SIXTH SEAL, PART 1
looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake;
and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.
And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs
when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is
rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the
kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men,
every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves 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 who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For
the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation
far the five seals we have studied reveal an unpleasant picture of the history
of the church. The first seal reveals the triumphant body of Christ going out in
the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit and spreading the gospel throughout the
then-known world. Seals 2, 3, and 4 show us the sickening decline from that
original glory to a church that is totally apostate, which actually separates
people from God. With the fifth seal we find God moving to affect the recovery
of the church to the understanding of justification and entire sanctification
that cleanses people from sin and enables them to live holy lives. But, the
church of the fifth seal progressed only that far and stopped short of the full
meaning of the gospel.
the sixth seal, we see God intervening once again and bringing to light that
last aspect of the gospel that is essential to restore the church once again to
the church Christ built on the Rock—Himself. The scenes of the sixth seal
finish out chapter six of the Revelation and go on to include the entire seventh
chapter. There is much to see here, but there is so little about it that has
been recorded specifically in history. The fifth seal resulted in the
proliferation of Protestant sects and non-conforming sects all of which agreed
on the authority of the Word of God and the essentials of gospel salvation. As
much as this was a significant move towards the church built by Jesus Christ, it
ends up in confusion that leads to the trauma of the sixth seal.
sixth seal opens with a traumatic scene of what appears to be a disaster—and
for some people it was indeed a disaster. The sixth seal is called The Great Day
of His Wrath. We must ask, “At what is the Wrath of the Lamb directed?” The
answer is in the earthquake. You will recall that Death, the rider of the black
horse of the fourth seal, had power to kill with the beasts of the earth. This
earthquake takes place in the earth of these beasts.
have seen that Roman Catholicism is spiritually dead and ineffective being no
more than an earthly institution committed to the traditions of men that profess
to be the vicar of Christ.
souls under the altar in the fifth seal cried out to God for more light on the
gospel. As their new churches began to formalize, they essentially became part
of the State so that they were state churches. As such, they stopped with the
gospel light they had and went no further. In this they followed suit with
Romanism and became earthly institutions rather than the body of Christ.
the Protestant Reformation, churches came into being that tried to advance the
light of the gospel and were in turn persecuted by other Protestants as the
Protestants were persecuted by Rome. Those independent churches were the voices
of all those under the altar crying out to God for a deeper understanding of the
gospel and a deeper experience with God. They did not want to be caught up in
the earthly religion of the formalized churches. In answer to their prayers, God
now in the sixth seal shakes the foundations of these earthly church systems.
the foundations of these earthly churches were shaken, a voice was heard that
changed the Christian landscape. In Hebrews 12:28 the writer of Hebrews tells us
there is one place in the world of churches that cannot be shaken.
since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by
which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
what is this kingdom that cannot be shaken? The writer identifies it in verses
you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly
Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and
church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all,
to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new
covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of
is Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem; both appear later in the Revelation. What
are Mt. Zion and this heavenly Jerusalem? It is the church of the firstborn,
that which is in Jesus and purchased by His blood. Which church was purchased
with the blood of Christ? The answer is given in Acts 20:28.
take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has
made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His
name church of God is not used here as a proper name but a generic name for all
that are saved from sin through the blood of Christ. The church of God is far
larger than any denomination, church, group, congregation or fellowship as it
includes all the redeemed.
Matthew 16:18 Jesus says that He built His church on the rock, meaning Himself
and particularly the atonement for sin He brought about through His death and
resurrection. We saw that glorious church going out conquering and to conquer in
the first seal. We saw its leadership usurped by men and its fall into apostasy
in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seals. We saw a gradual restoration of part of the
gospel under the 5th seal, but in all these seals, the visible church-at-large
was earthly and not that which is built on the Rock, Jesus Christ. Yet during
those interminable centuries there were those that, according to the letters to
the seven churches, were overcomers. These precious souls could not enjoy the
visible church as Jesus built it; they were that church existing in exile and
obscured by the earthly churches. Under the fifth seal we see the souls under
the altar reaching for this kingdom that cannot be shaken but, they are not
quite able to attain it. Jesus always has been the head of His church, and now
with the souls under the altar praying for gospel light, Jesus, the Lamb, the
Glorified Christ, determines it is time to restore HIS church, the church of God
in a visible form.
earthquake rattles Rome, its ilk and Protestantism to set the church of God free
from the spiritual bondage it has been in for a millennium-and-a-half.
Effects of the Earthquake
things happen from this earthquake.
first is that the sun is darkened as black as sackcloth. We earlier learned that
the sun in the Revelation represents the gospel. We know that in Rome there was
no light of the sun, no true gospel teaching. The gospel was taught in
Protestantism, although it was mixed with sacramentalism. Sackcloth is a garment
of mourning and because Protestantism would only go so far in teaching the
gospel, it caused the devout and sincere to go into mourning because they could
not find all the gospel had for them.
moon became like blood. The light of the moon is a reflection of the sun’s
light; in that sense, we understand that the Old Testament reflects the light of
the New Testament. Salvation under the Old Testament was by means of faith
placed in the sacrificial rites of the Law of Moses. Those sacrifices could not
take away sin according to Hebrews 10:4; verse 1 tells us those sacrifices were
“only a shadow of good things to come” and in verse 10 we are told those
shadows reflected the atonement in Christ; “By that will we have been
sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” In
this we see that the prophetic utterances of the Old Testament relating to the
complete work of salvation, which includes the building of the church by Christ,
became like blood. The implication is in association with the sackcloth, the
garment of mourning, the blood is like the blood of the dead—no life in it.
third thing is that the stars of heaven fell to the earth. There are three
lights in the heavens that can be seen from the earth: the sun, the moon, and
the stars. There is only one sun and one moon, but there are countless stars,
each having only a sparkle of light. From this we suggest that stars are a
metaphor for the ministry of the church. As the earthquake shakes the earthly
churches, the gospel light is darkened and because of that the ministry of the
earthly churches find themselves crashing down to the earth along with their
churches. With the Reformation, ministers delighted in preaching from the word
of God, but as the Reformation cooled, the churches became formalized and it
soon came to pass that preaching followed the models of their creeds or
confessions, rather than from the word of God on its own.
response to the earthquake and the darkening of the teachings of the churches,
the sky itself receded as a scroll that is rolled up. What is this sky? Before
answering that question, what is described in this sixth seal sounds very much
like what Jesus prophesied in the Olivet Discourse as recorded in Matthew
after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will
not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the
heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,
and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of
Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send
His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His
elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
the hardship God’s people experience during the apostasy and even during the
Reformation, the sign of the Son of Man appears in heaven. At the revelation of
this sign, the New Testament, Old Testament, and ministry of the visible
church-at-large lose their light and fall to the earth—they become earthly in
their practice of religion rather than spiritual. Jesus also says that He will
come in the clouds of heaven with His angels who will blow trumpets and gather
His elect from one end of the earth to the other. So, it seems from what Jesus
prophesied that the sky has something to do with the church.
3:16 shows the Trinity revealed from the sky at the baptism of Jesus. “So
Jesus was baptized. And as soon as he came out of the water, the sky opened, and
he saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove.” (CEV)
His resurrection, Acts 1:10 records that Jesus went up into the sky, “but as
he went up, they kept looking up into the sky. Suddenly two men dressed in white
clothes were standing there beside them. They said, ‘Why are you men from
Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to
heaven. But he will come back in the same way that you have seen him go.’” (CEV)
Not only did Jesus go up into the sky, He will return the same way.
of Tarsus was struck down by light while on his way to Damascus. From where did
this light come? Acts 26:13 answers the question, “right in the middle of the
day a blaze of light, light outshining the sun, poured out of the sky on me and
my companions.” (MSG).
the end of time, the resurrection of the dead will be prompted by a trumpet
blast when Christ returns. 1 Corinthians 15:52,
“It will all happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last
trumpet is blown. For there will be a trumpet blast from the sky, and all the
Christians who have died will suddenly become alive, with new bodies that will
never, never die; and then we who are still alive shall suddenly have new bodies
passages suggest a close relationship between the Glorified Christ and the sky.
Therefore we understand that the sky that recedes as a scroll under this seal is
none other than the body of Christ the church Christ built through the
atonement. Colossians 1:18, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who
is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have
the opening of the sixth seal, an inconvenient truth was revealed from the
Scriptures: Christ built His church, which contains all the redeemed regardless
of their affiliation with Rome, its cohorts, or the Protestant Churches. 1
Corinthians 12:12 makes this truth abundantly clear.
as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body,
being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all
baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and
have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
Opening of the Sixth Seal
Church of God Reformation Movement with which we are familiar likes to think of
itself as this church pictured in the sixth seal. Their interpreting the time
symbols in the Revelation produced the date 1880 as the opening of the sixth
seal, which conveniently happens to be the year D. S. Warner published his book Bible
Proofs of the Second Work of Grace. However, the truth of the Biblical
church had been rediscovered 80 years before
Warner’s book. This truth was reintroduced into the church-at-large in 1801.
The movement that grew out of this truth did influence Warner leading to the
Church of God Reformation Movement in his time.
1801, the Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky planted the seed of what became known
as the Restoration Movement, sometimes called the Primitive Church Movement.
Barton W. Stone and five other Presbyterian ministers publish a book titled Last
Will in which they announced their withdrawal from Presbyterianism and their
intention to be solely part of the body of Christ. They appealed for the unity
of all who follow Jesus, the independence of local churches, and proclaimed the
Bible as the source for understanding the will of God. They denounced the
Westminster Confession and adopted the word Christian as the name of their
group. Two other groups emerged along the same lines and joined together in 1810
calling themselves the Christian Connection or the Christian Church.
Campbell was suspended from the Presbyterian Church in 1809, and organized the
Christian Association of Washington, Washington County, PA. This was not
intended to be a church, but rather an association of persons seeking to grow in
faith. In 1811 the association reconstituted itself as a church that became
known as Bush Run Church.
Stone and Campbell movements merged in 1832. The Stone movement was
characterized by strict freedom from denominationalism and the loathing of
creeds. The Campbell movement was characterized by what they called systematic
and rational reconstruction of the church. Both movements saw adhering to
apostolic Christianity as a means of bringing on the millennium. Both saw
restoring the early church as the way to Christian freedom. And both believed
that unity among Christians could be achieved by using apostolic Christianity as
a model. Eventually the movement divided into the Disciples of Christ and the
Churches of Christ in 1906.
Winebrenner was a minister of the German Reformed Church. Winebrenner was an
ardent revivalist and was criticized by many in the church. For this he was
suspended in 1828. He abandoned Calvinism theology for Arminianism and was
rebaptized in 1830. In that year he and some co-laborers organized the General
Eldership of the Church of God, which also included people from several
different denominations, demonstrating the diversity and inclusiveness of the
Sidney Warner was converted in February 1865 and was licensed by the West Ohio
Eldership of the Church of God (Winebrennarian). Having entered into the
experience of entire sanctification and ardently teaching holiness, he was
finally excommunicated in 1881. Warner was Editor and Publisher of the holiness
paper, The Gospel Trumpet, and through this paper and his extensive revival
tours a movement was born that held to the principles of the Restoration
Movement but eschewing the organizational governances that had come into being
in those churches. Warner and his associates believed the sixth seal opened in
1880 and saw themselves as the initial movement under that seal—the tip of the
Sky Is Rolled Up
the sixth seal we see the sky recede as a scroll when it is rolled up. When
smoothed out and let go, a scroll will automatically roll itself up to be
carried off. This pictures the snatching of God’s church out of the clutches
of the visible and earthly church-at-large While we do not apply a specific date
to the opening of the sixth seal, we do see the Biblical truth of the church
coming to light again at the beginning of the 1800s.
rediscovery of the biblical teaching of the church sends a shockwave through the
world of the church-at-large that results in two things. The mountains and
islands are moved out of their place. That is, some people begin to see that the
churches and denominations that make up the visible church-at-large are not in
fact the church built by Jesus Christ. Other people hide themselves in the rocks
and caves. The people mentioned are those that hold to their churches even
though they are proved not to be the church Jesus built, but instead are manmade
people seek safety in their churches from Him who sits on the throne and from
the wrath of the Lamb. You will recall that we saw the throne and the Lamb in
chapter 5. There we also saw the attributes and graces of the redeemed in
relation to the throne. As the sixth seal opens, we find people not advancing in
the light of God’s word but thinking they are obeying God by disobeying God.
great day of His wrath has come. The Glorified Christ does not take lightly the
false representation of His church that has gone on for over 1500 years. The
sixth seal continues in chapter 7. We will find that the church of God is once
again revealed. We will also see that the church of God is not limited to any
particular movement or group. There is indeed a visible component to the church
of God just as there is a visible component to that which is now obviously the