Revelation 7

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Text: Revelation of Jesus Christ 7

TRIBULATION SAINTS

INTRODUCTION:

In chapter 6 we have seen the opening of the first six seals, and the chronological flow of Revelation is interrupted by a parenthesis before the seventh seal is opened. This parenthesis, which does not advance the narrative, occurs in chapter 7. The first six seals were opened in chapter 6, but the seventh seal is not opened until chapter 8.

We see -

I. THE VISION OF THE FOUR ANGELS - 7:1-3

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:1-3 - (1) And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. (2) And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, (3) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

God's judgment is about to fall upon the earth; and before it does, He sets apart and protects His servants.

After these things suggests that the events which John will report in chapter 7 will occur after the opening of the six seals in chapter 6. Thus, chapter 7 forms an interlude between the opening of the first six seals in chapter 6 and the opening of the seventh seal in chapter 8. It is the same word translated hereafter in 1:19 and after this in 4:1.

I saw, which means John saw, is the same word translated I saw, I looked, and I beheld in chapter 6.

What John saw was four angels who were standing on the four corners of the earth.

Of course, the earth is a sphere, and spheres do not have corners; but it is a figure of speech with which we are also familiar. It pictures the four directions created by the poles and the equator: north, south, east, and west.

These four angels were also seen holding the four winds of the earth.

They were holding the four winds of the earth in the sense that they were holding them back, restraining them, or hindering them.

The four winds they were restraining are presumably the north wind, the south wind, the east wind, and the west wind.

That, which is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that, introduces the reason the four angels were holding (back) or restraining the four winds.

That the wind should not blow is in order that no wind should blow. None of the four winds was to be permitted (or allowed) to blow.

On the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree indicates that wind was not to be permitted to blow anywhere worldwide, whether on earth, on the sea, or on any tree.

Inasmuch as the sea is specified, the earth is understood as the land. One can only imagine how uncomfortable things would quickly become or how stagnant the air would become if no wind blew.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea.

John saw another angel, a fifth one.

Another is another of the same sort as the first four angels. This angel was seen ascending from the east, i.e. coming up from the sunrise. Where this angel was ascending to is not clear.

Having (i.e. holding) the seal of the living God indicates that this angel had the seal of the living God in his possession and under his control.

The seal of the living God is the signet of the living God and refers to His signature. It means that he has God's authority to do what he is doing; and when this seal or signet is used on the ones specified in this chapter, it will mark each one of them, indicating that they are God's and that they are under His control and protection. It will keep them from harm which might otherwise happen to them. According to verses 3-4, 144,000 Jews will be sealed with the seal of the living God and will, therefore, be protected from death during the tribulation period. In addition to these 144,000, others, both Jews and Gentiles, will be saved. These others, however, are not promised protection throughout the tribulation. Many, if not most, of them will be martyred for their faith. Some may even live to see the second coming of Christ, but only the 144,000 have this guarantee. The others are guaranteed nothing about living for the rest of the tribulation.

The living God seems to refer to God the Father. The fact that He is the living God indicates that He has always existed and always will exist.

He cried, which refers to the angel whom John saw ascending from the east, is he called or he called out.

With a loud voice indicates how he cried out.

To the four angels indicates the ones to whom this fifth angel called out. These are the four angels who are holding back the four winds.

To whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea describes these four angels who are holding back the four winds.

What was given to these four angels is to hurt the earth and the sea.

To hurt is to injure, to harm, or to spoil and suggests that they had authority to damage the earth and the sea.

Once again, the earth is the land portion of the planet, and the sea refers to the portion of the planet covered with water. Taken together the earth and the land include the entire planet.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:3 (3) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

Saying introduces what this fifth angel called out to the four angels.

Hurt not forbids the action of hurt in its very beginning. They were not even to begin to hurt, to injure, to harm, or to spoil the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees.

Till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads places a limit on hurt not. Once the servants of God had been sealed in their foreheads, then the four angels would be permitted to hurt the earth, the sea, and the trees but not until this had been done.

The servants of our God refers to the 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe listed, who will be sealed in verses 4-8.

II. THE SEALING OF THE TWELVE TRIBES - 7:4-8

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:4-8 - (4) And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. (5) Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. (6) Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. (7) Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. (8) Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph [a reference to Ephraim] were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

It is implied that these 144,000 Jews are saved during the tribulation.

The tribe of Dan is not mentioned. Is it because Dan was the first tribe to go into idolatry? It could be.

The mention of the twelve tribes of Israel is a refutation of the idea that the tribes of Israel are lost as well as the theory that the lost tribes are perpetuated in the English-speaking people of the world. It is also a refutation of the idea that some of the cultists have that they are working to become one of the 144,000. These 144,000 are all Jews.

The 12,000 from each tribe is the number of those who will be brought safely through the tribulation.

Other Jews will also be saved during the tribulation, but they will be martyred. Those who are martyred are part of the group seen in verse 9.

III. THE MARTYRED DEAD OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION ARE SEEN IN HEAVEN - 7:9-10

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:9-10 - (9) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

In verse 9, the scene shifts back to heaven.

After this is after these things and is the identical expression used in 7:1 where it is translated after these things. It is used to indicate the chronological order in which things occurred in the Book of Revelation and means that the events of 7:9-17 occur after the events of 7:1-8.

I beheld was translated I saw in 7:1. It was also translated I looked in 6:8.

And lo has been translated and, behold in 6:8. It draws the reader's attention to what John is about to write.

John saw a great multitude, i.e. a large crowd or a great crowd.

Which no man could number is which no one was able to count. It was a large crowd.

This great multitude is described as being of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.

Of all nations is out of every nation and suggests that many of these are Gentiles rather than Jews.

Kindreds is the word often translated tribes and might suggest that many of these were Jews.

Peoples suggests differing groups of people, and tongues suggests from different languages.

This great crowd of people stood before the throne, and before the Lamb. The tense of stood indicates that they stood there previously and, as a result, were still standing there.

The throne refers to the throne on which God the Father was seated, and the Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ Who was slain from the foundation of the world.

This multitude was clothed with white robes.

White is symbolic of the righteousness of the saints and indicates that they were saved people.

Robes are long, flowing robes.

Palms in their hands refers to palm-branches or palm-leaves from the palm tree or the date-palm tree. They were apparently waving them before the God the Father Who was seated on the throne and before the Lamb in their worship of both of them.

In verses 13-14 it is made clear that this innumerable crowd is composed of martyrs who were murdered for their faith in the tribulation period. They do not represent believers in the church age.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

Cried with a loud voice describes what this innumerable multitude was doing. It is literally crying with a loud voice.

Saying introduces what this large multitude was crying.

Salvation is deliverance or preservation. Here it is part of a doxology. One is reminded of Psalms 3:8 .

Psalms 3:8 - Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Psalms 3:8 suggests that salvation or deliverance is of the Lord, which means that it is the Lord Who delivers His people. He is responsible for their salvation.

Deliverance is ascribed to our God which sitteth upon the throne. This is a clear reference to God the Father.

And indicates that this deliverance is not only ascribed to God the Father but also unto the Lamb, i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ.

IV. THE PRAISE OF THE HEAVENLY HOST - 7:11-12

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:11-12 - (11) And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, (12) Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

All the angels is all-inclusive of the angels. None of them are omitted.

Stood indicates that they had already taken their positions before the throne and had been standing there prior to their worship of the Lord.

Round about the throne is simply around the throne or all around the throne.

The throne is the throne on which God the Father is seated.

And indicates that the angels were also standing around the elders and the four beasts.

The elders are the twenty-four elders introduced in chapter 4 who are representative of the believers from the church age, and the four beasts are the four living beings introduced in chapter 4.

These angels fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

Saying introduces what all the angels were doing while they were worshipping God, and the rest of verse 12 gives the content of what they were saying.

Amen is truly or so be it. By saying this, they were giving their approval to God and all that He is and does.

Blessing is literally well speaking. In this verse it is used in the sense of praise.

Glory is used in the sense of ascribing fame, renown, or honor to God.

Wisdom speaks of the wisdom that belongs to God and reminds us that He is omniscient.

Thanksgiving refers to the rendering of thanks.

Honour is reverence or respect as given to God.

Power is a term meaning might, strength, or force; and might is a synonym of power, meaning strength or might.

In the Greek text, the appears before each of these terms, i.e. before blessing, before glory, before wisdom, before thanksgiving, before honour, before power, and before might. This means that the sum total or all there is of each of these things is being ascribed unto God.

Be introduces a wish expressed by the angels.

Unto our God indicates the One to Whom all the blessing, all the glory, all the wisdom, all the thanksgiving, all the honor, all the power, and all the might that exists are to be ascribed.

For ever and ever implies throughout all eternity.

Amen means truly or so be it and expresses the approval of the angels for what they have just said.

It is certainly a different picture from the one we get from the modern notion that worship is little more than a pep rally.

V. THE MARTYRED DEAD ARE IDENTIFIED AS TRIBULATION SAINTS - 7:13-14

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:13-14 - (13) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? (14) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

One of the elders is one of the twenty-four elders who are representatives of the believers of the church age who are pictured as already having been raptured.

Answered, saying unto me introduces what one of the twenty-four elders asked John. What he said is:

What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

What are these? is who are these?.

Which are arrayed in white robes is who wear the long, flowing white robes, a reference to the group John had seen in verse 9.

Whence came they? is where did they come from?

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

And I said unto him introduces what John said to one of the twenty-four elders who had asked John the questions.

What John said was, Sir, thou knowest.

When used of Christ, the word translated sir is translated Lord. Here it is used as a term of respect from one believer from the church age (i.e. the Apostle John) to another believer from the church age (i.e. the elder).

Thou knowest is you know.

Thou is emphatic and implies that it is the elder rather than John who knows.

And he said to me introduces what the elder said to John.

These are they which came out is these are the ones who are coming out.

Of great tribulation is of the tribulation, the great (one) and indicates where they had been. They were saved people who had been on earth at some time during the great tribulation period, i.e. the last half of the seven-year tribulation, but who were now in heaven before the end of the great tribulation has come. This means that they had been murdered or martyred during the last half of the tribulation because of their faith.

And have washed is and washed and has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of the washing.

What they have washed is their robes, i.e. their long flowing robes, which speaks of their clothing prior to their salvation. Their robes which they now have are white and need no washing.

And made them white in the blood of the Lamb suggests and whitened their robes, making blood-red sins white.

In the blood of the Lamb indicates what cleanses believers from every sin and indicates what they have whitened their robes with. It means that they have had their sins cleansed by the blood of Christ.

VI. THE HEAVENLY BLISS OF THE MARTYRED SAINTS - 7:15-17

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:15-17 - (15) Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. (17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Therefore is because of this and means because they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

They are before the throne of God, i.e. in a place of prominence and honor.

And they serve the Lord day and night in His temple.

Serve means worship and is used in New Testament literature only in the sense of the carrying out of religious duties.

Him is the One Whom they serve or worship, i.e. God the Father.

Day and night indicates when they serve or worship Him. They serve or worship Him in daytime; and they serve or worship Him in nighttime. It implies that their service will be uninterrupted and without end.

In his temple indicates where they serve God the Father.

Temple indicates the place where God the Father dwells.

He that sitteth on the throne is the One sitting on the throne and refers to God the Father.

He will dwell among them refers to the martyrs who came out of great tribulation and indicates that they will be in wonderful fellowship with God.

Verse 16 indicates that they will be delivered from the afflictions of this life -

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

They shall hunger no more suggests that, prior to their martyrdom, they may not have had adequate food. Now that these martyrs from the great tribulation are in heaven with the Lord, this is not going to happen again. It is literally they shall not hunger still or they shall not yet hunger.

Neither thirst any more is a second thing which will be true of these martyrs. It is literally neither shall they thirst still or nor shall they yet thirst. It suggests that, while still alive on earth, they may not have had adequate drinking water.

Neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat suggests two additional things they will never again face. It could be that they had been hiding in places where the sun and heat, combined with a lack of water, had had an adverse affect on them.

Neither expresses emphatic denial. It is something that will absolutely never again happen under any circumstances.

What will never again happen is that the sun shall light on them or that the sun shall fall on them.

Nor any heat indicates that something else which will never again fall on them. It seems to indicate excessive heat. Perhaps these people during their lifetimes had to flee for their lives to areas which were characterized by extreme heat, constant exposure to the burning of the sun, and little food and water. Perhaps some had even died as a result of these things.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Verse 17 introduces the reason that these who have been martyred will never again face a lack of food and water or face the burning of the sun and extreme heat as is indicated by for. It is the word ordinarily translated because and should be understood in this sense here as well.

The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne refers to the Lord Jesus Christ who shares His Father's throne. He was seen in the midst of the throne in 5:6.

The first thing the Lamb will do is indicated by shall feed them. This is predictive of something which will definitely occur in the future. It is only a matter of time before it takes place. His faithfulness in feeding them will insure that they will never again hunger.

Shall feed is shall shepherd. He will herd, tend, or lead them to pasture. As a shepherd, He will meet whatever needs they have, whether it is for food, for water, or for protection. He will look after them. It is the same word translated feed in admonitions for pastors in Acts 20:28 and I Peter 5:2 .

Acts 20:28 - Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

I Peter 5:2 - Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.

Them is the souls of those who had been martyred in the great tribulation because of their faith.

And shall lead them unto living fountains of waters.

Shall lead them is predictive of something which will definitely occur in the future. There is no question about it. It means that the Lamb will guide the souls of those who have been martyred in the great tribulation. As their shepherd, He will be out in front of them leading, and they will follow behind Him.

What He will lead them unto is living fountains of waters.

Living fountains of waters suggests bubbling springs of water. It is in contrast to cistern water or stagnant water which is called dead water. The Lamb would see to it that they were no longer hungry or thirsty.

Not only will the Lamb provide for their food and water, but also God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

God refers to God the Father in contrast to Christ, the Lamb of God.

Shall wipe away is predictive of a future event which will definitely occur.

What He will wipe away is all tears from their eyes.

All tears is every tear. There will not even be one tear left. Hence, He will wipe them all away. It suggests that He will also remove each and every reason for them to cry. He will provide them with whatever comfort they need.

Shall wipe away all tears from their eyes will occur at the same instant they enter heaven. There is no period of crying in heaven over sadness for not having done more for the Lord during their lifetimes on earth.

Although often preached, it is not Scriptural. It occurs at the same time that they will hunger no more or thirst any more.

Will these martyrs still hunger and thirst once they get to heaven? Absolutely not. They will also never have any reason to cry again.