Bible Commentary on the
Book of Revelation
King James Version
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
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
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
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?
AND I SAW WHEN THE LAMB OPENED ONE OF THE
SEALS, AND I
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
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
The four Living Creatures or
cherubim, apparently are commanding angels, the angelic forces
of heaven are under their direction.
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
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
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
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
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."
AND WHEN HE HAD
OPENED THE SECOND SEAL, I HEARD THE SECOND BEAST SAY, COME AND
And when he had opened the
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
AND I HEARD A VOICE IN THE MIDST OF THE
FOUR BEASTS SAY A MEASURE OF WHEAT FOR A PENNY, AND THREE
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
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
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.
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
AND I LOOKED, AND BEHOLD A
PALE HORSE: AND HIS NAME THAT
SAT ON HIM WAS DEATH, AND HELL FOLLOWED
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
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
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."
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.
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
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
never dying soul. If there were, then that would contradict
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
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
that man puts on immortality and not before.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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).
AND THE STARS OF HEAVEN FELL UNTO THE
EARTH, EVEN AS A FIG TREE CASTETH HER UNTIMELY FIGS,
WHEN SHE IS SHAKEN
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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
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."
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
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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