Revelation 6:9-17

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

THE SEALS OPENED

INTRODUCTION:

We have seen in -

Revelation of Jesus Christ 5:1-2 - (1) And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. (2) And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

We have also seen in -

Revelation of Jesus Christ 5:5-7 - (5) And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. (6) And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (7) And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

We have also seen that the scene in chapters 4 and 5 takes place in heaven.

In chapter 5 we have seen Christ taking the scroll, which has been sealed with seven seals, out of the hand of God the Father.

In chapter 6 we find the opening of the first six of these seven seals.

We have seen that the scene shifts from heaven in chapters 4 and 5 to earth in 6:1.

We have already seen the opening of -

I. THE FIRST SEAL: THE ANTICHRIST - 6:1-2

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:1-2 - (1) And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. (2) And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

We have also seen the opening of -

II. THE SECOND SEAL: WAR - 6:3-4

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:3-4 - (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.

The antichrist's going forth conquering, and to conquer results in war on an unprecedented scale.

In addition, we have seen the opening of -

III. THE THIRD SEAL: FAMINE - 6:5-6

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:5-6 - (5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. (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.

War on an unprecedented scale results in famine.

Finally, we have seen the opening of -

IV. THE FOURTH SEAL: DEATH - 6:7-8

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:7-8 - (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 [i.e. Hades] followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

War and famine result in much death.

We move on to -

V. THE FIFTH SEAL: THE MARTYRED SOULS IN HEAVEN - 6:9-11

The scene shifts back to heaven in verses 9-11.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:9-11 - (9) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: (10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (11) And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

When he [i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ] had opened the fifth seal is literally when He opened the fifth seal.

I saw [i.e. John saw] under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.

Under the altar tells where these souls were located. However, it is not revealed what altar this is; but it is clearly located in heaven. It seems best to understand it as the altar of incense because of its connection with the prayers of the saints.

The souls speaks of people who had died during the tribulation and whose bodies were not present because they had not yet been resurrected from the dead.

Of them that were slain is of the ones who had been murdered or butchered during the tribulation. It speaks of the killing of a person by violence.

For the word of God is because of the word of God or on account of the word of God and provides the reason why these souls had been murdered. It suggests that they had been proclaiming the word or message of God, i.e. the gospel message.

And for the testimony [i.e. and for the witness] which they held is and because of the witness (or and on account of) the witness which they were having.

Apparently they were killed because their lives and words demonstrated their allegiance to Christ.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:10 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?

They refers to the souls whom John saw under the altar.

They cried is they were crying. Its tense indicates ongoing or repeated action in past time.

With a loud voice describes how these souls were calling out. The fact that voice is singular rather than plural suggests that they were united in what they were saying; they were all saying the same thing, but not necessarily in unison.

Saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

How long indicates that they were ready for the Lord to take vengeance on their behalf and were desiring to know how much more time would elapse before He did.

O Lord is the term used of God the Father meaning master or owner.

Holy and true is literally the holy (one) and the true (one) and is used to describe Lord.

Holy (or pure) suggests there is an absence of sin or of evil in the Lord. Of course, He is sinless and perfectly holy.

True is used in the sense of genuine or dependable.

Dost thou not judge and avenge our blood is are you not judging and avenging our blood, which has been shed by those who murdered these souls.

Inasmuch as these souls are crying out for vengeance on them that dwell on the earth, literally from the ones who are dwelling upon the earth, it indicates that the ones who had murdered them were still alive and living on the earth.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

White robes were given unto every one of them.

White is symbolic of the righteousness of the saints, and this clearly indicates that these people had been genuinely saved before they died as martyrs.

Robes is used especially of long, flowing robes.

Were given unto every one of them indicates that each one of these souls under the altar was given a white robe.

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.

It was said unto them [i.e. it was said to the souls who were seen under the altar], but it does not indicate who said it to them.

What was said takes up the rest of this verse.

That they should rest yet for a little season suggests that they should continue to be patient until it is time for God to take action and to judge and to avenge their blood.

Yet is still and implies that prior to this scene they had already been taking some rest since they had been martyred.

For a little season indicates an extent of time throughout which something is to be done. It means that from the beginning to the end of this period of time they were to continue to rest.

Until [i.e. until the time when] their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were [i.e. as they (were killed)], should be fulfilled - this indicates how long this little season is going to be.

Their fellowservants also and their brethren is likely two ways of describing the same group of people.

Their in both cases refers to the souls of them that were seen under the altar.

Their fellowservants is their fellow slaves. They are seen as people who had voluntarily enslaved themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ in their Christian service as the result of His death for them on the cross.

Also and is understood in the sense of both . . . and, i.e. both their fellow servants and their brethren.

Their brethren is their brothers and suggests their fellow-believers.

That should be killed as they were is literally the ones who are about to be killed as they also (were killed). It implies that there will be more believers martyred during the tribulation before God takes vengeance on those who have killed these souls seen under the altar in heaven. It also implies that their fellowservants and brethren are the ones who are yet to be martyred.

Should be fulfilled is might be fulfilled and refers to the time of the martyrdom of these additional people.

We see next -

VI. THE SIXTH SEAL: THE DAY OF DIVINE WRATH - 6:12-17

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:12-17 - (12) And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; (13) And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. (14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; (16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: (17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

The scene shifts back to earth in verses 12-17.

With the opening of the sixth seal, there is a great earthquake, the sun appears to be black, and the moon looks like blood.

I beheld is I saw or I looked.

The time that John beheld, looked, or saw is indicated by when he [i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God] had opened the sixth seal.

And, lo is and behold and is used to gain the reader's attention.

There was a great earthquake is a great earthquake happened, a great earthquake took place, or a great earthquake occurred.

As a result of this great earthquake, the sun became black as [i.e. became black like] sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as [i.e. became like] blood.

Before this earthquake the sun was not black and the moon was not blood-red. Things changed, however, with the earthquake; and as a result, the sun appeared black, and the moon appeared blood-red.

Sackcloth was made of hair and was black in color.

And the moon became as [i.e. became like] blood.

These events are understood as the language of appearance, as the sun and moon would appear to someone standing on the earth looking at them. The earthquake would not actually affect the sun or the moon except as they were observed from the earth. Something which would cause the sun to appear black or the moon to appear a blood-red color is pollution, smoke, dust, and ash, which would naturally follow as the result of this tremendous earthquake. The collapse of many buildings can be expected to occur with the rupturing of many natural gas mains and damage to electrical lines, and the resultant fires and explosions. These things would result in much dust and smoke filling the air and blocking out the rays of the sun.

The collapse of the World Trade Center Buildings in New York City on September 11, 2001, resulted in tremendous pollution, dust, and smoke; but the geographical area was limited. One can only imagine how much worse it will be when many major buildings in many large cities are brought tumbling to the ground at the same time as the result of this great earthquake. It is not revealed how long the sun appeared to be black or how long the moon appeared to be like blood, but both are seen again in the fourth trumpet judgment in 8:12.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

Another result of the earthquake is that the stars of heaven fell unto the earth.

Again, this is the language of appearance as things would appear to someone standing upon the earth. It seems impossible that the earth would survive if hit by even one of the stars known as suns, which are many times the size of the earth. It also seems impossible that these stars would be planets from this solar system, for then there could be nothing but chaos in the solar system. In addition, some of these planets are much larger than the earth; and such a collision would appear to do so much damage to the earth that it is hard to believe that the earth would survive it; yet, the earth does survive these stars falling to its surface. Beside this, the stars are still seen in the fourth trumpet judgment in Revelation of Jesus Christ 8:12-13 .

One might also wonder if the stars of heaven referred to in this verse might be a great meteor shower or comet. From the vantage point of one standing on the earth looking up into the heavens, these meteors would appear to be stars as they heat up on entrance into the earth's atmosphere. But what connection would there be between an earthquake and meteor shower? They would seem to be two physically unrelated things occurring at the same time.

Many satellites, including some for a star wars defense system, are in orbit over the earth. Might some of them come crashing to earth because something goes very wrong or are destroyed by hostile action; or might the stars have reference to missiles falling to the earth from the heavens? It is not clear, and one can only speculate.

Even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind is used as a comparison for the stars of heaven falling to the earth.

Even as is as or just as.

A fig tree casteth her untimely figs is a fig tree casts its late figs or a fig tree casts its summer figs.

When she is shaken of a mighty wind is simply when shaken by a mighty wind. A strong wind will result in the figs falling to the ground from the fig tree.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

The heaven departed would seem to refer to the stellar heavens. Again it appears to be the language of appearance. Rather than the stellar heavens ceasing to exist, from the vantage point of one standing on the earth looking up into the heavens, he would no longer be able to see the stars. Pollution and smoke would make it utterly impossible to see the heavenly bodies. The things which look like stars, the various suns, the moon, and the planets are the only things one can see without the aid of a telescope. It will look as if the heaven has departed if one is unable to see the stars.

As a scroll when it is rolled together indicates how the heaven departed. When one rolls up a scroll, its contents are no longer visible. The stellar heavens will no longer be visible.

Every mountain and island were moved out of their places is difficult to comprehend when one has seen how vast the mountain ranges and many islands are. It speaks of the awful judgment of God upon the earth.

Were moved out of their places is were removed out of their places.

Every mountain and island seems to be rather all inclusive. Does this mean that they were relocated rather than that they were destroyed inasmuch as they are still seen to exist in the next verse? Might it again be the language of appearance because the mountains and islands were not able to be seen because of the pollution and smoke? This would seem reasonable.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.

According to verse 15, people from all walks of life hide themselves in caves and in the rocks of the mountains.

The kings of the earth are the rulers of the nations of the world.

The great men suggests all those people who have made great reputations for themselves. It is literally the great ones and may include females as well as males.

The rich men suggests the wealthy ones who may be male or female.

The chief captains are leaders in the military.

The mighty men is the name used of the group who had been great soldiers in David's time. Their listing following the chief captains suggests that they are the great soldiers of the day.

Every bondman is every slave, and every free man is every non-slave. These groups would include everyone on the planet who is not included in the other groups.

What all these people did is indicated by hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.

Hid themselves in the dens suggests hid themselves in the caves.

In the rocks of the mountains suggests in holes in the rocks found in the mountains and hints that they have carved holes in the rocks in which to hide. This indicates that the mountains still existed after it was stated in the previous verse that every mountain and island were moved out of their places. The mountains were still there just as they also are in the next verse.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.

According to verse 16 all the people who, in verse 15, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains 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.

Said to the mountains and rocks is literally are saying to the mountains and to the rocks.

What they were saying was, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.

The tense of fall indicates that its action is to be undertaken at once.

Fall on us is fall upon us, i.e. upon the people in verse 15 who hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.

The tense of hide likewise indicates that its action is to be undertaken at once.

Again, us refers to those who hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.

From the face of him that sitteth on the throne indicates the first of two things from which these people were desperate to be hidden.

The face is a part of a person representing the whole person. What they desperately desire is to be hidden from the One Who is sitting on the throne, i.e. from God the Father.

A second thing these people desperately want to be hidden from is the wrath of the Lamb which is being poured out upon them.

The Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, the only deliverance from this wrath comes by trusting Christ as Savior.

For these people it may already be too late. They may have already gone too far in their rejection of Christ with the result that God will no longer grant them the ability to repent, not that they care, however. Unfortunately for these people who have rejected the salvation which has been freely offered to them, there is nowhere to hide and no possibility of escape, even in death when they will find themselves temporarily enduring His wrath in Hades and eventually find themselves enduring His wrath forever in the lake of fire.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Verse 17 provides the reason all these people listed in verse 15 are seeking to be hidden from God the Father and from the wrath of the Lamb. It is because the great day of God's wrath has come, and no one will be able to stand in that day against His wrath.

The word translated for is the same term ordinarily translated because and is used here in the sense of because.

The reason is the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

The great day of his wrath appears to be the great tribulation climaxing in the actual second coming of Christ when He will take vengeance on those who are not saved.

His wrath is the Lamb's wrath.

The question, and who shall be able to stand?, implies that no one will be able to stand against His wrath, i.e. to endure it and live to tell about it. They are all doomed forever.

Yet, believers are saved forever from the wrath to come.

What about the seventh seal? When does it occur?

The seventh seal is opened in Revelation of Jesus Christ 8:1 and includes everything that takes place from chapter 8 until the second coming of Christ. The seventh seal is the seven trumpet judgments, and the seventh trumpet judgment is the seven bowl or vial judgments.