Revelation Chapter Seven
Author’s Introduction: As we read Revelation 7 we must remember that this chapter is answering a question that was brought up in Revelation 6:17 “For the great day of His wrath is come: and who shall be able to stand?” The great day of God’s wrath is when He pours out his seven last plagues on the finally unrepentant people of Earth. (See Revelation 16). So Revelation 7 tells the answer to this question of who shall be able to stand and that group is called the 144,000. This chapter discusses this group and then in Revelation 8:1 finishes out the Seven Seals.
1And 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.
Author: Verse one tells us that John saw four angels watching over the whole Earth – the four corners – North, East, South West. These angels were holding the winds of strife so that they would not blow on the Earth, on the Sea, or on any tree. In this context the Earth is the desolate parts of the world, the Sea represents the people and nations of Earth (Revelation 17:15) and the trees represent God’s people. (Jeremiah 17:7-8; Psalms 1:3; Ezekiel 47:12).
2And 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,
Author: Another Angel comes up from the East (Ezekiel 43:2) from the rising of the Sun (Luke 1:78; Malachi 4:2) symbolizing the coming of Jesus with His message of salvation. He had the seal of the living God. This seal is a total surrender to the things of God as depicted in the comprehensive seal of the Holy Spirit, settling the Sabbath, and the law of God in the hearts of His people. (II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:22; 4:30; Exodus 31:12-17; Ezekiel 20:12,20). The Angels cried out to the four angels who have the responsibility of holding the winds.
3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Author: God does not want the four winds loosed, nor does He want the Earth, the Sea, nor the Trees hurt until God’s servants are sealed in their foreheads. This sealing in the foreheads is a testimony of God writing His laws in their hearts and minds as revealed through the Sabbath and an entire surrender to the will of God. This sign is revealed in the surrender to, and obedience to the will of God. Passover was a sign of this in the Old Testament. (Exodus 13:9, 14-16). It was to be inscribed in the hand and the forehead. The law of God was described the same way in Deuteronomy 6:1-8 and 11:18-19. God did this for His special group of people the 144,000 in Revelation 14:1. The 144,000 have the Father’s name written in their foreheads. The Father’s name would have all of the qualities of the Father described in Exodus 34:5-7. In Revelation 3:12 Jesus states that overcomers will have the name of the Father written on their foreheads, the name of the New Jerusalem, and the new name of Jesus. All of these names indicate the similarity of the mind of Christ in them, and that their characters are like God’s character, and their focus and destination is the New Jerusalem. (Hebrews 11:8-16).
4And 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.
Author: In this verse we have the statement that the 144,000 are of all of the tribes of the children of Israel. This means that only natural born Jews or the Bibles definition of Jews – spiritual descendents of Abraham who have accepted Christ as their Saviour. (Galatians 3:26-29). This author believes that the 144,000 are spiritual descendents of Abraham by faith in Jesus, that all Gentiles, and Jews, whose hearts are converted by Jesus, are incorporated into the 144,000. This group is not made up of literal Jews, but Jews who are Jews by faith in Christ. This is an essential point of the theology of Revelation. This also takes us back to Revelation 2:9 and 3:9. Revelation makes this identification a major point. Only those who are in Christ can be identified as Jews in the book of Revelation, and for that fact the entire New Testament and those in the Old Testament as well. A physical Jew, is one who is of the flesh, and has never been accepted as part of true Israel. (Romans 2:28-29; 9:6-8; Luke 3:7-9). But God only accepts those whose hearts are renewed in Him.
5Of 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.
6Of 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.
7Of 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.
8Of 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.
Author: In this list of tribes it would be helpful to notice that there are two tribes missing the tribes of Dan and of Ephraim. Dan was described by Jacob to be a tribe like a serpent. (Genesis 49:16). Ephraim is declared to be so set in their sins that God can do no more to save them. God says to them – “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.” (Hosea 4:17). In this list God chose to remove them and to fill up the number twelve with Manasses and Joseph. It would appear that if a person, or tribe, or nation chooses sin they will not be in the lists of the books of heaven and will be excluded by their own choice. But the tribes who are listed are there because they have chosen to surrender to the power of God and He has redeemed them.
I would encourage all of those who want to study the tribes of Israel to look into the original birthdays of the twelve tribes. (Genesis 29-30) Jacob also prophesies the characters of his twelve sons in Genesis 49. Moses picks up this concept and repeats it through the view of the gospel in Deuteronomy 33. Numbers 2 establishes the position of each tribe around the sanctuary and their position when travelling when the camp was called to move by God. All of these issues give us understanding in the things of God.
9After 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;
Author: In contrast to the 144,000 is the group called the great multitude. This group makes up all of those who have died in Christ through all of the years of history from Adam to the last person who dies before Christ comes. They will stand before the throne of God, purified in the white robes of Christ and with Palms of victory in their hands. The 144,000 will be those who live through the final tribulation without death, and without sin, during the time in which God’s foreknowledge will know that all will withstand the buffeting of Satan and will not sin and thus no longer need Jesus to mediate for sin. They will be sinless before God and will respond as Jesus did in the wilderness of temptation. Jesus did not sin, and His 144,000 will not sin either.
This concept is reinforced by the following quotation by God’s messenger and prophet Ellen G. White in Great Controversy 648-649 “With the Lamb upon Mount Zion, “having the harps of God,” they stand, the hundred and forty and four thousand that were redeemed from among men; and there is heard, as the sound of many waters, and as the sound of a great thunder, “the voice of harpers harping with their harps.” And they sing “a new song” before the throne, a song which no man can learn save the hundred and forty and four thousand. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb—a song of deliverance. None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience—and experience such as no other company have ever had. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” These, having been translated from the earth, from among the living, are counted as “the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 15:2, 3; 14:1-5). “These are they which came out of great tribulation;” they have passed through the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation; they have endured the anguish of the time of Jacob’s trouble; they have stood without an intercessor through the final outpouring of God’s judgments….”
10And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Author: the 144,000 and the Great Multitude shout out their gratitude for salvation through God – the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
11And 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,
Author: the angels, elders, and beasts join God’s people in praise and worship before God.
12Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.
Author: Here is a seven-fold praise to God.
13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
Author: The elders want to discuss a special group of people with John. This group of people is clothed in white robes which are the “righteousness of the saints” Revelation 19:8 which are made white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14). Then the Elder asked John where did this group come from? Jesus wants us to discuss this issue and get it firmly planted in our minds.
14And 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.
Author: John declares that he does not know where this group comes from but trusts that the Elder does know. John is willing to be taught of the residents of heaven. The Elder declares that these people have come out of great tribulation, not THE Great Tribulation of the end. This great tribulation is a statement of all of the struggles that God’s people have gone through throughout time including the great tribulation of the Dark Ages – 538AD to 1798AD. (Matthew 24:15-22). But one thing is for sure, and that is there righteousness is not their own but they have whitened their robes in the blood of the Lamb. (Isaiah 1:10-18). This group of redeemed is contrasted with the 144,000 who live through The Great Tribulation at the end when they must stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, when there is no longer an intercessor to plead for them in case they sin against God. (The Great Controversy 648-649). The 144,000 are a special group of people and God grants them special gifts. They have lived through the plagues, they have lived through the time of Jacob’s Trouble, and since they have proven faithful God allows them to minister to Him in a special manner. (See Revelation 15:2-3).
15Therefore 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.
Author: The 144,000 are to serve Him in His temple day and night. (See Early Writings page 19 where only the 144,000 go into the temple.) God will dwell with the 144,000 on Earth but they will be especially close to Him. Here is an example of how God’s prophet saw this in the Great Controversy page 665 “Nearest the throne are those who were once zealous in the cause of Satan, but who, plucked as brands from the burning, have followed their Saviour with deep, intense devotion. Next are those who perfected Christian characters in the midst of falsehood and infidelity, those who honored the law of God when the Christian world declared it void, and the millions, of all ages, who were martyred for their faith. And beyond is the "great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, . . . before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." Revelation 7:9. Their warfare is ended, their victory won. They have run the race and reached the prize. The palm branch in their hands is a symbol of their triumph, the white robe an emblem of the spotless righteousness of Christ which now is theirs.”
In the above quotation there are four separate groups that surround the throne. The first group consists of those who were once zealous in the cause of Satan. The second group is the 144,000 who perfected Christian characters when the Christian world declared the law of God void. The third group is those who were martyred for their faith, and the last group is the great multitude.16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
Author: They shall hunger and thirst no more for they are in heaven and God will eventually return to them the restored and recreated Earth – the true land flowing with milk and honey. God allows them to be in the presence of the Shewbread and will drink from the fountain from the throne of God.
17For 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.
Author: This last text is the New Testament summation of the 23rd Psalm. God will lead His sheep and will them beside the still waters. He will prepare a shewbread table for them in the presence of their enemies. God will allow them to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.