Section: Chapter Five - The Large Scroll
SIX - THE FIRST SIX SEALS
(1) Then I saw when the Lamb
broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of (2) the four living
creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, (3) "Come."
1. Then I saw = is a very
important linking phrase used thirty-three times throughout the book
of Revelation. It can introduce a new vision or a major segment of
a continuing vision. Here it is obviously introducing a new segment
in a continuing vision. The Lamb receives the scroll in chapter five
and breaks the first seal in chapter six. There is no indication of
a time lapse between these two chapters. One could argue that the
Lamb has not actually received the scroll, but one day in the future
will and thus will execute its content. This will prove a very important
interpretive key to Johns Revelation. That is, distinguishing
between the events that have historically occurred and those merely
described as occurring, but will in fact occur in the future.
2. The four living creatures
= this is the first example of an angelic being commanding another
angelic being to do a particular deed. This indicates a hierarchical
structure among the angelic host.
3. Come = this verb can
mean "to go" or "to come" depending on the context.
The more natural sense seems to be something like "get going."
I looked, and behold, (1)
a white horse, and he who sat on it had (2) a bow; and (3) a crown was
given to him, and (4) he went out conquering and to conquer.
1. A white horse = the
fact that the horse is white is symbolic. However, what is symbolically
represented by the white horse is not certain. Equally, the rider
on the white horse is not certain. Some argue that the rider is Jesus
Christ--a position that does not contextually fit. That the Lamb is
breaking the seals and at the same time represented as a rider is
unlikely. Equally, there is no prophetic indication that Christ comes
at the beginning of the eschatological events. The only similarity
between the rider of Revelation 6 and Revelation 19 is the "white
horse," which is hardly a basis to claim equality. The identity
or actions indicated by the breaking of the first seal can only be
discerned from prophetic parallels throughout Scripture. A conquering
rider fits best with the lawless one prophetically depicted in II
2. A bow = is used in Scripture
in both a literal and figurative manner. It is hardly possible that
a literal bow is intended here. It was not the favorite weapon of
choice for Roman soldiers and in modern warfare, a bow would be useless.
The bow is used figuratively in Scripture as a symbol of war.
3. A crown was given to
him = a crown is a symbol of authority or right to rule. Was given
indicates that this rider does not take authority, but that it is
given to him. This is an example of the passive voice in which the
subject is acted upon instead of doing the acting. In other words,
the subject receives the action. The particular Greek word used here
appears 22 times throughout the book of Revelation. The giver
is not explicitly identified, but context indicates that either God
or Satan is the ultimate cause behind each action indicated in these
4. He went out conquering
and to conquer = here we see the purpose of the rider. He conquers.
What he conquers is not indicated.
There are several questions,
which the seals foster. First, what is the relationship of the Lamb
to the events unleashed by the broken seals? The second question:
who is the rider on the white horse? The last question concerns the
timing of the riders conquest.
It is clear that the first
four seals are different from the final three seals, a distinction
also recognized in the trumpet judgments. In addition, it is clear
that the breaking of a seal inaugurates the events of that seal. Therefore,
what term properly reflects the Lambs relationship to these
events? Does the Lamb cause or allow the events? Is
He directly or indirectly responsible for the events?
In relation to the first
four seals, a third party causes the first, second, and fourth seals.
The third seal indicates that "a voice in the center of the four
living creatures" announces the impact of the third seal. David
Aune concludes that these facts support the conclusion that God commissions
or enables these events (Aune, Revelation 6-16, Thomas
Nelson Publishers, 393). We, therefore, agree that God is the direct
cause of these events. This is not to say that the first four
seals are the wrath of God. A point proven by the question of the
fifth seal martyrs, which we will discuss later. Rather, these are
prophesied events of the future, which God will superintend to insure
fulfillment. As all events on earth are controlled by heaven, the
first four seals are broken in heaven to allow the riders to ride
on earth. As in all cases, God allows evil, but is never its author
The second question fostered
by the first seal concerns the identity of the rider. Out of the many
possibilities offered, we prefer the person who will later be identified
as the beast from the sea (Rev 13:1). As the primary antagonist
and counterpart to the Lamb in the Revelation, the beast best accords
with the description given in the first seal.
First, the rider is mounted
on a white horse. This is compared to the Lord who rides a white horse
when He comes at Armageddon as detailed in Revelation 19:11-21. This
has led some commentators to argue that the reader is Christ Himself.
This can hardly be the case given that Christ breaks the seals. Equally,
it is clear that the seals initiate events on the earth in connection
with the end of the age during which the Lord will return to earth
from heaven. During this period, there is no prophetic indication
that the Lord will initiate this period by conquering on the earth.
The white horse imagery is the first indicator of the riders
identity. As the imitator of Christ and world-deceiver, the beast
fulfills his destiny. The white horse is a part of his deception.
The second descriptive
detail associated with this rider is a bow. The bow is an ancient
instrument of war. This rider is prepared for war. The third descriptive
detail concerns a crown. The crown (stephanos) denotes rule
or authority (II Sam 12:29-30). The fourth and final descriptive detail
concerns the riders conduct"he went out conquering
and that he might conquer." To rule over others by conquest is
the goal of this rider. As will be evident later, these are descriptive
details related to the beast.
The Lord Jesus predicted that the end of the age would begin with
a dramatic increase in false proclaimers. These false proclaimers
will proclaim one message, but have false motives (Matt 24:5).
When He broke the second
seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come." And
another, (1) a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, (2) it
was granted to take peace (3) from the earth, and (4) that men would
(5) slay one another; and (6) a great sword was given to him.
1. A red horse = is the
color designation for the second horse. Unlike white, which is a possible
color for a horse, fiery red clearly is not intended to be
taken literally. Given the nature of the second seal, fiery red may
be intended to be symbolic of bloodshed.
2. It was granted = is
another indication that a third party is controlling these events.
3. From the earth = suggests
that this riders influence will be felt worldwide. John does
not intend that every nation on the face of the earth will be at war,
but that the climate of the earth will be one of warfare and unrest.
4. That = indicates the
purpose of the unrest caused by the rider.
5. Slay one another = connotes
violence and savagery (Louw-Nida, § 20.72). This does not mean
that all nations will be at war, but that many will be at war and
death will be brutal.
6. A great sword = is symbolic
of authority to put to death (Rom. 13:4). Again, the agency of a third
party is required. This proves what heaven authorizes earth executes.
When He broke the third seal,
I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked,
and behold, (1) a black horse; and he who sat on it had (2) a pair of
scales in his hand. And I heard something like (3) a voice in the center
of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of (4) wheat for
a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a (5) denarius; and (6) do
not damage (7) the oil and the wine."
1. A black horse = is symbolic
of famine. Since black is a possible color for a horse, some are tempted
to argue for a literal black horse here. However, this horse, as the
previous ones, represents a condition about to be let loose on the
2. A pair of scales = represents
the dire situation some will face on the earth. A balance scale would
be used for weighing bread only in a severe famine. Leviticus 26:26
and Ezekiel 4:16-17 both indicate that weighed bread is a condition
of severe famine.
3. A voice in the center
of the four living creatures = is previously identified as the Lamb
(Rev 4:6, 5:6). The voice declares the condition of the earth. Again,
heaven is actively involved in the events connected with the seals.
However, at no point can the first four seals be shown to be the wrath
is one of two harvest in the Middle East. Wheat is necessary for bread
and barley for porridge and the stalk for feeding animals.
5. Denarius = was indicated
to be a days wage by the Lord in Matthew 20:1-16.
6. Do not harm = the Greek
suggests that no harm has come to the earth prior to this command.
7. Wine and oil = is the
second of two harvest in the Middle East. Olives and grapes are spared
When the Lamb broke the fourth
seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come."
I looked, and behold, (1) an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the
name (2) Death; and Hades was following with (3) him. (4) Authority
was given to them over (5) a fourth of the earth, (6) to kill with (7)
sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of
1. An ashen horse = green,
which indicates a symbol, perhaps of life.
2. Death and Hades = is
referred to here as a person. This is called "personification"
and is a figure of speech. This occurs four times in the Revelation
(1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14). The term death is always followed by
the term Hades. Since Hades is a result of death (there would
be no Hades if there was no death); death is primary.
3. Him = death, which is
spoken of as a person.
4. Authority = dominion.
5. A fourth of the earth
= is speaking either geographically or demographically.
The focus is clearly on
the people of this "fourth of the earth." The beast will
be given "a fourth of the earth," but he will attempt to
take control of the whole earth. Based on Daniel 2 and Ezekiel 38
the final Beast Empire will consist of peoples from modern day Iraq,
Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, Libya, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia and Germany.
These nations at present combine populations equal to about one-tenth
the total population of the earth. However, geographically, these
nations equal one-fourth the earths total landmass. (9 million
6. To kill = this is the
purpose of Antichrists dominion. This does not mean that he
will kill "a fourth of the earth," but that he could if
he wanted to do so. The "fourth of the earth" references
does not refer to Christians. If "a fourth of the earth"
was Christians and the beast killed them all, there would be none
left when the Lord appears from heaven.
7. Sword, famine, pestilence
and wild beasts of the earth = Commentators are quick to find an Old
Testament parallel for this phrase. While it is true that God used
the sword, famine and pestilence to discipline Israel in the past
(Jer 24:10, Ezek 12:16). There is no prophecy of a future judgment
of this nature against Israel. There is only one occurrence where
"wild beasts" is added to the listEzekiel 14:21. Context
limits that judgment to the city of Jerusalem only.
However, Revelation 6:8
speaks about "a fourth of the earth" suffering the events
mentioned above. The fact that the term "wild beasts" is
used in some translations has led some to a false interpretation.
It should be first admitted that "wild beast" is not the
correct translation of the Greek in Revelation 6:8. The word is tharion
and its basic meaning is beast. It can be translated beast
(Titus 1:12) or wild beast (Acts 11:6). Context determines
which translation is best. It is used thirty-nine times in the book
of Revelation. In thirty-eight occurrences, the term refers either
to the beast, the false prophet (the second beast) or the image of
the beast, and it is correctly translated beast. However, the
translators attempting to clarify the meaning in Revelation 6:8 incorrectly
translated the text wild beasts.
There is no grounds for
the translation wild beast in Revelation 6:8. Since beast (antichrist)
(Rev 13:7), the false prophet (Rev 13:15), and the image of the beast
(Rev 13:15) all have power to put to death; and since both the beast
(Rev.13:1) and the false prophet (Rev 13:11) are of the earth, they
are better referents for "beasts" in Revelation 6:8.
And when he broke (1) the
fifth seal, I saw underneath (2) the altar (3) the souls of those (4)
who had been slain (5) because of the word of God, and because of the
testimony which they had maintained; and they creed out with a loud
voice, saying, (6) "How long, O Lord, holy and true, (7) wilt Thou
refrain from judging and avenging (8) our blood on (9) those who dwell
on the earth?" And there was given to each of them (10) a white
robe; and they were told that they should (11) rest for a little while
longer, until the number of their (12) fellow servants and their brethren
(13) who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed
1. The fifth seal = initiates
a second series of seals that are unlike the first four. Gone are
the horses and riders who initiate events. The fact that death reigned
over "a fourth of the earth" in the fourth seal makes the
fifth seal a probable result. The relationship between seals five,
six and seven is the wrath of God: seal 5 asks for it; seal 6 announces
it; and seal 7 depicts it.
2. The altar = a very definite
altar is in view here. Yet, this is the first of eight occurrences
of the term in the Revelation. Two distinct "altars" are
represented in the Revelation. The altar of incense is mentioned in
Revelation 8:5 and 9:13. The altar of burnt offerings is mentioned
in Revelation 6:9; 11:1; and 16:7. The altar of burnt offerings was
located in the court of the priests. The altar of incense was located
in the holy place before the curtain that separated the holy place
from the most holy place. Therefore, the altar mentioned in Revelation
6:8 is likely the altar of incense which may suggest why the souls
"cry out with a loud voice."
Why would these faithful
souls be kept underneath this particular altar? No explicit reason
is given. However, inasmuch as these individuals paid the ultimate
sacrifice for God (physical death), they are symbolically kept at
the place nearest to God, the very place from which God receives fragrant
aromas, the altar of incense. We should discern that God finds great
pleasure in these souls.
3. The souls = this term
is used twice in the Revelation (Rev 6:9 and 20:4). In both cases,
those represented have not been resurrected.
4. Who had been slain =
the term used here occurs throughout the Revelation. It can be used
to describe death from a variety of causes. In Revelation 5:12 and
13:8, it describes the Lords death by crucifixion. In Revelation
18:24, it describes the death of "all who have been slain on
the earth." Therefore, we can say that this term does not focus
on any particular mode of death. The result is the important issuedeath.
The same cannot be said for the martyrs mentioned in Revelation 20:4.
There, the specific issue of beheading is important as the mode of
death. It is important to remember concerning the martyrs of Revelation
6:9 that all believers of all the ages are not represented by this
reference. Only those recently killed are in focus. This point is
defended by the martyrs own statement that God is to avenge
their blood "on those who dwell on the earth." Those living
on the earth at this time are the only ones responsible for the death
of the martyrs since they are the only one who will receive Gods
judgment. Nothing is stated about the dead would also include some
who would be guilty of the death of Gods righteous ones.
5. Because of the word
of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained = here
we have two reasons given for the physical death of these saints.
a. Because of the word
of God = concerns truth. These people died for the truth, which
they could not deny.
b. Because of the testimony
which they had maintained = both this and the phrase above is similar
to the statement of Revelation 1:2 and 9. There, testimony
is followed by of Jesus Christ. These individuals died for
the same reason John suffered. They maintained or continued to witness
to the fact Jesus is Lord. This clearly establishes what the primary
issue will be for those who claim the name of Jesus during the persecution
of "death and hades": the word of God and the believers
testimony for Jesus, the Christ. There is nothing here to preclude
these people from being members of the body of Christ as was John,
6. How long = the importance
of the martyrs comes to light at this point. They question the Lord
concerning their persecutors. The phrase "how long?" in
the context of a prayer is not uncommon in Scriptureparticularly
the Old Testament (Pss 6:3-4; 13:1-2; 35:17; 74:9-10; 79:5; 80:4).
The martyrs cry out for vengeance. Their question echoes the sentiment
that too much time has passed between the deed and punishment. This
is very similar to many Psalms which demand of God that He punish
evil doers (Pss 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 139). King David prayed
such a prayer (2 Sam 3:28-29). Nehemiah prayed a similar prayer (Neh
7. Wilt Thou refrain from
judging and avenging = this is the essence of their question. The
Greek literally says, "how long you not judge and avenge?"
The words will and refrain from do not appear
in the original Greek. Both the verbs to judge and to avenge
are in the present tense, but it is a special use of the present tense,
thus the insertion of the terms will and refrain from.
It is critical that the reader understands that at this point in the
narration God has not begun to judge and avenge. The verb to avenge
will appear again in Revelation 19:2, which depicts the end of Gods
wrath. No clue has yet surfaced to indicate that the wrath of God
has begun through Revelation 6:10.
8. Our blood = this is
the reason God is implored to take vengeance. Blood is used
here as a figure of speech. Blood stands for the act that caused
it to be poured from the body. In other words, blood stands
for murder. These individuals died violent deaths, which demands justice.
9. Those who dwell on the
earth = is a technical phrase that refers to the same group each time
it is used in the book of Revelation. It is used nine times in the
a. Revelation 3:10
those represented by the phrase are the object of the test that
faithful followers of Christ are promised deliverance from.
b. Revelation 6:10
they are directly responsible for the violent deaths of the faithful
followers of Christ under the altar in heaven.
c. Revelation 8:13
they are the expressed objects of the three "woes" expressed
in trumpets five, six and seven.
d. Revelation 11:10a
they rejoice when the beast from the bottomless pit is finally
able to put the two witnesses of God to death.
e. Revelation 11:10b
they are the objects of the torment of the two witnesses.
f. Revelation 13:8
they are the non-elect worshippers of the beast who comes up out
of the sea.
g. Revelation 13: 14a
the beast that comes up out of earth deceives them.
h. Revelation 13:14b
they make an image of the beast that comes up out of the
i. Revelation 17:8
they are the non-elect who wonder at the restoration of the beast
from the abyss.
In each verse quoted above,
those represented by the phrase "those who dwell upon the earth"
are either hostile to the people of God or supportive of the beast
and his endeavors.
10. A white robe = white
garments are clearly the proper attire of those in the presence of
God. Notice it will be the attire of:
a. The overcomers, (Rev
b. The Elders, (Rev 4:4).
c. The martyrs, (Rev
d. The universally innumerable
multitude, (Rev 7:9).
e. The armies of heaven,
It is not altogether certain
that literal "white robes" are the intent of John. More
than likely, "white robes" are a metaphor (a figure of speech)
that connotes moral purity. Moral purity can be possessed in this
life as well as the life to come in the presence of God. John indicates
that the Lord instructs the church at Laodicea "to buy from Me
garments that you may clothe yourself." In other words, they
can wear the robes, now. Yet, the Sardis church is promised "white
garments" when the Lord returns. This supports the conclusion
that "white garments" represent moral purity and not necessarily
11. Rest = this is the
second of two commands the martyrs receive from God. Louw-Nida indicates
about the verb to rest that "the focus of meaning seems
to be upon the restorative character of rest rather than mere cessation
of activity" (Louw-Nida § 23.80). This indicates that the
souls were in a state that allows for refreshment from the labors
of this life.
12. Fellow servants and
their brethren = an important question to be answered about this phrase
is whether one or two groups are represented. There is no significance
to a possible difference. Both will be killed. The phrase Fellow
servants (sundouloi) is used three times in the book of Revelation
(6:11; 19:10; 22:9). Twice, the apostle Paul uses it (Col 1:7; 4:7).
In every case, faithful followers of God are intended. These are clearly
church-age saints. There is nothing to preclude them from it.
13. Who were to be killed
= is a clear indication that God has set a number of those who will
be killed during the period represented in the Revelation. Equally,
this indicates that death is not a sign of unfaithfulness, but in
fact might be a sign of faithfulness. Some believers will die, no
doubt, because of their unfaithfulness, but these are killed for their
faithfulness. How many people will actually be killed may be indicated
by the phrase "a little while longer." This tells us how
long the killing will last. The exact Greek grammatical phrase occurs
in John 7:33 and 12:35. The time represented by the phrase in Johns
gospel could be from several days to a little more than a year. We
are unable to be dogmatic, but the time represented in the Revelation
by "a little while longer" is certainly not indefinite.
Therefore, the number of those to be killed is not unlimited. Of particular
interest is the fact that Revelation 10:6 announces that "there
shall be delay no longer." This is a possible reference to Revelation
6:11. (A point to be discussed at length at location.)
And I looked when He broke
(1) the sixth seal, and (2) there was (2a) a great earthquake; and (2b)
the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and (2c) the whole moon
became like blood; and (2d) the stars of the sky fell to the earth,
(2e) as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
And (2f) the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up;
and (2g) every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (3)And
the (3a) kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and
the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, (3b) hid themselves
in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and (3c) they said
to the mountains and to the rocks, (3d) "Fall on us and hide us
(3e) from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and (3f) from
the wrath of the Lamb; (3g) for the (3h) great day of their wrath has
come; and (3i) who is able to stand?"
1. The sixth seal = the
sixth seal continues a pattern begun at seal five, which demonstrates
a difference between seals one through four and seals five through
seven. No horse and rider is indicated. The question of the Martyrs
is answered indirectly. The sign that announces the imminent arrival
of the wrath of God is given in the form of earthly and cosmic disturbances
unparalleled in human history. The impact is obvious"men
fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming
upon the world (Luke 21:26)."
2. John introduces earthly
and cosmic disturbances, which are unparalleled in human history.
This event has both Old and New Testament parallels.
2a. A great earthquake
= the first sign of the imminent outbreak of the wrath of God is
"a great earthquake." The NASBs translation at this
point may be a bit misleading. Seismos (the Greek word from
which we get the English word seismology) literally means
shaking. Whether the heavens or the earth is shaking is not
clear here. Luke 21:26 indicates that "the powers of the heavens
will be shaken." This is also supported by both Matthew 24:29
and mark 13:25. However, Isaiah 12:13 and Joel 3:16 both indicate
that both the heavens and the earth will be shaken during the Day
of the Lord. Therefore, both the heavens and the earth will shake
violently. It is not clear how the shaking of the heavens will be
experienced by those on the earth.
The evangelists indicate that "the powers of heaven
will be shaken."
2b. The sun became black
as sackcloth made of hair = this phrase indicates that something
very dramatic will happen to the sun. The figure of speechblack
as sackcloth made of hairindicates that the sun will not give
light, i.e. darkness in the universe. This point is echoed in Matthew
24:29. Now some find this point difficult to understand and therefore
would rather understand this event to be symbolic and not literal.
After all, they reason, it would not be just a matter of loss of
light, but heat as well. This seems impossible, but this event will
be unparalleled in human history. Many would have argued the impossibility
of stopping the sun at high noon for twelve hours, but Joshua would
argue differently, particularly given the effects of a solar eclipse.
A total solar eclipse renders the earth dark, but does not cause
a drop in temperature.
2c The whole moon became
like blood = this third sign concerns the moons loss as a
light source. The term Like blood indicates a figure of speech
is used here.
Metaphors and similes
are two examples of a particular kind of figure of speech that deals
with comparisons. A metaphor says "one thing is another
thing", i.e., "the Lord is my shepherd." In this
case, this statement intends every attribute of a shepherd. In other
words, everything about a shepherd is exactly what the Lord is.
However, a simile is different in what it imports. A simile says
one thing is like or as another, i.e., "the Lord
is like a shepherd." Now this statement is much narrower than
the metaphor. Unlike the metaphor, which is very broad in its application,
the simile focuses on a contextually defined attribute. Usually
that attribute is defined in the context. In our example above,
"the Lord is like a shepherd" in that He protects me from
Therefore, when John says, "the moon became like blood,"
we discern quickly that a simile is used. Now the question is this:
what attribute of blood does John intend here? Based on the context
and given what happens to the sun and the stars, Johns point
concerns lightspecifically the absence of light. Therefore,
the moon will cease to be a light source for the night. Matthew
24:29 states, "the moon will not give its light."
2d. The stars of the
sky fell to the earth = this is the fourth sign that will indicate
the imminent outbreak of the wrath of God. Immediately, we have
a problem. Given modern science, we know that it would be impossible
for the stars, given their size, to fall literally upon the earth.
However, the context suggests that a figure of speech is intended.
The loss of their light is what is meant here.
2e. As a fig tree casts
its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind = this simile explains
John's intent concerning the stars. Echoing Isaiah 34:4, which depicts
both the leaves and the figs dropping, John highlights the figs.
Matthew 24:29 states, "the stars will fall from the sky."
Mark 13:25 says, "the stars will be falling from heaven."
Joel 3:15 records, "the stars [will] lose their brightness."
This is in concert with that which happens to the sun and the moon,
i.e. the stars give off no light. It will look as if the stars have
fallen from the heavens. There will be no light in the universe.
2f. The sky was split
apart like a scroll when it is rolled up = this is fifth cosmic
disturbance John records. Literally, the text says the heaven.
"The heaven was split," John says. The verb used here
has several nuances. It can mean, "to split" or "to
disappear." The simile, "like a scroll when it is rolled
up," is not helpful at this point. Both nuances are possible.
Many have experienced the phenomenon of placing on a desk a map
that is continually rolled up. It will only lay flat as long as
force is applied, but immediately if let go, the map will roll up
quickly. In this sense, the map disappeared. However, a tightly
wound up map recoils with a fast rate of speed when let go by a
tight grip. Therefore, it is possible that John is emphasizing the
speed with which the heaven will split.
Isaiah 34:4 is helpful
at this point. There the prophet states, "And the host of heaven
will rot, and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll
The Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) uses
the same word to translate the Hebrew that is used in the Revelationto
roll up. The sense is this: the sky will split apart in the
same way a scroll is rolled up. The Hebrew scrolls of Isaiahs
day were rolled between two spindles. The issue of speed is therefore
removed. A rolled up scroll removes the content of the scroll from
sight. The heaven will move apart, which will allow the earth dwellers
to see the spectacular descent of the Lamb from the very throne
2g. Every mountain and
island were moved out of their places = is the final event of this
spectacular display of cosmic and earthly signs to signal the imminent
outbreak of the wrath of God. Every single mountain and island will
be moved out of its original place. This should not be confused
with the seventh and final bowl judgment of Revelation 16:20. There,
John indicates that no mountain shall be found and every island
will flee away. Here the emphasis is on disappearance or ceasing
to exist, but in Revelation 6:14 the emphasis is simple transition
from one place to another. This textual detail should not be overlooked
or minimized. Two distinct events are described in these two passages
and only by minimizing the textual details can these two passages
be described as the same event.
Clearly, these six cataclysms
are designed to accomplish one thingto get mans attention.
No man on the face of the earth at this time can possibly conclude
anything other than the fact that the great God of heaven is coming
in wrath, particularly when the Lamb is seen descending from heaven!
These six signs described
above have a rich history in the Old Testament. The single most
important event prophetically depicted in the Old Testament is the
eschatological wrath of GodThe Day of the Lord. John has eclectically
gathered from Isaiah and Joel those cataclysms, which the Lord Jesus
Himself depicted in Matthew 24:29-30.
Significantly, Joel 2:31
places an important time marker in relationship to these events.
Joel declares, "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the
moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the
Lord comes." Any and everyone who attempts to make the sign
that initiates the Day of the Lord and Day of the Lord equal must
violate this verse. Joel is clear: the sign occurs before
the Day of the Lord comes. Whatever else the first four seals are,
they are not a part of the eschatological wrath of God, a
fact to be substantiated later.
3. The second significant
portion of the sixth seal is the response of "those who dwell
upon the earth" in Revelation 6:14-17.
free man = John lists a very broad cross section of humanity
who respond to the sign that signals the imminent outbreak of the
wrath of God. This list is intended to show that all unbelievers
living on the earth at this time are the subjects of the coming
wrath. Revelation 19:18-19 indicates that these are the very groups
God shall sacrifice to the birds at His great supper.
3b. Hid themselves in
the caves and among the rocks of the mountains = this phrase indicates
that the wide circle of humanity recognizes the import of these
signs. This supports our claim that the "mountains" and
"islands" do not disappear at this point, but move out
of their original locations. Notice, they "hid themselves,"
which is past tense. These people are in the caves and mountains.
3c. They said to the
mountains and to the rocks = indicates that the wicked desire death.
3d. Fall on us and hide
us = this phrase is a bit strange. Perhaps, the strangeness of this
verse demonstrates the level of fear the wicked are experiencing
at this point. Death is not the immediate goal of the wicked at
this point. Obviously, if the mountain falls on them, they will
die, but they request not only to die, but also to be hidden from
the sight of God. This suggests that the "presence of God"
is beyond human appreciation unless man is holy. A wicked man in
the presence of a holy God is beyond human tolerance. To be dead
is not enough. To merely commit suicide is not enough. For the wicked,
even to be dead in the presence of a holy God is not enough. They
want to be buried. They want to be out of sight.
3e. From the presence
of Him who sits on the throne = is a clear reference to God the
Father. Throughout the book of Revelation, and in this context (notice
the Lamb), God the Father is seated on the throne. Some argue that
"the presence of Him who sits on the throne" is a roundabout
way of referring to God the Father without mentioning His name directly.
Who is seated is not an issue! For this author, we are more interested
in what is seen by the wicked.
Isaiah 2:19 states, "And
men will go into caves of the rocks, and into holes of the ground
before the terror of the Lord, and before the splendor of His majesty,
when He arises to make the earth tremble." The terror of
the Lord and the splendor of His majesty may refer to
the glory of God. Peter declares in his second letter that Jesus,
"received honor and glory from God the Father
." Job 13:11 records, "Will not His majesty
terrify you, and the dread of Him fall on you?" The point is
this: there is going to be a manifestation of God the Father at
this event. It will involve His glory, which might be depicted through
a great throne since God is invisible.
3f. From the wrath of
the Lamb = is the second object of terror for the wicked who seek
death and burial as an escape. It is clear that the Lamb is Jesus
Christ, the second member of the Trinity.
With the Lamb is connected
wrath. This is the first explicit usage of the term wrath
in the book of Revelation. That it is connected with the Lamb should
not be taken lightly. Jesus is the eschatological Judge (John 5:27,
Acts 10:42 and Daniel 7:13-14). He executes the Fathers wishes.
3g. For = indicates the
reason for the conduct of the wicked. The reason the wicked call
upon the mountains and the rocks to kill and bury them is because
of the great day of wrath initiated by the cataclysms.
3h. Great day of their
(His) wrath has come = is an important clause for several reasons.
However, before we look at the significance of the complete clause,
the reader may be aware of a slight difference in wording of this
verse in different translations. Their verses His
wrath is an ongoing discussion. One cannot be dogmatic either way.
There is no theological difference regardless of the adopted reading.
The Lord Jesus clearly states that He and the Father are one in
ever way important. Therefore, His wrath is their wrath and their
wrath is His wrath.
The context clearly identifies
this day as the eschatological Day of the Lord, which in the Old
Testament is God the Fathers day of wrath. However, in the
New Testament, the term Lord comes to represent Jesus as
well (Acts 2:36). Therefore, the Day of the Lord is both Jesus
and the Fathers eschatological wrath.
Has come properly
translates the grammatical construction, but the sense of the Greek
verb is missing. The Greek suggests the sense "is about to
come." The emphasis is on the initiation of the action. This
fits well with the question of the Martyrs in the fifth seal. The
fifth seal requests the coming of the wrath of God. The sixth seal
announces the impending or imminent arrival of the wrath of God
and the seventh seal demonstrates the wrath of God.
3i. Who is able to stand?
= This rhetorical question demands an answer, which is "no
one!" There is no wicked person able to stand up against the
wrath of God.
Section: Chapter Seven - Deliverance