In the times that the Book of Revelation was written, seals were used to close up a scroll of writing. Hot wax was dripped on the papyrus, then the sender's signet ring was pressed into the wax to form a mark. This was to ensure confidentiality and privacy of the writing. The scroll that is sealed in Revelation 5 is the title-deed of ownership to rule and reign on planet Earth. Only Jesus Christ is found worthy to open the seals and commence, in Revelation 6, His wrath upon all the inhabitants of the earth at the time.
Tribulation in Revelation 6 is Initiated by God
God is proactive in causing the tribulation events of Revelation 6. God gives a crown to the rider on the first horse; God gives power and a great sword to the rider on the second horse to take peace from the earth that men should kill one another; and God gives power to the rider on the pale horse over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
The following quotes from "The Book of Revelation Outlined Studies" by Lehman Strauss indicate that unlike tribulation today, which is due to man's sin and fault originating with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, the tribulation of Revelation 6 will be brought about and authorized by God:
Page 156: "When Antichrist appears he shall deceive many (Matthew 24:5), and have all in subjection to himself (Revelation 13), but it will not be for long. He is but acting under the divine mandate. The authority he displays 'was given unto him' (Revelation 6:2,4)."
Page 157 (discussing the second seal) : "The second of the four living creatures has delegated authority from the Lamb to send forth a red horse and its rider."
Page 160 (discussing the fourth seal) : "Following in the wake of famine comes another horse, still more terrible in its symbolic meaning. It is pale, meaning livid and corpselike. The rider is called Death, the aftermath of war and famine. The fourth living creature is given divine authority to send him forth."
That God causes the tribulation of Revelation 6 is verified in the Old Testament:
"When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence." (Jeremiah 14:12)
"And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy." (Jeremiah 15:2-3)
"And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers." (Jeremiah 24:10)
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them:" (Jeremiah 29:17-18)
Wrath of God at the Sixth Seal
One indication that the opening of the seals is the wrath of God is found in Revelation 6:15-17. This passage indicates that all on earth are hiding from the wrath of the Lamb caused by the opening of the sixth seal.
"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; 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: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17, KJV)
Bible translations for Revelation 6:17 indicate that the wrath of God has already come for all men on earth during Revelation 6:15-17.
(The New American Standard Bible)
”for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”
(The New King James Version)
”For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
(The New Living Translation)
”For the great day of their wrath has come, and who will be able to survive?”
(The New Revised Standard Version)
”for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
(The Revised Standard Version)
”for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?”
(The Good News Bible in Today's English Version)
”The terrible day of their anger is here, and who can stand up against it?”
(World English Bible)
”for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”
(Hebrew Names Version of World English Bible)
”for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”
(Wesley's New Testament)
”for the day of His anger--that great day--has come, and who is able to stand?”
(New International Version)
”For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
(Young's Literal Translation)
”because come did the great day of His anger, and who is able to stand?”
Why do 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, hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains? Why do all these earth inhabitants say “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: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
They hide themselves and say this because “there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 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. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Revelation 6:12-14). They know that this great environmental catastrophe is the wrath of the Lamb of God upon them, the result of the opening of the sixth seal.
Revelation 6:15 makes it clear that all men on earth are being affected by God's wrath: “every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves”. There is no reason whatsoever for men in Christ to have to hide from God's wrath.
If one believes the church will be on earth during Revelation 6:15-16, then one must ask why would it be necessary for men in Christ to hide from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.
A reading of Revelation 6:12-17 will make it obvious that the wrath of God is being poured out upon all the inhabitants of the earth. It is impossible for the church to be on earth during this time.
Every Mountain and Island Will Be Moved Out of Their Places
The opening of the sixth seal by the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, causes an unprecedented supernatural cataclysm on earth.
"... and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 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; 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: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6:14-17)
Imagining every mountain and island on earth moving out of their places (Revelation 6:14) is quite the task.
According to an encyclopedia, mountains cover about a fifth of the land surface of the world. This is an area bigger than North America!
Just having one mountain on earth moving out of its place would be an unprecedented catastrophe in human history. So it is difficult to even begin to consider what it would be like to have all of them move out of their places.
Mount Everest, Mount McKinley, Mount Logan, Kilimanjaro, Mount Ararat, Mount Rainier, Pikes Peak, Mauna Loa, Mount Hood, Matterhorn, Mount Fuji, Olympus, Guadalupe Peak, and Mount Rushmore are just a few of the world's mountains that will be moved out of their places.
God will have to have been very angry to have caused all this!
Not only will every mountain move out of its place, but additionally, every island as well!
An encyclopedia lists the world's ten largest islands: Greenland, New Guinea, Borneo, Madagascar, Sumatra, Baffin, Great Britain, Honshu, Victoria, and Ellesmere.
Looking at a globe of the world, some other islands include: Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, Prince Edward Island, Cuba, Jamaica, Falkland Islands, Haiti/Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Iceland, Scotland/Ireland, Cyprus, Corsica, Sicily, Crete, Ceylon, Aleutian Islands, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Philippines, and Japan.
Millions and millions of people live on these islands. Imagining all these islands moving out of their places is something I do not enjoy doing!
God's fury upon all the inhabitants of the world will have been unleashed in Revelation 6:14, and the earth dwellers at the time will know it and they will react to it by trying to hide from this unleashed wrath of the Lamb of God.
The Earthquake In Revelation 6:12 Is The Wrath of God
"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake ..." (Revelation 6:12)
In Revelation 6:12 a great earthquake occurs. The opening of the sixth seal by the Lamb of God shows this earthquake is God's wrath. The fact that earthquakes, caused by God, are God's wrath is also made clear in Isaiah 13:13 and Jeremiah 10:10. These verses verify that the earthquake and God's wrath are concurrent events. The earthquake is an expression of God's wrath. Causing the earth to tremble is how God expresses the fact that He is angry. In Revelation 6:12 God's wrath is occurring.
“But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation." (Jeremiah 10:10)
"Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger." (Isaiah 13:13)
Many other passages indicate that earthquakes in the Bible have divine causation.
"And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth." (Isaiah 2:19-21)
"Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases weretorn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." (Isaiah 5:25)
"The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved,the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth." (Isaiah 24:19-21)
"Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire." (Isaiah 29:6)
"I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it." (Jeremiah 4:24-28)
"And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant." (Jeremiah 51:29)
"And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." (Revelation 11:13)
"And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." (Revelation 11:18-19)
"And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found." (Revelation 16:17-21)
Wrath of God at the First Seal
So the opening of the sixth seal is the wrath of God. What about the first seal? William Barclay states that the opening of the first seal by Christ is the wrath of God in his book "The Daily Bible Study, The Revelation of John, Volume 2, Chapters 6-22" (p. 3):
"As each of the seven seals is broken and opened, a new terror falls upon the earth. The first terror is depicted under the form of a white horse and its rider. What do they represent? Two explanations have been suggested, one of which is certainly wrong.
(i) It has been suggested that the rider on the white horse is the victorious Christ himself. This conclusion is drawn because this picture is connected by some commentators with that in Revelation 19:11,12 which tells of a white horse and on it a rider, called Faithful and True and crowned with many crowns, who is the victorious Christ. It is to be noted that the crown in this passage is different than that in Revelation 19. Here the crown is stephanos, which is the victor's crown; in Revelation 19 it is diadema, which is the royal crown. The passage we are here studying is telling of woe upon woe and disaster upon disaster; any picture of the victorious Christ is quite out of place in it. This picture tells of the coming not of the victor Christ but of the terrors of the wrath of God.
(ii) Quite certainly, the white horse and its rider stand for conquest in war. ... So, then, the white horse and its rider with the bow stand for militarism and conquest."
God is instrumental in initating the rise to power of the man of sin in Revelation 6:1-2. From God alone kings receive their power.
"And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (Revelation 17:15-18)
God will be proactive in using the man of sin, Satan and the people of the world as instruments to fulfill His own plan. They will think that this was all their own doing, but all the time God will have been using their actions to accomplish His own goals!
"For promotion [cometh] neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God [is] the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." (Psalm 75:6-7)
"The king's heart [is] in the hand of the LORD, [as] the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." (Proverbs 21:1)
"Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him." (Daniel 2:20-22)
God can send forth a lying spirit.
"And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade [him], and prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee." (1 Kings 22:22-23)
God can raise up terrible and dreadful people for His own purposes.
"For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, [that] bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces [that are] not theirs." (Habakkuk 1:6)
"The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Proverbs 16:4)
Other Old Testament Verses Indicating Wrath of God in Revelation 6
In Revelation 6, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, by opening the seals, brings upon the earth dwellers not only every mountain and island moving out of their places, a great earthquake, and a terrible conqueror, but also: war; famine; death; killing by beasts of the earth; avenging due to martyrdom; and disturbances in the sun, moon, the stars, and heavens.
Numerous Bible passages indicate that these events of Revelation 6 are the wrath of God:
"Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my swordshall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, andthe year of recompences for the controversy of Zion." (Isaiah 34:1-8)
"Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle. Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet. Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thuswith them in the time of thine anger." (Jeremiah 18:21-23)
"And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:" (Jeremiah 32:36-37)
"A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my furyto rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my furyin them." (Ezekiel 5:12-13)
"He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them." (Ezekiel 6:12)
"The time is come, the day draweth near: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn: for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof. For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, although they were yet alive: for the vision is touching the whole multitude thereof, which shall not return; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life. They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof. The swordis without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him." (Ezekiel 7:12-15)
"The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD. If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts: Though these three men were in it, asI live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate. Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men werein it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness. For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?" (Ezekiel 14:12-21)
"For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that areupon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother." (Ezekiel 38:19-21)
So there are numerous indications that God's wrath is being poured out upon all the inhabitants of the earth during Revelation 6. As another example, the opening of the second seal by the Lamb of God results in peace being taken from the entire earth. While discussing the results of the Lamb of God opening the second seal, William Barclay refers to Zechariah 14:13. "Every man's hand shall be against the hand of his neighbor".
Church Is Not Appointed To Wrath
All on earth are affected by the wrath of the Lamb due to His opening of the seals. As such, the true church, which is not appointed to the wrath of God, cannot be on earth during this time.
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36)
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;" (Romans 1:18)
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5:9)
"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." (Ephesians 5:6)
"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ," (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
Praise Jesus Christ for not appointing His church to His wrath to
all the inhabitants of earth in Revelation 6!
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