Summary: The 144,000 from the tribes of Israel
Revelation 7: Stand...And Deliver! (vs 1-8)
Rev 6:17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
We now come to Revelation Chapter 7 after an in-depth review of the first six of the seven seal judgments in Revelation six.
We discovered that in the first five of the judgments that they would, although supernaturally superintended by God, be man-driven. Antichrist will rise to power through the intrigue, diplomacy and deception of the nations, that a brutal, bloody world war would ensue, that famine and death by disease would follow and how many Christians that come to faith would die because of their testimony--both visible and verbal--and seek justice from God.
Last week, we discussed how the sixth seal would be solely from God. There would be no doubt in the minds of all men regardless of station because of the nature of the events that would occur. There will be a great, worldwide earthquake--the "Big One"--the sun being hidden and the moon appearing blood red from the dust of volcanic activity, the onslaught of a huge meteor storm and every mountain and every island across the world will be moved out of their respective places.
Yet, with the terror and horror of the forces of nature at God's hand being unleashed, the vast majority of men will hide in caves and will ask for rocks to fall on them to escape what they know all too well: this is the wrath of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. They do not turn from their sin to Jesus, they are too hardened in their sin to want to turn to Him. In fact, they will be furious that Jesus would have the audacity to do this to them!
The last line of scripture in chapter six is shown above, and it begs the question to us: who is able to stand?
This week, we will discover that God will send forth a huge group of super evangelists to witness to all mankind, both Jew and Gentile (non-Jew). This group has been misunderstood and this particular passage of God's Word has been twisted and skewed by both cults and professing Christians alike, and we will discover, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the real meaning behind this Scripture.
After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Rev 7:1, NKJV
I found it amazing to find the vast amount of information on this particular chapter in God's Word, especially the first eight verses. On the surface, it seems pretty simple and straight forward, but the truth is that there are a lot of things that kind of work their way out of the Word when you do some serious study on them.
The first thing to know about Revelation 7 is that this chapter is called a "parenthetical" or "parenthesis" chapter. In other words, it is a break in the action so to speak. We have witnessed the opening of the first six seals by Jesus, and the seventh seal will not be broken until chapter eight.
The phrase "after these things" is the Koine Greek meta tauto. In Revelation 4:1 we saw the Greek term meta tauta. The difference in the terms is that the latter is singular (one) , and the former is plural (more than one). In fact, the above should be translated "after this " (NASB; Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary). This means that this section of scripture is meant to immediately follow the sixth seal--after this--in the timeline, and not "after these things" meaning the six seals as a whole. What this indicates is that there is a change in vision; we draw our attention to what is happening in "the parenthesis".
In short, what we see here is a big pause in the action. In fact, everything stops. Four angels stand at the four corners of the earth, and their job description changes from one of letting loose the winds of the earth to stopping them.
Here is a place where "bible critics" try to have a field day with the scriptures. They will try to say that this implies that the Bible says that the earth is flat, and has four corners like scientists in the time of Columbus stated. However, God's Word, in Isaiah 40:22 states clearly that the earth is round. Pretty much anyone would recognize quite easily what these four corners are--the four positions of the compass: North South, East, West.
These four unidentified angels will hold back (literally, take prisoner) the winds of the earth. There are different ideas about what that means, and both a literal and figurative meaning fits. First, we must remember that when you have great upheaval as is shown in the sixth seal (earthquakes, meteor showers, volcanic eruptions) you will undoubtedly have unstable weather. There will likely be tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like. Like the eye of a hurricane, there will be an eerie calm as no wind will blow across the face of the earth. One commentator stated that this would cause problems across the world (smog accumulation, for instance) but we will see that this is not the case in Thursday's devotional.