“I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind. The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places.” Revelation 6:12-14
John is about to announce the wrath of God. God is bringing about a change; something that is going to have a worldwide effect. What we are seeing in the sixth seal is what Jesus talked about in Matthew, “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29) The prophet Joel spoke of these same phenomenas in connection with the day of the Lord, “The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.” (Joel 2:31)
First disaster will be a great earthquake. There have been many earthquakes in recorded history and more during the first half of the tribulation (Matthew 24:7). Yet the event John saw in this seal is to be far more powerful and devastating than any previous earthquake. The second disaster the sun will turn into darkness. Darkness is associated with judgment. The third disaster is closely connected with the darkening of the sun, as the whole “moon became like blood.” There will be vast clouds of ash and smoke spewed out by the volcanic activity associated with the great worldwide earthquake. That ash and smoke will eclipse the moon, coloring it blood red as it attempts to pierce the smoke-darkened sky. Then, out of the darkened sky comes the fourth disaster; John records that the stars of the sky fell to the earth. The word translated “stars” can refer to actual stars, but it can also describe any heavenly body other than the sun and the moon. In this context it does not refer to actual stars, since they are far too large to fall to the earth and would incinerate it long before striking it. Also, the stars are still in place later when the fourth trumpet sounds. The fifth disaster in this seal affects the earth’s atmosphere, because the sky appears to split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up. This is the human perception of the magnitude of this judgment, but is not the final dissolving of heaven, which comes later. John likens the sky to an unrolled scroll that splits in the middle and rolls up on either side. John describes a sixth devastating natural phenomenon, noting that every mountain and island were moved out of their places. The whole unstable crust of the earth begins to move and shift. The devastating natural disasters accompanying the sixth seal will be the most terrifying events ever to affect the earth. Their cumulative impact will be far more destructive than any of the current doomsday scenarios about asteroids hitting the earth. As we move into Chapter 7, we see the mercy of God.