The sixth seal describes the seven last plagues and Christ’s return.

This is an article in the series on the vision of the book with the seven seals (Rev 4:1-8:1).

Summary

The purpose of this article is to explain the sixth seal.

After He arrived in heaven after His ascension, Jesus received a book that was sealed up with seven seals (Rev 5:1, 7). Consequently, He breaks the seals over the church age.

Each time that He breaks a seal, something happens on earth. The sixth seal consists of two parts:

Part 1

The natural catastrophes of Revelation 6:12-14 include:

      • A great earthquake that moves all mountains and islands from their places, and
      • Signs in the sun, moon, stars, and heaven. Jesus said that these are the signs of His return (Matt 24:29-30).

Part 2

Revelation 6:15-17 describes the response of the people who refused to repent.  Apparently, Christ has already returned because the people of the world were more scared of Him than of this earthquake, for they attempted to hide from Him in the rocks and caves of the mountains (Rev 6:15-17). They cried out:

The great day of their wrath has come,
and who is able to stand?
” (Rev 6:15-17)

To be able to stand means to be right with God when Christ returns (Luke 21:36; 1 John 2:28).

After an interruption describing the sealing of God’s end-time people (the 144000 – Rev 7:1-8), the sixth seal continues in Revelation 7:9 with a description of the people who will be “able to stand.” In other words, part 2 of the sixth seal describes the people of the world divided into these two great multitudes:

      • Those who refused to repent attempt to hide from Him (Rev 6:17) and
      • The innumerable multitude who is able to stand before Him (Rev 7:9). 

Not Literal

Literally interpreted, in the sixth seal, everything in heaven and on earth is destroyed. But we should not interpret these things literally. For example, even after the stars have fallen on the earth, and all mountains have been moved out of their places, the unrepentant people are still alive and able to hide in the mountains.

In other words, it is not a real earthquake and the sun is not literally darkened. These are all symbols. The great earthquake, moving the mountains and islands out of their places symbolizes some great upheaval on earth, which may include some natural catastrophes, such as an acceleration of climate change.

Overview of the End-Time Events

The purpose of the next section is to show where the sixth and seventh seals fit in the end-time events. To serve as basis for that discussion, this section provides an overview of the end-time events in Revelation 13 to 20:

End-Time Persecution

The end-time persecution is described in Revelation 13. An image of the beast will attempt to force all people, with threats of violence, to receive the mark of the beast “on their right hand or on their forehead” (Rev 13:14-17). But God’s people, symbolized as 144,000, will refuse. In place of the mark of the beast, “on their foreheads” (Rev 7:3), they will receive “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2), which is “His name (Jesus’ name) and the name of His Father written on their foreheads” (Rev 14:1).

The description of that end-time persecution ends in 14:13 and goes over to the return of Christ (Rev 14:14-20), when blood will flow “out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred” (Rev 14:20).

The Seven Last Plagues

The seven last plagues, as described in Revelation 16, jump back to the time before Christ’s return because it describes the people with the mark of the beast (Rev 16:2) as still refusing to repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21). The plagues begin to fall at a point in time during the end-time persecution when all people have been marked either with the mark of the beast or the seal of God.

In the sixth plague, demon spirits gather the kings of the world together at Armageddon for “the war of the great day of God” (Rev 16:14, 16). This is not the war of Armageddon itself; only the preparation for it.

The seventh and final plague is the destruction of Babylon (Rev 16:19). After Revelation 17 and 18 interrupted the seventh plague, it continues in Revelation 19 where “a great multitude in heaven” praises God because “He has judged the great harlot” (Rev 19:1-2; cf. Rev 16:19).

Christ’s Return

Revelation 19 ends with Christ’s return (Rev 19:11-20:6). The seventh plague, therefore, is followed by or continues into the return of Christ.

Three Stages

In summary, Revelation 13 to 19 represents the end-time events as consisting of three broad phases:

      1. The end-time persecution (Rev 13-14),
      2. The seven last plagues (Rev 16), and
      3. Christ returns (Rev 14:14-20; 19:11-20:6).

The Sixth Seal is Christ’s Return.

So, where does the sixth seal fit in this sequence of events? Under the following headings, it is argued below that the sixth seal is Christ’s return:

      • The sixth seal is later than the seven last plagues.
      • The sixth seal separates the Living from the Dead (which will happen when Christ returns).
      • Matthew 24:29-30 explains the sixth seal (and states that they will “see the Son of man coming”).
      • The sixth seal is the Day of the Lord, and the Day of the Lord is Christ’s return.
      • The sixth seal is “the great day” and that “great day” is described by Revelation 19:19 – during Christ’s return.

1) Later than the Seven Last Plagues

The sixth seal is later than the sixth plague because in both we find the phrase “the great day” but, while the sixth plague is the PREPARATION for “the war of the great day” (Rev 16:14), in the sixth seal, that “great day … has (ALREADY) come” (Rev 6:17).

The sixth seal is also later than the seventh plague because, in the seventh plague, the people still refuse to repent (Rev 16:21; cf. Rev 16:9, 11). The sixth seal must be later because, in it, they attempt to hide in the mountains from “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:15-17).

2) Separates the Living from the Dead

As discussed above, the sixth seal divides the people of the world between the living and the dead:

      • Those who refused to repent hide from Him (Rev 6:17) and
      • The innumerable multitude stands before Him (Rev 7:9). 

This is what Jesus said He will do when He returns, “as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:31-32).

3) Matthew 24:29-30 explains the sixth seal.

Fourthly, Matthew 24:29-30 bears a striking resemblance to the two parts of the sixth seal. While verse 29 is parallel to the first part of the sixth seal, describing the signs in the sun, moon, stars, and heavens, verse 30 is parallel to the second part of the sixth seal because it describes the response of “all the tribes of the earth” as mourning. But verse 30 explicitly states that they will mourn when they “see the Son of man coming” (cf. Luke 21:25-28; Mark 13).

4) The sixth seal is the Day of the Lord.

Fifthly, the many similarities between the sixth seal and the Old Testament Day of the Lord identify the sixth seal as that great day. The similarities include:

      • The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars (Isaiah 13:10; Zeph 1:15; Joel 2:1-2, 31; 3:14-15);
      • A huge earthquake (Isaiah 13:13);
      • People hiding “in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains” (Rev 6:15-16; Isa 2:19).

So, the sixth seal is the Old Testament Day of the Lord but, in the New Testament, that day becomes Christ’s return. For example:

After Paul describes what will happen when Christ returns, he refers to it as “the day of the Lord” (1 Thess 4:15-17; 5:2).

Elsewhere, Paul equates “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” to “the day of the Lord” (2 Thess 2:1-2).

Paul also describes the day of judgment as “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7-8), “the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5), and “the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6, 10).

Consequently, the sixth seal is the Day of the Lord, and the Day of the Lord is Christ’s return.

5) The sixth seal is “the great day.”

Since the seventh plague continues in Revelation 19 and since all ‘sinners’ are killed by the end of that chapter (Rev 19:21), the sixth seal must describe an event somewhere in Revelation 19. Beginning in Revelation 19:11, that chapter describes Christ’s return. As part of that, John saw:

The kings of the earth and their armies assembled
to make war against Him who sat on the horse
” (Rev 19:19).

For the following reasons, I propose that this (19:19) and the multitude hiding in the mountains in the sixth seal (Rev 6:15-17) describe the same event and the same people:

Both describe all the people of the world as gathered. Revelation 19:18 describes them as “all men.”

Both are “the great day.” In the sixth seal, the people are hiding because “the great day of their wrath has come” (Rev 6:17). The only other place in Revelation where we find the phrase “great day” is in the sixth plague, where demons gather “the kings of the whole world” at Armageddon (Rev 16:14, 16) to prepare them for “the war of the great day of God.” Since 19:19 describes the kings of the earth and their armies as gathered together (assembled) “to make war,” that is the “great day” for which the demons gathered the kings (Rev 16:14) and which “has come” in the sixth seal.

The First Part of the Sixth Seal

So, the sixth seal describes a moment during Christ’s return when the people who refused to repent realize that there is no escape from a dreadful fate (Rev 19:17-19). However, as discussed, the sixth seal consists of two parts. Do both parts describe Christ’s return?

For the following reasons, it is proposed that the first part of the sixth seal is the seven last plagues that precede Christ’s return:

Firstly, since the second part of the seal is the response of unrepentant humanity to the massive natural catastrophes in the first part, they may describe two different events.

Secondly, both the natural catastrophes and the seven last plagues are the revenge promised to the souls in the fifth seal (Rev 6:10-11). To explain:

The natural catastrophes in the first part of the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-14) may be understood as that promised revenge because they follow immediately after the fifth seal.

However, Revelation 19:2 indicates that God will fulfill that promise of revenge through the judgment on Babylon, and that judgment is the seventh plague (Rev 16:19). Furthermore, Revelation 16:5-6 indicates that the third plague is also part of that revenge. Therefore, all seven plagues are that revenge.

Thirdly, both the seventh plague and the natural catastrophes begin with “a great earthquake” (Rev 6:12; 16:18) and conclude with the destruction of “every mountain and island” (Rev 6:12; 16: 20).

For these reasons, it is proposed that the first part of the sixth seal is the seven last plagues and the second part is the subsequent return of Christ.

The Seventh Seal

So, what is the seventh seal? The seventh seal is very brief. It is only a single verse and says “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Rev 8:1). Therefore, it must be understood relative to the context. Since the second part of the sixth seal describes a point in time during Christ’s return, when the people realize that they are doomed (Rev 19:17-19), another article interprets the silence of the seventh seal as the sorrow in God’s heart and in the hearts of His people when God’s enemies are put to death in Revelation 19:20-21.

– End of Summary –


6:12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal,

and there was a great earthquake;
and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair,
and the whole moon became like blood;
13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth,
as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up,
and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men
and the commanders and the rich and the strong
and every slave and free man

hid themselves in the caves and
among the rocks of the mountains;

16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks,

“Fall on us and hide us
from the presence of Him who sits on the throne,
and from the wrath of the Lamb;
17 for the great day of their wrath has come,
and who is able to stand?”

Purpose

In Revelation 5, Jesus arrives in heaven after His ascension and receives a book that was sealed up with seven seals (Rev 5:1, 7). In Revelation 6, He breaks the first six seals. Each time that He breaks a seal, something happens on earth.

When He broke the sixth seal, there was a huge earthquake and all mountains were moved out of their places (Rev 6:12-14). However, apparently, Christ has already returned because the people of the world were more scared of Him than of this earthquake, for they attempted to hide from Him in the rocks and caves of the mountains (Rev 6:15-17).

The purpose of this article is to explain the sixth seal.

Introduction

The sixth seal is the longest of all the seals. Of the 17 verses in chapter 6, it occupies 6. It consists of two parts, namely:

    • Natural Catastrophes (Rev 6:12-14)
    • Response of the people who live in rebellion against God (Rev 6:15-17)

Part 1: Natural Catastrophes

The first part is the dramatic natural catastrophes of Revelation 6:12-14. When Jesus broke the sixth seal:

      • There was a great earthquake.
        • The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair.
        • The moon became like blood.
        • The stars of the sky fell to the earth.
        • The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up.
      • Every mountain and island was moved out of their places.

That the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up suggests that the sky rips apart at the zenith (top) and rolls up in both directions.

One Single Event

These natural disasters begin with “a great earthquake” and end with “every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” Some see two different earthquakes in the text and, therefore, propose that these verses describe a series of events rather than a single event. But perhaps the more natural reading of the text is that the mountains move out of their places as a result of the preceding events, which would mean that verses 12-14 describe a single event.

Signs of Christ’s return

Between these two references to the earthquake, there are signs in the sun, moon, and stars. These signs seem to be the signs of Christ’s return, for Jesus gave the following sequence of events immediately preceding His return:

      • There will be a great tribulation as never before (Matt 24:21, 29). Then:
        • The sun will be darkened.
        • The moon will not give its light.
        • The stars will fall from the sky.
        • The heavens will be shaken. (Matt 24:29)
      • Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky (Matt 24:30).

Part 2: The Living and the Dead

The second part of the sixth seal begins with the response of the people who live in rebellion against God. They will attempt to hide in the caves and in the mountains and say to the mountains and to the rocks to fall on them and hide them:

From the presence of
Him who sits on the throne,

and from the wrath of the Lamb.”

Then they ask:

The great day of their wrath has come,
and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

To stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36) refers to His return. Those who “keep on the alert at all times” will be able to stand (Luke 21:36). They will “have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

The response of the hiding multitude is followed by the sealing of God’s end-time people (the 144000 – Rev 7:1-8). However, this sealing should precede the worldwide turmoil described by the sixth seal. One often finds in Revelation that the sequence of events is interrupted to provide a bit of background information as context.

The sealing is followed by a description of “a great multitude which no one could count … standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev 7:9). Since this is the answer to the question of the hiding multitude (Rev 6:17), it is proposed that:

1) The multitude hiding in the mountains and the innumerable multitude standing before the throne describe the same point in time.

2) In other words, this description of the innumerable multitude is part of the sixth seal and the sixth seal describes the people of the world divided into these two great multitudes:

        • Those hiding from Him (Rev 6:17) and
        • The innumerable multitude standing before Him (Rev 7:9). 

(For a further discussion, see, Who is the innumerable multitude?)

Him who sits on the throne

They hide from both “Him who sits on the throne” and from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6:15-17):

Him who sits on the throne” (Rev 6:16) refers to the Father. For example, the entire creation gives glory “to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev 5:13)

“The Lamb” is Jesus Christ. He appears as the loving Ruler of the universe, but for people who have cursed God all their lives, His appearance is pure torment.

In the sixth seal, the multitude in the mountains attempts to hide from the Father’s “presence.” The Scriptures, elsewhere, do not say that the Father will accompany Christ when He returns. Perhaps we must understand this as that “the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father” (Matt 16:27), for the Father cannot be seen. For example:

Christ “is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).

The King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim 1:17)

“Who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16).

The Wrath of the Lamb

The concept of the “wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16) is certainly paradoxical. The third angel later similarly warns that people who accept the mark of the beast “will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence … of the Lamb” (Rev 14:10). We should not think that Jesus will become cruel. He will always love every one of God’s creatures (Rev 4:10-11). We need to find an explanation for these symbols that retain the principle that God is love. For a discussion, see – The smoke of their torment goes up forever (Rev 14:9-11).

Not Literal

Literally interpreted, in the sixth seal, everything in heaven and on earth is destroyed. A “great earthquake” moves every island and mountain out of their places. The word “every” appears 3 times in this seal, indicating the worldwide nature of this cataclysm.

But we should not interpret these things literally. For example, even after the stars have fallen on the earth, and all mountains have been moved out of their places, the rebellious people are still alive and able to hide in the mountains.

In other words, it is not a real earthquake and the sun is not literally darkened. These are all symbols. The great earthquake, moving the mountains and islands out of their places symbolizes some great upheaval on earth, which may include some natural catastrophes, such as an acceleration of climate change.

Old Testament Allusions

This seal alludes to a huge number of Old Testament verses, but we should not assume that these words and phrases retain the same meaning in Revelation. Revelation often alludes to Old Testament passages but changes the meaning. For example:

In Revelation 17, the waters of Babylon become a symbol for the peoples of the world (Rev 17:15).

The ten horns of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 are not the same as the ten horns of the beast in Revelation. Actually, in Daniel 7, there are 11 horns; as discussed, the 11th horn is the beast in Revelation, which has 10 horns.

Hosea 10:8 predicted that the idolaters of Samaria would one day “say to the mountains, ‘Cover us,’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us.” As shown below, the sixth seal applies this language to the Second Coming.

Overview of the End-Time Events

The purpose of the next section is to show where the sixth and seventh seals fit in the end-time events as described elsewhere in the book of Revelation. The first half of Revelation emphasizes the entire church age, with references to the end-time events at the end of the seals and at the end of the trumpets. For example, at the end of the trumpets:

The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ
” (Rev 11:15).

We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty …
because You have taken Your great power
and have begun to reign” (Rev 11:17).

In contrast, the emphasis of the last 11 chapters of Revelation is on the end-time events. For that reason, this section provides an overview of the events in Revelation 13 to 20:

End-Time Persecution

The end-time persecution is described in Revelation 13. The false prophet will convince the people of the world to make an image of the beast (Rev 13:14). In other words, an end-time replica will be created of the evil system that is symbolized by the beast in Revelation and by the eleventh horn of Daniel 7.

This image will persecute God’s people. It will attempt to force all people, with threats of violence, to receive the mark of the beast “on their right hand or on their forehead” (Rev 13:15-17). This “image,” therefore, symbolizes authority of religious organizations over civil authorities in the end-time. The harlot woman sitting on a beast (Rev 17:3-5) symbolizes the same principle but during the entire church age (during all seven heads).

But God’s people, symbolized as 144,000, will refuse. In place of the mark of the beast, “on their foreheads” (Rev 7:3), they will receive “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2), which is “His name (Jesus’ name) and the name of His Father written on their foreheads” (Rev 14:1). While the mark of the beast “on their right hand or on their forehead” (Rev 13:16) symbolize that the followers of the beast DO and/or THINK like the beast, the seal of God on the foreheads symbolize that they will THINK like God.

The description of that end-time persecution ends in 14:13 and goes over to the return of Christ (Rev 14:14-20), when blood will flow “out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred” (Rev 14:20).

The Seven Last Plagues

The seven last plagues, as described in Revelation 16, jump back to the time before Christ’s return because it describes the people with the mark of the beast (Rev 16:2) as still refusing to repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21). But it does not jump back to the beginning of the church age. It begins by describing “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image” (Rev 15:2). Furthermore, the plagues only fall on “the people who had the mark of the beast” (Rev 16:2). The plagues, therefore, begin to fall at a point in time during the end-time persecution when all people have been marked either with the mark of the beast or the seal of God.

In the sixth plague, demon spirits GATHER the kings of the world together at Armageddon for “the war of the great day of God” (Rev 16:14, 16). This is not the war of Armageddon itself; only the preparation for it.

The seventh and final plague is the destruction of Babylon (Rev 16:19). The seventh plague is interrupted by Revelation 17 and 18 which jump back in time to explain the origin, nature, and the end of Babylon. She is:

      • The Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth” (Rev 17:5),
      • The great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Rev 17:18), and
      • The one who kills God’s people (Rev 18:24).

The seventh plague continues in Revelation 19 where “a great multitude in heaven” praises God because “He has judged the great harlot” (Rev 19:1-2; cf. Rev 16:19).

Christ’s Return

Revelation 19 ends with Christ’s return (Rev 19:11-20:6). The seventh plague, therefore, is followed by or continues into the return of Christ.

This means that Christ’s return is described both in chapters 14 and 19. His return is also described at the end of the seven seals and at the end of the seven trumpets (e.g., Rev 11:15-17).

Three Stages

In summary, Revelation 13 to 19 represents the end-time events as consisting of three broad phases:

      1. The end-time persecution (Rev 13-14),
      2. The seven last plagues (Rev 16), and
      3. Christ returns (Rev 14:14-20; 19:11-20:6).

The Sixth Seal is Christ’s Return.

So, where does the sixth seal fit in this sequence of events?

1) Later than the seven last plagues.

In both the sixth seal and in the sixth plague, we find the phrase “the great day.” But there is a difference:

In the sixth plague, the people PREPARE for “the war of the great day of God” (Rev 16:14). In other words, the sixth plague describes events PRECEDING that “great day.”

In contrast, in the sixth seal, they hide in the mountains because that “great dayhas come” (Rev 6:17).

Therefore, the sixth seal is later than the sixth plague.

During the plagues, the people refuse to repent (Rev 16:9, 11). Even after Babylon (the false religious system) has been judged in the seventh plague (Rev 16:19), the people still refuse to repent (Rev 16:21). But, in the sixth seal, they hide in the mountains from “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:15-17). It is the cry of those who realize that there is no escape from a dreadful fate (cf. Matt 24:29-30; Rev 1:7, Luke 23:30). Consequently, the sixth seal describes events later than the seventh plague.

3) Separates the Living from the Dead

Jesus said:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, …
All the nations will be gathered before Him;
and He will separate them from one another,
as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats

(Matt 25:31-32).

As discussed above, this is what we find in the sixth seal. The people are divided between:

      • Those hiding from Him (Rev 6:17) and
      • The innumerable multitude of God’s people standing before His throne (Rev 7:9).

Therefore, it is proposed that the sixth seal is Christ’s return. This may be confirmed as follows:

4) Matthew 24:29-30 explains the sixth seal.

Matthew 24:29-30, which is part of Jesus’ Synoptic Apocalypse, bears a striking resemblance to the two parts of the sixth seal. Both the first part of the sixth seal and Matthew 24:29 describe the signs in the heavens:

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 the sky,
and … the heavens will be shaken.”

The second part of the sixth seal, where the multitude hides in the mountains, is parallel to Matthew 24:30 because that verse also describes the response of the people to these signs, namely that they will “mourn.” But that verse explicitly states that that will be when Christ returns

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky,
and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn,
and they will see the Son of man coming
on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory
(cf. Luke 21:25-28; Mark 13).

This confirms that the sixth seal describes Christ’s return.

5) The sixth seal is the Day of the Lord.

This is further confirmed by showing that the sixth seal is the Old Testament Day of the Lord, which becomes Christ’s return in the New Testament:

Many of the Old Testament prophets referred to “the Day of the Lord” (e.g., Isa 13:6; Ezek 13:5; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18; Obad 1:15). There are also variations of this phrase, such as:

        • Great day of the Lord” (Zeph 1:14),
        • Day of the LORD’s wrath” (Zeph 1:18),
        • Great and terrible day of the LORD” (Mal 4:5) or simply the
        • Great day” (Jude 1:6).

Similarities to the Sixth Seal

The many similarities with the sixth seal identify the sixth seal as that Day of the Lord. Consider, for example, Isaiah 13:9-13, which I summarized as follows:

The day of the LORD is coming.
The LORD will exterminate sinners from the land.
The stars of heaven will not flash forth their light.
The sun will be dark.
The moon will not shed its light.
I will punish the world for its evil.
The heavens will tremble.
The earth will be shaken from its place.
At the fury of the LORD of hosts
In the day of His burning anger.

In these verses, similar to the sixth seal, we find:

      • Signs in the sun, moon, and stars,
      • A huge earthquake, and
      • The fury of the LORD of hosts in the day of His burning anger” (Isa 13:13) becomes the “wrath of the Lamb” in the sixth seal (Rev 6:17).

Other examples of similarities between the sixth seal and the Old Testament Day of the Lord include the following:

Similar to “the great day of their wrath” in the sixth seal (Rev 6:17), Zephaniah refers to “the day of the LORD” as “the great day … of the LORD’S wrath” (Zeph 1:14, 18; 2:2).

Similar to the darkening of the sun and moon in the sixth seal:

Zephaniah describes it as “a day of … thick darkness” (Zeph 1:15).

Joel describes it as “a day of darkness and gloom” (Joel 2:1-2). “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes” (Joel 2:31). “The day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness” (Joel 3:14-15).

See also Ezekiel 32:7-8; 38:19-20; Jeremiah 4:23-27; Amos 8:9-10; Nahum 3:12 and Micah 3:6.

In both the sixth seal (Rev 6:14) and Isaiah 34:4, “the sky will be rolled up like a scroll.”

Similar to the people who ask, “who can stand” (Rev 6:17), Joel asks: “The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it” (Joel 2:11)?

Similar to the people hiding in the mountains in the sixth seal (Rev 6:15-16), “men will go into caves of the rocks and into holes of the ground before the terror of the LORD” (Isa 2:19).

These similarities between the sixth seal and the Old Testament Day of the Lord mean that the sixth seal is that “great day.”

Day of Judgment

One aspect of the Old Testament Day of the Lord, which is not explicitly clear from the sixth seal, but implied, is that it is a day of judgment on sinners. For example:

The day of the LORD … will bring distress on men …
because they have sinned against the LORD

(Zeph 1:14, 17).

The day of the LORD draws near …
As you have done, it will be done to you
” (Obad 1:15).

The day of the LORD is near … I will punish on that day all who … fill the house of their lord with violence and deceit” (Zeph 1:7-9).

The day of the LORD is coming … with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it” (Isa 1:9).

I will bring distress on men … because they have sinned against the LORD.” “He will make a complete end … of all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:17-18)

Since the sixth seal is the Old Testament Day of the Lord, we are able to read these statements into the sixth seal. In other words, the people hiding in the mountains in the sixth seal are sinners and they will soon be exterminated.

The Day of the Lord is Christ’s Return.

In the New Testament, the Day of the Lord becomes Christ’s return. For example:

(a) Paul explained that, at “the coming of the Lord,” when He “will descend from heaven with a shout,” “the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” He added that “the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night” (1 Thess 4:15-17; 5:2). By implication, the three instances of “the Lord” in these quotes refer to the same Person (Jesus Christ) and “the day of the Lord” is “the coming of the Lord.”

(b) We see the same in the following:

Now we request you, brethren,
with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together to Him,
that you not be quickly … be disturbed … by …
a message … as if from us,
to the effect that the day of the Lord has come
” (2 Thess 2:1-2)

(c) Still, in other places, Paul describes that day of judgments as follows:

Jesus Christ … will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7-8),

I have decided to deliver such a one … for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5)

He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6, 10).

1 John 4:17 says that “we may have confidence in the day of judgment” but 1 John 2:28 states that, “when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” These two statements are linked by the phrase “we may have confidence,” implying that “His coming” is “the day of judgment.”

Consequently, the sixth seal is the Day of the Lord, and the Day of the Lord is Christ’s return.

6) The sixth seal is “the great day.”

Literally interpreted, the massive destruction in the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-14) is the end of all things. A “great earthquake” moves every island and mountain out of their places and the people hide in the mountains and cry for the rocks and mountains to fall on them. But it is not yet the end, for the hiding multitude is still alive. When Christ returns, the hiding multitude will be put to death:

The rest were killed
with the sword which came
from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse

(Rev 19:21; cf. Rev 19:19-20; 14:19-20).

Since the seventh plague continues in Revelation 19 and since all ‘sinners’ are killed by the end of that chapter, the sixth seal must describe an event somewhere in Revelation 19. As from Revelation 19:11, that chapter describes Christ’s return. As part of that, John saw:

The kings of the earth and their armies assembled
to make war against Him who sat on the horse
” (Rev 19:19).

For the following reasons, I propose that this (19:19) and the multitude hiding in the mountains in the sixth seal (Rev 6:15-17) describe the same event and the same people:

(a) All People Gathered

Both describe all the people of the world as gathered. Revelation 19:18 describes them as “all men.”

(b) The Great Day

Both are “the great day:”

In the sixth seal, the people are hiding because “the great day of their wrath has come” (Rev 6:17). The only other place in Revelation where we find the phrase “great day” is in the sixth plague, where demons gather “the kings of the whole world” at Armageddon (Rev 16:14, 16) to prepare them for “the war of the great day of God.” The battle of Armageddon, therefore, is that “war of the great day.” The sixth plague is not the “great day” itself; it is only the preparation for that day through the gathering of the kings and their armies.

Since 19:19 describes the kings of the earth and their armies as gathered together (assembled) “to make war against Him who sat on the horse,” that is the “great day” for which the demons gathered the kings (Rev 16:14) and which “has come” in the sixth seal.

Christ’s return, therefore, is the real Armageddon; the real “great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev 16:14). For further discussion, see – Armageddon is not a literal place; it is Judgment Day.

The First Part of the Sixth Seal

So, the sixth seal describes a moment during Christ’s return when the people who refused to repent realize that there is no escape from a dreadful fate (Rev 19:17-19). However, as discussed, the sixth seal consists of two parts. Do both parts describe Christ’s return?

For the following reasons, it is proposed that the first part of the sixth seal is the seven last plagues that precede Christ’s return:

1) Cause and Consequence

Firstly, since the second part of the seal is the response of unrepentant humanity to the massive natural catastrophes in the first part, it is proposed that it is possible that they describe two different events.

2) The Promised Revenge

Secondly, both the natural catastrophes and the seven last plagues are the revenge promised to the souls in the fifth seal. To explain:

In the fifth seal, “the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God” ask God, “How long … will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood?” They are told to wait “for a little while longer” (Rev 6:9-11).

The natural catastrophes in the first part of the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-14) may be understood as that promised revenge because they follow immediately after the fifth seal.

However, in Revelation 19:2, a great multitude praises God because He has “avenged the blood of his bond-servants.” All main concepts from the fifth seal, such as judge, avenge, and the slain fellow-servants, are found in 19:2. This verse, therefore, praises God that He has executed the judgment promised in the fifth seal.

But 19:2 indicates that God has fulfilled that promise by judging “the great harlot;” also known as Babylon (Rev 17:5). She is identified as the one who is guilty of the deaths of all of God’s people that have ever been killed (Rev 18:24).

However, Babylon was judged in the seventh plague. That plague reads: “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (Rev 16:19).

Furthermore, Revelation 16:5-6 indicates that the third plague, where water is turned to blood, is also part of that revenge:

Righteous are You, who are and who were …
because You judged these things;
for they poured out the blood of saints …
(Rev 16:5-6).

Therefore, we conclude that the seven last plagues are the revenge promised in the fifth seal. But, since the first part of the sixth seal is that revenge, that first part is equivalent to the seven last plagues.

3) Great Earthquake

Thirdly, both the seventh plague and the natural catastrophes begin with “a great earthquake” (Rev 6:12; 16:18) and conclude with the destruction of “every mountain and island” (Rev 6:12; 16: 20).

For these reasons, it is proposed that, while the second part of the sixth seal is Christ’s return, the first part is the preceding seven last plagues. A series of articles is available on the seven last plagues.

The Seventh Seal

So, what is the seventh seal? The seventh seal is very brief. It is only a single verse and says “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Rev 8:1). Therefore, it must be understood relative to the context. Since the second part of the sixth seal has been interpreted as describing a point in time during Christ’s return, when the people realize that they are doomed (Rev 19:17-19), another article interprets the silence of the seventh seal as the sorrow in God’s heart and in the hearts of God’s people when God’s enemies are put to death in Revelation 19:20-21.

The Events of the Seven Seals

As a summary of the conclusions of this and other articles, this section provides an overview of the sequence of events in the seven seals:

The white horse of the first seal (Rev 6:1-2) has been interpreted as the gospel going forth into all the world. That rider “went out conquering and to conquer,” meaning that the gospel will never stop conquering. This is not one specific event but covers the entire church age.

The next three seals bring killing (Rev 6:4), famine (Rev 6:5-6), and death (Rev 7:8). Since the first seal is the gospel, this killing, famine, and death are the consequences of preaching the gospel; also during the entire church age. Since the fifth seal shows God’s slain people, these three seals have been interpreted as follows:

        • Seal 2 (killing) = the killing of God’s messengers
        • Seal 3 (famine) = the resulting famine for the word of God
        • Seal 4 (death) = the resulting spiritual death

While the first four seals describe the ENTIRE church age, the last three seals describe specific events during the church age:

The fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11) describes a specific and significant POINT IN HISTORY during the church age when “the souls of” God’s people who have already “been slain because of the word of God” (Rev 6:9) cry out for revenge. But they are told to rest a little time longer until God’s people have been ‘completed’ (Rev 6:11). This ‘completion’ has been interpreted as equivalent to the sealing of God’s people (Rev 7:1-8), which has been interpreted as an end-time only event. For that reason, the point in history described in the fifth seal sal been interpreted as the beginning of the Time of the End.

This is followed by the natural catastrophes in the first part of the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-14) – interpreted above as the seven last plagues and as the revenge on the people who killed God’s messengers.

This is further followed by the people hiding in the mountains, in the second part of the sixth seal, which has been interpreted above as Armageddon; a point in time during Christ’s return when the people who refused to repent realize that they are doomed (Rev 19:17-19).

This is followed by the silence of the seventh seal (Rev 8:1), interpreted as the sorrow in the heart of God and His people at the destruction of the lost:

The rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (Rev 19:20-21).


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