Summary: An easy-to-read and easy-to-understand study on Revelation 7.
Two preachers were holding up signs on a portion of roadway, trying to get the attention of passing cars. The first preacher’s sign read, “THE END IS NEAR!” A sports car flew by and upon reading the sign, the driver slowed down and yelled to the preacher, “TELL SOMEBODY WHO CARES!”
About that time, the car passed the second preacher, whose sign read, “TURN AROUND BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!” Not wanting to miss a chance at another wise crack, the driver yelled out, “RELIGIOUS FREAK!”
A few seconds later, as the car disappeared around a bend, the sound of screeching brakes drowning away into the distance before a muffled "THUD" could be heard, followed by utter silence. One preacher told the other, “Maybe we should change to one sign that reads, “BRIDGE OUT AHEAD!”
Humanity can be seen in the attitude of the man in the car. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do, even God! And not only do we have that rebellious attitude, we tend to show that in the way we talk to others, too. It would seem to me that we would be much better off if we would talk less and pay attention more; especially to the Word of God.
Rather than hear the truth and then simply acknowledge it as truth, we tend to deny the simple truth and make up all kinds of wild stories to take its place – even if those stories take more faith to believe than it would take to just believe the truth. And we must remember that there is something called consequences. Every decision we make has some kind of consequence attached to it. And, as we will see in the book of Revelation, there are severe consequences for those who deny God and His truth from their lives.
Here in chapter 7, we continue our message about how there will come a day when all consequences will be paid for if we continue to deny and ignore God. In chapter 6, we saw where Jesus had been given a scroll from God. That scroll had seven seals on it. As each seal is broken, we see a new round of punishment coming on the people of earth, trying to get them to turn away from Satan and turn towards Jesus.
And now, we are seeing Jesus open yet another seal.
“After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, restraining the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on the earth, or on the sea, or on any tree.”
After what? After John saw Jesus opening the sixth seal that unleashed great punishment upon the ground of the earth, he saw four angels who had been empowered to cause great harm to the earth, but they were told to temporarily restrain from doing anything. The terminology “four corners” has always been used as a metaphor for “everywhere” or “from every direction.”
The word “wind” here is from the Greek word “anemos”, which is used to describe a judgment of God upon the earth. And just as there are a few moments before a thunderstorm that are still and quiet, God will quiet the winds for a brief time before His judgment is delivered to an unrepentant world.
“Then I saw another angel rise up from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were empowered to harm the earth and the sea: ‘Don’t harm the earth, or the sea, or the trees until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads.’”
The angel mentioned in verse 2 commands restraint on the part of the original four angels mentioned in verse 1, and there is a reason for doing so: “Until the slaves of God were sealed on their foreheads.”
This imagery is drawn from Ezekiel’s vision in EZEKIEL 9:3-6 where a "man clothed in linen" was told to go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and weep over all the sinful things that are done in that city by other people. And those who are marked will be spared the coming destruction.
“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.”