Revelation 6:14

the sky receded
receded is ἀπεχωρίσθη [apechōristhē] . The term is used to describe the parting of Paul and Silas from Barnabas and Mark (Acts Acts 15:39). The sky receded causing it to be “split apart” (NASB). At the appearance of the Judge at the Great White Throne Judgment, “the earth and heaven fled away and there was found no place for them” (Rev. Rev. 20:11+). The psalmist predicted a time when the heavens would “grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them” (Ps. Ps. 102:25).

Come near, you nations, to hear; and heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world and all things that come forth from it. For the indignation of the LORD is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be thrown out; their stench shall rise from their corpses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 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. (Isa. Isa. 34:1-4) [emphasis added]

Passages such as this tempt the interpreter to jettison the literal approach and “go symbolic.”1 Yet events which are so far removed from our daily experience as to be completely foreign need not be incredible when initiated by the hand of the Almighty. It is as if we were to try to explain the design of a nuclear plant to the ant! The construction of the starry realm is far beyond our grasp and the description which meets us here is at best an approximation which only hints at the full dimensions of what transpires. Clearly, it is an enormous and terrifying sight which could not even begin to be explained by modern physics. “This is the human perception of the magnitude of the disturbance, but is not the ultimate passage of the heavens, which does not come until Rev. Rev. 20:11+; . . . The impression of all these heavenly phenomena is that the universe is coming apart.”2

In response to these events, men recognize the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 6:16+). Mills offers an unusual suggestion concerning the purpose for the splitting of the sky:

In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding on the source of these disasters, God will open the heavens for an instant, and the people on earth will be given a glimpse of God and the Lamb on their thrones (Rev. Rev. 6:16+). Revelation Rev. 6:14+ pictures an extended scroll suddenly being split; the two ends recoil, spring-like, around the end rod to which the scroll is attached. Suddenly, earth can peer into Heaven as Stephen did in Acts Acts 7:56. Man sees Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. Men will know they are experiencing the wrath of God, and this knowledge will be even more fearsome to them than the great natural catastrophes they will have endured.3

every mountain and island was moved out of its place
The seismic disturbances will be of such magnitude that the entire geography of the earth is permanently altered.4 The extensive mapping of the earth, both by GPS and sonar, will eventually be for naught as in a moment every geophysical mapping database is rendered obsolete.5 As great as this earthquake is, it is but a precursor to an even greater one associated with the seventh bowl at which “every island fled away and the mountains were not found” (Rev. Rev. 16:19+). It would appear that the islands sink from sight and the mountains are leveled by God’s final outpouring of wrath.


1 However: “The difficulties of the symbolic interpretation are insuperable, while no difficulties whatever attend the literal interpretation.”—E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), 274.

2 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), Rev. 6:14.

3 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 6:14.

4 That is, until the regeneration of the Millennial Kingdom (Mtt. Mat. 19:28) and later, the eternal state (Rev. Rev. 21:1+).

5 Even today, charts of Alaskan waters made prior to the 1964 earthquake carry a disclaimer indicating that actual depths may vary by dozens of feet from that shown on the chart.