Revelation 7:1-17 Part 5

REVELATION 7:1-17 Part 4


1)    After this I saw four messengers having stood upon the four corners of the earth restraining the four winds of the earth in order that the wind might not blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree.

2)    And I saw another messenger going up from dayspring having the  Living God’s seal.  And he did cry out in a great voice to the four messengers to whom it was given to injure the earth and the sea, saying

3)    ‘you may not injure the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.

4)    And I did hear the number of the ones who have been sealed, one hundred and forty four thousand have been sealed from all the tribes of the sons of Israel:

5)    from the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,

6)    from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,

7)    from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,

8)    from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

9)    After this I looked and, Lo!  a great crowd which no one was able to number out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, having stood before the throne and before the Lamb, having been arrayed in white garments and palms in their hands,

10) and crying out with a great voice, saying ‘The Salvation to our God, To Him Who sits on the throne and the Lamb!’

11) And all the messengers had remained steadfast round the throne, and the elders and four living creatures fell on their faces before the throne, and they did worship God,

12) saying ‘The praise and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the might to our God to the ages of ages.  Amen.’

13) And one of the elders uttered, saying to me ‘Who are these who have been arrayed in white garments?  And whence did they come?’

14) And I addressed him: ‘My lord, you have known!’  And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation.  And they did wash their garments and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

15) Because of this are they before the throne of God.  And ‘they do service to Him day and night in His sanctuary’ And ‘the One Who sits on the throne shall tabernacle over them.’

16) ‘They shall no more hunger, nor shall they thirst any more, nor shall the sun fall down upon them, nor any burning heat.’

17) ‘For that Lamb in midst of the throne shall feed them, and He shall lead them upon springs of living water, and God shall wipe away every tear out of their eyes.’


In the first sermon in this series (chapter seven), much of our time was spent as an “introduction” to the chapter, reviewing our faithful approach to the defense of the faith and how we are to perceive all things from the Revelation of God’s perspective; and then recalling all that had been said previously with regard to our Lord’s “appearances”… that is, how He appears in His diverse work as the Person of God the Son, Who has been given all authority in the heaven and on the earth.

Then in the second, we looked to the older Scripture where there are also many occasions in which God the Son is revealed in Person and work and appearance.

And we were quick to note that as God “speaks” to His creation, it is God the Son – The Word, the Message, the Proclamation, Who appears and speaks within that covenant relationship to the creation and its creatures.  Also we were able to see that the older Scripture foretells and forthtells the Prince of His people – Micha-el – standing up for His people and protecting them during the time of the gravest, most ominous event in history.

In the third sermon we were reminded once again of the “likeness” of God’s creation to that which is in the heaven, for all of the “fours” appear once more in the text of John’s letter.  And we also saw the prophecy of Daniel and the prophecy of John the baptizer’s father reach it’s fullness in the appearance of our Lord as Archangel Michael as He emerges from Dayspring to command the four messengers and the four winds in the protection and deliverance of those elect members of the twelve tribes of Israel for whom He shed His blood.

Then last Lord’s Day we were fully involved in the Scripture regarding the earth and the sea and the trees, noting God’s perception of His Own cosmos.

Now I’d like to read the first three verses of this chapter once again for you, for herein is the answer to the blood of the martyrs as they cried out for God to avenge them.  And the answer is that all of those who Jesus Christ came to seek and to save have not yet been “sealed”.  Although the seven-fold, perfect judgment to come quickly upon Israel is revealed in the heaven (as the sixth seal is loosed), bringing joyous praise and worship of the Lamb, the specific time is “not yet”.  All of true Israel, the ones planted by the river of living water, the ones found and rescued by Christ and His apostles, the lost sheep of the house of Israel, have not yet been “saved” from the flood of wrath to come upon this idolatrous, apostate nation.  These will not suffer the wrath of the Lamb.

Here it is:


1)    After this I saw four messengers having stood upon the four corners of the earth restraining the four winds of the earth in order that the wind might not blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree.

2)    And I saw another messenger going up from dayspring having the Living God’s seal.  And he did cry out in a great voice to the four messengers to whom it was given to injure the earth and the sea, saying

3)    ‘You may not injure the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.


“… until we have sealed the bond-servants….”


So we take up the “sealing” this morning… and more specifically the seal on their foreheads… the foreheads of God’s bond-servants.  The word that God uses here – sealed – has a wide variety of applications in the text of Scripture, but it is the same Word; and it has a depth of meaning – maybe far greater than we might discern here in the few minutes we have.  But Holy Spirit will teach us.  We will follow the Scripture and see what God said; and we will attempt to learn what He means when He uses the word… exactly the same way that we always try to perceive through God’s eyes.

It is – at once – both simple and complicated.  And it’s both – very much like the answer to a question that was asked recently on one of the “forums” that I attend on the internet.  One of the newer members of a particular forum has a young daughter who asked him “Why didn’t God choose to elect all people?”  He was searching for appropriate answers for his daughter, of course.

The answer to that question is – at once – both simple and complicated.  And it becomes ever more problematic should one attempt an answer to a question such as this one from man’s perspective.

I decided to give some assistance in this case (which I rarely have time to do), and advised this forum member to form his answer to the right question – a question the answer to which can be supplied from God’s perspective (rather than man’s).  And that question would be, “Why does God elect to save anybody?”  That question completely changes the perspective, you see.

   But of course there were a couple of folks who objected strenuously to the young lady being told that she was asking the wrong question… that it was an insensitive thing to do, and that it might hurt her feelings.

Although I’m conscious of delicate emotions, and while I don’t wish to trample needlessly on anybody’s sensitivities, the right answers to the right questions, from God’s perspective, takes precedence over avoiding offense!

Now, it’s always better to give the right answers to the right questions and avoid being insensitive.  But it’s never right to be so sensitive to offense that one avoids giving the right answer to the right question.  And the answers to the questions, in order to be right, must reflect the perspective of the One Who has revealed what is just and true and right.

Although I don’t have a terribly good segue-way to the text from that story, it does serve to remind us (and we need to be reminded over and over and over again) that the perception of the One Who made all of this is the one that we must constantly be searching for.  And let me say this again… that His primary purpose for bringing us into existence was NOT our happiness – OR was it avoiding stepping on our sensitivity toes!  The primary reason for our being here is for God to be glorified… for His creation to recognize and acknowledge His matchless and inimitable majesty.  You see… that’s HIS perspective!

So, as we delve more deeply into the words of this text, we are to search out those things that God has done, and is doing, in order to bring Himself the praise and the honor and the glory.  That’s His right!  And questions from creatures that, by their very nature, impune God’s righteousness and His justice and His motives, need to be reformulated – regardless of the sensitivities of the one who’s asking – while, at the same time, paying as much attention as possible to the delicate emotions that may be right on the surface.

Anyway, the Dayspring from on high has arisen upon those sitting in darkness, in the shadow of death.  They are the ones who Isaiah describes in his prophecy.  Israel’s princes, priests and elders have, through their idolatry and hypocrisy, left our Lord’s sheep dispossessed and in poverty, and in prison, and blind, and deaf, and crooked, and diseased, and demon possessed.  And now, at the moment in time that was prophesied, they are sitting in the shadow of death… for the time is near.

What our Lord described to His disciples before His crucifixion was a flood of wrath to take place in this generation; and He had ordered every one of His sheep to be found and emigrated to the nations before the “day of the Lord”.

And what John now sees in the heaven is the One called Archangel Michael appearing out of “Dayspring” to command His created angel/messengers and the “four winds” from the throne, as the task of finding, marking-out and removing His sheep nears the day of wrath.

And He is there “standing up for His people Israel”, and holding back the onset of that flood until they are all “sealed”.

Before we do what we can regarding the word “sealed”, I want to read for you the specific prophetic Word regarding this event witnessed by John.

Remember when I said that the prophecy of Ezekiel is so closely identified with John’s Revelation?  And that we would be going back to this prophecy many times?  Well, this is one of those occasions; and a very important one as well.

Ezekiel was the prophet that was given God’s view of the idolatry and the debauchery of this nation that was happening in Israel… especially in Jerusalem and in the temple.  To give you perspective on this event, I have to read two passages for you.  First, a passage that comes just before we get to the specific prophecy which comes to its fullness in John’s Revelation.

This is in chapter eight of Ezekiel’s prophecy:


1)    And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there.

2)    Then I looked, and there was a likeness, like the appearance of fire—from the appearance of His waist and downward, fire; and from His waist and upward, like the appearance of brightness, like the color of amber.

3)    He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy.

4)    And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the plain.

5)    Then He said to me, “Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance.

6)    Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary?  Now turn again, you will see even greater abominations.”


So Ezekiel was “borne along” by Holy Spirit (Adonai Yahveh) and shown the evil of Israel’s idolatry… statues of idols at the entrances of the temple.  These provoked Yahveh of the covenant to great jealousy, anger and wrath.  Chapter eight then goes on as Ezekiel is shown the awful abominations inside the temple.

But that leads me to chapter nine where Ezekiel gives us what is shown his God’s-eye view of what is going to happen to Israel as a recompense for these abominations.

Here it is:


1)    Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.”

2)    And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand.  One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

3)    Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple.  And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side;

4)    and Yahveh said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark a mark on the foreheads of the men who groan and mourn over all the abominations that are done within it.”

5)    To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity.

6)    Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.”  So they began with the elders who were before the temple.

7)    Then He said to them, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain.  Go out!”  And they went out and killed in the city.

8)    So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, “Ah, Elohei Yahveh! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?”

9)    Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!’

10) And as also for Me, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their way on their own head.”

11) And behold, the man clothed with linen, who had the inkhorn at his side, reported the matter saying, “I have done as You commanded me.”


“Mark a mark on their foreheads.”  And “do not come near anyone on whom is the mark.”


What does John see here at the beginning of our chapter?


2)    And I saw another messenger going up from dayspring having the Living God’s seal.  And He did cry out in a great voice to the four messengers to whom it was given to injure the earth and the sea, saying,

3)    ‘You may not injure the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.

4)    And I did hear the number of the ones who have been sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand have been sealed from all the tribes of the sons of Israel:


In the Ezekiel passage, at the prophesied time the ones belonging to God are to be “marked out”; and then the slaughter is to begin… with specific instruction that none of those “marked” are to be touched (injured).

Here in our text, after God’s elect of Israel are “marked” or “sealed”, the slaughter and devastation can begin.  Ezekiel was shown what would occur almost seven hundred years before John saw what was about to be the “filling up” of that prophecy.


Okay. Now let’s do what we can with the “seal”.  The word has a lengthy history in God’s Word, for it is His language.  We can’t do much with some of the more “peripheral” usages this morning, so we’ll go right to the “core”.

The word occurs in its most pristine form in Moses’ final words to Israel; and it is prominent in two places there.  The first is in the twenty-ninth chapter of Deuteronomy, and the second in the thirty-second chapter.  Here is the first one (from chapter twenty-nine):


2)    Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:  Your eyes have seen all that the LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land.

3)    With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders.

4)    But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.

5)    During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.

6)    You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink.  I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God.


9)    Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.

10) All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel,

11) together with your children and your wives, and the aliens living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water.

12) You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath,

13) to confirm you this day as His people, that He may be your God as he promised you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

14) I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you

15) who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today.”


“Sealing with an oath.”  And here is the second (from chapter thirty-two).


28) They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them.

29) If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!

30) How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?

31) For their rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede.

32) Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah.  Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness.

33) Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.

34) "Have I not kept this in reserve and sealed it in my vaults?

35) It is mine to avenge; I will repay.  In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."


“Have I not kept this in reserve and sealed it in My vaults?” In the language of God, as He sees what He has made, His covenant is “sealed”; and His judgments are “sealed” in His vaults (or treasuries).  They are “stored up” and “preserved”.

We then read this in Isaiah eight, as the prophet looks toward the coming of Messiah/King:


13) Sanctify the LORD of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.

14) And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a Stone of stumbling and for a Rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15) And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

16) Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

17) And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him.


“Store up” and “preserve” the law among my disciples….

And then at the end of Daniel’s prophecy (with which, by now, we are so familiar) we read these words:


4)    But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

5)    Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.

6)    And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, ‘How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?’

7)    And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

8)    And I heard, but I understood not:  then said I, ‘O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?’

9)    And he said, ‘Go thy way, Daniel:  for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.’


The words are “stored up” and “preserved” until the fullness of the time.  That is obviously what God means with the use of the word “sealed”.

Our Lord’s apostles, having been thoroughly schooled in the Law and the Prophets by Jesus, and having been made recipients of the work of Holy Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection, were very aware of the sealing of the words of the prophecy and the sealing of the Lord’s people.  After all, they are the ones who were continually involved, along with the elders and deacons of the Church, in the actual day-to-day work of finding, feeding, baptizing, teaching and expatriating our Lord’s people from the twelve tribes!  And it all had to be done in this generation.

And the Churches had to be visited; and new Churches established in the nations; and letters written to them – establishing them in The Faith.

That which was “stored up” and “preserved” (sealed) in the vaults of God – the “Word” of prophecy, and the numbers of those “sealed” – was made evident as the apostles worked tirelessly to accomplish all that Jesus had required of them in this generation; for the time was near.

And their letters to the Churches reflect a thorough awareness that all that they were doing was what God had “stored up” to be revealed at this time.  That’s what the word “sealed” means.

We only have time for a couple of examples.  First, here is Paul in his first letter to the Church at Corinth, chapter one.  In this passage, beginning at verse nineteen, he proclaims that God’s promises (i.e. His covenant) are never “no”; but they are always “yes”,  (for they are “stored up” in His vault).  Listen to it:


19) For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in Him it is always Yes.

20) For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.

21) And it is God Who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,

22) and Who has also put His seal on us, and has given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.


And in his second letter to Timothy, chapter two and verse nineteen, Paul writes this:


19) But God’s firm foundation stands, having this seal:  "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the Name of the Lord depart from iniquity."


And of course the apostle John writes, here in our text:


 4)And I did hear the number of the ones who have been sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand have been sealed from all the tribes  of the sons of Israel:


And as we’ll see later in chapter nine, John wrote:


4)    They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.


And at the end of the Revelation, chapter twenty-two, John writes what he was told:


10) And He says to me, `You may not seal the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near;’


It was no longer necessary that the scroll be sealed (or stored up or preserved), for the time was near.  It was time for all those who had been sealed on their foreheads (preserved, Ezekiel 9) to be saved from the wrath to come.  For the time was near.

Baptism, the seal of Holy Spirit, marks believers and their children, all through the New Testament, as the covenant-keeping bond-servants of our God, who will be preserved from God’s wrath as the ungodly are destroyed.  The purpose of the sealing, here in our text, was to “store up”, to “preserve in God’s treasury” the true Israel of God as a holy seed… to “mark” them with the mark of God so that they may not know the wrath of God.  Though the old Israel be cast off and destroyed, their iniquities having been “marked”, a new and holy Israel is “sealed by the Spirit of the Living God”.

Just as these elect of God in Christ from all the tribes of Israel were covenantally sealed in the promises of God, so too are men and women and their children covenantally sealed by God and marked in baptism.

It is not a sign of dedication; it is not a sign of justification through faith; it is not a sign of Church membership; it is not a sign of reaching the age of twelve; it is not a sign of confession or repentance; it is not a sign of wanting to be a Christian!

Baptism is the sign, the mark, of the covenant.  It is the sign of covenant relationship with our covenanting God Who promised that every single one of His people would be rescued from the wrath to come.  They are marked with a mark… the mark of God.  And that mark is the “seal” – the insignia, the verification, that the promise is true.

And all who are His are stored up and preserved in God’s treasury (the definition of “seal”), for He has covenanted.  And there are three witnesses to that covenant!

And having covenanted for the purchase of His people from the captivity and slavery of sin and death, He says to them, “Here is My mark.  The promise, the covenant that I made, is for you and your seed. Long before you adopt an attitude toward Me, I have adopted an attitude toward you.”