Summary: A practical treatment of the book of Revelation that looks for relevant applications in the life of the believer for today
Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads. (Revelation 7:3).
The previous chapter ended upon a solemn note. The kings of the earth and the rich and the powerful and everyone else are filled with terror as they witness the unveiled wrath of the Lamb. In the midst of their hopelessness, they cry out, Who can stand before the wrath of the Lamb?" As we come to this chapter, we are given the answer.
This is a chapter of comfort. It is here that we learn that the wrath of the Lamb is not directed against all men. Some are spared that wrath.
A SEAL OF PROTECTION
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.
And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads." (Revelation 7:1-3).
John has just witnessed the reaction of the kings and the generals and the 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 follow.
Four angels have gathered at the four corners of the earth. There will be none who will escape this judgment. All is in readiness. But suddenly, there is an interruption.
And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God (7:2). This angel comes up from the east. He is an angel with authority. He has the seal of the living God. This speaks of the authority that has been given to him. His mission is to bring life. "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads" (7:3).
John had been watching the four angels in anticipation, waiting to see that wrath unleashed. But instead, he sees something else. Instead of seeing wrath, he sees a loving concern. Instead of seeing destruction, he sees a protection.
We learned about seals in chapter 5. A seal was a large metal stamp. It had a written signature engraved at on end. When you wished 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. The result would be an engraved mark.
This mark signified a number of things, but they all spelled AUTHORITY.
- It signified authenticity. A message would be known to be true if it bore the seal of the writer.
- It signified ownership. Just as cattle are often branded to show that they belong to a particular rancher, so also items of value were marked with the seal to certify their legal ownership.
- The seal also signified protection. As such, it was used by Pontius Pilate to secure the tomb of Jesus. The seal of Rome was placed on the tomb and it could only be broken by someone who was higher in authority than the Roman governor.
Do you remember the mark of Cain? After Cain murdered his brother Abel, God set a mark upon Cain so that others would not seek to wreck vengeance upon him for his evil deed. This was a mark of protection. It signified that this man s life was under the protection of the Lord. If God was gracious enough to grant His protection to this rebellious murderer, do you not also think that He will grant protection to His people?
John’s vision of the sealing of people prior to a coming judgment finds its roots in the Old Testament. The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the destruction of Jerusalem. Before that destruction was allowed to fall, the Lord sent a man through the city to place a mark on the heads of His people.
Then He cried out in my hearing with a loud voice saying, "Draw near, O executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand."
And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate which faces north, each with his shattering weapon in his hand; and among them was a certain man clothed in linen with a writing case at his loins. And they went in and stood beside the bronze alter. (Ezekiel 9:1-2).