“I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind. The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One 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 survive?””
Revelation 6:12-17 NLT
The sixth and penultimate seal was broken and the scroll unrolled a little further. The contents of the sixth section describe a series of natural disasters on a scale never before experienced. It starts with a “great earthquake”, which perhaps filled the atmosphere with so much dust that the moon became blood red. It would seem that the earth shifts on its axis so that the sun and stars either disappeared or appeared somewhere else. Seismic upheavals continue, with catastrophic changes to the earth’s crust and the moving of mountains and islands. And as the words on the scroll continue to be read, a terrified population, those still remaining on the earth after the impact of the previous five judgements of God, try to find somewhere safe. Of course, after such a seismic event, there would have been no buildings left standing. At last, the people finally seem to realise what was going on, why it was happening and who was responsible, because they cry out for help from the mountains and rocks around them, preferring death to seeing God and feeling “the wrath of the Lamb”. And the disaster that had struck them was no respecter of persons – everyone was impacted, from the kings and rulers all the way down to the slaves. And Revelation 6 ends with the verse, “For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?” Who indeed! But there is a seventh seal coming, introducing another judgement from God. There were still people left alive even after the sixth judgement.
There is always a temptation when something inexplicable crops up in the Bible, to ask Mr Google what it all means, with varying results. Certainly, regarding the sixth seal, odd-ball theories abound. One is that there will be an asteroid strike. And there are others. But all we need to realise is that the opening of this seal will precede a catastrophic series of events that will severely, but not fatally, impact the earth’s population. And it obviously hasn’t happened yet. We don’t know if the opening of the sixth seal will impact the whole of the earth, or will just be a disaster local to the Middle East. But disaster it will be.
There is some comfort to be gained from Jesus’ account in Matthew 24:22. We read, “In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones”. Even with the judgements of God being handed down to the wicked and sinful world population, God, in His love and mercy, cut short the time over which it will take place “for the sake of [His] chosen ones”. Even while such catastrophes are occurring, God still cares for us.
Another piece of information from Jesus’ account is what will happen immediately after the sixth seal judgement. Again from Matthew, this time 24:30-31, “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven”.
We pilgrims, at least those who are still alive at this point in earth’s history, are going to be “gathered”. Some denominations refer to this event as the Rapture. But none of us will be missed, no matter where we live. The Apostle Paul gave us some insight about what will happen from his first Thessalonian epistle. We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, “We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet Him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words”.
There is so much that we cannot understand in the writings on the scroll, describing the sixth judgement. But one thing is for sure – all the people in the world will suddenly wake up and realise the consequences of their sins. There is a day coming when God no longer will be able to tolerate evil and wickedness, and He will have to deal with it. We don’t know how much longer the time of grace in which we are living will last, but while He graciously allows mankind time to repent and embrace His Son, we have an opportunity to warn our friends and families, even our communities and nations, about the coming judgement.
Near the beginning of his Acts 2 sermon, Peter boldly declared this statement, “And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below— blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved“. After Peter’s sermon, 3000 people responded positively to his invitation for salvation. One thought today. In Peter’s sermon he majored on our wonderful Saviour, what He did for us, and he finishes with the appeal, “…Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Perhaps in our messages of hope, our testimonies and our conversations with “this crooked generation” we should include a reference to the scroll with its seven seals, and the consequent judgements from God.
Dear Father God. I thank You that You have graciously included in Your Word references to the ages to come. You do not want us to uninformed. Please lead and guide us in our conversations with those around us, and help us to communicate Your message clearly to them. In Jesus’ name. Amen