Revelation 6 - the 6 seals  


1. The beginning of the week (seal #1).
2. The tribulation period (seals #2-5).
3. The arrival of the Day of The LORD (seal #6).
4. The administration of God's wrath via the 7 trumpets (seal#7).
The sealed book represents the judgment of God on the kingdom of the beast and the earth-dwellers. Before that judgment will be expressed there are 6 things that must occur. These 6 things are represented by the first 6 seals. The 7th seal is the half hour of silence in heaven; a silence that portrays the magnitude of the judgment that is about to be poured on the earth.

COMMENTS on the birth pains/seals parallel theory.

At some time in the future a man will arise on the international scene and gain world authority and power when he takes control of a ten-nation confederacy. In order to do this, he will conquer 3 of the 10 nations, which apparently will cause the rest to fall in line behind his authority. It is necessary for him to take over 3 of the kings (or nations) in order to demonstrate his political and military genius to the rest of the world, and to make it easier to implement his political plans.
For details see The Political Power Base of the Beast
It is God's plan to use this man to begin the final 7 years that He has promised to the nation of Israel in order for them to fulfill their evangelistic commission. That 7-year period will begin when this man implements a covenant of peace and religious toleration between all the peoples of the Middle East.
For details see: The 70th Week of Daniel
And it is Satan's plan to use this man to implement and advance his messianic agenda. Thus at some time shortly before the midpoint of the 70th week, this charismatic world ruler will be assassinated by a fatal head wound (Rev. 13:3a).
Then Satan will heal the fatal wound by bringing this person back to life and presenting him to the world as the historically promised MESSIAH (Rev. 13:3b-8).
This man's satanic ties will be unknown until 3 1/2 years after he implements the covenant. It is at this time, the midpoint of the week, that he will be empowered by Satan in order to accomplish Satan's messianic agenda and his oppressive schemes for the world.
Although ALL the events in The Revelation from this point forward, occur after the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel, the first seal COULD represent the initiation of that week, when the covenant is established. To interpret the first seal and the second seal as both referring to the beast at the midpoint of the week, seems unnecessarily redundant. Although it is possible that the first seal represents the first beast, and the second seal represents either Satan or the second beast at the midpoint of the week. Whether the first seal represents the inception of the week or the midpoint is not a major issue. The major point is that it is at this time the world will find itself within the context of the prophesied Daniel's 70th week.

Brief preview of the seals:
I want to try to find a logical progression - although it will be theoretical since in the seals, we have no direct statement as to when the week will begin or when the reign of the beast will begin.
In all of our NT we have nothing that points to the start of the 70th week. We only find specific references to the midpoint and the start of the beast's reign (tribulation).
Logically (and that is where our human rationale often falls short), one would think that the start of the week would have some kind of INference in the book of Revelation.
As I see it, the ONLY place it could possible "fit" is at the first seal.
1. The first seal is certainly BEFORE the midpoint of the week.
2. It represents a person. "he went out conquering and to conquer."
3. The birthpains, (which are to give us no significant concern because they will continue as normal historical trends throughout the time period that is not yet THE END) involve "wars and rumors of war and nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom."
4. By implication: Since the rider on the red hourse represents a person who takes THE peace from the earth, it suggests that the "conguering and to conguer" of the first rider somehow brought THE peace. This would put an end to the CONSTANT presence of wars and rumors of war.
5. And this corresponds with the treaty that brings peace - AT LEAST to the Middle East so that Muslims and Jews can worship without persecution during that time.

When the rider on the red horse takes THE peace from the earth, this would correspond with what the beast does at the midpoint of the week.
1. Shuts down any military opposition. Rev. 13:4, "who is able to make war with him."
2. Takes control of the 10 nation confederacy. Rev. 17:12-17.
Perhaps corresponds with Dan. 7:8, 24 (subdue).
3. Begins his WAR against the saints and Israel and kills anyone who will not take the mark.

Then the progress of the red rider's reign is represented by seals 3-5 and interrupted by seal 6.

Verse 6:1
And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, Come. And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer.
This world ruler will be a very dynamic and persuasive political and military FORCE or man who effectively "conquers," that is, takes control of, the dominant nations in the Middle East, if not Europe as well.
Will there be nations at that time that need to be "conquered?"
Yes. Everyone will be fighting with each other and of course, with Israel. There needs to be some banging of heads together so that a covenant can be arranged that will establish PEACE (THE peace) in the Middle East. As such, he will appear and function as a benevolent dictator, seeking only what is best for the nations and peoples involved.

Daniel 7:24
This event could refer to the first seal or to the second seal. It could refer to the establishment of peace or the removal of THE peace.

And "he" will subdue three kings.
Daniel 8:23
And in the latter period of their rule (the 10 nations), When the transgressors have run {their course,} A king will arise insolent and skilled in intrigue.
When this man takes control, the 10-nation confederation will become the 7th kingdom of the beast's historical pedigree. According to Rev. 17:10-11, when he comes, he must remain a little while as 7th king or kingdom and then become the 8th. And as previously mentioned, he will be a benevolent dictator for the first 3 1/2 years of his reign. The first thing on the agenda for the benevolent dictator, is to resolve the economic, social, religious, military and health problems of the world. This is initiated by the 7 year covenant that is made with "the many," which term usually refers to Israel. However, the peace that is procured by this covenant apparently extends throughout the whole world (or AT LEAST, the European and Mediterranean areas), providing both economic security as well as physical security. This is very strongly suggested when we see at the 2nd seal that "THE peace" is taken from the earth. In the Greek, the definite article (the) is present and should be translated, since it draws attention to the special quality and time of peace that had been procured through the conquering of the first seal.

Dan. 9:26-27,
". . .and the prince who is to come . . . will make a firm covenant with the many for 1 week." (7 years)
This covenant will allow Israel to build a temple (or sanctuary) on Mt. Moriah and begin worship through animal sacrifices. This is based on Dan. 9:27, "put a stop to sacrifice," and based on 2 Thes. 2:4, take his seat in the TEMPLE of God, and Mat. 24:15, "standing in the Holy Place." But what it actually amounts to, is a national apostasy which attempts to realize Messianic promises through a human agency.
See commentary on Daniel 11:34.
From this point we have no scriptural information about events until the mid-point of the week when the world ruler breaks the covenant and begins his oppressive reign over the whole world.
Does anything NEED to happen between the signing of the covenant and the midpoint of the 70th week? NO.
DOES anything significant happen between the signing of the covenant and the midpoint of the week? NO.

So, seal #2 is the NEXT major event to occur between the establishment of the covenant and the midpoint of the week, when the covenant will be broken. It is at this time that some force or person will take THE PEACE from the earth
Accordingly, it is suggested that the first 3 1/2 years of the 70th week of Daniel will be a time of general peace and safety throughout the world and will then be interrupted by the deceitful world ruler, who through Satanic empowering, will become the oppressive man of lawlessness - the beast..
This covenant of peace is mentioned only one time in the Old Testament, and that is at Daniel 9:27. And yet it refers to a very major point in the end-times events. The "covenant with death" at Isaiah 28:15 and 18 refers to a covenant of trust with Egypt by Hezekiah, the king of Judah (Isaiah 30:1-5; 31:1), in 713 BCE. It has no application to the end-times.
See Commentary on Isaiah 28
Such a major event as the covenant of Daniel 9:27 should certainly be mentioned somewhere in the Book of the Revelation. And the ONLY place where it could be found, if it were mentioned, is right here within the symbolism of the first seal.

Revelation 6:3-4
The rider on the red horse represents a person or force that does something which will remove THE PEACE of the first seal from the earth. As suggested earlier, the rider on the red horse, COULD represent either the first beast, Satan or the second beast, but regardless, it is the same time-point and event that is portrayed.
The benevolent dictator will be indwelt by Satan and will become the oppressive man of lawlessness who takes THE peace from the earth.

And when He broke the second seal,
I heard the second living creature saying, 'Come.'
And another, a red horse, went out;
and to him who sat on it, it was granted
to take THE PEACE from the earth,
and that they (men) should slay one another;
and a great sword was given to him.
When he breaks the covenant, several things will take place.

1. He will appoint a Jew as dictator over Palestine and will make
him a prophet to carry out his religious program.
A. The beast out of the LAND: Rev. 13.11-17
B. Dan the serpent: Gen. 49.16-17
C. The worthless shepherd: Zech. 11.15-17
D. The false prophet: Rev. 19.20; 20.10; 16.13
From Rev. 13.11f we see that he
looks like a lamb and speaks like a dragon.

2. He will proclaim himself to be God: 2 Thes. 2.4

3. Through the false prophet he will institute beast worship.
2 Thes. 2.4; Rev. 13.14-15; Dan. 9.27; 8.23-26; Rev. 11.1-2
See Beast worship and The Mark of the Beast

4. This then will begin the attack on Israel (Rev. 12:10) and the Christian church (Rev. 13:7), which officially initiates the great tribulation. (Mt. 24:15, 21)
It is thus through the rise of the beast at the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel, that men will begin to slay one another. These killings will be the result of the policies implemented by Beast Worship as described at Rev. 13:15.
"And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the best to be killed."
It is what Jesus taught at Matthew 24:9, "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you."
This was also prophesied at Daniel 7:25, "And he will wear down the saints of the Highest One."
Through operation Beast Worship, there will be very strict economic controls placed upon those who come under the authority of the beast; "and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him." Rev. 13:7.

These economic controls are represented by the 3rd seal at Rev. 6:5-6.
When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.  And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine."
The "scales" represents CONTROL over buying and selling.
Concerning the wheat, barley and the oil and the wine, Walvoord provides this helpful information from page 129 of his commentary on The Revelation.

"In order to determine the meaning of this vision it must be understood that the silver coin designated as a penny is actually the Roman denarius, worth about 15 cents. In the wage scale of that time it was common for a person to receive one denarius for an entire day's work. For such a coin, one measure of wheat or three measures of barley could be purchased in the vision here.
The explanation seems to be this: A measure of wheat is approximately what a laboring man would eat in one meal. If he used his penny to buy barley, a cheaper grain, he would have enough from an entire day's wages to buy three good meals of barley. If he bought wheat, a more precious grain, he would be able to buy enough for only one meal. There would be no money left to buy other things, such as oil or wine, which were considered essential in biblical times. To put it in ordinary language, the situation would be such that one would have to spend a day's wages for a loaf of bread with no money left to buy anything else."

Walvoord then identifies this symbolism with FAMINE. However, he does not address the CAUSE of the famine, and that would be the strict economic controls implemented by Beast Worship.
The result of those controls will be massive food shortages for those who are not under the protective canopy of beast worship.
For those under that protection, the economic system of "buying and selling" will function normally (Rev. 13:17). There will be enough of everything, and the oil and the wine will be readily available. They will be able to buy and sell at will as long as they follow the stipulated guidelines.
During this time, the beast will proffer a false peace to those who dwell on the earth through acceptance of beast worship. For those who accept beast worship and take the mark of the beast, the time will indeed be an occasion of peace and safety. However, it will be short lived for the arrival of Jesus at the Day of the LORD will catch them all by surprise like a thief in the night. And when God's wrath and the wrath of the Lamb are poured out on the world and the kingdom of the beast, there will be nothing but pain and misery for those who have taken his mark.

1Thessalonians 5:1-3
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you, yourselves, know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying (experiencing), "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
The call of "peace and safety" is not a cry in SEARCH of peace and safety, but a proclamation and rejoicing in the peace and safety that they are experiencing through the protection that comes through identification with the beast.

At Revelation 6:8, we learn that during the great tribulation, 1/4 of the earth (that is of the land area of the earth, and not the population) will be placed under the authority of "physical" death and the grave (hades), "to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth."
Notice that this "death" is not assigned specifically to an individual, but to a PRINCIPLE or a POWER - that power being the concept of death.
The death that results from these 4 effects is not accomplished BY the beast, for those under the beast's umbrella of "peace and security" will not be affected by those 4 effects. However, in the areas throughout 1/4 of the earth that are not under that umbrella, will suffer great hardship and death because of severe shortage of necessities.

1. SWORD: While many of those individuals who do not willingly comply with beast worship will be killed with the sword (Rev. 13:15), that was covered at verse 4. This is referring to individuals (or groups) using violence to obtain necessary items in famine conditions.

2. FAMINE: Those land areas that are not under the beast's authority will suffer great economic hardship from famine because they will have very limited resources, and many will die from that deprivation.

3. PLAGUE: As a result of famine there will be great outbreaks of plagues.
A small point of confusion arises here since the Greek word used here for plague, is thanatos, which is normally translated as death. However, thanatos "through the context, come to mean a particular manner of death; e.g fatal illness, pestilence (Job 27:15; Jer. 15:2 [LXX])" Arndt and Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon. Also consider Ezekiel 14:13-19 where these four causes of death are teamed together to bring judgment upon the land.
V. 13 is famine. - to cut off man = death
V. 15 is wild beasts - to bereave of children = death
V. 17 is sword - to cut off man = death
V. 19 is plague - to cut off man = death. The word here in the LXX is thanatos.
TO AMPLIFY: A common, VALID, and sometimes the ONLY translation of thanatos is pestilence. This cannot be disputed based on the facts.
The translators of the LXX understood this and used it
to translate Hebrew words for PESTILENCE. And the use of thanatos does exactly that based on the clarity of the context. It is not a matter of US choosing what we might think is best. It is a matter of EXACTLY what the intent is for using the word in any particular context. For us to translate it ALWAYS as "death" simply because that ALSO is a valid meaning is sloppy scholarship and misleading.

The Hebrew word, tacheluiym which means pestilence and only pestilence is translated in the LXX by the word thanatos 5 times.
Deut. 28:21, "Yahweh will make THE pestilence cling to you." thanatos.
Jeremiah 16:4, "they will die of deadly diseases."
deadly (neseros) diseases (thanatos)
Jeremiah 21:6, "they will die of a great pestilence."
Jeremiah 21:7, "even those WHO SURVIVE from the pestilence." thanatos.
You don't SURVIVE from the death. You can survive from the pestilence.
Jeremiah 24:10, "And I will send the sword, and the pestilence (thanatos) upon them until they are destroyed from the land."

The Hebrew word, debher which means ONLY plague or pestilence is translated in the LXX by thanatos
about 21 times.
Exodus 5:3, "Lest He fall upon us with pestilence (thanatos) or with sword."
Ex. 9:3, "the hand of Yahweh will come with a very severe pestilence (thanatos) on your livestock."
Ex. 9:15; Lev. 26:25; Num. 14:12; 2 Sam. 24:13; 1 Kings 8:37; 1 Chron. 21:12, 14; 2 Chron. 6:28; 7:13; 20:4; Hab 3:5; Jer. 14:12; 21:6,7,8; 24:10; Ezek. 12:16; 28:23.

Accordingly, since Revelation 6:8 follows a pattern that is found elsewhere (to kill with sword, famine, pestilence and wild beasts), the translation of thanatos as pestilence is not only VALID but absolutely the BEST way to render it.

4. WILD ANIMALS: And as a result of shortages in food and other resources, the wild animals will begin to encroach into the civilized areas bringing violent death.
This strongly suggests that the FUNCTIONAL jurisdiction of the beast will extend to about three fourths of the world, and only fail to reach one fourth. It does not teach that 1/4 of the earth's population will die.
At Revelation 13:3-7, it states that the beast was given authority over the entire earth. However, it will take time for him to implement total control universally. In the meantime, the rest of the world will suffer from the controls that the beast has over the various resources necessary for sustaining human life, and that cannot be procured locally.
If the great tribulation, which the beast will bring on the world, is not interrupted, then the death toll would become worse so that there would be NO ONE left who did not have the mark of the beast. Thus, in order to have people alive who will later become believers (ELECT), and then enter alive into Messiah's earthly kingdom, that tribulation will be cut short by the second coming of Jesus and the time period known as the day of the Lord (Matthew 24:21-22). Of course, all the believers at that time will be removed from the earth through the rapture (Mat. 24:31; 1 Thes. 4:13-17; 2 Thes. 1:6-7). But there will still be plenty of unbelievers left to trust in Christ later, starting with the 144,000 Jews of Revelation 7:1-8). As a result, there will be many Jewish and Gentile believers who will go alive into the Messiah's earthly kingdom after Christ defeats His enemies at Armageddon.

Verses 9-11
Verse 9
"And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the sols of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained."
The seals are simply teaching aids within the scope of John's vision.
They refer to things that must take place before the Lord will return and the Day of the Lord will begin.
The thing in the 5th seal that needs to occur before the Lord returns is the martyrdom of "their fellow servants and brethren."
Within the context of John's vision, the 5th seal martyrs are ALREADY there in heaven.
It is not saying that they are being killed.
The issue with the 5th seal is NOT chronological, but rather simply a recognition that believers
who have been killed for their faith are in heaven longing for justice.
This mention of martyrs does NOT indicate the start of the tribulation, but simply the presence of martyred
believers in heaven awaiting the justice of God.
The tribulation started back at the 2nd seal with the removal of THE PEACE from the earth and the implementation of the beast's oppressive policies.
It is most reasonable that this group in heaven includes ALL believers from all generations who have been killed for their faith. It does not identify them with THE BEAST'S oppression.
There is no "intensity" factor mentioned there.
It simply states that there are souls who had been slain for their faith.
It does not see any group as distinct from any other.
Nothing different than what has been going on all throughout history.
Nothing different from John 16:2.
Nothing different from what Saul did at Acts 26:9-11.
Nothing different from Phil. 1:29.
Or 2Tim. 3:12 or Acts 14:22 or 2 Corinthians 4:7-11.
Or the Christian persecutions under Nero or the Roman church.
Or in Russia and China and many other countries today.
And since I doubt that there is a division in heaven between those who were martyred and those who died naturally, probably ALL believers are in the group longing for the justice of God to be administered in His perfect timing.
The focus is simply on the martyrs since they were the direct recipients of fatal persecution.
Verse 10
And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
It is told them that they must wait until others are killed likewise for their faith - and THEN justice will be meted out. This then, is what anticipates the martyrs of the tribulation.
When that is completed during the tribulation, then the end will come when Jesus returns and raptures all believers and begins to render justice to the unbelievers left on the earth.

Since God's formal time of judgment; the meting out of His perfect justice on the killers of Christians - it is clear that the rapture has not as yet occurred.
According to 2thes. 1:6-10, that formal expression of divine justice will not occur until "the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire."

Verse 11
And there was given to each of them a white robe;
and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
Even though these are given white robes, they are NOT resurrected people.
The SOUL and SPIRIT are a dual entity and constitute a SPIRITUAL type being, just like angels.
Angels are SPIRITS (Heb. 1:14), and are clothed in garments (Rev. 15:6).
There is also the theory of the INTERIM BODY, which would certainly allow for
the wearing of the white robes.
See Topic: The Saints in Heaven
Whether the mention of white robes can be an indication of resurrection or not depends entirely on the rest of the context. At the time of the 5th seal, there has been no resurrection.

It is probably that these robes are tokens of God's promise to resurrect them according to His own perfect timing.

It will not occur until the Lord comes back at the 6th seal.
Thus, at Revelation 7:9, the resurrected saints from the rapture are seen clothed in white garments,
but are also STANDING and HOLDING branches in their hands.
This is in clear contrast to the SOULS under the altar.
The THREE "white robes" verses:
The vision of the seals is symbolic.
John sees martyrs within the context of the vision in relation to the tribulation.
That is, WHILE the trib is going on.
Thus, when they are told to wait for others to be killed as they were, it indicates there is still
some time remaining for the beast to continue his oppression before the 6th seal return of
Jesus cuts short the tribulation.

We have a different focus for white robes in the three places it occurs.
At Rev. 5:11, "they were GIVEN white robes."
This then does not specifically represent their righteous standing before God.
If it did, they would ALREADY have the robes. They would already have "washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb," as at 7:14.
So it seems that this is something different from a "salvation" factor.
And certainly does NOT represent resurrection - since they are not resurrected at this time, but are seen as SOULS (not bodies).
It seems best to view this as portraying an assurance to them that they will be avenged and raised from the dead.
A symbolic gesture from God that He will keep His word for both vengeance and resurrection.

At Rev. 7:9, the resurrected saints are seen ALREADY clothed.
The 5th seal martyrs are included with the raptured church.
So when John sees ALL who are raptured at Rev. 7:9ff, he see them ALREADY clothed with white robes. Here, the white robes portray
(1) the righteousness of God that is theirs through justification.
(2) the purity of having a resurrection body.

Here, the white robes certainly could indicate resurrection. But more certainly, it is standing and holding palm branches that indicates resurrection.
The robes that were given to the 5th seal martyrs COULD be the same robes or John is simply shown a different use of the "robes" symbol in the two places.

At 7:14, the focus is entirely different.
White robes are symbolic of being saved.
They have robes that need washing. Robes represents their  life - their soul.
They were souls that needed to be saved.
They washed their robes and made them white.
They believed in Jesus and were saved.
Thus, they were raised up OUT FROM the great tribulation.
The focus is on out from the trib because that is the context for the seals. But it certainly includes ALL who have ever trusted in Christ just as the NT passages on the rapture indicate.

These 5th-seal saints are all the saints from all of previous history. And they have all prayed the same prayer,
"When O Lord?" And the answer to them all has always been the same. Rest. It is not yet time.
There are still some more to die, and then will come justice.
These slain saints are told to rest for awhile UNTIL others are killed as they were.
The justice that is longed for will begin to be meted out shortly after the return of the Lord,
which is portrayed at the sixth seal.  Accordingly, it is likely that "the fellow servants and brethren"
would be the ones who are killed PRIOR to the rapture, and specifically during the tribulation.
And of course, all those "the fellow servants and brethren" who will die DURING the tribulation
will join these who have died before them to await the perfect timing of God.
However, the focus on these martyrs could be from the perspective of the tribulation which is in fact on-going
during the previous seals. Accordingly, there will still be additional believers who will be killed by the
beast and will join these who are already in heaven awaiting resurrection.
When the 7th seal is opened at Revelation 8:1, the seven angels prepare to announce the administration
of God's justice.
In connection with that preparation, "the prayers of the saints" are brought before God
with the symbol of incense burned on the golden altar.
I suggest that these prayers are

(1) the prayers of the saints ON THE EARTH that we saw at Revelation 5:8.
Believers all throughout history have been praying for God's justice.
(2) the cry of the the 5th seal martyrs who are in heaven prior to the second coming and the rapture,
who are likewise crying out for God's justice.
Perhaps the incense that is ADDED to the prayers is the cry of the martyrs.
Both "fuel" the justice of God so that the fire of divine judgment can be cast upon the earth through the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls.
God's justice/vengeance will begin to be administered after the rapture of the church
and with the opening of the 7th seal which will initiate the trumpet and bowl judgments.
It is this administration of justice that ANSWERS the cry of the slain saints seen at the 5th seal,
and the prayers of the saints seen at Rev. 5:8.
Revelation 6:12-14
Verse 12

And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake;
and the sun became black as sackcloth {made} of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;
and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.
And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
This is the very same event that was prophesied by Jesus at Matthew 24:29.

"But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky,  and the powers of the heavens will be shaken"
This is not describing any eclipse type event, but a supernatural act of God that literally and
physically darkens the sun, moon and stars. The image of the stars falling from the sky describes what we know as meteorites. We know that the actual stars do not fall to the earth.
But both ideas of (1) stars losing their light and (2) "stars" (meteorites) falling to the earth is covered
by the language used in John's description of his vision. The phrase, "the powers of the heavens will be shaken" is a summary of the heavenly disturbances and the effects these things will have on the earth. This is indicted by Joel's prophecy in the Old Testament, when he records, "and on the earth."
Joel also indicated that these SIGNS will occur BEFORE the arrival of the Day of the Lord.

Joel 2:30-31. "And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes."

The "blood moon" indicates a very dark red effect caused by the darkening of the sun. The moon of course does not have its OWN light, so this indicates just a slight reflection of light that will be barely discernable.
It is right after the appearance of these signs that Jesus will return IN THE CLOUDS. Matthew 24:30.
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory."

This establishes the fact that the DAY OF THE LORD and the second coming of the Messiah are basically the same event (confirmed also by 2Thes. 2:1-2).
And both will be preceded by these awesome things; things of such a nature that they have not been seen before in the same manner, and will therefore cause great panic, fear and sorrow in those who are not prepared for the coming of Jesus.
Furthermore, the context strongly suggests that these SIGNS are DIRECTLY connected with the second coming so that the TWO are actually the SAME event. That is, when the SIGNS occur, there is no DELAY for the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky. This is supported by the warning that Jesus gives in the following verses - Matthew 24:32-44.
The point of His words is, that we can know the season, but not the day or the hour. And WHEN that day and hour occurs, it will be TOO LATE to get right with God. Thus, it is at the time the SIGNS occur that is THAT HOUR of Christ's arrival. That is why the "unbelieving" tribes of the earth will mourn and panic. They will see the SIGNS, they will see the arrival of Jesus, and they will KNOW that it is now time for God's wrath to come, and will therefore TRY to hide from His presence.

These signs on the earth were also mentioned by Jesus but were only recorded by Luke.
Luke 21:25-26. "And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the seas and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things
which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

However, they are indicated by Matthew's account that indicates the stars (meteors) will fall to the EARTH.
Here at Revelation 6:12, six things are mentioned.
1. a great earthquake: Joel's blood, fire and smoke could result from earthquake.
2. Sun grows dark: Matthew, Luke and Joel
3. Moon loses light: Matthew, Luke and Joel
4. stars lose light: Matthew and Luke
5. sky rolled up like a scroll: Luke
6. Islands and mountains moved: Luke

All these prophecies point to the event that will occur at the SIXTH seal of Revelation 6:12-14. "And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the sky was moved away like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved out of their places."

The sixth seal mentions the great earthquake which is also described at Isaiah 13:13.
Most of the other passages mention only that there will be great things happening on the earth, which are clearly the result of the massive earthquake, and from the meteorites falling to the earth.
The fire and the columns of smoke mentioned by Joel will be caused by the meteorites hitting the earth and by the massive earthquakes and volcanic activity that will be felt around the world. The roaring of the sea will also be caused by the earthquakes producing tsunamis all around the world.
The statement, "and the sky was moved away like a scroll when it is rolled up," describes what Jesus said about the powers of the heavens being shaken.
The verb for "moved away" (separated - in the NASB) is apochoridzō, as an aorist passive indicative. It means to SEPARATE from or to part, in the sense of move away from as at Acts 15:39. "they separated (moved away) from one another."
At Mat. 19:6, "what God has joined together, let no man separate," indicates a separation of one thing from another or a DEPARTURE.
At Acts 15:39, Paul and Barnabas SEPARATED from one another - thus, also indicating a departure.

At Rev. 6:14, the passive voice means that the subject (sky) RECEIVES the action of the verb. Thus, the sky is separated (from something) like a scroll that is rolled up. Ie, the scroll is "separated" from contact and eyesight (it is hidden) by being rolled up. It thus, RECEIVED a departure. There is no lexical basis for translating this as "split apart," (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich - Lexicon; Strong's; Young's) and it does confuse the meaning, what does "split apart like a scroll" mean? Accordingly, the problem is solved by translating it as "the sky will be separated (or caused to depart) like a scroll when it is rolled up."
NIV = receded
NLT = rolled up
KJV = departed
NKJV = receded
RSV = vanished
KJ21 = departed
WE (World English) = taken away
YLT = departed
DARBY = was removed
Here then, it indicates that the sky was moved away or REMOVED just like a scroll when it is rolled up. That is, it disappears so that it is no longer visible to the human eye. This communicates the darkening of the sun and the moon and stars, as well as the meteorites falling to the earth.
The idea is that there will be total darkness - but just for a very short time.
This correlation with the sixth seal also indicates that the first 5 seals correlate with the events described in Matthew 24:9-28, and therefore occur during the tribulation.
There is an additional SIGN of the second coming that is mentioned only by Jesus. Matthew 24:30, "and then the sign of the Son will appear in the sky."
What this sign actually IS has been debated for years. But it is something that will be seen all around the world as it permeates the total darkness - so that every eye will see it and the immediate appearance of Jesus coming in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory.

There is really no TIME GAP between the SIGNS and "the sign."
They follow one upon the other, or rather, AS the SIGNS are occurring, amidst the total darkness, THE SIGN will appear. Likewise, there will be no time gap between "the sign" and the arrival of Jesus.
Thus it is at this point - DURING and after the signs and specifically AFTER the sign of the Son of Man - that the unbelievers of the earth will begin to panic and mourn as Jesus indicated by the next sentence recorded at Matthew 24:30.
"And then all the tribes of the earth will mourn."
Luke also describes this panic at Luke 21:26,
"men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

But as soon as these unbelievers begin to panic and mourn,
Jesus will actually arrive in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, manifesting Himself to "every eye" all around the world.
The result of this will be even greater mourning and a physical attempt to hide from His presence - an attempt, which of course, is quite useless.
Revelation 1:7 indicates that it is AFTER Christ's arrival that "all the tribes of the earth will mourn."
This is the same order of events that we find here at the 6th seal.
The difference here is that the actual ARRIVAL of Jesus is not mentioned.
It is UNDERSTOOD by the reaction of the unbelievers. They KNOW that the wrath of God is now to come upon them.

I must remind my readers that the visions shown to John contain SYMBOLS that portray future events.
The symbols WILL NOT occur when the future reality occurs. The events that the symbols portray
will certainly occur, but the IMAGES used in the symbols to portray those events will not occur.
Jesus is portrayed as a lamb, but he is not a lamb. He will not come as a lamb.
He does not actually exist in heaven now AS a lamb. There is not an actual BEAST that will come out of the ocean, but is symbolic of a man who will wield great power and influence.
In this vision of the 6th seal, John is shown symbols. Many of these symbols describe things that will actually occur AS portrayed (the cosmic signs for example). But when Jesus actually returns, the people of the earth will NOT see the Father on His throne. But in the context of the vision, they are aware that it is GOD who is about to judge the world.

Thus, when they say, "Hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne," this is ONLY within the context of the vision. When it actually occurs, they will not see "him who sits on the throne." However, as established by the other passages involved, they will indeed SEE the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And they will indeed, attempt to hide from Him in their vain attempt to escape His wrath.

Revelation 6:15-16
"And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him
who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?"

It is clear that these people NOW KNOW that it is time for judgment to come - judgment that is the wrath of God.
But it is too late for them to trust in Christ and to be taken out of the earth before the judgment comes.
That is the point that Jesus makes in the following verses of Matthew's account.
Verse 24:42, "therefore be on the alert."
Verse 24:44, "for this reason you be ready too."

So, the ARRIVAL of Jesus should be placed right after Revelation 6:14, for the unbelievers in verses
15-17 are AWARE of His presence - "Hide us from the PRESENCE (the face)" of God.
This is the same arrival mentioned by Jesus at Matthew 24:30. "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn,
and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory."
And as Revelation 1:7 indicates, "every eye will see Him . . . and all the tribes of the earth will mourn."
Revelation 6:15
The group of people mentioned here, "the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man," indicates the UNIVERSAL appearance of Jesus so that EVERY EYE WILL SEE HIM.

This is not referring to His arrival in the Middle East for the battle of Armageddon, for that is a localized appearance.
This is a universal appearance and arrival. Only God can so adjust the laws of physics in order to make the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky, a UNIVERSALLY observed event.
The term, "the great day of their wrath" corresponds with THE DAY OF THE LORD at Joel 2:31 and thus with Matthew 24:29-30 as well.

The THREE signs are seen: cosmic, earthly and THE sign of the Son of man. And according to the order presented by Jesus, once they see these three signs they will panic and mourn.
And then as they are running around in panic and fear, they will see the Son of Man actually COMING in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. They will see His PRESENCE and upon that revelation of His glory and power, they will try to hide.

They have witnessed the cosmic and earthly signs.
They have seen THE SIGN of the Son of man (Mat. 24:30).
They are panicking in fear and sorrow.
Every eye will see the arrival of Jesus (Rev. 1:7).
They will see the mighty angels in flaming fire (2Thes. 1:7).
They will see the arrival of the glory of the great God (Titus 2:13).
And they will witness the removal of Christians.
And now they are trying to ESCAPE. The image of saying "to the rocks of the mountains" is symbolic for a dramatic effect within John's vision.

And since they SEE the presence of Jesus they now know that it is time for God's wrath to come upon them.

Since there is no allowance for the rapture AFTER the events mentioned in Revelation 6:15-17, it MUST occur between verses 14 and 15.
The actual placement of the coming of Jesus should be right after Rev. 6:14. That is, WHILE they are panicking from the THREE signs, they will see Jesus Coming and likewise witness the removal of the Christians. And it is at that time that they try to hide from HIS PRESENCE, fearing the pouring out of His wrath.

The second coming event - Christ's arrival in the clouds, the rapture of the church, and the start of the Day of the Lord - is ONE EVENT (2Thes 2:1-2) that is preceded by the signs in the heavens and on the earth as recorded at Joel 2:30-31,
And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome Day of the LORD comes.

At Mat. 24:29, Jesus refers to the Joel passage when He says, "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

Luke 21:25 records that Jesus also mentioned "roaring of the seas and the waves" which would be the natural effects from the heavenly disturbances, and correspond with Joel's words, "and on the earth."

Isaiah 2:12-22
For the LORD of hosts will have A DAY against everyone who is proud and lofty, And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased.
This is the general exposure of the arrogance of mankind.
The spiritual and moral rebellion that reaches a peak during the 70th week of Daniel.
And {it will be} against all the cedars of Lebanon that are lofty and lifted up, Against all the oaks of Bashan,
Trees are symbolic of people. Here we see the "personal" arrogance and rebellion of man exposed and neutralized by the arrival of Jesus to judge the world.
Against all the lofty mountains, Against all the hills that are lifted up."

Mountains are symbolic of nations. Here we see the arrogance and rebellion of the world's nations exposed and neutralized.
"Against every high tower, Against every fortified wall."

This picture speaks of military arrogance. The pseudo strength and reliability of physical might as represented by the world's military powers is exposed and neutralized at the Day of the Lord.

"Against all the ships of Tarshish,
And against all the beautiful craft."

This picture symbolizes the economic prosperity of the nations. The pseudo security in material wealth is exposed and neutralized when Jesus returns to judge the world.

"And the pride of man will be humbled, And the loftiness of men will be abased, And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. But the idols will completely vanish. And {men} will go into caves of the rocks, And into holes of the ground Before the terror of the LORD, And before the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble. In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats Their idols of silver and their idols of gold, Which they made for themselves to worship, In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, Before the terror of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble."

Even the "religious" images of idol worship will be rejected initially when Jesus first arrives to judge the world.
But for those who will not trust in Christ at this time, their initial reaction will pass away and men will become much more aggressive in their rebellion against God. Even in the midst of the Day of the Lord judgments, men will still choose to curse God rather than humble themselves and worship Him (Revelation 9:20-21).

"Stop regarding THE man, whose breath {of life} is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?"

Notice that I have added the definite article. It is present in the Hebrew and has special significance here. It focuses our attention on the one who will have prominence during this time just before the Day of the Lord return of Jesus. The beast, the man of lawlessness, is the one everyone will be looking to for peace and safety. Thus, the exhortation given in what is very clearly an "end times" context, is to stop looking to this "world ruler" for he is only a man and why should he be esteemed as honorable?


The arrival of the Day of the Lord is also described by Isaiah at chapter 13:6-13.
Verses 1-8 describe the invasion of the king of the North, which will occur DURING the Day of the Lord judgments.
Verse 6 describes the NATURE of the Day of the Lord events; "destruction from the Almighty."

The cry to "wail" indicates the hopelessness and helplessness ("Who is able to stand," Rev. 6:17) of those who have refused to trust in Christ as their Savior.
This is the first place in Isaiah that the term "Day of the Lord" is used. Chapter two does not use that term but "For the Lord of Hosts will have a day," very clearly refers to the same period of time.

Verses 7-8 describe the fear and panic that will be expressed by the unbelievers who witness the SIGNS of the impending judgments from God.
Verse 9 again states the destructive nature that will characterize the Day of the Lord.
Verse 10 describes the SIGNS that immediately precede the arrival of the Day.
"For the stars and their constellations will not flash forth their light;
The sun will be dark in its going (NOT, "when it rises"), and the moon will not shed its light."
(This corresponds with Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25, and Rev. 6:12-13.)
Verses 11-12 describe the judgment on the world through the Day of the Lord judgments.
Verse 13 repeats the SIGNS that portend the arrival of the Day of the Lord.
"Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble,
And the earth will be shaken from its place (earthquake as at Rev. 6.)
At the fury of the Lord of hosts
In the day of His burning anger."
(This corresponds with Matthew 24:29 and Luke 21:26; "the powers of the heavens will be shaken." And with Rev. 6:14, "the sky was moved away like a scroll.")

So when the SIGNS of the Day of the Lord occur, it will be evident to the earth dwellers that the coming of Jesus is at hand. And they will know that when He comes, it will be with the WRATH of God.
The "cry" of these people is provided to John in vision format. Their plea to the rocks to fall on them is hyperbole for emphasis within the vision. This is not REALLY what will be said or attempted. John is watching a scene from this prophetic "movie" and is simply shown a dramatic picture of fear and panic expressed by the unbelievers upon seeing the arrival of Jesus and in anticipation of the pouring out of God's wrath.
Within the "movie-vision" the people make a proclamation. It is an accurate proclamation because it is the intent of the vision to portray a precise picture of what is about to come upon the world.
The phrase, "For the great day of their wrath," refers to the Day of the Lord which has been discussed in the preceding paragraphs.
The verb, "has come," is an aorist active indicative of erchomai, and indicates that the day of wrath has NOW arrived. It does not refer to what has been happening in the first 4 seals, but is spoken IN VIEW of the signs that have just occurred. It could be translated as "came," but that would still indicate something that occurs AFTER the signs.
1. The first 4 seals are not God's wrath. There is not one hint that they are expressions of God's wrath.

2. The 5th seal is certainly NOT God's wrath since it shows the saints who have been killed by the wrath of MAN.

3. The NATURAL understanding of the context is that the earth dwellers are fearful of what the SIGNS and the ARRIVAL of Jesus indicate is about to occur rather than what has occurred prior to the signs. This is also consistent with Luke 21:25-26, "men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world."

4. Revelation 7:1-3 logically indicates that the harming of the earth and the sea is the anticipated wrath of God which will be delayed until the conversion of the 144,000 bond servants.

5. Revelation 8:1-5 likewise logically indicates that the judgments of the trumpets constitute that anticipated wrath of God.
According to Matthew 24:29-30 and Luke 21:25-27, Jesus will not arrive in the clouds of the sky until AFTER the signs occur; after the SIGN of the Son of man occurs, and AFTER the unbelieving earth dwellers begin to fear and mourn. However, His arrival will be immediate once those signs occur.

John's vision does not show the arrival of Jesus. It shows the RESULTS of that arrival. The result on the earth will be (1) the mourning and panic of the unbelievers, and
(2) the conviction and conversion of the 144,000 Jewish bond servants as recorded at Revelation 7:1-8.

The result in heaven as recorded at Revelation 7:9-17, will be the presence of a multitude of saints who were taken out of the great tribulation. This of course shows us the end result of the rapture; the gathering of the saints into the sky and from there into heaven. The rapture will occur after Revelation 6:14 in conjunction with the SIGNS in the sun, moon and stars. But John is not shown the EVENT of the rapture, but the after-effect of the rapture - the saints ALREADY gathered in heaven.
With the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, the Day of the Lord will officially begin. But the divine wrath and judgment of the Day of the Lord will be delayed until (1) the saints are removed from the earth, which is instantaneous, and (2) the conversion of the 144,000 bond servants, which is not instantaneous, but could be completed very quickly.


Joel 1:15
Alas for the day!
For the day of the LORD is near,
And it will come as destruction
from the Almighty.

Joel 2:2
A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness.

Joel 2:11
The day of the LORD is indeed great
and very awesome, And who can endure it?

Amos 5:18
Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, For what purpose {will} the day of the LORD {be} to you?
It {will be} darkness and not light;

Amos 5:20
{Will} not the day of the LORD
{be} darkness instead of light,
Even gloom with no brightness in it?

Ezek. 30:3
"For the day is near,
Even the day of the LORD is near;
It will be a day of clouds,
A time {of doom} for the nations.

Zeph. 1:18
Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD'S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Zeph. 1:8
Then it will come about
on the day of the LORD'S sacrifice,

Zeph. 1:18, On the day of the LORD'S wrath;

Zeph. 2:2, the day of the LORD'S anger

The details of this Day of the LORD wrath is provided by the 7 trumpets and bowls recorded in the book of Revelation.
Thus we see that while the world is seeking peace and safety through beast worship, all of a sudden, a great darkness will envelop the heavens, meteorites will begin plummeting to the ground; earthquakes and tidal waves will begin shaking the very foundations of the earth; and mankind will be dismayed and shake with fear about the physical calamities that are coming.

For those who have not prepared for the return of Jesus by accepting Him as personal savior, it will be TOO LATE to get "right with God," and be removed before the judgments begin. The arrival of the Day of the Lord will thus be a time of great panic and fear. And yet, even then, although it is too late to be taken up at the rapture, it is not too late to be saved, FOR "whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved," (Joel 2:31).

And there will be many converts after the rapture - both from among the Jews and the Gentiles.
For those who had previously trusted in Jesus (before the occurrence of the signs), the arrival of the Day of the Lord will be a moment of great joy and anticipation. Luke 21:28, "But when these things (the SIGNS) begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Immediately after the SIGN of the Son of Man appears, Jesus will physically and visibly arrive in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory and every eye will see Him. At that moment all the believers from all ages will be resurrected and join together for a meeting with the Lord in the sky (1Thes. 4:17; Matthew 24:31).
Once we recognize that the 6th seal and Matthew 24:29 both refer to the DAY OF THE LORD that is mentioned at Joel 2 and the other places in the Old Testament, it is a simple and logical step to recognize that when the apostles use this term, they are referring to the very same event.

1Thessalonians 5:2, "the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night."
Paul uses the language introduced by Jesus to teach the unknown factor concerning the day and the hour. This refers to the occurrence of the cosmic signs and the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky.
2Thessalonians 2:1-2, "The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him . . . that the Day of the Lord has come."
The context indicates that these three terms are synonymous, or rather, refer to the very same event that occurs when Jesus arrives "in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory."
2Peter 3:10, "for the Day of the Lord will come like a thief."

Like Paul did, Peter uses the language introduced by Jesus to refer to the second coming and the promise to the church.
1Corinthians 1:8, "who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
There is no basis for making this term refer to anything other than the Day of the Lord, that has been taught throughout the Old Testament and referenced by Jesus at Matthew 24:29.

Philippians 1:6, "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Once again, this refers to the one and only DAY OF THE LORD.
Philippians 1:10; 2:16; 2Cor. 1:14; 1Cor. 5:5. These all refer to the same event - the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, at which time He will gather the saints for a meeting with Him in the sky.
As indicated earlier, the 6th seal does not actually describe the arrival of Jesus.
It simply records the fact that His arrival has occurred.

As the signs in verse 12-14 occur, the people of the earth will panic and mourn as was seen at Matthew 24 and Luke 21.
Then they will SEE His arrival and attempt to hide from Him.
In this case, the vision portrays it as, "hide us from the FACE of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb," because He has JUST arrived and they understand that judgment is now to occur.
THE AORIST TENSE of erchomai.

The translation of the aorist tense of erchomai is "came" or "has come."
But came is not reasonable, because according to Rev. 7:1-3, the FACT IS, it DID NOT come.
However, the TIME for the wrath of God has come, and that is what they people are recognizing.
In fact, they don't even say that wrath has come, but THE DAY of wrath has come.
So someone says that is "not the true translation . . . of this passage."
Well when we compare THIRTY different translations (including some German), they all translate it as either "has come" or "is come." And this gives no connection to the first 4 seals, but only to the signs of the 6th seal.

1. There is no hint of God's wrath or ANY wrath for that matter in the first 5 seals.
And of course absolutely no wrath in seal #5.
In fact, there is no wrath at the 6th seal either. It is just the SIGNS that God's wrath is about to be poured out.
This is the natural common sense understanding of the context. There is no presumption or bias in this understanding.

2. The response of the people in verses 15-17 is to the signs that have just occurred.
It is not a response to seal #1 or 2 or 3 or 4. These things will have been going on for a relatively lengthy period of time.
There is nothing that occurs in those first 4 seals that would INDICATE to the people on the earth that some kind of DIVINE activity has occurred or is about to occur.
But after the signs in the sun, moon and stars, and the earthquake, etc. AND the arrival of the Lord in the sky, THIS will obviously tell the people that God is involved.
Thus, their response, "hide us from the FACE of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb."

3. No wrath is mentioned or even hinted until the people SEE Jesus coming. It is obvious that He comes after verse 6:14 because the people recognize that He is here by their response.
Even then, there is no wrath poured out. The day of the Lord has begun with the arrival of the Lord but chapter 7 presents a DELAY in pouring out the wrath of God until the sealing of the 144k. Then in chapter 8, the wrath is poured out via the coals of fire being thrown to the earth.
It is much more reasonable to see God's wrath coming via the coals being thrown to the earth and the sounding of the trumpets than it is to see God's wrath in war and famine and pestilence that has been a natural occurrence all throughout human history.

4. Now let's look at claims about the aorist tense.
"The aorist, in it's most common uses, can denote a singular action already completed, a singular action occurring, a singular action what will, or might occur, or a singular action beginning to occur."

A. "a singular action already completed": Well, once the signs occur, including the sign of the son of man and the arrival of the son of man, based on Mat. 24, THEN it now COULD be said that the day of wrath (the day of the lord) HAS COME. "a singular action already completed." This has nothing to do with the first 4 seals.

B. "a singular action occurring": once the signs, etc. occur, it could now be said that the day of wrath IS COMING. Still has nothing to do with the first 4 seals.

C. "a singular action what will, or might occur": STILL it is after the signs, etc. that the day of wrath WILL occur.

D. "a singular action beginning to occur": Once the signs occur, NOW the day of wrath is BEGINNING to occur. The day is starting. However, the wrath will be delayed as per the context of Rev. 7:1-3.

We must let the context speak for itself, and that includes the context from Matthew 24 and Joel 2, as well as the other DAY OF THE LORD verses.
Where is wrath in the first 4 seals? It is not there.
To put it there is clearly an insertion of one's preconceived ideas and doctrinal bias.

The Day of the Lord's Wrath Does Not Begin BEFORE or DURING the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:17)
November 16, 2018 by Dr. Alan Kurschner

"because the great day of their wrath has come [ēlthen], and who is able to withstand it?" (Rev 6:17)

Many interpreters assume that the English rendering "has come" in Rev 6:17 refers to either past or present tense referring to God's wrath. I have explained before that the context(Greek verbs do not indicate temporal reference)determines the temporal reference of the verbal event, in this case, when the wrath of God will begin. Prewrath eschatology teaches that the day of the Lord's wrath does not begin with the opening of the sixth seal (or during it) but with the opening of the seventh seal. You can read that here.

My point in this post, though, is to note that the English rendering "has come" can, in many English-speaking contexts especially for momentous events, refer to an action that has not begun, but that is about to happen. Let me give you a simple example. Say my son has been preparing for a school play the entire semester where he plays a key role. The morning of the play arrives. I sit down with him at breakfast and I say to him, "Son, the time has come." This of course, does not mean that the play is past or present tense. It is impending. Or more specifically, it is still in the future, happening that evening.

In my analogy I am only focusing on the impending nature. Of course the play will happen that same day, later that day. But in the category of the day of the Lord (aka "the great day of their wrath) we are clearly not speaking of a literal 24-hour day. The celestial disturbances of the sixth seal may occur for a few hours (unlikely because of all that must happen), a few days, or possibly a few weeks. But it will be a shorter duration compared to other seals.

The day of the Lord will only begin when the seventh seal is opened, not before.

The sixth seal signals that the day of the Lord approaches. The church will be on the earth during the sixth seal looking up because their redemption draws nigh.

Addendum: So when English translations render the Greek verb (ēlthen) in Rev 6:17 "has come" that is a fitting rendering for a momentous event that is about to happen. Of course this does not mean that the actual translator's decision in his own personal interpretation thinks that God's wrath is about to happen, because the English rendering can also refer to past or present contexts, which drives us back full circle to the question of what is the context telling us. I think the following English renderings capture the context better: "the great day of their wrath is coming," or "the great day of their wrath is near," or "the great day of their wrath is arriving." But I am content with "has come" as long as it is interpreted in light of the context that indicates that God's wrath has not yet begun. Perhaps the English translators used the more general "has come" to leave open the interpretation for the readers themselves to determine the context.

A Reply to Pretrib Thomas Ross and His Faulty Understanding of the Aorist Greek Tense-Form in Revelation 6:17
October 11, 2016 by Dr. Alan Kurschner

Thomas Ross of Mukwonago Baptist Church in Mukwonago, Wisconsin has written a critique of the prewrath position.
One particular point that Ross asserts is the following:

Furthermore, the fact that God's wrath "is come" in Revelation 6:17 is an aorist indicative indicates that past time is the strong basic predisposition, so that the fundamental tendency for interpretation is to assume that the wrath began at some time before that point; that the aorist can occasionally have a futuristic sense does not justify the assumption that it does so here. Certainly one cannot soundly build a doctrine of future wrath at the time of the seventh seal based upon an aorist spoken by masses of unconverted people who do not know or want to know God's will and ways.

Ross is under the mistaken view that claims the aorist tense-form carries past tense. That is an imposition of English grammar upon the Greek language. Greek linguists have critiqued that view for almost fifty years. Temporal reference comes from the context, not from appealing to the Greek tense-form.

Many other pretrib teachers commit this same grammatical error, especially with respect to Rev 6: 17. Pretribulationism has interpreted this to mean the wrath of God has already started in the past reaching back to the first seal. This interpretation is erroneous for several reasons.

First, contextually, the first four seals are phases of Antichrist's campaign. There is nothing in those seals suggesting the church is exempt. If someone does not agree these are phases of Antichrist's campaign, they must at least admit the church has experienced similar events since its origin: false christs, wars, famine, and death. The burden of proof is on the person who thinks the first four seals contain the day of the Lord's wrath.

Next, the fifth seal is explicitly martyrdom of Christians. Pretribulationists would agree that Christians are exempt from God's eschatological wrath (1 Thess 5:9). But when they claim that the fifth seal is God's wrath they are contradicting the biblical truth that believers are exempt from his wrath. Moreover, we learned the fifth seal martyrs recognize God's wrath is still future, for they are seen crying out to God asking him to pour out his wrath. They are told it will happen very soon.

Next, the prophet Joel is explicit prophesying the celestial disturbances will occur "before" the day of the Lord: "The sunlight will be turned to darkness and the moon to the color of blood, before the day of the LORD comes; that great and terrible day!" (Joel 2:31).

Next, there is a comparison between the seals and the Olivet Discourse. This illustrates a consistent sequence of events leading up to the sixth seal: beginning of birth pangs, great tribulation, celestial disturbances. Accordingly, in Jesus' Olivet Discourse, he teaches everything that happens before the celestial disturbances relates to the world's depravity and Antichrist's great tribulation.

Next, germane to our immediate context is the argument that the day of the Lord's wrath is not "past tense" referring to a time before the sixth seal. The very reaction from the wicked is the most telling evidence the wrath is about to begin. Notice they are responding to the portents by hiding themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They have not been hiding all this time from God during the first six seals. Instead, they recognize, at this time, God's Day has now arrived; consequently, they seek to escape his judgments. The last expression in verse 17 is "who is able to withstand it?" This makes no sense if God's wrath has been unfolding throughout the seals - for why are they withstanding his wrath! This is most fitting if we understand it to mean his wrath is looming. The progressive nature of the seals is quite discernible: the first four seals are expressions of humanity/Antichrist, the fifth seal of martyrdom is the result of death, the sixth seal announces God's looming wrath, and the seventh seal will formally execute his wrath.

Finally, the grammatical consideration does not bode well for those who interpret God's wrath beginning before the seventh seal. In the statement, "the great day of their wrath has come," the verb "has come" (ēlthen) is in the Greek verb tense-form called the "aorist." English grammar does not possess an aorist tense-form in its verbal system, which is why many English speakers are unfamiliar with it. Bible translators, nevertheless, have to render it into a chosen English tense-form such as the past, present, or even future, depending on the context.

The aorist is arguably the most abused element in Greek grammar. Here are three grammatical elements that properly describe the aorist tense-form:

(1) It is the least significant Greek tense-form of them all. Many pastors in their sermons have placed undue emphasis on this tense-form when they assert, "this verb is in the Greek aorist tense." This happens because the aorist is not used in the English verbal system. So it sounds mysterious to many English-speaking minds, which is why they place undue significance to it.

(2) The aorist is often referred to as a "past tense" in Greek, but this is not accurate. It does not possess an inherent "past tense" temporal meaning, for it can also refer to present or future. It is context that determines time, not the tense-form. This is why calling it "tense" can confuse English speakers because we equate tense with time. This is not the case in Greek. Consequently, it is a mistake to appeal to the aorist tense-form to determine the temporal reference of a verb. Temporal reference must be made on the basis of the immediate context, and then discern whether broader theological passages can illuminate the meaning of the text.

(3) The aorist can be found in different kinds of actions: e.g., inceptive (action at its beginning point), punctiliar (once-for-all, instantaneous), iterative (action at intervals), perfective (brought to completion), gnomic (recurring natural events), proleptic (pointing to a future realization), to name a few. The context, not the tense form, determines
what kind of action it possesses. Other than Revelation 6:17, there are more instances in the book of Revelation where the aorist ēlthen may be used for ingressive or impending action, for example, see Revelation 14:7, 15; 19:7. Nevertheless, the immediate context is the determiner of meaning.

The theological, contextual, and grammatical features support the aorist verb "has come" (ēlthen) in our sixth seal passage depicting the impending day of the Lord's wrath. General linguists, Greek philologists, and New Testament grammarians have been wrestling with new theories to understand the Greek verbal system from the latter half of the nineteenth century and into the latter half of the twentieth century. Some have been more successful than others. K. L. McKay was instrumental for challenging New Testament scholars in the latter half of the twentieth century to refine their understanding of the Greek verb system. At the end of the 1980's two scholars working concurrently and unaware of each other's research published seminal volumes on the verbal system: Buist Fanning and Stanley Porter, respectively, Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, Oxford Theological Monographs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990); Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood, Studies in Biblical Greek 1 (New York: Peter Lang, 1989). The latter building on McKay's system but grounded with much more linguistic theoretical rigor.

This verbal aspect theory emphasizes the distinction between form and function, semantics and pragmatics, spatial quality and temporal reference, aspect (i.e., author's subjective portrayal of the action) and Aktionsart (i.e., objective "kind of action"). Traditionally, grammarians confused the latter elements with the former. For example, it was (and still is among many New Testament interpreters) thought the verb tense grammaticalized (encoded) time. As mentioned above, it was assumed, for example, the aorist tense was a "past" tense. However, verbal aspect theory has argued convincingly that time is not an inherent (semantic) value of the verb-tense; only context can give us clues to the temporal reference.

Further, the aorist was thought to have encoded punctiliar Aktionsart ("kind of action"); happening at a point in time. Instances that did not fit that function were thought of as "exceptions." Verbal aspect theory rejects the aorist encodes these values. The aorist is undefined; that is, the author chooses this tense-form simply to state the action as a whole or summary. The aorist could be punctiliar, but the verb tense-form itself cannot tell us that; only the lexeme and context can reveal this. Again, the aorist is not a "past" tense, even though it is found in past tense contexts most of the time, because the aspect of the verb is attracted to these contexts; what linguists call a pragmatic implicature. Aspect is that value of the verb system an author chooses to portray or represent an action. Porter defines aspect as "a morphologically-based semantic category which grammaticalizes the author/speaker's reasoned subjective choice of conception of a process." (Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, xi.).

Porter recognizes three aspects in the Greek system: Perfective (Aorist), Imperfective (Present, Imperfect), and Stative (Perfect, Pluperfect). The perfective aspect views the action externally and is only concerned to view the action as a whole or as a simple event (not to be confused with punctiliar). The imperfective aspect views the action internally being concerned with portraying the action as it is unfolding or in progress. The stative aspect views the action as a state of affairs. These three aspects are not describing the kind of action (Aktionsart), which is determined by the combination of lexis and context.

Differences between traditional and verbal aspect are as follows:

Traditional view: Present tense is seen as a continuous action in present time. Aorist tense is punctiliar or undefined and in past time. Perfect tense viewed as a past action with results carried over to the author's present time.

Verbal Aspect: Present tense is seen as unfolding or in progress without reference to temporality. Aorist tense is a complete whole or summary or simple event without reference to temporality. Perfect tense is a state of affairs without temporality.

For introductory reading on the Greek verbal system see: Constantine R. Campbell, Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008); Stanley Porter and D. A. Carson, eds. Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics: Open Questions in Current Research (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993); and Robert E. Picirilli, "The Meaning of the Tenses in New Testament Greek: Where are We?" The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48/3 (September 2005): 533-55. Fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Stanley E. Porter, Jeffrey T. Reed, and Matthew Brook O'Donnell. Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook by Rodney J. Decker. Idioms of the Greek New Testament by Stanley E. Porter. Intermediate Greek Grammar: Syntax for Students of the New Testament by David L. Matthewson and Elodie Ballantine Emig.
Revelation 6:16-17 Is NOT a 'Summary Statement' of God's Wrath
September 15, 2018 by Dr. Alan Kurschner

"They said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?'" (Rev 6:16-17)

A host of pretrib teachers claim that Rev 6:16-17 is a "summary statement" on God's wrath that occurred in the previous six seals.

The problem is that there is no evidence for this pretrib assertion. It ignores the context, and the meaning of Greek words in a context, which I have pointed out previously is fallacious.

Here are just a few reasons why Rev 6:16-17 is not a summary statement of God's resultant wrath:

Pretribs make it sound as if John himself is making the statement in Rev 6:16-17: "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?'" Rather, it is the wicked who are exclaiming this! They are running to the caves during the sixth seal - not because the wrath of God is in the past - but because they realize that the day of the Lord is about to come upon them. This suddenness of the day of the Lord is consistent with the apostle Paul's teaching regarding how the day of the Lord will come upon the wicked: "sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!" (1Thess 5:3). The pretrib interpretation contradicts the inner logic of the narrative.
It is not a "summary statement" looking backwards - rather, it a cry of anticipation for what is about to come upon them. As one person wrote to me put it: "If this were a summary of the wrath of God, it appears at an unusual place, i.e. before the harshest part of the seventh seal of the wrath of God is opened [which is followed by the trumpets and bowl judgments]."

The sixth seal, the context of Rev 6:16-17 is drawing from Joel 2:31 "The sunlight will be turned to darkness and the moon to the color of blood, before the day of the LORD comes; that great and terrible day!" (Joel 2:31) See also Jesus' teaching in Matthew 24 where the wrath of God begins when he returns, the point of the separation between the righteous and the wicked. That is the point that Jesus says the celestial disturbances will happen just before the wrath is poured out on the wicked (Matt 24:29-31; cf. Luke 21:25-28).
The fifth seal martyrs cry out to God asking when the wrath of God will begin: "How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?" (Rev 6:10). Their heavenly answer to them is to wait for the wrath "a little longer" (Rev 6:11). In other words, it is still in the future. They receive their new resurrected bodies depicted in Rev 7. The martyrs understand that they were not killed because of God's wrath. And they understand that God will pour out his wrath in the near future.
Between the sixth seal and the seventh seal there are two groups of people being delivered. Why would they be delivered at a point after God's wrath? Rather, they are being delivered from what is about to occur when the seventh seal is opened: the trumpets and bowls of God's wrath.
In summary (pun intended!), this is really a bad argument from pretribulationists. Any interpreter who values the principle of comparing Scripture with Scripture will see that the natural reading places the beginning of the day of the Lord's wrath after the sixth seal, not before.

There is a progression in the final seals: the fifth seal promises wrath, the sixth seal portends wrath, an interlude in Revelation 7 protects from wrath, and the seventh seal pronounces wrath.
Some have suggested that if the aorist active indicative at Rev. 6:17 is stating that the wrath of God has NOW come, that is, it is now about to be expressed - that the same form at Rev. 11:18 should also be looking at something that is about to occur. However, they claim that the expression at 11:18, "and your wrath came," is looking BACK to what has already transpired. But the expression at verse 11:18 is INDEED looking FORWARD to the next phase of God's wrath which is identified in Rev. 15:1 and 7.

It is claimed that because orge is used for wrath in both places, verse 11:18 is not looking forward, but back to the orge of verse 6:17. That statement at 11:18 does not need to depart from the basic word for wrath (orge) to express wrath that is yet to come. The context indicates that the orge of 11:18 does not occur until chapter 15:1-3. The impending final wrath of God is pictured at 11:19. And then there is a break in the chronological flow and the vision of the temple in heaven at 11:19 is picked up again at 15:1-3, in preparation for the pouring out of the final wrath of God. Here the Greek thumos is used to indicate a more intense expression of God's wrath.

Some have suggested that the actual wrath of God does not begin until the bowl judgments which are announced through the 7th trumpet, but this does not agree with the sense of impending wrath that Rev. 6:16-17 indicates, nor with the Old Testament passages which indicate the presence of Godís wrath from the time that the day of the Lord begins. This immediacy of wrath is also seen at 1Thes. 5:1-3, "then sudden destruction will come upon them."
See study on wrath.



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