The Heavens Depart like a scroll

At the opening of the sixth seal, there is
1. an earthquake
2. The sun becomes black
3. The moon becomes red
4. The stars fall like unripe figs
5. The heaven rolls back like a scroll
6. The mountains and islands are moved

12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 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: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

The reference to the heavens rolling up like a scroll is a quote from Isaiah

4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling [fig] from the fig tree.

Interestingly enough, the English word scroll is only used twice in the English Bible. But the word from which scroll is translated is used 184 times. In other places it is translated book (138x), letter (29x), evidence (8x), bill (4x), learning (2x), register (1x), learned (with H3045) (1x),scroll (1x).

A study of the things that are written in heaven is an extensive study that I will not get into now. Records that are kept in Biblical accounts were done for various reasons: to keep history or accounts, to keep laws and judgments, or for legal decrees. In the heavens, God keeps two types of books, the Book of Life, and the Book of the accounts of our works. I use the words scrolls and books interchangeably.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

The seals being opened in revelation are for the scroll containing the judgments upon the world. There is no one worthy to open the scrolls except Jesus Christ who not only fulfilled all its laws but also suffered it’s judgment.

[Rev 5:1-5 KJV]

1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

The books of the law are kept as “a witness against” whose who break it. It is evidence, as you would submit evidence in court. (The word for ‘scroll’ is actually translated ‘evidence’ in some scriptures)

[Deu 31:24, 26 KJV]

24 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book,[H5612] until they were finished, … 26 Take this book[H5612] of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

It is my opinion that the opening of the 6th seal reveals a literal opening (or closing perhaps) of the sky, which is itself a testament of God’s law and judgment. The sky itself will be submitted as evidence of God’s broken law and it will witness against mankind.

I also looked up the word for rolled up. Because this is a quote from Isaiah, we get a lot more contextual evidence from the word translated ‘rolled up’ because the word is used many times in the O.T.  I was a bit confused wondering if the scroll was being rolled up to close it or being opened, because in Revelation, the sealed scroll is opened. But rolled is actually in all the other passages non specific. Some verses are rolling something closed like rolling a stone in front of a cave, and others are rolling it away to open it. But the word was used a lot in referring to judgments, which is interesting. A more complete understanding would be the way we use rolled like “roll out a new product” so there is actual rolling and figurative rolling in the Hebrew as there is in the English.

As to the sky being a testament, we use the phrase written in the sky, or written in the stars for good reason. David wrote an entire psalm to the sky being used as a written testament of God’s precepts. In fact, the psalm is prophetical psalm about Revelations. He refers to lightning (as the coming of Christ will be as lightning) and the whole earth witnessing it, and the salvation of Israel which is to be sealed right after the heaven is rolled back like a scroll.

[Psa 97:1-12 KJV]

1 The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad [thereof]. 2 Clouds and darkness [are] round about him: righteousness and judgment [are] the habitation of his throne. 3 A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. 4 His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. 5 The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. 6 The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. 7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all [ye] gods. 8 Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD. 9 For thou, LORD, [art] high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods. 10 Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. 11 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. 12 Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

The fact that the sun and moon and stars are to testify against man is ironic, since the idol worshippers used them to blaspheme God and worshipped them in His place.