The Sixth Seal – The Great Day of Wrath

SIXTH SEALI watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face 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 can stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17)

Earthquakes and Heavenly Disturbances – The martyrs cried, “avenge our blood!” The unbelievers on earth will cry, “Hide us!” The opening of the sixth seal will produce worldwide convulsions and catastrophes, including the first of three great earthquakes (Revelation 6:12; 11:13; 16:18–19).(1) There is no doubt that these are literal earthquakes, but along with them will be disturbances on earth and in the heavens that will frighten great and small. Some students think that these verses describe the results of atomic warfare, with the sun and moon blacked out, great land masses moved, the sky receding “like a scroll, rolling up,” and people hiding in holes in the ground (perhaps to escape atomic radiation). This may be so. But we need to note that the people are hiding from Christ and His wrath in particular, not merely from some man-made catastrophe.(2)

Wrath of The Lamb – All of nature will be affected: the sun, moon, and stars, as well as the heavens, the mountains, and the islands. Compare this scene with Joel 2:30–31 and 3:15 as well as with Isaiah 13:9–10 and 34:2–4. These verses describe a scene that would frighten even the most courageous person. People will try to hide from the face of God and from the wrath of the Lamb. Imagine wanting to hide from a lamb. We will see much more of the wrath of God as we progress through Revelation (Revelation 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15). If men and women will not yield to the love of God, and be changed by the grace of God, then there is no escape from the wrath of God.

Rank and wealth will not deliver anyone in that terrible day. John’s list included kings, captains, and slaves, the rich and the poor. “Who can stand?” The phrase “wrath of the Lamb” seems like a paradox. Wrath of the lion of the tribe of Judah would seemingly be more consistent. We are so accustomed to emphasizing the meekness and gentleness of Christ (Matthew 11:28–30) that we forget His holiness and justice. The same Christ who welcomed little children also drove the merchants from the temple.

God’s wrath is not like a child’s temper tantrum or punishment meted out by an impatient parent. God’s wrath is the evidence of His holy love for all that is right and His holy hatred for all that is evil. Ultimately, God must deal justly with evil in the world. This is especially the case since the people mentioned here are impenitent. They refuse to submit to God’s will. They would rather hide from God in fear (remember Adam and Eve?) than run to Him in faith. They are proof that judgment by itself does not change the human heart. Not only will men seek to hide from God, but they will blaspheme Him as well (Revelation 16:9, 11, 21).(3)

Up Next – The Seventh Seal.

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References

  1. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 589). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 814). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 589). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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