Revelation 7 - Outline of Revelation (Book Notes menu page)
7:1 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 after these things...-
Here, this phrase refers, not to the sequence of events, but rather, to the order of vision.
Note that ch.7 comes between seals #6 and #7 (cp. 6:12; 8:1). The narration of each of the three sevenfold judgments (seals, trumpets, bowls) is broken by an explanatory section (or, parenthetic episode), which falls between the sixth and seventh event of each series. [These parenthetic episodes are shown in parenthesis ( ) in the Book Outline.] These accounts may look back to events described previously, or forward to events yet to come. They provide supplemental information and often a different perspective on these events.
...four angels...four corners...four winds...of the earth.
The number 'Four' often pertains to the earth. The threefold repetition of this number, and of the phrase "of the earth," is emphatic concerning the theater of judgment.
...the four winds-
'Winds,' in scripture, often speak of judgment. Gen 41:6; Psa 148:8
'The four winds' may refer to the judgments of the first 4 seals and/or of the fourfold judgment of seal #4 (Rev 6:1-8).
This parenthetic episode (ch. 7) explains why these judgments had not fallen upon the earth previously.
...four angels... holding... that they should not blow...-
The judgments and the appearance of Antichrist (the little horn which arises from the fourth beast of Dan 7:2-3,7-8,17-26) are restrained until all is ready. This readiness is marked by...
  • the fullness of gentiles (Rom 11:25).
  • the removal of the Restrainer at the Rapture of the Church (2The 2:6,7).
    (ie., the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit upon the world, through the presence of the true church, whereby the works of darkness are reproved, Eph 1:12-14; 5:9-11)
  • and the sealing of the 144,000 servants of God (v.3).
7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east,
having the seal of the living God:
{see v. 3}
another angel - Is this Christ or an angelic messenger? We are not told.
from the east- lit., from the sun rising. This reminds us of Christ...
  • the Glory of the Lord will return to His Temple from the east... Eze 43:2,4,
  • the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing... Mal 4:2
having the seal...- Christ has the seal of God (Joh 6:27).
Church age believers are sealed through faith in Him (2Cor 1:21,22; Eph 1:12,13; 2Tim 2:19).
Yet, as God used angels to seal His grieving servants as His Glory departed from Jerusalem (Eze 9:3,4), He may use angels to seal His perceiving servants as the Sun of Righteousness begins to rise.
and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels,
to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
'loud'- expresses urgency
7:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees,
till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Who are these servants? -Not the church which is already in glory (ch. 4,5).
These are believing Jews, the remnant of Israel, who have come to faith after the rapture of the church. They are firstfruits, in anticipation of the day when 'all Israel shall be saved.' Rev 14:4; Rom 11:25,26; Isa 43:1-11
When are they sealed? -Prior to the opening of seal 1 or 2 (before the 'hurt' of subsequent seals).
What is the seal?
  • Apparently, a mark (invisible to man) which identifies these as set apart for the possession, protection (9:4), and service of the living God (14:1). (cp. the purpose of the mark in Eze 9:4-6)
  • Probably the Holy Spirit, who seals Church age believers today (Eph 1:13), and who will be in the remnant at the time of Israel's restoration (Eze 36:25-27; 37:9-14, where "wind" and "breath" are both HB= ruach, spirit).
  • Contrast the mark of the beast (Satan's counterfeit to the seal of God). Rev 13:16
7:4 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.
The twelve tribes are listed by name.
This can include only those who are physically of Israel.
144,000 represents about 1% of the current world Jewish population.
At that time, these will be a remnant of grace. Rom 11:4,5
     In Rev 14:1, John sees the 144,000 assembled together with the Lord in Jerusalem. But here, John hears (but does not see) that they are numbered and sealed. Each of these sealed servants are known to God, but few of them may know each other. Apparently, each will begin his service wherever he is found, whether in the land or in the Jewish diaspora.
7:5 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.
7:6 Of the tribe of Aser [were] sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Nepthalim [were] sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Manasses [were] sealed twelve thousand.
7:7 Of the tribe of Simeon [were] sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Levi [were] sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Issachar [were] sealed twelve thousand.
7:8 Of the tribe of Zabulon [were] sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Joseph [were] sealed twelve thousand.
Of the tribe of Benjamin [were] sealed twelve thousand
There are as many as 29 lists of Israel's tribes in Scripture. The order varies considerably between these lists, which suggests Israel's continual disorder before the Lord.
  • Note that here, Judah displaces Reuben (Jacob's firstborn) in firstplace.
    Reuben lost his birthright due to immorality. Judah was given preeminence and is the tribe from which Christ came (Gen 49:8-10).
  • Note that Dan & Ephraim are missing, being replaced by Joseph (Ephraim's father) and Manasseh (Joseph's firstborn son).
    Possible reasons:
    1. Dan was first to turn to idolatry, and suffered the consequences: Judg 18:30; Deu 29:18-21
    2. Ephraim led the split of Israel into two kingdoms. Jeroboam (an Ephrathite), the first king of the northern tribes, set up golden calves at Dan and Bethel (the latter being in Ephraim's territory). 1Kin 11:26; Hos 4:17
    3. Some suggest that Antichrist or his false prophet will arise from Dan. Gen 49:16-18
Note: This list is not the final accounting, being at the start of the Tribulation.
Ezekiel lists the allotments of the tribes during the Millennial kingdom:
-- Ephraim's name is restored.
-- Dan is not only included, but heads the list - showing that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound! Eze 48:1,5; Hos 11:8
What is the role of the 144,000?
Apparently, to bear witness to the One true God and Savior (contrary to the false claims of the Antichrist), and to preach the "Gospel of the Kingdom" of Christ, which will soon displace the kingdoms of this world. Isa 43:1-12; Mat 24:14
-- Imagine 144,000 Jewish evangelists each with the apostle Paul's zeal!
The Gospel of the Kingdom is the Gospel of Grace but with time brackets:
  • Today, we preach 'now is the day of salvation' ... 'Jesus is coming soon.'
  • These will be able to say, 'Repent...the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord in 42 months!' From the mid-point of the Tribulation, the number of days, until the end, will be clearly understood (eg., Rev 11:3,15). There will be no lack of corroborating signs.
7:9 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;
In seven years, the labors of the 144,000 will accomplish a great harvest...
perhaps larger than that at which the church has labored for 2000 years.
The Great Tribulation will also be a period of Great Redemption.
A great multitude- the same words are translated 'much people' in 19:1 where
the same group is seen at the fulfillment of the justice for which they prayed in 6:10.
of all nations, kindreds {lit., tribes} -
This group apparently includes both Jews & Gentiles. However, the world's relatively small Jewish population would suggest that Gentiles make up the largest portion of this innumerable multitude.
stood- The question asked, in 6:17, is answered in ch. 7 where
two groups of the redeemed stand before God as exhibits of His saving grace.
The two groups: (A) the 144,000 of Israel, on earth (v.4 with 14:1),
     and (B) this great multitude out of all nations, in heaven (v.9).
clothed with white robes-
To be clothed in a 'robe' {GK=stole'} is a mark of distinction and honor (eg., Luk 15:22; 20:46). The 'white' raiment {clothing, garments} of the saints signifies their righteousness (eg., Rev 3:4,5; 19:8).
     However, only in Rev 6:11 and 7:9,13,14, do we see saints arrayed in 'white robes.' This is a strong indication that these two passages focus on the same group.
palms in their hands- The picture is similar to that at Christ's so-called 'Triumphal Entry.'
  • In John 12:12,13, a multitude welcomed the King, who was soon rejected.
    Yet, outside the city walls, He by Himself defeated the enemy of our souls, by His death and resurrection: He is "The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle" (Psa 24:8).
  • In Revelation, He returns victorious with the redeemed multitudes,
    for "The LORD of hosts, He is the King of Glory" (Psa 24:10).
    These (in v.9) stand, prepared with palm branches and appreciative praise, to welcome the King of Glory as He comes into His Kingdom.
7:10 And cried with a loud voice, saying,
Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
They ascribe 'salvation' to Him as an attribute. As God is holy & true and therefore the standard and source of holiness & truth, so He is the only source of salvation. Only through the salvation secured by the Lamb, can one stand before Him.
Psa 24:1-6; 68:19,20; Isa 43:11; Zech 9:9; Joh 14:6
7:11 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,
...all the angels... stood... fell... worshipped...
The holy angels are sinless creatures who stand before God without need of redemption. It follows that their worship does not mention salvation.
7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom,
and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might,
[be] unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
saying, Amen... Amen. - The angels endorse the worship of the saints (for their salvation), and enrich it with seven ascriptions of God's worth.
7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me,
What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
literal translation:
"These which are arrayed in white robes, Who are they? Whence came they?"
7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.
In that John does not know the identity of this group,
they are not the church, which he described in heaven in ch. 4 - 5.
And he said to me, These are they who came out of great tribulation,
lit., "the tribulation the great one" -
The word 'tribulation,' when applied to God's people, implies martyrdom (see 2:10; cp. Mat 16:24-26).
and {who} have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The blood of the Lamb is the only means of redemption.
It is not unique to the church, but applies to those in all ages who placed their trust in the One who would 'provide Himself a lamb' (eg., Adam, Abel, Abraham, Aaron, David, Paul, the 144,000...) Gen 22:8
To distinguish this group from the church & from the 144,000, compare:

The ChurchThis Group (v. 9-10,14-17)
- kept out of great tribulation (3:10) - came out of great tribulation (v.14)
- white raiment (3:5,18) - white robes (v.9, also in 6:11)
- sit on thrones (4:4) - stand before the throne (v.9)
- wear crowns - uncrowned
- have harps in their hands (5:8) - have palms in their hands (v.9)
- sing a new song (5:9)- cry with a loud voice (v.10)
- kings & priests before God, reign on earth (5:10)- serve day & night in His Temple (v.15)
The 144,000This Group
- from ethnic Israel only - from all nations, kindreds, people and tongues
   (primarily gentile)
- a specific number - a multitude beyond counting
- are on earth, not yet glorified - are before the throne, in glory
- were sealed to protect from 'hurt'- have suffered severe hurt
Note that-
  • The parenthetic 'episode', of the sealing of the 144,000,
    precedes the unfolding of the 'hurt' contained in the seven seals (vs.3,4).
  • The parenthetic episode, of the great multitude, is:
    1. Retrospective and explanatory of the fifth seal (6:9).
      Both the martyrdom of these saints, and their subsequent presence in heaven (v.9-14), are realized during the Tribulation period.
    2. Prospective of the answer to their prayer (of 6:10) and of the completion of their witness (6:11).
      Their future comfort and reward in Christ's Millennial and Eternal Kingdoms is viewed prophetically in v.15-17.
7:15 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. His temple...-
This further distinguishes this group from the church, since the church has never had a temple, and the New Jerusalem contains no temple. Apparently, they will serve in the Temple of Christ's Millennial Kingdom. [JVMcGee]
...He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them.-
lit., 'shall tabernacle among', or 'spread His tent over' - This speaks of protection. cp. Psa 27:1-6
7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more;
neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat
{ie., painful, scorching wind}.
The antidote for the sorrows borne and the price paid, to be identified with the Lord Jesus (6:9-11), is the presence of their King. He will quench their hunger and thirst, both physical and spiritual (Mat 5:1-12).
7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them,
feed {ie., tend as a shepherd} - Their caring shepherd is the Lamb (Joh 10:11). Here, He who gave His life for the sheep, tends to those who forfeited their lives for His sake. Mat 16:24-27; Rev 2:10,11; cp. 2Tim 2:11-13; 4:6-8
and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters:
Psa 23:1,2; Joh 4:14
and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Verses 16-17 find ultimate fulfillment in the Eternal Kingdom,
where their tears will be assuaged by the comfort of His Presence. Rev 21:3-6
But prior to that time, the Lord will answer their prayer,
by the exercise of His justice, to avenge the injustices suffered by His people. eg., Rev 6:10; 16:4-6
To that end, the seventh seal remains to be opened.

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