The First Six Seals Pt. 2 (Revelation 6-7)

 

  1. Revelation
  2. John’s vision of throne room
    1. Worship centered around throne
    2. One on throne holds scroll
    3. No one is worthy to break seals and bring judgment written on scroll
  3. But then he sees a slain Lamb who is worthy and breaks seals
    1. First four brought war, famine, and death
      1. A quarter of earth died
    2. Fifth seal showed martyred saints asking for justice
    3. Prayer answered with sixth seal
      1. Failure of sun, moon, stars
      2. Heaven rolled away
      3. Everyone from kings to slaves begged to be crushed and hidden
      4. This is the Day of the Lord

 

Now continue with chapter seven…

  1. Again, lots of description / symbolism, but goal is to see big picture / gospel
  2. Remember that John goes in loops
    1. Not necessarily linear
  3. Also remember chapter seven goes with chapter six
    1. Can’t get full meaning of one without the other
    2. Final seal is not broken until chapter eight

 

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.

  1. After these things” doesn’t have to mean “these things happened, then these things happened”
    1. Rather, this is the order the visions were shown to him
    2. They might happen at the same time or in different order
    3. They might have already begun
    4. Our focus should be on the meaning rather than the timeline
  2. He sees four angels holding four winds
    1. Remember symbolism
    2. Angels also shown holding water (16:5) and fire (14:8)
    3. Angels are God’s servants
      1. Doing God’s will
      2. God sends disasters
  3. These four winds are destructive forces of nature
    1. Like the four horsemen
    2. Winds are scorching: “Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.” (Hos. 13:15)
    3. Also used in another place: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might. 36And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.” (Jer. 49:35-36)
    4. Desert area where plants withered easily
  4. Held back for only a short period
    1. Prevented from hurting earth, sea, trees
    2. Held back until God’s servants are sealed

 

2And 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, 3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

  1. Another angel carries God’s seal
    1. Seals in chapter six proved authenticity and protected scroll
      1. Only opened by worthy Lamb
    2. God’s slaves (“servants”) are also sealed…
  2. The angel forbids any destruction until it happens
    1. This seal goes on their foreheads
    2. This comes up again when John sees the 144,000 “having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” (14:1)
      1. To show ownership
      2. And that no man can change / nullify God’s plan for them

 

4And 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. 5Of 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. 6Of 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. 7Of 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. 8Of 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.

  1. John hears that 144,000 are sealed
    1. The fact that he knows the number is important
    2. That’s 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes
      1. Slight difference but no explanation why
    3. Remember that John uses symbolism
      1. 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes is a perfect completion of Israel
  2. Remember also that the church is the “Israel” of the New Covenant:
    1. Don’t believe “replacement theology.” That is, Israel never replaced the church
    2. James wrote his epistle “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” (Jas. 1:1)
    3. Paul taught that “he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.” (Rom. 2:29)
    4. He also taught that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:15-16)
    5. Peter conjured Old Testament imagery when he told New Testament believers “ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” (1 Pt. 2:9)
    6. As did Paul when he wrote that in Christ “we have obtained an inheritance.” (Eph. 1:11)
    7. And again, Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people.” (Titus 2:14)
  3. The point is that God completely kept his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
    1. God “brought [Abraham] forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” (Gen. 15:5)
    2. He told Isaac, “I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 26:4)
    3. And to Jacob: “I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 28:13-14)
    4. Paul taught that “the promise [is] sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations).” (Rom. 4:16-17)

 

Then John goes from hearing the number to seeing a throng:

9After 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; 10And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

  1. The multitude he sees cannot be counted by any man
    1. The first part of the vision focused on the fulfillment of the promise itself
    2. This part focuses on its completeness
      1. The throng is made up of people from every place on earth (Jew and Gentile)
      2. Abraham would be a father of countless seed; all nations blessed
  2. They wear white robes and hold palm branches
    1. White robes = symbols of salvation
    2. Palms = symbols of victory
      1. Palm branches were used like trophies in the games
      2. Also used to welcome Christ into Jerusalem
      3. All God’s saints are victorious
        1. Despite suffering
        2. Despite what the world and Satan does to them
        3. Despite their own sin and inability
  3. The power of their victory is shown when they cry out:
    1. Salvation to our God and to the Lamb
      1. God’s plan
      2. Christ’s death and resurrection
    2. Not works or effort
    3. Not in their DNA

 

11And 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, 12Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

  1. The angels respond by falling on their faces
  2. They too love God and the gospel
    1. They say “Amen” to agree with the saints
    2. Then they add their own praise
    3. And then close with another amen (so be it!)
  3. All these attributes belong to God forever

 

13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And 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. 15Therefore 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. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17For 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.

  1. Some people see difference between the Bride and these slaves
    1. But we can do away with the “isms” that cause so much confusion
    2. No saint is second-class or second-rate
    3. And John loops round and round to show the same thing from different perspectives
      1. Will God keep his promise? “I heard a complete Israel!”
      2. Will God keep his promise? “I saw every nation!”
  2. Specifically, these are they which came out of great tribulation
    1. But remember: most original readers endured tribulation
    2. Many throughout history have endured tribulation
    3. So many today endure tribulation
    4. Their victory is emphasized
      1. These aren’t the kings of the earth
      2. These are the talented and strong
      3. These aren’t the most deserving people in the world
      4. These are the slaves in Egypt
      5. These are the poor and wretched
      6. These are the despicable and despised
      7. And yet they wave their trophies and cry out in victory
  3. These are they which are rewarded with salvation
    1. They are always in God’s presence
    2. They are pillars in his temple (Philadelphia; 3:12)
    3. They are satisfied and neither hungry nor thirsty
    4. They live in God’s continual light
    5. The Lamb is their shepherd who leads them to living water
    6. And every tear is wiped from their eyes

 

There’s so much for us in this passage:

  1. God always keeps his promise
    1. Jesus said of his disciples: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (Jn. 17:12)
    2. Paul preached on one occasion and when “the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)
    3. John says that the people who worship the beast are those “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb.” (Rev. 13:8; 17:8)
    4. We are called the elect and those God foreknew
    5. Our names are written and none will be lost because God keeps his promise.
  2. He can do that because he controls all things (even natural disasters) for our good
    1. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:28-30)
    2. Every trial and all suffering appear right on time
    3. All of them are planned and “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Ps. 139:16, NIV)
    4. And all of them are for our good to conform us to the image of Christ
  3. That’s why the gospel glorifies God
  4. That’s why we worship him

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