The previous seals of the scroll that Jesus received describe the period between his ascension and his second coming. The sixth seal is more focussed on a particular period and depicts cosmic turmoil and human despair linked to the appearance of Christ as the Judge (6:12-17).
The terror of the Lord makes all people equal. Both the rich and the poor and the free and the slave are petrified at the prospect of appearing before Jesus as the Judge. In verse 15 we are given a list of those who will be afraid when Jesus returns. Political power, economic power and military power cannot provide a way of escape. They sense that there is no escape and would endure being buried alive rather than face the awful wrath of a rejected Lord.
What a description of the kind God and gracious Saviour! Jesus, the tender-hearted Saviour, will be angry on this awful day. He will come with vengeance in his heart. Think of these words of Paul: ‘And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thess. 1:7-8).
The lost in this vision ask an important question, but they ask it too late. It is strange how often important issues are left till the last minute. But in this case, it is later than that – too late. The question is, ‘Who will be able to stand?’ The answer is given in the next chapter, when we see a great multitude standing around the throne. They found the answer in time – they believed in Jesus.
But where are the Christians throughout this period? The answer is given in the next chapter.