Summary: We are coming to the section that the Lord Jesus labeled the Great Tribulation. This period takes place after the church leaves the earth, after the church concludes its mission and is taken to be with the Lord.
So far, God has given us a glimpse into the things of the end time. Why? To warn us to turn to His Son. Christ can save us from the judgment to come. We have seen Jesus break open six of the seals that bind the book. We’ve seen the four horsemen who represent the wars and killing, famine and pestilence, hunger and starvation, death and hell that the antichrist will unleash upon the earth. But this terrible devastation is nothing compared to what is yet to come.
We are coming to the section that the Lord Jesus labeled the Great Tribulation. This period takes place after the church leaves the earth, after the church concludes its mission and is taken to be with the Lord.
John tries to make it as simple as possible for us to understand the book of Revelation. From here on through this Great Tribulation period John introduces series of sevens. Notice, there were seven seals. There will be seven trumpets, seven performers and seven bowls of wrath.
Between the 6th and 7th of each group, there is an interlude which explains the action and answers certain questions. This is what chapter 7 will do. So let’s look at the question that is probably on everyone’s mind, what about people turning to God and getting saved during this period?
How are people going to get saved during the period of the Great Tribulation? The Great Tribulation is the Devil’s holiday. That is the day when he is going to have freedom to do as he pleases. Despite that, there may be more people that get saved in the Great Tribulation and in any other seven-year period in the history of the world.
So here we are in the interlude, between the 6th and 7th seals. The reason for the interlude is given to us in the first three verses. READ verse 1. The four corners represent the North, South, East, and West. They are holding back the winds of judgment. They are held back for a period when multitudes will turn to Him.
Some will still turn away from Him but many will turn to Him. How can that happen? Analogy: when the sun shines on a piece of clay it hardens it. When it shines on a piece of wax, it melts it. In our lives, when trouble comes, it will cause some to draw close to God and others it will drive away. READ 2 & 3.
So this fifth angel, who appears to be higher ranking than the other four because he gives them orders says, “Hold everything! Because we have to seal these folks so they can make it through.” What is the seal? I don’t know. We can speculate but then again that is not the purpose of this study. We only know they will have a seal.
There will be two great companies sealed, one out of the nation Israel, and the other out of the Gentiles. So the reason for the interlude between the 6th and 7th seals is to make sure that these sealed ones are going to make it through.
First, the remnant of Israel is sealed. READ v. 4. There is not speculation here of this company of the 144,000. It’s nonsense for any group to claim that they are the 144,000. Two cults did that at one time, but then they passed 144,000 in membership. I guess they weren’t very optimistic when they started out.
In verse 5-8 the twelve tribes are listed. There will be 12,000 saved from each tribe. That’s not very many. I think Joel Osteen has more than that in his church.
You might notice from this list that the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are omitted. Both of these tribes are guilty of leading the nation into idolatry. In this list, Joseph takes the place of Ephraim and Levi takes the place of Dan. READ 9 & 10.
Now we see a great multitude of Gentiles. This means that during the Great Tribulation period the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the world. And a great multitude will be saved.
They are clothed in white robes. This again represents the righteousness of Christ. We can’t stand before God in our own righteousness. They have palm branches—the sign of victory—the victory of Christ.
When Christ returns to the earth, the great company, martyred for Him in the Great Tribulation, will be included in the first resurrection, and they are going to be there. Actually, this is a glorious picture that is given to us. READ 11 & 12.
Now we see a scene of universal worship of God by His creatures. The church is here, the Old Testament saints are here, and the tribulation saints are here. And now the angels join in on it.