Sixth Seal
(Catastrophic Earth changes)


6:12-17
NOTES:
General: There are always divisions in understanding when something horrible is described. The question is: is it real or is it symbolic? The rule that generally should be followed is to consider the passages literally unless there is some reason to understand the scripture as symbolic. For example, the terrifying phenomena described here could very well be literal without stretching any part of your imagination. The only difference is in the cause. Normally, the causes of natural catastrophies is natural or the way of the nature of the environment. In this case, the whole point is God directed activities as a last straw to draw people to Himself. If things get really bad, we should be drawn to God. We should not harden our heart and turn farther and farther from God. As we study further, we will discover that most people will turn farther from God because of the persuasion and charisma of the antichrist.

v12-13: Jesus now opens the sixth seal. The seal reveals some pretty distasteful events. The following is a list of the events with some possible causes.
  • Earthquake -> This will be something great, something greater than has ever occurred before. Perhaps a worldwide earthquake will occur. This is the general conservative point of view. There will be a start of world-wide cataclysmic events that purpose is to show the power of God and cause others to turn to this powerful God.
    One of the less conservative points of view says that the earthquake could be relating to a social or political event that shakes the earth. Some say that the movement of Constantine the Great to making Christianity was such an "earthquake". (Matt. 24:7)
  • Sun becoming black -> perhaps an eclipse of the sun. The idea of the black sackcloth comes from the processing of goat hide. The black goat hide was used for tents, even by Paul, who was a tent maker. This black hide was extremely good as an insulator. So the tents, though black, were well insulated from the extreme heats of the days. These goats were black.(Isa. 50:3) When Jesus died, the day turned black.
    When Egypt was judged, the night was pitch black.
    Prophets said there would be black at the start of the Tribulation.
  • Moon blood-red -> Atmospheric conditions-, hydrogen explosions. (Joel 2:30-31)
  • Falling Stars (Meteors) -> In Greek "aster' means any pinpoint of light up in the sky (i.e. it is not literally a star like our sun). The fig tree is used in the Bible for several things, including the people of Israel. In this case it is used to show the immature or undeveloped Jews and other non- believers. They are so weak that any strong wind will blow them down and away. Such is the real fig tree. Before they are mature, they are weak. The proper translation to the "unripe" or "untimely" figs would be a reference to what was called "winter figs". These figs grew out or season under the leaves of the tree. They never ripened and therefore they easily fell off trees. Such is the same for other trees such as plums. Personal experience with plums show they can take almost no wind or bad or cold weather if they come as blossoms too early. Otherwise, they fall off the trees. The scripture is refering to stars falling and the earth will fall; the people will fold also under the pressure of being immature to Christianity. This can also reference the ease with which the leaders could be dethroned by the power of God.(Matt 24:29, 32; Isa. 34:4)

v14: >One explanation is the sky will split or open just as one would see if a scroll were just unrolled. With the unrolling, "every mountain" refers to persons and nations being brought down. All the supports and dependencies of empires changed. The "island were moved out of places" gives us an indication that the "hiding places" such as temples, synagogues, and other special places would not be available to the common people.

The clouds may roll away so fast and so thoroughly that people will be in horror as they are fully exposed to God and His splendor. The stars falling of verse 13 could cause major earth crust shiftes. Dr. David Jeremiah and Dr. Henry Morris say "thoses living in the regions above such shifting wil lobserve the heavens appearing to move in the opposite direction, as if they are being "rolled up". In this explanation, mountains and islands are similar. Remember, islands are just submerged mountains.

v15: All those "who are anybody" hide form the terrors. If the power people are afraid, one can only imagine how frightened the more common people are. By now, people are getting tired of war, pestilence, lack of food, and bloodshed. All are running away from the world problems, if they can. The "caves and among the rocks of the mountains" could also refer to other countries.

v16: It is finally understood the great day of God's wrath has come. They cringe at the thought. They ask the rocks and mountains to fall on them and kill them. They cannot stand in the face (KJV) or presence (NASV) of God.

v17: The great days of wrath are here. The KJV says "or His wrath" and the NASV and other newer versions says "of their wrath". The Greek is tes orges auton where auton is "their". It is readily understood if one says "His wrath" rather than "their wrath". So what does the plural mean? This means the wrath of God and of the Lamb. It was certainly put there with equality. There are scriptures that use the plural to indicate God and Jesus. (Zeph 1:15, 18; 2:3; Rom. 2:5; 1 Thess. 3:11; 2 Thess. 2:16)

REFERENCES:
Exod 19-18; 20:18-19; Isa 34-4

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