As we prepare to discuss the details surrounding the opening of the Sixth Seal of Revelation 6 with an earthquake which the Bible foretells to be the most devastating quake in human history up to that point in time, it is important that a little groundwork be laid first.
So far in our study of Seals 1-5, although there have been spiritual forces operating in the unseen realm, we have for the most part seen the outplay of major physical events in our world involving war, pestilence, drought, and famine. These have all been in play throughout the entire 2,000 years of Church history but they have increased significantly over the centuries, both in frequency and intensity—especially in the last 130 years or so. This is also the case with the number of Christian martyrs who have been gathering under the altar in the Throne Room of God since the first Christian martyr, Stephen, was killed in the first century. There have now been more Christians killed for their faith in Jesus Christ in the last century than in all the prior 20 centuries combined—especially since the year 2000.
At this point in the unfolding chronology of events in the Book of Revelation, there is a growing supernatural element evident on the earth. The convergence of supernatural forces with the natural world—especially as events unfold in such a short period of time, will bring about extraordinary repercussions in our physical world. The intrusion of the spiritual world upon the natural world will bring about sudden destruction, such as our world has not seen or experienced. It was Jesus who said that the time of the Apocalypse would be the worst time in history since man has been upon the earth and nothing like it will ever happen again. The Old Testament prophet Daniel recorded the warning given to him by an angel in Daniel 12:1:
“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.
Let’s now view the passage in Revelation 6:12-17:
12 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. 13 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. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 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, 16 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! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come and who is able to stand?”
As we read this passage, we can recognize that there are some substantial events being described which will have catastrophic effects on the earth. It is interesting to note that, other than the fact that the Lamb of God (Jesus) is the One that opens the Sixth Seal, there is no specific cause suggested in these verses for this many-faceted series of disastrous events, starting with the largest earthquake ever experienced in the history of mankind on this earth to that point.
For the few who have watched the changes in the delicate balance that God had originally created to govern all of the systems of our beautiful blue planet, it is not hard to see that we have arrived at a crisis point. Whereas in times past there may have been a way for things to be brought back to normal, that is not the case today, and I’m not necessarily referring to the COVID-19 virus which has plagued our world for the last 3 years. I am referring to much, much greater problems. Things have devolved to the extent that it seems we have gone past a point of no return. The unfolding of a series of events that appear to be part and parcel of the Sixth Seal would not be a surprise to those who know Bible prophecy nor to those who have knowledge of the great changes in our planet’s systems, as well as what is happening in the cosmos.
Could there be an unmentioned cause of this superquake? I, as well as a number of others who have researched the subject, believe that the Rapture / Harpazo event which includes the resurrection of true Christians, their transformation to their glorified bodies, and their catching up into the presence of Jesus, will bring about an unprecedented, violent convulsion or spasm of the entire crust of the earth. This is based on information gleaned in examination of Scripture references describing what happened at the time of the Resurrection of our Messiah Jesus, the resurrection of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, and what has been scientifically determined to have happened in the tomb of Jesus when He was resurrected through extensive forensic examination of the Shroud of Turin.
Earthquake at Jesus’ Resurrection
Although, for the sake of brevity, a full study of the possible effects of a resurrection such as that of Jesus Christ and that of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 cannot be properly examined as it should be in this writing, as a bit of background information, I would like to refer to something about His resurrection that is often missed when the account is read in the gospels.
In our Bibles, we have accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in all four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The last three, for the most part, provide pretty much the same details of the resurrection. Matthew, however, reveals something the other writers do not. Matthew embeds some details of the moments surrounding Jesus’ death. According to Matthew 27:51-54, after Jesus cried out, the temple curtain was torn in two as He gave up His spirit. The other gospels agree with this but Matthew includes a parenthetical statement concerning a mystifying group of saints, not mentioned by the others.
51 Then behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God.”
Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention a centurion who made a proclamation that Jesus must have been the Son of God. Matthew, although also mentioning a centurion, was the only one who disclosed an earthquake in his storyline, and it seems out of place with the mention of the veil in the temple being torn in two and the strange phenomena of the three hours of darkness. Matthew’s account said that the shaking of the earth caused the tombs of many saints to open and their resurrection from the dead. He then includes the fact that these saints were not resurrected until after the resurrection of Jesus.
John does not mention any earthquake happening at the time of Jesus’ death, or even shortly afterward. If anyone would have recorded an earthquake at His death, it would have been John since he was the only disciple in close proximity at Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent death. As John detailed the soldiers coming to break the legs of those crucified with Jesus, did he mention anyone running in fear because of a violent earthquake which shook the entire area with enough violence to split rocks? No. Instead, a Roman guard had enough time to pierce Jesus’ side with a spear to confirm He was really dead. Neither did any of the women present run in fear, or even Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who came and removed Christ’s body from the cross.
The most reasonable explanation is that the earthquake of Matthew 27:54 happened at the resurrection of Jesus Christ, followed by the resurrection of the many saints. The verse is a summary of the reaction of the centurion and guards of the entire string of events in Matthew 27:51-53. The critical detail is the opening of the tombs of the saints. Unless the tombs opened without an obvious reason, the earthquake happened at the moment of the resurrection of Jesus, not at His death. Otherwise, the tombs of the saints would have been laying open for three days until Jesus was resurrected, which would trigger them to come out of their graves. Jesus was in fact, the firstfruits of the resurrection. He had to rise first. The Apostle Paul made it quite clear that Christ was the firstfruits of the resurrection to an immortal body.
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order, Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (emphasis mine)
I am convinced that those who died in Christ since the beginning of the Church Age will be resurrected and caught up when Jesus appears in the clouds at the end of the Church Age!
The Trumpet Voice of God
The power of God’s voice is mentioned numerous times in Scripture, including in the Book of Job as well as in the Psalms. We also have the account of John the Revelator in Revelation 1 describing the voice of the risen and glorified Jesus with a voice that sounded like a trumpet.
There is something about the physical voice of God that we should consider at this point. (I would like to make mention of an excellent book written by author David W. Lowe, titled Then His Voice Shook The Earth, copyright 2006, 2012. David Lowe points out some very interesting things about the voice of God that very few commentators or theologians have mentioned.) We’ll take a brief look at what the Bible has to say about the subject as it is integral to our understanding of what really happens at the breaking of the Sixth Seal.
Exodus 19 gives us an example of God’s power being on display as Moses gives a description of what happened when God came down to Mount Sinai with the people gathered below.
16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him by voice. Exodus 19:16-19
God’s trumpet blast in this passage is long and becomes increasingly louder. We also read that the entire mountain shook violently. We find another description of it in Psalms.
O God, when You went out before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness, the earth shook; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel. Psalm 68:7-8
This passage gives us a description of God accompanying the people of Israel through their trek in the wilderness. A shaking is described as affecting the earth, with the very mountains being moved by the presence of God. It is not clear whether the quaking of the mountain range is because of God’s descent in fire or the voice of the trumpet sounding, or maybe even both. We have a passage in the Book of Hebrews, however, that ties the knot for us. The Apostle Paul leaves no question as to what caused the shaking on Mount Sinai. The first phrase of Hebrews 12:26 clears it up.
Then His voice shook the earth… Hebrews 12:26a
The supernatural trumpet voice of God is what shook the earth at Mount Sinai. The voice of God sounded like a trumpet reverberating when being blown, yet he was uttering words as He was speaking to Moses.
As we look a bit deeper into the Hebrews passage we find something even more interesting. Not only do we find that the “last trumpet” is the same as the “trumpet of God,” but we also find that this same trumpet of God will be sounded just before the resurrection of the dead in Christ. In addition, the trumpet of God is His voice uttering words, and when sounded, it shakes the earth. In the last phrase of Hebrews 12:26, we find the key to what Paul meant when he said the last trump of God will sound before the dead in Christ will be resurrected and caught up.
After explaining that it was the trumpet voice of God that caused the mountain to shake violently in Exodus 19, Paul goes on to make another statement that should get everyone’s attention when it is read. I will include some context leading up to verse 26:
18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded… 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling)” 26 …whose voice then shook the earth: but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake, not only the earth, but also heaven.” Hebrews 12:18, 19, 21, 26 (emphasis mine)
The prophet Haggai also made reference to this event:
5 “According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!” 6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: “Once more; it is a little while, I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations…” Haggai 2:5-6 (emphasis mine)
There are several things we can surmise from what we have read:
- God’s voice shook the earth at Mount Sinai
- Once again God’s voice will shake the earth, but not only the earth, the heavens also
- When God’s voice shakes the earth and the cosmos will be the last time He does so.
The statement, “once more” makes more things clear:
- Something took place in the past—at least one time
- It will happen again
This “once more” is perfectly describing what the Apostle Paul called “The Last Trump”. This time, it will bring about the resurrection of the dead in Christ. This removes the confusion around the misunderstanding that the 7th Trumpet Judgment is synonymous with the Last Trump of God. The 7th Trumpet is blown by an angel whereas the Last Trump is clearly the voice of GOD Himself!
1 Thessalonians lays the progression out for us:
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore, comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
This brings us to a very important point in our study and how this connects with the Sixth Seal of Revelation 6. Where in the chronology of Revelation, would the resurrection of the dead fit within the description of a massive shaking of the earth and the cosmos? This event must unfold before both the Day of God’s Wrath and the appearance of the resurrected and caught-up believers in the clouds. We find the description within the events taking place at the opening of the Sixth Seal.
In Revelation 6:12-14 we have a great shaking; so violent that the mountains are moved out of place, islands are moved in the sea. The passage also describes a shaking in the cosmos, but we will address that a little later on. This event takes place before the day of the beginning of the Great Apocalypse (synonymous with the Great and Terrible Day of the LORD as described by both the prophets Joel and Zephaniah). Evidence will be presented concerning the timing of the beginning of the actual beginning of the 7 years of the Apocalypse as we continue this series of articles.
Quoting from David Lowe’s book, “Then His Voice Shook The Earth”, the author had this to say:
Connecting the events of the post-exodus Mount Sinai experience, Haggai’s prophecy of God’s voice “once more” shaking both the earth and the heavens, and Paul’s association of these two passages in Hebrews chapter 12, a startling conclusion can be drawn. The “last trumpet” is a reference to the trumpet voice of God sounding once more in the future, at the resurrection of the dead in Christ, shaking the earth and the heavens in fulfillment of the prophecy of Haggai.
Now Paul’s journeys to Mount Sinai, in the footsteps of his ancestral mentor Elijah, is not only logical, but also quite compelling. Perhaps Paul went there for further instruction on his new commission from the Lord, and in the process was shown a revelation of the future catching-up event, as well as the powerful voice of the trumpet which once more will shake both the earth and heavens at the resurrection of the dead in Christ.
An equally important pattern portends for a global earth shaking at the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and serves to corroborate Paul’s revelation of the global shaking resulting from the trumpet voice of God. This pattern is evident within the detailed descriptions of the three resurrections to immortal bodies recorded in the New Testament, Jesus Christ, the many saints of Matthew chapter 27, and the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11.
As we examine the resurrections in the examples above—especially the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the supernatural power that brought it about, it is not hard to have a logical understanding of the immense supernatural power that will be brought to bear on every square foot of Planet Earth’s lands, seas, lakes, mountains, islands, deserts, caves, etc. in order to bring about the resurrection of hundreds of millions, if not billions of believers that have been scattered across every continent of our planet. The Trumpet Voice of GOD will expose, shake loose, and reassemble every single atom from every single one of God’s people and transform each individual person and equip them with the glorious, immortal, supernatural, eternal body God had in mind for us from before the foundations of the earth were ever laid! What a day that will be!
–Continued in Part Eight–