Revelation 7:1-8 / The Calm Before the Storm

Posted on June 7, 2015

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This is the twentieth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Revelation. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of June 7, 2015. This message details the lull between the sixth and seventh seals, and the identity of the 144,000 This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

SERMON AUDIO:

Rev 7:1-8

SERMON NOTES:

v.1:

Chapter 7 forms a parenthesis between the sixth seal and the seventh seal. This marks the midway point of the tribulation, and also answers the question posed at the end of ch. 6. “Who is able to stand?

Two distinct groups will survive God’s wrath: 
1) 144,000 Jewish evangelists on earth (7:1ā€“8) 
and 
2) their converts in heaven (vv. 9ā€“17).
The “four angels” at “the four corners of the earth” hold “the four winds of the earth” from blowing on the earth until the servants of God are sealed on their foreheads.
The expression “the four corners of the earth” was used in ancient times, as we use the phrase “the four points of the compass.”
They are holding back the four winds. North, South, East and West winds all still. There will be a distinct and noticeable lull. These are the physical winds of nature for they fulfill the Word of God.

  • Psalm 148:8

The word that they will fulfill is His judgment on the earth, and they are being held back for a brief time.
This is the calm before the storm, and the storm breaks loose in all its fury in chapter 8.
vv.2-3:
Another angel comes from the “east”, possibly from Jerusalem. He carries a seal, possibly to emphasize a mission of salvation. He calls to the other angels not to release their destruction until God’s servants are sealed.

The seal indicates ownership, and it offers protection. We see this in chapter nine, where the demons are told to harm only those who do not have the seal of God.

  • Revelation 9:4

When seeking to understand the seal, it helps to understand the mark of the beast. Those who have the mark are not only identified as beast worshipers but they have become the objects of God’s irreversible wrath.

  • Revelation 14:9-11

In Contrast, those who have “the seal of God” are God worshipers and are the objects of his grace.
The bowl of God’s wrath is directed exclusively toward those who have the mark of the beast, excluding those with the seal of God.

  • Revelation 16:6

Furthermore, those who have the mark of the beast are deceived by the beast.

  • Revelation 19:20

While the those who are sealed by God are not deceived.
There should be no doubt that the sealed belong to God and that the seal ensures their salvation.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:22
  • Ephesians 1:13

The sealed are genuine Christians, who have come to salvation during the tribulation. Until they are sealed, any further judgments must stop. Once they are sealed, they will be protected from the judgments.

v.4:
The 144,000 are 12,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel. They are simply God’s witnesses on earth, and will be instrumental in the salvation of Israel. They will be sealed, and will be spared judgment during the tribulation.

Attempts have been made to identify the 12 tribes here with the church, mostly to avoid the implication that this is literally Israel. The fact that specific tribes were mentioned and specific numbers from each tribe were indicated would certainly remove this from the symbolic and to justify literal interpretation. 

Nowhere else in the Bible do a dozen references to the 12 tribes mean the church. Obviously Israel will be in the Tribulation, for it is a time of Jacob’s trouble.

  • Jeremiah 30:7

Though we do not know the identification of each tribe today, certainly God knows. God continues to watch over Israel even in the time of Israel’s great distress. There is no justification whatever for spiritualizing either the number or the names of the tribes in this passage, to make them represent the church.

vv.5-8:
There are 12,000 from each tribe except Dan, which is omitted. Much speculation has arisen about why the tribe of Dan is omitted. Joseph and one of his two sons, Manasseh, are listed, but Ephraim, Joseph’s other son, is omitted. Thus if Dan were included, there would have been 13 tribes.

Scripture contains 29 lists of the tribes of Israel in the Old and New Testaments and in no case are more than 12 tribes mentioned. The tribe omitted was usually Levi, from which the priesthood came.

Some speculate that Dan was omitted due to idolatry.

  • Judges 18:30

Some believe that the antichrist will be from the tribe of Dan, and that is why it is omitted. However, we probably shouldn’t read too much into Dan’s omission, since Dan is mentioned in Ezekiel in the millennial land distribution.

  • Ezekiel 48:1-2

Obviously Dan has an inheritance. The most important fact taught here is that God continues to watch over Israel even in the time of Israel’s great distress.

By sovereign election, God will seal 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes, promising his protection while they accomplish their mission.
Throughout history, Israel has been the most persecuted people on the face of the earth, and they still are today. They are faced by a majority who wants to see them destroyed, yet God continues to protect them. He has a plan of which Israel is a key part. Their redemption will come, but tribulation will come first. At this moment, and until the end of the tribulation, the majority of Israel still reject Christ.

However, knowing God’s plan for them, His love for them, and their eventual salvation, we should love, support and befriend Israel just as the Lord does.

  • Genesis 12:3

As a nation we should support Israel, and as the church, we should have a mission to the Jews. The church should never view ourselves as Israel’s replacement, but as her friend, to share the Gospel of our Lord.

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