Monday, 30 November 2020
Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Revelation 6:14
In the comments of the previous verse, it was seen that Isaiah 34:4 matched the content of the verse. It spoke of the stars of heaven falling to the earth, and the fig dropping its late figs. Here, the same verse from Isaiah also matches what is stated in this verse –
“All the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll;
All their host shall fall down
As the leaf falls from the vine,
And as fruit falling from a fig tree.” Isaiah 34:4
Understanding this, John begins his words of this verse, saying, “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up.” The idea here isn’t that these things will literally occur, but the terminology is saying that like a scroll is rolled up, so will the order of things that currently exist be so completely removed.
One can lay out a scroll and read its contents, seeing all that is displayed there. If the scroll has notes of love and joy, that will be seen. If the scroll has notes of hatred, war, and wickedness, that can be read. But when a scroll is rolled up, all of what is written there will be drawn away from the eyes. Thus, a completely new order of things can then be introduced.
However, if these words are to be taken literally, one would have to consider that the events being viewed are from a man’s perspective. The sky receding like a scroll could be a result of the earthquake previously noted. Just as when there is a nuclear detonation where the sky appears to roll up, this earthquake could be so large and so widespread that it will affect the atmosphere of the earth. Side effects of earthquakes are numerous and so this is not at all implausible.
If a literal rendering of this is assumed, the cataclysm to come will cause such a tectonic disturbance that even, as John says, “every mountain and island was moved out of its place.” An earthquake great enough could cause damage on a global scale with giant tsunamis, volcanoes, and the like. Again, the description is not impossible when considered from the view of a man looking at the destruction around him.
But the symbolism here could also be taken symbolically. Just as the stars of the previous verse are shown elsewhere in Scripture to indicate human rulers, so mountains are shown to be reflective of governments. In Isaiah 11, and elsewhere, Jerusalem is equated to a mountain. Jeremiah 52:25 calls Babylon a “destroying mountain.” The islands of the sea are equated to jurisdictions belonging to larger governmental bodies, such as in Esther 10:1.
Such references show that the events of this verse in Revelation may be speaking of a complete change in the moral and governmental order of things as they now exist. And, indeed, this is what is said to have been set into motion at the first coming of Christ Jesus. Luke cites Isaiah 40:3-5 when speaking of John the Baptist’s ministry which was given to prepare the way for the coming of Christ –
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough ways smooth;
6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” Luke 3:4-6
Without being dogmatic concerning a literal fulfillment of these things that John writes in Revelation, they are certainly symbolically fulfilled as well. The apocalyptic nature of the account leaves open either or both options to come about. The certainty, however, is that when the events are fulfilled, they shall be known to be their fulfillment at the time.
For example, when Christ came, the literal mountains and hills of the world were not brought low, and yet, we know that the government of Christ on earth had begun and that the terminology clearly pointed to Him and His ministry being superior to all other forms of government. The final fulfillment of His redemptive plan had been set into motion, and the subjects of His kingdom are – even now – being gathered together.
Life application: A global restructuring – either literal or symbolic or both – is coming. It will shake the very foundations of all of human society, and it will certainly cause immense economic and national upheaval.
But they are all a part of the events leading to the millennial reign of Christ. Before that time, such global devastation is coming on the earth, and most will not survive the events. For those who have put their faith in Christ Jesus, we need not worry about the details provided here. We are safe in Christ, and we are safely kept in His firm grasp.
Let us live for Him because He is worthy of our attention, devotion, and love. He is our Redeemer, and He is coming to save His people. He is JESUS.
Lord, we know that the disasters coming on the earth that are prophesied in Your word are both natural and man-made. Together they are leading to a cumulative effect of woe and misery for those who must face them. Use us, O Lord, as instruments of Your good news now, so that many will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus before the time of tribulation. Help us to be responsible to speak to others about the gospel that saves. Amen.