The sixth seal, Revelation 6,12-17; Natural disasters.
Jesus told in Matthew 24 that before his return there would be earthquakes (verse 7) and the sun would be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (v. 29). Putting this into a historical perspective as Adventists, we believe that the end of prophetic time and the beginning of the end time, in the broadest sense, coincide with such events that follow the sixth seal. Ahead of the end of the 2,300 evenings and mornings, and the proclamation of the first angel’s message in 1844, something happened that can be read as the fulfilment of the prophecies in Matthew mentioned above. This seal initiates the end of prophetic time, which is the part of the timeline that is covered by prophecies based on time indications.
Here we read about a big earthquake, and we have two possibilities. There was a great earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 that can be placed in this prophecy, but earthquake is also a common characteristic of a divine visit. See Exodus 19,18; Isaiah 2,19; Haggai 2,6. What is interesting in connection with the earthquake in the sixth seal is that we also find earthquakes between the sixth and seventh trumpet in 11,13, and between the sixth and seventh vial in 16,18.
Amos 8,9 also talks about this type of event. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day, and Isaiah 29,6 says this: Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.
The crucial point is whether we should interpret Revelation 6,12-13 in the same way we interpret Matthew 24,29. Because we understand Matthew 24,29 literally, it is therefore necessary that we also understand Revelation 6,12 literally, as they record the same events in the same order.
– Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Matthew 24,29
– And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and 1) the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and 2) the moon became as blood; And 3) the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. Revelation 6, 12-13.
Keywords. Seven creation structures are mentioned in the prophecy and will be affected in connection with the end times.
1) Earthquake: The earthquake in Lisbon. This earthquake must have been many times stronger than earthquake in the Pacific Ocean on December 26, 2004, when Australia moved 25 cm away from the epicentre of the earthquake, which had a magnitude of 9,3 (corresponding to the Richter scale). The earthquake in Lisbon took place on November 1, 1755, and could be felt all over Europe, up to Norway, in North America, in Africa, and far east in Russia.
2) The sun became black: At 10,00 AM of May 19, 1780, the day became as dark as the darkest night. One could hardly see the hand without light.
3) The moon became as blood: The night that followed, the moon turned red as blood. These were two supernatural events, and there is no talk of a solar eclipse on this day because there was a full moon the following night, and no one has been able to prove that there was a lunar eclipse that night.
4) The stars of heaven fell: On November 13, 1833, a meteorite storm without counterpart was seen over great parts of USA. There were so many meteorites that night became as light as the day. Usually the meteorites come from one place and go to another place, (for example from east to west), but this night it was different. Although it seemed that all the meteorites came from one point in the sky, they disappeared in all directions, much like the pillars in an umbrella that start from a common point and then extend in all directions. The star rain continued well beyond the following day and was fully visible in daylight.
Just as Matthew 24,29 spans a long period of time, so also the sixth seal spans the same period of time. In these verses, Revelation 6,12-14, we move historically from the beginning of the end time to the end of the end time. The last three signs in verse 14 are the final warnings before Jesus return, and when this happens the Lord will come in all his power and glory. This verse reflects other apocalyptic writings (see, for example, Jeremiah 4,24; Nahum 1,5), which mainly use such events to describe the end of this age. This seal contains therefor more than the events that have been fulfilled so far, and there is still an earthly and a cosmic catastrophe on the doorstep. So far, only four of the seven structures have been affected. Seven creation structures will thus be affected, 1) earthquakes, 2) the sun became black, 3) the moon will became as blood, 4) the stars of heaven will fall, as we have seen, and 5) the heaven will depart as a scroll, 6) every mountain will be moved out of their places and 7) every island will be moved out of their places, Revelation 6,12-14.
5) The heaven will depart as a scroll and 6) every mountain and 7) every island will be moved out of their places: These are three signs which belongs to the absolute end time, and happens in connection with Jesus leaving the most holy in the heavenly sanctuary and returning to earth to redeem His faithful remnant.
If we mainly read the last two seals as parallel events and the trumpets as one unit, it gives harmony to the story. When the sixth seal opens, the earthquake (1755) follows, the sun darkens and the moon turns red as blood (1780), as well as the meteorite storm (1833). We can also add 1798, when the pope was deposed, arrested, and imprisoned, as a sign of the end times. Verses 12 and 13 herald the beginning of the end time, and the end time began in 1844 when Jesus entered the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary. The last four verses of chapter 6 deal with the absolute end time and the second coming of Christ. We must also take into account that before Jesus comes back, the last plagues will also affect the earth.
Here we find the signs that Jesus foretold in Matthew 24,29, which are events that point to the end of prophetic time, or to the end of the long-time prophecy in Daniel 8,14 – the two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings. It is at the end of the 2300 years that our High Priest Jesus Christ enters the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary, and this ushers in a new era in the plan of salvation. The book of Daniel is opened, and God raises up people who zealously study the book of Daniel together with Revelation, and they come to the conclusion that Jesus’ return is imminent. The Advent movement, note that it is the Advent movement and not SDA, emerges in the wake of the events that end prophetic time.
The Advent movement was an inter-church revival that led to the preaching of the three angels’ message in the first half of the 1840s and consisted of people from all denominations of the time. SDA was established as a separate denomination in 1863 and continued to preach the message of the three angels. This has been going on since then, and will continue with varying strength, but will increase in strength and power as we approach the absolute end time when the loud cry sounds along with the three angels’ message.
We can read that seven categories of people are also affected (Rev 6,15): 1) the kings of the earth … 2) the great men … 3) the rich men … 4) the chief captains … 5) the mighty men … 6) every bondman and … 7) every free man.
That there are seven creation structures and seven categories of people must be seen in the light of the number seven, which is the number of perfection, and thus tells that the final judgement is complete and affects the whole creation which includes heaven, celestial bodies, earth, and all kinds of people. Nothing escapes the final judgment. As for the seven structures of creation, the first four are affected at the end of prophetic time, and the last three will be affected at the end of the end time.
The text of the sixth seal ends with a question in verse 17 … … … For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? … … and as we know, questions require answers:
The question who shall be able to stand is answered in Chapter 7, between the sixth and the seventh seal. In addition to this verse, we find the same question in several places in the Old Testament, and we find a similar question in the following places.
Psalm 76,8 [KJV: 7]: Thou, [even] thou, [art] to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?
Nahum 1,6: Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
Malachi 3,2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he [is] like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
This is about the last phase of the church on earth. Now a more direct language is used, and the explanation for this is that it is no longer necessary to present the identity of power through symbols. The sixth seal begins with a major earthquake – Lisbon on November 1, 1755, perhaps the largest ever. The tremors were recorded over large parts of the earth. On May 19, 1780, the sun became black as sackcloth. The night that followed, the moon was red as blood. On November 13, 1833, the night sky became bright as the day of a meteor shower no one has seen before. But God would not be God if he had not prepared everything for us humans in advance. God longs to save us, but we must take the first step. We must seek God and invite him into our hearts. It is a wonderful passage in Jeremiah, which fully shows God’s infinite and boundless love. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. Jeremiah 29,11-14
The sixth seal is followed by an intermezzo, also called the first parenthesis with two events before the seventh seal opens in chapter 8,1. Chapter six ends with the sixth seal and the question: and who shall be able to stand? This question indicates that no one can survive when the last plagues fall upon the earth and the people there. At least not without help. Chapter 7 interrupts the rhythm of the opening of the seals, precisely to answer the question in verse 17.
The sixth seal covers the period from 1755 until the second coming of Christ.
Each of the six seals that have been opened shows different stages in the struggle between good and evil, between Jesus and Satan, and each of these six stages reveals to the whole universe the righteousness of God (Revelation 5,13).
The seventh seal, Revelation 8,1-6; The prelude to the seven trumpets.
Silence in heaven: It all starts with a dramatic break before the seven trumpets are released. Why is it quiet? Could the silence be due to what is about to happen? Could it be that the whole heaven is waiting in awe for the fulfilment of God’s will? That there is silence in the sky before the seventh seal is opened is in sharp contrast to the first six seals. Maybe Amos has the answer. 1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. 2 And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them anymore. 3 And the songs of the temple shall be howling in that day, saith the Lord GOD: [there shall be] many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast [them] forth with silence. 4 Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Amos 8,1-4
There is a lot of symbolism in the use of the words summer fruit and the end. According to Strong´s Concordance these two words are formed from the same root word in Hebrew, and here the Prophet uses these words in a pun, summer fruit (= ripe fruit) (qayis) and end (qes). The symbolism is a basket of ripe fruit that symbolizes the people’s fully riped sin. The fruit, that is, the sin of the people, is all gathered together, and the end soon comes through the fact that the judgment of the people is imminent.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Revelation 8,1. There are those who claim that there is no clear evidence of shorter time indications than a full day of prophetic time, which is the same as a whole year. These therefore choose to understand that the term half an hour does not describe anything other than an undefined short period. SDA understands that the term half an hour can be understood as prophetic time, and in that case represents a time period of seven and a half days. However, I believe that since we have moved from prophetic time to end time and this must be read in light that there should be time no longer, and that it must be understood as a short and limited time period
I saw: The expression I saw, verse 2, is used only in certain past tenses and comes from the Greek word horaó (hor-ah’-o), which can be translated properly to see (literally or figuratively); by implication (in the perfect only) to know:- be aware, behold, x can (+ not tell), consider, (have) know (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, tell, understand, wish. I mention this because there are many who want to make a clear and defined distinction between the seals and the trumpets. The expression I saw is explained by many so that when John uses this, it is because he describes a new view. This is nor correct. It simply means that John is focusing on vision.
Seven angels were given seven trumpets: When this happens we have entered the end time, but we do not know how far into the end time we have come. But when the seventh seal is opened, John sees that even angels are given seven trumpets. John does not see this until he focuses on vision (I saw). Without trying to read anything into the text, I think we can say without a doubt that John was surprised by the silence that followed the opening of the seventh seal. Based on the idea that the seventh seal contains the seven trumpets, I think it would be wrong to use the translation I saw in the sense that guidelines are laid down for the expression I saw to be the start of a new vision. Here we can just as well use became aware of or I perceived the seven angels. This fits in perfectly. John is put out of silence, and when he comes to himself he becomes aware of , perceived, or focused on the seven angels in the same scene, those who received the seven trumpets.
When the seventh seal is opened, the remnant of God is still not sealed, and as such they are not out of reach of the first four plagues that come at the seven trumpets. John now sees the preparations for the seven trumpets. The silence in heaven in Revelation 8,1 is a difficult subject. Why is it quiet? There are many plausible explanations, but I will only highlight three.
1) The silence may be due to the fact that it is the Lamb who opens the seals.
2) The silence may be due to the fact that the creatures of heaven are waiting for something to happen.
3) The silence may be due to the fact that the seventh seal is opened, which contains the seven trumpets, and is the starting time for the great tribulation that will end up with Jesus’ second coming. Jesus has already entered the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary, and in other words, we are in the end times.
But why is it now quiet in heaven? Is it related to the fact that the wicked soon will receive their final judgment? Anyway, I read it so that the seventh seal contains both the silence in heaven, the prelude to the seven trumpets and the seven trumpets. The sixth seal ends with the angel telling John that … the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? And the seventh seal is opened in the first verse of chapter 8, concluding that … when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven … …
Chapter seven is an interlude in its entirety, and this chapter lives its life regardless of how we understand the silence in heaven. I understand this so that the silence comes as a direct result of the seventh seal being opened – and not least the contents of the seventh seal, not because of who opens it.
The seventh seal covers the period from 1844 to the return of Jesus.
Summary Daniel 2, 7, 8, the letters and the seals.
We are now beginning to get a good overview of the course of history. We have seen in the book of Daniel how four kingdoms arise and oppress God’s faithful people. We have looked at which nations are behind this oppression. Under the letters to the seven churches, we see how the church changes over time from being pure and burning to absorbing paganism and human traditions, and to becoming indifferent. Under the seals we see how God deals with his people, and how Satan is on the spot and opposes God in an attempt to destroy God’s people by persecuting and killing, infiltrating the church and destroying the pure Word of God, and the results of Satan’s persecution in form of countless martyrs. We saw some signs in nature that herald the transition from prophetic time to end time, and that the end time began a special year.
Furthermore, we will look more at the prophecies in the book of Daniel, more specifically chapter 11, actually chapters 10, 11 and 12. We will see if Amos is right when he says that God does nothing without revealing His secrets his servants the prophets – this considering the transition from prophetic time to end time. We will look more at Revelation chapter 13 and chapter 17. We will look at the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation chapters 7 and 14. We will look at some events that initiated the end times in addition to those we have mentioned.
Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3,7