This is an important chapter
to correctly interpret.
It can be a difficult chapter to interpret.
The results of your interpretation of this chapter will effect much of the remainder of the book.
The two exegetical difficulties
in this chapter are
a) the identification of the 144,000
b) the identification of the innumerable multitude
Chapter 6 ends with the
people on earth asking,
“For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Chapter 7 begins by saying, “After this I saw. . .”
Chapter 7 will answer the question, “Who will stand in the day of Judgment?”
7:1 Angels are associated with God’s judgment through out scripture.
Angels are seen being in
charge of the forces of nature
a) “the angel in charge of the waters” 16:5
b) “who had charge of the fire”14:18
The four winds of God are often destructive agents.
Daniel 7:2 shows the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea and producing the beasts.
Jeremiah 49:36, “I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of the heavens; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam’s exiles do not go.”
“Holding back” is
from “krateo, a word that suggests that the winds were struggling to break free.
If this occurs literally there would be no wind, no breeze, no waves on the shore, no movement of clouds.
Just deathly still.
These four winds never actually blow in the book, so they must represent the trouble God is going to pour out on the earth.
Angel comes from the east (Jerusalem or Zion?) may indicate that it is to bringing salvation.
The Seal (“sphragis”)
“sfragiV” means “seal”.
It could come from a signet ring of a king.
At this time a seal would have been used to:
A) brand cattle and tattoo slaves. Soldiers where also tattooed to help identify deserters.
B) This mark would have been placed on the hand, brow, or neck of a guild member
C) Members of a religious group or of a sacred militia would have received a seal as a sign or consecration to the deity
D) It could refer to the mark a prophet received by paint or tattoo on forehead.
E) It could refer to the phylactery worn on the forehead and hand of the Jews.
F) The idea of the seal was to mark one’s property and indicate ownership
The purpose of the seal
1) Ownership of God and the Lamb 14:1, “. . .with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.”
2) The seal seems to offer protection or security for the believers. 9:4, “They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”
3) Other areas the seal may protect them from is physical harm, plagues, Antichrist, or spiritual lapse:
a) It is not physical harm since many are martyred.
b) It may be deliverance from the plagues since some plagues only strike those with the mark of the beast as in 16:2, “The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.”
c) Probably not the Antichrist since, 13:17, “no one could but or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
d) It definitely includes spiritual deliverance into the presence of the Lamb as we see later in chapter 7.
The Sealing of the 144,000
is focused on the salvation of those people.
14:3, “No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”
Ezekiel 9:4-7 the faithful Jews are marked with the Hebrew letter taw ( an “x” or a “+”)
The Hebrew letter taw (“x”) is similar to the Greek letter c (“chi”) which is the first letter of the name “Christ” (cristoV).
The was used by the Greek writers for an abbreviation for “Christ”.
The Seal of the Living God The title of “the living God” is often associated with God’s intervention on behalf of his people. Joshua tells his people that “the Living God” is among them. Josh 3:10 Hezekiah tells God that Sennacherib’s messenger came to “insult the living God” 2 Kings 19:4, 16 Sealing in the New Testament 2 Corinthians 1:22, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us set his seal of ownership on us, and put5 his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Ephesians 1:13, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, your were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession .” Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” 7:2 “another angel” “another” is “allos” and means “another of the same kind, another in numerical sequence.” 7:3 7:4 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. Two basic interpretations: Literal—the number and the actual tribe of Israel Symbolic—the complete number of the completed church, or New Israel Literal Support The use of “Israel” in the NT refers to physical descendents of Jacob No identification or symbolism of Israel being the church until 160 AD Since 10 tribes were lost this is the beginning of what Paul calls the salvation of “all Israel” since we have listed here people from all 12 tribes. (Romans 11:25-29) Symbolic Support Believers are called “Abraham’s seed” in Gal. 3:29. Believers are called “the true circumcisioin” in Phil. 3:3. Believers are called (but, this is debated) “Israel of God” in Gal. 6:16. Also, Matt. 19:28, Luke 22:30; Rm. 2:29; James 1:1; 1 Peter 2:9; We decide based on: a) Exegesis- b) Usage—The biblical use of “Israel” refers to natural Israel. 7:5 There are 18 listings of the 12 tribes in the OT with different orders. Some are listed by: a) birth order b) Jacob’s blessing c) Order of encampment d) order of the census before entering Canaan e) order of blessing and cursing f) Moses’ blessing g) Here some irregularities appear: Judah rather than Reuben (the first born is listed first) most likely due to the Messiah’s tribe Manasseh is listed, Ephriam is not, but Joseph is back in the list. Dan is missing. Dan as a tribe had become idolatrous, gave up their inheritance and held one of the Northern kingdoms golden calf idols. Jewish writings say Satan was the prince o the tribe. Irenaeus writes around 180 AD that the reason Dan is omitted is that the Antichrist will come from Dan. The Rabbis interpreted this from: Gen. 49:17, “Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward.” Jer. 8:16, “The snorting of the enemy’s horses is heard from Dan.” 7:6 7:7 7:8 7:9 The second vision of Chapter 7 Begins with “behold”, a shocking vision. Contrast: 1) 144,000 compared to a great multitude that no one con number 2) Sealed for tribulation compared to “come out of the great tribulation” 3) On earth compared to in heaven 4) Of Israel compared to every nation on the earth They cry out that they owe salvation to God and the Lamb These are those that where reached by the 144,000. Great days of response to the gospel: Day of Pentecost, Reformation in Europe, Great Awakening, and here in chapter 7 7:10 Weymouth’s translation: “To our God. . .and to the Lamb, we owe our salvation!” 7:11 7:12 Sevenfold doxology Each word is preceded by the article “h” which would be “the” which changes it from “a glory” to “the glory” or from “wisdom” to “the wisdom” Glory is the radiance of the divine Person Wisdom is divine knowledge God exhibited in his plan of redemption (Eph. 3:10) Thanks is the appropriate response for salvation Honor is the public acknowledgment of thanksgiving Power is God’s ability to act Strength is his redemptive presence in the events of history 7:13 7:14 Notice the presence of the article here “The Great Tribulation” referring to the second 3 1/2 years. Robes made white in the blood of the Lamb Hebrews 9:24 the blood of Christ cleanses our consciences” 1 John 1:7, the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin Isaiah says our righteous acts are like “filthy rags” (64:6) but earlier he said “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (1:18) 7:15 “Spread Tent” is like his protection in the wilderness with the tabernacle, the pillar of cloud/fire, and the shekinah glory. Spreading of his tent is the covering them with his glory 7:16 7:17 The Lamb is their shepherd He will lead them to the springs of living water He will also be the shepherd “poimainw” “Poimainw” translated “rule” in 12:5 “who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”and 19:15 “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations ‘ He will rule them with an iron scepter.” 8:1 The silence. . . After all the noise from the throne and around the throne and the revealing of the first 6 judgments, when the 7th seal is broken, the scroll is opened in front of everyone in heaven and they are struck with awe so great that heaven is struck with silence as they behold the full revealing of the scroll.