Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 7

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Take a minute and refresh your memory of the in the chart we studied in the introductory material.

O. T. Example N. T. Parallel Symbolism Physical bondage Spiritual bondage Great Tribulation Crossing Red Sea Blood of Christ First Resurrection Mt. Sinai Mt. Zion Lamb on Mt. Zion Wilderness Church in world 1000 Year Reign Jerusalem Church (Holy City) New Jerusalem

(1, xiv)

Great Tribulation - Israel was in physical tribulation during the time of Moses. They were enslaved in Egypt. Today all those outside the kingdom of God are in great tribulation. They are enslaved in sin. ( Joh_8:32-34 )

The giving of the Law of Moses on Mt. Sinai is a physical parallel to Christ giving His law on spiritual Mt. Zion. ( Mic_4:1-7 ) Christ reigns on Mt. Zion today. Those who stand on Mt. Zion are Christians, described in chapter 14 as the 144,000.

The great truth being pictured here in chapter 7 is that those who are in the bondage of sin (great tribulation) are coming out of that spiritual tribulation by washing their robes. They are made white in the blood of the Lamb.

Verse 9 describes them as a great multitude in white robes standing before the throne. They are Christians.

Chapter 7 deals with the question asked in 6:17. Who shall be able to stand? Answer: Those whom God has sealed (identified) as Christians, the 144,000 are the servants of God. Only Christians have any hope of being able to stand in the Day of Judgment .

Verse 1

1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.

A. After the sealing of all God’s people appear four angels (the 4 living creatures around the throne) holding the four winds.

B. The number 4 is dominant in this verse. The physical things of this earth are being discussed.

C. This is a picture of God delaying the destruction of this earth. Certain things must take place first. NOTE: God works on God’s schedule, not on our calendar. God had other things in His plan that must be done first.

Verse 2

2 Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea,

A. Now another angel comes from the east with the seal of God.

B. His duty is to seal the true servants of God. He is to seal their foreheads. (3)

C. Study Eph_1:13 - “We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” At the time of our faithful obedience to the gospel (confession and baptism) we are forgiven (robes are washed white in the blood of the Lamb) and we are sealed (identified as belonging to God) with the “gift of the Holy Spirit” ( Act_2:38 ).

Verse 3

3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

A. The angel instructs that the earth not be hurt - destroyed - until the sealing is completed. God will not destroy the earth, or allow it to be destroyed until He is ready.

B. God is in control. As long as there are people who render obedience to the gospel, God can be patient.

C. Man will never totally destroy the earth. God will do the final, total and complete destruction.

D. Sealed on their foreheads - similar to 22:4 - Name of God on their foreheads.

Verse 4

4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:

A. The number of people who are sealed Isaiah 144,000 . They are out of all the tribes of Israel.

B. 12 tribes times 12,000 = 144,000. Also see this number used in 14:1. 12 tribes = all the people faithful to God. Multiply times 12,000 from each tribe.

C. Ths number represents the complete, sum total of all the obedient to God. NOTE: The 144,000 are given the holy city, which has a wall of 144 cubits. (21:17). This wall represents the law of God which man must obey. The wall measures 144 cubits, and all the people who are inside this wall, the 144,000, are the saved of all ages. Those who obey must pass through the 144-cubit wall and become part of the 144,000.

D. Some believe this number accounts for the saved in Israel ONLY, not including any Gentiles. Some teach that only Israel will be in heaven. The saved among the Gentiles will be in a Paradise on Earth (a newly refurbished earth). I reject this idea because:

1. The list is NOT the list of the 12 tribes that became the nation of Israel.

2. The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are omitted.

3. The tribes of Joseph and Levi are added.

4. This is done to show, we are not dealing with the literal 12 tribes.

5. They represent all of God’s chosen people.

6. Also, Judah is listed first. In most Old Testament listings, Ruben is first, because he is the firstborn.

7. All of these things point to the spiritual rather than a literal Israel. The 144,000 represents the sum total of all people of all ages, who have obeyed God in faith and are part of the redeemed.

Verses 5-8

5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; 6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; 7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; 8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

A. This listing of the 12 tribes is different from any list in the Old Testament.

B. See the notes above on verse 4.

Verse 9

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

A. As in a movie, you move from one scene to another. Here is the fade to a new scene.

B. The sealing has been completed. Now all nations stand before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, palms in their hands.

C. Palm branches were laid on the path Jesus took in his entry into Jerusalem. ( Mar_11:8 ; Joh_12:13 ) While the white robes represent our salvation in Christ, the palms are symbolic of our willingness to serve Him.

Verse 10

10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

A. We are saved. Isn’t that reason to rejoice?

B. Do you still have the joy of your salvation? ( Psa_51:12 )

C. They recognize the source of their salvation is not their own merit. Salvation belongs to God and to the Lamb. Salvation cannot come by any other. ( Act_4:12 ; Joh_14:6 )

Verse 11

11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,

A. All the angels are around the throne.

B. Inside of them are the 24 elders.

C. In a closer circle around the throne of God are the four living creatures.

D. They worshipped God.

Verse 12

12 saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

A. They offer a 7-fold blessing.

1. Blessing

2. Glory

3. Wisdom

4. Thanksgiving

5. Honor

6. Power

7. Might

B. All of this praise and adoration belong to God.

C. Notice that this blessing begins and ends with “Amen.” The word “amen” means, “I am in agreement; may it be so; so be it.” Today, the word more often means, “I have finished; the end.” Here it was used at the beginning of the worship.

D. Here again we have a 7 that has a natural division into a 3 plus 4. The first three - Blessing, Glory, Wisdom - are attributes of God in the Divine realm. The number 3 represents God, the trinity, and the spiritual world.

The last four - Thanksgiving, Honor, Power, Might - are ways in which we recognize the majesty of God in the material world. The number 4 is the number of the physical and material world.

The Christians were seeking to give thanks to God. They were also looking for ways in which they could honor His name in an evil world. They were also praying for His power and might to intervene in this time of terrible persecution.

Verses 13-14

13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” 14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

A. John is not willing to risk a wrong guess. “You know.”

B. The answer is given: “These are the ones who have washed their robes, white in the blood of the Lamb.”

C. These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. NOTE: This is not some great event at the end of time. These Christians had already come out of this tribulation.

D. See the notes at the introduction to this chapter on the great tribulation. Our tribulation is our bondage (enslavement) in sin. When we believe and obey the gospel, we come out of that tribulation. We are washed (declared righteous) and sealed (marked and identified) as belonging to God.

Discussion: Great tribulation

1. Some believe this verse speaks of a time after the rapture that a world leader, anti-Christ, will persecute the world. They believe that this will be a 7-year period of time.

2. When do we make our robes white in the blood of the Lamb? We are to put on the robes of righteousness (19:8). If our robes are not white, we are living in a state of sin and following the devil. Act_22:16 gives instruction to Paul to be baptized “washing away his sins.” When we obey the gospel in baptism, our sins are washed away; we put on the white robe. We are in a state of righteousness. There were some at Sardis that had defiled their garments (3:4). They had gone back to the way of the world.

3. Anyone who leaves the world of sin behind has come out of great tribulation. The great tribulation is the difficult decision we make to leave the world, family, friends, sin and evil and begin a new loyalty to Christ.

4. There is a parallel with Moses leading Israel out of physical tribulation by crossing the Red Sea. Christ leads us out of spiritual tribulation by baptism.

5. Those outside of Christ are in the bondage of sin ( Rom_6:13-16 ). They are slaves to the devil and sin.

6. As people continue to obey the gospel, confess their faith in Jesus, and be baptized into Christ, they are coming out of great tribulation, washing their robes, and added to the church.

Verse 15

15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

A. We have left the kingdom of sin and Satan. We are before the throne of God. We are fully dedicated to him, day and night.

B. God dwells among us, in His temple. You are the Temple of God ( 1Co_3:16 ; 2Co_6:16 ). God dwells in his Holy temple. We are under the perfect law of liberty ( Jam_1:25 ).

Verse 16

16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;

A. In heaven some things we endured here on earth have ended. “The former things have passed away.” ( Rev_21:4 )

B. Hunger no more - We are fed by the Word, the bread of life

C. Thirst no more - We have full access to the living water ( Joh_4:13-14 )

D. Sun not burn them or make them hot - God is our light.

E. The church is a place of refuge, a protection from the physical things of life.

Verse 17

17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

A. The Lamb of God will:

B. Feed the hungry

C. Lead them to fresh water

D. Wipe away all tears - not only in this world, but in the world to come

NOTE: These symbols apply to heaven and to our relationship in the church . There is nothing wrong with applying these things to heaven. But we must make sure we do not miss out on the message directed to the church in persecuted world. Right now, in the middle of your distress, persecution, life-threatening situation, you can have the Bread of Life, Living Water, Tears wiped away. You do not have to wait until you get to heaven. These are not future promises. They are available as present realities. That is the GOOD NEWS of the gospel!

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Revelation 7". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/revelation-7.html. 2021.
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