I have proposed in various books and articles that Revelation chapters 16-19 cover the modern humanistic era, with a special focus on the culminating events of that era. I have also proposed that we are now in the culminating decades of that era. The modern humanistic era is that period in world history sandwiched between the era of Protestant Reformation and the millennial era. It is an era dominated by a mysterious Babylon, who is eventually destroyed by the 7-headed Beast and the nations. (The 7-headed Beast itself is eventually extirpated from the earth, and the millennial restoration begins.) The fall of the mysterious Babylon is apparently accompanied by great worldwide calamities. One of the many calamities is described in this way: “every island fled away” (Revelation 16:20). What does this mean?
The prophecy of Revelation is replete with symbols, and so it is difficult to know when an element should be taken literally. Is ‘island’ a symbol for something else, or should we take this element in the prophecy literally? Again, that is hard to say. But if we do take it literally, then it would imply a great and disastrous change for the islands that then exist. What would cause such a change for islands? It would seem the waters surrounding them would be the likely cause of change. Are we now beginning to observe what Revelation here prophesies?
Consider these excerpted articles that may throw a fascinating light on the question-
THE CASE OF THE VANISHING ISLANDS
Marsh grass and fiddler crab holes fill some of the front yards. Other yards have become mud flats, and hip boots may be required to navigate Main Street during twice-monthly high tides. Nevertheless, some 450 hardy souls stubbornly cling to a way of life on Maryland's Smith Island. Residents of this remote speck of land in the Chesapeake Bay, first inhabited by English colonists in the 17th century, still speak a brogue that they trace back to Elizabethan times. But the island seems about to join others that already have sunk beneath the waves—a microcosm, say scientists, of the effects of rising sea levels around the world. "The people of Smith Island are out of time," said Florida International University's Stephen P. Leatherman, who has extensively studied coastal erosion. "I wish it were otherwise, but I don't see any answer for them. Many will hold out for as long as they can, but the next time a really big hurricane comes through, I think that'll be it. Their heritage is slipping away under the sea." Debate continues over the cause of rising sea levels, especially concerning the effects of fossil fuel-burning, which theoretically promotes global warming by increasing the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere...
But whatever the reason, the unmistakable fact is that the sea is gobbling up dry land at an alarming rate in many parts of the world. Entire nations, including the low-lying Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Vanuatu in the southwest Pacific, face extinction. If current trends continue, the major coastal cities of the world also could be at risk.
"What's going on in the Chesapeake Bay is going on worldwide," said Duncan M. Fitzgerald, a Boston University geologist. "I don't think people understand that an increase in the rate of rise of sea level is going to have a devastating, cataclysmic effect." …
The massive west Antarctic ice sheet, previously assumed to be stable, is starting to collapse, scientists warned on Tuesday. Antarctica contains more than 90% of the world's ice, and the loss of any significant part of it would cause a substantial sea level rise. Scientists used to view Antarctica as a "slumbering giant", said Chris Rapley, from the British Antarctic Survey, but now he sees it as an "awakened giant". Rapley presented measurements of the ice sheet at a major climate conference in Exeter, UK. Glaciers on the Antarctic peninsula, which protrudes from the continent to the north, were already known to be retreating. But the data Rapley presented show that glaciers within the much larger west Antarctic Ice sheet are also starting to disappear. If the ice on the peninsula melts entirely it will raise global sea levels by 0.3 metres, and the west Antarctic ice sheet contains enough water to contribute metres more. The last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2001, said that collapse of this ice sheet was unlikely during the 21st century. That may now need to be reassessed, Rapley warned.
Changes on the peninsula, where 75% of the 400 mountain glaciers are in retreat, have provided new insights into the ways that ice sheets may disintegrate.
In March 2002, a huge floating ice shelf known as Larsen B shattered into icebergs. This turned out to have an effect akin to pulling a cork from a bottle. With Larsen B no longer impeding movement, the ice floes that fed the shelf began moving faster towards the sea and started to thin. The finding took scientists by surprise when revealed in September 2004 and now modellers are now working to include such mechanisms in their predictions.
Climate records derived from the analysis of sediments show that ice shelves off the peninsula have been absent in several earlier eras, when natural variability warmed the world. But the break-up is affecting ice closer to the pole than ever recorded, said Rapley. "It's like the Heineken effect," he said, referring to the beer adverts that claim Heineken "reaches the parts other beers cannot reach".
Indications that climate change may be affecting the west Antarctic ice sheet comes from three glaciers, including Pine Island and Thwaites. Data reveal they are losing more ice - mainly through the calving of icebergs - than is being replaced by snowfall. According to a preliminary analysis, the difference between the mass lost and mass replaced is about 60%.
Whether the loss of mass by the glaciers is due to natural variation or is caused by human-influenced warming of the oceans is not known for sure. Scientists are now making more field measurements to assess the causes, but warming is a likely culprit, said Rapley: "The fact that three of them are simultaneously accelerating suggests that is the case." The melting of these three glaciers alone is contributing an estimated 0.24 millimetres per year to sea level.
“New satellite observations show that sea ice in the Arctic is melting faster while air temperatures in the region are rising sharply, scientists say. Since 2002, satellite data have revealed unusually early springtime melting in areas north of Siberia and Alaska. Now the melting trend has spread throughout the Arctic, according to a national collaboration of scientists…”
Time will make more clear whether these physical changes have a relation to what is prophesied in scripture regarding “every island”.