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Revelation 7

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Verses 1-3

Rev 7:1-3

SECTION THREE

A SYMBOLIC INTERLUDE

SHOWING GOSPEL SUCCESS

Revelation 7:1-17

1. THE VISION DESCRIBED

Revelation 7:1-3

1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth,--"After this" means that after viewing the scenes revealed by the sixth seal he saw the two visions described in this chapter. They form an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals and show what results came to the church during the period of prosperity following the sixth seal. Angels mean messengers of some kind sent to carry out a purpose. Four standing at the four corners of the earth indicates that their work was to affect the whole earth, which in this case was limited to the inhabited part.

holding the four winds of the earth, that no wind should blow on the earth, or on the sea, or upon any tree.--The language here clearly means a destructive wind, such as causes unripe fruit to fall (6:13), or breaks and scatters things (1 Kings 19:11; Jeremiah 49:36). Such winds lash the sea into billows and break limbs and uproot trees. This is the picture John saw, but it represents something else. It indicates that . four destructive powers would be restrained for some time for a certain work to be accomplished, after which they would be released and come like a fierce wind.

2 And I saw another angel ascend from the sunrising, having the seal of the living God:--While John was viewing the four angels who held the winds back he saw another angel who was a messenger sent to tell the four angels what not to do. This angel ascended from the sunrising (the east) which was the direction to Palestine from Patmos where John was. As Palestine was the homeland of the Savior, the language perhaps means that it was a divine providence which held the destructive powers in check. Seals are placed upon things for the purpose of identification or showing genuineness. Figuratively the name of God would be stamped upon them; plainly expressed they would be approved of God because of their obedience to him. Here we have an instance of words used both literally and figuratively in the one expression. "Seal" is clearly in a figurative sense; "living God" is just as clearly in a literal sense.

and he cried with a great voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,--As the four angels represent some divine agency that could control the damaging powers, it was given to them to hurt the earth and sea by permitting these powers to come. The angels, therefore, were said to be able to hurt the earth because they could restrain these powers or turn them loose.

3 saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we shall have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.--The destructive powers represented by the four winds are to be restrained till the servants of God would be sealed--that is, till they would become servants of God by believing and obeying his word. Having the seal placed upon their foreheads indicated that the gospel truth would be received into the mind. If servants of God mean all in the future from the sixth seal, then the sealing will not be finished till the Lord comes; but, if the destructive powers to be turned loose afterthe sealing refer to the events under the seventh seal, then the sealing occurred during the time between these seals. The latter seems the probable view for two reasons

(1) It harmonizes better with the number said to be sealed.

(2) Placing the number sealed in the record between the two seals would indicate that when the destructive powers mentioned under the seventh seal had been turned loose, the sealing meant would be over. This is implied in the saved after the events of the seventh seal began, but only that the period between these seals would be one of peace for the church when great numbers would become Christians without serious opposition.

Commentary on Revelation 7:1-3 by Foy E. Wallace

And I saw four angels—Revelation 7:1.

The four angels were the imperial agents, not the heavenly messengers, as shown by the contrast with “another” angel of verse 2, which countermanded the orders of the four angels to hold back the winds. These four angels were the agents of Rome intercepting the word of God-- holding the winds--hindering the messengers of the gospel --that they should not blow--that is, preventing the spread of the gospel, or Christianity. The old word “hold” meant “hinder,” as in Romans 1:18, “who hold (hinder) the truth.”

The four corners of the earth is a common expression to denote the four points of the compass, meaning the whole earth. It signified the universal sway of the Roman government, hence, the significance of “the four angels,” the Roman agents “standing on the four corners of the earth,” exercising dominion over the whole world. The four winds were the messengers of Christ to execute his will, signified by the wind blowing, contrasting “blow” and “not blow,” the affirmative and negative opposites. The phrase, on earth, sea nor tree, were the three things that sum up physical objects against which the wind blows, and signify that the acts of the four angels in holding back the wind proscribed the preaching of the word, and in so doing the result was universal, having effect on all peoples of the earth.

The designation on the earth referred particularly to Palestine where the Jews resided and where the gospel originated. The designation on the sea extends the restraining order to other parts of the world separated by the sea from the land of the Jews. The statement nor any tree emphasizes that the word of God was being restrained everywhere men were found.

And I saw another angel—Revelation 7:2.

Here is the symbol of the heavenly messenger who suspended the restraining order of the four angels--Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God in the foreheads. This angel was seen ascending from the east, from the eastern horizon, from the direction of the rising sun, a symbol consistent with his mission of suspending, or preventing, the mandate of the four angels to put out the light of God’s word over all the world. By the authority of God the angel of the east said to the four angels hurt not the earth. It had been “given” to the four angels to “hurt” the earth, by the war on Jerusalem, and to enforce the mandate that “the wind should not blow,” that is, to restrain the word of God.

Hurt not the earth—Revelation 7:3.

“Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God intheir foreheads.”

This was the counter command of the angel of the rising sun to the four angels. The purpose of this sealing, as later seen, is to preserve the holy seed, the true Israel of God, from the judgments about to come upon the earth. It was not exemption from suffering, but from the judgments about to be announced in the opening of the seventh seal. It was a suspension period before the break of fury, signifying the divine protection of the faithful seed, the assurance that no force could bring them ultimate harm.

The sealing in their foreheads was a symbol of an insignia or a mark to save them from slaughter, but not from tribulation, for Revelation 2:10 said “thou shalt suffer tribulation ten days.” But they would survive it; they would be preserved in the midst of it, by a mark to distinguish the true Israel, the holy seed, from old Israel, the fleshly Jew. The old Israel was soon to perish, the new Israel to be preserved; the old Jerusalem was soon destroyed by impending judgments, the new Israel to be sealed for preservation, to survive and flourish as Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the church of the firstborn, sealed on earth and enrolled in heaven. A similar imagery is employed by Jeremiah in foretelling the captivity of Israel in Babylon. (Ezekiel 9:4)

Its history repeats itself in these visions of tribulation in the final destruction of Jerusalem, and of Israel’s nation. It is noteworthy that in this imagery there was the mark that sealed the servants of God in their foreheads, who worshipped not the beast, in contrast with what was later called the mark of the beast, also received upon their foreheads and in their hands, by those who submitted to the beast--to the decree of the emperor against the worship of the Lamb, and for the worship of the emperor, as set forth in the second series of symbols surrounding the church the Bride of the Lamb. In a similar figure Paul carried the mark of his Lord. (Galatians 6:17)

Commentary on Revelation 7:1-3 by Walter Scott

JUDGMENT RESTRAINED.

Revelation 7:1. — “And after this I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding fast the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth, nor upon any tree.” The phrase after this, repeated in Revelation 7:9, marks a new commencement. It introduces the Israelitish section of our chapter, as also the vision of the Gentile palm-bearing multitude. The intentional employment of the phrase and its repetition should have preserved certain interpreters from confusing the two companies. They are separate and distinct both in nationality and in blessing. The one is from among Israel, the other from among the Gentiles. The millennial earth is the scene where both are displayed. But it is essential to the understanding of the chapter to bear in mind that the time of the vision and the time when the companies come into their appointed public blessing are very different.

Revelation 7:1Four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding fast the four winds of the earth.” The banished Seer here views the earth as a vast extended plain, bounded by the four main points of the compass, north, south, east, and west. At these respective corners an angel stands so as to have full control over the destructive forces of evil. The threefold repetition of the numeral “four” marks the completeness and the universality of the action. We see no reason for limiting the term “earth” here to the Roman world. The winds are not to blow till an ideal number of Israel is sealed (vv. 3, 4). Now the two houses of Israel, Ephraim and Judah, are embraced in this work. Jehovah “shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:11-12). Thus both the Prophet and the Seer refer to the full extent of the inhabited earth, and not to the territorial limits of the Roman world, whether past or future. Clearly, too, Revelation 7:9 refers to the result of a divine testimony amongst the Gentiles far exceeding the extent of the empire in any period of its history. The earth here must be understood in its largest sense.

The four restraining angels,(*Wordsworth, in his “Lectures on the Apocalypse,” p. 120, attempts to show that the “four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth” are the same as those “bound at the great river Euphrates” (Revelation 9:14). But the world-wide position of the former compared with the circumscribed sphere of the latter would forbid such interpretation. Besides, the actions and time essentially differ. Wordsworth is one of the most fanciful and uncertain of interpreters.) the unseen, yet real, spiritual powers, are here seen controlling the forces and instruments of evil. “the four winds of the earth.”( Political and other troubles are expressed in the term “winds of the earth” (Daniel 7:2; Job 1:19; Jeremiah 49:36). “Winds of the Heaven” and “winds of the earth” are to be distinguished. The former expression points to the providential agencies employed by God to execute His purposes; whereas the latter denote attention to the guilty sphere of these judgments and calamities, i.e., the earth. We may also observe that the first mention of the “earth” in the text is unrestricted in its application. The second mention of the word limits it to the civilized portion of the globe in contrast to the “sea” the uncivilized part (see also Revelation 10:2).)

Revelation 7:1. — Holding fast with a firm grip, implying that the winds were struggling to get loose. How irresistible the grasp of Omnipotence on the powers and forces of evil. They are effectually bridled till the plans of God are ripe and ready for action.

The situation is one of intense interest. We are about to enter into yet deeper sorrows. The climax of judgment so far was under the sixth Seal when all government, political, social, supreme, and subordinate, utterly collapsed, and a scene of universal terror ensued. But deeper woes are looming. All were not slain in the martyrdom under the fifth Seal (Revelation 6:9-11), nor will coming and severer judgments hinder a universal testimony for God, as the consolatory visions of this chapter conclusively prove. Hence the universal calamities and troubles, indicated by the expression “winds of the earth,” are for a season held in check till God takes measures for the preservation of a complete number of His people Israel and of an innumerable company of Gentiles.

Revelation 7:1 — “That no wind might blow upon the earth,” the scene of settled government (Revelation 10:2; Psalms 46:2): “nor upon the sea,” nations and peoples in anarchy and confusion (Daniel 7:2-3; Isaiah 57:20); “nor upon any tree,” the might and pride of earth (Daniel 4:10; Daniel 4:22; Ezekiel 31:3-9; Ezekiel 31:14-18). The reason of the cessation of judgment is stated in precise terms: “until we shall have sealed the bondmen of our God upon their foreheads” (Revelation 7:3).

THE SEALING ANGEL AND HIS CRY.

Revelation 7:2-3. — “And I saw another angel ascending from (the*) sun-rising, having (the*) seal of (the*) living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it had been given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until we shall have sealed the bondmen of our God upon their foreheads.” (The absence of the article (bracketed by J.N.D. in his “New Testament,” and inserted in italics by W.K. in his valuable “Lectures on the Book of Revelation”) marks the respective actions before which it is omitted as characteristic.)Judgment attributed to the winds in verse one is here ascribed to the angels. By the former are symbolised the agencies of political and other evils; by the latter are to be understood the spiritual powers which direct and govern these agencies of evil, the instruments of judgment in verse one; the powers which wield them in verse two.

“Another angel,” not one of the four, and certainly not Christ, (The angel-priest of Revelation 8:3-5, and the strong angel of Revelation 10:1-6; Revelation 10:8-10, seem undoubtedly to refer to Christ. The terms used and actions described in both Scriptures could not truthfully be applied to any created being, however exalted.) as some have strangely supposed. The sentence “until we shall have sealed” would be derogatory to the pre-eminent dignity of Christ; so also the concluding words of the angel’s cry, “the bondmen of our God.” The language and spirit of John 20:17, “I ascend unto MY Father and your Father; and to MY God and your God,” is maintained throughout the New Testament. We never meet with the terms “our God” and “our Father” as signifying Christ and believers.

The angel referred to in our text is evidently a distinguished spiritual being having an exalted mission on hand. He ascends from the east or sun-rising, “having (the) Seal of (the) living God.”(Sealing in the present dispensation is no outward mark as here. It is the Holy Ghost given by God to indwell the believer (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13). God (not Christ) seals; the Holy Ghost Himself, a Person is the Seal.) The sealing angel ascending from the sun-rising for the preservation and blessing of Israel seems a herald of the Messiah, Who as the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2), and shine upon the land and people with undimmed splendour. The firstfruits of national blessing is predicated of the angel; the harvest awaits the revelation of Christ from Heaven.

“The seal of the living God” implies immunity from death, and the seal upon the forehead intimates public, open acknowledgment that those who are sealed belong to God. What the seal is we are not informed.

“The bondmen of our God.” Such is the title applied to the sealed of Israel. They had maintained the testimony of God through trial and difficulty; their course had been marked by conflict and service; hence the appropriateness of the title “bondmen.”

The sealing is not alone the work of the angel; others are associated in the happy service of preserving from judgment a complete number of Israel, “until we shall have sealed.” There is a dignity of action here neither found in the sealing recorded by the prophet of the captivity (Ezekiel 9:4) nor in that of Judah on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1). The angel ascending from the sun-rising is in keeping with the exalted mission on hand. His is no ordinary service, and hence the surrounding circumstances bespeak the greatness of the work.

“He cried with a loud voice” to the angels of judgment, “Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees.” The imperative summons is obeyed, and saved Israel is sealed for millennial blessing.

Commentary on Revelation 7:1-3 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 7:1. After the altar scene in Revelation 6:9-11, the vision opens the sixth seal to give a view of the consternation that came upon the men in high places, because of their mistreatment of Christians and because they were faced with the reverses that the emperor had forced upon them. The present chapter extends the consideration that God had for the "martyrs," at the same time He was bringing the siege of consternation upon the persecutors of His people. The four angels are so numbered because of the four corners or four points of the earth’s compass. Holding the four winds symbolizes the blowing of the wrath of God over the realm of the persecutors, and these angels were holding this wind ready to be released whenever they were so ordered.

Revelation 7:2. As the four angels were "standing at attention" ready to turn the winds loose upon the earth (referring to the domains of the Roman Empire), another angel was seen coming with a special message to the four. Front the east is figurative and means it was from the throne of God, because he is the source of all spiritual light, even as the sun which brings material light to the world, first appears in the east. Hurt the earth is referring back to the conditions of consternation and destruction described in the closing verses of chapter 6.

Revelation 7:3. They were told to hold back the winds until the faithful ones had been accounted for. A seal is a stamp of ownership and is placed on the proper persons to indicate the approval of the authority behind it. (See the comments at 1 Corinthians 9:2.) This seal was to be placed in the forehead which indicates they would he visible to the public. Whatever was the exact fulfilling of this symbol, there was something that would tell the world of God’s approval of them. Hence when the wicked men of power were undergoing their terrors, they could realize how much they had failed in their wicked designs. Right while they were trembling in the terrors of their crumbling dominions, they could see the victims of their cruelty with the marks of approval from their God.

Commentary on Revelation 7:1-3 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 7:1

The visions of this chapter actually relate to conditions with God’s church during the entire period of the seals and leading up to the final judgment depicted at the end of Revelation 6. They are introduced here retrospectively for the encouragement of the saints. The first vision (Revelation 7:1-8) shows their protection and safety during the calamities and misfortunes of their earthly pilgrimage, and during the divine visitations of God’s wrathful judgments upon the wicked. The second (Revelation 7:9-17) shows their state of bliss in the presence of God himself. Of course, no Christian has yet entered such a state of bliss; but the vision of how it will be at last is a great comfort indeed to Christians suffering the outrages of a vicious persecution. In the sense of this bliss depicted here as a state of the saints in eternity, this part of the chapter is proleptic (anticipating the future); but with reference to the occurrence of this vision in John’s sequence it is retrospective, actually pertaining to the hope available to the Christians suffering under the six seals.

The biggest problems for the commentators wrestling with the meaning of this chapter are: (1) the identity of the two groups, the 144,000, and the innumerable multitude; (2) the meaning of their being "sealed"; and (3) what is meant by the great tribulation. Fortunately for those who really know their New Testament, none of these problems presents any great difficulty. We shall determine the answer to these questions before beginning the exegesis of the chapter.

(1) The 144,000 are identified as "servants of God" (Revelation 7:3), and the innumerable multitude are called "followers of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14); therefore, these could not be two different classes of persons but the same group. God does not have any servants who are not also followers of the Lamb. The notion that the 144,000 are literally fleshly Jews can exist only in those who are unaware that the church of Jesus Christ is the true and only Israel of God, beside which there is no other. The New Testament witness to this truth is extensive and overwhelming. All of Romans chapters Romans 9-11; 1 Peter 1:1; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:29; Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:3; James 1:1, etc., leave no doubt at all on this question. There is also the mountain fact that Christ himself referred to his church as "the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:18), a truth also evident in the inspired declaration that "there is no distinction between Jew and Greek" (Romans 10:12). Once it is clearly fixed in the mind that God does not recognize any distinction (or difference) between a racial, literal Jew and any other person on earth, the importing of a racial status into this chapter becomes impossible. The church itself is often perplexed quite needlessly by racial considerations, but these were destroyed in Christ. All talk of what God is going to do with the Jews is futile, misleading, and contrary to everything in the New Testament. God does not any more have a special plan for racial Jews than he does for the Italians, the Dutch, the English, or the Japanese. "The servants of God" in this dispensation are those "in Christ"; all are invited; none are excluded; and neither races, nations, states, nor languages has any bearing whatever regarding either the favor or disfavor of Almighty God.

John’s mention of the twelve tribes, even naming each one, has led some to see in the 144,000 the saved of the Mosaic dispensation, and in the innumerable multitude the saved of the Christian dispensation; but this would leave out the saved of the patriarchal period. To make any such distinction also raises problems relative to the higher status of the innumerable multitude (in heaven), and also leads to the inference that the 144,000 are exempted from the great tribulation. Neither of these views fits into the picture at all. Therefore, we confidently conclude that the 144,000 and the innumerable company are one and the same, the redeemed of the earth.

But why are the two groups presented under such radically different figures? The mention of the twelve tribes recalls the marching formation of the ancient Israel in the wilderness, therefore suggesting the embattled, struggling church during their earthly trials. This led Pieters to the deduction that we have in these two figures "The Church Militant and The Church Triumphant."[1] Scholarly support for this understanding is extensive, as indicated by this summary from Ray Summers:[2]

The 144,000 are the church universal, the saints of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. "There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile."[3]

These were the true Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).[4]

The Israel of the first vision is coextensive with the whole church. The two visions depict the same body under widely different conditions.[5]

That they (both visions) are the whole body of the church, Jew and Gentile, in spite of some difficulty, is most conformable to the conceptions of the New Testament in general.[6]

The 144,000 are not believers descended from literal Israel, but from the spiritual Israel, that are referred to.[7]

These men (quoted here) represent the very best in the study of Revelation for the last hundred years.[8]

However, it is not the concurrence of scholarly opinion that is determinative; it is the overwhelming teaching of the rest of the New Testament.

(2) Regarding the meaning of being "sealed." We may dispense with the notion that something literal, bodily, or external is meant. God does not brand people in the manner of cattlemen branding their herds. Nothing but fancy could envision such a thing as that pretended by a false Christ in Syria who declared, "that he had God’s name sculptured between his eyebrows; the wrinkles resembled the Arabic hieroglyph for Allah."[9]

Paul settled this question with the word that, "Ye are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13). It is nothing short of amazing that most scholars miss this, vainly seeking to find the answer in Ezekiel 9:4, some other Old Testament passage, or in the myths and folklore of paganism. It is simply inconceivable that the sealing here mentioned by John is anything different from the sealing mentioned by Paul. Since the "seal" is given only to baptized believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, this also makes positive our identification of the 144,000 as Christians (See Acts 2:38 ff). McGuiggan thought that, "Since the people sealed here were already Christians, something else must be meant by the sealing";[10] but it is obvious that "sealing" here is a figure for their conversion to Christianity. It is an error to suppose that this "sealing" implies any special protection against some isolated event, like "the great tribulation," or that this was some special preparation or protection for some special class, such as the martyrs. See under (3), below for discussion of "the great tribulation." Caird and many others mistakenly applied this sealing "to the martyrs."[11]

Gettys properly observed that:

We need not suppose that this sealing was one act at one particular moment in time, but that it is one fact for all ages, as all believers are redeemed in Christ once for all.[12] (And we might add, "one at a time.")

Other commentators who discerned this exceedingly important truth that the sealing here is that of the Holy Spirit are:

The Spirit has sealed him (the Christian, Ephesians 1:13), for he certifies that we are sons of God (Romans 8:16).[13]

We are sealed with the Holy Spirit by the means of grace, Word, and sacrament.[14]

All Christians were sealed with the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.[15] This identity of the seal also makes it clear that no special group within the church, such as the martyrs, is meant, and that the sealing does not anticipate any isolated or unique event, but that it is for all tribulations, hardships, and struggles of the Christian life.

(3) The meaning of "the great tribulation." This is merely another name for the whole Christian life, any Christian life, in any and all ages of the church. The notion that Great Tribulation should be capitalized and understood as a reference to one particular period of suffering and persecutions for Christians is false, unscriptural and illogical. Jesus indeed mentioned "a great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21) as being greater than any that preceded it or that would come after it, having reference to the overthrow of Jerusalem; but he did not call even that "The Great Tribulation." Mark’s gospel refers to that event as "that tribulation" (Mark 13:24). What then is the great tribulation? It is that which includes and contains all tribulations of God’s people upon the earth. "Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). "Because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. They will persecute you" (John 16:19-20).

In this context, we also note the superstition to the effect that martyrs are in some special sense greater than ordinary Christians, or that martyrdom has any special effect upon destiny. There is not a word in the whole New Testament that supports any such notion. In fact, there have been periods in church history during which faith in Christ was even more difficult than in the days of the martyrdoms. Fidelity to Christ is difficult under all conditions; and there is no more glory in heaven for martyred saints than for those who patiently endured unto death, despite the scorn and hatred of an unbelieving world. A martyr’s crown may be won by a single resolute and heroic act (and glorious indeed it is); but it is equally noble, and just as difficult, to win the crown through patient endurance of all the hatred vented against a true Christian throughout a long life that ends at last from natural causes. We reject much of the writings on the prophecy because they exalt the martyrs above other Christians and make of them a special quality of Christian. It is not likely that John himself was a martyr; and we certainly may not suppose that Paul and Peter who were martyrs outrank him in any way, or received any special favors in their Christian life.

Before proceeding with the study of the text, the position of this chapter in the whole sequence of visions should be noted. Most commentators refer to it as "a parenthesis,"[16] "an interlude,"[17] or as "an interruption of John’s portrayal of the flow of events."[18] Despite the truth in such opinions, the chapter is very important.

Instead of being secondary, this vision is essential. The things in view are not a matter of chronology, but of importance. Revelation 7 is so important that unless it is understood, the rest of the visions will not be properly apprehended.[19]

The events of this chapter are not those which chronologically follow the events of Revelation 6, but they are a view of how it is with God’s servants during those events of both the succeeding and preceding chapters.

[1] Albertus Pieters, Studies in the Revelation of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p. 125.

[2] Ray Summers, Worthy is the Lamb (Nashville: The Broadman Press, 1961), pp. 147-149.

[3] Donald W. Richardson, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (New York: Pillar Books, 1964), p. 88.

[4] David Smith, The Disciples Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. V (New York: Rav Long and Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1932), p. 632.

[5] H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), p. 99.

[6] Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1919), pp. 535,539.

[7] R. H. Charles, Revelation of St. John, Vol. II, International Critical Commentary (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920), pp. 206,209.

[8] Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 147.

[9] James Moffatt, Expositor’s Greek New Testament, Vol. V (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 397.

[10] Jim McGuiggan, The Book of Revelation (West Monroe, Louisiana: William C. Johnson, 1976), p. 112.

[11] G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 97.

[12] Joseph M. Gettys, How to Study the Revelation (Philadelphia: The John Knox Press, 1955), p. 55.

[13] William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1956), p. 133.

[14] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), p. 250.

[15] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), p. 112.

[16] J. W. Roberts, The Revelation of John (Austin, Texas: R.B. Sweet Company, 1974), p. 69.

[17] John T. Hinds, A Commentary on Revelation (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), p. 110.

[18] Charles M. Laymon, The Book of Revelation (New York and Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1960), p. 94.

[19] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 245.

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that no wind should blow on the earth, or on the sea, or upon any tree. (Revelation 7:1)

After this I saw ... "It is dangerous to assume that the order in which John writes is the order in which the things he describes will happen."[20] The exact chronology of Revelation is the great unresolved problem with the whole prophecy. In Revelation 6:8, the ravaging horsemen had authority to destroy the fourth part of the earth; but in this chapter (Revelation 7:1; Revelation 7:3), the destructive forces are restrained from hurting the earth. "After this," therefore means merely that John saw this vision at a later time than when he saw the ones already described.

Four angels standing at the four corners of the earth ... These are God’s angels, not demons, or the devil’s angels. "The unmodified term angels is never used to indicate devils."[21]

The four corners of the earth ... There is no need to dwell upon the alleged ignorance of the sacred writers concerning the shape of the earth. Nothing that John either knew or did not know had anything to do with what he saw. We who know all about the globe still speak of the four corners of the earth and the ends of the earth; and "North, south, east and west make exactly four and will continue to do so."[22] We have no patience with those writers who can find nothing in this except, "the cosmology of the Babylonians, the influence of the Syriac Apocalypse of Peter, or of Pseudo-John, or of the Questions of Bartholomew."[23] The blessed apostle himself gave us his source; namely, God himself through Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1).

Holding the four winds of the earth ... The function of these angels was that of restraining the destructive forces represented by the winds. The thought is parallel with that of the limitations imposed upon the horsemen of the seals, who could hurt only one fourth of the earth.

No wind shall blow ... The prohibition here is not total, but the restraint of destructive forces. The thought is parallel with the Saviour’s promise that a sparrow may not fall without God’s knowledge and concern (Matthew 10:29). The total restraint of all atmospheric motion would not be a blessing, but a disaster. The restriction of destructive forces in these verses primarily teaches that the present order of creation shall be providentially preserved until the complete fulfillment of God’s redemptive purpose on earth. The thought is parallel with the following from the Old Testament:

While the earth remaineth, cold and heat, and seedtime and harvest, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease (Genesis 8:22).

Plummer understood this whole chapter as the logical answer to the closing words of Revelation 6, "Who shall be able to stand?" thus connecting Revelation 7 with the final judgment scene there related.[24] This is correct and has the effect of applying Revelation 7, not to some specific event of history, but to the whole earthly probation of the saints. "The sealing extends throughout the whole New Testament era."[25] Here is the prophetic equivalent of Jesus’ promise to be with his church "even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20), and of Paul’s, "all things work together for good to them that are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:25). The immense comfort of persecuted saints in such glorious promises is exactly the comfort graphically pictured in these two magnificent visions of Revelation 7.

Roberts identified the four angels here with the four horsemen of Revelation 6,[26] but we refrain from doing this for two reasons: (1) they were already holding, or restraining the winds, before the great angel appeared and (2) the "we" used by the other angel seems also to include the four.

[20] Michael Wilcock, I Saw Heaven Opened (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975), p. 78.

[21] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 245.

[22] Ibid., p. 246.

[23] Martin Rist, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York and Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 417.

[24] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), pp. 205,206.

[25] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 249.

[26] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 70.

Revelation 7:2

And I saw another angel ascend from the sunrising, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a great voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea.

Another angel ... from the sunrising ... The east is often mentioned in Revelation, and "from the sunrising" seems to mean "from that direction," the source of earth’s light. Certainly, for one of God’s messengers, it is more appropriate that he should come from the sunrising, than from the sunset. Who this mighty angel was we have no certain way of knowing. Beeson thought, "This refers to Christ’s coming in the Holy Spirit to his apostles on Pentecost";[27] and despite Beeson’s being correct in seeing the connection between the sealing and the giving of the Holy Spirit, it is not necessary to impose any specific identity upon this mighty angel. He stands in the vision as an executor of the will of God, the big thought of the passage relating not to his identity but to his great authority to control nature itself in order to prevent any frustration of God’s plans to seal his servants.

Having the seal of the living God ... "Here we have an instance of words used both figuratively and literally in one passage."[28] Seal is figurative, and living God is literal. For what the seal is, see under (2) in the chapter heading, above. Of course, the angel did not carry the Holy Spirit, but the imagery is aided by the picture of his carrying God’s seal.

Cried with a loud voice to the four angels ... This mighty angel clearly had more authority than the four; nevertheless, the four were angels and were already restraining the destructive forces when the mighty angel delivered his order. There is no New Testament criteria for identifying this mighty angel, unless he is understood as Michael the archangel; but there is no certainty of this. See in my Commentary on Jude, p. 534, for more on the archangel.

[27] Ulrich R. Beeson, The Revelation (Little Rock, Arkansas: Ulrich R. Beeson, 1956), p. 69.

[28] John T. Hinds, op. cit., p. 111.

Revelation 7:3

saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, until we shall have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.

Hurt not the earth ... sea ... trees ... The four angels who had such power are not depicted as having done any hurt at all, nor as ever having had either any intention or any desire to hurt anything. There was an extensive angelology among the Jews; but the mention in this prophecy of angels of the winds (as here), the angel of fire (Revelation 14:18), and the angel of the waters (Revelation 16:5), is not sufficient grounds for receiving the speculative Hebrew angelology as dependable. The New Testament purposely left us in the dark concerning any definitive teaching regarding the work of angels. Some of their functions may be inferred from various Old Testament and New Testament texts; and, for a glance at these, see in my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 31, and under Revelation 10:7.

Till we shall have sealed the servants of our God ... The future perfect tense, as well as the "till," suggests that the restraining of the destructive forces shall be continued throughout the Christian dispensation until the Second Advent, until all of God’s servants are sealed.

We ... our ... These are not merely editorial expressions, but have the meaning that the work of all the angels in view here is one work; all are concerned with both the restraining and the sealing. Therefore, this would seem to be a reference to the work of angels who do service for them that are the heirs of salvation, as in Hebrews 1:14.

God’s servants ... To the generation which first read Revelation, this expression could have had only one meaning, Christians. That is what it meant then, and what it still means. God has no bondservants who are not Christians. Furthermore, it is not merely some fraction of these, or some limited group, or class, such as martyrs, who are to be sealed. All are sealed; and not even any destructive natural force shall be allowed to impede or interfere with this sealing until it is totally accomplished.

In their foreheads ... Such a designated place for the sealing suggests that the countenances of the sealed will bear eloquent witness of their having been sealed, a truth exemplified by the radiant countenances of Christians all over the world. When the rich young ruler went away from Jesus, it is recorded that "his countenance fell" (Mark 10:22); and God’s sealing of his servants gives the opposite of a fallen countenance. As Lenski put it, "The countenance identifies the person ... what the heart is, the face and eyes reveal."[29]

ENDNOTE:

[29] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 250.

Commentary on Revelation 7:1-3 by Manly Luscombe

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. After the sealing of all God’s people appear four angels (the 4 living creatures around the throne) holding the four winds. The number 4 is dominant in this verse. The physical things of this earth are being discussed. 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.

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…Now another angel comes from the east with the seal of God. His duty is to seal the true servants of God. He is to seal their foreheads. Study Ephesians 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” (Acts 2:38).

3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 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. God is in control. As long as there are people who render obedience to the gospel, God can be patient. Man will never totally destroy the earth. God will do the final, total and complete destruction. Sealed on their foreheads - similar to Revelation 22:4 - Name of God on their foreheads.

Verses 4-8

Rev 7:4-8

2. NUMBER SEALED FROM

THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL

Revelation 7:4-8

4 And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:--John heard the number sealed, but it is not stated who did the speaking. The word "every" is used in the sense of "all"--the 144,000 being the sum total sealed from the twelve tribes. Israel and Jew are both used spiritually to mean Christians. (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 6:16.) But here the term evidently refers to those who were to be sealed (saved) from fleshly Israel. Mention is made of the tribes and the number given and named. Besides, they are put in contrast with a great unnumbered multitude from "every nation," who must be the Gentiles. Evidently the 144,000 is a definite for an indefinite number, for it is not a reasonable supposition that there would be exactly 12,000 from each tribe, or that amount would be all that would be saved. It means that a large number of Abraham’s descendants would be saved in the period of prosperity for the church that followed the sixth seal, but not all that would be saved from the Jews throughout the Christian dispensation.

5-8 Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand;--See the text above for the other tribes. Judah was not the first-born son of Jacob, but may be mentioned here first because of his being the ancestor of Christ. The tribes are not always mentioned in the same order in the Old Testament. Joseph’s descendants were divided into two tribes--Ephraim and Manasseh; hence, with Levi, the priestly tribe, there were thirteen in all. Dan is omitted from this list, supposedly because the tribe became idolatrous. Joseph is given in place of Ephraim. But since there is no regularity in the order in which the tribes are mentioned, it was only necessary to mention twelve, the original number of Jacob’s sons, to indicate the whole nation of Israel.

Commentary on Revelation 7:4-8 by Foy E. Wallace

The number of the sealed was computed with the tabulation of twelve times twelve, on the basis of the twelve tribes instead of the twelve apostles, as in chapter 4; but here it is expanded to the basic number of thousand for each tribe, as a full and complete company rather than persons equal in number to the patriarchs and apostles, as in case of the twenty-four elders. In the first the symbol was added; in the second it was multiplied. It signified the whole faithful church, the total number of the redeemed, “the holy seed,” preserved from the pronouncements of judgment. This multiplied number was mentioned again in chapter 14, discussion of which is reserved for that exposition.

In the names that head the twelve tribes, Judah stands first, significant of relation sustained to “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” from which the Lord sprang. (Hebrews 7:14) The spiritual, figurative, use of the twelve tribes elsewhere in the New Testament designated the whole church, the spiritual Israel, as in the Old Testament they represented the whole of fleshly Israel. (Matthew 18:28; Acts 26:7; James 1:1)

This 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel was an apocalypse of the holy seed of Isaiah 6:13; and the remnant of Jacob of Isaiah 10:21-23; and the remnant according to election of Romans 9:27-28; Romans 11:5; and the innumerable company (the church) of Hebrews 12:22. They stood for the new Israel. The proclamation of “the angel of the east” to the four angels standing on the four corners of the “earth” to “hurt not the earth till we have sealed the servants of our God,” signified that God would not permit them to destroy Old Jerusalem until he had sealed a representative number for the New Jerusalem, the church, which was figuratively said to be “the twelve tribes” of the dispersion. (James 1:1)

The “loud voice” of this angel commanded that the “wind blow,” that the gospel should be preached to the four corners by the sealed servants. It was parallel to the Lord’s declaration that after the destruction of Jerusalem his angels (emissaries) would carry the gospel to the four winds. (Matthew 24:31)

Following thevisions of the sealed number there was the heavenly scene of the great multitude robed in white, coming out of tribulation, composed of the angels, the elders, and the beings, who were before the throne; who were washed in blood; who served in his temple; who hungered and thirsted no more; who should suffer no heat of the sun; whom the Lamb should feed and lead; and whose tears God would wipe away.

The full or unlimited understanding of all the signs with a precise explanation of all the symbols of these visions is not required in order to know the general import, and application to the period of these persecutions. Furthermore, it should be remembered that the objects of these visions were immediate and present with them while they are separated and remote from us. It should further be observed that there were spiritually gifted teachers in each church to impart the meanings to the members, whereas we have the teaching of the text itself, with the current history of the context, to follow. The course of history did not run contrary to the context nor does the language of the text contradict the events of history. The misinterpretations of false teachers and the misapplications of others arise from the anachronisms of assigning these events to the wrong periods of time, by referring them to future centuries, rather than applying the signs to the impending events of the time.

The correlation in the symbolic arrangement of the contents, without the historical gaps and the fragmentary dislocations of the future theories identify them with the current history then transpiring. The entire genius of the book justifies the conviction that it was designed for the comfort and encouragement of the early apostolic churches.

Commentary on Revelation 7:4-8 by Walter Scott

THE NUMBER OF THE SEALED.

The Gentile company (Revelation 7:9) is not numbered. The Israelitish company, on the contrary, is carefully reckoned, and the result stated, not in round numbers, but in precise terms as a hundred and forty and four thousand. Twelve thousand out of each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The numbers, whether singly (12) or multiplied (144) denote a complete and definite number. Twelve is the signature of Israel, and is largely employed in Jewish connection. Earthly administration, rule, government, seem to be the moral value of this numeral. (The twelve hours of the day, twelve hours of the night, direct us to the sun and moon as the ruling and governing powers of day and night. There were twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles in relation to the future government of Israel (Matthew 19:28). Twelve gates in the holy Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12). Israel was represented in the twelve precious stones on the breastplate of the high priest and in the twelve loaves of show bread on the holy table (Exodus 28:1-43; Leviticus 24:1-23). Rule on the earth is the predominant factor in the use and value of this numeral.) The number of the sealed is of course symbolic, and simply denotes that God has appropriated a certain, complete, yet limited number of Israel for Himself.

PECULIARITIES

In the enumeration of the tribes throughout Scripture, of which there are about eighteen, the full representative number twelve is always given; but as Jacob had thirteen sons, (Counting the two sons of Joseph instead of the father as Jacob’s.) one or other is always omitted. Levi is more generally omitted than any other. In the apocalyptic enumeration Dan and Ephraim are omitted. Both these tribes were remarkable as being connected with idolatry in Israel, the probable reason for the blotting out of their names here (Deuteronomy 29:18-21). But in the end grace triumphs, and Dan is named first in the future distribution of the land amongst the tribes (Ezekiel 48:2), but, while first named, it is the farthest removed from the temple, being situated in the extreme north. In our English version there are three tribes named in each verse, but in reality the arrangement of the tribes, as of the apostles, (Matthew 10:2-4) is in pairs. First, Judah and Reuben, the fourth and first sons of Leah, the former the royal tribe, the latter the representative of the nation (Genesis 49:3). Second, Gad and Asher, the two sons of Zilpah, associated in the prophetic blessings of the last days (Genesis 49:19-20). Third, Naphtali and Manasseh, linked in the enumeration of Ezekiel 48:4. Fourth, Simeon and Levi, the second and third sons of Leah, associated in the prophetic enumeration (Genesis 49:5-7), also in the Lord’s revelation of Himself to saved Israel (Zechariah 12:13). Fifth, Issachar and Zebulun, the fifth and sixth sons of Leah, both are associated in the prophetic (Genesis 49:1-33) and in the territorial (Ezekiel 48:1-35) enumerations of the tribes. Sixth, (We have Joseph, not Ephraim; the father instead of the son. But Ephraim in blessing takes precedence of his elder brother Manasseh, and again grace shines (Genesis 48:8-20).) Joseph and Benjamin, the two sons of Rachel, the beloved wife of the patriarch.

It is to be noted that in the Revised Version and other critical helps the word “sealed” is omitted in naming each of the tribes save the first and last. Thus, “out of (the) tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed” (v. 8), and “out of (the) tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed” (v. 8). The tribes of Judah and Benjamin respectively open and close the enumeration. The characteristics of these tribes (Genesis 49:8-12; Genesis 49:27) both center in Christ.

THREE COMPANIES OF MILLENNIAL SAINTS.

The two companies of Israel and the Gentiles were beheld by the Seer in separate visions. The elect company from the twelve tribes (Revelation 7:4-8) is not only distinct from their Gentile associates (Revelation 7:9-17), but is equally distinct from the 144,000 from amongst Judah who emerge out of the horrors of the coming hour of trial standing on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1-20). There are two Jewish companies of equal number — the hundred and forty-four thousand of all Israel (Revelation 7:1-17), and the hundred and forty-four thousand of Judah only (Revelation 14:1-20). The palm-bearing Gentile multitude must not be confounded either with the Church or with Israel. The innumerable multitude here beheld in vision is the fruit of an extensive work of grace begun immediately or soon after the translation of the heavenly saints (1 Thessalonians 4:1-18). and continued during the future prophetic week of seven years (Matthew 24:14). This world-wide testimony actively carried on between the Translation and the Appearing will be signally owned of God. Thus ample time under the good and controlling hand of God is afforded for the mighty work of grace, which in extensive results remind us of the palmy days of Pentecost.

We may also note another interesting distinction between the two companies of millennial saints in our chapter. The elect of Israel are beheld before they enter into “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” whereas the Gentile saved multitude are here witnessed after having come out of “the great tribulation.”

SAVED GENTILE MULTITUDE AND THEIR CRY.

We have already remarked that the white-robed, palm-bearing multitude come out of the great tribulation, and while their blessing is strictly millennial in character and time, they must not be confounded with another class of Gentiles who will be saved at the commencement of the millennial era after the close of the tribulation; hence the special position and characteristic blessings of the “innumerable multitude” here referred to. Both the position and blessing are in beautiful keeping with the previous trial, out of which they have emerged, and in which many of their brethren, Jewish and Gentile, were slain. “Out of every nation, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues.” We have already met with this fourfold distribution of the race (Revelation 5:9). It is a technical formula expressing universality (see also Revelation 11:9).

This vast multitude beyond all counting, and in this respect in marked contrast to the more limited and exactly defined number of Israel, is witnessed by the Seer “standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palm branches in their hands.” These saints are on earth. “Standing before the throne and before the Lamb” is, of course, a position of exalted dignity, but the thrones of the heavenly saints are “around” the throne of God (Revelation 4:4) and of the Lamb (Revelation 5:6). Moreover, they are seated on them (see also Revelation 20:4). It is not said that these earthly saints have thrones and crowns; the heavenly ones have both. In these and other respects the heavenly company of the redeemed occupy a higher and more exalted position of dignity than the “innumerable multitude” who on earth stand before the throne — a designation of moral force.

Commentary on Revelation 7:4-8 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 7:4. The number of those who were sealed is given in exact and equal figures, which makes us know that it is all another expression of figurative speech and that the meaning is that great numbers of true Christians had won the stamp of approval from the Lord. Tribes of the Children of Israel. it is known that after the conversion of Cornelius in the first four years of the Gospel, the Gentiles furnished many converts to Christ. Hence there were many of those who were persecuted as well as of the Jews. The reference to the twelve tribes is therefore accommodative, similar to the instance in James 1:1.

Revelation 7:5-8. Having explained the significance of the tribal classification. and since the same thing is said of each tribe. I am combining these verses into one paragraph to conserve time and space.

Commentary on Revelation 7:4-8 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 7:4

And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:

Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand;

Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

Who are these 144,000? They are the saved of earth, servants of God just mentioned by the angel, particularly the Christians of all ages until the end of time. This meaning alone could have had any comfort at all for the suffering saints who first received this prophecy. The idea that John here comforted the Christians who were in the throes of a great tribulation brought upon them by the fleshly Jews who had murdered the Messiah and hindered the truth all over the world, with a vision of such a vast company of saved and redeemed Jews (literally) is absolutely preposterous. See chapter introduction, above, under (1).

Theories which would read these 144,000 as, "the total number of the martyrs that must be completed before the prayers of those in heaven (Revelation 6:11) could be answered,"[30] are equally preposterous and are founded upon an inadequate conception of God who simply cannot be properly viewed as approving any specified number of martyrs. It is not martyrs that God desires, but Christians. Furthermore, the sealed here are not called martyrs.

The theory that these 144,000 are literal Jews from racial Israel is attractive to some, and was ably advocated by Seiss:

When God says "children of Israel," I do not understand him to mean any but people of Jewish blood, be they Christians or not. And when he speaks of the twelve sons of Jacob, and gives the names of the tribes, it is impossible for me to believe that he means Gentiles in any sense or degree, whether they be believers or not.[31]

The blindness of this view is identical with that of the Pharisees who claimed to be sons of Abraham (and, literally, they were); but Jesus said, "If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham" (John 8:39). John’s .calling the church the twelve tribes of Israel came directly from the lips of Jesus (Matthew 19:28); and therefore "fleshly Israel," called by Jesus himself "the children of the devil" (John 8:44), simply cannot fit into this passage in any way. That our interpretation entails come difficulty is freely admitted. Smith called this, "a passage of unusual difficulty";[32] but the difficulty of trying to make the tribes of literal Israel fit the meaning here is far more difficult.

The 144,000 ... This is a number made up of 12 10:12 10:1,000. Earlier in Revelation we had a number made up of 12 + 12, that of the "four and twenty elders" (Revelation 4:4); but here the "twelve" is multiplied by itself, and then again by a thousand, indicating completeness and perfection in the ultimate degree. What is meant? "That not one of those who are worthy shall be overlooked or forgotten."[33] It also carries the thought that the natural universe, the powers of evil, and the ravages of time shall not interfere with God’s plans until all are accomplished. Therefore, the 144,000 are a symbol of the total number of the redeemed, a definite number, unknown to us, but surely known by God. It is the same as "the innumerable company" of Revelation 7:9.

Twelve tribes ... Why are they listed? First, the number "twelve" is a sacred number. There were twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles, twelve foundations of the eternal city, twelve gates, twelve angels at the gates, twelve manner of fruits on the tree of life, twelve seasons in the year when the fruits were yielded, and twelve stars in the crown of the glorious woman arrayed with the sun! Are these literally the twelve sons of Jacob? How could they be? The ten northern tribes had already been lost for centuries when John wrote. Dan is not mentioned here, nor is Ephraim; but Joseph which includes both Ephraim and Manasseh is listed. As Beckwith said, "Nineteen different arrangements of these names are found in the Old Testament, with none of which does this list agree."[34] If these are understood as literal tribes, it would mean that exactly the same number would be saved from each one; and what kind of a straitjacket is that? It would also have to mean that none will be saved from the tribe of Dan. Thus we are driven to the conclusion reached by Roberts: "The 144,000 must represent the whole church of the New Testament as spiritual Israel."[35] No satisfactory explanation of this irregular list has ever been offered, unless it is this, "John intends to say that the twelve tribes of Israel are not literal Israel, but the true spiritual Israel, which is the church."[36] Foy E. Wallace, Jr., also agreed that, "They signify the whole faithful church, the total number of the redeemed."[37] Regarding the question of why, then, should John have broken the 144,000 into twelve tribes, Bruce thought he did so in order, "to emphasize that the church is the true Israel of God, and that the number represents the sum total of the faithful."[38] "The reference to the twelve tribes is therefore accommodative, as in James 1:1."[39] Besides all this, to bring racial considerations into the interpretation of this prophecy "seriously complicates the book of Revelation by bringing in racial considerations that no longer exist."[40]

Bruce, Caird, and others apply the sealing of the 144,000 to martyrs only, but there is no way we could agree with this. (See discussion in the chapter introduction.) The placement of Judah at the head of the list of twelve tribes was thought by McDowell to be due to the fact that Christ was of the tribe of Judah;[41] but since all Christians, being "in Christ" would thus belong to that tribe, it would have to imply that only twelve thousand could be saved from the tribe of Judah, including all the Christians who ever lived! These, and many other considerations, demand a spiritual interpretation of these twelve tribes.

Still another question regards the purpose of the sealing, whether it was to exempt the sealed from tribulation, or to preserve the saved safely through tribulation. Since there is not a line in the New Testament, nor in the experience of any Christian through out history, of any exemption of the Lord’s people from tribulation, the conclusion is mandatory that the safety of the soul through tribulation is meant. See more on this in the chapter introduction under (3). As McGuiggan said:

Does this sealing assure saints of physical preservation? No! In the Old Testament vision of Ezekiel 9, we read of others who were sealed, but many of them died. Both Lindsay and Walvoord say that this means the 144,000 are physically preserved; but it did not mean that in Ezekiel; then why should it mean that here? Where is the proof?[42]

[30] Martin Rist, op. cit., p. 419.

[31] J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1900), pp. 405,406.

[32] Wilbur M. Smith, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 1070.

[33] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 207.

[34] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 542.

[35] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 71.

[36] George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 114.

[37] Foy E. Wallace, Jr. The Book of Revelation (Nashville: Foy E. Wallace, Jr., Publications, 1966), p. 100.

[38] F. F. Bruce, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 645.

[39] E. M. Zerr, Bible Commentary, Vol. 6 (Marion, Indiana: Cogdill Foundation, 1954), p. 311.

[40] Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), p. 168.

[41] Edward A. McDowell, The Meaning and Message of the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1951), p. 97.

[42] Jim McGuiggan, op. cit., p. 112.

Commentary on Revelation 7:4-8 by Manly Luscombe

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: The number of people who are sealed Isaiah 144,000. They are out of all the tribes of Israel. 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. 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. (Revelation 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. 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 the list is NOT the list of the 12 tribes that became the nation of Israel. The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are omitted and the tribes of Joseph and Levi are added. This is done to show, we are not dealing with the literal 12 tribes. They represent all of God’s chosen people. Also, Judah is listed first. In most Old Testament listings, Ruben is first, because he is the firstborn. 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.

Revelation 7:5-8 -- 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. This listing of the 12 tribes is different from any list in the Old Testament. See the notes on Revelation 7:4.

Sermon on Revelation 7:1-8

Sealing the 144,000

Brent Kercheville

Chapter 6 has revealed that judgments are about to be unleashed. The four horsemen revealed war, famine, and death. The souls of the slain believers are crying out how long until God brings justice and righteousness. They are told to rest a little while longer and that more are going to die before judgment is unleashed. Revelation 6:12-17 showed us that a nation is about to fall. We have not been told specifically what nation is the object of God’s wrath at this point. There have been many clues, but nothing definitive yet. The point thus far is that it will be “lights out” for this nation and the rest of the earth is to see God’s wrath and learn from it. Before these judgments begin there is something that must happen first. This brings our study into Revelation 7.

Restraining The Winds (Revelation 7:1-3)

Verse 1 reveals four angels restraining the four winds so that no wind might blow on the earth. The imagery is that these judgments we have read about in chapter 6 are being restrained temporarily. The earth, the sea, or any tree is not allowed to be affected yet. The angels are restraining sweeping judgment. The reason the winds are restrained is explained in Revelation 7:2-3.

The servants of God must be sealed before these judgments are unleashed. An angel is pictured with the seal of the living God declaring that the earth must not be harmed until the servants of God are sealed on their foreheads. Before we can continue we must examine what it means for the servants of God to be sealed.

Ezekiel 9 reveals similar imagery. Ezekiel 9:1 records that judgment is coming against the city of Jerusalem. “Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand” (Ezekiel 9:1). Before this judgment is brought against the city, the people of God are to be sealed first.

And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” 5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. (Ezekiel 9:4-6 ESV)

The sealing has many meanings. God sealing his people pictures protection, security, ownership, and preservation. As we return to Revelation 7 we must consider which aspect of God’s sealing is being emphasized. Could the sealing mean that the people of God would not suffer physical harm or death during these judgments? The reason is because of what we learned in Revelation 6:11. The lain saints were told that there were more servants of God that were going to be killed as they had been killed. Also, the letters to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3 also predicted suffering and death for those Christians (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 3:10). The sealing is not physical protection. However, Revelation 9:4 shows that the sealing is for protection. Those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads are going to be harmed along with earth. Therefore, the nature of God’s protection must be spiritual. This spiritual protection will be further illustrated in Revelation 7:9-17 and will be explored further in that upcoming study.

There is one other aspect of the sealing of God’s people that cannot be overlooked. The other important function of the sealing in Revelation is to identify those who are God’s. The sealing represents authentication and ownership. The sealed are those who are truly the people of God. This will be contrasted later in Revelation 13 where we will read about those who have the mark of the beast (13:16-17). That marking shows that those people belong to the beast. Those who have the seal of the living God are belong to God.

The 144,000 (Revelation 7:4-8)

Revelation 7:4 declares the number of those who are sealed as 144,000. The 144,000 are sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. The great question is: who are the 144,000? We have noted throughout our study that we are to take everything as a symbol unless the text demands otherwise. All the numbers throughout Revelation are symbols. The 144,000 is no different. The number 12,000 symbolizes completeness in Revelation 21:16. The new Jerusalem is pictured with a length, width, and height of 12,000 stadia. The city is seen as full and complete. The meaning is the same concerning the 144,000. Notice that 12,000 are taken from each tribe. The complete number from each tribe are sealed. Now we are told who are being sealed. Let’s not forget what we were told in the first three verses of chapter 7 (Revelation 7:1-3). The servants of God are being sealed. Therefore, the complete sealing of God’s people is being pictured in Revelation 7:4-8. Please notice that the whole tribe is not sealed. Notice that it is 12,000 from each tribe that is sealed. The complete number of God’s servants are sealed.

Some have suggested that this is picturing the Jewish Christians being sealed since the twelve tribes are named. There are a number of reasons to reject this interpretation. First, no where in the book of Revelation is there a distinction made between the Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. How often the scriptures preach that there is no distinction between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians! Paul’s apostolic work included the important mission of teaching that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles in Christ. The book of Revelation never makes this distinction and it would be completely out of place to distinguish between them now. Second, if the Jewish Christians are being sealed, then Gentile Christians are not sealed. Since the sealing is to identify the servants of God and pictures their spiritual protection, the message of Revelation 7 would be that the Jewish Christians are the true servants of God but the Gentile Christians are not. This is an unacceptable result of such an interpretation. When we get to Revelation 14:1 we will see the 144,000 pictured in victory. Why would Jewish Christians have the victory but not the Gentile Christians? This would be to make a distinction where God said there was no distinction.

There are a number of reasons to understand the twelve tribes as a figure and not as the literal tribes. One point that jumps off the page is the naming of the tribes. Notice that the tribe of Dan is missing. Also notice that there was not such a thing as a tribe of Joseph. Ladd says of this unusual naming of the tribes, “John intends to say [by the irregular list] that the twelve tribes of Israel are not really literal Israel, but the true, spiritual Israel – the church.” I think he is exactly right. Another reason that this listing cannot refer to the literal tribes of Israel is because ten of the tribes’ identities were lost when Assyria scattered them in 722 BC. To the further the point, once Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jews lost all of their tribal identities. None of the Jews can know which tribe they are from. This cannot be a literal listing of the tribes.

It would be best to see Revelation 7:4-8 as a picture of Paul’s teaching the book of Romans.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. (Romans 9:6-8 ESV)

I hope we see that picture. Not all Israel is true Israel. The 12,000 are taken from each tribe. To use another word found in the scriptures, this is the picture of the remnant. “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5). “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay’” (Romans 9:27-28). The book of Revelation is showing the fulfillment of these teachings and prophecies. We are seeing the total number of God’s servants being sealed. None of God’s servants are left out. The picture is the fullness of the church composed of Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. All of them are marked for ownership and spiritual protection as the judgments of God are about to be unleashed on the earth. These are the new Israel of God.

Conclusion:

We are in this privileged position by grace (Romans 11:5). We are not deserving of being sealed by God. We have not merited this fantastic status of being his children. By being in Christ we are spiritually protected and no one can harm or destroy our salvation.

You can also be part of the remnant. “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.His praise is not from man but from God” (Romans 2:29). Being part of the remnant is about changing the heart to follow Jesus, seeking the praise of God and not the world.

Verses 9-10

Rev 7:9-10

3. A GREAT MULTITUDE SEALED

Revelation 7:9-10

9 After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues,--All these scenes appeared before John as he looked into heaven. They are "moving pictures" that represent something else. "After these things" means that after hearing the number sealed from the Israelites he saw this great multitude. Since they were out of every nation and all peoples, they must have been those sealed from the Gentile nations.

standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands; --The scenes are still in heaven. The visions were opened in chapters 4 and 5 with God seated upon the throne and Christ as Lamb standing beside him. The setting for the visions have remained in heaven. John saw the multitude of the saved standing there. That indicates that their obedience was acceptable to God. The white robes represent their righteousness. (19:8.) The palms were an emblem of victory. This symbolic picture shows that those saved during the period here in view will be accepted at the judgment. Of course, the same will be true of those saved in all other ages or periods.

10 and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb.--John heard those he saw before God and Christ ascribing praise by attributing their salvation to God. That is what the redeemed will do when heaven is reached.

Commentary on Revelation 7:9-10 by Foy E. Wallace

The innumerable multitude—Revelation 7:9-10.

In this coordination of the apocalypse, the angel’s proclamation concerning the hundred and forty-four thousand was immediately followed by the heavenly scene in verses nine to seventeen. The vision here expands the hundred forty-four thousand of all the tribes of Israel, as the nucleus of the New Israel, the holy seed, the remnant according to grace--into the innumerable multitude. The revelation does not end with “the number of them that were sealed” in verse 4.

Revelation 7:9 continues the vision with the words “after this I beheld and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues.” It is the same company as “the number of them that were sealed,” the hundred forty-four thousand which were “of all the tribes of Israel.” But the multitude in Revelation 7:9 were of all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues,” which signified that the new Israel was not the fleshly seed of the twelve tribes of Israel; but the spiritual seed--the holy seed--of all nations “which no man could number.” This was the symbol of innumerable multitude. It was identical with that “innumerable company” mentioned in Hebrews 12:22-23, designated “the general assembly and church of the firstborn.” It identified the hundred forty-four thousand of Revelation 7:4, and Revelation 14:1, with this great multitude and innumerable company ofRevelation 7:9 and Hebrews 12:22-23. So parallel are these passages that strong evidence is adduced from it that the Hebrew passage is an allusion to this Revelation scene of chapter 7, virtually equivalent to a direct quotation. This is assuredly possible in the premises of the prior date of Revelation, in which chronology it antedates the Hebrew epistle. The same evidential relation of other epistles to the apocalypse is indicated in other references and examples, all of which are internal evidences that Revelation is by no means the last book of the New Testament canon, but quite to the contrary-it bears an earlier date than several others, including Hebrews, Galatians, Second Peter (if not first), and even of the other epistles of John.

The multitude of Revelation 7:9-10 were clothed in the white robes of victory, displaying palms of praise. There were the emblems of a triumphant march. (John 12:13) With a loud voice the vocal unison of the great company ascribed salvation to our God, from whom the salvation proceeded and unto the Lamb, by whom it was procured.

This salvation was not in the gospel sense of salvation from sin or in pardon or remission of sins, but was the state of deliverance and blessing. The Greek texts give the article which the English translations dropped, and in them it reads: “the salvation of our God,” a specific reference to coming out of the trials of persecution into the scenes of the throne.

Commentary on Revelation 7:9-12 by Walter Scott

Revelation 7:9. — Clothed with white robes. They had maintained the rights and claims of God against a rebellious and apostate world amidst circumstances, too, of unparalleled sorrow and affliction (Mark 13:19). Now God remembers and rewards their faithfulness, they are “clothed with white robes,” robes of righteousness (see Revelation 19:8). “Palm branches” express the joy of complete deliverance (Leviticus 23:40; John 12:13). God had brought them safely through their awful period of appointed affliction termed “the great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14, R.V.), and now they triumph in the triumph of their God. The palm is the only tree named in the construction of the millennial temple (Ezekiel 40; Ezekiel 41); is also named chiefly in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles, the last and closing joyous feast of Israel (Leviticus 23:40). The white-robed multitude is the only company in the Revelation said to have palms; the word occurs but once in the Apocalypse.

Revelation 7:10. — “They cry with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God Who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb.” Their struggles and trials are over. The throne before which they stand is now and forever their strength and security. The countless multitudes of these redeemed ones break out in one loud and united cry. What is the burden of this intense and thrilling cry? Salvation in its most comprehensive sense is ascribed to God and to the Lamb. Not a member of that redeemed host is silent. “They cry with a loud voice.” Sovereign grace has done its mighty work. It has gathered out of all lands and tongues a Gentile host beyond all human computation — each and all once “dead in sins” — and placed them saved and blest before God’s throne. How fitting then that the triumph of divine grace should be grandly celebrated and traced to the source — God in divine sovereignty, and to the Lamb, the expression of His love and grace.

THE ANSWER OF THE ANGELIC HOST.

Revelation 7:11-12. — And all the angels stood around the throne, and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and strength to our God, to the ages of ages. Amen. We have two distinct heavenly scenes in which the throne is the central figure here, and in chapter 5: 11, 12. In both scenes the angels form the outer circle around the throne. In these beatific visions we have the doxology of the angelic host in a sevenfold ascription of worship. In the former scene (Revelation 5:11-12) the Lamb is the object of praise; in the latter vision (Revelation 7:11-12) God is the object of adoration. The position of the angels in both scenes is around the throne, while the elders and living creatures form inner circles. The order in which these last, i.e., the elders and living ones, are presented differs in the two scenes. In the earlier one the elders form the innermost circle; in the later the living creatures are nearest the throne. The difference is easily accounted for. In the former the Lamb is in immediate view and the redeemed in Heaven (the elders) naturally gather around Him; whereas in the latter vision, God sitting on His throne, the symbol of universal sovereignty, would account for the near place of the living creatures who represent the executive authority of the throne. The Gentile crowd on earth had ascribed salvation to “our God,” but He is also the God of angels; hence they, too, in their place in the heavens say “our God.” To the cry of the exultant redeemed the angels, which are as countless as the redeemed host on earth, in whom they are so deeply interested, fall down and worship, saying, Amen. How profound their worship may be gathered somewhat from their position, they fell down upon “their faces.” The cry of the multitude is answered by the angels’ “Amen.” The terms in the angelic doxology differ in their order from that contained in chapter 5. There the last two terms, “glory and blessing,” are the first named in our chapter. There “riches,” here instead is “thanksgiving.” (W. Kelly, F. B. Hooper, Bishop Ellicott, and others in their respective works on the Apocalypse read verse 12 with the definite article before each noun, thus: The blessing, and the glory, and the wisdom, and the thanksgiving, and the honour, and the power, and the strength.” Says an able writer: “The force of the article is to express each quality in its highest degree and excellence.”)

The two redeemed companies on earth in our chapter are the elect of Israel and the white-robed multitude of Gentiles. The companies in Heaven are the angels, the elders, and the living creatures. Neither of the last two take part in the celebration of praise. This is confined to the Gentile crowd on earth, and to the angels in Heaven. The special object of the whole passage (Revelation 7:9-17) is the relation of the palm-bearing multitude to God and to the Lamb. This really is the burden of their cry, which the angels fully own by adding their “Amen.” (The first “Amen” is the answer to the cry of the saved multitude. The second “Amen” is a confirmation of the truth of their own praise.) The relation of the elders and living ones to God is disclosed in chapters 4 and 5, and hence in those portions their worship is appropriately introduced, not here.

Commentary on Revelation 7:9-10 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 7:9. This verse verifies the comments at Revelation 7:4, for here we have the same kind of persons referred to in other numerical terms. They also are said to be from all nations. etc.. which would prevent us from restricting the "twelve tribes" to the Jews. White robes signified a life of righteousness and palms are medals betokening their victory over "great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14).

Revelation 7:10. Salvation to our God means to ascribe salvation to Him, and unto the Lamb is combined in the praise because God perfects all plans through the Son.

Commentary on Revelation 7:9-10 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 7:9

After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands;

After these things ... See under Revelation 7:1. The logic of the first vision of this chapter (Revelation 7:1-8) coming first is inherent in the fact that two different states of Christians are in view: (1) their state on earth suffering persecutions and martyrdom, and (2) their state in heaven where they are eternally safe. The saints on earth are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a pledge of their ultimately receiving their inheritance; but the saints in heaven are not said to be sealed, for they have already received the great inheritance. The first vision (Revelation 7:1-8) symbolized by the old Israel’s embattled condition during the wilderness wanderings suggests the similar condition of God’s church throughout the ages; and the second vision (Revelation 7:9-17) shows them finally triumphant and redeemed. The imagery borrowed from the old Israel applies here to the new.

A great number which no man could number ... This is the same group as that of the 144,000 (Revelation 7:1-8). This is not contradicted by the number 144,000 being given there and the "innumerable" group here. The 144,000 is also an "innumerable" throng. "If they had been different groups, both would have been sealed,"[43] for both are servants of God. Those in heaven had already been sealed while upon earth. "This innumerable company are the whole church of God."[44] However, this vision of them is not a view of them at a time when they are suffering persecutions, but a view of them as they appear eternally after the Second Advent of Christ. "The interpretation of most of Revelation pivots upon the proper identification of these two groups as one and the same."[45] "This vision shows how the saints (the 144,000) are preserved, not delivered from death, but delivered by death."[46]

The premillennial proposition that the sealing in this chapter can not be "fulfilled before the rapture of the church,"[47] has no support from the New Testament. We take the view of Strauss to be correct: "This picture is the church triumphant in heaven; they have prevailed over persecution and death because of the blood of the Lamb."[48] The time of their sealing, not mentioned here, was that during their sojourn on earth after they obeyed the gospel.

Out of every nation ... tribes ... peoples ... tongues ... The worldwide, universal nature of the church is seen in this.

Standing before the throne and before the Lamb ... This is in heaven and justifies the view that here we have a glimpse of the Church Triumphant. What better comfort could be provided for those who were confronted with suffering and martyrdom?

Arrayed in white robes ... "Trench stated that no symbol of heathen origin is used in the Apocalypse."[49] Therefore, we do not need to look to Babylon, Greece, or Rome for the origin of the "palms" carried by these white-robed saints. The citizens of Jerusalem spread the branches of palms before the Saviour upon his triumphal entry (John 12:13), a fact recorded by the author of this Apocalypse.

[43] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentaries, Vol. 20, the Revelation of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969). p. 114.

[44] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 542.

[45] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 257.

[46] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 1079.

[47] Finis Jennings Dake, Revelation Expounded (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Finis Jennings Dake, 1950), p. 56.

[48] James D. Strauss, The Seer, the Saviour, and the Saved (Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 1972), p. 125.

[49] Trench as quoted by Plummer, op. cit., p. 209.

Revelation 7:10

and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb.

They cry with a great voice ... The present tense indicates the constant and unceasing nature of this adoration.

Salvation unto our God ... and unto the Lamb ... The identification of the Lamb with God upon the throne is invariable throughout Revelation. The presence of Christ at the very center of universal power and authority is an essential Christian conception. The meaning of this first clause is that God has given salvation and is therefore praised for it. "It is characteristic of John to announce the final victory before it has occurred,"[50] his purpose, of course, being that of maintaining a high level of hope and encouragement among those who were suffering and facing a prospect of martyrdom. Such anticipations are called "proleptic visions."[51]

[50] Charles M. Laymon, op. cit., p. 105.

[51] Ibid.

Commentary on Revelation 7:9-10 by Manly Luscombe

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…As in a movie, you move from one scene to another. Here is the fade to a new scene. The sealing has been completed. Now all nations stand before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, palms in their hands. Palm branches were laid on the path Jesus took in his entry into Jerusalem. (Mark 11:8; John 12:13) While the white robes represent our salvation in Christ, the palms are symbolic of our willingness to serve Him.

10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” We are saved. Isn’t that reason to rejoice? Do you still have the joy of your salvation? (Psalms 51:12) 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. (Acts 4:12; John 14:6)

Verses 11-12

Rev 7:11-12

4. ANGELS JOIN IN PRAISE

Revelation 7:11-12

11 And all the angels were standing round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures; --In: verse 11 we learn that there were many angels round about the throne. As the place of the visions has not been changed, doubtless they are the angels referred to in this paragraph. The elders and living creatures are also mentioned in both texts.

and they fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 saying,--Jesus said, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." (Luke 15:10.) In the words of this paragraph we have, in a symbolic picture, a demonstration of their rejoicing with the saved, which indicates the final joy when all the redeemed shall get home.

Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.--The "Amen" affirms that the things to be said are most certainly true. Being repeated at the end of the sentence adds emphasis to the assertion. God has glory, wisdom, power, and might and deserves to be thanked for his wonderful blessings; in short, all things good can be ascribed to God as their source, both by angels and men.

Commentary on Revelation 7:11-12 by Foy E. Wallace

The angelic proclamation—Revelation 7:11-12.

In the acknowledgment of this salvation all of the angels were standing about the throne and about the twenty-four elders and the four creature-beings. Together encircling the throne they prostrated their angelic forms before it, and said Amen, to the voice of the multitude which had ascribed salvation unto God and unto the Lamb.

Reference to “all the angels” does not mean all angels in heaven, but all the angels in this vision, beginning in the fourth chapter. After saying Amen to the acknowledgments of salvation by the multitude, they repeated the doxology of Revelation 5:12, with the exception of the omission of “riches,” inserting thanksgiving and substituting might for “strength.” For comments on the seven-fold attributes thus ascribed to God and to the Lamb refer to Revelation 5:11-13.

Commentary on Revelation 7:11-12 by Walter Scott

THE ANSWER OF THE ANGELIC HOST.

Revelation 7:11-12. — And all the angels stood around the throne, and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and strength to our God, to the ages of ages. Amen. We have two distinct heavenly scenes in which the throne is the central figure here, and in chapter 5: 11, 12. In both scenes the angels form the outer circle around the throne. In these beatific visions we have the doxology of the angelic host in a sevenfold ascription of worship. In the former scene (Revelation 5:11-12) the Lamb is the object of praise; in the latter vision (Revelation 7:11-12) God is the object of adoration. The position of the angels in both scenes is around the throne, while the elders and living creatures form inner circles. The order in which these last, i.e., the elders and living ones, are presented differs in the two scenes. In the earlier one the elders form the innermost circle; in the later the living creatures are nearest the throne. The difference is easily accounted for. In the former the Lamb is in immediate view and the redeemed in Heaven (the elders) naturally gather around Him; whereas in the latter vision, God sitting on His throne, the symbol of universal sovereignty, would account for the near place of the living creatures who represent the executive authority of the throne. The Gentile crowd on earth had ascribed salvation to “our God,” but He is also the God of angels; hence they, too, in their place in the heavens say “our God.” To the cry of the exultant redeemed the angels, which are as countless as the redeemed host on earth, in whom they are so deeply interested, fall down and worship, saying, Amen. How profound their worship may be gathered somewhat from their position, they fell down upon “their faces.” The cry of the multitude is answered by the angels’ “Amen.” The terms in the angelic doxology differ in their order from that contained in chapter 5. There the last two terms, “glory and blessing,” are the first named in our chapter. There “riches,” here instead is “thanksgiving.” (W. Kelly, F. B. Hooper, Bishop Ellicott, and others in their respective works on the Apocalypse read verse 12 with the definite article before each noun, thus: The blessing, and the glory, and the wisdom, and the thanksgiving, and the honour, and the power, and the strength.” Says an able writer: “The force of the article is to express each quality in its highest degree and excellence.”)

The two redeemed companies on earth in our chapter are the elect of Israel and the white-robed multitude of Gentiles. The companies in Heaven are the angels, the elders, and the living creatures. Neither of the last two take part in the celebration of praise. This is confined to the Gentile crowd on earth, and to the angels in Heaven. The special object of the whole passage (Revelation 7:9-17) is the relation of the palm-bearing multitude to God and to the Lamb. This really is the burden of their cry, which the angels fully own by adding their “Amen.” (The first “Amen” is the answer to the cry of the saved multitude. The second “Amen” is a confirmation of the truth of their own praise.) The relation of the elders and living ones to God is disclosed in chapters 4 and 5, and hence in those portions their worship is appropriately introduced, not here.

Commentary on Revelation 7:11-12 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 7:11. The angels stood round about the throne and in the presence of the elders and the four living creatures as a mark of respect. But when they performed their homage of worship it was before the throne unto God.

Revelation 7:12. Saying, Amen. Thayer says that at the beginning of a discourse the word means, "Surely, of a truth, truly." Thus the angels were announcing that they were about to utter something that would surely be the truth, namely, that all the good qualities mentioned in the verse should truly be ascribed to God. The declaration was made emphatic still more by closing it with Amen.

Commentary on Revelation 7:11-12 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 7:11

And all the angels were standing round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell down before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

All the angels ... round about the throne ... All things in heaven and upon earth shall at last join in the hymn of universal praise to God in Christ, summing up all things in Christ, "the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth" (Ephesians 1:10).

Elders and the four living creatures ... What is said above regarding the angels applies equally to these beings also.

Revelation 7:12

saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Amen ... Amen ... This usage of such an expression both to introduce and to close this sevenfold doxology is most impressive. See further comment on the use of "Amen" in this prophecy under Revelation 5:12 f, above. The great doxology here is similar to the one recorded there.

Unto our God ... does not exclude either Christ or the Holy Spirit, but is inclusive of the entire Godhead.

Commentary on Revelation 7:11-12 by Manly Luscombe

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…All the angels are around the throne. Inside of them are the 24 elders. In a closer circle around the throne of God are the four living creatures. They worshipped God.

12 saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” They offer a 7-fold blessingè1. Blessing, 2. Glory, 3. Wisdom , 4. Thanksgiving, 5. Honor,6. Power, and 7. Might. All of this praise and adoration belong to God. 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. 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 13-17

Rev 7:13-17

5. THE MEANS OF SALVATION EXPLAINED

Revelation 7:13-17

13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and whence came they?--The text says one of the elders "answered," which probably means that he was explaining an inquiry that was in John’s mind, but not expressed. The elder did not ask the question to be answered by John, but to give the occasion for explaining why the white-robed multitude were in God’s presence. Telling how they happened to be before God in the symbolic picture would show how they would finally be in his presence in heaven. That would settle the questions, Who will be saved? and how will they be saved?

14 And I say unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.--John recognized the fact that the elder did not ask the question to be answered, and so he said "thou knowest." Two things are expressed as the reasons why they were in God’s presence--faithfulness in tribulation and having their robes washed in Christ’s blood. The logical order is here reversed; being washed in the blood of the Lamb comes first and then meeting tribulation in following him. "Washing" is clearly used figuratively, for washing in the blood of Christ does not occur, if it means his literal blood and literal washing. This is only a figurative expression that means one’s sins are forgiven through Christ’s blood. The word "washing" is used figuratively and the word "blood" is used literally. Another proof that symbolic expressions or sentences may contain words used in both meanings. "Great tribulation" shows that only those will be saved who are faithful "unto death" (2:10) in spite of all difficulties and persecutions. Paul expressed the same thought in Acts 14:22.

15 Therefore are they before the throne of God; and they serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them.--For the two reasons given in the preceding verse they are before the throne in the vision John was viewing. That, however, was a guarantee of God’s approval, and the assurance that they would serve him day and night (continually) in his temple. Since the Jews served God in the temple, and Christians serve him in the church (called the temple of God, 1 Corinthians 3:16), it is perfectly appropriate that the saved in heaven finally should be said to serve him continuously in his temple. God’s spreading his tabernacle over them implies that he would approve of their service by dwelling among them. Their appearance in the symbolic picture was proof that they would dwell in that eternal temple.

16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more ; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat:--This pictures the final blessings for the faithful, and is the same as expressed in Revelation 21:3-5. The troubles, pain, worry, and burdens incident to living in the flesh here will all be gone when the redeemed dwell with God.

17 for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. --The Lamb that stood before the throne in the vision, and was able to break the seals and reveal the future, would, like a shepherd guides his sheep, bring them to fountains of joy. Omitting the figurative language, it means that through his redemptive work they would enjoy all the blessings of heaven. God’s wiping away every tear means that he will enable us to forget all the sadness that wrings our hearts in this sin-troubled world. What a joyous anticipation!

No one who properly appreciates the blessings of sins forgiven, to say nothing about the inexpressible happiness that awaits in heaven, will fail in trying to meet the obligations which the Christian life imposes. The terms upon which pardon is secured are too plain and easy to obey to allow any excuse for disobedience. Tribulations, naturally, are not pleasant experiences, but the reward of eternal life is too important to be lost. Great favors do not come without cost. Christians should be the last to complain or try to justify neglect.

Additional Note: The purpose of the visions in this chapter must have been for the encouragement of the seven churches to whom the letters were sent. The hope of such glorious rewards would stimulate them in the struggles against persecutions, suffering, and death that had been pictured in the seals. In the same way such promises should encourage all saints to meet faithfully any trials they are called to face. So used, the lessons in Revelation are of great value to Christians in all ages.

Commentary on Revelation 7:13-17 by Foy E. Wallace

The white-robed throng—Revelation 7:13-14.

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

The interrogative of Revelation 7:13 brought the answer of verse 14 and identified the multitude as the survivors of tribulation. It was an advance scene and corresponded to “the hour of trial,” chapter 3:10; the “tribulation” of Revelation 2:10; and to the Lord’s language in Matthew 24:21, after which he would gather his elect “from the four winds, and from one end of heaven to the other”—Matthew 24:31. The preservation of the true seed of Israel, the success of the cause of Christ, the victory of the church, and the universal sway, of Christianity in the expansion of the gospel, were the parallels in all of the visions; and they covered in each instance the same events, and alike defined the period of these afflictions. The apocalypse belonged to that time.

The company which emerged from tribulation were described as having washed their robes in blood. This was not the washing away of sins in baptism, of Acts 22:16; nor the washing of water by the word of Ephesians 5:26; nor having our bodies washed with pure water of Hebrews 10:22. It was the washing of their robes--it was the blood bath of tribulation, symbolically in the blood of the Lamb who Himself shed his blood for the cause for which they also suffered

The reward of the redeemed—Revelation 7:15-16.

These who were before the throne of God and in his temple, renewed the dual kingdom-priesthood character of the church, it is said of both in Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10. The demolition of the old temple only gave place to the new (Acts 7:47-49); and his priests then would serve in his temple day and night, and would be always before his throne, continually with none to make them afraid; and their God would dwell there. (2 Corinthians 6:16)

In this new temple-state, having emerged from tribulation, they should hunger and thirst no more; neither sun nor heat would light on them (afflict them)--figures of speech to denote the calamities during the period of persecution as symbolized in the seals. The famine, pestilence and plagues, which prevailed during the period of persecution would all cease. The absence of all of these signified a state of victory over persecution.

The living fountains of water—Revelation 7:17.

These figures of speech signified that their tribulations were over. They were avenged by the overthrow of their persecutors. Henceforth the Lamb would feed them; the opposite to the symbols of want in tribulation. He would lead them unto living fountains of waters--no longer amid the dangers of the persecuting powers, but where provender, peace, refreshment and satisfaction were unrestrained. It is the apocalyptic version of the twenty-third psalm.

Finally, the ultimate in the symbols of victory: God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes--the persecutions had ended, the tribulations were over. Here the visions and scenes all merge into one company, the victorious church of Christ.

Commentary on Revelation 7:13-17 by Walter Scott

THE ELDER’S QUESTION AND ANSWER.

Revelation 7:13-17. — “And one of the elders answered, saying to me, These who are clothed with white robes, who are they, and whence came they? And I said to him, My Lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple, and He that sits upon the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. They shall not hunger any more, neither shall they thirst any more, nor shall the sun at all fall on them, nor any burning heat; because the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them, and shall lead them to fountains of waters of life, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.” The Seer stood in silent wonder. He heard the exulting cry of the redeemed host and beheld their joy, but he did not personally participate in either. “One of the elders answered,” not the spoken, but the unspoken inquiry of the heart of the Seer. The elders are characterized by the most elevated character of worship and intelligence in the mind and ways of God. They themselves were redeemed from earth, and hence it was fitting that one of them, and not a sinless celestial being, should be the interpreter to John, and through him to us, of the origin and history of this remarkable company for the first time beheld by the Seer. John was not unacquainted with the heavenly service of the elders. In a previous vision (Revelation 5:4-5) one of them had comforted and instructed him. Hence the two questions put to John exactly expressed what he wanted to know: “These who are clothed with white robes, who are they? and whence came they?”

It is not without significance that attention is called three times to their “white robes” (Revelation 7:9; Revelation 7:13-14). Their public acceptance by God, their recognition by Him in perfect purity of character and ways, are witnessed in those robes of purest white. (An old Scotch divine remarks on this passage: “The word translated robes properly signifies a marriage robe; and as both this word and the one translated white have the article prefixed it gives a peculiar force and beauty to the expression The allusion is to a marriage garment of the richest and most splendid appearance. To take in the full idiom of the expression it would require to be rendered thus: ‘Who are these clothed in the richest marriage robes, in robes of the purest white?’”)

THE GREAT TRIBULATION.

Revelation 7:14. — “These are they who come out of the great tribulation.” Our venerable Authorized Version is at fault here. It reads: “These are they which came out of great tribulation.” But the Revised Version and other versions give undoubtedly the Spirit’s meaning, “come,” not “came,” and “the tribulation,” not “tribulation” simply. It is not the record of a past act, but they “come out.” It is regarded as a characteristically present action. “The tribulation” points to a definite prophetic period, and not simply to tribulation in general in which all saints share. “The great tribulation” (“Out of the tribulation, the great one.” — Alford.) cannot be the general troubles which afflict God’s people in all ages. The insertion of the definite article marks its speciality. The Neronian (“The Early Days of Christianity.” p. 448. — Dean Farrar.) and other pagan and papal persecutions have been variously referred to as “the great tribulation” by the historical school of expositors. More frequently still the expression is thought to refer to the general troubles of life. But every interpretation of the Apocalypse which has history and not God’s Word as its basis is necessarily confusing and uncertain. The force and import of the term must be sought for in Scripture and not in the records of human history. The interpretation of the Word, as also its application to the conscience, is the sole prerogative of the Holy Ghost Who inspired it.

“The great tribulation” is yet future. It pre-supposes the Jewish nation restored to Palestine in unbelief to serve Gentile political ends, and brought there by the active intervention of a great maritime power (Isaiah 18:1-7). The duration of the coming hour of trial, which in its intensity will exceed all past and subsequent sorrows endured on earth (Mark 13:19), is limited to the second half of Daniel’s prophetic week of seven years (Daniel 9:27 with Matthew 24:15), or, speaking more correctly, to 1260 days, i.e., 42 months of 30 days each(*“The tribulation ends before the coming of Christ to reign (Matthew 24:29); and I believe it will virtually close by the pouring out of the vials (Revelation 16:1-21). Writhing under these inflictions, neither the beast nor his myrmidons will be in a condition to persecute any longer. So it seems to me.) (Revelation 11:3; Revelation 13:5). Satan cast out of Heaven into the earth is the instigator of this unparalleled outburst of fury and hatred against God’s witnesses, Jewish and Gentile (Revelation 12:7-17). Satan’s chief persecuting ministers will be “the beast,” i.e., the revived imperial power of Rome in the person of its head, the “little horn” (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:1-18. l-8); the Anti-Christ, only so termed in John’s epistles, the ally and confederate of the beast (Revelation 13:11-17); and the king of the north, or the Assyrian (Daniel 8:1-27; Daniel 11:1-45; Isaiah 10:24-34). (See article “The Chief Actors in the Coming Crisis.”) The two former will be the active agents in persecuting the saints; the latter will be politically hostile to the restored Jewish commonwealth, but Jewish saints will also have to suffer as part and parcel of the nation.

“The great tribulation,” then, embraces Gentiles as well as Jews. Apostate Christendom is the wide sphere which will come under the direct judgment of Christ in the coming day, nor will the sword be sheathed till the heathen, too, feel the stroke (1 Peter 4:17). But while the tribulation will embrace Jews and Gentiles, the former will suffer most severely (Jeremiah 30:7). The Gentile company of our text comes out of the great tribulation. They have been preserved while Christendom, and Judea especially, have been bathed in the blood of God’s saints. (The location of the saved Gentile company, when the testimony of God reached their consciences, must not be confined to the territorial limits of Christendom. The largeness of the scene in verse 9 intimates a breadth which probably covers the whole Gentile world. Rejecters of God’s grace — grace now fully and freely preached — are in the time of the tribulation given up to judicial dealing (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12), and are punished with everlasting destruction at the Appearing of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). Hence these apostates are precluded from any share in the work of grace — widely and rapidly carried out (length of time uncertain) between the Translation and the Appearing.)

“The 1260 days of persecution (Revelation 11:3), or 42 months, counting 30 days to a month, will end before the three and a half years are concluded. They fall short of this last period by 17 days, or more exactly 17½ days. Till the 42 months end the beast’s power is unchallengeable (Revelation 13:5). The seventh trumpet sounds, and the mystery of God is then finished. He will henceforth deal directly with the apostates, as the vials describe. It will be mystery as to that no longer.

“The days will be shortened,” as the duration of the beast’s power will be curtailed by the above mentioned days that will remain of the three and a half years of the week (Daniel 9:27). Shortening or lengthening of days, not a day, refers to a period of time, and not to a natural day of twenty-four hours.

“The clue to me of a deal of all this is the difference between 1260 days and three and a half years. The former can by no possibility be made to equal the latter. At the end of the latter the Lord comes to reign. At the end of the former the trumpet sounds; and the balance of days between the 1260 days and the three and a half years leaves room for the outpouring of the vials.” — “Truth for the Last Days,” No. 4, p. 163, C.E.S. See also article, “The Celebrated Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.”

Their mystical robes derive their whiteness solely from the blood of Christ.

Next we have the standing or position of the Gentile throng. “Therefore are they before the throne of God.” It is the shed blood of Christ which alone entitles anyone to stand before the throne. “This grace wherein we stand “ (Romans 5:2) is ground common to all saints. The demonstrative pronoun points not to grace in general, but to that special grace of God witnessed in the death and resurrection of the Lord.

Revelation 7:14. — Have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God. Washing robes is one of those expressions peculiar to the Apocalypse. Whatever may have been the special testimony addressed to these Gentiles,(*We do not read of any testimony borne by them.) evidently the blood of the Lamb was its grand and distinguishing feature. Their mystic robes could alone be made white in the blood. The ground on which they stood before the throne of God is one common to all saints in time and eternity. The blood of the Lamb, shed in divine purpose from the foundation of the world, is the only but adequate basis of appearing before the throne of God. “Therefore,” or on this account, “are they before the throne,” i.e., because of the blood. The blood constituted these sinners saints; the tribulation made them sufferers.

Revelation 7:15. — “Serve Him day and night in His temple.” We have had the historical origin of this innumerable redeemed company (v. 9); victorious too, and ascribing salvation to God and to the Lamb (vv. 9, 10). Then attention is called to the fact that they emerge out of the great tribulation, while, not their sufferings, but the blood of the Lamb gives them divine fitness to appear before the throne of God. Next we have their unceasing service, they “serve Him day and night in His temple.” Another proof is here furnished that these saints are on earth, not in Heaven, for, says the Seer in a subsequent vision, “I saw no temple therein.” Jerusalem on earth will have its temple, one of vast proportions, in which Jews and Gentiles will worship and serve in millennial days (Ezekiel 40:1-49; Ezekiel 41:1-26; Ezekiel 42:1-20; Ezekiel 43:1-27; Ezekiel 44:1-31; Isaiah 56:5-7). They are here viewed as a vast worshipping company, priests to God.(*“They are not only as Israel in the courts, or the nations in the world; they have a priest’s place in the world’s temple. The millennial multitudes are worshippers — these priests. As Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, even in the temple itself they have always access to the throne.” — “Synopsis of the Books of the Bible,” vol. 5, p. 603, Morrish ed.)

Revelation 7:15. — He that sits upon the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. The Authorized Version reads, “shall dwell among them;” a poor and utterly inadequate rendering of the divine thought here expressed. God spread His tabernacle over the tent of meeting of old, which thus became the center and rest of the thousands of Israel. It covered them in the desert. Two millions and a half of people, the typically redeemed host of Jehovah, were sheltered from scorching suns and winter’s blasts by the huge canopy which God spread over them. It was the nation’s glory and defense. The marginal reference in the Authorized Version, rightly so, directs us to Isaiah 4:5-6 : “Jehovah will create over every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night; for over all the glory (shall be) a canopy. And there shall be a booth (or tabernacle) for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain.” In the eternal state the tabernacle of God is with men (Revelation 21:3); in millennial times God’s tabernacle will be over them (Revelation 7:15, R.V.). What a sense of security the white-robed multitude will enjoy as they bask under the glorious overspread canopy, each member of the countless throng equally sheltered, equally protected! God’s tabernacle spread over them, and the throne in all its strength and majesty for them!

The special millennial blessings of the redeemed Gentiles are next presented, negatively and positively, and suited exactly to the new order of things under the personal sway of Christ. In the enumeration of these earthly blessings one cannot fail to see how transcendently superior are those enjoyed by the saints in Heaven. Glory with Christ in the heavens, and blessing under Christ on the millennial earth define the difference. “They shall not hunger any more, neither shall they thirst any more, nor shall the sun at all fall on them, nor any burning heat.” The reference to millennial days is undoubted (see Isaiah 49:10). In these emphatic negatives (‘No more,’ or ‘never,’ is a mode of negation so often repeated in the Apocalypse (cp. Revelation 18:22-23) that it is somewhat peculiar to this book in respect to frequency.” — “A Commentary on the Apocalypse,” p. 561. — Moses Stuart.) the saved Gentile multitude is assured that the privations of life, hunger and thirst, and persecution and tribulation, sun and burning heat, shall never again be their sad lot. There shall be no recurrence of past evils.

Revelation 7:16

No Commentary on vs. 16

Revelation 7:17. — Because the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them, and shall lead them to fountains of waters of life; and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. The Lamb “in the midst of the throne,”(*See remarks on Revelation 5:6.) exercising its power and expressing in Himself its majesty, will graciously provide for every need. Not angelic and providential care as now (Hebrews 1:14), but the shepherd grace of the Lamb will then be in exercise — tending, caring, preserving, and guiding each and all of the redeemed Gentile multitude. He “shall lead them to fountains of waters of life,” not to channels or springs merely, but to the sources of life. The fulness and joy of earthly blessing shall be theirs, the Lamb Himself being their guide to these fountains or sources of unalloyed delight (see Isaiah 12:3).

The closing words are unequalled in their combined depth and tenderness: “And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes,” not the Lamb, be it observed, but God, against Whom they and we have sinned, shall Himself remove the causes and occasions of sorrow. If He wipes away every tear they shall never weep again. “Everlasting consolation” is the happy and assured portion of all His people, heavenly and earthly. The words in our text are verbally repeated in Revelation 21:4. There the eternal state is in view; here the millennial condition is in question. Both passages apply to saved people on earth, not to those in Heaven.

Commentary on Revelation 7:13-17 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 7:13. The elder put his statement in the form of a question to gain the attention of John. The ones arrayed in white robes were those in Revelation 6:11 and those of the twelve tribes in this chapter.

Revelation 7:14. John understood that such was the purpose of the question, for he replied thou knowest. The elder then gave the answer which confirms the idea that they were the persecuted servants of God already referred to. Came out of great tribulation denotes their triumph over their persecutors. Not that they escaped death, for John had seen their souls outside of their bodies. But if a servant of God is faithful even in the midst of persecution then death cannot rob him of victory. Washed their robes is a figurative reference to their being cleaned by the blood of Christ.

Revelation 7:15. All of the statements in this verse are figurative, for the purified saints had lost their lives for testifying on behalf of the word of God. But they were being held in honored remembrance and were destined to be always "welcome callers" in the intimacies of the Father.

Revelation 7:16. Shall not hunger nor thirst because those are wants that pertain to this life, and they have become citizens of a region where physical wants are unknown. The light and heat of the sun are things of the past for the same reasons.

Revelation 7:17. Lamb shall feed them with delicacies that are unknown to men living in the flesh. Living fountains of ’waters are among the blissful objects to be enjoyed by those who overcome by faith in the Lamb. Wipe away all tears by preventing anything that could cause tears.

Commentary on Revelation 7:13-17 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 7:13

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and whence came they?

One of the elders ... This was one of the four and twenty elders mentioned in Revelation 4:4.

These in white robes ... With such an appearance, these could hardly have been unrecognized by John as the saved of earth; but he did not offer his own opinion on the question, as evidenced in the next verse.

Revelation 7:14

And I say unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said unto me, These are they that came out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Lord, thou knowest ... The very fact of the elder’s asking John of their identity suggests that John probably understood who they were and whence they came; but, as being appropriate for one still under probation, the apostle refrained from saying so, his response, "Lord, thou knowest," being noncommittal. It is a gross misunderstanding to make John’s respectful reply here the basis of denying that one of the Twelve is the author through whom this prophecy came.

These are they that came out of the great tribulation ... This verse is the principal proof-text for sponsors of the Great Tribulation theory; but the words "they that came are translated from the present middle participle, meaning they continue to come."[52] Bruce translated this, "These are the comers.[53] This positively identifies the "coming" of these white-robed saints w dispensation. "The whole history of the church is a time of tribulation.[54] "The Great Ordeal (tribulation) is a prolonged process, which from John’s temporal standpoint was partly past and partly future."[55] Right here is the key to Revelation 1:19. Many of the scenes in Revelation mingle visions of things past, present, and future simultaneously. Any neat little scheme of making one section of Revelation past, another present, and yet another future, collapses in a careful understanding of the text. We agree with Beckwith that, "There is nothing here which points to any one particular distress."[56]

And they washed their robes ... The undeniable reference in this is to the conversion of the saints at the time of their residence upon the earth. Thompson stated that, "The understanding of this passage derives from such Scriptures as Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; and Titus 3:5,[57] all of which refer to primary obedience to the gospel, the unique manner by which anyone since Pentecost was ever able, in any sense, to "wash" his robes in the blood of Christ. This is a metaphor, but it surely stresses the part which sinners themselves have in their own salvation. They must obey the gospel. Note that it is said, "They washed," a reference to what one must do to be saved. Christ provides the means of our redemption, but he requires of people that they appropriate the blessings of it through obedience. All of the apostles taught this same truth. Peter, on Pentecost, commanded those who wished to be saved to "Repent and have yourselves baptized ... save yourselves from this crooked generation" (Acts 2:38; Acts 2:40). "Save yourselves ... wash your robes," etc., all such passages stress the human response in salvation.

Again, note the doxology of Revelation 7:12, which was being spoken by this white-robed throng. When they praised the Lord for salvation, they spoke not of what they had done (though they could not have been saved without it), but of the blood of the Lamb.

"The great tribulation of this passage is the persecution of the followers of Christ which broke in such intense malignity in John’s day and continues until the ultimate triumph of Christ.[58] The following verses, designed to comfort and encourage the suffering church, must be understood with reference to the dark background of persecutions.

[52] James D. Strauss, op. cit., p. 126.

[53] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 646.

[54] James William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 631.

[55] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 102.

[56] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 545.

[57] W. S. Thompson, Comments on Revelation (Memphis, Tennessee: Southern Church Publications, 1957), p. 85.

[58] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 646.

Revelation 7:15

Therefore are they before the throne of God; and they serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them.

Suffering Christians who overcome the sorrows and tribulations of life will ultimately be with God, in his very presence, and shall participate in the joys of heaven forever. "Only the blood-washed throng can stand before the throne of God and enjoy his presence forever."[59]

Spread his tabernacle over them ... This is a reference to the special love and care which God spreads like a mantle over his beloved children. This great love and protection is not withheld until we reach heaven, but it belongs to God’s people now, and is instantly available for all who truly seek to know God and to follow him "in Christ."

ENDNOTE:

[59] Ralph Earle, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 10 (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1967), p. 550.

Revelation 7:16

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat:

The background of this verse is the hunger and privation suffered by the apostolic church. The savage hatred of the whole pagan world motivated ten great persecutions against the Christians. Not only were the Christians often cold, and tired, and hungry, and naked, they were also murdered for sport in the Roman Coliseum, and some of them were drenched in flammables and elevated as torches to illuminate the night time games and orgies of the emperor’s gardens in Rome. Saints suffering such indignities and terrors needed such comforting words as those provided in this verse.

Neither shall the sun strike on them, nor any heat ... This continues in the same line of thought. During the persecutions, the church often found that its members did not have even the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter; and from this we should learn that, "The church should never expect to be preserved from the basic ills of mankind."[60]

ENDNOTE:

[60] Michael Wilcock, op. cit., p. 84.

Revelation 7:17

for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. "Lamb in the midst of the throne ...

Here is the great consolation. "As long as this earth endures, Christ is still at the center of things; and his people are indestructible."[61] Furthermore, as seen above (Revelation 7:1-4), the mighty angels of God preserve the earth itself until God’s great purpose is fully accomplished.

Shall be their shepherd ... This is strongly suggestive of John 10, where Jesus revealed himself as the "Good Shepherd." One does not ordinarily think of a lamb as a shepherd, but with this Lamb it is true. Pack pointed out that all of the language of these final two verses draws upon the language of Isaiah 49:10;[62] and Bruce found an echo of Isaiah 26:8, making the whole passage applicable to the new age, "when God will swallow up death forever."[63] Only then shall the redeemed find the fountains of living waters and have all tears wiped away. Even more obvious is the fact of these sentiments being fully in harmony with the great description of the final abode of the saints in the last two chapters of this prophecy. Rist’s suggestion that, "John is here indoctrinating prospective martyrs by quoting a hymn"[64] cannot be correct, nor can Moffatt’s notion that, "The Apocalypse confines Christ’s shepherding to the future life."[65] As a matter of fact, it is only because Christ shepherds his people in the present life that John envisioned his also doing so eternally.

Shall wipe away every tear ... The repetition of this precious promise in Revelation 21:4, where it concerns the eternal state, makes it mandatory to see these verses as a description of the same state in heaven. This final heavenly vision describing the eternal bliss of the redeemed is most appropriate as a sequel to the terrors of the wicked in the final judgment at the end of Revelation 6, strongly indicating that it is the final judgment depicted here, but with the destiny of the righteous in focus, instead of the destiny of the wicked.

It will be noticed that the heavenly scene here follows the scene of the overthrow of the wicked in the final judgment at the end of Revelation 6; and this is exactly the order in which John will give the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20, followed by the heavenly scene greatly elaborated in the final two chapters of the prophecy. Ezell was correct in connecting Revelation 8:1 with this paragraph,[66] and understanding the half hour of silence which follows the opening of the seventh seal "as the full content of that seal."[67] Thus, this whole chapter is intimately related to the sixth seal; and the seventh seal merely shows that God has not revealed anything at all of what will happen after the final judgment. That half hour of silence really rings down the curtain and draws a dramatic line under all that is written through Revelation 7:17, effecting a complete separation of it from what is afterwards written in the prophecy, and compelling us to look for a new beginning in Revelation 8:2.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Frank Pack, Revelation (Austin, Texas: The R. B. Sweet Company, 1965), Part 1, p. 72.

[63] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 646.

[64] Martin Rist, op. cit., p. 424.

[65] James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 401.

[66] Douglas Ezell, Revelations on Revelation (Waco: Word Books, Inc., 1977), p. 45.

[67] Ibid.

Commentary on Revelation 7:13-17 by Manly Luscombe

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. John is not willing to risk a wrong guess. “You know.” The answer is given: “These are the ones who have washed their robes, white in the blood of the Lamb.” 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. 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--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. When do we make our robes white in the blood of the Lamb? We are to put on the robes of righteousness (Revelation 19:8). If our robes are not white, we are living in a state of sin and following the devil. Acts 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 (Revelation 3:4). They had gone back to the way of the world. 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. 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. Those outside of Christ are in the bondage of sin (Romans 6:13-16). They are slaves to the devil and sin. 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.

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. 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. God dwells among us, in His temple. You are the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). God dwells in his Holy temple. We are under the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25).

16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; In heaven some things we endured here on earth have ended. “The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). Hunger no more - We are fed by the Word, the bread of life. Thirst no more - We have full access to the living water (John 4:13-14). Sun not burn them or make them hot - God is our light. The church is a place of refuge, a protection from the physical things of life.

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.” The Lamb of God will Feed the hungry and lead them to fresh water. He will 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!

Sermon on Revelation 7:9-17

Washed

Brent Kercheville

In our last lesson we saw the image of the 144,000. We are told that the 144,000 are the servants of God (Revelation 7:3). They are sealed in spiritual protection from the tribulation events. The sealing also pictures that they are owned by God because they are faithful to him. After seeing the 144,000 John turns to see a new image of a great multitude.

The Unnumbered Multitude (Revelation 7:9-10)

John sees a great multitude, so great that no one can number them. They come from every nation, peoples, and languages and they are standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Further, the great multitude is clothed in white and have palm branches in their hands. We have seen the imagery of the white robes many times in this book. In Revelation 6:11 we see the servants of God who have been slain for the word of God are each given a white robe. We observed in Revelation 6 that the white robes picture conquering and victory (6:2). Just as we saw with the servants of God who had been killed, the picture is victory because they have remained pure and faithful to God.

In a similar way, palm branches were also a symbol of victory. In John 12:13 we read about Jesus and his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The people are crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed in he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” Remember that the people who are crying out these words are holding palm branches. In John 12 the palm branches denote the victory of Christ as the ruling king. In Revelation it is the great multitude that is pictured victorious. They are wearing white robes and holding palm branches signifying the victory this unnumbered multitude has obtained.

This victory and deliverance is not because of themselves or because of who they are. Revelation 7:10 tells us why this unnumbered multitude has victory. The multitude is crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” The multitude recognizes that their victory is really God’s victory. Salvation belongs to our God and because of this truth we experience salvation and deliverance.

Calling this large group, “a great multitude that no one could number” is the picture of God fulfilling his promise to Abraham. Recall the promises God gave to Abraham. When Abraham questioned if he would have any offspring, notice God’s response.

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5 ESV)

Then when Jacob fears for his life because Esau is going to kill him, Jacob prays to God and counts the promise that was made to his grandfather Abraham.

But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’” (Genesis 32:12 ESV)

Revelation 7 is picturing this innumerable multitude. We will see this further explained in Revelation 7:14-17.

Worship God (Revelation 7:11-12)

Revelation 7:11 brings back the scene revealed to us in chapter 4. All the angels around the throne of God fall on their faces before the throne and worship God. They worship God declaring that God is worthy of worship. Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might belong to God forever and ever. Revelation 7:12 is a statement about who has the power God has the power. Nations do not have the power, even though they are killing the people of God. God brings salvation and deliverance. God has power and is in control.

Who Is The Unnumbered Multitude? (Revelation 7:13-17)

Revelation 7:13 draws the question to the forefront that we have wondered while reading this text. Who are these that are clothed in white robes and where have they come from? One of the 24 elders asks John this question. It is not that the elder does not know because is going to give an answer in a moment. Rather, the elder is wanting John to consider this question. Who are this people? John reveals that he does not know but that the elder does.

The first thing we are told is that these are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. This is a very important statement and gives a picture about who is the object of God’s wrath. We noted in chapter 5 that the scroll whose seals are being opened is the same scroll that is sealed in Daniel 12. We have also noted that the contents of the scroll are the same. Notice the similar language about this tribulation in Daniel 12:1.

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1 ESV)

There are a couple key pictures to keep in mind. It is called a “time of trouble.” Some other translations read, “Time of anguish” or “time of distress.” However, this is a unique event because it unequaled somehow. We are not told how this time of tribulation will be different. The prophecy is simply that it is such that never has been since there was a nation till that time. Jesus spoke about the same event and used the same language that we are looking at in Daniel 12:1 and Revelation 7:14. In speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem Jesus said,

Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. (Matthew 24:20-21 ESV)

Outside of the book of Revelation there is only one place in the New Testament where the phrase, “The great tribulation” is used. It is right here in Matthew 24:21. Notice how Jesus speaks of it the same way that the angel spoke of it in the prophecy of Daniel. This event is one that never has been from the beginning of the world. The people of God are pictured coming through and enduring the tribulation. We know that these are the servants of God because they are described as having their robes washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb.

So how do we explain the image of the 144,000 in Revelation 7:1-8 and the image of the great multitude in Revelation 7:9-17? Haven’t I just shown that the 144,000 represents the complete number of God’s servants and now shown the great multitude to also be the complete number of God’s servants? How can these two images be the same group of people? When we put this chapter back into its context I think we can see the point of both of these images. Chapter 7 began by declaring that these sweeping judgments cannot begin until the servants of God are sealed. The first eight verses of chapter 7 show the servants of God are sealed. They are spiritually protected from these judgments. Further, every servant of God is sealed, hence the numbering of 12,000 from each tribe. The second image of the great multitude that cannot be numbered is showing what happens to the 144,000. Revelation 7:9-17 reveals that what was promised to the sealed people of God came about. The first half of the chapter show the promise of them being sealed. The second half of the chapter shows the promise being kept. They are protected and they are before the throne of God. They are wearing white robes and holding palm branches. The promise has been kept. They have remained faithful and they are victorious in Christ.

Victory In Christ (Revelation 7:15-17)

Notice that this is the point of the rest of the chapter. One of the 24 elders is explaining the outcome of the people of God. They have come through the tribulation. Piecing the images together in this book the implication is that these are Christians who have died for their faithfulness to Christ. Revelation 6:11 revealed that more of the servants of God must die. Now the servants of God are pictured in heaven around the throne of God. Why are they there? They are there because they lost their lives for the cause of Christ. This is the point of saying that their robes were made white in the blood of the Lamb. How do you make robes white in the blood of the Lamb? Remember that the white stands for victory. These are victorious for their faithfulness to Christ. Why say the robes were washed in the blood of the Lamb? The reason is that Christians have died for the Lamb. Just as Christ was killed in faithfulness to the Father so also these Christians have died in faithfulness to the Lamb.

Revelation 7:15-17 are showing the victory these slain servants of God have received. Look at what these have been given. (1) They are before the throne of God day and night. This is a priestly picture of serving in the temple before the Lord. These servants are before God’s throne continually because of their faithfulness. (2) He who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. Nothing else is going to happen to these Christians. God is with them and sheltering them. They have nothing more to worry about. (3) They are no longer suffering, but are comforted. They cannot be afflicted by the world anymore. They are safe in the hands of the Father.(4) The Lamb is their shepherd who is shielding them and comforting them. This picture will be amplified in Revelation 21 when we see the Lord in the midst of New Jerusalem. (5) The Lamb will act as a shepherd and guide them to living waters. Living waters is use consistently by Jesus to refer to eternal life (John 4:14; John 7:38)

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

This is the life of eternal fellowship with God and Christ. Notice that this fellowship is offered to those who maintain their faith in Christ, even though experiencing physical suffering and death. These are the ones who remain faithful to the Lord no matter the circumstances. It is important to also observe that these images refer to a prophecy in Isaiah. Isaiah spoke about the restoration of God’s people.

“Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Appear.” They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. (Isaiah 49:9-10 ESV)

Revelation shows us that it is the Lamb who is guiding and protecting his people. The Lord comforts his people as he wipes away the tears from their eyes. While the book of Revelation is speaking to those early century Christians who were going to suffer persecution for the cause of Christ. But their reward is no different from the reward given to all Christians. What a blessing to know what lies ahead for us if we will remain faithful and steadfast to the Lord!

LESSON 13.

THE VISION OF THE REDEEMED COMPANIES

Read Revelation 7

1. Between the opening of what two seals does the vision of this chapter appear? Ans. Revelation 6:12; Revelation 8:1.

2. How many redeemed companies did John see? Ans. Revelation 7:4; Revelation 7:9.

3, Tell of the four angels that John saw. Ans. Revelation 7:1.

4. From where did another angel ascend? Ans. Revelation 7:2.

5. What did this angel say to the four angels? Ans. Revelation 7:2-3.

6. Where were the servants of God to be sealed? Ans. Revelation 7:3.

7. What was the total number that were sealed? Ans. Revelation 7:4.

8. Name the tribes of Israel and tell how many were sealed from each tribe. Ans. Revelation 7:5-8.

9. From whom did these tribes derive their names? Ans. Exodus 1:1-5.

10. How many were in the second company that John saw? Ans. Revelation 7:9.

11. From what nations and tribes had this company come? Ans. Revelation 7:9.

12. Describe them. Ans. Revelation 7:9.

13. What was their song? Ans. Revelation 7:10

14. Then what did all the angels do? Ans. Revelation 7:11-12.

15. What question did one of the elders ask John and what was John’s reply? Ans. Revelation 7:13-14.

16. Who did the elder say they were? Ans. Revelation 7:14.

17. Describe the great white-robed multitude:

  • State the position they occupy, Ans. Revelation 7:15-17.

  • State the work they do, Ans. Revelation 7:15-17.

  • Describe how and from what they were protected. Ans. Revelation 7:15-17.

  • Tell how they were shepherded and guided. Ans. Revelation 7:15-17.

FOR CLASS DISCUSSION

I. Discuss the eternal rewards of the redeemed.

E.M. Zerr

Questions on Revelation

Revelation Chapter Seven

1. Whom did John see after this?

2. Where were they standing?

3. Tell what they were holding.

4. For what purpose were they holding them?

5. Whom did John see next?

6. From where was he coming?

7. Tell what he had.

B. How did he cry?

9. To whom did he cry?

10. What had been give to these?

11. Tell what they were told not to do.

12. For how long should they hold back?

13. State what John heard then.

14. From whom were the numbers reckoned?

15. State the number all told.

16. How were they distributed?

17. Which tribe was named instead of Dan?

lB. How large mnltitude did John see next?

19. From what peQple were they?

20. Where did they stand?

21. How were they clothed?

22. What were in their hands?

23. How did they cry?

24. What did they ascribe to God?

25. Tell where He was sitting.

26. WhQm did they associate with him?

27. Where did all the angels stand?

28. What posture of body did they take?

29. Tell what they did.

30. What conclusive word did they pronounce?

31. State what they ascribed to their God.

32. For how long should it be so?

33. Who then spoke to John?

34. State the question he asked.

35. Repeat John’s answer.

36. Who answered the questioing?

37. Out of what had these persons come?

38. What had been done to their robes?

39. In what had this been done?

40. How did it leave them as to condition?

41. For this reason they are where?

42. They are doing what?

43. At what time are they here?

44. Who shall dwell among them?

45. How about thier hunger?

46. And their thirst?

47. What will not light on them?

48. By whom shall they be fed?

49. Unto what will he lead them?

50. Tell what shall be wiped away.

Revelation Chapter Seven

Ralph Starling

After these things 4 angels appear

With an announcement to be made.

and the opening of the 7th seal,

God said would be delayed.

Stop all activities for God had a plan to reveal.

Before the next seal his faithful were to be sealed.

For the 12 tribes o Israel and multitudes of others,

There would be no hunger or tears and white robes for cover.

With this announcement all nations salvation to God

and the Lamb cried that had died.

For God was faithful and true to his orders,

And the Lamb would lead them to the fountain of living waters.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 7". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/revelation-7.html.
 
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