Revelation 7:1-17 Part 6


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.’


We have one material element for consideration here in verse three before leaving this most exalted spectacle.  John is watching as the fullness of Daniel’s prophecy emerges from Dayspring.  Archangel Michael, the “Prince” of Daniel’s people, directs the very course of history until such time as the decree of the covenant comes into its fullness.

In these first three verses, the historically inconceivable event is near.  It is the termination of the edenic cosmos that God had made for Himself.  He Himself had inhabited the man-made replica of His glory-cloud throne-room, built upon the rock on the top of the mount, in Jerusalem, in Israel – the “Land”… the “Earth”.  It was all attached to the dome of the “rock”, above the firmament, above the cosmos called “heaven and earth” – Israel.

With respect to the princes, priests, elders, lawyers and people of Israel, the incomprehensible – the unimaginable – was near.  This “micro-cosmos” – the very replica of the throne of Yahveh Sabbaoth, above the firmament of all His creation, (the replica cosmos) was soon to be decreated.

And because of its cosmic significance, this decreed event was to be the most consequential, earth-shaking, earth-shattering catastrophe that ever occurred – and ever would occur – in all the history of God’s created realm.  That which was built upon the dome of the rock, on Mt Zion, was to be shaken, and would cease to exist; and all that created cosmos below the dome of that firmament – the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the sea, the trees (the entire created micro-cosmos) would disappear with it.

Nearing the “day of the Lord”, Archangel Michael stood up for His people (as prophesied in Daniel).  Nothing was to be destroyed until His bond-servants were sealed.  And that’s where we need to spend some of our time this morning… His bond-servants.

In the verses to follow, all of His bond-servants are identified, none of whom are to suffer the wrath of God; for all of them, individually and covenantally, had been “spared” that wrath in the suffering and crucifixion of the Anointed One – the Lamb of God.  Having been spared that wrath, they all now belonged to the One Who suffered that wrath for them.  Our God had “known” them; He had kept them; and they had not bowed the knee to Israel’s “ba-als”; but they had groaned and sighed under the terrible weight of Israel’s theological, ecclesiastical, judicial and economic apostasy.  And, since 586 BC they had been ruled by four successive pagan Gentile rulers, the four great beasts drawn out of the sea of humanity by the four cherubim at the throne.

Our Lord’s bond-servants were they who were dispossessed of their properties; they were imprisoned in the darkness of idolatry and hypocrisy; they were blind and deaf and dumb and sick and crooked and hungry and thirsty and infected – all as a result of the idolatrous blindness of the hypocrite princes and priests and elders of Israel. 

And the very temple of God – the replica of God’s throne room in the heaven – was filled with idols.

And too, the princes and priests and elders of Israel, in all their rebellion against God, had persecuted and killed the prophets, from the beginning, and all the way up to John the baptizer; they had then killed the Son of God; and now they were pursuing and killing the very ones who Christ came to seek and to save – God’s lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The “Light”, the “Dayspring from on high” had now shined on those sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.  Israel’s fifteen hundred years of idolatrous leadership had left them in that condition.  The Lord’s bond-servants were sitting in the darkness of Israel’s condition; and they were in the shadow of death – for the time was near.

Now, before we approach a definition of the word “bond-servant”, let me just make a few comments here about the “darkness” that ensues… that which leaves people sitting in darkness… the darkness that comes about when leaders abdicate the very course of action that is demanded of them by virtue of their having been given authority!

And please understand that we are talking here not only about presidents and representatives and governors, but also about business owners and Church elders… and heads of families!

The head of a family, for example, is no less a recipient of authority than is a governor or a president or a supreme court justice!  He is no less a recipient of authority than is the president of IBM or Texas A&M!  The obligation to exercise that authority in what is true and right (as God has defined it) isn’t lessened one bit by the fewer numbers.

As son John now likes to say, “God doesn’t come into our world; rather we are in God’s world.  And since that’s the case, to abdicate the demanded course of action required of one who has been given authority over two or three or four, is not less than the abdication of one who has been given authority for many.

Israel’s leadership – the princes, priests and elders – had caused the “darkness” to settle over God’s covenant nation.  They had abdicated the authority given to them in a verbal and written covenant to which all had ascribed!  And their people, therefore, lived in the shadow of death… for the time was near… the sanctions were promised, and they were then prophesied; and now they were near.

In God’s world, His revealed will is that which is right and true.  And it provides light and life!  But those who ignore what is right and true – or those who rebel… and subvert that which is right and true, not only live in darkness, but they bring darkness and death to those under their authority.

Our Lord is the “light” of His world.  We in Him are creatures of the light – of the “day”.  But dissenters and resisters in His world are creatures of darkness – of the “night”.

The “princes” of a nation who rule in their own light are insurrectionists.  They revolt against the Light of the world.  And they bring darkness over their nations.

The “priests” of a nation – the ecclesiastical (Church) leaders – who teach their own light are anarchists and apostates.  And the light that they bring leaves their people in darkness… for if they bring their own light, it is not the Light of the World.

The elders (judges and local leaders and heads of families)… who judge and lead the people with some justice other than that which is right and true, are opponents of the Light!  And they leave their people sighing and groaning in oppressive darkness.

For some time now, our nation has been spiraling into darkness, for the people rarely ever witness their national leaders, or their local elders, speak or practice the “Light” that God has revealed in His Own world.  And we who belong to the “day” mourn that loss.

Our nation is twisting in a torturous manner into an abyss of darkness also because our theological leaders are preaching and teaching false religions.  And idolatry leaves the people in dungeon darkness.  Without the Light of the World, the people are destitute, broken and blind – stumbling around in the dark trying to find their own way.

This is, indeed, His world.  And His Revelation of what is right and true is The Light.  Any other way is chaos and darkness and death.

Those given charge of a family by God – should they not live and teach and lead the family in the light of that which is right and true as God has revealed it, abdicates the authority that they have received!  And that’s anarchy!  And, as I said earlier, it is no less an abdication than the one who abandons the Light in his authority over many.

Apostasy from the Light, and rebellion against the Light, make one’s charges children of the night.  It leaves them degraded and debased.  It leaves them blind and stumbling around in the dark.  They find themselves blind and living in debauchery.  They are crippled, debilitated and corrupted and, most assuredly, in the shadow of death.

The “Light of the World” is Jesus – the Word of God made flesh.  He is “Dayspring from on high”.  For the Light shined upon those sitting in darkness, upon those in the shadow of death.  He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf; He made straight those who were crooked and cleansed those infected with leprosy.  He freed those imprisoned in the dungeons of darkness, and He cast out the demons from those possessed. 

You see, the Light of the World reversed, for many thousands of His lost sheep, all of the drastic effects of the darkness imposed upon them by Israel’s princes, priests and elders.  His “miracles” among the thousands following Him were “over-rulings”… they were nullifications… they were negations and invalidations and reversals of the ruinous abdications from God’s light.

He set them free from the darkness of hundreds of years of idolatry, adultery and hypocrisy.  He is the Word of God – the Light of the world.  And it’s HIS world; and He has defined what is true and right.

And this is what so grieves me right now….  The “call”, the “invitation”, the “appeal” is going out all over this country, from conservative leaders, from local elders, and even from many ministers, to restore our “freedoms” and our “exceptionalism” and our “capitalism” and our “lifestyles” and our “traditional values”.  Everybody seems to be begging for the next great conservative leader to emerge and restore the state to its former greatness in its present “secular” context!  And that’s exactly what was being anticipated by Israel – right up to the last day!

In its (then) present state of idolatrous depravity, all Israel expected its messiah to come and restore it to its former glory!

And that’s what I hear in today’s call for restoration in our own country… restoration of our economy, restoration of our “values”, restoration of our liberties, restoration of our leadership among all the nations.

But what I don’t hear is “… Thy Kingdom come – Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  That’s a quote, by the way, from Jesus Christ Who, by His shed blood and the Word of His Power, cast out all the “anarchists”, and restored peace and true worship in the heaven.

That which few of our present leaders can even begin to grasp is that the restoration of capitalism, or the return to our freedoms, within the existing secularism is a dubious goal at best; and, at worst, it is heretical.  For what relationship can darkness have with the Light?

With Jesus Christ as King of the nations, how does a secular society make peace with God and restore true worship as it is in heaven?  He is the Light of life and the Light of the world.  So how, in the boldest stretch of the imagination, would idolaters and heretics and anarchists return this nation to what is true and right?

Instead of a new energetic and charismatic capitalist, what the nation needs is a Biblical view of the glory and majesty of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  We need a Biblical view of what is right and true.  We need the “Light” to illuminate the darkness!

When our professing Christians – our Churched community – get their eyes off of themselves and their own religion experience, and turn their eyes to the majesty of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, (like we’re reading here in our text), then we can expect another awakening and reformation.

But I’m not hearing that.  Nobody is saying it… not in the public forum, anyway.  And until our conservative leaders stop talking about “traditional values” and start talking about what is right and true in God’s world, it just isn’t going to happen!  The King is jealous of His Own majesty; and He won’t restore a secular nation to its former glory while it remains presuppositionally secular!

You can’t expect a reformation through idolatrous leaders; you can’t expect the Light to shine in the darkness if the ones speaking have abdicated their authority; you can’t expect that which is right and true, as God defines it, if those in leadership don’t know what that is – and the ones who do know it don’t speak what that is!

If the Light of the world is Jesus Christ; and if this is His world; and if He defines what is right and true in His world, then the people have to hear that!  Otherwise they will remain in darkness, with no light, just as Israel’s people remained in darkness under the leadership of their princes, priests and elders.

I’m ready for somebody to start saying it in the public arena – in the political arena – and I’m grieved that nobody’s hearing it.  Instead, they’re hearing public leaders who have abdicated the authority given them by God!

Public people are trying to be inclusive; but the majestic King of Kings requires exclusive adoration – in private and in public!  And the people remain in darkness because those leaders aren’t saying it!  And, in many cases, they aren’t living it.  And they’re being subversive to the best interests of the nation’s people; and the deep darkness is settling over every aspect of our society and culture.

Our Lord’s bond-servants, however, must not bow the knee to the ba-als (the idols).  Those who do bow are not the King’s bond-servants.  Those who are His bond-servants serve at the King’s pleasure, for they recognize His glory and His majesty.

They know of His exclusivity, for there is none-other.  All others are man-made, or man-conceived; and there is no “light” in them.

The King’s bond-servants serve in His household; and the house is well-lit!  It is lit with the majesterial brightness of His Person, for he is the Light of the world.  After all, this cosmos has light in it because it’s in the likeness of the throne-room in the heaven!

The bond-servant doesn’t secretly isolate himself occasionally so he can turn off the light and indulge in darkness.   He lives in the light of His Master and His King.  He’s mercifully there at the will of the Master of the house, and he does what is right and true (as the Master of the house defines it), and he serves joyfully at the feet of the majestic glory.

And he doesn’t do stuff that pleases the heretics around him; and he doesn’t speak an “inclusive” language that embraces and accommodates those around him who are treasonous and subversive.

I just can’t put up with anyone who speaks the language of “inclusion”!  If this world belongs to His Majesty – King Jesus – why would anyone who wishes to return this nation to its roots invite perverts and lawbreakers and murderers and idolators to join under a big umbrella of inclusion?  Why not just “speak” what the King says is true and right?  Why not expose the world to the Light of the world!!?

We all know the answer to those questions, of course.  They’re afraid they’ll be marginalized and be made fun of; they’re afraid they won’t get any votes.  So the language is about things such as “traditional values” and “civil rights” and “world leadership”.

Anyway, what we’re going to do now is review just a few of the many passages having to do with our Lord’s bond-servants.  And then I’ll give you a broad definition of the Biblical term.

The first is one that’s among the greatest passages in all of God’s inspired Word.  It’s from Deuteronomy chapter thirty-two, in which God warns Israel of the very events which we’re reading here in Revelation 7.

In this passage at the end of the chapter, God says to Israel that when none of His bond-servants are left, He will atone for them in vengeance by cleansing the land of His adversaries and all of their false gods.  Please listen carefully to it, beginning at verse thirty four:


35) To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is near, and the things that are prepared for them are hurrying.

36) For Yahveh will bring justice for His people, and He shall have compassion on his bond-servants, for he sees that their power is gone, and there are none imprisoned, or left.

37) And he shall say, ‘Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,

38) that did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and did drlnk the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and let them be your protection.

39) See now that I, I am He, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

40) For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.

41) When I whet my lightning sword, and my hand lays hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to my enemies, and will repay them that hate me.

42) I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the hair of the head of the enemy.

43) Rejoice, O ye nations of his people: for he will avenge the blood of his bond-servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will atone for His land and his people.


When there are no more of the nations (tribes) of His people left in Israel, God’s vengeance will “atone” – or cleanse – the land of all God-haters and all its idols.  And the gods to whom Israel’s leadership sacrifices shall be of no help to them whatever.  For Yahveh, alone, is the One Who is alive.

One of the greater passages having to do with the prophecy of God’s elect bond-servants is revealed through the prophet Isaiah.  It has everything to do with what we’re reading here in Revelation chapter seven.  Listen to it from Isaiah sixty-five:


8)     And Yahveh says this:  As the new wine is found in a bunch of grapes, and one says: ‘Don't destroy it, for there's some good in it’, so I will act because of My bond-servants and not destroy them all.

9)    I will produce descendants from Jacob, and heirs to My mountains from Judah; My chosen ones will possess it, and My bond-servants will dwell there.

10) Sharon will be a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for cattle to lie down, for My people who have sought Me.

11) But you who abandon Yahveh, who forget My holy mountain, who prepare a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Fate,

12) I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will kneel down to be slaughtered, because I called and you did not answer, I spoke and you did not hear; you did what was evil in My sight and chose what I did not delight in.

13) Therefore, this is what Yahveh Adonai says: My bond-servants will eat, but you will be hungry; My bond-servants will drink, but you will be thirsty; My bond-servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame.

14) My bond-servants will shout for joy from a glad heart, but you will cry out from an anguished heart, and you will lament out of a broken spirit.

15) You will leave your name as a curse to My chosen ones, and Yahveh Adonai will kill you; but He will give His bond-servants another name.

16) Whoever is blessed in the land will be blessed by the God of truth, and whoever swears in the land will swear by the God of truth.  For the former troubles will be forgotten and hidden from My eyes.


Adonai (Master) will preserve His house and His bond-servants, and He will destroy all the rest.  And even though the name given to His covenant people is a curse to His bond-servants, He will give them another name.  And the former will be forgotten (for His former people will cease to exist).

Now.   The premier passage of the Newer Testament having to do with the bond-servant is found in Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome, chapter six.  Listen to it:


16) Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves bond-servants for obedience, you are bond-servants to him whom you obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17) But thanks [be] to God, that although you were bond-servants of sin, you have obeyed from the heart the form of teaching into which ye were instructed.

18) Now, having gotten your freedom from sin, you have become bond-servants to righteousness.

19) I speak humanly on account of the weakness of your flesh. For even as you did yield your members in bondage to uncleanness and to lawlessness unto lawlessness, so now yield your members in bondage to righteousness unto holiness.

20) For when ye were bond-servants of sin ye were free from righteousness.

21) What fruit therefore had you *then* in the things of which you are *now* ashamed? for the end of *them* [is] death.

22) But *now*, having gotten your freedom from sin, and having become bond-servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end - eternal life.


And let me just follow that up with one verse from the apostle Peter as he rails against the pseudoteachers and pseudoprophets from Israel as they sought to degrade the Churches of Jesus Christ in the nations.  This is 2 Peter chapter two:


18) For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

19) While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the bond-servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.


Now, there is so much more that we could do here, with regard to bond-servants; but we won’t go far afield of verse three of our text.  Archangel Michael shouts the command to all creatures in the heaven, that nothing under the firmament of God’s edenic micro-cosmos is to be harmed until all of our Lord’s bond-servants are sealed.

However, the theology of bondage is so critical to the understanding of our salvation in Christ Jesus, that I have to spend a minute or two with it.

The New Testament theologian, the apostle Paul, doesn’t really define the essential nature of the “doulos” – the bond-servant of Christ – when he uses the term; but he deals with it primarily by contrast (which I love to do, too).

And the contrast is one of “freedom” (a word which Paul uses “freely”).  It is freedom from the authority of mankind in Adam; and bondage to the authority of Jesus Christ.  In other words, in being set “free” from bondage, a person doesn’t attain to autonomy in all spheres of life; but, by divine intervention, God’s people attain a separation, being set free from a former bondage to sin and corruption, bringing an “end” to that captivity!  And it is a “captivity”; for man, according to Paul, has no power to free himself from that slavery!

So, you see how close this is to the more well-used term… ”redemption”.  However, the term “bond-servant” not only means freedom from captivity to sin (redemption); but it also means freedom to obedience to Christ.  Having “liberated” us from captivity, He is now our Adonai – Master – of the household.  And we are HIS willing bond-servants… willing to worship, adore and serve Him in His Kingdom.  And that servitude has to do with man’s whole conduct all through his life.

In our text, our God has kept for Himself a certain number from the nations – the tribes – of Israel.  And He has here called them “bond-servants”… some yet to be set free from the darkness and the shadow of death.  Having been freed from that enslavement, they are now free to be bond-servants of the One Who has saved them from the wrath to come.