Summary: Revelation 7:1-8
A PICTURE OF GOD’S PEOPLE
In the previous chapter of our study in the book of Revelation, we saw the kings of the earth, the rich and the powerful, and everyone else filled with terror as they witness the unveiled wrath of the Lamb. And in the midst of their hopelessness and desperation they cried out, “Who can stand before the wrath of the Lamb?" So as we come to this chapter, we find the answer. Whereas the previous chapter was a chapter of distress, this chapter is a chapter of comfort because we learn that the wrath of the Lamb is not aimed at everyone…there are some that are spared the wrath.
A SEAL OF PROTECTION (Rev. 7:1-3)
Again, going back to the last chapter, John has just witnessed the reaction of the kings, generals, rich and the powerful, and the slaves and the free men at the unveiling of the wrath of the Lamb. Now he waits in anticipation of the judgment that is to come.
There are four angels that have gathered at the four corners of the earth. In other words, no one will be able to escape this judgment. But then, all of the sudden, there’s an interruption that takes place. Instead of seeing wrath, he sees a loving concern. Instead of seeing destruction, he sees protection.
Back in chapter 5 we read about seals. These seals were basically a large metal stamp that had a signature engraved on the end. When you wanted to put your seal on something, you would pour some clay or hot wax onto it and then you would press the seal into it resulting in an engraved mark which signified a number of things, but they were all a mark of AUTHORITY.
They also signified authenticity. A person receiving a message would know that it was authentic if had the seal of the person sending it. It signified ownership. Just like cows are branded to show that they belong to a particular rancher, items of value were marked with a seal to certify their legal ownership. The seal also signified protection. We see this when Pontius Pilate secured the tomb of Jesus with the seal of Rome. This seal was supposed to protect the tomb from being broken into but of course that seal didn’t matter to the One who had higher authority than the Roman governor.
Another example is found in the mark of Cain? After Cain killed Abel, God put a mark on Cain so that others wouldn’t seek revenge as a result of his evil deed. It was a mark of protection. It signified that Cain’s life was under the protection of the Lord. What a picture of God’s grace! I mean to think that God would protect a rebellious murderer…how much more willing is He to protect His people?
Much like everything else in Revelation, this vision of John’s finds its roots in the OT when Ezekiel had a vision of Jerusalem’s destruction. But before destruction came, God sent a man through the city to place a mark on the heads of His people:
Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.
Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”
To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple (Ek. 9:1-6).
So what I want for you to notice is that the mark is placed on the forehead of each man, which is also the same location in which the 144,000 are sealed; it’s also for the same purpose: so God’s people wouldn’t fall under the judgment that is reserved for the rest of the world. The great thing about all this is that we’ve been sealed also: