Revelation 6:12-17 and the Sixth Seal

(12)  When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, (13)  and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. (14)  The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (15)  Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, (16)  calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, (17)  for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

                   When the sixth seal opens, this tightly-wound scroll is pulling hard against the last seal to unravel and reveal the whole indictment against the covenant breakers. As the sixth seal breaks, there is a burst of energy revealed in verses 12-17. The following is the golden standard of God’s judgment language. If we took the book of Revelation out of context, then we could easily make this scene about the end of planet earth as we know it. However, in doing so we would despise the word of truth, dishonor the context, and display ourselves as fools to the rest of the world who can simply read that these things will shortly take place (1:1, 22:6) in the lives of the original recipients of this book. And we would certainly be put to shame by the more studious reader of God’s word, for they can point out that this exact symbolic language is placed all over the Bible so there could be no doubt as to its interpretation. This is a national judgment, not the final, universal day of judgment. This is the language which God most commonly uses to communicate local judgments against wicked people. May the following list serve as a reference to you in your studies of God’s word.

  1. Earthquake
    1. Psalm 18:7 (Judgment against the enemies of David)
    2. Psalm 114:4 (Judgment against Egypt)
    3. Isaiah 2:19 (Judgment against Judah)
    4. Isaiah 5:25 (Judgment against Judah)
    5. Isaiah 13:13 (Judgment against Babylon)
    6. Isaiah 24:19 (Judgment against any wicked nation)
    7. Jeremiah 4:24 (Judgment against Judah)
    8. Ezekiel 38:19-20 (Judgment against Gog)
    9. Joel 2:10 (Judgment against Judah)
    10. Joel 3:16 (Judgment against Judah)
    11. Nahum 1:5 (Judgment against Nineveh)
    12. Habakkuk 3:6 (Judgment against Judah)
    13. Haggai 2:6 (Judgment against Judah)
    14. Zechariah 14:4 (Judgment against Judah)

  1. Sun became black as sackcloth
    1. Isaiah 5:30 (Judgment against Judah)
    2. Isaiah 13:10 (Judgment against Babylon)
    3. Isaiah 34:4 (Judgment against Edom)
    4. Isaiah 50:3 (Judgment language in general)
    5. Ezekiel 32:7 (Judgment against Egypt)
    6. Amos 8:9 (Judgment against Israel)
    7. Joel 2:10 (Judgment against Judah)
    8. Joel 2:31 (Judgment against Judah)
    9. Joel 3:15 (Judgment against Judah)
    10. Matthew 24:29 (Judgment against Judah)
    11. Mark 13:24 (Judgment against Judah)

  1. Full moon became like blood
    1. Isaiah 13:10 (Judgment against Babylon)
    2. Isaiah 34:4 (Judgment against Edom)
    3. Jeremiah 4:23 (Judgment against Judah)
    4. Ezekiel 32:7 (Judgment against Egypt)
    5. Joel 2:10 (Judgment against Judah)
    6. Joel 2:31 (Judgment against Judah)
    7. Matthew 24:29 (Judgment against Judah)
    8. Mark 13:24 (Judgment against Judah)
    9. Acts 2:20 (Judgment against Judah)

  1. The stars of the sky fell to the earth
    1. Isaiah 13:10 (Judgment against Babylon)
    2. Ezekiel 32:7 (Judgment against Egypt)
    3. Matthew 24:29 (Judgment against Judah)
    4. Joel 2:10 (Judgment against Judah)
    5. Joel 3:15 (Judgment against Judah)

  1. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up.
    1. Isaiah 34:4 (Judgment against Edom)
    2. Isaiah 19:1 (Judgment against Egypt)

  1. Every mountain and island was removed from its place.
    1. Jeremiah 4:24 (Judgment against Judah)
    2. Ezekiel 38:20 (Judgment against Gog)
    3. Nahum 1:4-5 (Judgment against Nineveh)
    4. Habakkuk 3:6 (Judgment against Judah)
    5. Haggai 2:6 (Judgment against Judah)

  1. They hid themselves in the rocks, calling to the rocks “fall on us”
    1. Isaiah 2:19 (Judgment against Judah)
    2. Jeremiah 4:29 (Judgment against Judah)
    3. Hosea 10:8 (Judgment against Israel)
    4. Luke 23:30 (Judgment against Judah)

Considering the scriptures in the list above, it is no coincidence that God is using such language to speak of his judgment against the Jews of the first century who had reject their Messiah and had rejected his body (the church). I hope that I was able to use the scriptures in such a way as to impress upon the reader that there is no need to jump out of context and into a future final day of Judgment. We must be consistent. As proven in the list above, God has always used this kind of language to pronounce national judgments upon wicked nations.

For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand? The labels “day of his wrath” and “day of the Lord,” should not direct us to a future judgement. We must remain calm and interpret these terms based on what the context is communicating. Certainly, the future day of judgment is a “day of the Lord,” but, as pointed out here and in other areas (Isaiah 2:12, 13:6, 34:8, 58:13; Jeremiah 46:10; Lamentations 2:22; Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, 3:14; Amos 5:18-20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7; 2:2; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5), God has had many days of judgments, whether individual, local or national! After all, God is on the throne! He judges! The context of the sixth seal is the day of the Lord against the unfaithful Jew of the first century, a thing which was shortly to take place (1:1, 22:6).

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