12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. ~ Revelation 6:12-14
We return to our study of the book of the Revelation, and we jump back into our study of the seven seals in Revelation 6. With the opening of the first seal, false peace and prosperity was introduced to the world. With the opening of the second seal, there was worldwide war. With the opening of the third, there was famine. The fourth seal introduced pestilences and other natural disasters. The fifth seal introduced us to the prayers of the martyred saints. Theirs was a prayer for the end of evil. This brings us to the opening of the sixth seal.
In v.12 we read, "I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red."
With the opening of the sixth seal, the world has been filled with false peace, ongoing distrust and violence. And now, a great earthquake shakes the entire universe. There have always been earthquakes. They come now and then, here and there. Even in the first half of this seven year period of time that is called the Tribulation. But this isn’t just describing any old earthquake.
The Greek word used here is seismos from which we get the English word seismograph, which is an instrument to measure shaking. It means a quaking, a shaking, but the word “earth” is not here. It would have been better to translate it, “And there was a great shaking.” Because, frankly, it isn’t just the earth that is shaking.
In the remainder of v.12-13 we read, "The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind."
The sun, and then the moon, and then the stars careening out of the sky, and then the sky splitting apart like a scroll. This is a shaking more than an earthquake. This is seismos in the universe.
Earthquakes are frightening. They create phobias, because man has always counted on a stable universe. He always counts on dawn and darkness, on the cycle of the rotation of the earth and the seasons as it moves in orbit.
The sun will become black as sackcloth which was what people wore to funerals. Sackcloth was a rough garment that was worn by someone who was mourning. This shaking will be so enormous that it blackens the sun.
The earth’s solid crust is traversed with a complex network of faults, with all resting on a plastic mantle. And, the vast network of unstable earthquake belts around the world suddenly will slip and fracture on a global basis, and a gigantic earthquake will ensue. This is evidently and naturally accompanied by tremendous volcanic eruptions spewing vast quantities of dust and steam and gases into the upper atmosphere. It is probably these that will cause the sun to be darkened and the moon to appear blood red.
This will be a total eclipse. The blackened sun, of course, then will hide the moon because it only reflects the sun. When this begins to happen, it will affect everything. There will be no daylight. All the cycles by which animals function, plants function, humans function will be thrown into total chaos.
Then, the stars will fall out of the sky. This will probably be a meteor shower. The stars moving out of their orbits will result in the collapsing of the universe. The earth then will plummet with fiery balls coming out of the sky.
In v.14 we read, "The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place."
The sky will literally ripped apart. And every mountain and island will be moved out of their places. This sequence fits exactly with the sequence in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, as does Joel 2. The result of the sixth seal is fear. In fact, when all of this happens, we are told by the Lord Jesus in Luke 23, people will pray for the mountains to fall on them. This will be a prayer for suicide. They will be so afraid that they would rather die than face the wrath of the Lamb.
Fear is a powerful emotion. It takes control sometimes of the will and makes people behave in ways that are inexplicable. The Lord Jesus said in Luke 21:26, “Men will faint from fear.” The word “faint” appears only in Luke 21:26, and it literally means to breathe out the last breath. When that day comes, there will be such fear that people will be scared to death. Some will die on the spot. They will die from sheer terror, because they will realize they have fallen into the hands of the living God.