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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 7

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Trial and Persecution. Chapters 47. (John 16:33)


Chapters 4 – 7 begin with the First Coming and deal with the church being persecuted and tested in the world. Jesus says: “But be brave! I have defeated the world!” (John 16:33).

Chapter 4 relates to God and Creation. The central idea is that God’s throne [his authority, sovereignty, etc.] is the ABSOLUTE CENTER of the Universe, and that he IS IN CONTROL!

Verse 1


After this I saw four angels. Two events are presented in this chapter: the sealing of God’s people [symbolic of ownership; protection; genuineness]; and the gathering of God’s people in the Eternal World. Chapter six ends with Judgment ready to begin. As chapter seven opens, four angels (symbolic of the total agencies of destruction) are standing at the four corners of the earth (symbolic of the total Creation: North, South, East, West) holding back the four winds (symbolic of punishment, destruction, anguish), just about to release them to do their work of vengeance.

Verses 2-3


And I saw another angel. This angel has the seal of the living God [which shows he is acting on God’s instructions]. He puts into effect a “hold” on Judgment until all God’s people are sealed. A “seal” identifies ownership; protects against tampering; certifies genuineness. One who is a Christian is sealed by the death of Christ (he bought us for God and we share his death – Romans 6:3-4); is certified by the Holy Spirit as to genuineness (Romans 8:16); and has the Father’s protection throughout this life.

Verse 4


And I was told the number. John does not see the number, he hears it! 144,000. Numbers have symbolic meanings [this was especially true with the ancient peoples]. This number (144,000) is formed by multiplying 3 (the Trinity) by 4 (the total Creation, because the redeemed come from the “four corners” of the world), which makes 12. This number (12) becomes the symbol of the Father acting through the Son in the Spirit to set men free from their sins (3 × 4 = 12). To show God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments, we multiply 12 times 12 (12 Tribes: 12 Apostles) to get 144. Then to emphasize that it is the total number of God’s people, not just a small part, we multiply 144 by 1, 000! [1,000 = 10 × 10 × 10 symbolic of perfect completeness.] This number 144,000 represents the total Church Militant in both the Old and New Testaments [all those who do in fact belong to God]. The Church Militant is the messianic community of believers, at work in this world (First Seal). [The Redeemed in the Old Testament are included in this number, although not actually part of the church which Jesus built. However, they will share in the promise (Hebrews 11:39-40).]

Verses 5-8


There were 12,000. Exactly 12,000 are sealed from 12 tribes to make 144,000. This cannot be the Jews (in the flesh). (1) The Ten Tribes had disappeared in Assyria and lost their identity. (2) Judah and Benjamin had lost their national existence and all the records destroyed, in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem [some 25 years before John writes this]. (3) The Tribes are arranged out of sequence. Judah is put first, not Reuben. Dan and Ephraim are omitted. There was no Tribe of Joseph, but his sons Ephraim and Manasseh each founded a Tribe.(Genesis 48:5). Levi is also counted to make 12, but as the priestly Tribe had no inheritance (Numbers 2:33), to count Levi would have made 13 Tribes. (4) Christ did away with the distinction of race (Galatians 3:23-29; Ephesians 2:14-18). (5) 144,000 is mentioned again in chapter 14, where they are all: men [males]; unmarried; virgin. This is clearly symbolic (see notes on Revelation 14:3-5).

Verse 9


And there was a great crowd. This time John sees the Church Triumphant [God’s people in Eternity] as they live forever in the presence of God and his Throne. Notice that the Redeemed in Eternity area Great Crowd, so many of them that they cannot be counted! THE WORK OF CHRIST IS NOT A FAILURE I They are from EVERY race, tribe, nation, and language (see Colossians 1:23). All those Jews who accepted Christ are included in this number (compare Acts 21:20). White robes. Symbolic of being free from guilt, of being holy, and of great happiness. Palm branches. Symbolic of happiness after a victory.

Verse 10


Our salvation. They shout their praise to God and to the Lamb. Note they look to GOD AND CHRIST as the source of their salvation.

Verses 11-12


All the angels. The chorus of heaven and Creation joins in the song of the Redeemed, as they praise God and the Lamb (compare Revelation 5:11).

Verse 13


One of the elders asked me. He asks this to focus John’s attention on the great crowd of people.

Verse 14


I don’t know, sir. You do. John’s answer shows that he is eager to know the answer.

Verses 15-17


These are the people. The words of the elder form the close to this section [chapters 47]. Remember the central idea of this section is: “Jehovah reigns; let the peoples tremble!” The theme of this section is: the church being persecuted and tested in the world. What the elder says is the inspired interpretation of the GREAT CROWD. These people are the Church Triumphant, who have kept their faith during persecution, and who have “graduated” from Earth, Now they are assembled in Eternity, never to leave the presence of God and the Lamb. They have washed their flowing white robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:14; Romans 6:3-11). Springs of living water. Water symbolizes eternal life and salvation (Isaiah 55:1; John 7:38-39). Springs of water symbolize the source of life which they have through the Lamb, and the eternal companionship with the Father. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, “He will annihilate death for all time; and the Lord, the Eternal, will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the shame of His people He will remove from the whole earth; because the Eternal has said this.” [Isaiah 25:8. Zamenhof’s version of the Masoretic Text].

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 7". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/revelation-7.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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