The question we face as we come to the sixth seal is when is this seal opened? Some believe that it is opened at the mid-trib. point. Others think it is at the time of the battle of armeggedon. It is my opinion, that this seal is opened very early in the tribulation period.
As the sixth seal is opened, six catastrophic events occur. There is no reason to interpret these events as other than literal happenings.
FIRST - A great earthquake takes place (vs.12). This is a great world-wide earthquake. I believe this the same earthquake that we read about in Ezekiel 38:19-20, this is God's response to the invasion of Israel by Russia and her allies very early in the tribulation period. We read also about what will accompany this great quake, (See Ezek. 38:22).
SECOND - John goes on to tell us, "the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, verse 12. Notice the word "as", a word of comparison, it appeared as if the sun became sackcloth of hair.
THIRD - "The moon became as blood", again it does not say the moon became blood, but that it appears as blood. We are not told the cause, It could be air pollution from nuclear explosions, or it could be caused by the fire sent down from heaven.
FOURTH - "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs" (vs.13). A shower of stars or asteroids and meteorites will cause great destruction on the earth. I visited the site of crator in Arizona which was caused by a falling meteor, the crator was a mile wide and as deep as a 75 story building. What utter destruction when God begins to shake the heavens! Fear yes, more than fear utter terror will be universal.
FIFTH - "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together;" (vs.14). This is the atmospheric heavens. This is a description what happens to the atmosphere during an atomic explosion, however I suspect this a direct act of God. We cannot begin to imagine the terror when God shakes the heavens. Defiant sinners will have cause to be terrified.
SIXTH - "and every mountain and every island were moved out of their places" (vs.14) All of these events strike absolute terror into the hearts of unrepent sinners.
Notice in verses 15,16 the awful terror of the Lord that falls on all men everywhere "hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb". The most striking thing in all of this is that though men fear God, yet they do not repent, instead of repenting, they look for a place to hide, and this, like Pharaoh of old, results in the hardening of their hearts. See Rev. 9:20,21 and 16:9,11. In fact these men in our text would rather die than repent, and that is why hell is forever.
Next week, we will attempt to draw a parallel between the sixth seal and Ezekiel 38 & 39.