Part 018 – Breaking of the sixth seal



A Study

Part 018

Breaking of the sixth seal – Revelation 6:12-17

The first four seals

We have seen that the breaking of the first four seals of the seven sealed scroll, provides an overall word picture of the complete seven years of the Tribulation. In this respect, the whole of that seen through the breaking of these first four seals (Rev.6:1-8) could be viewed as a skeletal framework for that seen in the remainder of the book covering the period of time Rev.6:9 – 19:6. Everything beyond the fourth seal ― that revealed when the remaining three seals are broken [which includes the seven trumpets and the seven vials seen in Chapters 8-10, 15, 16] along with all of the events seen in Chapters 7, 11-14, 17-19a ― provides the details and commentary for the complete skeletal picture seen through the breaking of the first four seals.


The Holy Bible, the Word of God, is the perfect and complete revelation of God to man. And God has structured His Word after a particular fashion ― centrally typical, in conjunction with numbers and metaphors. This structural method of God’s word can be vividly seen in the Book of Revelation; and this is emphasized by the word “signified” in the opening verse of this closing book of Scripture; and this word “signified” has to do with using indirect or illustrative and metaphorical language in order to bring out that which is direct or explanatory. The whole of that revealed when the sixth seal is broken is set forth in strikingly illustrative language.

A great shaking

Now, look at the word “earthquake” (Rev.6:12), which is the first thing mentioned when the sixth seal is broken. This word in the Greek text is seismos, which simply means to shake, to agitate or to stir up. The word earth is not at all associated with the word seismos. That which is shaken, has to be derived only from the text or the context. Accordingly, in Rev.6:12, “there was a great earthquake” should be read as “there was a great shaking.” And this is a great shaking of things in heaven (the sun, the moon and the stars), the heaven itself and things on earth (every mountain and island). We should remember that all these things should not be seen as literal but as illustrative and metaphorical or figurative. All that we see here when the sixth seal is broken, brings us to a time near the end of the Tribulation Period. This is the graphical description of the complete disarray and collapse of the government of the earth ―  the government in existence after the rider on the white horse has become the world ruler (first seal) and has been instrumental in bringing to pass all that is seen when the second, third and fourth seals had been broken. This can also be viewed as the answer to the cry of the martyrs seen under the altar, when the fifth seal is broken (Rev.6:10). That which is brought to pass when the sixth seal is broken has been illustrated in numerous places in the Old Testament such as the power of Egypt brought to naught during Moses’ Day and the events leading to Haman and his ten sons being impaled on a gallows during Esther’s Day.

The powers from the heavens over the earth

The array of things seen here in heaven can only be depicting the governing authorities, which rule from the heavens over the earth ― the heavens do rule (Dan.4:26); principalities …powers …rulers of the darkness of this age …in heavenly places (Eph.6:12). The first thing mentioned here is the sun, which can only be representing the supreme governing authority, and it becomes black as sackcloth of hair. Being clothed with this black, coarse-textured cloth pictures the sun as it were become completely dark with all its light blotted out with added thought of despair or calamity. This pictures the way that the government of the earth exist at the end of the Tribulation Period. “The prince of the covenant” seated on Satan’s throne and possessing “power …and great authority” (Rev.13:2) will have carried the government, in a downward spiral, to this point (Joel 2:2, 10, 30, 31). The next thing mentioned is the moon, and it depicts the secondary authority, dependent on the supreme authority; and it would be darkened as well ― the moon becoming “as blood.” In Lev.17:11, life is said to be in the blood, whereas in Exo.12:7, the blood on the doorposts showed that death had already occurred, though vicariously, inside that home. The moon, dependent on the sun, is seen blackened as well, though the matter is expressed in a different way ― death. The stars of heaven could only depict secondary powers connected with the primary and secondary authority, the sun and the moon (Isa.14:13; Rev.12:4). Now, continuing the description, “the stars” are seen falling from heaven to the earth.

Political and economic powers on the earth

Then mountains and islands are the last objects used in this depiction of a complete breakdown of powers and authorities. “A mountain” depicts a kingdom (Isa.2:1-5; Jer.51:25; Dan.2:44, 45); and “an island” would be connected with the government in the sense of a center of trade and commerce (Isa.23:2; Ezek.27; Rev.18:11-19). They all, every mountain and island was moved out of its place (Rev.6:14). Not only is there a disastrous darkness, death and a falling, but there is also a removal, dislodging, and displacement of everything. Thus, that seen when the sixth seal is broken depicts a complete breakdown of the government of the earth and all that is connected with that government. Disorder, on that day, will engulf everything on earth very swiftly (Hag.2:21, 22).

The great day of God’s wrath and a complete change in the government of the earth

When disorder reigns supreme, the attitude of those on the earth comes into view (Rev.6:15-16). All ― “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” ― will be dismayed and terrified by the total collapse and utter chaos. And they will also face the wrath of Him that sits on the throne, and of the Lamb and will desperately seek to “hide themselves in dens and in the rocks of the mountains.” These dens and rocks of the mountains” should also be understood in metaphorical senses ― as possibly some type of sanctuary or shield from a government in complete disarray. And, of course, no help or aid will be found. “The great day of God’s wrath will be at hand (Rev.6:17). That day is vividly portrayed in Matt.24:21, 22; Rev.9:6; and Psa.2:1-3. The Gentiles are seen raging and imagining vain things. The kings of the earth are seen forming alliances against the Lord, and against His Christ. But there is a limit to God’s patience. God will laugh (in contempt) at the vain efforts of the nations and respond with wrath (Psa.2:4, 5). Then, despite all efforts of man to prevent the inevitable, God will set His King on the throne in Jerusalem ― both heavenly and earthly (Psa.2:6; Psa.76:2; Heb.12:22). The complete disarray, breakdown and collapse of the earth’s government under Satan and his angels and the nations will be followed by a complete change in the government of the earth.