A Study of the Book of Revelation
This Tribulation is the last seven years of the Jewish age. In chapter 6, we saw a summary of the Tribulation period and now we come to look at the events step by step.
In Revelation 6:17, which really should be part of chapter 7, the Scripture asks who shall be able to stand.
Now we are to learn who shall be able to stand.
The phrase “the great day of his wrath” in Revelation 6:17 is a technical term for the seven year Tribulation.
Chapter 7 is a chapter on evangelism. The seven year Tribulation will start out with only unbelievers, but many will be saved during the Tribulation from both Jews and Gentiles.
Even though this period of time will be the worst period in human history, many will come to know Christ as Savior.
Even though the Tribulation will be a time of religion, many will come to know Christ instead.
Religion is an enemy of Christ. Religion may be the worst enemy to ever come to man.
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.
The “fours” here represent the universality of these angels’ activity.
“After these things” – the outline given in chapter 6.
“I saw four angels” – four living creatures, these are holy angels or God’s special angels.
“Four corners of the earth.” This is a technical term for the four points of the compass, north, south, east, and west. It does not mean the earth is flat. Job spoke of the circle of the earth.
Here an angel is standing at each place to give direction, and to judge the various segments of the human race. They are holding back the winds of judgment. This is the doctrine of grace before judgment.
Why are the angels holding back the winds of judgment?
Because the 144,000 Jewish evangelists are going out to proclaim the message of God.
Remember, the church has been raptured and there are no believers on earth at the beginning of the Tribulation, but many are going to hear the message of these Jews and believe.
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,
Revelation 7:2-3 depicts a fifth and apparently superior angel arising out of the east and instructing the four angels.
“Another” – another angel of the same kind.
Ascending from the east – The Greek says, “From the rising of the sun.”
The seal of the living God refers to protection. The 144,000 Jews are protected by divine command.
3. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
These angels are restraining judgment long enough to reveal God’s grace.
They are holding on to the winds of God’s judgment so that He may save two great throngs of people during this Tribulation Period.
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees – These Jews are proclaiming the message of God under divine protection.
Sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads – This may refer to the seat of your thinking or the thinking part of your mind.
I don’t think this refers to a literal mark on their foreheads; rather the doctrine they hold in their minds.
These 144,000 Jews are going to be sealed.
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.
The first group God chooses to save are “sealed” during the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation (vs. 3-8).
“Were sealed” – perfect tense and means they were sealed and will remain sealed forever.
The purpose of the seal is to indicate ownership, and the reference to their foreheads suggests that they are publicly known as the saved of God.
Sealed means God saved them and the devil cannot get them.
If you are saved, you have been sealed. This is passive voice, meaning you can’t do it, God has to seal you.
The number to be sealed is 144,000, and God’s revelation to John clearly indicates that this group of 144,000 is composed of 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The constant repetition of the phrase of the tribe of … were sealed (vs. 5-8) is too forceful to allow any other biblical or logical conclusion.
144,000 sealed. These are radical Jews. They have genes of Abraham, they are protected. They will be going out and preaching during the worst time in human history.
During this time, the revived Roman empire will rule the world and during this time, the dictator of Palestine will rise up from the tribe of Dan.
He will set on the throne at Jerusalem and demand to be worshiped. He will put up a statue in the temple and demand the whole world to bow down to him. If you don’t bow down, you will not eat.
Here is the list of the house of Jacob that will furnish the evangelists in the Tribulation. Notice the tribe of Dan is not mentioned.
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.
Judah. This is the ruling tribe, the aristocratic tribe.
Jesus is of this tribe and is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Jesus is David’s greater son.
David was from this tribe.
Reuben. Reuben was mentioned second for he was the firstborn. But he lost his rulership to Judah, by the grace of God He gave him 12,000.
Gad. Gas was the 7th son in the list.
6. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
Asher. Was the 8th son.
Nepthalim. Was the 6th son of Jacob. His name means the son of my wrestling.
Manasseh. Was the weakest of the tribes, but again, this illustrates the grace of God.
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.
Simeon. This was a very weak tribe and they never did take any land of their own and were scattered all over Palestine. God used them nevertheless under the principle that my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Levi. This is the greatest principle of cursing turned to blessing.
This is one of the brothers who pulled a terrible stunt and God said to this man that he would never inherit any land.
Levi was to get no land, but Levi repented, and under the ideal of a curse being turned into a blessing, God made him the priestly tribe.
He became the spiritual administrator of the land. So they were scattered among all the other tribes to be the spiritual administrators. This is the only kind of people God can use – those who are at the end of their strength and their spiritual assets.
We are what we are because of the grace of God. God uses the hopeless and the helpless.
Levi rebounded and became the priests, and Simeon didn’t rebound and was just phased out.
Issachar. The name really means a strong donkey. It means one who is able to produce. It is production based on grace.
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.
Zabulon. This means a haven for ships. Land of Zabulon is the commerce area of the land. God uses all kinds of business for His glory.
Joseph. Jospeh here actually refers to Ephraim. The tribe cannot be named for they led the revolt against Judah.
So Ephraim is not mentioned, but his father’s name is mentioned instead. Ephraim had mental attitude sins and lacked love. For this reason Joseph is mentioned in his place.
Benjamin. It means son of my right hand and this is also a title used for Jesus Christ.
Benjamin was the tribe faithful to Judah in the split which came later, and God rewarded Benjamin for their fidelity.
There are 13 tribes, 12 are named and Dan is omitted.
There is significant reason Dan is omitted, from this tribe will come the false prophet.
He will be the dictator of Israel during the Tribulation. We know this from Genesis 49:17, where he is described as being a serpent.
Dan is also the tribe that initiated and led in idolatry (Lev. 24:11).
The golden calf was set up by Dan (1 Kings 11:26).
The 144,000 witnesses are Jewish evangelists during the Tribulation and in the next verses; we are going to meet the converts of these Jewish evangelists.
The details of their ministry throughout the earth are spelled out in chapter 14.
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;
Because this vast number of Jewish servants faithfully witness to the saving power of Christ Jesus, a second group of individuals is saved.
After this – after the witnessing of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.
A great multitude – which no man could number. The word for number is arithemeo and we get our word arithmetic from this word.
Only God can number them.
Of all nations – The word for nations is tawelhnea ethne and it means Gentiles, non-Jews. The same word is used in Matthew 25:31-35 (all nations).
Let’s look at Matthew 25
31. ¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
When the son of man – refers to His humanity. When Jesus comes back to the earth, He comes in glory. This is His second advent. The elect angels come along to see the end of the angelic conflict.
32. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
The “all nations” refers to all the Gentiles. They are divided into two groups – the sheep and the goats. The 144,000 preach Christ to them and those who accept Christ go into the Millennium, and unbelievers are taken off the earth.
34. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
This is Christ’s invitation to these saved Gentiles of the Tribulation to enter into the Millennium.
35. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
The sheep were confused and didn’t know what Jesus meant. The principle was this: when you touch a Christian, you touch Christ. Paul was persecuting Christians on the road to Damascus and the voice of Jesus said to him, “Why persecutes thou me?” When you touch a Christian, you touch Christ.
40. And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
The least of my brethren are the 144,000 Jewish evangelists during the Tribulation. Gentiles take in these Jewish evangelists, befriend them and give them shelter and in this way, they show their faith in Christ and they receive a blessing for their faith.
41. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
“Ye cursed” is a perfect tense and means that every time they heard the gospel, they rejected Christ and said, No. As a result of their own free will, they rejected Christ.
44. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
The important thing in this verse is “Lord, when did we do this?”
45. Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
“One of the least of these” refers to the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.
46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
These are the Gentiles who will not believe the message of those Jewish evangelists and they go into everlasting judgment.
Back to Revelation 7:9
White robes – speak of righteousness, clothed in perfection.
Palms in their hands – In those days when a battle was won, people would wave palm branches as a sign of victory.
10. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
This is our testimony, loud and clear.
Salvation belongs to our God.
They understood what it meant to be saved.
They were straight on their doctrine.
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,
Here the angels are going to worship. They fell on their faces before the throne.
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.
They said, “Amen” that means I believe it.
Notice the seven characteristics they mention.
1. Blessing – the gracious character of God.
2. Glory – the perfect plan of God.
3. Wisdom – God knows everything.
4. Thanksgiving – our response.
5. Honor – God provides everything of real value.
6. Power – God has all power.
7. Might – we can appreciate His power.
Whereas the 144,000 were all Jews, here is a great multitude of saved people who are of all nations, all tribes, all peoples and tongues.
They stand before the Lamb in white robes, indicating that they too have been saved by the blood of the Lamb.
Along with all the angels and the 24 elders, presenting the church, this great multitude praises the God of our salvation and the Lamb.
“That they are distinct from the church appears from the following considerations:
Those were kept out of the Great Tribulation (3:10); these came out.
Those wear white raiment; these wear white robes.
Those sit on thrones round about the throne; these stand before the throne.
Those wear crowns; these are uncrowned.
Those have harps and vials; these have palms in their hands.
Those sing a new song; these cry with a loud voice.
Those are kings and priests and reign with Him; these serve Him day and night”
(J.B. Smith, A Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 135.)
13. ¶ And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
Here we have a question.
Who are these dressed in the white robes?
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.
To John’s question concerning the origin of this numberless multitude, one of the elders gives this noteworthy answer.
“Came out of great tribulation” – These are those saved under the preaching of the 144,000 during the Tribulation.
As the 144,000 were sealed during the first part of the Tribulation, so too these are saved during the last part.
What a wonderful picture of mercy. Although the Tribulation is a time of judgment, there will be a time of salvation as well.
An election out of Israel will be redeemed with an innumerable multitude of Gentiles.
In the midst of justice is found God’s merciful salvation, for through Tribulation come those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Have washed their robes – this means they have been saved.
Made them white in the blood of the Lamb – this is the way they were saved.
So some may say “Well, if multitudes are going to be saved during the Tribulation, then I’ll just wait. “
There is bad news for those who reason in this manner. No one who hears the gospel today and rejects it will have an opportunity to be saved during the Tribulation.
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 says:
11. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Whoever rejects the gospel today will become a victim of the strong delusion spread by the Antichrist during the Tribulation.
They will swallow his lie hook, line, and sinker – whether they want to or not.
As a result, they cannot believe the truth of the gospel then and will be damned because they reject Christ now.
Only those who have not known the gospel story or who have never heard it will have opportunity to believe it during the Tribulation. These will be the multitudes saved in Chapter 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.
The next three verses are a picture of Heaven.
God’s people before Him and Christ is on the throne in the midst of them.
16. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
Earthly trials are over.
No discomfort in Heaven.
No need there.
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.
The Lamb – He is also called the shepherd.
He shall feed them, lead them.
Living fountains of waters. – Notice waters is plural meaning the water of salvation, water of the Holy Spirit and water of the Word.
God shall wipe away all tears. – No tears in Heaven. There will be nothing to cry about.
Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.