Sixth Seal - Day of Wrath

The sixth seal ushered in the Day of the Lord, the time of wrath upon the inhabitants of the earth – Revelation 6:12-17

Lightning over city - Photo by Stefano Zocca on Unsplash
T
he opening of the sixth seal causes celestial and terrestrial trauma as the “day of wrath” dawns. It was nothing less than the “great day of the wrath of God and of the Lamb.” Men of every rank panic in terror, but their every attempt to hide from the impending “wrath” is in vain. There is no escape, for no one can “stand” before the “Lamb and the throne.” - [Photo by Stefano Zocca on Unsplash].

Destruction is unleashed on the “inhabitants of the earth,” and the entire creation is thrown into chaos. The tumult and the reaction of men to the arrival of the “day of the LORD” sets the stage for the question: Who is able to stand before the Lamb and his wrath?
  • (Revelation 6:12-17) – “And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, that a great earthquake took place; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the full moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig-tree sheds her winter figs, when by a great wind it is shaken, and the heaven was withdrawn like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island out of their places were shaken. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rulers of thousands, and the rich, and the mighty, and every bondman and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and  in the rocks of the mountains; and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; because the great day of their wrath is come, and who is able to stand?
The fifth seal left events dangling. The martyrs “under the altar” pleaded for vindication but did not receive it, at least, not yet. Instead, they were told to wait until the full number of their fellow witnesses destined for martyrdom was assembled.

But as the opening of the sixth seal unfolds, it seems the plea of the martyrs for “vengeance” against the “inhabitants of the earth” is about to be fulfilled. However, at this point, if their request is granted utter destruction will be the only result, for no one can withstand the “wrath of the Lamb, and of Him who sits on the throne.”

As the sixth seal is opened, “a great earthquake” ensues, which causes chaos throughout the Cosmos. The image echoes passages from the Old Testament about the “Day of Yahweh, for example:
  • (Joel 2:10) - “The earthquakes before them; the heavens tremble; the sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining…for great is the day of Yahweh and awful exceedingly: Who then shall endure it?”
  • (Joel 2:30-32) - “And I will set forth wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awful Day of Yahweh.”
  •  (Isaiah 34:3-5) - “Then shall be dissolved all the host of the heavens, and the heavens shall roll up as a scroll, Yea, all their host shall fade like the fading and falling of a leaf from a vine, and like what fades and falls from a fig-tree” – (Also, Isaiah 2:17-21).
Thus, the sixth seal opening produces the “Day of Yahweh.” The disruption it causes is universal. The day is not another in a series of plagues; it is the end of the age and, seemingly, the space-time continuum. It is the hour of final judgment.

The cosmic chaos causes terror at all levels of society. Neither political rank nor economic standing could save anyone from the impending “wrath.” All hope was gone. No one will be spared.

It is the predicted “hour of trial” that is to come on the “whole habitable earth,” an event from which Jesus promised to spare the church at Philadelphia. Yet for now, no one is prepared for the arrival of “wrath,” hence the question: “Who is able to stand?”

In Revelation, “wrath” or orge refers to the final judgment at the end of the age, the time of judgment and the “second death,” and not to preliminary punishments and plagues - (Revelation 11:1814:1016:1919:15).

The scene ends with the question unanswered: Who can stand before the wrath of the Lamb and of Him who sits on the throne? That will be addressed in the next vision, at the end of which, an “innumerable multitude” of the redeemed will be found “standing” before the “Lamb and the One on the Throne.” But some distance must yet be covered before reaching that blessed ending.

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