The sixth seal includes the last plagues and conclude with Christ’s return.

SUMMARY

The sixth seal is creation in reverse; everything in heaven and on earth is destroyed. But, in spite of the violent destruction, the people of the world hide in the mountains from “Him who sits on the throne” (God, the Father) and from the wrath of the Lamb (Jesus Christ). He now appears as the humble and loving Ruler of the universe, but for people who have cursed God all their lives, His appearance is pure torment.

DAY OF THE LORD

These signs in the sun, moon and stars, coupled with the phrase “the great day,” unmistakably identify the sixth seal as the well-known Old Testament “Great and terrible Day of the LORD.

It will be a day of judgment. On that day, “Your dealings will return on your own head.” As you have done, it will be done to you (Obad. 1:15). 

The multitude who hide in the mountains ask “who is able to stand” (6:17).  Revelation 7 provides the answer when it describes “a great multitude which no one could count … standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (7:9). The sixth seal, therefore, divides the world between these two multitudes.  This is what 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.

On that day, all “kings, … commanders, … mighty men and … and … all men” will be put to death by the Word of God. It is a day of “fury and burning anger” (Isa 13:9; Zeph. 1:18; 2:2). 

At the same time, “those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus” “came to life” (20:4) and receive their eternal reward.

RETURN OF CHRIST

The sixth seal explicitly states that it is “the great day“ of the wrath “of Him who sits on the throne, and … of the Lamb.” This implies that this is the return of Christ. Christ, similarly, in His explanations of the end of the age, linked the signs in the sun, moon and stars to His return (Matt 24:29-31)

ARMAGEDDON

The term “great day” and the “great earthquake” that causes islands and mountains to disappear link the sixth seal to the last two plagues (16:14-18). However, the sixth plague is only the preparation for the “great day.”  It reads that the kings of the world are gathered for the “great day” at a place called Armageddon (16:14-16). The real war (at Armageddon), therefore, is in the final and seventh plague. The sixth seal, therefore, is parallel to the seventh and final plague.

The last plague is interrupted by Revelation 17 and 18 and continues in Revelation 19, which ends with the return of Christ. The seventh plague, therefore, concludes with the return of Christ.

In conclusion, since:

      1. The sixth seal is parallel to the last plague and
      2. The last plague concludes with the return of Christ.

This confirms that the sixth seal concludes with the return of Christ.  This also means that the sixth seal is Armageddon, where the kings and armies of the world gather together to war against the Son of Man at His return.

SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

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

Revelation 19:2 praises God because He has already “avenged the blood of his bond-servants on her” (Babylon), as anticipated by the fifth seal. Since Babylon is judged in the seventh plague and since also the third plague avenged “the blood of saints and prophets,” the plagues are the “judging and avenging” requested from God in the fifth seal.

Since the plagues must AFTER the fifth seal, it means that the sixth seal includes all seven last plagues.

– END OF SUMMARY – 

CREATION IN REVERSE

The sixth seal is catastrophic.  When He broke the sixth seal:

    • There was a great earthquake;
    • The sun became black as sackcloth;
    • The whole moon became like blood;
    • The stars fell to the earth;
    • The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and
    • Every mountain and island were moved out of their places (6:12-14).

It seems as if the “great earthquake” (in the first phrase) causes the mountains and islands to move out of their places, as stated in the last phrase. This, therefore, seems to all be one single event.

THE WRATH OF THE LAMB

The people of the world will not scared of this violent destruction, for something worse appears, namely a Lamb.  They hide in the caves and among the rocks, saying 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;
for the
great day of their wrath has come,
and who is able to stand?
” (6:15-17)

Him who sits on the throne” does not refer to Jesus but to the Father. For example, in 5:13, the entire creation gives glory “to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

It is noteworthy that Christ is here represented as a Lamb. The third angel also later warns that people who accept the mark of the beast “will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence … of the Lamb” (14:10). We should not think that Jesus will become cruel. He will always love every one of God’s creatures (4:10-11). However, the world not only rejected Him but used His name as a curse word, as we see in the movies today.  His revelation as the humble and loving ruler of the universe, coming “with power and great glory” (Mat 24:29-31) will be pure torment to those who have taken on Satan’s character and have become cruel oppressors of their fellow human beings.

DAY OF THE LORD

These signs in the sun, moon and stars, coupled with the phrase “the great day,” unmistakably identify the sixth seal as the well-known Old Testament “Day of the Lord.” It is also called the:

      • 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; Rev 16:14).

Joel describes the signs in the heavenly bodies on this day:

The sun will be turned into darkness
and the moon into blood
” 

(Joel 2:31; Act 2:20; compare Is. 13:10).

2 Peter 3:10 adds destruction on earth:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
in which the heavens will pass away with a roar …
and the earth and its works will be burned up
.”

Other references explain this day as:

      • Great and very awesome” (Joel 2:11);
      • Darkness and not light” (Amos 5:18, 20); and
      • Destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15; Isa 13:6).

Similar to the sixth seal:

      • The earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the LORD of hosts in the day of His burning anger” (Isa 13:13);
      • Men will go into caves of the rocks and into holes of the ground before the terror of the LORD” (Isa 2:19) and
      • Joel asks “who can endure” the day of the LORD? (Joel 2:11).

DAY OF JUDGMENT

It will a day of judgment (Jude 1:6):

      • On that day “Your dealings will return on your own head”, and
      • There will be “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). 
      • As you have done, it will be done to you (Oba 1:15). 
      • In it, the warrior cries out bitterly (Zeph. 1:14). 
      • It is a day of “fury and burning angerwhen God will exterminate sinners (Isa 13:9; Zeph. 1:18; 2:2). 

This day will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night (1Th 5:2; 2Pe 3:10).

HE WILL SEPARATE THEM FROM ONE ANOTHER

The kings, great men, rich, chiefs of thousands, mighty, servants, and freemen who hide in the rocks of the mountains from the presence of “Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,” ask “who is able to stand?”  Revelation 7 provides the answer:

Behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (7:9).

This makes a distinction between two multitudes.

Revelation 6 ends with the sixth seal and the seventh seal is only in Revelation 8. It, therefore, may seem as if the entire Revelation 7 is an interlude but the description of the innumerable multitude before the throne is actually a continuation and part of the 6th seal. The interlude consists only of 7:1-8, describing the sealing of the 144,000.  (As interludes in Revelation always do, 7:1-8 jumps back in time to before the sixth seal, to provide background information.)

The sixth seal, therefore, divides the world between those that hide from Him (6:17) and those that stand before Him (7:9).  This is what 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
” (Mat 25:31-32).

On that day, although the sixth seal shows them hiding from God, all “kings, … commanders, … mighty men and … and … all men” will be put to death by the Word of God (19:13, 18, 21 & 14:19-20). At the same time, those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus” “came to life” (20:4) and receive their eternal reward. (In Revelation’s generalizations, all of God’s people have been martyred.)

RETURN OF CHRIST

The sixth seal explicitly states that it is “the great day“ of the wrath “of Him who sits on the throne, and … of the Lamb.” This implies that this is the return of Christ, which the New Testament also refers to as “the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5).

Christ, similarly, in His explanations of the end of the age, linked the signs in the sun, moon and stars to His return:

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 powers of the heavens will be shaken. 

And 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.
”  (Mat 24:29-31)

ARMAGEDDON

THE SIXTH SEAL IS PARALLEL TO THE LAST PLAGUE.

Note that the following are seen in both the sixth seal and the last two plagues:

      • The term “great day” and
      • A great earthquake” that causes islands and mountains to disappear (16:14-18).

Consequently, it seems as if the sixth seal is parallel to the last two plagues. However, although the sixth plague uses the term “great day,” it is not the “great day” itself. It is only the preparation for the “great day.”  It reads that the kings of the world are gathered for the “great day” at a place called Armageddon (16:14-16). The real war (at Armageddon), therefore, is in the final and seventh plague. The sixth seal, therefore, is parallel to the seventh and final plague, where we find the other reference to the “great earthquake.

THE LAST PLAGUE CONCLUDES WITH THE RETURN OF CHRIST.

However, the seventh plague concludes with the return of Christ in Revelation 19:11, argued as follows:

Babylon receives God’s fierce wrath in the seventh plague at the end of Revelation 16. Revelation 17 and 18 interrupt the flow of events and jump back in time to explain the origin, nature, and the end of Babylon.

Then Revelation 19 continues the sequence of events where Revelation 16 left off (compare 16:19 to 19:2).

The return of Christ is described in the latter half of Revelation 19 (19:11-21). While the sixth plague is the gathering together of the kings of the whole world for the war of the great day of God, at the return of Christ the kings of the earth and their armies are gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army (19:19).

For this reason, the seventh plague concludes with the return of Christ.

CONCLUSION

Above shows that:

      1. The sixth seal is parallel to the last plague and
      2. The last plague concludes with the return of Christ.

Combined, this confirms that the sixth seal concludes with the return of Christ.  This also means that the sixth seal is Armageddon, where the kings and armies of the world gather together to war against the Son of Man at His return.

THE PLAGUES ARE PART OF THE SIXTH SEAL.

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

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

Seventh plague – The “her” in 19:2 refers to Babylon (18:21), for she is guilty of the death of all God’s people that have ever been killed (18:24). Babylon is judged during the seventh plague (16:19). Revelation 19:2, therefore, refers to the seventh plague. However, already in the third plague, we read:

They poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” (Rev 16:6)

Therefore, the plagues are the “judging and avenging” requested by God’s saints in the fifth seal.

Above it was shown that the sixth seal is parallel to the last plague. Since the plagues must AFTER the fifth seal, we are now able to expand that conclusion and say that the sixth seal includes all seven plagues. The sixth seal, therefore, may seem like a point in time, but it actually is a period of time.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

    • The sixth seal is interrupted by 7:1-8. The remainder of Revelation 7 is part of the sixth seal.
    • The sixth seal is:
        • The well-known Old Testament “Great and terrible Day of the LORD.
        • The return of Christ.
        • A day of judgment when the Son of Man will separate the people from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
        • Armageddon, where the kings and armies of the world gather together to war against the Son of Man at His return.
      • The sixth seal includes all seven last plagues.
      • These seven plagues are the “judging and avenging” requested from God in the fifth seal.

ARTICLES IN THE SERIES ON THE SEVEN SEALS

OTHER REVELATION ARTICLES

INTRODUCTORY
   Why is the title of this website Revelation BY Jesus Christ?
   Are events described in chronological sequence? 
   Is a consistently literal interpretation appropriate?
   Does Revelation present Jesus as God?
   God’s throne – the center of the universe.
BABYLON
   Babylon; the mother of harlots – main article
   Babylon’s merchants are her false prophets.
   Babylon is not the reconstructed ancient city of Babylon.
   Babylon is the driving force behind the beast.
SEVEN-HEADED BEASTS
   The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation identified
   The three beasts are three of the seven heads.
   The Seven Heads identified
REVELATION 13
    13:1-2 – The Beast relates to Daniel 7.
   13:3-4 – The fatal wound
   The beast of Revelation is the Mainstream Church of Christendom.
SEVEN PLAGUES
   The Plagues of Revelation – 16 articles

For further reading, Jon Paulien’s commentary is recommended. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

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