Poole on Revelation 6:16, 17: The Sixth Seal, Part 4

Verse 16:[1] (Hos. 10:8; Luke 23:30; Rev. 9:6) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb…

[And they say, etc.] Personification taken from Hosea 10:8. See Luke 23:30 (Grotius, similarly Ribera). And fall upon us here is nothing other than conceal us, just as Virgil said the shadows fall[2] (Grotius): or, that is to say, crush us and reduce us to nothing. An expression of those extremely afraid and desperate (Pareus).

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us: see Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30. They shall be in a great consternation, and be ready to take any course for security.

[From the face of the One sitting, etc.] That is, of God, and of Christ coming unto judgment (Menochius). Here also John mixes his own words with the words of the Jews, as in Revelation 2:24. For those wished to be defended against the evils signified by so many portents: But John shows that those evils come from the wrath of God and Christ (Grotius). Others: Hence it is proven that this calamity is by no means suited to Christian Kings, but to those that are strangers to Christ (Mede’s Works 558).

From the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; from the wrath of God, and of Jesus Christ.

Verse 17:[3] (Is. 13:6, etc.; Zeph. 1:14, etc.; Rev. 16:14) For the great day of his wrath is come; (Ps. 76:7) and who shall be able to stand?

[The day has come, etc., ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ μεγάλη, etc.] That great day of the wrath (that is, in which He will reveal His wrath against His enemies [Piscator], the day of judgment [Menochius], the day of vengeance and affliction [Menochius]) of Him (namely, of the Lamb [Piscator, Mede], that is, most lamentable times, Lamentations 1:12; Romans 9:22; 13:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 [Grotius]: Others: the day of final judgment [Pareus, Piscator], which is everywhere called the great day of Jehovah, as in Jeremiah 30:7; Joel 2:11, 31; Zephaniah 1:14; Malachi 4:5 [certain interpreters in Mede, Pareus]: However, of the particular judgments of God the day of the Lord and the day of the Lord’s anger are often used, as in Isaiah 13:13; Jeremiah 46:10, and the great day, and that, as it is here, with the doubled article, as it is in Zephaniah 1:14, 15,הַיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא, the day, the that one:[4] There is not anything here that was not long ago applied by the Prophets to great calamities and disasters, and these images were familiar in the East, as our Poets have their own figures, their own depictions [Mede’s Works 685] [see what things were said on Revelation 6:12]); and who is able to stand? (Beza, Piscator), that is, to make a stand and to escape (Piscator)? or, to survive so many and such great evils? For this is to stand, Ezra 9:15; Luke 21:36. See also the Latin version of Psalm 18:38;[5] 36:12[6] (Grotius). The men’s words pertain to Christ, whom they had despised unto this time because of their Gods, but now acknowledging His power, and actually perceiving that every attempt to resist the Christians would be henceforth vain. And actually in fact all did perceive: Galerius, Maximinus, Licinius, even by an open confession, even against their will, attributed to God glory, as Eusebius testifies, Ecclesiastical History 8:27; 9:8, 10; and Concerning the Life of Constantine 1:50-52; 2:4, 5, 18 (Mede’s Works 558) [in which place see what things have been said, or what things Reverend Mede has here culled from it].

The great day of his wrath is come, etc.: For this judgment that is upon us, is the effect of his wrath for our abusing and persecuting his members; and we, with all our courage, might, and power, are not able to abide his wrath. These words import, that in this great change, as the greatest persons should be at a loss what to do, so they should perish under a conviction that the great vengeance of God was come upon them for their opposing the gospel, and provoking Christ by persecuting of his members.

There are other more particular explications of the sun, moon, stars, heavens, etc., but they all centre in this general, that here is prophesied a great and universal change of the religion of the world, which should strike a great terror into the pagan rulers, and issue in the overturning of all their altars and temples, and the ruin of the great men, relating either to their civil or ecclesiastical state; and that they at last should know that God was God, and that these judgments came upon them for their opposition to Christ. And (which addeth strength to this interpretation) Mr. Durham hath observed, that no so short period of time hath produced so many remarkable judgments, and extorted so many ingenuous confessions from enemies, that what came upon them was for their persecutions; and a catalogue of which may be found in Mr. Mede, and in Mr. Durham. Mr. Mede reckoneth Galerius, Maximinus, and Licinius. Galerius was eaten up of worms, being before he died sensible of his guilt, ceasing from his persecution, and begging the Christians’ prayers. Maximinus, another Roman emperor, (or partner in the empire with the former,) being beaten by Licinius, fled to Tarsus, and there fell upon his pagan priests, who had deceived him by their lying oracles, and made a decree for the Christians’ liberty; but God would not suffer so bloody a wretch to die after the ordinary death of man; he died miserably through intolerable pain, his eyes dropping out of his head. Licinius was a Christian, and joined a while with Constantine, but apostatized, was overcome in two battles, taken, and by him put to death. All these three were within the space of eighteen years. Mr. Durham to these adds the instances of Dioclesian and Maximinian, little above twenty years before, in the heat of their persecution making a stop, and through a horror of conscience laying down their imperial dignity; and Maxentius, drowned in the river Tiber; and he says Licinius, before mentioned, before he died, revenged himself upon his idolatrous priests that had persuaded him to forsake Constantine’s God. The change was so great in the empire, upon Constantine the Great’s coming to the throne, by the death of some great persons, turning others out of place, destroying the whole frame and practice of the pagans’ religion, that it might well be expressed by earthquakes, the sun turning black, the moon as blood, the stars falling from heaven to earth, the heavens departing like a scroll, and the removal of islands and mountains, and by the consternation it would bring all the pagan great men into, etc. And this time, which was a period of about twenty-five or twenty-seven years, is thought to be understood to be the time predicted upon the opening of the sixth seal. Thus we see the dragon’s reign at an end in about three hundred and eleven or three hundred and twenty-five years after Christ; the empire, as pagan, persecuting the church of Christ, and following it with ten successive persecutions, quite overturned, and a Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, ruling it. But we must understand these great things were not perfected in a few months; some relics of paganism remained; for though Constantine shut up the pagan temples, yet all the idols in them were not destroyed until the time of Theodosius, who began to rule in the empire AD 379, and reigned sixteen years. Betwixt Constantine and him were Constantius and Constans, Julian the Apostate, and Jovianus, Valentinianus, Valens, and Gratian; during some of whose reigns (Julian’s especially) the Christians suffered much both from pagans and Arians, so that the Christians had not a full and perfect quiet till after the year 390.[7]

[1] Greek: καὶ λέγουσι τοῖς ὄρεσι καὶ ταῖς πέτραις, Πέσετε ἐφ᾽ ἡμᾶς, καὶ κρύψατε ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς ὀργῆς τοῦ ἀρνίου. [2]Eclogue 1. [3] Greek: ὅτι ἦλθεν ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ μεγάλη τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτοῦ, καὶ τίς δύναται σταθῆναι; [4] Zephaniah 1:14, 15a: “Near is the great day of the Lord (יוֹם־יְהוָה֙ הַגָּד֔וֹל, the day of Jehovah, the great day), it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. A day of wrath is that dayהַיּ֣וֹם) הַה֑וּא, the day, the that one [woodenly rendered])…” [5] Psalm 18:38: “I have wounded them that they were not able to rise (קוּם; stare, to stand, in the Vulgate): they are fallen under my feet.” [6] Psalm 36:12: “There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise (קוּם; stare, to stand, in the Vulgate).” [7] EmperorReignConstantine306-337Constantius II324-361Constans337-350Julian355-363Jovian363-364Valentinian I364-375Valens364-378Gratian375-383Theodosius379-395