I have never been able to come to a satisfactory conclusion with reference to the opening of the sixth seal and the blowing of the seventh trumpet as referenced in the book of Revelation.

In Revelation 6:12-17 it is written (NIV)

12 Then I saw Him open the sixth seal. A violent earthquake occurred; the sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair; the entire moon became like blood; 13 the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a high wind; 14 the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up; and every mountain and island was moved from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?"

Then with reference to the blowing of the seventh (final trumpet) it is written in Revelation 11:15-19.

15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’ 16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God, 17 saying:

‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. 18 The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’ 19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.

After studying these two portions of scripture, it is very clear that they are both final events in the book.

My understanding is that the sixth seal and the seventh trumpet happen in conjunction with each other-but the problem with my understanding is.....

The seventh seal should be the last seal to be opened, (one would think) but the seventh seal does not speak of the "End Time" in the way that the sixth seal does.

The only conclusion i can arrive at is,the seventh seal is opened before the sixth seal.The reason i arrive at this conclusion is because the opening of the seventh seal activates the start of the judgement's, Here but the sixth seal implies the judgement's have ended.Here

This question, here,could be answered by the interpretation and a credible answer to my question.

In summary, i view the seventh seal and the sixth seal as being "back to front." The information contained in the seventh seal would make more sense,if it was contained in the sixth seal and vice versa.

My question- is the 7th seal opened before the 6th seal.

  • Depends what you mean by opened. Remember that the seals are placed on a book. And opened (taken off) for us to read (for understanding the end times). If you mean started then yes is the answer. Seal 6 is to me the Wrath of God,(after the Great tribulation starting at the 5th trumpet) Seal 4 is the Abomination of desolation and the mark of the beast (Which is the 4th trumpet, as Satan is cast from heaven) Which makes the first three trumpets the start (first 3 1/2 years) of the final seven years. Trumpet 7 starts after the fall of Babylon, and the Mystery of God will be over.
    – Marinus
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 15:39
  • 2
    Right or wrong, +1 for daring to think outside the box. Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 23:02

7 Answers 7


Short Answer

No. I am not aware of any system of understanding Revelation that puts the 7th seal before the 6th. The 6th is either viewed as contemporaneous or preceding the 7th.

Two Major Views

NOTE: The following discussion is from a futurist perspective of Revelation.

Robert L. Thomas discusses two major views on Revelation (note, these are not the only views, but are two very common views), the Recapitulation view and the Telescopic View.1 Recapitulation views the series of sevens as essentially parallel (not necessarily one for one, though normally so, but at least that the events of the 7 Seals occur in some parallel time frame with that of the 7 Trumpets and 7 Bowls). Telescopic views the series as consecutive (each set follows the preceding set), that is, the 7th Seal "contains" the 7 Trumpet judgements within it, and the 7th Trumpet "contains" the 7 Bowl judgments in them, similar to a spyglass type telescope that collapses for storage (hence the name telescopic view). Some try to merge the two ideas (Thomas sees hermeneutical issues with this; 56-57), and both views often recognize textual intercalations (narrative within Revelation that are inserted between the main events of the three series of sevens that may or may not be directly related to those series at the point of insertion).

Recapitulation View

Notice that if a one-for-one relation is upheld, then it does not answer your question. For the events noted in the 6th seal appear to parallel events of the 7th Trumpet and 7th Bowl, not the 6th of those series. This is recognized as an issue with recapitulation of this nature (Thomas, 49).

It is common to associate the 6th Seal (6:12-14) with the 4th Trumpet (8:12) regarding the effects of sun/moon/stars, either that the 4th Trumpet must precede the darkening of the 6th Seal (Thomas, 49), or the reference in the 6th refers to the events of the 4th. Also, Thomas notes a recapitulation view that parallels the 6th of each sequence.2

The most common way to view the 7th Seal in this view is a symbolic parallel to the final rest after the judgments. This would be one possible reconciliation to your question that keeps the 7th after the 6th. However, Thomas notes a weakness of this resolution is that it makes the 7th seal entirely different in character from not only the other 6 seals, but the other two series of 7, all of which contain some reference to judgment (Thomas, 50). This and other issues cause Thomas to hold that recapitulation is not likely the best view (Thomas, 52).


  One-for-one (timeline is exactly parallel)
Seals     1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th
Trumpets  1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th
Bowls     1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th

  Generally (timeline is roughly parallel, not necessarily 1 to 1)
Seals     1st-7th
Trumpets  1st-7th
Bowls     1st-7th

Telescopic View

While Thomas holds this view, it is recognized that it suffers from the challenge of explaining the events noted in the 6th Seal which appear to parallel final events (per Mt 24:29). However, Thomas does note there are arguments against seeing these two events as being the same (Thomas, 55). He sees telescoping as overall better supported than recapitulation, especially in chronological relations, some of which are very clear in the text (Thomas, 58). In the telescopic view, Seals 1-6 are generally viewed as "the 'Little Apocalypse' of Christ," the "birth pains" (Mt 24:8) that precede the last events (Thomas, 53), and so in specific reply to your question, the events of Seal 6 are different (but with some similarities) from that of the later events that are noted of similar type. So Seal 6 is not final.

Strictly speaking, the telescopic view Thomas espouses holds that:

So the seals and trumpets occur one after the other in numerical sequence and are non-cumulative, i.e., each one finishes before the next one begins (59).

But the bowls, though consecutive, are viewed with cumulative effects (Thomas, 59; largely based off Rev 16:2 [1st Bowl] effects still noted in 10-11 [5th Bowl]), and so do not finish "before the next one begins" as the seals and trumpets.


Seals     1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th
Trumpets                |1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th|
Bowls                                  |1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  7th|

Modified Telescopic View

I personally lean toward a modified telescopic view, with the further clarification that each seal/trumpet/bowl contains all the following within them.3 Thus all the judgement events are "contained" within the 1st Seal, and each successive event contains all the following ones.

This allows for both consecutive events to be occurring from one to the next, while also allowing for not so much a recapitulation of events (though one might view it that way), but rather a forecasting of events to come.

That being so, note how this can resolve your particular question about how the 6th Seal seems "final" yet not final. Viewed in this method, Rev 6:12-17 states events that do occur within the 6th seal, but they also happen to be a forecasting of events that do not actually take place until the later Trumpet/Bowl judgments, and so the 6th seal contains a summary of events yet to occur, and also possibly the events specifically of chapter 7 with the sealing of the 144,000. In some ways, the 6th Seal would be similar in nature to the 5th. In the 5th, the robes were given to those already slain; in the 6th, the seal is given to some still alive. In other words, the 5th and 6th seals are both doing present effects to certain classes of people in preparation for the events forecasted to come from the 7 Trumpet/Bowl judgments.

I hesitate to make any direct correspondence to events noted in Rev 6:12-17 with later events, though there are some clear parallels to many of the events of the 7th bowl (Rev 16:18-20), yet some might also relate to events as early as the 1st Trumpet—is the blood falling from the sky (8:7) what makes the moon appear as blood (6:12), and the smoke of the burning (8:7) what darkens the light of the sun (6:12)? I'm not committed to that parallel, but at the same time, it seems worth pondering, especially if Rev 6:12-17 has any chronological relationship to the events noted within itself (they may not, they may just be summarizing "events" that are coming). If the 1st Trumpet does parallel, the Mt 24:29 reference to timing of the sun and moon events would then place the "tribulation of those days," which occurs immediately before the sun/moon event according to Matthew, at the time frame of the first 4 Seals. That may or may not be valid.

Such a chronological parallel, however, with this scheme need not be so fixed, because the events of Rev 6:12-17 need only occur sometime within the 7th Seal and the following 7 Trumpet/Bowl events, since all are contained within the 6th seal anyway.


                                         1st Seal
|                                        2nd Seal                                       |
  |                                      3rd Seal                                     |
    |                                    4th Seal                                   |
      |                                  5th Seal                                 |
        |                                6th Seal                               |
          |                              7th Seal                             |
            |                          1st Trumpet                          |
              |                        2nd Trumpet                        |
                |                      3rd Trumpet                      |
                  |                    4th Trumpet                    |
                    |                  5th Trumpet                  |
                      |                6th Trumpet                |
                        |              7th Trumpet              |
                          |              1st Bowl             |
                            |            2nd Bowl           |
                              |          3rd Bowl         |
                                |        4th Bowl       |
                                  |      5th Bowl     |
                                    |    6th Bowl   |
                                      |  7th Bowl |


In short, to my knowledge, no interpretation places the 7th Seal prior to the 6th Seal. The sequence is usually recognized as valid at least within the sequence itself (how it relates across the sequences is what is variously interpreted), and at best might be viewed in some recapitulation views as contemporaneous.

However, there are enough views on Revelation out there that someone may unearth a view that does try to do exactly what you are asking about, some reordering of the sequence (though if such exists, I would question that such a view is the best understanding of the text, simply because the sequence then becomes meaningless—it would become difficult to explain why the sequence is there at all).


1 Robert L. Thomas, "The Structure of the Apocalypse: Recapitulation or Progression?" Master’s Seminary Journal 4 (1993), 45-66. The following discussion of the two main views uses this source extensively.

2 In n.21, the source listed by Thomas is Andrew E. Steinmann, “The Tripartite Structure of the Sixth Seal, the Sixth Trumpet, and the Sixth Bowl of John’s Apocalypse” (Rev 6:12–7:17; 9:13–11:14; 16:12–16),” JETS 35/1 (March 1992).

3 While there may be others who understand Revelation this way, the idea expressed comes from my own thinking through of the issues involved with correlating events. Eschatology is a large field of study, and I have not entirely settled on specifics for everything, so consider what is given as preliminary ideas (I may change my mind about things in the future).

  • Thanks! for your answer.With reference to the trumpets and bowls,i have observed something that i can only describe as being "odd" I try to forget about this "oddity" and i refer to it as,myself reading to much into the text,but it does continue to "nip at my heels," so it has become an issue.In Rev:8-2 we read, And i saw seven angels who stand before God,and to them were given seven trumpets- Rev:8-6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.In Rev:15-1, we read,I saw in Heaven another great and marvellous sign: seven angels with seven last plagues.continued
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 11:36
  • last because with them Gods' wrath is completed.In Rev:16-1 we read,Then i heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels,"Go, pour out the seven bowls of Gods' wrath on the earth.My thinking is that it should be a "trumpet" that signals the pouring of the bowls, but in Rev:16-1, it is a "loud voice" that activates the bowls.Because of this point,i am left wondering if the trumpets and bowls are independent of each other.Do we have an explanation for this "oddity" in any of the commentaries?
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 11:56
  • @Bagpipes That is a totally different question than the order of the 6th/7th seals being opened. In short, though, why do you think a "trumpet" needs to signal the pouring? The 7 Trumpets already sounded (are sounding?). In both of the telescopic views above, the Bowls are contained within the 7th Trumpet, but do not necessarily (and indeed, do not) start pouring at the beginning of the sounding of it. Only that the 7th Trumpet sounding precedes the Bowls (whether still sounding or having finished sounding during the Bowls). So the voice of Rev 16:1 need not negate the idea.
    – ScottS
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 13:37
  • Please do not think i am "nit-picking" your answer.Yes, it is a different question, but i thought it was relevant.To answer your question- "why do you think a "trumpet" needs to signal before the pouring." My thinking is motivated by the fact that every time a trumpet is sounded- a different judgement is released.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 14:55
  • @Bagpipes Every time a trumpet sounds, judgment is triggered. Chap. 8-16 show that. The 7th Trumpet sounds, but that does not mean that a "loud voice" cannot also be the start of the pouring. At the 7th Trumpet is the opening of the temple in heaven (11:19), from which 2 angels come out for the harvest reaping of the earth (14:15, 17), and out of which comes the 7 angels who will pour the 7 last plagues (15:5-6), and the temple is effectively "closed" for entry until their work is done (15:8), but from the open (at Trumpet 7) yet closed temple comes the voice starting bowl judgments (16:1).
    – ScottS
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 15:57

The opening of the Seventh Seal should be placed at the end of chapter 7, not at the beginning of chapter 8. The 6th Seal and the 6th Trumpet begin the Day of the Lord. After the 6th Seal events, the Rapture/Resurrection occurs, the gathering of the elect (see Matthew 24), and seeing the sign of the Son of Man in the sky, the Beast and his armies gather for war (the 6th Trumpet). In the days of the sounding of the 7th Trumpet, the mystery of God, the Church, will be completed. At the 7th Seal and 7th Trumpet, Babylon falls and Christ, the saints, and the holy angels meet the armies of the Beast at Armageddon. The reason there is silence in Heaven at the 7th Seal is because no one is there. We are now all on earth, in Jerusalem, ready to celebrate the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, while outside the births of prey are feasting on the dead.

5th Seal.......the Great Tribulation 6th Seal.......sun, moon and stars darkened, the elect are gathered 7th Seal.......Jesus descends on a white horse with His elect, leaving Heaven empty

5th Trumpet....demons from the abyss 6th Trumpet....the Beast and his armies gather upon seen Christ and His elect 7th Trumpet....Babylon falls, dead judged, saints rewarded

The Seals and Trumpets are concurrent. The Seals give an overview, the Trumpets expound and fill in details. The Bowls are poured out just prior to the 7th Seal and Trumpet, resulting in the destruction of Babylon. This coincides with the Rapture/Resurrection just as Jericho was destroyed at the 7th trumpet blast and the coty was taken by the Israelites.

So the Day of the Lord begins after the 6th Seal and Trumpet and concludes with the 7th Seal and Trumpet, the last event of the Day of the Lord being Armageddon. Then the Millennium begins. The Day of the Lord includes the Rapture/Resurrection, the destruction of Babylon (the Bowls) and Armageddon.


The seals, trumpets, and bowls appear to be cascading events, as the following chart depicts:

Chart of relationship between seals, trumpets, and bowls

This model reflects the plain and normal reading of the text of Revelation. For example, the breaking of the seventh seal indicates the "revelation" of the seven trumpets.

Revelation 8:1-2 (NASB)
1 When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

Also, the same parallel appears to occur with the seventh trumpet.

Revelation 8:13 (NASB)
13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”

The fifth woe (trumpet) occurs in Rev 9:1-12, and the result is five months of extreme torment on earth; then the sixth woe (trumpet) occurs in Rev 9:13-21, and the result is the death of one-third of mankind "by armies of horsemen" led by four angels. The seventh woe (trumpet) however does not occur until Rev 11:15-19, and then provides no detail of any divine judgment on earth.

In other words, the seventh woe (trumpet) releases the bowl judgments, because the sixth trumpet ("armies of horsemen" led by four angels) provided the blood for the seven bowl judgments, which the world will drink. That is, at the seventh trumpet the temple in heaven was opened (Rev 11:19), and at that time, the angel in the temple announces the reaping of blood from the earth (Rev 14:15); the "blood" of those killed "outside the city" will rise the bridle of these horses (Rev 14:20), which were mentioned in the sixth trumpet, who were led by the four angels. Thus the seventh trumpet (third woe) comprises the seven bowls, which are filled with the blood from the sixth trumpet (second woe). This "blood" is what the world will drink (that is, death in undiluted full-strength), since they had poured out and drunk the blood of the saints of God (Rev 16:6 and Rev 17:6).

In summary, this graph helps us to view the respective events as consecutive. That is, we cannot "overlap" them in parallel, but must view them instead as sequential events that will climax in the seventh bowl judgment (Second Coming of Christ).

  • @Jas3.1 - do the edits above provide sufficient detail to understand the overall view?
    – Joseph
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 0:47
  • Yes, thanks. I have many questions for you when I get more time, but for now I have removed my DV.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 2:20
  • With reference to the chart- I see that ( seal 7 ) activates the trumpets and bowls. Then trumpet 1 activates bowl 1, trumpet 2 activates bowl 2, and the progression continues in this way up to the final trumpet and final bowl. Is my understanding of the above correct?
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 9:47
  • @Bagpipes - Seal 7 contains the 7 trumpets, and Trumpet 7 contains the 7 bowls. The structure suggests the linear sequence of events, and therefore does not suggest any collateral or concurrent (or parallel) occurrence of the events.
    – Joseph
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 17:48

The purpose of this article is to explain the sixth and seventh seals.

After He arrived in heaven after His ascension, Jesus received a book that was sealed up with seven seals (Rev 5:1, 7). Consequently, He breaks the seals over the church age.

Each time that He breaks a seal, something happens on earth. The sixth seal consists of two parts:

Part 1

The natural catastrophes of Revelation 6:12-14 include:

  • A great earthquake that moves all mountains and islands from their places, and
  • Signs in the sun, moon, stars, and heaven. Jesus said that these are the signs of His return (Matt 24:29-30).

Part 2

Revelation 6:15-17 describes the response of the people who refused to repent.  Apparently, Christ has already returned because the people of the world were more scared of Him than of this earthquake, for they attempted to hide from Him in the rocks and caves of the mountains (Rev 6:15-17). They cried out:

“The great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

To be able to stand means to be right with God when Christ returns (Luke 21:36; 1 John 2:28).

After an interruption describing the sealing of God’s end-time people (the 144000 - Rev 7:1-8), the sixth seal continues in Revelation 7:9 with a description of the people who will be “able to stand.” In other words, part 2 of the sixth seal describes the people of the world divided into these two great multitudes:

  • Those who refused to repent attempt to hide from Him (Rev 6:17) and
  • The innumerable multitude who is able to stand before Him (Rev 7:9). 

Not Literal

Literally interpreted, in the sixth seal, everything in heaven and on earth is destroyed. But we should not interpret these things literally. For example, even after the stars have fallen on the earth, and all mountains have been moved out of their places, the unrepentant people are still alive and able to hide in the mountains.

In other words, it is not a real earthquake and the sun is not literally darkened. These are all symbols. The great earthquake, moving the mountains and islands out of their places symbolizes some great upheaval on earth, which may include some natural catastrophes, such as an acceleration of climate change.

Overview of the End-Time Events

The purpose of the next section is to show where the sixth and seventh seals fit in the end-time events. To serve as basis for that discussion, this section provides an overview of the end-time events in Revelation 13 to 20:

End-Time Persecution

The end-time persecution is described in Revelation 13. An image of the beast will attempt to force all people, with threats of violence, to receive the mark of the beast “on their right hand or on their forehead” (Rev 13:14-17). But God’s people, symbolized as 144,000, will refuse. In place of the mark of the beast, “on their foreheads” (Rev 7:3), they will receive “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2), which is “His name (Jesus’ name) and the name of His Father written on their foreheads” (Rev 14:1).

The description of that end-time persecution ends in 14:13 and goes over to the return of Christ (Rev 14:14-20), when blood will flow “out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred” (Rev 14:20).

The Seven Last Plagues

The seven last plagues, as described in Revelation 16, jump back to the time before Christ’s return because it describes the people with the mark of the beast (Rev 16:2) as still refusing to repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21). The plagues begin to fall at a point in time during the end-time persecution when all people have been marked either with the mark of the beast or the seal of God.

In the sixth plague, demon spirits gather the kings of the world together at Armageddon for "the war of the great day of God" (Rev 16:14, 16). This is not the war of Armageddon itself; only the preparation for it.

The seventh and final plague is the destruction of Babylon (Rev 16:19). After Revelation 17 and 18 interrupted the seventh plague, it continues in Revelation 19 where “a great multitude in heaven” praises God because “He has judged the great harlot” (Rev 19:1-2; cf. Rev 16:19).

Christ’s Return

Revelation 19 ends with Christ’s return (Rev 19:11-20:6). The seventh plague, therefore, is followed by or continues into the return of Christ.

Three Stages

In summary, Revelation 13 to 19 represents the end-time events as consisting of three broad phases:

  • The end-time persecution (Rev 13-14),
  • The seven last plagues (Rev 16), and
  • Christ returns (Rev 14:14-20; 19:11-20:6).

The Sixth Seal is Christ’s Return.

So, where does the sixth seal fit in this sequence of events? Under the following headings, it is argued below that the sixth seal is Christ’s return:

  • The sixth seal is later than the seven last plagues.
  • The sixth seal separates the Living from the Dead (which will happen when Christ returns).
  • Matthew 24:29-30 explains the sixth seal (and states that they will "see the Son of man coming”).
  • The sixth seal is the Day of the Lord, and the Day of the Lord is Christ’s return.
  • The sixth seal is “the great day” and that “great day” is described by Revelation 19:19 – during Christ’s return.

1) Later than the Seven Last Plagues

The sixth seal is later than the sixth plague because in both we find the phrase "the great day" but, while the sixth plague is the PREPARATION for "the war of the great day" (Rev 16:14), in the sixth seal, that "great day … has (ALREADY) come” (Rev 6:17).

The sixth seal is also later than the seventh plague because, in the seventh plague, the people still refuse to repent (Rev 16:21; cf. Rev 16:9, 11). The sixth seal must be later because, in it, they attempt to hide in the mountains from "the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev 6:15-17).

2) Separates the Living from the Dead

As discussed above, the sixth seal divides the people of the world between the living and the dead:

  • Those who refused to repent hide from Him (Rev 6:17) and
  • The innumerable multitude stands before Him (Rev 7:9). 

This is what Jesus said He will do when He returns, "as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" (Matt 25:31-32).

3) Matthew 24:29-30 explains the sixth seal.

Fourthly, Matthew 24:29-30 bears a striking resemblance to the two parts of the sixth seal. While verse 29 is parallel to the first part of the sixth seal, describing the signs in the sun, moon, stars, and heavens, verse 30 is parallel to the second part of the sixth seal because it describes the response of “all the tribes of the earth” as mourning. But verse 30 explicitly states that they will mourn when they "see the Son of man coming” (cf. Luke 21:25-28; Mark 13).

4) The sixth seal is the Day of the Lord.

Fifthly, the many similarities between the sixth seal and the Old Testament Day of the Lord identify the sixth seal as that great day. The similarities include:

  • The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars (Isaiah 13:10; Zeph 1:15; Joel 2:1-2, 31; 3:14-15);
  • A huge earthquake (Isaiah 13:13);
  • People hiding “in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains” (Rev 6:15-16; Isa 2:19).

So, the sixth seal is the Old Testament Day of the Lord but, in the New Testament, that day becomes Christ’s return. For example:

After Paul describes what will happen when Christ returns, he refers to it as “the day of the Lord” (1 Thess 4:15-17; 5:2).

Elsewhere, Paul equates “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” to “the day of the Lord” (2 Thess 2:1-2).

Paul also describes the day of judgment as “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7-8), “the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5), and “the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6, 10).

Consequently, the sixth seal is the Day of the Lord, and the Day of the Lord is Christ’s return.

5) The sixth seal is "the great day."

Since the seventh plague continues in Revelation 19 and since all 'sinners' are killed by the end of that chapter (Rev 19:21), the sixth seal must describe an event somewhere in Revelation 19. Beginning in Revelation 19:11, that chapter describes Christ’s return. As part of that, John saw:

“The kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse” (Rev 19:19).

For the following reasons, I propose that this (19:19) and the multitude hiding in the mountains in the sixth seal (Rev 6:15-17) describe the same event and the same people:

Both describe all the people of the world as gathered. Revelation 19:18 describes them as “all men.”

Both are “the great day.” In the sixth seal, the people are hiding because "the great day of their wrath has come" (Rev 6:17). The only other place in Revelation where we find the phrase “great day” is in the sixth plague, where demons gather “the kings of the whole world” at Armageddon (Rev 16:14, 16) to prepare them for “the war of the great day of God.” Since 19:19 describes the kings of the earth and their armies as gathered together (assembled) “to make war,” that is the “great day” for which the demons gathered the kings (Rev 16:14) and which “has come” in the sixth seal.

The First Part of the Sixth Seal

So, the sixth seal describes a moment during Christ's return when the people who refused to repent realize that there is no escape from a dreadful fate (Rev 19:17-19). However, as discussed, the sixth seal consists of two parts. Do both parts describe Christ’s return?

For the following reasons, it is proposed that the first part of the sixth seal is the seven last plagues that precede Christ’s return:

Firstly, since the second part of the seal is the response of unrepentant humanity to the massive natural catastrophes in the first part, they may describe two different events.

Secondly, both the natural catastrophes and the seven last plagues are the revenge promised to the souls in the fifth seal (Rev 6:10-11). To explain:

  • The natural catastrophes in the first part of the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-14) may be understood as that promised revenge because they follow immediately after the fifth seal.

  • However, Revelation 19:2 indicates that God will fulfill that promise of revenge through the judgment on Babylon, and that judgment is the seventh plague (Rev 16:19). Furthermore, Revelation 16:5-6 indicates that the third plague is also part of that revenge. Therefore, all seven plagues are that revenge.

Thirdly, both the seventh plague and the natural catastrophes begin with "a great earthquake" (Rev 6:12; 16:18) and conclude with the destruction of "every mountain and island" (Rev 6:12; 16: 20).

For these reasons, it is proposed that the first part of the sixth seal is the seven last plagues and the second part is the subsequent return of Christ.

The Seventh Seal

So, what is the seventh seal? The seventh seal is very brief. It is only a single verse and says “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Rev 8:1). Therefore, it must be understood relative to the context. Since the second part of the sixth seal describes a point in time during Christ’s return, when the people realize that they are doomed (Rev 19:17-19), another article interprets the silence of the seventh seal as the sorrow in God’s heart and in the hearts of His people when God’s enemies are put to death in Revelation 19:20-21.

For the full article, of which the above is a summary, see - The sixth seal describes the seven last plagues and Christ's return.

  • Thanks for your answer Andries. I will study this.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Sep 30, 2022 at 18:44

There are numerous and varied sources to choose from, both quoted in previous answers and in other commentaries, so rather than indulge in the wide range of opinions on this topic, I will attempt to highlight key essentials in understanding the truths of Revelations, and attempt to draw a conclusion on Rev. 6:12-17.

Progression of the Seals

What must be understood by modern men is that the "book"(biblivon) is in fact a scroll; written on both the front and the back,

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.(Rev. 5:1 NIV)

It is very important to understand this scroll was written on both sides. We see parallel accounts in Ezek. 2:9-10(KJV),

And when I looked , behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; 10 And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.

This leads us to an important discovery: The seals cannot be a collection of seals across the document, as a typical Roman or Greek document, since one cannot "see" writings on the backs of said documents. Therefore, one does not open all these seals "at once", rather, they are meant to be progressively opened by the one having the authority to do so, and then the contents are revealed for all to see.

The seals are opened progressively; the text tells us so. Each seal is "opened", and the contents of the scroll are exposed-both front and back. Therefore, one must 'break' the 5th seal before getting to the 6th seal, and one must 'break' the 6th seal before getting to the 7th. This is a Jewish scroll, not a Greek/Roman one, as illustrated by the parallel passage of Ezekiel. God works 'progressively'; we don't get to the 3rd day of creation without the 2nd, etc. But just as in the creation account, the work of the previous days doesn't disappear, rather, it is augmented by the following day.

So therefore, based on the plain reading of the text and the biblical pattern, we then can say the 6th seal gets opened before the 7th.

Meaning of the 6th Seal

I posted an answer to the 1st seal(read here), stating that the 1st seal is the gospel(white horse) who's rider is represented by governments that conquered(or colonized) lands to spread it. This began at the time of Constantine and has persisted to modern times.

The 6th seal parallels Jesus's statements about His Eminent Return,

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.(Luke 21:25-26)

This is "The Great Day of the Lord". What is important to understand is that these signs immediately precede His Return,(Joel 2:30-31)

And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Some have taught that this 'happened' figuratively at Pentecost, since Peter quoted this passage in Acts 2:19-20. But the simple truth is, it has not happened yet, and we cannot 'stretch' our imaginations to fulfill scripture, any more than we can 'imagine' a wide chasm next to the Mount of Olives per Zechariah 14:4. Since the context of the passage is Literal(there is in fact a "dark sun" and in fact "blood moons"(we witnessed this on the 1st day of Passover this year), we can conclude the context is Literal.

As it relates to the trumpet and bowl judgments: as previously discussed, this is "the Day of the Lord's Return", not measured in 24 hour increments, but the 'season' where all things are fulfilled. The 7th seal can very well mean "the Lord's Return" as no man knows the day or hour(Matt. 24:36) In Rev. 10:7, it says,

But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets,

meaning that there is a further delineation of the time of the 7th Seal.

Again, what is important to remember is when the seal is opened, then it's opened; there's no 're-sealing' it. The same with the trumpets and bowls, once they are 'sounded and poured', then the activity continues until the Lord's Return.


I would like to offer a short answer if I may. I feel the answer to your question is in Hebrews 4:4-4:11. God's seventh day is open to be entered. Some have entered, but there are others who are invited to enter. Now for the long answer, but not as long as it could be.

Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and Revelation is the last. If we see a purpose and design in the universe, then we should believe in a purposeful designer. If not, then we may become atheists. The Bible is supposed to be a book inspired by God. Shouldn't we expect a design and purpose, and not a bunch of random events, like an atheist's universe?

The beginning of the Bible starts with the seven days of creation, and then the Garden of Eden. A recurring structure in Revelation is a messenger from God's throne, and then seven messengers or judgments.

7 days, Garden of Eden, God's throne, 7 judgments/messages

I see a chiastic pattern here. It's a design.

Who introduces the messages judgments? Angels! Look for angels following God's throne/message as follows.

Churches ch 1-3;

Seals 4-8:1;

Trumpets 8:2-11;

Satanic Beasts 12:1, 12:2, 12:2, 12:3, 12:4, 12:9, 13:1 (based on actions);

Announcements 14:6, 14:8, 14:9, 14:15, 14:17 and 14:18;

Bowls 15-16;

Explanations 17:1, 18:1, 18:21, 19:17, 20:1, 21:9

More on this here. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/revelation-list/conversations/messages/1245

Note that you don't find an angel after the thousand years until 20:1. This shows that an angelic message/judgment is equal to a thousand years in scripture. (2 Pet 3:8)

Further,also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, “And sanctify ye the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart.” [ Ex. xx. 8; Deut. v. 12.] And He says in another place, “If my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I cause my mercy to rest upon them.” The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: “And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it.” Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.” [ Ps. xc. 4; 2 Pet. iii. 8.] Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Epistle of Barnabas, XV


There's a lot more to this, but there is only a limited amount of time. Anyway, if some things seem out of sequence, it is because the seventh day is still open.


The 6th Seal

Noise after the seal was opened

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! (Revelation 6:15-16 NIV)

The 7th Seal

Silence after the seal was opened

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Revelation 8:1 NIV)

Observable Conclusion: These two events do not appear to occur at the same time.

Punishment was to wait during the event of the fifth seal

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. (Revelation 6:9-11 NIV)

Punishment delivered during the event of the seventh seal

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:5 NIV)

Structure of Events
Seal 5(wait on punishment) ↪ Seal 6(fear of punishment) ↪ Seal 7(deliverance of punishment)

Answer: The 7th seal appears to be opened after the 6th seal not before.

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