When He opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. The the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountain, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated 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
I always thought that the book of Revelation was something that no one could really make sense of. I had been taught from a certain end times’ perspective growing up, but there were verses that I’d read that didn’t fit. When I would ask why they didn’t fit, it was like I needed a decoder ring to get all of the special explanations.
Then I made it my goal to study Revelation all of one summer. That turned into a study of all of the prophetic verses, especially in the Old Testament, and that lasted for at least two years. One of the things that helped was using a “face value” approach to Scripture. That means that you take a look at what is written and take it in its plain sense. You don’t dig to find some hidden spiritual meaning of words and phrases.
That puts you, or the person that says, “This stands for…” in the place the authority of the Biblical authors. If another spot in the Bible tells you that’s what it means, then it’s okay. As you compare one passage against another, eventually a timeline will begin to emerge that makes sense.
The next few devotions will include passages, key events and details that might help you begin to piece together a timeline of things that are yet to come, whenever they are. I recently was a part of a group where everyone at the table had a different view of the end times. I joked that maybe the ones who are right will get preferential seating in Heaven. I understand that others have different positions, but I am laying out mine, using a face value approach to Scripture.
The sixth seal has some parallel passages that will help you to understand when it will occur. I talked about this day in my post, “The Day of the Lord,” (from 2 Peter 3) and abbreviated it the DOTL. The DOTL and the breaking open of the sixth seal are the same event. We’ll take a look at two passages that describe this day. The first passage is Matthew 24:3-31. Here are verses 29-31:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days, ( after the Abomination of Desolation) of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from Heaven, and the powers of the Heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in Heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, 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 a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven to the other.
If you look at the “cosmic disturbances” of the sun, moon, stars and sky it matches up with Revelation 6 and the sixth seal. The event that Matthew 24 includes the appearing of the Son of Man–Jesus. Matt. 24 also tells us about our being gathered together to meet Jesus in the air. This is before all of the bad things break loose.
This is the point where God’s wrath is poured out on those who have rejected Him. By the way, nothing before this point is called ‘God’s Wrath.’ There is a period of time where Satan will attack with a vengeance and in Revelation 12:12, referring to this time it says, “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
When people quote 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” they are right. We will not be around when His wrath is poured out on the earth. But we could be around for the time just before this, when Satan fights with a vengeance because he knows his time is short. We’ll see more about that when we get to Revelation 12.
To summarize, when you compare Rev. 6, Matthew 24, (and also Joel 2:30-31), you will see that they are speaking of the same event. Matthew 24 tells us this is when believers will be gathered up to meet the Lord in the air. Then the wrath of God, “the great and terrible day of the Lord,” occurs. It will include signs that no one can miss and everyone will see.
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:17-17
*Image from Thomas Taylor Ministries