|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:12-17 When the sixth seal was opened, there was a great earthquake. The foundations of churches and states would be terribly shaken. Such bold figurative descriptions of great changes abound in the prophecies of Scripture; for these events are emblems, and declare the end of the world and the day of judgment. Dread and terror would seize on all sorts of men. Neither grandeur, riches, valour, nor strength, can support men at that time. They would be glad to be no more seen; yea, to have no longer any being. Though Christ be a Lamb, he can be angry, and the wrath of the Lamb is exceedingly dreadful; for if the Redeemer himself, who appeases the wrath of God, be our enemy, where shall we find a friend to plead for us? As men have their day of opportunity, and their seasons of grace, so God has his day of righteous wrath. It seems that the overthrow of the paganism of the Roman empire is here meant. The idolaters are described as hiding themselves in their dens and secret caves, and vainly seeking to escape ruin. In such a day, when the signs of the times show those who believe in God's word, that the King of kings is approaching, Christians are called to a decided course, and to a bold confession of Christ and his truth before their fellowmen. Whatever they may have to endure, the short contempt of man is to be borne, rather than that shame which is everlasting.
Verse 13. - And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth (cf. Matthew 24:29, "The stars shall fall from heaven"). The figure of "stars" is sometimes used to typify "rulers," as in Numbers 24:17, "There shall come a star out of Jacob;" Isaiah 14:13, "I [Lucifer] will exalt my throne above the stars of God." Some have thus been led to find a particular application of this sentence. Stern considers that the falling away of Christian rulers is signified; while many refer it to the overthrew of pagan rulers. Even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind; her unripe figs. Probably the unripe figs of the spring, many of which would be shaken down by a strong wind, or possibly the winter figs, which commonly fall off while unripe. The figure is doubtless suggested by Isaiah 34:4, taken in conjunction with the parable of Matthew 24:32.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth,.... All the other inferior deities lost their esteem, worship, and honour; for the idol temples being now opened, the idols and statues were exposed to the common people, and were found to be stuffed with hay and straw, which brought them into great contempt (l). Moreover, as stars sometimes signify the ministers of the Gospel in the Christian church, Revelation 1:20, and sometimes the priests in the Jewish church, Daniel 8:10; so they may here likewise include the idolatrous priests among the Heathens, who were discharged and removed by Constantine, and had their posts and profits taken away from them; yea, Maximinus, an Heathen emperor, or tyrant, being beaten by Licinius, who was then Constantine's colleague, killed many of the priests and prophets of his gods, which were formerly had in great admiration by him, as deceivers and betrayers of him, by whose oracles he was animated to the war (m). And in like manner Licinius put to death the priests and prophets of the new idol at Antioch (n).
Even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind; which figs being young and green, and not fixed, fall off easily, and in great numbers, when a blustering wind beats upon them; and so the rabble of Pagan deities, and idolatrous priests, were easily, and in great numbers, removed through the power of Constantine, which carried all before it.
(l) Sozomen, l. 2. c. 5. (m) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 9. c. 10. (n) Ib. c. 11.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. stars … fell … as a fig tree casteth her … figs—(Isa 34:4; Na 3:12). The Church shall be then ripe for glorification, the Antichristian world for destruction, which shall be accompanied with mighty phenomena in nature. As to the stars falling to the earth, Scripture describes natural phenomena as they would appear to the spectator, not in the language of scientific accuracy; and yet, while thus adapting itself to ordinary men, it drops hints which show that it anticipates the discoveries of modern science.
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