Summary: preservation of God’s people
The first six seals have been opened and now judgment is being executed. This chapter is a break from judgment to set things in order for the ensuing chapters to follow. We shall see in this chapter that in the midst of judgment God is still in control that 1) His wrath is restrained, 2) That He protects His own people during this time through the seal, and 3) Israelites is identified.
Revelation 7:1, “Then I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds from blowing upon the earth. Not a leaf rustled in the trees, and the sea became as smooth as glass.”
The four angels were constrained as we shall see by the other angel who was to preserve God’s people. This verse is talking about even though other things may be going on around us or even in this verse here God is still in control, no matter what we can hold to His promise. Despite the fact that we live in a world full of hurt, and pain we can hold to God’s promise, that ultimately all things will be made new in heaven. During this chapter God’s wrath will be restrained so that He can protect His people from the ensuing seventh seal, trumpet and bowl judgments.
Revelation 7:2, “And I saw another angel coming from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted out to those four angels who had been given power to injure the land and sea.”
The seal of the living God is sphragis (seal) often referred to a signet ring. Kings or other officials would use such rings to stamp into wax on documents or other items, thereby affirming their authenticity and guaranteeing their security (Gen 41:42; Est 3:10; 9:2,8; Dan 6:17; Matthew 27:66). A seal thus denoted ownership and protection (John 6:27; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30) That the seal is connected with the living God (4:9-10; 10:6;15:7;Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10; 1 Sam 17:26; 2 Kings 19:4; Pss. 42:2; 84:2; Jer. 10:10; 23:36’ Dan 6:20; Hos 1:10; Matthew 16:16; Rom 9:26; 2 Cor 3:3; 6:16; 1 Tim 3:16; 4:10; Heb 3:12; 9:14; 10:31; 12:22) to distinguish him from the dead religions who say this and that, but cannot produce any circumstantial evidence to prove their case. This seal will also show believers during this time who really belongs to the King and who belongs to Satan. This shows that even in the midst of times where we “feel” God isn’t there He is. God is in charge of everything from the tips of our toes, to the top piece of hair on our head. We can bank our buck on Him! This seal shows that He protects His own people even in the midst of a trial His is in control.
Revelation 7:5-8, “And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God. there were 144,00 who were sealed from all the tribes of Israel: From Judah… 12,000, from Reuben 12,000….from Gad 12,000…from Asher 12,000.....from Naphatali 12,000… from Manasseh 12,000….from Simeon 12,000….from Simeon 12,000….from Levi 12,000…., from Issachar 12,000…, from Zebulun 12,000…, from Joseph 12,000…., and from Benjamin 12,000.”
These Jewish believers and evangelists are the fruit of Israel, which as a nation will be redeemed before Christ returns (Zech. 12:10-13:1, 8-9; Romans 11:26). The 144,000 is not a reference to the amount of people that will be saved but to the Jewish evangelists commissioned to preach the Gospel (12:17; 14:1-5). The term Israel must be interpreted in accordance with its normal Old Testament and New Testament usage as a reference to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is no reason to interpret the 144,000 and 12,000 literally.
Sealed from all the tribes of Israel refers to God’s elective purpose. God is in charge, yes of even the numbers listed here! While the tribal records were lost in 70 AD when the Romans sacked Jerusalem, God knows who belongs to each tribe. This passage also teaches that the so-called “ten lost tribes” were in fact, never lost (21:12; Matthew 19:18; Luke 22:30; James 1:1). Instead, representatives from the ten northern tribes filtered south and intermingled with the two southern tribes (2nd Chron 30:1-11; 34:1-9) and were thus preserved. God is not done with the nation of Israel (Romans 9-11). Though Israel failed in its mission to be a witness in the Old Testament that will not be the case in the future. From the Jewish people will arise the most effective missionaries and evangelists that the world has ever seen.
God’s people will be preserved during judgment so that they can carry out His plan and purpose during this time and even now. It is not protection from being persecuted, beaten, or tortured for Christ, but these seals are signs of God’s sovernity.
God bless each of you!