When Jesus opens the sixth seal on the scroll, it brings an earthquake so great that the entire earth and even the sun, moon, and stars are effected.
“When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”
This is clearly not a natural earthquake. It is massive, so massive that islands and mountains are moved. It is an event so huge that meteors fall to earth like figs falling from a tree. Verses 15-17 read,
“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
The Great Day of Wrath has come. The survivors regardless of who they are, rich, poor, Muslim, Jewish, Bhuddist, old, or young, king or slave will be terrified. They will try to hide. They’ll beg for quick death rather than face the wrath about to face them. Who can stand? No one. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Terror at the realization that they were wrong will compel them to their collapse to their knees. Ezekiel 21:5-10 puts it this way,
“And all flesh shall know that I am the Lord. I have drawn my sword from its sheath; it shall not be sheathed again.
6 “As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes. 7 And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that it is coming. Every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming, and it will be fulfilled,’” declares the Lord God.
8 And the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus says the Lord, say:
“A sword, a sword is sharpened
and also polished,
10 sharpened for slaughter,
polished to flash like lightning!
(Or shall we rejoice? You have despised the rod, my son, with everything of wood.)
Jesus describes the day in Mark 13:24-25,
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”
What John did not see or at least write in his vision was what Jesus described next in Mark 13:26-27
“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
Chapter 7 verses 1-4 continue the description of the sixth seal.
“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
The angels held back the destruction long enough for another angel to seal the servants of God. I do not believe John is referring to current believers in these verses, we are already sealed. I think he is referring to the Jewish remnant who will come to salvation at that time (Romans 9:27-28). But he could be talking about all of us who are servant of God. I remind you, I do not know.
Verses 5-8 list those who were sealed.
“12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
6 12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
7 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
8 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.”
This is a unique list of the tribes of Israel both for its order and for who it includes and does not include. The twelve tribes are traditionally, Jacob's twelve sons Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, and Joseph’s two son’s Manasseh and Ephraim who are together one tribe. The list in Revelation begins with Judah the tribe of Jesus from whom salvation comes. It includes Joseph and Manasseh. It includes Joseph because his actions were a foreshadowing of Christ. The list lifts Manasseh up to a full tribe and not a “half-tribe” as they are often referred to in scripture. It hints at completion. The list leaves out Dan, just as the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1-9 leave out his descendants. Why does it leave out the tribe of Dan? That was the tribe that brought idolatry to Israel and they rejected true worship of the One Living God (Judges 18). Dan will be saved when all of Israel is saved. (Romans 11:25-27, Ezekiel 48).
After John heard this he saw something wonderful. Verses 9-13 read,
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation, these are the believers who Jesus gathered on The Great Day of Wrath. So many John couldn’t count them, he could only describe them as a great multitude. Immediately they worshipped God and they were joined by the elders and the angels. Notice too, twice the white robes are mentioned. Twice the fact that the believers came prepared, dressed in grace and washed by Jesus’ blood is declared by speaking about their robes. No matter how many rules we follow, how many commandments we keep, or how moral we are, we will not be among those in Heaven if we have not accepted Jesus’ grace and forgiveness.
Why will we worship? Why do we adore Him? We will finally be the sanctified perfect priests He made us to be. Verses 15-17 read,
““Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The sixth seal will be pretty wonderful for believers. There will be no more tears or discomfort, no need or fear. The Lamb will be our shepherd. Consider that. The one who knows best who we are and what we are have gone through will be our pastor and guide.
But just as wonderful as it will be for believers, it will be horrible for the lost. Remember the terror they will experience at the wrath of the Lamb. They will fall to their knees, they will melt with dread and they will have to admit Jesus is Lord. But wouldn’t it please God more, wouldn’t it be better for them and for us if they professed Jesus as Christ now? How can they do that if we don’t tell them? Romans 10:9-17 says,
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”