by Mike Ratliff
1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” 2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” 4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” 8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6 (NASB)
In Revelation 6 we have the Lamb opening the first six seals of the Scroll. Revelation 7 forms a parenthetical statement between the Sixth and Seventh Seals. It is the answer to the question asked in 6:17. Before we go any further let’s try to understand that persecution and suffering is not God’s Wrath being poured out on believers. God’s wrath is not for His saints. However, that does not mean that God will keep Satan’s seed from filling up the cup of His wrath against them by their evil actions against Christians. In fact, in God’s economy, there is an “eternal blessedness” associated with this sort of suffering.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12 (NASB)
With the opening of the Sixth seal, things are getting very serious. The dawn of the The Day of the Lord has come like a thief on the Earth. Those with no discernment were not aware that God’s Judgment was coming. Only those with discernment of the signs given to God’s people as warnings are prepared. The Great Apostasy has begun, but awaits the revealing of the Lawless One to trigger the falling away into the false worship within the Scarlet Woman. However, at this moment we are at the Dawn of the Day of the Lord and the Seventh Seal has not been opened. God has given us His answer to us of who will not fall into the Great Apostasy and worship of the Beast.
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” Revelation 7:1-3 (NASB)
In v1 we are given a picture of four Angels stopping the moving of the wind on the Earth. Without the wind there would be no variableness in the weather. The essential engine of the wind would be stopped. This is not permanent, but during this brief interlude, there will be no wind on the Earth. I believe that is to show us God’s sovereignty and immutability in His protection of those on planet Earth who belong to Him. Those who can stand while God’s Wrath is poured out on the Earth are those who received God’s seal on their foreheads, which is His name (Revelation 14:1). Of course, this is not a seal men can see, but one God uses to mark those who are His so His servants can see. Who is sealed?
4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe 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. Revelation 7:4-8 (NASB)
These are 144,000 servants of God that are sealed and are representative of the twelve tribes of Israel. This number is not the only ones who are saved, but these Jews will be protected from the wrath of Satan and the Antichrist. We already know that God does not pour His wrath out on His saints, so the enemies of God are sealed off from harming these 144,000 because God’s name is on their foreheads. What is the purpose of this? The next part of Revelation 7 describes another group who can stand while God’s wrath is poured out. The fact that they are described immediately after the list of 12,000 from each tribe of Israel tells us that these are the fruit of the missionary work of the 144,000. The 144,000 are the redeemed Jews whom God uses in the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles during the tribulation. This is described in vv9-17. The 144,000 will be the first fruits of a new redeemed Israel. We find this described in Zechariah 12:10. Please notice that by His sovereign election, God seals 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes for His purpose to accomplish His will.
While God’s seal on their forehead will divinely protect the 144,000, those whom come to believe through their ministries do not have that level of protection.
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:9-17 (NASB)
These are people in Heaven wearing white robes. In vv13-14 we see they are the believers coming out of the great tribulation. This is not a snap shot picture of a complete group. In v14 the Angel tells John that these are “coming out of” the Great Tribulation. We know that it has not begun at this point, but will begin shortly. Therefore, we are given a multi-dimensional view forward from the sealing of the 144,000 through the Great Tribulation until their number is complete. The Greek word that is translated “the ones coming” is actually a present participle. This means it indicates continuous or repeated action. This group grows. They “are coming out” of the Great Tribulation. Therefore, John’s view here is a group who has suffered much (v16). They are now free from persecution and suffering and are in the presence of the Lamb because they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. God redeems them via the missionary work of the 144,000.
During my research, I came across a very disturbing passage.
8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 (NASB)
Therefore, we know that the great multitude that John saw in Heaven does not contain any of those who received the strong delusion from God to believe what is false. Who is this group? Why are they different than those who wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb? These are the ones who are perishing because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. These are the ones who hear the gospel before the Tribulation and reject it. They will be doomed to spend eternity without Christ. Those who are saved during the Great Tribulation are those who have not rejected the gospel prior to it. This seems to me to be those who have never heard it because those who hear it must either believe or not. I firmly believe that God will save His elect, but He uses our faithfulness in sharing the complete gospel to work in their hearts so they can repent and believe thereby washing their robes white in the blood of The Lamb. Therefore, why are we not sharing our faith with the lost who are all around us?
Soli Deo Gloria!