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Book of Revelation
 

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Bible Commentary on the

Book of Revelation

By Brian Pepper

 
Chapter 6
 
King James Version
The Seals
1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13 And 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.
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?


Bible Commentary

REVELATION 6:1
AND I SAW WHEN THE LAMB OPENED ONE OF THE SEALS, AND I HEARD, AS IT WERE THE NOISE OF THUNDER, ONE OF THE FOUR BEASTS SAYING, COME AND SEE.

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals

It is very fitting that the Lamb should receive the book from the Father's hand and should open the Seven Seals. It has been well said that all history is tinged with His blood. The cross is the focal point in God's plan for saving man and makes possible the setting up of the everlasting kingdom. The apostle Paul sets this before us in Hebrews 9:28. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
 

And I heard as it were the noise of thunder

When our great High Priest, minister of the Sanctuary the Lord pitched and not man, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God, breaks the seals and opens the books, in several great sweeping views, the dramatic events of the ages comes into focus. Against a background of political scheming and persecution, of violent warfare and evil plotting, the main theme, the Salvation of man clearly stands out.

The prophet tells us that dramatic sound accompanies the fearful and compelling scenes that are now presented to the prophet as he sees the curtain lifted and the future revealed.

One of the four beasts saying, Come and see

The first of the living Creatures gives the command. It is interesting to notice that each of the horses was under the direction of one of the Living Creatures. Each horse went forth on its mission in response to the heavenly command.

The four Living Creatures or cherubim, apparently are commanding angels, the angelic forces of heaven are under their direction.


REVELATION 6:2
AND I SAW, AND BEHOLD A WHITE HORSE: AND HE THAT SAT ON HIM HAD A BOW; AND A CROWN WAS GIVEN UNTO HIM: AND HE WENT FORTH CONQUERING, AND TO CONQUER
.

And I saw, and behold a white horse

As the lamb opens the first four seals, John sees four horses galloping one after another across the sky. The horse symbolizes the leadership of the church and the colour of the horses the spiritual condition of the church in each of these four periods of the Christian era.

The first horse is a White Horse and white is a symbol of several things. We have already noticed as we studied earlier chapters that white is the colour of righteousness, is symbolic of purity, and is the colour of victory.

Julius Caesar, according to Dio Cassius, at the time of his great triumph, rode in a chariot drawn by four white horses. A rider upon a white horse, was in the East, regarded as symbolical of a conquering hero.

And he that sat on him had a bow

The bow in the hand of the rider is a sign of warfare. The bow was not used by Roman soldiers but it was employed very effectively, and frequently to the disaster of the Roman legions, by the Parthian horsemen. The Parthians would use their bows with telling effect when making a charge upon their enemies. The bow suggests aggressive warfare, typical of the early Christian church. The apostolic Church was blessed with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit.

This was the Pentecostal Church, the Church of the Apostles. It was a white horse and white stands for purity as well as victory. A very fitting description of the Church that was led by the Apostles themselves. It held to the pure teachings of Jesus. It was aggressive Christianity. 'Acts of the Apostles' by EG White, page 45 says "The words of the apostles were as sharp arrows of the Almighty, convicting men of their terrible guilt in rejecting and crucifying the Lord of glory."

And a crown was given unto him

The crown stood for victory. Victory was written upon every move of the disciples. In prison with their backs lacerated, they sung songs of praise and thanksgiving and souls were converted. The apostle Peter was sentenced to death, shut up in the inner prison; but the angel of the Lord delivered him. Christ had conquered and His followers inspired by His victory were also victorious.

And he went forth conquering, and to conquer

With amazing rapidity the Gospel spread far and wide. The apostle Paul, after preaching for little more than thirty years, writing to the Colossians was able to say in Colossians 1:23, "... and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven".

The secular writer Edward Gibbon in his 'History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,' chapter 15 par 54 wrote these words, "The progress of Christianity was not confined to the Roman Empire but the new religion within a century of the death of it's divine author, had already visited every part of the globe."


REVELATION 6:3
AND WHEN HE HAD OPENED THE SECOND SEAL, I HEARD THE SECOND BEAST SAY, COME AND SEE.

And when he had opened the second seal

The first seal the lamb opened took us back to the very early apostolic church. The Church which sprang from Pentecost, was pure in doctrine and in personal dedication, a militant Church which struck right at the very heart of paganism and false worship.

I heard the second beast say, Come and see

We are about to take a look at the second seal, and as the lamb opens this seal there is an air of great expectancy. John was familiar with the events portrayed in the first seal and his heart must have been greatly cheered. Now the second living Creature invites him to come and examine what the lamb has opened.


REVELATION 6:4
AND THERE WENT OUT ANOTHER HORSE THAT WAS RED: AND POWER WAS GIVEN TO HIM THAT SAT THEREON TO TAKE PEACE FROM THE EARTH, AND THAT THEY SHOULD KILL ONE ANOTHER: AND THERE WAS GIVEN UNTO HIM A GREAT SWORD.

And there went out another horse that was red

A Red Horse. Red represents Sin and so we see a change take place from the purity of white to the red of sin. The Church which had sacrificed its life for the sake of the Gospel began to compromise the truth of God. It is surprising how soon the purity of the church disappeared, from white to red in less than 100 years.

The period of the Red horse fits fairly into about 100-313 A.D. It corresponds to the church of Smyrna or the period of pagan persecution. Red suggests bloodshed and also sin and compromise. At the beginning of this period of church history there was terrible persecution but the latter part reveals the spirit of compromise coming into the church just like the Balaam parable of the Seven Churches.

Dr. W.D. Killen says, "Between the days of the apostles and the conversion of Constantine, the Christian commonwealth changed its aspect ... Rites and ceremonies, of which neither Paul nor Peter ever heard, crept silently into use, and then claimed the rank of divine institutions." (The Ancient Church, Preface pp. 15,16)

And power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth

When the message of righteousness is rejected, in most cases war and bloodshed usually follow. During this Red Horse period which corresponds with Smyrna, the period of pagan persecution, it is sad to see the church which started out so well become contaminated by worldly ambition.

Just as the Church gradually drifted from its early purity and high standards as portrayed in the Seven Churches period, so in this prophecy we see the same thing happening once again.

And that they should kill one another

It was in 249 A.D. that the Roman state suddenly determined to put an end to Christianity. The Emperor Decius decreed that all Christians, men, women and children, must give up their faith or suffer the penalty of death. At this time there was a very large number of Christians. The decree made it compulsory for Christians to worship before the image of the emperor. Christians were put to a test as fearful as it was unexpected.

In 303 the Roman state began its supreme effort to destroy the Gospel; Diocletian (284-305) set out to restore Roman power to the greatness it had in the days of Augustus and Trajan. He attempted to revive the old heathen religion, then he began to suppress Christianity, all church property was confiscated, all copies of the Holy Scriptures were to be destroyed, and clergymen to be imprisoned. Thus began the great persecution and the number of martyrs was greater than that of all the men who had died for the faith of Jesus Christ from the beginning to the year 300.

And there was given unto him a great sword

The sword is a symbol of Imperial Rome, first the sword of persecution under the Roman Caesars then we have Constantine who put an end to the terrible persecution and made Christianity the favoured religion. Constantine assumed the position of the head of the church and the church came under imperial control.

This was the beginning of a complete union of Church and State. When the principles held by the church are enforced by the sword of the state this fitly represents the great sword of religious oppression.


REVELATION 6:5
AND WHEN HE HAD OPENED THE THIRD SEAL, I HEARD THE THIRD BEAST SAY, COME AND SEE. AND I BEHELD, AND LO A BLACK HORSE; AND HE THAT SAT ON HIM HAD A PAIR OF BALANCES IN HIS HAND.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see

It must have been a shock to John to see what would happen to the church after he would pass off the scene. He has already witnessed in vision what was to take place through the Christian era in the vision of the Seven Churches. As he is invited to take a look at the third Seal, he is possibly a little apprehensive.

And I beheld, and lo a black horse

A black horse this time. The colour black is in striking contrast to the white of the first horse. This period of the church, generally placed between A.D. 325 and 538 is unique in history. It marks the decline and fall of the longest lasting and perhaps most powerful world power. At the same time it marks the rise of the most powerful church in history, the church-state combination known as Roman Catholicism.

Constantine decided to become a Christian and in order to induce the people to become Christians, he offered twelve pieces silver. The people just swarmed into the church and it is easy to imagine the result.

James Wharey, the historian, says of this period: "Christianity had now become popular, and a large proportion ... of those who embraced it, only assumed the name ... while at heart, ... they were as much heathens as they were before. Error and corruption now came in upon the church like a flood."

It was in this period that many pagan ceremonies and customs came into the Church and sad to say they are still in many churches of today. The worship of saints and of relics and of images became part of church ritual. The worship of the Virgin Mary was introduced. Sunday keeping was substituted for the Bible Sabbath and such beliefs as that the soul never dies, purgatory, limbo, penances, celibacy of the clergy, monkish virtue and many other pagan traditions became widespread.

And he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand

Some might ask what did the scales or balances mean? We usually associate scales with commerce and it was at this time that the Church became commercial. The good things of religion were sold at a price: at the birth of a child, when he was sprinkled, when he was confirmed, when he was married, when he went to confession and when he died, the price must be paid. Even after his death there were other payments to the clergy to pray him out of purgatory, prayers for the dead, special mass and so on. It is rather interesting to notice the enormous revenue that came from the sale of relics. Historians tell us that enough pieces of the cross have been sold through the ages to build a ship the size of the Queen Mary.

Balances can also represent judgment, speaking of Belshazzar the last king of Babylon in Daniel 5:27, "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting."


REVELATION 6:6
AND I HEARD A VOICE IN THE MIDST OF THE FOUR BEASTS SAY A MEASURE OF WHEAT FOR A PENNY, AND THREE MEASURES OF BARLEY FOR A PENNY; AND SEE THOU HURT NOT THE OIL AND THE WINE.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny

A measure of wheat was less than a quart. The Roman "penny" represented a day's wages for an ordinary labourer. Weymouth's Translation has: "A whole day's wage for a loaf of bread, a whole day's wage for three barley cakes."  According to grain prices at the the time John was writing, this price was from 8 to 16 times the normal price.

And three measures of barley for a penny

Wheat was the chief food for the people of Palestine, barley was a cheaper food. During the time of the Black horse it was a time of spiritual famine. The people were being starved spiritually, the Word of God was suppressed and Tradition and the teachings of the Catholic fathers were being taught rather than pure doctrines of Christ.

And see thou hurt not the oil and the wine

Oil and wine are mentioned quite a number of times in the Bible. Olive oil was used in preparation of food, as fuel for lamps, as ointment for sores and wounds and for anointing the body. Olive oil was a symbol of prosperity and oil placed upon a person anointed at God's direction was symbolic of the endowment of the Holy Spirit. Oil and wine as used here is symbolic of God's people. The orders of heaven are that God's people are not to be hurt.

As we have noticed that Oil in Scripture denotes the Holy Spirit (Zech 4:3, 6, 12), the wine is a symbol of the blood of Jesus (Matt 26:27, 28). Despite the spiritual poverty of the Black horse period, the blood of Christ is claiming men and women, and the Holy Spirit is working on their hearts and lives. The command from heaven is that they are not to be hurt.


REVELATION 6:7
AND WHEN HE HAD OPENED THE FOURTH SEAL, I HEARD THE VOICE OF THE FOURTH BEAST SAY, COME AND SEE.

First a white horse, secondly a red horse, thirdly a black horse. There is no question that things were getting progressively worse. As the Living Creature invites John to come and look at this fourth seal I am sure he must have hesitated.


REVELATION 6:8
AND I LOOKED, AND BEHOLD A PALE HORSE: AND HIS NAME THAT
SAT ON HIM WAS DEATH, AND HELL FOLLOWED HIM. AND POWER WAS GIVEN UNTO THEM OVER THE FOURTH PART OF THE EARTH TO KILL WITH SWORD, AND WITH HUNGER, AND WITH DEATH, AND WITH THE BEASTS OF THE EARTH.

And I looked, and behold a pale horse

When the King James version calls this a pale horse it does not really do it justice. The fourth horse was ghastly grey in colour, it has also been likened to the colour of ashes or even death. One writer likens it to the terrifying pallor of a man stricken with terror and distress, the paleness that will come over the faces of men at the time of the terrible day of the Lord.

When we dealt with the fourth church of Thyatira, we found that this church period is the longest one and is often referred to as the Dark Ages. The Pale horse covers the same period of church history from 538 - 1517 A.D.

Under the fourth seal the apostasy of the church has become so complete that the church is persecuting those not accepting her doctrines; and that is why she is symbolized by the ghastly pale coloured horse. It was a dreadful time for those who stood out for the Truth of God, a time of torture and violent death.

And his name that sat on him was death

Those who remained faithful to the pure gospel of Jesus were literally driven into hiding by the sword. They faced famine and death and the terrors of wild beasts. During this period reliable historians estimate that more than fifty million died for their faith because they believed in the pure teachings of God's Word.

And hell followed with him

Death and hell are personified in this passage, the rider on the horse and the other following behind. The 'hell' mentioned here is 'Hades', a Greek word for the grave, in Hebrew it is 'Sheol'. There are two Scriptures which use this word, first a prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus, the second the record of the fulfilment. Psalm 16:10 says, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Sheol or grave); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Acts 2:31 says, "He (David) seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in Hell (Hades or grave) neither His flesh did see corruption." In other words Christ was not left in the Sheol (grave) or Hades Hell (Grave), but He was raised from the dead.

This period of the pale horse with its rider Death, followed by Hell (grave), vividly symbolizes those dark days of the inquisition when millions of people gave their lives because they held fast to the purity of the apostolic gospel as taught by Jesus.

And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth

The fourth part of the earth is evidently the part ruled over by the Papacy. We will notice later on that 'three parts' is used a number of times. The pale horse period was the days of Rome's longest undisputed reign as a spiritual power. The kings of Europe were under her jurisdiction and ready to do her bidding.

To kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth

Sword, hunger, death (or pestilence) and beasts. The ravages of the sword, such as killing men and destroying the crops usually produce hunger; hunger causes a breakdown of health. This often brings pestilence which in turn can cause a greater death toll than the sword.

Notice this statement "The pale livid green colour of this horse is emblematical of a state of things even more dreadful than that of the preceding seal. The character of his rider corresponds with this idea; his name is called Death, the king of terrors. He is followed by Hell ... This seal evidently represents the state of the church during those ages when the flames of persecution were kindled by the papal power." - A Dissertation on the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse, William Cuninghame, p. 10 4th edition. Historians tell us that as many as fifty million people were killed. Persecuted as heretics, they were cast to the wild beasts, burned at the stake, crucified upside down, and tortured and slain in every conceivable inhuman manner.


REVELATION 6:9
AND WHEN HE HAD OPENED THE FIFTH SEAL, I SAW UNDER THE ALTAR THE SOULS OF THEM THAT WERE SLAIN FOR THE WORD OF GOD AND FOR THE TESTIMONY WHICH THEY HELD.

And when he had opened the fifth seal

As we come to the fifth seal, it is interesting to notice that from now on the remaining three seals are presented differently. The first four seals are symbolized by horses and the colour of each horse pictured the exact condition of the church period that particular horse represented.

I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God

An altar stands for sacrifice. The altar John sees is not a special altar in a certain location at a specific time, but rather the altar pictured here symbolizes martyrdom through all the ages.

The reason God gives this vision at this time, that is, under the fifth seal, it was to encourage those who were at this time facing death, that though it seemed that God's cause was apparently meeting with failure, nevertheless it would ultimately triumph. A.R. Fausset, a well known Bible commentator says, "As the blood of the sacrificial victims on the altar was poured at the bottom of the altar, so the souls of those sacrificed for Christ's testimony are symbolically represented under the altar."

As the altar is symbolic, so are the souls that were slain. There are some who think of these souls as disembodied spirits. A careful study of the Scriptures shows very clearly that there is no such thing as an ever living, never dying soul. If there were, then that would contradict Bible teaching,

1 Timothy 6:15,16 says, "Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality..." Immortality means never dying, ever living. Only God is immortal, that is, ever living and never dying.

1 Timothy 1:17 says, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen."

When speaking of God the Bible calls Him immortal, however let us notice how man is described in Job 4:17. "Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?" Mortal means subject to death. Romans 6:12 says, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof."

1 Corinthians 15:52 says, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

Verse 54 says, "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory."

This is at the Last Trump or the Coming of Christ that man puts on immortality and not before.

Genesis 2:1 says, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

When God breathes the breath of life into a man's nostrils he becomes a living being however it is worth noting what happens when God takes that breath away.

Psalm 104:29 says, "Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust."

Ezekiel 18:4 says, "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die." The Bible tells us that Souls can live and they can also die.

The souls pictured here in the fifth seal are not disembodied spirits but rather a symbolic representation of martyrs throughout the ages and in particular at this time.

John was not given a view of heaven as it actually appears, for there are no white, red, black, or pale horses there with the warlike riders. Neither does Jesus appear in the form of a Lamb with a bleeding knife wound. The four beasts do not represent actual winged creatures with strange heads. And just so, there are no 'souls' lying at a base of an altar in heaven crying out for vengeance, rather it is symbolic. The whole scene was a pictorial and symbolic representation designed to teach spiritual lessons.

And for the testimony which they held

God does not forget those who have suffered for His name for their names are written in the Book of Life. The Lamb in the tabernacle service was slain as a symbol of the True Lamb of God. When Christ left the courts of heaven and came down to this earth His blood was shed at the altar. And so this earth has drunk the blood of the martyrs. They shed their blood for the testimony they held.


REVELATION 6:10
AND TH
EY CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, SAYING, HOW LONG, 0 LORD, HOLY AND TRUE, DOST THOU NOT JUDGE AND AVENGE OUR BLOOD ON THEM THAT DWELL ON THE EARTH?

Just as the blood of Abel cried out to God for vengeance, so the blood of the vast host of Christian martyrs sends up its pathetic appeal for deliverance and triumph. The crying souls are symbolic of man's injustices and his inhumanity to his fellowmen.

This is very well illustrated by the following quotation. Among the papers of Leonard Schoener, beheaded in Rotenburg, Bavaria, January 14, 1528, was found the following prayer: "We are scattered like sheep having no shepherd. We have been compelled to forsake house and home. We are as night ravens, which abide in the rocks. Our chambers are in holes and crags ... The world still rolls and rests not; it revels as if mad. They invent lies against us. They cease not their fires and murders. 0 Lord, how long wilt thou be silent? Let it come up before thy throne, how precious in thine eyes is the blood of the holy ones..."

The martyrs do not seek vengeance, no more than Christ did on the cross. But the cruelty of the crimes committed against God's people calls for action by God.


REVELATION 6:11
AND WHITE ROBES WERE GIVEN UNTO EVERY ONE OF THEM; AND IT WAS SAID UNTO THEM, THAT THEY SHOULD REST YET FOR A LITTLE SEASON, UNTIL THEIR FELLOWSERVANTS ALSO AND THEIR BRETHREN, THAT SHOULD BE KILLED AS THEY WERE, SHOULD BE FULFILLED.

And white robes were given unto everyone of them

It was Daniel who cried out "How long 0 Lord, how long till the end of these things?" The whole of creation has suffered because of these terrible things. Possibly John wondered why there is such long suffering on the part of God until he saw the white robes of Christ's righteousness that clothed these saints of God.

They had been despised, they had been rejected, they had been killed of men, but on the record books of heaven every sin they have ever committed was covered by the blood of the lamb.

'Christ's Object Lessons' by EG White pages 179, 180 says, "From garrets, from hovels, from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains and deserts, from caves of the earth and caverns of the sea, Christ will gather His children to Himself ... But the day is near when God is judge Himself. Then the decisions of earth shall be reversed ... white robes will be given to everyone of them."

And it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season

God asks His people to wait a little longer. To those who have been sleeping, they are quite unconscious of the passage of time. To those who are living and are agitated over the seeming long delay, God assures them that organized persecution will soon come to an end. The Reformation is close at hand.

Until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled

Although the time was coming when the terrible bloodshed would be stopped altogether, many would have to forfeit their lives and die the death of martyrs.


REVELATION 6:12
AND I BEHOLD WHEN HE HAD OPENED THE SIXTH SEAL, AND, LO, THERE WAS A GREAT EARTHQUAKE; AND THE SUN BECAME BLACK AS SACKCLOTH OF HAIR, AND THE MOON BECAME AS BLOOD;

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake

By the middle of the eighteenth century the bitterness of religious persecution had ceased in most of the European countries. And just at that time, as foretold by the prophet, there occurred on November 1, 1755 the great earthquake of Lisbon, Portugal, in which 90,000 persons are said to have perished. Half the world felt that convulsion and it is declared to be "the most notable earthquake in history." Although it Is commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extended to the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America. It was felt in Greenland, in the West Indies, in the island of Madeira, in Norway and Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland. Altogether it is said to cover an area of 4,000,000 sq miles.

It is interesting to notice that there has been a change from symbolic language to literal. Some commentators continue to describe these events as if in symbolic language. The great earth quake becomes the Reformation and the Dark Day and Moon turning to blood, the overthrow of persecuting forces. However there is no question that these are real literal events as they are the fulfilment of prophecy both in the Old and New Testaments. Also they are definite sign posts marking the return of Christ.

And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair

The period covered by the events of the sixth seal is from 1755 A.D. to the second advent of Jesus. In His great prophecy of Matthew 24, Jesus touches on these events and deals with them as forerunners of His second coming. Matthew 24:29 says, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light."

According to the Saviour, the darkening of the sun was to take place immediately after the great persecution. The Reformation did its work and by 1750 practically all the intense religious intolerance was in the past.

The signs in the heavens were to be introduced by an exceedingly great earthquake as mentioned in the sixth seal.

R.M. Devin says, "As the most mysterious and yet unexplained phenomenon of its kind in nature's diversified range of events during the last century, stands the Dark Day of May 19, 1780 - a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens" ('Our First Century', pp. 89, 90).

The sign of the darkening of the sun is mentioned many times in Scripture. Isaiah 13:9, 10 says, "Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine."

The prophet Amos also speaks of this event in Amos 5:18, "Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light." Verse 20 says, "Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?"

Joel 2:30, 31 says, "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come."

Scientists are still trying to explain this Dark Day. They cannot say it was an eclipse, for the moon was full at the time and was not in position for an eclipse. The sun, moon, and earth have to be in a direct line in order to produce an eclipse, which was not the case at the time of the Dark Day. An eclipse usually only lasts for a short time, but this darkness lasted from ten o'clock in the morning right throughout the rest of the day until the middle of the following night.

And the moon became as blood

The moon did not appear until about midnight and it was blood red in colour. Milo Bostwick says, "The moon, which was at its full, had the appearance of blood. The alarm that it caused and the frequent talk about it impressed it deeply on my mind" (Stone's History of Beverly, Mass).


REVELATION 6:13
AND 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.

And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth

These physical signs follow in the order Jesus gives in His great prophecy in Matthew chapter 24. Matthew 24:29 says, "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."

Elijah Burritt says, "The most sublime phenomenon of shooting stars (Nov. 13, 1833) ... covered no inconsiderable portion of the earth's surface ... covering the entire vault of heaven with myriads of fire balls" (Geography of the Heavens, p.157).

It has been estimated that 200,000 stars fell per hour for five to six hours. These were not the fixed stars but the Leonids. The heavens were ablaze with falling stars, there were many who thought that it was the judgment day.

The first great and spectacular fall of stars was seen mostly in the America's, from the middle of the Atlantic to the east, to the Pacific on the west, and from the northern coast of South America to the West Indies. The second fall of stars was seen thirty-three years later over a large part of Europe, on the same day of the month, November 13.

Even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind

The New York 'Journal of Commerce' November 14, 1833 says, "Here is the exactness of the prophet. The falling stars did not come as if from several trees shaken, but from one ... They flew, they were cast, like the unripe fig, ... swiftly, straight off, descending ... as they are thrown with more or less force."

An editor said, "We pronounce the raining fire which we saw on Wednesday morning last an awful type, a sure forerunner, a merciful sign, of the great and dreadful day which the inhabitants of the earth will witness when the sixth seal shall be opened. That time is just at hand" ('Connecticut Observer' November 25, 1833).


REVELATION 6:14
AND THE HEAVEN DEPARTED AS A SCROLL WHEN IT IS ROLLED TOGETHER; AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND ISLAND WERE MOVED OUT OF THEIR PLACES.

And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together

This event must be the same as that described by Jesus when He said, "The powers of the heavens shall be shaken" (Matthew 24:29). Isaiah spoke of this in the Old Testament, Isaiah 34:4, "And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree."

And every mountain and island were moved out of their places

We have had the great earthquake, the darkening of the sun, the moon turning to blood, and the falling stars. Next the heavens departing as a scroll and every mountain and island being moved out of their places.

Isaiah also speaks of this unusual happening in Isaiah 13:13, "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger." This is well described in the book 'Great Controversy' by EG White page 637, "The mountains shake like a reed in the wind, and ragged rocks are scattered on every side. There is a roar as of a coming tempest. The sea is lashed into fury. There is heard the shriek of the hurricane, like the voice of demons upon a mission of destruction. The whole earth heaves and swells like the waves of the sea. The seaports that have become like Sodom for wickedness, are swallowed up by the angry waters."


REVELATION 6:15
AND THE KINGS OF THE EARTH, AND THE GREAT MEN, AND THE
RICH MEN, AND THE CHIEF CAPTAINS, AND THE MIGHTY MEN, AND EVERY BONDMAN, AND EVERY FREE MAN, HID THEMSELVES IN THE DENS AND IN THE ROCKS OF THE MOUNTAINS.

Kings, great men, rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, every bondman, and every free man. This is a list of the social world as it was in John's day. The kings or the rulers, the great men, those who hold high positions, who are considered intellectually superior to the rest but usually show little interest in spiritual things. These are the ones who hide themselves in the dens or caves of the mountains.

Isaiah wrote of this time in Isaiah 2:19, "And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth."


REVELATION 6:16
AND SAID TO THE MOUNTAINS AND ROCKS, FALL ON US, AND HIDE US FROM THE FACE OF HIM THAT SITTETH ON THE THRONE, AND FROM THE WRATH OF THE LAMB.

The kings of the earth, the great men, the military men, the mighty men and every bondman and every freeman run to the mountains. They know what it means, that it is the Coming of Christ for they say to the rocks and the mountains, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the Lamb."

We read about the wrath of the Lamb, what a terrible thing to receive the wrath of the Lamb. Why the wrath of the Lamb? Because they have tried to destroy God's people and now God destroys them.

There is a real warning in these final verses. To those who look to royalty, what a warning! for it is the kings that run to the rocks. To those who put their faith in the great men, how disappointing it will be for them, for it is the great men who rush to the mountains and give that terrible cry.

There will be two prayers on that day, one a prayer for destruction, the other a prayer of deliverance. Isaiah 25:9 says, "This is our God we have waited for Him and He will save us."


REVELATION 6:17
FOR THE GREAT DAY OF HIS WRATH IS COME; AND WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND?

The sixth seal concludes with this rather searching question. It is very plain that if any are to survive this tremendous event then the Bible would be able to tell us who they might be. Daniel gives us the answer in Daniel 12:1 latter part says, "... and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."

How important it is to have one's name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Unless it is there at this time, then the rocks and mountains will be our destination. God help each one of us to have every sin confessed and forgiven so our names will remain in the book.

And now to complete the seals we have to turn to the 8th chapter of Revelation, so we will have to go forward and skip the seventh chapter to return later.
 

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