’s Word in Isa 55? They don’t connect at all. If the hailstones are the weight of a talent and represent so to speak God’s Word, what then spiritually does the weight of a talent represent? What we find in Rev 16 is destructive langauge, not restorative language. Here man has taken God’s mercy too far, and those who have had a chance to repent but refused to will have to face God’s wrath just before He comes.

    Therefore my friend, be VERY CAREFUL about how you interpret scripture. Use exegesis not isogesis, and use the Biblical principles of interpretation which God has clearly revealed Himself in scripture for us to understand and apply…..

  2. October 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm | #2

    At Matthew Kneisler’s web site The Biblical Hailstone, calculations are presented on the size of hailstones with the weight of a talent, and the wind speeds required to form them. Large hail is formed as hail is circulated by updrafts within storm clouds. For bigger hailstones, faster wind speeds are required. Kneisler’s calculations on the hail described in Revelation 16:21 led him to conclude that such hail stones would be about 20 inches in diameter, and their formation would require wind speeds of about 370 miles per hour!

    In an F5 tornado, the wind speeds are in the range 261-318 mph.

    Anyone struck by hail stones of the size mentioned in John’s prophecy would likely be killed instantly; they would not get the chance to blaspheme. But those hailstones are symbolic, and were not meant to taken literally.

    For a discussion on what the mountains and islands being moved out of place might mean see: Mountains and islands were moved out of their places.

    • October 9, 2012 at 10:49 am | #3

      “Anyone struck by hail stones of the size mentioned in John’s prophecy would likely be killed instantly; they would not get the chance to blaspheme. But those hailstones are symbolic, and were not meant to taken literally.” From Doug

      Hello Doug,
      Thanks for the info. on the making of hail. Our church is currently studying Revelation.
      I disagree with your statement referenced above. Of course those hit by giant hailstones will be killed instantly or at least rendered unconscious and critical. Or maybe the hail will only hit a limb leaving their mouths in tact. At any rate, the hail won’t kill everyone! The survivors will surely curse God. Thus, a literal reading of this passage stands.

  3. interested
    March 31, 2012 at 2:17 am | #4

    Revelation 16:21
    And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent……

    Source: http://philologos.org/bpr/files/g003.htm

    Online Bible:

    5006 talantiaios
    1) a weight or worth of a talent
    1a) a talent of silver weighed about 100 pounds (45 kg)
    1b) a talent of gold, 200 pounds (91 kg)

    Talmud – Avodah Zarah (footnote)
    “A talent was about 57lbs in weight.”

    Does anyone know what the weight of a hail stone 20 inches in diameter would be and would that weight be similar to that detailed above? One very serious hail ‘rock’ indeed!

  4. October 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm | #5

    “Both the talent in Matt 25 and the hail with the weight of a talent in Rev 16 come from the Strong’s number: G5007, yet their interpretation based upon context is NOT the same.In the Jewish system, the talent was either in reference to weight or to currency – a sum of money. Very clearly Matt 25 speaks about about the talents in reference to money (note vs 18). This is made clearer when we have the concept of the servants trading their talents to thus double them. These talents are not in regards to their use of scripture at all – Jesus never mentioned this in this parable.Now, in Revelation 16, it cannot be in reference to money, as we know that the object it refers to is hail – hail which is the weight of a talent.” From Ironbark

    Hello Ironbark,

    Thank you for clearing up this article writer’s very, very erroneous way of interpreting scripture. You said everything I wanted to say!

    The only little thing I disagree with you on is the above statement.

    http://www.abibleconcordance.com/41G-5000.htm
    [The definition of the greek word for talent is below:
    "G-5007. talanton, tal'-an-ton; neut. of a presumed der. of the orig. form of tlao (to bear; equiv. to G-5342); a balance (as supporting weights), i.e. (by impl.) a certain weight (and thence a coin or rather sum of money) or "talent":--talent.]

    wikipedia.org:
    “The talent (Latin: talentum, from Ancient Greek: τάλαντον, talanton ‘scale, balance’) was one of several ancient units of mass, as well as corresponding units of value equivalent to these masses of a precious metal. It was approximately the mass of water required to fill an amphora.[1] A Greek, or Attic talent, was 26 kilograms (57 lb),[2] a Roman talent was 32.3 kilograms (71 lb), an Egyptian talent was 27 kilograms (60 lb),[2] and a Babylonian talent was 30.3 kilograms (67 lb).[3] Ancient Israel, and other Levantine countries, adopted the Babylonian talent, but later revised the mass.[4] The heavy common talent, used in New Testament times, was 58.9 kilograms (130 lb).[4]”

    spreadinglight.com:
    “A talent is a measure of weight in the Bible that is equal to 75 pounds or 34 kilograms.
    It was equivalent to 3,000 shekels.
    Archaeological digs have discovered shekels weighing between 65 and 80 pounds (29.5 to 36.3 kg) so this would be near the 75 pound measurement.
    Talents were only used in the weighing of precious metals, specifically gold and silver.”

    bible-history.com Biblical Meaning for ‘Talent’ Eastons Bible Dictionary:
    “Talent of silver contained 3,000 shekels (Ex. 38:25, 26), and was equal
    to 94 3/7 lbs. avoirdupois. The Greek talent, however, as in the
    LXX., was only 82 1/4 lbs. It was in the form of a circular
    mass, as the Hebrew name _kikkar_ denotes. A talent of gold was
    double the weight of a talent of silver (2 Sam. 12:30). Parable
    of the talents (Matt. 18:24; 25:15).”

    historicjesus.com:
    [Jesus told a parable about a master who entrusted "talents" to his servants. A talent was not a coin, but a unit of a high value, though the amount varied from time to time. If a denarius was worth a day's wages, a talent would have been worth about seventeen yearsÕ wages. A reference to a large number of talents generally meant "a great deal of money," much the same as when people today say, "if I had a million dollars."]

    So I deduce a talent was simply an amount or weight of silver or gold metals/coins.
    Jesus in Matt. 25:14-30 mentions this measure. God mentions the talent in Rev. 16:21 to show in weight how heavy the hailstones will be – about 100 lbs.
    So, I just disagree with you. The context of the 2 uses of the word “talent” is exactly the same as the Strong’s Condordance of Greek definition. Thank you. God’s best to ya!

  5. October 10, 2012 at 7:34 am | #6

    Natural hail is produced in thunderstorms, which are limited in extent. They consist of one or more cells, where hailstones grow as they are circulated in updrafts. According to an NOAA website, these cells typically exist for about 20 minutes, and the area affected by any cell is therefore limited. The site states the following about supercells, the most extreme form of natural thunderstorm:

    The supercell is a highly organized thunderstorm. Supercells are rare, but pose a high threat to life and property. A supercell is similar to the single-cell storm because they both have one main updraft. The difference in the updraft of a supercell is that the updraft is extremely strong, reaching estimated speeds of 150-175 miles per hour. The main characteristic which sets the supercell apart from the other thunderstorm types is the presence of rotation. The rotating updraft of a supercell (called a mesocyclone when visible on radar) helps the supercell to produce extreme severe weather events, such as giant hail (more than 2 inches in diameter, strong downbursts of 80 miles an hour or more, and strong to violent tornadoes.

    The surrounding environment is a big factor in the organization of a supercell. Winds are coming from different directions to cause the rotation. And, as precipitation is produced in the updraft, the strong upper-level winds blow the precipitation downwind. Hardly any precipitation falls back down through the updraft, so the storm can survive for long periods of time.

    The leading edge of the precipitation from a supercell is usually light rain. Heavier rain falls closer to the updraft with torrential rain and/or large hail immediately north and east of the main updraft. The area near the main updraft (typically towards the rear of the storm) is the preferred area for severe weather formation.

    In John’s prophecy, the hailstones are not like those of natural thunderstorms, as he says “there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent.”

    In natural thunderstorms with hail, the hail stones vary greatly in size. A storm where every hail stone is about the same weight and size would not be a natual one. Neither would a natural thunderstorm affect mankind generally, as the cells of a thunderstorms are generally brief in duration and of limited extent. So John must be describing a spiritual kind of hail.

    His statement that every hailstone was about a talent in weight not only eliminates any natural type of thunderstorm, but clearly links to the parable of Jesus about the talents.

  6. February 18, 2013 at 2:29 am | #7

    “His statement that every hailstone was about a talent in weight not only eliminates any natural type of thunderstorm, but clearly links to the parable of Jesus about the talents.”

    Perhaps the “great hail” is meteors. they could certainly measure up to the scope of a “talent”, and would surely be viewed as a great hail by the ancients. What other analogy or metaphor might a person of that time use to describe a meteor shower like the ones we’ve had all this week.?

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s