The Sixth Seal

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Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative | Inclination: promise | Seminary: none

Of all the seals, trumpets, and bowls, the sixth seal is unique. When Jesus breaks the seal, an event occurs on earth without any mention of an angel carrying out God’s judgment.

Whenever God does something to earth, He either does it Himself (Gen 1:1-31), or uses an angelic mediator (Gen 19:12-13) or human agent (Ex 4:1-9, 17). In like manner pertaining to earth, when a seal is broken, a trumpet sounds, or a bowl is poured, angels are mentioned as carrying out God's judgment upon earth. The exception is the sixth seal when the apostle John just records what happens on earth.

Another unique feature is that the catastrophic events of the sixth seal appear to be very similar, if not identical, to the events caused by the seventh bowl (Rev 16:17-21).

When the sixth seal is broken, there is a "great earthquake" and "every mountain and island were moved out of their places" (Rev 6:12-14).

When the seventh bowl is poured, there was a "great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty" and "every island fled away, and the mountains were not found" (Rev 16:18-20).

If an angel is required to carry out God's judgment, then the breaking of the sixth seal encompasses all of the subsequent events from the seventh seal to the seventh bowl.

When Jesus Christ breaks the sixth seal, the apostle John records the resulting consequence.

In the course of recording the events of the seventh seal, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls, the apostle is observing the successive angelic mediated events that culminate in the catastrophic event of the seventh bowl which appears contemporaneously as the sixth seal.

On a chart, this appears as follows:

Seal 6
Seal 7 Trumpets 1-7 Bowls 1-7

There are two significant implications with this view:

1. The book of Revelation can be read naturally as a continuous narrative including each interlude in its place; God's unfolding plan of judgment can be understood in a continuous sequential manner.

2. While the sixth seal and seventh bowl may appear redundant, God's work of judgment is completely done after the sixth seal and its consequence fully realized (Rev 15:1; 16:17). Just as He completes Creation in six days (Gen 2:2), God completes His work of judgment in six seals.

For deeper study:

The Sixth Seal

Series: The Doctrine on Eschatology
The Fifth Seal

Series: The Doctrine on Eschatology
Interlude: The 144,000 Bond Servants

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