I 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?” 6:12-17
The Stars Fall From Heaven
The word, earthquake, is singular. There will be just one earthquake at that time. The sun will become black as sackcloth of hair. Sackcloth is, very literally, the cloth used for making sacks, and that cloth is made from the hair of certain black goats. It is a very course material, and for a person to wear it indicated either extreme poverty or mourning, Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. Genesis 37:34
It should not seem surprising that the sun became black because a great earthquake, such as the one just mentioned, could also open up many volcanoes and ash would be spewed into the atmosphere to such an extent that the sun becomes darkened.
Mr Smith**, in writing about this seal, reiterated specific events in history, which, according to him, are the fulfillment of this prophecy. Concerning the 1755 earthquake in Europe, and surrounding areas, he writes, Flames are related to have issued from these mountains…they (the mountains) are also said to have smoked. The volcanoes affect neither the sun nor the moon but it seems that way to the people who see them from the earth. With that happening, there would also come all the associated problems in weather, agriculture, husbandry, and life in general. It follows that people who see the moon through a screen of ash will see it as being a darker color. It will shine red, like blood.
The statement, the stars of heaven fell to the earth, leaves much room for confusion. Clearly, the stars we see, are suns of other solar systems, and since anyone of those suns is many times larger than our earth there is no way that stars (in plural) could land on the earth. Four different authors have three different answers to this problem.
Wuest# translates it as the meteors of the heavens fell to the earth. If we were to accept this translation, the fact that John uses the simile of a fig tree losing its fruit in a storm, certainly indicates that many meteorites will be hurtling this way.
Mr Smith** agrees with Wuest, but specifies that the meteorite shower happened on Nov. 13, 1833.
Unger says stars denote the princes, rulers, and nobles of the earth. This, however, is an illogical explanation, if one accepts the apparent changes in the sun, moon and the great earthquake as actually, physically happening. In his translation, he did not explain in what sense these people fell to the earth, or why only the important people fell.
Foster*** says the word, unto, (as it is used in the KJV), is often translated as toward and that is the way it should be translated here. His meaning is that the stars come closer to the earth, but not onto the earth. This seems somewhat illogical; with all the havoc on the earth, caused by the great earthquake, would the people of the earth be at all concerned about what the stars are doing in the heavens; or would it even be visible through the cloud of ash?
Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up. The word recede can mean to pull away. Wuest# uses the word, removed. In ancient times, after the reader was finished with portions of scripture, or other writings, the scroll was rolled together. That is, the two spools that held the parchment were rolled one toward the other, to be put away for safe keeping, until the next time it was needed. Like that, John records, the atmosphere will be rolled up. Every mountain and island were moved, refers back to the great earthquake of 6:12.
From the richest king to the poorest slave, all will hide in the caves and in the rocks. Every one of them will say to the mountains and rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of Almighty God and from the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come. With such a great upheaval in the earth’s crust, it is believable that many caves and rocks, to hide in or under, would become available.
About the sixth seal, Wycliffe Bible Commentary writes, Events transpiring at the opening of the sixth seal must be placed at the end of this age. That would mean it must happen before the return of Christ.
In order to do that, a rearrangement of the book of The Revelation is necessary, and that seems to be the only logical way to get a meaningful grasp on The Revelation.
Each trumpet blast and each associated bowl of wrath is the same event; the effects will have residual consequences and these will follow in sequence with the seventh trumpet/the seventh bowl being the last one.
Having...in his hand a sharp sickle. 14:14 The great day of His wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand? 6:17 A well-known TV preacher said that when he “gets to heaven he is going to strut into God's presence”. We can rest assured that after the angels have finished their reaping, and have cut proud people down at their knees; their strutting days will be over!
** A Commentary of Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, Seventh Day Adventist.
# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.
*** Shadow of the Antichrist by Ivan Foster, Free Presbyterian