Rodney D Luffman


Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth.

Revelation 7

Revelation 7:1

(1) After this I saw (2) four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back (3) the four winds of the earth, (4) so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. 1. After this I saw = typical of John, showing an end to something he say and a beginning to something else. Showing a new sequence, or something altogether new beginning. Remember, the last we read was darkness upon the earth.

Note: We had no reason to believe this was a permanent end to light, but temporary from the Earthquake.

2. Four angels = we are not told who these angles are. We are told that they are positioned at the four corners of the earth. Their position shows they control the whole earth.3. The four winds of the earth = refers to the directions North, South, East and West (Eze 37:9; Jer 49:36 and Dan 7:2; 8:8 and 11:4).4. So that = indicates the purpose of the angels. They are holding back the wind. We are not told why the wind needs to be restrained, but the implication is danger. Assumption: these winds will cause great destruction on the earth once let lose. Basic thought, only those divinely protected will be safe from the blowing wind.

Revelation 7:2-3

And I saw another angel ascending (1) from the rising of the sun, having (2) the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted (3) to harm the earth and the sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until (4) we have sealed (5) the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads."

1. From the rising of the sun = this means from the East. 2. The seal of the living God = is not explicitly defined at this point.

Commentary: Neither are we told what the sealing is for. Later in the book, we will see that God divinely protects Israel by giving her seclusion in a special place from the wrath of Satan/Antichrist. However, those sealed by the angelic beings will not be secluded. This marks a distinction between the wrath of God and the wrath of man. Seclusion will not be a defense against the wrath of God.

My opinion: We will learn later of the mark of the beast. I believe this is the countierfiet of the Seal of God as we believe that the devil countierfits everything God provides.

 

 

3. To harm = this Greek verb means "to hurt or harm, with the implication of doing something which is wrong or undeserved (Louw & Nida, § 20:25). This is an appropriate term to use at this point. The earth, sea and trees will very much receive undeserved wrath. This is just prior to providing opportunity of Salvation to those who have not been presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 4. We have sealed = "we" implies multiple angles are involved in the sealing process. Given the number to be sealed, this is understandable. The context clearly indicates what will be done. Each person will receive a special mark on his or her forehead, which will clearly identify said person as God’s property. The context also demonstrates what the purpose of the mark or brand is. Some argue that the seal is salvation, but there is no evidence of this claim. May simply mean these are those who will be offered Salvation.

Regardless, the sealing is to prevent harm. It is a sealing of protection. Revelation 9:4 explicitly declares that those who have the seal of God are protected from the fallout of the fifth trumpet.

5. The bond-servants = the context will eventually designate the bond-servants explicitly. However, it is strange that this term is used to designate the 144, 000 Jews. Strange because this term in the New Testament is usually used to refer to believers. However, we have no evidence that these people are believers.God owns, claims, and seals His property, Jew or otherwise is the common argument.. Such a view is not inconsistent with the long held biblical notion that Israel is God’s unique people. We see after the Jews orgionally rejected the Gospel, it was offered to all, opinions differ as to whether or not we (non-Jews) can be included within the 144K.

Revelation 7:4-8

And (1) I heard the number of those who were sealed, (2) one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from (3) every tribe of the sons of (4) Israel: from Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben… Gad… Asher… Naphtali… Manasseh… Simeon… Levi… Issachar… Zebulun… Joseph… Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. 1. I heard = is an important textual detail. John is simply referring to where he got the information he was writing. Other places, John herd from an Elder, Angel, etc...2. One hundred and forty-four thousand = this number has received great consideration. Speculations abound. To denominate the number by 12, 000 adds to the literal nature of this figure. We are not told why 12, 000 are chosen, but that twelve thousand are chosen is clear. We just don’t know.

 

There is no textual basis to support those who claim that the 144, 000 are any entity other than physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To spiritualize the 144, 000 into a Christian group violates the plain sense of the text. These are simply the ones offered the Gospel after the Rapture of the Church, assuming we’re right about it being offered only to those who didn’t get it offered during the "Church Age". The critical phrase "from every tribe of the sons of Israel" should settle any debate about their identity. This phrase always refers to physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Out of six hundred and thirty-five occurrences of this phrase throughout the Scriptures, Revelation 7:4 would be the only exception (not including the adopted sons). Every tribe of the sons of Israel has solid biblical support as a referent of Jews only.

3. Every = would seem to suggest that all twelve sons of Jacob are intended here. However, Manasseh is included and Dan is left out. Manasseh’s inclusion and Dan’s exclusion are interesting. Who is included or excluded from a list of Jacob’s sons is determined by the author’s intent. A biological list of Jacob’s sons would include Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin. A land grant list would include Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, and Benjamin. Joseph and Levi would be excluded and Manasseh and Ephraim would be included reflecting that Joseph received the double portion of his father’s inheritance. A blessing/curse list would include or exclude those not affected by it. In the case of Moses’ blessings list of Deuteronomy 33, Simeon is not included. It is clear that the list of Revelation 7 is not based on the land grant, which would exclude Joseph and Levi. The list is not based on physical lineage, for Manasseh is not the biological child of Jacob, but is adopted. Now, by this we can asume we (gentiles) fall under this linage. Like the list of those blessed by Moses in Deuteronomy 33, this list is based on blessings/curses. As Simeon was left out of that list, Dan is left out of this list. Dan is left out of the list because he is not blessed. The purpose of the sealing is to prevent harm to those sealed.

Commentary: The fact that no members of the tribe of Dan receive this special protection is at first surprising. However, the selection of only twelve thousand from each tribe indicates that only a few of the larger group receives this special protection. That not a single Danite receives this special protection indicates an unfavorable attitude towards him. Some have suggested that Dan’s idolatry is the reason for his exclusion at this point. There is no explicit biblical basis to be dogmatic either way.

4. Israel = refers to the father of the twelve tribes. It is amazing how many commentators attempt to argue that this is a reference to the church. Conclusion

With John’s depiction of God’s mercy to a divinely chosen remnant of Israel, the second major series of visions are finished.

Revelation 7:9-10

(1) After these things I looked, and behold, (2) a great multitude, (3) which no one could count, (4) from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, (5) standing (6) before the throne and before the Lamb, (7) clothed in white robes, and (8) palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, (9) "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb."

1. After these things = this is the second occurrence of this phrase in the Revelation to mark the beginning of a new vision sequence. How much time elapses between these two visions is not known. This vision sequence begins at Revelation 7:9 and will continue through Revelation 15:4.2. A great multitude = the Greek literally says a much or many group or multitude. We would say "a huge crowd."3. Which no one could count = this phrase is obviously a figure of speech. It is not intended to be taken literally.

Commentary: Logic requires this conclusion. If the language is forced to be literal, then John has lied. A man could certainly number the multitude given the time and cooperation of those to be counted. The author is emphasizing the vast number of individuals that compose this group. The contrast between the specific number of sealed Jews and the unlimited nature of the great multitude should not be missed. This is the first important contrastive point that we should glean from this text.

4. From every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues = points out the second important contrastive point to be gleaned from this text. This innumerable multitude is Gentile and Jew in composition. This innumerable multitude represents a universal gathering unlike the 144, 000.5. Standing = is a perfect participle. This is very important because it indicates that the universally innumerable multitude is one group. In other words, they are not assembling, but have assembled. John sees the finished product. The importance of this point will become clear later.6. Before the throne and before the Lamb = gives us the location of the standing universally innumerable multitude. This is the third important contrastive point John gives us. Unlike the earth bound 144, 000, this group is in heaven.7. Clothed in white robes = signals a change in the status of these earthly beings who are in heaven in contrast to martyrs of the fifth seal. These individuals have bodies and are clothed. The fifth seal martyrs did not have bodies and were given robes to be worn later. 8. Palm branches in their hands = immediately reminds of us of the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem days before His death. The palm frond is an ancient symbol of victory. That these individuals are no doubt waving them before God the Father and God the Son suggests a celebration is taking place. John 12:13 records a similar event. The multitude waved palm fronds before the Lord as He rode into Jerusalem. They said, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (God the Father), even the King of Israel." Hosanna is an Aramaic transliteration that means possibly, "save, I pray." That it was a term of supplication is without debate--a call to God for salvation. Yet, the universally innumerable multitude is not asking for salvation. They are praising God for salvation completed. 9. Salvation = is a strange term to associate with God the Father and God the Son. However, the universally innumerable multitude is not indicating God’s need for salvation, rather, they are stating a fact: salvation or victory belongs to God. God the Father and God the Son are both recognized as the source of deliverance.

Revelation 7:11-12

And (1) all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, (2) "Amen, (3) blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

1. All the angels were standing around the throne = indicates that the universally innumerable multitude has joined the "adorers of God" in heaven. In the fashion of a "round," first the universally innumerable multitude offers words of adoration. Then, "all the angels" follow. Closer yet to the throne of God, the elders and the closest group of all—the four living creatures join the heavenly praise session. 2. Amen = concludes the praise statement of the universally innumerable multitude. Then follows the praise statement of the angels, the elders and the four living creatures.3. Blessing…glory…wisdom…thanksgiving…honor…power and might = is a unique sevenfold doxology. This is another example of the author’s heavy use of the number seven to indicate the perfected nature of the end-time events.

 

 

Revelation 7:13

And (1) one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, (2) who are they, and from where have they come?"

1. One of the elders answered = argues against any attempt to identify the twenty-four elders with the church. They act as individuals as well as a group.2. Who are they, and from where have they come? = indicates two important questions. First, the identity of the group is questioned. The second issue concerns their point of origination. These two questions will be answered in reverse order beginning in verse 14b.

This is typical NT methodology. In Matthew 24:3, two questions are asked and Matthew 24:4-31 records the Lord’s answer in reverse order, i.e. the last question is answered first.

Revelation 7:14

And I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, (1) "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and (2) they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

1. These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation = is full of interpretive insights. First, the elder is answering the second question asked in verse 13b, "from where have they come?"

In English, a "where" question usually anticipates a specific location. However, a specific place is not given but a specific time is indicated.

The great tribulation has one parallel in Scripture—

Matthew 24:21 (New International Version)

 

21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Refering to time, not place.

This is reflected in the translation of NASB, which states, "For those days will be a time of tribulation…(Mark 13:19)." This is in harmony with Daniel 12:1, which also calls this period "a time of distress." This universally innumerable multitude will arrive in heaven during the period of the great tribulation. Out of suggests that this universally innumerable multitude come out of the midst of the great tribulation. The phrase, the ones who come translates a Greek participle. In the context, the universally innumerable multitude is composed of "the ones who come." The participle in and of itself does not speak to issue of the timing of their arrival. However, this group is not in the process of coming one by one, but they come as a group. This is supported by the following statement.2. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb .

Revelation 7:15

(1) For this reason, they are (2) before the throne of God; and (3) they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne (4) shall spread His tabernacle over them.

1. For this reason = explains why the universally innumerable multitude is before the throne of God. The reason they can stand before the throne of God is because of their salvation, which they owe to the Lamb.2. Before the throne of God = refers to God the Father.3. They serve Him day and night in His temple = focuses on two issues. Day and night refers to the unceasing nature of praise and worship in heaven. The universally innumerable multitude joins in the eternal activity of the adorers of heaven. His temple refers to God’s dwelling place in heaven.4. Shall spread His tabernacle over them = refers to God’s presence among the universally innumerable multitude. Revelation 7:16-17

(1) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; (2) neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; (3) for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of (4) the water of life; and (5) God shall wipe every tear from their eyes."

1. They shall hunger…neither thirst any more = indicates the removal of physical discomforts. This is a clear sign of their resurrection.2. Neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat = indicates the removal of environmental discomforts.3. For = indicates the reason for the removal of physical and environmental discomforts. The Lamb shepherds and guides the universally innumerable multitude.4. Water of life = stands for the abundant life of glorified people. There will be no needs.5. God will wipe every tear from their eyes = indicates the removal of all emotional discomforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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