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,
And the stars of the sky fell to earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.
The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
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,
Calling to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,
For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:12-17 (ESV)
Revelation 6 closes with a terrifying account of what happens when Jesus breaks the 6th seal. Let’s look at all the things that take place. I am going to divide these things into two categories: natural phenomena and human actions.
As the 6th seal is broken many things take place in nature:
- Sun blackens
- Moon becomes like blood
- Stars fall to earth
- Sky vanishes
- Mountains and islands moved from their places
Heaven and earth is forever changed at the opening of the 6th seal. The earthquake that takes place is the first of four we will read about in Revelation (Rev 6, 8, 11, and 16), each bringing greater devastation to the earth than the one before it. Some commentators have sought to explain the happenings of this passage by tying them to natural occurrences that are familiar to us. For example, the sun could be blackened and the moon appear like blood as a result of a nuclear blast. There is nothing to suggest this is the answer, but it is an interesting idea.
The sky vanishing, or receding like a scroll, could have been John’s only way to describe a tornado. Mountains and islands moving from their places could certainly be caused by a massive earthquake.
Whatever the cause, be it one that we can explain, or one that is unexplainable in the human realm, the fact remains that the earth will experience devastation unlike anything we have seen with our eyes. Jesus spoke of this time in Matthew 24:29 (ESV) when He said,
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
The human actions we see as a result of the opening of the 6th seal are quite dramatic. People of all stripes are filled with terror over the natural disasters. They hide in the mountains and beg the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. Dr. Vance Havner once said that the day would come when the most expensive piece of real estate will be a hole in the ground!! These people recognize that no human can stand against God and His anointed, however, it does not seem that they repent and turn to God.
It is important to note that this is the beginning of the wrath of the Lamb, and the only time this phraseology is used. Jesus, the Lamb of God, begins to execute judgment on the earth at the opening of the 6th seal.
Whew! That is some heavy stuff today, friends. Let’s stop here and engage.
- Did anything in today’s lesson challenge or encourage your faith?
- I know there are different interpretations of this, and many passages in Revelation, so please, please do not hesitate to offer your thoughts and ideas. My goal here is not to have my voice be the only one. I want us to teach each other.