A Commentary on Revelation Chapter 7
INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION CHAPTER 7
This chapter tells us that four angels are standing on the four corners of the earth holding the four winds. They were to prevent the winds from blowing on land, sea, or tree. The Old Testament supplies us with many verses that tell us that the four corners of the earth are the four directions, namely North, South, East and West. In this chapter you will see that the winds of war will not come from any direction till God seals the 144,000 Jews and a multitude of Gentiles, which no man could number. To be sealed in the forehead is to have an understanding and acknowledgment of God – when we hear the gospel of our salvation and believe we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. This group of people had come out of great tribulation. The previous chapter gives us insight into the tribulation that they had gone through. They are before the throne (to be before the throne must mean in prayer and praise). They are serving him day and night. They are living on the top of the mountain, drinking the living water and eating the hidden manna. Alleluia.
EXPOSITION ON REVELATION CHAPTER 7
Four angels standing on the four corners of the earth.
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.
Four corners means from four directions, North, South, East, West.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. Isa. 11:10-12
He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters (Corners KJV) of the earth. ISA 11:12
It is evident that when the Bible uses the words “four corners” that it means four directions. When the exile ended God brought his remnant back from Pathros (a portion of Egypt), Cush (Africa), Elam-East of Tigris river (now Iran), Shinar-Babylonia (now Iraq), and Hamath (a Cannanite city). Holding the four winds. Winds as used as a sign of strife, confusion, commotions, destruction, turmoil, war.
I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of the heavens; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam’s exiles do not go. JER 49:36
I will shatter Elam before their foes, before those who seek their lives; I will bring disaster upon them, even my fierce anger,” declares the Lord. “I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them. JER 49:37
When God said that he would bring the four winds against Elam (now Iran) he meant war would come from four quarters. The Lord sent three invasions by Assurbanipal and one by the Babylonians. In the passage here in the Revelation we are told that the four winds were to be held so that they would not blow. We understand this to mean that the “Winds of War” would be restrained–that war would be prevented from every quarter. We must therefore look for a period in history when there was a restraining of strife thus preventing war. We assign this period in history to A.D. 340-395 as the fulfillment of this prophecy. Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire has a heading for chapter 15 Vol. 1 p. 430 as follows: “The Progress of the Christian Religion.” In his enquiry into the progress and growth of Christianity he lists five causes for its growth during this period: 1) the conduct of the government toward Christians, 2) the attitude of it Emperors, 3) the martyrdom of Cyprian, 4) Varying policies of persecution, 5) Galerius’s edict of toleration. As I researched the writings of Gibbon I was faced with the fact that 20% of the Roman Empire was given over to the following of Jesus Christ by the conversion of Constantine. Nor could I fail to see that swarms of Christians were in Egypt, Syria, Jerusalem, Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Etc. Gibbon says, “As soon, as Christianity ascended the throne, the zeal of those barbarians obeyed the prevailing impulsion, the cities of Egypt were filled with bishops, and the desert of Thebais swarmed with hermits.” Gibbon’s p. 490. On page 491 Gibbon writes about a peace that lasts for 38 years. Gibbon estimates the Christian population in Rome at this time to be 50,000. We can say that from Gaul to Africa Gods people were being sealed in the forehead.
2-3 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
The sealing of the servants in the forehead must mean an open and real acknowledgment of Christ. A public testimony of his grace, a life devoted to his service, a warfare that keeps continually unfurled the banner of the cross.
The man who has accepted it has certified (set to his seal KJV) that God is truthful. JOH 3:33
Set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 CO 1:22
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. EPH 1:13
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. EPH 4:30
Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 TI 2:19
4-8 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
There are 19 arrangements of the tribes in the old testament. Here in our text, Dan is omitted. In Genesis 49 Manasses is omitted. In Numbers 13 Levi is omitted. In Ezek 48 there are two arrangements One has Levi and the other omits him. In Deuteronomy 33, Simeon and Levi are omitted. It is evident from the context that nothing but Jews are being considered. If Gentiles were under consideration then the mention of tribe would not be made.
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
This verse shows that a large group of Gentiles were being sealed. The previous verses of the 144,000 were Jews. Clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands. White robes and palms are emblems of peace and victory.
Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed. REV 6:11
10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
This was the victory cry. Gods people on earth who have been saved are seen praising God for their salvation. This group of Christians could shout and sing that salvation has been brought down. They wanted to tell the news and spread it over land and sea–they were shouting salvation to our God. Hallelujah!
11-12 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Not only are the redeemed of earth praising God but all of heaven fell on their faces and worshipped. The sevenfold character of the ascription of praise denotes its universal and all embracing character.
13-14 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes–who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
One of the elders answered. The elder speaks because he is one of the ruling class in heaven cf. my comments on chapter 4:4 What are these which are arrayed in white robes? It was a rhetorical question. And I said unto him, “Sir, thou knowest.” This reminds us of a similar incident in Ezekiel:
He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Ezek. 37:3
These are they that have come out of great tribulation. This refers to the pressure, affliction, anguish, burden, persecution and trouble that these Christians had been exposed to from the first day they became Christians.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.(tribulation K.G.) But take heart! I have overcome the world. JOH 16:33
strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships (tribulation KJV) to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. ACT 14:22
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble (tribulation K.G.) or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ROM 8:35
In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. (suffer tribulation KJV) And it turned out that way, as you well know.” 1 TH 3:4
Washed their robes. and made them white in the blood of the lamb.
ACT 22:16 “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”
HEB 10:22 “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
1CO 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
In the blood. We often sing:
What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
O! precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Here is the testimony of Scripture:
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 PE 1:18,19
EPH 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
in whom we have redemption, [A few late manuscripts redemption through his blood] the forgiveness of sins. COL 1:14
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Admitted to the presence of God.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. HEB 4:16
And serve Him day and night in his temple.
It is not necessary for us to die and go to heaven to be before his throne and serve him.
And he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (Shall spread his tabernacle over them R.V.)
This is an allusion to the Shechinah which overshadowed the mercy seat.
16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
A similar promise is made in Isa. 49:10 regarding the coming of the Messiah.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. JOH 6:35
But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. JOH 4:14
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. JOH 10:11
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. JOH 7:37-39