(1) The Signs Begin
The 6th Seal describes earthly and cosmic events that can only be the Day of Judgment:
I watched as He opened the sixth seal. And suddenly there was a great earthquake. The sun became black, like sackcloth made from goat hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when it is shaken by a strong wind. 14 Then the heavens receded like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the rich men and the commanding officers and the strong and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. 16 They 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. Who is able to withstand it?” (Rev. 6:12-17)
These verses accurately describe a time of great catastrophe that will bring an end to the world as we know it through massive earthquakes, asteroid impacts, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.
But notice that this description of Judgment Day only takes up six verses, which is a surprisingly small amount of space for one of the most important events in the history of the planet. More space is given to saints singing in heaven in Rev. 15 than to Judgment Day here. There must be a reason for this lack of information.
Notice that the events of the first five Seals were events that have continued into our present time. The events after the 4th Seal did not immediately result in 1/4th of the world being conquered for Islam; it took 1,400 years. Therefore, the opening of the 6th Seal is actually the beginning of the natural and cosmic events that will ultimately result in the stars falling from the sky, the mountains moving from their places, and a global earthquake. In other words, the opening of this Seal actually starts the birth pains of the coming birth of the Kingdom Age. The events described here are given in greater detail in the 7 Bowls of Wrath in Rev. 16.
This Seal also includes the signs in the heavens designed to warn us of the coming global destruction. When Christ came the first time there were signs in the heavens which brought the wise men to worship Jesus as a future king. Likewise, there will be signs in the heavens before his return to judge the world.
Prophecy teachers have been teaching for over a hundred and fifty years that the end is near, especially the past fifty years, but there have always been wars, famines, and social turmoil. Even though we must look at the world events, these things alone are not signs of the end. The most important signs that Jesus spoke about are not here on Earth but are in the heavens above. Great and momentous events will take place among the planets of our solar system (this is discussed in detail in the Approaching Apocalypse).
In Matthew 24:29 Jesus described the events of the Day of Judgment, “the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” The NIV says, “the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” These events will come upon the entire solar system, which is why the stars will fall and the planets will shake. But before the events of that Day, other less catastrophic events will take place that will serve as warning signs of the coming global destruction. In the book of Luke, Jesus said:
“Great earthquakes will occur in various places, and there will be famines and pestilence. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:11)
The above tells us that “signs” of Christ’s return will be seen in this solar system. Why will the signs of Christ’s return be seen in the sky in the form of fearful events? Because when Christ returns the world will receive massive destruction from the sky, that is, from space.
(2) The Watch Has Begun
There is evidence that the 6th Seal has already opened, because the signs of coming destruction have begun. The 6th Seal may have opened with a series of events in the summer of 1994. On June 9, 1994, a massive earthquake shook many areas of the Western hemisphere. It was centered below Bolivia, South America. What makes it unusual is the depth of the quake, 400 miles down in the earth’s crust. The great depth spread out the force so it shook most of North and South America, including Canada.
Only six weeks after the deep earthquake, a frightening event took place in this solar system; fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into the planet Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, creating explosions greater than nuclear bombs, and triggering fireballs more than 1,500 miles across and rising up more than 600 miles above Jupiter’s clouds. If those fragments had hit Earth it would have blanketed the world with dense dark clouds and created a cosmic winter with freezing temperatures and no crops for years. It would have been the end of the world.
At the same time that the comet fragments were hitting Jupiter, several Southern states were having floods that killed at least 24 people, while most of the western half of the U.S. was having the worst fire season in its history (up to that time). Over 50,000 fires were started, most by lightning strikes. That summer, Europe also had massive flooding. Do you suppose God was trying to tell us something? The deep earthquake was a rare event, and the comet fragments hitting Jupiter was the first such event ever witnessed by humans, plus the floods and the fires. I do not believe that all these things happening together was a coincidence, especially when you consider that the Bible tells us that God’s judgment upon the world will come in the form of a massive earthquake, an asteroid impact, and will include large amounts of lightning and global fire.
The comet fragments hitting Jupiter was a wake-up call. Many scientists became alarmed at the possibility that such an event could happen to Earth. Before the comet Shoemaker-Levy hit Jupiter, most scientists did not take the possibility of an asteroid impact seriously. Dr. Shoemaker was perhaps the only scientist who was looking for earth-crossing asteroids. Since the Jupiter impacts, scientists have changed their minds and have begun looking for danger from space. Several scientific organizations were created for one purpose, to watch for asteroids that could be heading for Earth. One such project is called NEAT, Near Earth Asteroid Tracking system, in Hawaii. Another is called Sky Watch. These and other sky watchers have found many asteroids, some of which could pose a threat to Earth.
Even though Dr. Shoemaker was looking for such asteroids, it was not a known concern or an ongoing project by many people like it has become since the 1994 impacts. And since the comet hitting Jupiter in 1994 is when the world woke up to the danger of asteroid impacts and began watching the skies for asteroids, that is when the “watch” officially began. Therefore, that is likely when the 6th Seal was opened. Remember what Jesus said, the generation that sees the first signs will live to see his return (Luke 21). More evidence that the 6th Seal is open is found later in this chapter.
(3) When You Do Not Expect Him
But, what about the passage that says Christ will come when we do not expect him? Notice the first part of that statement:
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44)
Jesus is talking about destruction coming upon the whole world, so we “must be ready.” How can we watch for the coming thief (Matt. 24:43), and have a shelter ready (for those who do not go in the Raptures) if he will come when we do not expect him? I believe this passage refers to the length of time that has transpired since the time of Christ. Jesus continues speaking about this same subject in the very next parable, which clearly states, “My master is staying away a long time.”
The apostles and the early Church were looking for the return of Christ within a few generations. They did not expect Jesus to stay away for 2,000 years. That is probably what the statement means; that Jesus would stay away a lot longer than expected. It does not refer to catching us by surprise, because he is here warning us to be watching so that we are not caught by surprise.
Jesus knew that because he was going to stay away such a long time that many Christians would stop expecting his return. And, indeed, many Christians no longer believe in his return to set up his Kingdom on Earth and will not believe any warning of the coming asteroid impacts and nuclear war because it does not fit their faulty theology.
(4) Birth Pains of the Earth
Jesus spoke about the birth pains of the earth in Matthew 24:
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Mat. 24:7-8)
The NIV says, “the beginning of birth pains.” Birth pains get more painful as the birth draws near, and they also become more frequent. Since the 6th Seal is most likely open, we can expect to see an increase in natural disasters as we get closer to the return of Christ.
One of the Early Church Fathers, Lactantius (240-320 A.D.), spoke about the GT in a manner that can only come from a vision or prophecy, or from teaching passed down directly from the twelve Apostles. It also agrees with everything in the Bible and agrees with other prophecies that are believed to be genuine, and scientific information:
Then, in truth, a detestable and abominable time shall come, in which life shall be pleasant to none of men. Cities shall be utterly overthrown, and shall perish; not only by fire and the sword, but also by continual earthquakes and floods, and by frequent diseases and repeated famines. For the atmosphere will be tainted, and become corrupt and pestilential — at one time by unseasonable rains, at another by barren drought, now by colds, and now by excessive heats. Nor will the earth give its fruit to man: no field, or tree, or vine will produce anything; but after they have given the greatest hope in the blossom, they will fail in the fruit. Fountains also shall be dried up, together with the rivers; so that there shall not be a sufficient supply for drinking; and waters shall be changed into blood or bitterness. On account of these things, beasts shall fail on the land, and birds in the air, and fishes in the sea.
Wonderful prodigies [signs, wonders] also in heaven shall confound the minds of men with the greatest terrors, and the trains of comets, and the darkness of the sun, and the color of the moon, and the gliding of the falling stars. Nor, however, will these things take place in the accustomed manner; but there will suddenly appear stars unknown and unseen by the eyes; the sun will be perpetually darkened, so that there will be scarcely any distinction between the night and the day; the moon will now fail, not for three hours only, but overspread with perpetual blood, will go through extraordinary movements, so that it will not be easy for man to ascertain the courses of the heavenly bodies or the system of the times; for there will either be summer in the winter, or winter in the summer.
Then the year will be shortened, and the month diminished, and the day contracted into a short space; and stars shall fall in great numbers, so that all the heaven will appear dark without any lights. The loftiest mountains also will fall, and be leveled with the plains; the sea will be rendered un-navigable.”
And that nothing may be wanting to the evils of men and the earth, the trumpet shall be heard from heaven, which the Sibyl foretells in this manner: “The trumpet from heaven shall utter its wailing voice. And then all shall tremble and quake at that mournful sound.” But then, through the anger of God against the men who have not known righteousness, the sword and fire, famine and disease, shall reign; and, above all things, fear always overhanging. Then they shall call upon God, but He will not hear them; death shall be desired, but it will not come; not even shall night give rest to their fear, nor shall sleep approach to their eyes, but anxiety and watchfulness shall consume the souls of men; they shall deplore and lament, and gnash their teeth; they shall congratulate the dead, and bewail the living. Through these and many other evils there shall be desolation on the earth, and the world shall be disfigured and deserted, which is thus expressed in the verses of the Sibyl: “The world shall be despoiled of beauty, through the destruction of men.”
For the human race will be so consumed, that scarcely the tenth part of men will be left; and from whence a thousand had gone forth, scarcely a hundred will go forth. Of the worshippers of God also, two parts will perish; and the third part, which shall have been proved, will remain. (The Divine Institutes, Book VII (7), chapter 16)
According to Lactantius, not only sinners will die, but also two-thirds of all Christians will die. The oceans becoming unnavigable agrees with what Jesus said about the tossing of the sea in Luke 21:25. Much of what Lactantius describes will take place near the return of Christ, but the wild weather has already started.
According to the National Climate Data Center, there were 12 weather disasters in the 1980s in the USA that totaled 1 billion dollars in damage or more. In the 90s there were 36; in the 2000s there were 45; and in the first three years of the 2010s, there were 26. So you can see the increase.
We had 9 weather disasters in 2008 that totaled 150 billion dollars in damage. In 2009 there were 6 with 100 billion in damage. In 2011 there were 12 disasters that totaled an estimated 52.5 billion dollars. In 2012 there were 11 that totaled 147 billion.
Michael Boldea Jr. is an evangelist and chairman of Hand of Help Ministries founded by his late grandfather, Dumitru Duduman, former pastor from Romania. Michael had a dream in 2010 about three men in a wheat field. One man burned up one-third of the field with fire, another flooded one-third of the field. A third man harvested one-third of the field with great care:
On the third night, the dream began as the previous two nights, with the first man setting fire to one third of the field, the second man flooding one third, and the third man meticulously harvesting the last third, I thought it would be the same dream yet again, until the man with the sickle turned, looked at me and said, “the world will know hunger, the faithful will know the power of their God.” I recognized him; I had seen him in both my dreams and my visions before. . . . I received no further insight or interpretation, but this is what I believe in regards to its meaning:
I believe that a worldwide food shortage is imminent. Whether due to too much sun and not enough rain, or too much rain and unprecedented weather patterns, global agriculture will suffer a severe blow very shortly. I also believe that God has already prepared provision for His children, that He will provide for them, and miraculously so. I do not believe God reveals coming events to His children that they might grow fearful or panic, but rather that they might learn to trust Him . . . (www.handof help.com/vision_58.php)
This shows a reduction in our food supply caused by weather disasters, and the fire could also represent war. We should prepare for food shortages in the very near future. Michael Boldea Jr. also had a vision of a finger being pushed into a map of the United States. A voice said that God will allow a great event to this country “to try and wake her up” because the churches were asleep. It was not long after the vision when 9-11 took place. Then in 2002 he had another vision and the Holy Spirit said that next time it will not be a finger but a fist that will bring an event greater than 9-11. Several other people have had visions or dreams of destruction upon an entire American city. This destruction most likely will be from a nuclear bomb or an asteroid impact long before the full Wrath of God. (More on this subject later in the book.)
There were so many weather disasters for several years with record winter storms, record heat of 112 degrees, record drought, record fires, month after month, that many people began to ask, “Are we in the Great Tribulation?” Of course the answer that is always given is, no, we cannot be in the GT because the Rapture has not taken place yet, and the 7-year peace treaty with Israel has not been signed yet. Both of those are proven wrong in this book. So, the answer to the question is, we are in the birth pains of the Earth, leading up to the Great Tribulation. Correction, we were in the birth pains until the events of 2020, so I now believe we are in the first years of the GT, right before the Trumpet judgments start taking place.
The extreme events just keep coming. The New Jersey Boardwalk that was mostly destroyed by hurricane Sandy in 2012 was rebuilt at a cost of eight million dollars, then destroyed by a fire in 2013. In Sept. 2013 Colorado had a “1000 year flood.” There is rarely a break between the disasters; they are hitting us one after the other. Some parts of the U.S. saw 40 degrees below zero, which was colder than the North Pole; the ice downed power lines, so over 700,000 people were without electricity for several days in early 2014.
Since this book was first written there continue to be many frequent disasters. I cannot even keep track of the ones that are hitting the U.S., not to mention those happening around the world. Tornadoes in Japan, flooding in Mexico, typhoons, earthquakes; there is no end to the disasters. Because of all the weather extremes and other strange occurrences, there are Christians on YouTube.com that are making videos of the disasters.