New Defender's Study Bible Notes
6:12 as blood. While the inhabitants of the earth are still suffering under the famines, plagues, and violence of the earlier seal judgments, a great physical cataclysm will suddenly strike. For the first time in history—at least since the upheavals of the great flood—a global earthquake will convulse the earth, accompanied by tremendous volcanic eruptions, spewing vast quantities of dust particles into the upper atmosphere, turning the appearance of the sun into darkness and the moon blood-red. Note also that several Old Testament prophecies of the coming “day of the Lord” apparently predict the same catastrophe (e.g., Joel 2:30-31; Zephaniah 1:15; Isaiah 13:9-10). Very little is known about the triggering causes of earthquakes, but they are associated with great rock faults and tectonic instabilities. Somehow, perhaps occasioned in part by the worldwide droughts and falling water levels resulting from the earlier judgments, this global network of faults will coalesce into one gigantic “shaking” of the whole earth. The Greek word for “earthquake” is seismos, which literally means “shaking” (in this connection, note Isaiah 13:13; 2:19-21; Haggai 2:6).
6:13 stars of heaven fell. The Greek word for “star” (aster) can mean any object in the heavens, including planets, asteroids and meteorites. Planetary scientists have long been concerned with the possibility that a swarm of asteroids or giant meteorites would collide with the earth in its orbit, and that seems to be what John describes here. Perhaps this also is part of the trigger which unleashes the great earthquake. Isaiah says that when this happens, “the host of heaven shall be dissolved,” and that “the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light” (Isaiah 34:4; 13:10), evidently blotted out by the same volcanic dust cloud that darkens the sun.
6:14 departed as a scroll. This strange phenomenon (also predicted in Isaiah 34:4) may also relate to the moving cloud of volcanic dust as it is rapidly carried across the sky, but an alternate possibility is that the global earthquake will cause the entire crust of the earth to shift, causing “every mountain and island” to be “moved out of their places” and the sky itself to appear to those on the earth’s surface to be “departing.”
6:15 kings of the earth. Contrast the attitude of “the kings of the earth” to God and His Christ just a short while before these judgments begin (Psalm 2:2).
6:15 hid themselves. See Isaiah 2:19.
6:16 wrath of the Lamb. By this time, the people on earth will begin to realize that the great judgments are from God and the Lamb. God’s witnesses will have been proclaiming this fact, and this may even have been “the testimony” of the martyrs (Revelation 6:9) which led to their being put to death. It may even be possible that orbiting satellites will have transmitted scenes to earth showing the great assemblage high in the atmospheric heavens and the events taking place there at the throne of the Lamb.
6:17 day of his wrath. The “great day of His wrath” constitutes the initial phase of “the day of the Lord” prophesied in many of the Old Testament Scriptures (e.g., Isaiah 13:9-13; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18).