And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each,
came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of
the hail, because its plague was extremely severe. - Revelation 16:21
plagues, judgments, and disasters in the Book of Revelation and in other
biblically prophetic passages are not understood by some as literally
descriptive of miraculous events that God will bring one day upon mankind.
Instead, non-literal interpreters of these passages say that these descriptions
are either symbolic for a non-historical event or they insist on a naturalistic
interpretation. Such approaches have a difficult time accepting the fact that
God will actually throw 100 pound hailstones at mankind during a future
tribulation judgment. What are passages like Revelation 16:21 saying? Is this
to be seen as a future supernatural event or is it best understood
naturalistically as a past event?
is quite impossible that such gargantuan hailstones can be accounted for under
the most aggravated of meteorological conditions," declares Dr. Kenneth Gentry.
" Yet Josephus records for us an event so visually and effectually similar that
what he records must be the fulfillment of the Revelational prophecy." 
Dr. Gentry' s belief that Revelation 16:21 was fulfilled in the first century,
as recorded by Josephus, is further explained in the following:
only is the size mentioned the same (one talent, . . .), but the boulders thrown
by the Roman catapults were white colored, as are hailstones. Would not the
effect of the catapulting stones be virtually that of a hailstorm of such
. . Revelation' s prophecies find an impressive fulfillment in almost literal
fashion in the Jewish War.
Scripture Interprets Scripture
Gentry believes, at least in theory, that, " Scripture interprets Scripture." 
Yet when it comes to dealing with this particular item, Dr. Gentry prefers
Josephus to God' s Word. This is true, in spite of the fact that Scripture has
a fair amount to say about this subject. However, when one takes into account
what Scripture actually says on this matter, it does not support preterism.
This is likely the reason why Josephus is to be preferred by Dr. Gentry and so
is interesting to note that Dr. Gentry chops his quote of Josephus and does not
include the part where Josephus says that when the Romans left their stones
white, the Jews saw them coming and were able to dodge them. It was only after
the Romans blackened the stones that they were able to inflict damage on the
Jews. Thus, in the later and effective use
of the stones by the Romans, they did not actually resemble white hailstones as
Dr. Gentry contends. Is this what Dr. Gentry means when he says the prophecies
of Revelation were fulfilled " in almost literal fashion in the Jewish War?"
Hardly! When biblical prophecy is fulfilled, it is always clearly and
Scripture and Hailstones
does the Bible have to say about the Lord fighting with hailstones? First of
all, the oldest book in the canon of Scripture says, " Have you entered the
storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I
have reserved for the time of distress, for the day of war and battle?" (Job
38:22-23) This passage clearly teaches that God has a storehouse of hail,
specifically for " the time of distress," and " for the day of war and battle."
Is this just metaphor or " almost literal" language?
you start looking at instances in the Bible where God uses hail against
Israel' s enemies they start to add up. God used hail against Egypt during the
seventh plague (Exod. 9:22-26). In this instance it was clearly literal hail
and not just a metaphor for bad weather. This plague was not a result of human
agency. Only God was involved in fighting for Israel against Egypt. There are
a number of Old Testament passages that refer to God' s use of hail in a battle
context (Psa. 18:12-13; 78:47-48; 105:32; 148:8; Isa. 28:17; 30:30; 32:19;
Ezek. 13:11-13; 38:22).
and Bible teacher Charles Clough says, " The proper way to understand prophecies
of catastrophes is to follow the apostle Peter' s approach and look at the true
record of God' s past historical judgments (2 Pet. 3:5-7)."  The
most significant passage for our study is the hailstone incident in Joshua 10.
The passage says, " And it came about as they fled from before Israel, while
they were at the descent of Beth-horon, that the Lord threw large stones from heaven on them as far as
Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those
whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword." (Joshua 10:11) This is a clear
example of the implementation of the purpose stated in Job, that the Lord has a
storehouse of hail for the very purpose of " the time of distress" and " for the
day of war and battle." Here God fights with divinely directed hailstones
during a time of distress and on the day of war and battle on behalf of Israel.
John Calvin notes:
the second slaughter the hand of God appeared more clearly, when the enemy were
destroyed by hail. And it is distinctly stated that more were destroyed by
hail than were slain by the sword, that there might be no doubt of the victory
having been obtained from heaven. Hence again it is gathered that this was not
common hail, such as is wont to fall during storms. For, in the first place,
more would have been wounded or scattered and dispersed than suddenly destroyed;
and secondly, had not God darted it directly, part would have fallen on the
heads of the Israelites. Now, when the one army is attacked separately, and
the other, kept free from injury, comes forward as it were to join auxiliary
troops, it becomes perfectly clear that God is fighting from heaven. To the
same effect it is said that God threw down great stones of hail from heaven:
for the meaning is that they fell with extraordinary force, and were far above
the ordinary size.
point of similarity between Joshua 10:11 and Revelation 16:21 is found in the
fact that both passages describe the hailstones as large in size. They are
said to be " large" in Joshua and " huge" in Revelation. Clearly Joshua 10:11 is
a supernatural event and I believe that Revelation 8:7 and 16:21 will prove to
also be direct miracles from the hand of God.
Naturalistic vs. Supernatural
like Dr. Gentry, not only mistake what will be in the future to be a past
event. They also make what will be supernatural to be the result of a
naturalistic cause. When it comes to interpreting the details of Revelation,
preterists, more often then not, pull out the equivalence of their
first-century newspapers- Josephus- and start reading the headlines to find a
correspondence which they say has already fulfilled this passage. Inevitably,
such an interpretation is a naturalistic one that does not require God to do
anything. In this instance they say that it was the Romans who fulfilled what
the Bible says God did.
first-century newspaper exegesis is similar in approach to that which
preterists criticize some futurists in our own day who attempt to correlate
Bible prophecy with current events. Yet they do the very same thing. The only
difference between preterists and those they criticize is about 2,000 years in
only similarity between Revelation 16:21 and an event recorded by Josephus in
his Wars of the Jews is the
phrase " one talent." Yet preterists latch onto that similarity, in spite of
the fact that there is no contextual correspondence between Josephus and the
other words and phrases in the passage. E. W. Bullinger notes that, " Josephus
says that stones of a talent' s weight were thrown by the Romans against
Jerusalem (Wars iii. vii. 9).
Surely God can send from heaven what man could send on earth."  In
fact, earlier in Revelation God used hail and fire as a judgment upon mankind.
" And the first sounded, and there came hail and fire,
mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was
burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was
burned up." (Rev. 8:7) Was this also recorded somehow as fulfilled by an event
Both Revelation 8:7 and 16:21 will
be real, supernatural events since both correspond to the regional plague of
hail in Exodus 9:22-26. As Bullinger reasons, " The plague of hail in Egypt was
real (Ex. ix. 18-21). So is this. Why not?"  Apparently the reason
why this event would not be a future supernatural event is because of the
Revelation 16:21, labels this event
a " plague," just like in Exodus. How could the use of catapults by the Romans
in a.d. 70 be viewed as a plague
from God? Every plague that God sends, either in Exodus or Revelation is
something that God does himself. Not one plague in either Exodus or Revelation
is said to be mediated through human agency. All are direct, miracles wrought
by God Himself. The preterist, naturalist interpretation shifts the glory from
God to man. Not a good thing for anyone to do!
Dr. Gentry' s naturalism is evident
when he said, " It is quite
impossible that such gargantuan hailstones can be accounted for under the most
aggravated of meteorological conditions."  Quite right! These
are specially prepared hailstones from the heavenly storehouse in heaven as Job
38:22-23 tells us. Scientist Dr. Henry Morris says of Revelation 16:21, " This
hail will not be the usual form of hail- that is, ice produced by violent
updrafts in atmospheric storm cells."  If anyone has a problem with such a
view, then they would likely have a problem with the other miraculous events of
the Bible, both past and future.
Gentry' s naturalistic, and thus symbolic interpretation is questionable because
of another textual factor. Dr. Robert Thomas notes, " it is doubtful that men
would blaspheme God because of something symbolic only. The Egyptian plague of
hail was literal, so this one must be too."  Preterism totally
fails in their interpretation of this text to explain more than one aspect of
the passage, let alone the entire verse.
We have seen that
Revelation 16:21 is an interesting test case of the naturalistic interpretative
approach of preterism, verses the supernatural understanding of the text by
futurists. By letting Scripture interpret Scripture we must conclude with Dr.
Thomas who says, " The Egyptian plague of hail was literal, so this one must be
too."  That' s right! Because the Lord
threw down great hailstones from heaven hitting only the Amorites in the days
of Joshua provides a precedent that He does such things. The fact that these
great hailstones in the battle of Joshua only hit the enemy and not the
Israelites is further proof of God' s divine intervention. It would also be the
envy of modern smart weapons technology.
Charles Clough concludes, " The
same fire, smoke, hail, thunder, plague, and earthquake of the Old Testament
judgments once again appear in Revelation 6- 18. These terms are not exaggerations
and metaphors. They point to a final culmination in God' s program of
separating good from evil throughout all creation. God' s past judgments thus
model His future judgments." 
Even if we did not have
the Old Testament precedent of Job, the Exodus, Joshua, etc., I believe the
passage in Revelation 16:21 is clear enough to take it as a literal, future,
supernatural event. With the Old Testament support, it is mere sophistry to
attempt any other interpretation. Maranatha!