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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Revelation 7

 

 

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Verse 1

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

And. So B, Syriac; but A C, Vulgate, Coptic, omit.

After these things. A B C 'Aleph ('), Coptic, read, 'after this.' The two visions come in as an episode after the sixth seal, before the seventh. Though "Israel" may elsewhere designate the spiritual Israel, "the elect (church)" here, where the several names of the tribes are specified, these can only have the literal meaning. The second advent will be the time of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6-7), when the times of the Gentiles shall have been fulfilled (Luke 21:24), and the Jews shall say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:39). During the Lord's absence, the Jews have had no existence as a nation. As Revelation is the Book of the Second Advent, God's favour restored to Israel naturally has place among the events that usher it in.

Earth ... sea ... tree. The judgments on these are in answer to the martyrs' prayer under the fifth seal (Revelation 5:10). Compare the same under the fifth trumpet, the sealed being exempt (Revelation 9:4).

On any tree - `against any tree' [ epi (Greek #1909) ti (Greek #5100) dendron (Greek #1186)], but 'on the earth' [ epi (Greek #1909) tees (Greek #3588) gees (Greek #1093)].


Verse 2

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

From the east - `the rising of the sun:' the quarter from which God's glory manifests itself.


Verse 3

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

Hurt not - by letting loose destructive winds.

Till we have sealed the servants of our God - parallel to Matthew 24:31. God's love is such that He cannot do anything in judgment until His people are secured (Genesis 19:22). Israel, just before the Lord's coming, shall be re-embodied as a nation; for its tribes are specified (Joseph, however, substituted for Dan: whether because Antichrist is to come from Dan, or Dan is to be his tool [Arethas, 10th century], cf. Genesis 49:17; Jeremiah 8:16; Amos 8:14, as there was a Judas among the Twelve). Out of these tribes a believing remnant will be preserved from the judgments which destroy the anti-Christian confederacy (Revelation 6:12-17), and shall be transfigured with the elect of all nations-namely, 144,000 (or whatever is meant by the symbolical number), who shall faithfully resist the seductions of Antichrist, while the rest, restored to Palestine in unbelief, are his dupes, and at last his victims.

Previously to the Lord's judgments on Antichrist, His hosts shall destroy two-thirds of the nation, one-third escaping. By the Spirit's operation through affliction, this remnant, turning to the Lord, shall form the nucleus on earth of the Israelite nation that is thenceforth to stand at the head of the millennial nations. Israel's spiritual resurrection shall be as "life from the dead" to all nations (Romans 11:15). As now a regeneration goes on of individuals, so there shall then be a regeneration of nations, in connection with Christ's coming. Matthew 24:34-35, "this generation (the Jewish nation) shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled:" Israel can no more pass away before Christ's advent, than Christ's own words can pass away. So Zechariah 13:1-2; Zechariah 13:8-9; Zechariah 14:2-4; Zechariah 14:9-21 : cf. Revelation 12:2-14. So Ezekiel 8:17-18; Ezekiel 9:1-7, especially Revelation 7:4. Compare also Ezekiel 10:2, with Revelation 8:5, where the final judgments fall on the earth, with the same accompaniment, the fire of the altar cast into the earth, including the fire scattered over city. So Revelation 14:1, the same 144,000 appears on Zion with the Father's name in their forehead; at the close of the section, Revelation 12:1-17; Revelation 13:1-18; Revelation 14:1-20, concerning the Church and her foes. The saints are not exempt from trial: Revelation 7:14 apparently disproves the theory that the elect shall be caught up before the great tribulation (notes, 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Jude 1:14); but their trials are distinct from the destroying judgments that follow on the world: from these they are exempted, as Israel was from Egypt's plagues, especially from the last, the Israelite doors having the blood-mark seal.

Foreheads - the conspicuous, noblest part of man's body: whereon the helmet, "the hope of salvation," is worn.


Verse 4

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Twelve is the number of the tribes, appropriate to the Church: three by four: three, the divine, multiplied by four, the number for worldwide extension. Twelve by twelve, fixity and completeness: taken a thousandfold in 144,000. A thousand implies the world perfectly pervaded by the divine; for it is ten, the world number, raised to the power of three, the number of God.

Of all the tribes - `out of every tribe:' not 144,000 of each, but the aggregate of the 12,000 from every tribe.

Children - `sons of Israel.' Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:12, are no objection to the literal Israel being meant; for, in consummated glory, still the Church will be that "built on the foundation of the (Twelve) apostles (Israelites), Jesus Christ (an Israelite) being the chief cornerstone." Gentile believers shall have the name Jerusalem written on them, as having the heavenly citizenship antitypical to the literal Jerusalem.


Verse 5

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

Judah (praise) stands first, as Jesus' tribe. Benjamin, the youngest, is last; with him is associated second last, Joseph. Reuben, as first-born, comes next after Judah, to whom it gave place, having by sin lost primogeniture right. Another reason (note. Revelation 7:3) for the omission of Dan is, its having been the first to lapse into idolatry (Judges 18:1-31); for which "Ephraim" also (cf. Judges 17:1-13; Hosea 4:17) is omitted, and Joseph substituted. Long before, the Hebrews say (Grotius), it was reduced to the one family of Hussim, which perished subsequently in the wars before Ezra's time. Hence, it is omitted, 1 Chronicles 4:8. Dan's small numbers are joined to Naphtali's, whose brother he was by the same mother (Bengel). The twelve times 12,000 sealed ones of Israel, who resist Antichrist's idolatry, are the nucleus of transfigured humanity (Auberlen), to which the elect are joined, "a multitude which no man could number," Revelation 7:9 (the church of Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately, in which the Gentiles are predominant, Luke 21:24. "Tribes" ('kindreds') implies that believing Israelites are in this countless multitude). Both are in heaven, yet ruling over the earth, as ministers of blessing to its inhabitants; while upon earth the world of nations is added to the kingdom of Israel. The twelve apostles stand at the head of the whole. The upper and the lower congregation, though distinct, are intimately associated.


Verses 6-8

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

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 9

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

No man - `no one.'

Of all nations - `OUT OF every nation.' The human race is one nation by origin, but afterward separated itself into tribes, peoples, and tongues; hence, the one singular stands first, followed by the three plurals.

Kindreds - `tribes.'

People - `peoples.' The 'first-fruits unto the Lamb,' the 144,000 (Revelation 14:1-4) of Israel, are followed by a copious harvest of all nations, an election out of the Gentiles, as the 144,000 are an election out of Israel (note, Revelation 7:3).

White robes - (note, Revelation 6:11; also Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 4:4.)

Palms in their hands - antitype to Christ's entry into Jerusalem amidst the palm-bearing multitude. This shall be just when He is about to come visibly and take possession of His kingdom. The palm branch is the symbol of joy and triumph: used at the Feast of Tabernacles, on the 15th day of the 7th month, when they kept feast to God in thanksgiving for the ingathered fruits. The antitype shall be the completed harvest of the elect here described. Compare Zechariah 14:16; the earthly Feast of Tabernacles will be renewed, in commemoration of Israel's preservation in her long wilderness-like sojourn among the nations from which she shall have been delivered, just as the original feast commemorated her dwelling for 40 years in tabernacles in the wilderness.


Verse 10

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

Cried. 'Cry' in 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic. It is their continuing, ceaseless employment.

Salvation - `THE salvation:' all the praise of our salvation be ascribed to our God. At the Lord's entry into Jerusalem, the type, salvation was the cry of the palm-bearing multitudes. Hosanna means save us now, from Psalms 118:14-15; Psalms 118:22; Psalms 118:25-26, where the same connection occurs between salvation, tabernacles, of the righteous, and the cry of the whole Jewish nation at Christ's coming, "Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord."


Verse 11

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

The angels, as in Revelation 5:11, take up the anthem. There it was "many angels;" here, "all the angels"

Stood - `were standing.'


Verse 12

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

'The blessing, the glory, the wisdom, the thanksgiving, the honour, the power. the might (sevenfold doxology, implying its completeness), unto the ages of the ages.'


Verse 13

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

Answered - to my thoughts: asked the question naturally arising in John's mind from what went before. One of the 24 elders, representing the Old and New Testament ministry, appropriately is interpreter of this vision of the glorified Church.

What ... 'These which are arrayed in white robes, WHO are they?'


Verse 14

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

Sir - `Lord.' 'Aleph (') B C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Cyprian, read, 'My Lord.' A omits 'My.'

Thou knowest - from Ezekiel 37:3. Comparatively ignorant ourselves, we ought to look upwards for divine knowledge.

Came - `come:' implying, they are just come.

Great tribulation , [ tees (Greek #3588) thlipseoos (Greek #2347) tees (Greek #3588) megalees (Greek #3173)] - 'THE great tribulation:' 'the tribulation, the great one,' to which the martyrs were exposed under the fifth seal; which, Christ says, is to precede His coming (Matthew 24:21; Matthew 24:29-30, "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world"), followed by the same signs as the sixth seal: cf. Daniel 12:1 : the climax including all the tribulation which saints of all ages have passed through. This Revelation 7:1-17 recapitulates the vision of the six seals, Revelation 6:1-17 filling up the outline there in what affects the faithful. There, however, their number was waiting to be completed; here it is completed; they are taken out of the earth before the judgments on the anti-Christian apostasy: with their Lord, they, and all His faithful witnesses of past ages, wait for His and their coming to be glorified and reign together. Meanwhile, in contrast with their previous sufferings, they are exempt from the hunger, thirst, and scorching heats of their earthly life (Revelation 7:16), and are refreshed by the Lamb of God Himself (Revelation 7:17; Revelation 14:1-4; Revelation 14:13): an earnest of the post-millennial final state (Revelation 21:4-6; Revelation 22:1-5).

Washed their robes ... white in the blood of the Lamb - (Isaiah 1:18; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5 : cf. Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:3-5.) Faith applies to the heart the purifying blood; once for all for justification, continually throughout life for sanctification.


Verse 15

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

Therefore - because they are washed white: for without it they could never enter God's holy heaven: Revelation 22:14, 'Blessed are those who wash their robes (the true reading), that they may have right to the tree of life' (Ephesians 5:26-27; Revelation 21:27).

Before - `in the presence of.' Matthew 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:12, "face to face."

Throne ... temple - connected, because we can approach the heavenly King only through priestly mediation; therefore Christ is at once King and Priest on His throne (Zechariah 6:13).

Day and night - i:e., perpetually: as those approved as priests by the Sanhedrim, clothed in white, kept by turns a perpetual watch in the temple at Jerusalem (cf. the singers, 1 Chronicles 9:33; Psalms 134:1). Strictly 'there is no night' there (Revelation 22:5).

In his temple - the heavenly analogue to His temple on earth; strictly there is "no temple therein" (Revelation 21:22) 'God and the Lamb are the temple' filling the whole, so that there is no distinction of sacred and secular places: the city is the temple, and the temple the city. Compare Revelation 4:8, etc.

Shall dwell among them - rather [ skeenoosei (Greek #4637) ep' (Greek #1909) autous (Greek #846)], 'shall be the tabernacle over them' (cf. Leviticus 26:11; Revelation 21:3; especially Isaiah 4:5-6; Isaiah 8:14; Isaiah 25:4; Ezekiel 37:27). His dwelling among them is a secondary truth, besides His being their covert. When once He tabernacled among us as the Word made flesh (John 1:14), He was in lowliness; then He shall be in great glory.


Verse 16

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

(Isaiah 49:10.)

Hunger no more - as here.

Thirst anymore - (John 4:13.)

The sun - scorching in the East; symbolically, the sun of persecution (Matthew 13:6; Matthew 13:21).

Light - `by no means at all ... light' (fall), etc.

Heat - as the sirocco.


Verse 17

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

In the midst of the throne - i:e., in the middle point in front of the throne (Revelation 5:6).

Feed , [ poimanei (Greek #4165)] - 'tend as a shepherd.'

Living fountains of water. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Cyprian, read (eternal) 'life's fountains of waters.'

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 7:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-7.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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