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1 And 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.
Ver. 1. And after these things ] This whole chapter is purposely interlaced between the opening of the sixth and seventh seal, for the support of the poor suffering saints, that they sink not under their many pressures.
Four angels ] Ministers of indignation, whether good or evil angels the doctors are divided.
Holding the four winds ] Those besoms of the air, as Rupertus calls them, and Scripture emblems of spiritual influence, John 3:8 ; Song of Solomon 4:16 ; Ezekiel 37:9 . The holding of the winds may peradventure intimate here that peace and ease in which God suffereth worldly men to live, and be overtaken, even upon the point of his great judgments, 1 Thessalonians 5:3 . He made fair weather before Pharaoh till he had him in the heart of the Red Sea.
Nor on any tree ] The philosopher compares men (the Scripture good men often) to trees, which by benign winds are filled with fruits.
2 And 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,
Ver. 2. Another angel ] Whether Christ, or Constantine acted by Christ, it much matters not.
Having the seal ] Whereof Christ is the great Lord keeper.
With a loud voice ] Out of his great care of his elect. As Croesus’ dumb son burst out into loud speech to save his father, ανθρωπε, μη κτεινε τον Κροισον . (Herod.)
To the four angels ] Who are at Christ’s beck and check.
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Ver. 3. Hurt not ] Reprobates often fare the better for those few righteous that are among them; they are therefore singularly foolish for seeking to rid them, and root them out, as the heathen emperors did. These resemble the stag in the emblem, that fed upon the leaves which hid him from the hunter and Samson-like, by pulling down the pillars, they bring the house upon their own heads.
In their foreheads ] Not in their hands only, as the vassals of Antichrist, Rev 13:16 who have free liberty to dissemble, deny their religion, do anything, so the Catholic cause be thereby advanced. My son, give me thy heart, said Gregory XIII to our English Papists, let who will have thy tongue and outward man.
4 And 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.
Ver. 4. A hundred forty and four thousand ] A competent company. Not so many as the locusts, Revelation 9:3 , and yet more than most thought they had been.
5 Of 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.
Ver. 5. Twelve thousand ] Out of each tribe so many. God inclines towards all the elect with an equal good will; neither shall any one complain justly that others have been more regarded than he, as one well observeth here.
6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
Ver. 6. Of the tribe of Natphthali ] Who is first reckoned among those by Rachel’s side, because at Capernaum in this tribe Christ inhabited. Any relation to him ennobleth. Bethlehem, though it be the least, is yet not the least among the princes of Judah, for that out of her came the governor of Israel, Matthew 2:6 ; cf. Micah 5:2 .
7 Of 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.
Ver. 7. Of the tribe of Levi ] Levi is taken in, Dan cut out of the roll for his shameful recidivation and revolt from the true religion, Judges 18:30-31 . This, Jacob foresaw and bewailed in that holy ejaculation on his death bed, Genesis 49:17-18 . There is no reckoning made or account given of this tribe (as there is of the rest), 1Ch 7:1 ; 1 Chronicles 7:6 ; 1 Chronicles 7:13 ; 1Ch 7:20 ; 1 Chronicles 7:30 . The fable of Antichrist to come from Dan, is so thin a device, that Bellarmine could not but see through it, and disclaim it (Lib. iii. de Pont. Rom. cap. xii.).
8 Of 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.
Ver. 8. Of Joseph ] That is, of Ephraim, who, though Joseph’s younger son, yet had the first birthright. Ephraim is not named (though tacitly intended here) because joined to idols; let him alone therefore, saith God, Hosea 4:17 .
9 After 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;
Ver. 9. A great multitude ] All the faithful from the apostles to the end of the world. In all ages there were some that sought righteousness; neither was it ever so hard with the Church as the host at Nola (in the story) made it; who when he was commanded by the Roman censor to go and call the good men of the city to appear before him, went to the church yards, and there called at the graves of the dead, O ye good men of Nola, come away, for the Roman censor calls for your appearance; for he knew not where to call for a good man alive. In the very midst of Popery there were many faithful witnesses, and more of such as (like those two hundred that went out of Jerusalem after Absalom) went on in the simplicity of their hearts, and knew not anything, 2 Samuel 15:11 . (Anton. di Guevara.)
Clothed with white robes ] See Trapp on " Rev 3:4 "
And palms in their hands ] In token of victory over all spiritual enemies. This was hinted at by those palms engraved in Solomon’s and Ezekiel’s temple.
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Ver. 10. Salvation to our God ] Not to this or that Popish saint or mediator; of all whom these triumphers might say, as that heathen once, Contemno minutos istos deos, modo Iovem (Iesum) propitium habeam, I care not for all those small gods, so I may have Jesus on my side.
11 And 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,
Ver. 11. And all the angels ] See Trapp on " Rev 5:11 "
12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
Ver. 12. Amen; Blessing and glory, &c. ] The angels assent to what the saints had said, and add much more, according to their greater measure of knowledge and love to God: write we after this fairer copy.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
Ver. 13. And one of the elders ] See Trapp on " Rev 5:5 "
14 And 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.
Ver. 14. Which came out of great tribulation ] It is but a delicacy that men dream of to divide Christ and his cross. The bishop of London, when he had degraded Richard Bayfield, martyr, kneeling upon the highest step of the altar, he smote him so hard on the breast with his crosier staff, that he threw him down backward, and brake his head so that he swooned; and when he came to himself again, he thanked God that he was delivered from the malignant Church of Antichrist, and that he was come into the true Church of Christ militant, and I hope shall be anon with him in the Church triumphant. (Acts and Mon.)
And made them white ] Other blood stains what is washed in it; this blood of the spotless Lamb whitens and purifies.
15 Therefore 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.
Ver. 15. Therefore are they ] Not for the whiteness of their robes, but because they are washed in the meritorious blood of the Lamb.
Before the throne of God ] A good man is like a good angel, always standing before the face of God.
Shall dwell among them ] Gr. σκηνωσει , shall pitch his tent, or shall keep the feast, of tabernacles among them, or shall hover and cover over them, as the cloud did over Israel in the wilderness; so that under his shadow they shall safely and sweetly repose themselves.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
Ver. 16. They shall hunger no more ] They shall be as it were in heaven beforehand, having Malorum ademptionem, bonorum adeptionem, freedom from evil, and fruition of good, here in part, hereafter in all fulness.
17 For 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.
Ver. 17. Shall feed them and lead them ] An allusion to Psalms 23:2 , where David seems to resemble powerful and flourishing doctrine to green pastures, and the secret and sweet comforts of the sacraments to the still waters.
And God shall wipe away ] A metaphor from a nurse, which not only suckleth her dear child crying for hunger, but also wipes off the tears.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29