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. 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, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we shall have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. 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. 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; and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels were standing round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and whence came they? 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. 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. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat: 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. Revelation 7
Read More Than Conquerors, pp. 132–138
Six seals have been broken. The seventh is about to be (see Rev. 8:1). Before it is broken, however, there is a significant pause, a recess not in world-events but in the progress of the vision. Its purpose is to assure us that the woes that are about to be described in chapters 8 and 9 will not harm the servants of God.
A. THE SERVANTS OF GOD SEALED, verses 1–8
Vividly we are told that these woes must be held back until God’s servants have been sealed against all harm. All the children of God living on earth are thus sealed. TIlere are 144,000 of them. This is a symbol. Though, to be sure, the number is to be taken literally as long as one confines himself to the symbol itself, the reality corresponding to the symbol is not literally 144,000. Also, the literal Israel, whose tribes are mentioned one by one, represents the spiritual Israel, the entire militant Church of God. That Church is the perfect number (perfect, for every elect is included, no more, no Jess) of all God’s chosen ones. Perfection is symbolized by the number ten times ten times ten, the dimensions of a perfect cube. Thesc elect, moreover, are chosen out of both dispensations: the old dispensation, that is, that represented by the twelve lTibes; the new dispensation, that is, that represented by the twelve apostles. TIUs gives us ten times ten times ten times twelve times twelve, that is, a symbolical total of 144,000 for the entire Church Militant. The number, moreover, is in harmony with the teaching of this book elsewhere. So, for example, on the gates of the Holy City are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes, and into its foundation-stones are carved the names of the twelve apostles (Rev. 21:12, 14). And may it not be more than mere coincidence that the number twelve, in turn, is the product of three (which could be taken to represent the Trinity) and four (the four winds or directions)? These figures—three and four also are prominently displayed in this book (e.g., Rev. 1:4, 5; 7:1; 20:8). In God’s mind all things are related to each other. And his servants are certified. No real harm can befall them.
B. THE COUNTLESS MULTITUDE BEFORE THE THRONE, verses 9–17
Here is the Church Triumphant on and after the final Judgment. The following traits are brought out. This Church is:
1. vast in numbers (verse 9a)
2. universal (9b)
3. God-centered (10)
4. reason for angelic praise (11, 12)
5. blood-bought and cleansed (13–15a)
6. very active (15a)
7. sorrow-free (15b, 16)
8. enjoying perfect communion with God in Christ (17).
1. Is the Church “Israel”?
2. Why is the tribe of Dan omitted from verses 5–8?
3. What is meant by “the great tribulation” (verse 14)?
4. Will one who remains a modernist all his life be saved? See verse 14 b.
5. If not, then are parents justified in saying, “Our daughter goes with a young man who attends a (that is, any!) church; and we are very happy about that”? Discuss please.
6. How can a lamb be a shepherd (see verse 17)?
7. What are “the fountains of waters of life”(verse 17)?