Revelation Chapter 6, Part 2
by Karl Kemp
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We will finish this verse-by-verse study of Revelation chapter 6 here in Part 2, starting with Rev. 6:12.
(12) [[Here, at the breaking of the sixth seal, we are given a brief look at the arrival of judgment day before the scroll is opened. (It can't be opened until the seventh and last seal has been removed at Rev. 8:1.) I refer the reader to the discussions of Rev. 6:12-17 in "The Mid-Week Rapture" mentioned at the beginning of Part 1.
I'll quote part of what William Hendriksen said under Rev. 6:12-17 ("More than Conquerors" [Baker, 1982], pages 107, 108). "The sixth seal...introduces the judgment day. It describes the one great catastrophe at the end of this age. [This "one great catastrophe" won't be finished in the full sense until after the millennium and the great-white-throne judgment at the end of the millennium. Hendriksen, now deceased, held the amillennial (no millennium) viewpoint.] The dread and terror, the awe and consternation of that day is pictured under the twofold symbolism of a crashing universe and a thoroughly frightened human race. The terror of that day refers, of course, only to the wicked. ...
What we have here is a symbolic picture of the terror of judgment day. The symbol, taken as a whole, teaches just one lesson, namely, that the final and complete effusion of God's wrath upon a world that has [rejected God the Father and His Son and] persecuted the Church will be terrible indeed. ... ...we do not deny, of course, that there will be a most thorough-going dislocation of the heavenly bodies and a rejuvenation of the universe, in connection with the end of this present age. Scripture clearly teaches this (2 Pet. 3:10, 12, etc.). Neither do we at all deny that also our present passage refers to this fact (cf. Matt. 24:39 [24:29]). But the main point of our passage is this: it stresses the terror of the day of wrath for the wicked. The dissolving elements, earthquake, falling stars, etc., add terror to the picture."]] I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake [[I believe it would be better to translate "a great shaking." This great shaking probably includes the intense shaking of the short great tribulation, which will come to pass under the sixth trumpet, and it undoubtedly includes the shaking pictured in Rev. 6:13, 14. It apparently also includes all the shaking that will take place throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week as God shakes the world in judgment. On the shaking of judgment day, cf., e.g., Isa. 2:19, 21; 13:13; 24:19, 20 [Isaiah chapter 2; 13:6-13; and chapter 24 are discussed in a verse-by-verse manner, along with many other passages in my eschatological paper on Isaiah on my internet site.]; Hag. 2:6, 7, 21; and Heb. 12:26-29. On this great shaking, also see under Rev. 16:18-20 in my paper that deals with Rev. 14:6-19:21.]]; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood [See Joel 2:30-32; Matt. 24:29-31. As discussed in "The Mid-Week Rapture" in some detail, the large amounts of smoke and dust generated by the very intense warfare (probably nuclear) of the short great tribulation will apparently block out most of the light coming from the sun and moon.]; (13) and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. [[The stars here apparently refer first, and foremost, to the angels of Satan, who will be cast down to the earth with their leader (from their present privileged position in heavenly places) right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. See Rev. 12:4, 7-9: the third of the angels who follow Satan are cast down to the earth right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week; those angels are called "stars" in Rev. 12:4. This is a major feature in God's end-time judgment of the world (see pages 15, 313, 317-319 of "The Mid-Week Rapture" on these verses).
Matthew 24:29 is another important cross-reference for the stars falling at the time of Christ's return with the clouds of heaven, at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, right in the middle of the seven-year period. I'll quote the second half of Matt. 24:29: "and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of heaven will be shaken." Satan's kingdom will obviously be greatly shaken at the time he and his angels are overpowered and cast down to the earth. (Matthew 24:29 is discussed in my verse-by-verse study of Matthew chapter 24 on my internet site, for one place.) Also see Isa. 34:4. I should point out that the "host of heaven" in Isa. 34:4 refers to the stars.
We should probably also think of literal falling stars here in Rev. 6:13; Matt. 24:29; etc. This present natural/physical world must ultimately pass away/vanish to be replaced by God's new heaven and new earth (cf., e.g., Matt. 24:35; Rev. 20:11; 21:1).]] (14) The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up [[Isaiah 34:4 includes the words, "And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll." The Greek noun translated "sky" in Rev. 6:14 and the Hebrew noun translated "sky" in Isa. 34:4 can also be translated "heaven." The KJV has "heaven" in Rev. 6:14 and "heavens" in Isa. 34:4. I'll quote what Leon Morris said regarding these words ("Revelation" [Inter-Varsity Press, 1987], page 108). "In the first century most people appear to have thought of heaven [speaking of one use of the word heaven] as a solid vault. John uses this conception to express the completeness of the cosmic disaster. Heaven was rolled up like a scroll (cf. Isa. 34:4, and for later literature, Syb. Or. 3:82), and taken out of the way."
Genesis 1:6-8, 14-17 help us understand what Morris meant by "solid vault." I'll quote Gen. 1:6 and 8a, "Then God said, 'Let there be an expanse [or, a firmament] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.' ... God called the expanse [or, firmament] heaven." The KJV and NKJV have "firmament" instead of "expanse." I'll quote from the BDB Hebrew Lexicon on the meaning of the Hebrew noun ("raqia") translated expanse/firmament in Gen. 1:6-8, 14-17, "extended surface, (solid) expanse (as if beaten out....) ... the vault of heaven, or 'firmament,' regarded by Hebrews as solid, and supporting 'waters' above it, Gen. 1:6, 7, 8...." The expanse/firmament in Isa. 34:4 and Rev. 6:14 is pictured being relatively thin and rolled up as the material of a scroll can be rolled up.]], and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. [By the time God is fully done shaking/judging and bringing forth His new heaven and new earth, everything associated with this present world - including the present sky, mountains, and islands - will have been removed, or made new (cf. Rev. 21:5). See Ezek. 38:20; Nah. 1:2-8; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:20; 20:11; and 21:1.] (15) Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; (16) and they said 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 [Compare Isa. 2:10-22 [Isaiah chapter 2 is discussed verse-by-verse in my paper on Isaiah on my internet site.]; Hos. 10:8; Luke 23:30.]; (17) for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?' [[The great day of the wrath of God the Father and God the Son will officially begin when the Lord Jesus returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. ((God's wrath will also be manifested to a significant extent for those directly involved with the shaking of the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22, which equals (at least for the most part) the warfare of the sixth trumpet (Rev. 9:13-21). Antichrist's abomination of desolation, which will take place about a month before the Lord Jesus returns (cf. Dan. 12:11), will signal that it is time for the short great tribulation to take place (cf. Matt. 24:15, 21, 22).))
All the true Christians living on the earth will be able to stand because they will be ready for the return of the Lord Jesus; they live in the light of His return; they are the ones "who have loved His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8). (Compare, for example, Psalms 1:3-6; Nah. 1:6-8; and Luke 21:36.)
Revelation chapter 7 is an interlude (a parenthetical insert) that answers the question of Rev. 6:17, "and who is able to stand." Revelation chapter 7 deals with two groups of people who will be able to stand. Revelation 7:9-17 deal with the true Christians who will be living on the earth at that time. Those verses picture them having been caught up into eternal glory. Revelation 7:1-8 deal with the end-time remnant of Israel. Revelation 7:1-3 picture each of them being given a special seal for protection (for one thing, protection during the days of the sounding of the first six trumpets, especially the sixth trumpet), to make sure that each one of them remains alive to receive the Lord Jesus. (Compare what Michael the archangel does in Dan. 12:1.) They will not submit to Christ in faith until after He returns and the rapture takes place.
May the will of God be fully accomplished through this article and His people be edified!
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
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