Apostasy
The turning from and opposing of one’s former religion.
Decalogue
Another name for the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.
Revelation 7 Commentary
Summary: Read Revelation 7 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
 
 

Revelation 7 KJV

Commentary

1And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

7:1 Here the angels are pictured as holding back the winds of disaster. The four corners of the earth represent the whole earth. Wind represents disaster as shown in Jeremiah 49:36,37. Here we find winds as a symbol for troubles and difficulties. Sometimes it symbolizes strife or war. In Jeremiah 51:1, Babylon is described as a destroying wind, showing us that winds represent war.

The Lord is in control of events. He is preserving this world from total destruction for the sake of His people. There is a work to be done in them and by them as a witness to the world before the winds can be released.

 

2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

7:2-3 It's important to note that the placement of this chapter is between the sixth and seventh seal. We saw that the sixth seal deals with events preceding and surrounding the second coming of Christ, and that we are currently between verses 13 and 14 of Revelation 6. Chapter 7 is an interlude in that seal where we are told about something important that happens at the time of the sixth seal. The devastation that will precede the second coming of Christ is put off until the “servants of God” are “sealed” “in their foreheads.” The seal is a mark of God’s protection for His people Cf. Ezekiel 9:4, 6; Exodus 12:13.

The original word in this text is defined as "a seal, i.e. a signet ring, a mark, stamp, badge, token or pledge". In Old Testament times a seal was used as a signature, and today, it would be equated with just that. The verb signifies "to secure to any one, to make sure, to set a seal or mark upon anything in token of its being genuine or approved, to attest, to confirm, to establish, to distinguish by a mark". If we compare Genesis 17:11 with Romans 4:11 and Revelation 7:3 with Ezekiel 9:4 we find that the words "token", "sign", "seal" and mark" are used synonymously in the Bible.

"The seal of God... is to be applied to the servants of God. In this case it is not some literal mark to be made in the flesh, but some institution or observance having special reference to God, which will serve as a "mark of distinction" between the worshipers of God and those who are not His servants, though they may profess to follow Him.

A seal is used to render valid or authenticate any enactments or laws that a person or power may promulgate... A seal is used in connection with some law or enactment that demands obedience, or upon documents that are to be made legal, or subject to the provisions of the law. The idea of law is inseparable from a seal. [See Isaiah 8:16] This must refer to a work of reviving in the minds of the disciples some of the claims of the law which had been overlooked, or perverted from their true meaning."

Daniel and the Revelation, Uriah Smith, page 455, 456.

The 144,000 who are described in Revelation 7 are further described in Revelation 14. The seal is identical to the name of God “written in their foreheads.” as mentioned in Revelation 14:1; 22:4. God’s name signifies His character. Exodus 34:5-7. The “forehead” is where the conscience resides and decisions are made. So the seal or name in the forehead is the character of God written in the mind.

The character of God is exemplified in the very law of God. In these principles we see the nature of who God is. So if the seal represents ratification of a law and if that law represents God's character what exactly is the Seal or "signature" of God? We know from the above texts that the seal of God must be found in the law of God and must be a part of His law - showing His name, who He is, the extent of His dominion, and His right to rule.

"The law of God is admitted by all the leading evangelical denominations to be summarily contained in the decalogue, or ten commandments."

Daniel and the Revelation, Uriah Smith, page 456.

We must look at these commandments to see which one constitutes the seal of the law, or makes known the true God or lawmaker. We find this information in the fourth commandment where it states: "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy... the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God....For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 20:8-11. The term "hallowed" signifies "set apart" or "sanctified".

The “Sabbath,” therefore, represents the "sign" or "seal" of the ten commandments, and by keeping it, God's people are "ratified" or "secured" because they exemplify in their lives the same nature or character of God, which is the law-abiding principles of love to God and love to others. The ten commandments showed this love through 10 rules with the Sabbath as the seal of God in the centre of these 10 commandments. God's protection can only apply to those who wish to align themselves with His principles as God cannot condone lawlessness which is against His very nature.

If the sealing of God's people happens between the sixth and seventh seal, then it must be a very important event that sets apart those that choose to follow God and those who don't. (Revelation 14:4)

The angel ascends from the east, and he cries out to the destroying angels to hold their work of destruction until God's people are sealed. In Isaiah 41:25 we see that God resides in the north and comes from the east. Jesus is the One raised up from the north and coming "from the rising of the sun" which is the east. The angel in Revelation 7:2, is coming from the direction that Jesus is going to come when He comes to take His people home.

In verse 3, the angel says "hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees..." The sea represents multitudes and peoples, and trees in the Bible represent people.

4And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

5Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

6Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

7Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

8Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

7:4-8 The Bible tells us that the number of those who will receive the seal of the living God is 144,000 “of the children of Israel.”

The "children of Israel" refers to God's church. The Bible speaks of "Israel" and "Gentiles". Israel used to be the literal tribes of Israel, but after 34AD, at the stoning of Stephen, Israel lost its status as God's chosen people, but rejecting Christ and those that He had left behind to preach salvation. During the early church's work, there is seen a distinct move to evangelization of the Gentiles. The apostles traveled far and wide to proclaim the good news of a risen Saviour, and Paul was one of the foremost that ministered to the Gentiles. In Acts 10, we read an interesting story of Peter's vision of the unclean animals that opened to his mind that God had now broken down the separation between the exclusive nation of Israel and the rest of the world. (Acts 10:34). As a result, the gospel went to the world, and all those who accepted Christ as their Saviour came under the banner of "Israel". No longer "unclean", they were to be considered as part of God's people because they had chosen to align themselves with God's truth. This was always the case, even in Old Testament times (Lev 19:33,34; 24:22). The 144,000 are not of the literal tribes of Israel, which no longer even exist, but of spiritual Israel - God's final church.

You may also notice that the tribes listed in Revelation 7 are not identical to the original sons of Jacob found in Genesis 29 and 30 or Exodus 1:1-5. In Revelation 7 the tribe of Dan is missing. Instead the tribe of Manasseh is listed. Manasseh was Joseph's oldest son. (Genesis 41:51) There are 19 places where Jacob's sons are listed and they are not always the same. Surprisingly enough, in several places there are 13 tribes - not 12, because Joseph's tribe is separated into 2 separate tribes - Manasseh and Ephraim. (Numbers 1 for example). As in Numbers 1, the tribe of Levi, of which Moses and Aaron were a part (Exodus 2:1) is sometimes left out of lists because it was set apart for the service of the Lord. (as in Numbers 1)

How did it come about that Joseph's tribe was split in two? When Jacob met Joseph's sons after being separated from his son for so long, Jacob adopted Joseph's sons as his own (Genesis 48:5). Joseph therefore received a "double portion" as prophesied by Jacob because his 2 sons Ephraim and Manasseh each received a territory.

But in Revelation 7, why is Dan missing? In Judges 17-19, we see a story of apostasy in Israel, centered on the tribe of Dan. Dan sinned by counting the land God allocated to them as unacceptable, and abandoning it. They sent spies northward to find a new land for themselves. While passing through Ephraim, they stole idols from a home and recruited a Levite to serve in a false temple in the new territory. The Danites became the first tribe in Israel to embrace idol worship in Israel. In the north, they learned of an area inhabited by a peaceful people, whom attacked the city, killing its inhabitants and burning the city with fire, and then re-established the city for themselves, naming it Dan. Later, when Israel was divided into north and south, the tribe of Dan was part of the northern kingdom of Israel and under King Jeroboam I, a pagan worship center was established in Dan. (1 Kings 12:29) Therefore, Manasseh, Joseph's oldest son is substituted for the tribe of Dan in Revelation 7.

It is said of the 144,000 that they are, “redeemed from the earth,” have a unique victory song, are called the “first fruits,” are “without fault” and “they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” Revelation 14:1-5. This group who will be alive at the Second Coming of Christ as "firstfruits" of all those that are redeemed alive on the earth when Jesus comes. They will have Christ’s righteousness and His character. The message for us is to follow Jesus wherever He may lead.

9After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

7:9 A second group is mentioned in Revelation 7 in addition to the 144,000 and that is a great multitude, “which no man could number,” gathered from every nation. In their hands they have palm branches, a symbol of victory over the world and sin, and they are clothed with “white robes” which represent Christ’s righteousness.

This great multitude, gathered "of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" is not of the "children of Israel", or house of God, but rather of the Gentiles, those that are not yet part of the household of faith but soon will join the ranks of those who wish to follow God. John sees the great multitude "after" he sees the 144,000 being sealed. This is significant because the 144,000 are called the "firstfruits" (Revelation 14:4), and the great multitude is the harvest of those that are alive when Jesus comes. Therefore the sealing of the 144,000 has the effect of bringing in many to Christ who have not yet chosen Him.

10And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

11And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

12Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

7:10-12 The spontaneous praise of the redeemed will erupt as a result of gratitude for the salvation they have been granted by God. This joyous exclamation will be a continual part of life in heaven as the saved continue to be amazed at the beauty and bliss of heaven that in which they are privileged to partake.

13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

14And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

7:13-14 This great multitude, dressed in white robes with palms in their hands, have come through the great tribulation at the end of time. They have been cleansed and covered by the “the blood of the Lamb.” 1 John 1:7. And this has given them strength to stand firm till the end. If we are in Christ, we will have strength to go through any affliction.” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

15Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

17For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

7:15-17 The words of verse 16 are reminiscent of Isaiah 49. This chapter talks about God's servant who is to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to be a "light to the Gentiles". In verse 10, a promise is given "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them." This promise is to those at the end, when the plagues fall and the earth is in great terror. God's people will be protected and verse 12 talks about the many that shall come from far and wide to be converted unto the Lord. "Behold, these shall come from far: and lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim." Isaiah 49:12). The entire chapter of Isaiah 60 is devoted to the topic of the Gentiles being converted to God. Of course this does not mean that everyone will be converted, for we know there will be a great many that will side with the devil, but God promises that all the sincere of heart who are searching for truth will find it, as He does not want any to perish, and will do everything possible to provide those that are seeking to find. (Matthew 7:7)

“It is over” is Jesus’ promise to His precious children who have suffered great trials. Hunger and thirst and other hardships are no more. He wipes away their tears and He, the Bread of Life, the Source of Living Water, gives them food and quenches their thirst. Those who have made Jesus their Lord and Saviour will have the Lamb among them for all eternity. There are unimaginable joys, wonders and delights for all who accept His invitation to “come.” Revelation 3:20; Matthew 11:28.

 

Ahead to Revelation 8

This commentary is adapted from Amazing Prophecies, © 2010 Family Heritage Books.

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