Revelation Chapter Seven

angel

Seraphim Wings

(Rev 7:1) 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.

After what things? After the opening of the first six seals. There are only seven seals; the vision revealed six seals leaving one not yet revealed. The sealing of the twelve tribes takes place before the opening of the seventh seal. This the order in which John observed these events.

In Isaiah 11:12, God spoke these words, He “shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” We find in Deuteronomy 4:27 that God told His people Israel that He would scatter them among the nations, where they would be among the heathens. God further revealed where He scattered them when He said He will recover them from the east, west, north and south (Isaiah 43:5-6). The angels standing on the four corners of the earth is figurative language There are in the East, West, North, and South; in other words, the angels have access to the entire earth.

Note that the four angels here have a correlation in Matthew 24: 3, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” See also Mark 13:27.

There is a major difference, however, between the two events. In Matthew, the angels are sent to gather the elect to be with the Lord forever. This happens at the return of Jesus. Thus the gathering of Israel back to the Promised Land is a type ot the final gathering of all His people (those that have faith in Christ) to be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

In Revelation 7, though, these angels are about to send destruction upon the earth, they are told to wait.

According to the Old Testament, the wind in the four winds is the Hebrew word ruach, which can mean wind, breath, or spirit. The four winds of heaven can actually mean the four spirits of heaven. Daniel speaks of the four winds of heaven: (8:8) Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. The word ruach was used for wind. Zechariah speaks of the four spirits of heaven: (6:5) And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

The he goat is Alexander the great and when he died an untimely death his four Generals (notable ones) divided the land Alexander conquered into four divisions and each general ruled over one of the divisions. The divisions were in the east, the west, the north, and the south.

Now in both passages (in Daniel and Zechariah) the phrases “four winds of heaven” and “four spirits of heaven” are identical in the Hebrew. The Hebrew is “‘arba ruach ha shamaim” (ארבע רחות השׁמים) in both passages. The reason the translators chose to render it “spirits” instead of “winds” in Zechariah is because Zechariah is being told by the angel that the four chariots are coming forth from standing before the LORD. The translators thought they must be spirits because of the context. But, the context in Daniel could also indicate that the word should be rendered “spirits.” The point is that sometimes the word ruach can mean both wind and spirit at the same time. For example, in John 3:8, Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to the wind.

So, what are these four winds the angels are holding back? Zechariah can give us a clue:

(Zec 6:1-5) And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. {2} In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; {3} And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses. {4} Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? {5} And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

Note the similarities between these horses and the ones in Revelation Chapter 6. The horses in the visions that Zechariah saw, and one John saw, are very similar. The red, white, and black are easily discerned. The pale horse could easily be sorrel, grey, or even a spotted roan, which may easily look yellowish. All the horses share very close descriptions.

Zechariah tells us that the four winds are the four spirits that stand before the Lord (lower case) of the earth. Of course, Yehovah is Lord of all, including the earth as is His Christ (Satan could also be said to be a lord of the earth—but this is not Satan). They go north, south, west, and throughout the land to execute God’s judgment. He used the figure of a chariot because it is an engine of war. It represents conquering and judgment. So the four winds held back by the angels in Revelation 7:1 are the instruments of God’s judgment.

(Rev 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,

Note that the angel is ascending from the east. There are several points here to look in to. First, the angel is ascending. He is “going up” just like the Israelites would “go up” to Jerusalem for the feasts. They would go up to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:13; 5:1; 11:55, etc.). Jerusalem is a high city, located at the top of a hill, Mount Moriah or Zion. They were literally going up when they went to Jerusalem. But they also went up spiritually. Jerusalem is on Zion, the mount of God. It is the place God chose for His own. It is set apart for Him. It is also set apart for His King (Ps 2:6). Who is God’s King? Jesus.

See the fifteen Psalms of Ascent, Psalms 120 through 134, which refer to the 15 steps that ascended from the Women’s Court in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Pilgrims read these Psalms as they climbed steps toward the Temple.

We, who are believers in Christ will ascend “unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

The angel ascends from the east. He is coming from God. The things of God figuratively come from the east just as the sun rises from the east. The light of the sun comes from the east just as the Light of the World did. The wise men followed the Christ-child’s star from the east. The eastern gate to the temple looks directly into the Holy of Holies. God consecrated the Eastern Gate to Himself (Jer 31:40). It is now sealed and will remain so until the return of Christ. God raised up his King from the east (Isa 41:2). When Christ returns he will gather up His children from the east all the way to the west (Isa 43:5).

The angel had the seal of the Living God. In the time of this writing, when you had someone’s seal, you had carte blanche to do whatever you wanted in that person’s name, for a person’s seal was his bond, just as our signature is supposed to be. Today, your signature is your seal. A king would only give his seal to another if he trusted that person to do the correct thing. The seal gives you the authority of its owner. If you have the king’s seal, you have his authority. The angel was acting with the authority of God Almighty. In God’s Name and with His authority, this angel speaks to the four angels holding back the four winds:

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

No judgment is to take place until God’s people are sealed. This sealing will set God’s servants apart from all others. The sealing begins immediately. Please note that the sea and the trees could figuratively refer to nations and men, respectively. In this context, however, they are both literal and figurative; God’s judgement affects nations, men, the sea, and trees. No damage will occur until God’s servants are sealed. To be sealed is to have the mark of God upon them to show that they are His servants. The judgment remains on hold until the seven trumpets begin to sound in chapter eight.

(Rev 7:4-8) 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 were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

There are some anomalies in the list of tribes above. The list from the Old Testament is: Asher, Benjamin, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Judah, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon, and Zebulun (in alphabetical order). The first irregularity is that the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are missing. The tribe of Joseph substitutes for Ephraim. The tribe of Joseph also includes the tribe of Manasseh, which is listed separately here as Manasses. We do not see the tribe of Dan numbered here at all. The next is that the tribe of Levi is not numbered among the tribes of Israel because they had no inheritance of the land, God is their inheritance (De 10:9, 12:19, 18:1, Nu 18:20, 26:62). Levi appears here in the place of Dan.

More information about the reason Dan is missing can be found in Judges 18, especially verses 30 & 31: “There the Danites set up for themselves the idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. {31} They continued to use the idols Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.” The Danites were idolaters from the beginning of their sojourn in the Promised Land until the captivity (Judges 18:30-31).

What do the twelve tribes represent? Many commentators refer to these as the 144,000 Jews or Jewish witnesses. Do they represent the Jews? Actual Jews were only of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, which comprise the Southern Kingdom of Judah. However, the term has come to include all Israelites. Yet not all Israelites are God’s servants. Are these servants, then, Israelites? Yes, they are a part of true Israel. In Romans, Paul tells us that only believers in Christ are the true Israel. Those believers include Jews and Gentiles. See Romans 2:25-29; 9:6-8; 11:7. For more information, See The Church and Israel in the New Testament, by Keith Mathison

So, who do the 144,000 represent? They represent all of God’s chosen people. God chose Israel, all twelve tribes, to be His people. God said of them, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” (Deu 14:2) And, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: {6} And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” (Exo 19:5-6) This applies to the Children of Israel.

Peter applied these words to the church. (1 Pet 2:9) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

The number twelve signifies perfection and completion, especially in government and organizations or formal groups. Here are some of the uses of the number twelve in the Bible: twelve patriarchs (from Seth to Noah: 12, from Shem to Jacob, 12), twelve sons of Israel, twelve tribes, twelve Apostles, twelve foundations of heavenly Jerusalem, twelve gates, twelve pearls, twelve angels, the Holy City was 12,000 by 12,000 stadia, the age of twelve for admittance to the synagogue, twelve legions of angels, etc., etc. The twelve sons and the twelve tribes are the complete Israel (Levi is not numbered among the twelve tribes, but appears here in this list proving that these servants represent all of God’s people).

Paul, a Pharisee, was not numbered among the twelve apostles just as the tribe of Levi was not numbered among the twelve tribes. It is of interest to note that the number thirteen is the number of rebellion. Paul, the thirteenth Apostle, rebelled against the traditional teachings of Judaism in favor of the teachings of Christ.

It is as simple as this, God’s chosen people, who are peculiar people, a royal priesthood (kingdom of priests), and a holy nation are the children of Israel and the Church. In fact, without Jesus, the children of Israel are not a part of God’s people (Rom 9:6; 11:7). But there is a remnant, which consists of God’s people. Again, the twelve tribes represent ALL, that is, the complete number, of God’s people, Israel and the Church. The total number of those saved by the blood of Christ, both Jew and Gentile, comprise the remnant (Rom 11:5). See also Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 2:15-16, and Colossians 3:11.

By increasing the twelve tribes by twelve thousand each, God shows us that they are many in number. In the Old Testament, the number twelve thousand gives a round count that signifies a complete large number of people. Thousands are often used in the Scripture to signify a large countless number (for example, Genesis 24:60, Exodus 18:21, Psalm 50:10, etc.). That is what is in view here.

The 144,000 then, are God’s people (Israel and the Church), and they are many and they are complete. To restate, the 144,000 people are all of God’s people sealed in the Great Tribulation. We must distinguish between tribulation and wrath. Tribulation is Satan’s persecution of the saints (Rev 12:17). Wrath is the wrath of God poured out on unbelievers at the end of the age (Rev 6:16, 14:10, 15:7, etc.). The church will remain on earth during the Great Tribulation. See the study, Tribulation or Wrath.

The 144,000 represent all of the saints who are alive during the Great Tribulation. They are all of God’s people alive in that day. The number, 144,000, symbolizes completion, but it may not be the exact number of Christians living during the tribulation. There may be millions. They will witness to the world about Christ.

Consider that in Ezekiel 9:4, God sends an executioner out to all those who are loyal to God to put a seal in their foreheads. Then God sends a team of executioners out among the unfaithful, who do not have the seal of God to destroy them. That is a type of the sealing here of the 144,000. It is of note that Satan also seals his people with 666 (Rev 13:16-18).

Consider also, that in Rev 14:4, the 144,000 are called the redeemed among men (there term is used generically of men, women and children). They are also the firstfruits of God. Paul refers to Christians as firstfruits of the Spirit (Rom 8:23); James writes that Christians are the firstfruits from among Creation. (James 1:18). These things prove that the 144,000 are Christ’s own and the group consists of both Jews and Gentiles.

(Rev 7:9) 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;

Some notes on the multitude: It is innumerable (by man); it is comprised of all the nations. The word rendered nations is ethnos is usually translated gentiles. Kindreds is the Greek word phule (few-lay’) which means race or tribe. The Greek word for people is laos which means a people differing from one’s own people. And, of course, tongues means foreign languages.

We know who the people in this multitude are from verse 14. They are among those that “came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (KJV).” The Greek and most other translations have the article before the word tribulation, rendering it ‘the great tribulation.’ These are all of God’s people that died before the great tribulation and are already in heaven with those martyred during the tribulation. We see in Revelation 20:4 that Satan’s minions executed those beheaded for their witness of Christ.

Rapture adherents teach that the church and the Holy Spirit would be gone during the Great Tribulation. We hear from many of them that “he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thess 2:7) is the Holy Spirit taken out of the way when the rapture occurs. If the Holy Spirit is gone, then who convicts these of their need for salvation in Christ? If the Spirit left the world then how did salvation happen to them? If their salvation occurred before the rapture, they were unavailable to witness to unbelievers afterward. If they were not among the saved before the rapture then how did they receive salvation after the rapture if the church and the Holy Spirit departed from the earth at the rapture? It was these kinds of questions that caused me to abandon my belief in the pre-trib rapture. In fact removal of the Holy Spirit does not have to transpire. He only has to remove His protection from unbelievers.

Additionally, David the Psalmist stated, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Psa 139:7-10). That tells me that the Holy Spirit of God is everywhere and no one can flee from His presence. Thus my understanding is that the Spirit of God will be on earth until eternity reigns.

(Rev 7:10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

The whole multitude cries out in thunderous praise. Can you imagine it? It is not God Who receives salvation, but it is His salvation to give to humans. Several translations render the phrase, “salvation belongs to our God.” God owns salvation and gracefully gives it to all who believe.

Understand that the name of Jesus in the Hebrew is Yeshua1 (יְשׁוָּע/יְשׁוָּעה), which meant several things: salvation, deliverance, welfare, prosperity, victory. Of course the context as well as the grammar can determine the meaning. For example, in Psalm 3:8, the word salvation is preceded by the article (הַ, ha, with patakh, which us the diacritical mark (an underscore) under the letter he) producing ha-yeshua (הַישׁועה). With the article in the context of Psalm 3:8, the word can mean victory or deliverance. Psalm 3 is about David’s cry for deliverance from or victory over Absalom.

Here in the Greek we see the same circumstance; the word for salvation, σωτηρία, soteria, is preceded by the article, η2, hey, meaning ‘the,’ ‘this,’ ‘that,’ or ‘these.’ Thus we could say the word indicates not only salvation but also deliverance and victory. In Psalm 3:8, the Septuagint has the same exact phrase as the Greek in this verse; it is η σωτηρία, hey soteria. This literally translates to ‘the salvation.’ We see deliverance here and perhaps even victory, for God has the victory. Brenton’s English translation of the LXX reflects this: “Deliverance is the Lord’s, and thy blessing is upon thy people” (Psa 3:8-Brenton), where Brenton renders η ωτηρία (hey soteria) as ‘deliverance.’

(Rev 7:11) 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,

Let’s recap who is standing around the throne. There are the twenty-four elders (Rev 4:4), the cherubim, the seraphim (Rev 4:8), all the heavenly hosts (Rev 5:11), and the great multitude (Rev 7:9). What a gathering! As far as the eye can see there are worshipers of God. There were myriads and myriads of them (Rev 5:11). A myriad, μυριας, murias, is equal to ten thousand.

(Rev 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.

Here they sing a doxology. They will sing much more. Those words, blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might are some of the greatest words we know how to give. But they don’t even scratch the surface of the vastness of God’s love and grace.

(Rev 7:13-14) 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.

These people are the saved. The metaphor of washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb means they are saved. They came out of great tribulation, but not only the tribulation at the end of the age, but tribulation throughout the ages. Either way this disproves the pre-trib rapture theory. See the comments on Rev 6:11 and 7:9 (above).

Again, there is a difference between tribulation and wrath. Tribulation comes from Satan, who directs it toward Christians and wrath comes from God, Who directs it toward His enemies at the end of the age. Christians alive at the end of the age will experience tribulation. They will not escape tribulation, but they will escape the wrath of God.

(Rev 7:15) 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.

God will dwell among His saints and they will serve (worship) Him eternally. These saints made it through troubles and tribulations, not in their own strength, but because they placed their trust in Jesus Christ and it was God’s grace that got them through those difficulties and they are standing before the throne in Heaven.

(Rev 7:16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

They will no longer hunger and thirst after righteousness or for full understanding of heavenly things, for there will be no more sin and therefore no unrighteousness (Matthew 5:6; John 6:35). In this present world, we see through a glass darkly, but in Heaven, we will see Christ face to face and will know things we cannot understand here on earth (1 Cor 13:12). Additionally, there will be no more tears, death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Rev 21:4). The climate will be perfect without the scorching heat from the sun. God Himself will provide the light and comfort levels. See Isaiah 49:9-11.

(Rev 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.

Our food will be the Word of God from the Lamb who is on the throne. The living fountains of water Jesus spoke of in John 4:10-11 will flow from the throne and the Tree of Life, which was in the Garden of Eden will grow on the banks of the waters. There will be twelve crops of fruit per year on the Tree of Life and we may partake of that fruit. The fruit and the waters symbolize the eternal life provided by God to those who believe in Christ as Savior.

Let us end this chapter with a quote from Revelation 21:

(Rev 22:1-5) And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. {2} In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. {3} And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: {4} And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. {5} And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.


Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark S. Oaks

Updated 3/3/2021

 

  1. Due to the vowel pointings, Yeshua is the proper pronunciation. Some groups prefer the pronunciation Yashua, claiming, without historical provenance, that rabbinical authorities changed the pronunciation when they added vowel pointings in order to deny the true name of the Messiah and disassociate Jesus of Nazareth from Yahweh since Yah refers to the Sacred Name of God.
  2. The Greek letter η, ετα, eta (pronounced hayʹtuh in ancient Greek), when used by itself as the article, ‘the,’ is preceded by an unwritten ‘h,’ which is known as a fricative or spirant. Thus instead of simply pronouncing the eta as ‘ay” it is pronounced ‘hey.’ In Modern Greek the pronunciation is more like the English “hee.” There are several cases of the use of this particular spirant in the Greek.
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